Sunday, 31 August 2008

I found my local quilt shop (Sevenoaks, Kent)

Every quilter can remember their first time - their first time in a quilt shop that is! Mine was yesterday when I went to Puddleducks, in Sevenoaks, Kent (UK). I bought some sensible things in the sale (bias, thread, ribbon), and some black fabric to form the background and sashings of my next planned piecing project: a child's quilt with very bright animal cartoon fabric on a black background. But I also got some curved "Tennessee Waltz" templates that were half price - who knows when I'll be brave enough to use them!

My 2nd Quilt - Zen 2 fabric & Trip Round World

I completed this quilt piecing (mostly) over the August late bank holiday. The reason I bought it was, I think, that I just adored the border fabric when I saw the quilt made up at the Fennel Shop stand at the Festival of Quilts. "Trip Around the World" is the Mennonite name for this pattern. I found it a good "second quilt" project as it was a simple step-by-step pattern using squares only and four charm rolls. There are 16 identical blocks (4 x 4 layout) and the pattern uses simple "strip piecing", you just rotate the blocks to get the pattern as shown. The instructions in the Irish Double Quilting booklet had an error in that one strip layout had wrong fabric shown, but in the end I figured it out from the photo.

Here is the border fabric from Macower.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

International Quilt Study Center and Museum

Explore the quiltmaking process from fabrics to stitching, starting with Making a Quilt from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. Or see the images of quilts in the Quilt Explorer. Search quilts by categories such as date, pattern, and region. Choose Browse mode to just dive in! - You can create your own account and save your favourite quilt images.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Festival of Quilts - Aug 2008

I went to the Festival of Quilts 2008 and was bitten with the quilting bug! There were loads of visitors (mostly ladies of a certain age), many had travelled from other parts of Europe. I came away fizzling with ideas (plus lots of fabric, of course!). Got the Jelly Roll Quilts book from the authors in person at their lovely stand - plus a neat triangular ruler that allows you to cut 2-inch triangles from a 2.5-inch jelly roll. I did a couple of workshops on the log cabin technique, one using foundation piecing. Chose a fabulous mauve coloured "Zen II" charm roll set and pattern from the lovely lady from Ireland at the Fennel Shed stand, which was a great way to do my "second quilt"! More on that later.

My first quilt - made from old kitchen curtain

I didn't want to risk spoiling my new fabric that I'd bought on eBay, so instead I cut up some old kitchen curtains that I also got on eBay (for £2.99). They were a bit thicker than usual quilting cotton fabric and seemed to have a surface protectant but after a wash and tumble dry they softened up quite a bit. The slight stiffness was OK anyway as they were going to be a floor mat for my cats. I just followed the square print arrangement on the fabric and ended up with over 50 usable 5-inch squares. I arranged them on the floor until there was a balance of different colours and designs and got a 6 x 9 grid. I just sewed them up in to six rows of nine patches, and then sewed the rows together. I safety pinned on a thin batting, made a quick border out of pieced rectangles and added a back fabric. The machine quilting was by my first try at "stitching in the ditch" but without a walking foot - so it is quite rough and ready and it was good I had extra large batting and backing fabric as the patchwork "travelled" a bit.

More on that border - I made the length of it by just chain piecing any pieces I could find that were 2.5 inches wide. I found the act of chain piecing in this way quite therapetic, so maybe I will explore more "freestyle" quilting methods in upcoming projects. Here is the yellow cat rug, with its new owner.

A few more beginners blocks

Here are the other blocks I did using the instructions in a book from the library ("Perfect Patchwork" or something like that). You can see the effect of the "shot fabric" that looks like dark turqoise from one direction and dark orange from the other . My favourite block is the Ohio Star pattern on the right - looks like "proper" patchwork!

I didn't like how you had to make the starting squares bigger for the half and quarter triangles though - and have found a few ways lately to get round that! One is a triangle ruler which I got from the "Jelly Roll Quilts" ladies when I bought their book at the recent Festival of Quilts; my other cunning plan is to master "Thangles" templates - which I have read about but not yet bought (the only place in the UK they seem available online seems to be Threads and Patches in Bletchley). Hopefully more on that topic in due course!

Making a 9-patch block - piecing it

"Piecing" is the term for arranging and sewing the patches together. I do machine piecing on my Singer 1507. It is important to get the seams all going in different directions so that later, when you come to do the actual "quilting" (sewing lines across the entire quilt) there are no lumpy seams to sew through.