A quilt for my uncle

My Grandmother died early in 2015. Her eldest son (my uncle) asked me to use some of her favourite clothes to make a quilt. He gave me a huge pile of clothing but picked out a bright red skirt and a purple paisley skirt as most important to include. He also requested that I include the image of a ship. Recently, he and Granny had enjoyed going on cruises and he wanted their shared hobby to be reflected in the quilt.

The design for this quilt was a long time coming. However, in the end I picked a few more items of clothing that co-ordinated with the two ‘must include’ items. I then ordered some nautical themed fabric to help with the overall coherence of the quilt. I experimented with some scene-based layouts but I’ve never done an ‘art’ quilt and it just didn’t feel right to me. I eventually decided to use equilateral triangles all over. I felt this had a nice link to signal flags used on ships (so enhancing the nautical theme) but also gave each of the fabrics a chance to be recognisable in their own right and so do the job of being a memory quilt

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Granny’s red skirt was given pride of place with a single triangle to make it really stand out. I also added a flange to the border using the red fabric so it encircled the whole quilt. It felt like the best way to include it without throwing off the nautical colour scheme.

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Archer decided that he had to be in all the pictures of this quilt. There is just no arguing with him when he’s that cute.

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I embroidered a ship in one of the triangles made from one of Granny’s old bed sheets. The quilting was simple wavy lines to evoke the sea in an otherwise very angular pattern.

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This quilt was a really strange journey for me. In the beginning stages it was all about remembering Granny and doing something to work through my own feelings. However, the more I stitched the more it became my uncle’s quilt. My thoughts shifted to him, his relationship with Granny, my relationship with him, and how this quilt could help stitch our family closer together. Finally I made the quilt label. Instead of naming the quilt, I just embroidered a message that summed up everything the quilt had come to be.

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Japanese Sampler – Fan (Post 3)

Having had such success (eventually) with foundation paper piecing my crane block I decided to push my skills one step further and design my own paper piecing pattern for a fan block. It was pretty fun. Once I had the full pattern drawn out to size, I just traced the different sections (plus seam allowances) onto paper to use as my pieces.

Rather than use fabric for the frame of the fan I decided to use metallic thread to keep the focus on the fabric (paper) of the fan and not make the block too fussy. I like how it turned out and I was really chuffed that my pattern worked perfectly first time

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Cushions galore (2015 Finishes 9, 10, 11 and 12 )

Note: This a very delayed post that I began drafting back in 2015. I don’t know what it took me so long to press publish.

In preparation for Christmas visitors last year I bought a couple of huge 3ft cushions for guests to lounge on in front of the fire. I only got round to making a cover for one of them. I re-purposed an old single duvet cover so it was a nice and easy finish. I started to make a matching cover for the second cushion but it didn’t get finished. I’m not sure why I only did one at the time but it doesn’t really matter now. One of my dearest friends loved the cushion and always chose it over available chairs when she came to visit.

Fast forward a few months and my cushion for guests got claimed by a new owner. A very cute little beagle puppy who joined our family and turned our lives upside down. Yvonne lost her cushion and Archer gained the biggest bed a tiny puppy could dream of.

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He loves this cushion. It’s his favourite place to curl up and snore away the evenings. When I do occasionally have to strip the cushion to wash the cover he gets ansty. This week I decided enough was enough. I finished the second matching cover so that there is always one available for Archer’s cushion (finish #9). Then I made a third cover for the ‘as-yet-uncovered’ second cushion so that Yvonne can have her spot back too without having to share her seat with the dog (finish #10).

While I was on a bit of a dogbed making roll I used up loads of my fabric waste that has been accumulating to make a couple of smaller beds for Archer (finishes 11 and 12). These go in the kitchen for him to sleep on at night, or near wherever I happen to be working when he wants to stay close but be comfy. He gets through these quite quickly by chewing the corners but they are easy to fix or recycle in to newer versions with an extra outer layer.

So that takes 2015’s tally up to 12 finishes.

 

Japanese Sampler – Crane (Post 2)

Foundation paper piecing was a whole new world to me. I came across a free pattern online for a crane. I gave it a go and my first Japanese block was born!

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The block will finish up at 12″ when I’ve trimmed it to size, I’m waiting till I’m ready to assemble the quilt before I do the final trimming.

I was so pleased with this. I love this fabric, the technique was fun, it was fairly straightforward and looked crisp. That is until I looked closer and discovered that the points on the beak do not match up. Whoops.

So I decided that this block can be used on the back of the quilt.

I made another one for the front. This time using a different fabric to see how that would work out.

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I used the same fabric for all the parts of the crane. The pattern had recommended different fabrics for the underside parts of the bird. I tried to kind of create this effect by using green sections of the fabric for those pieces. It’s not really as effective as I’d hoped because there is green in the other section too, but I still like the one fabric effect so I’m letting it be.

Chevron Quilt: An imperfect finish is better than none (2015 finish #8)

Note: Another partially drafted, but long delayed post, because I hadn’t taken the pictures. Now added in

This quilt was a salutary lesson in pragmatism.

When we moved into our new house we inherited a terracotta carpet in one of the bedrooms. It’s not my style but I did the best I could with it and decorated the room with a pale turquoise to give it a modern twist. I was hunting for fabric for a quilt to pull the room together for about a year. Then I found a Sweet Serenade layer cake at a quilting show. The fabrics were beautiful and I wanted to keep the pieces quite large to let the pattern show. It struck me as great opportunity to try a new technique for me: Triangle piecing. Which in my mind lent itself to a chevron quilt.

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I read a tutorial online (sorry, can’t remember where now) that suggested a novel approach to creating triangles:

1) Lay two layer cake squares right sides together

2) Stitch 1/4″ from the edges on all four sides totally sealing the two squares together round the edge

3) Slice the squares diagonally to create 4 squares each made of 2 triangles.

This method is ridiculously quick and easy to do accurately. I loved it. However, there is a catch – a big one. By cutting on the diagonal all four sides of your pieced squares are on the bias and so very prone to stretching as you sew.

I was really careful handling and piecing my triangles into the chevrons. If I use this technique again (which I might because it was so quick and easy) I would go nuts with the spray starch to help stabilise things a bit more.

My original plan had been to add a wide border from the backing fabric with some smaller chevrons for corner squares. I pieced the corner squares, cut the border and attached it to the Chevron section. It stretched – A lot. My border was cut accurately but after attaching it to the bias edges of the triangles it was at least 6 inches too short on the long ends. I took it off and tried to ease the fabric back into a flat straight shape. Then I did something new for me… I let the fabric win.

My chevron section was nice, neat and entirely pretty by itself. The only problem was that it wasn’t the size I originally intended. If I tried the border again it would be a battle and it would potentially permanently distort the quilt. So I let it be. I basted my quilt sandwich and did straight lines to echo the chevrons in various colours and weights of thread.

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Then I thought I’d try something else that was new for me – Machine stitching the binding on. The result is ugly (so no close up photos) but I’m leaving it be. This is a finish. It is not perfect; I would change many things if I did it again. However, it is physical evidence of learning and it is functional. No one said all quilts have to be the best we can do. Sometimes they just have to be evidence that we tried.

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Notice the terracotta carpet? Bleugh! However, the room is infinitely nicer now that the walls aren’t orange and cream. It’s one of my favourite rooms in the house now. Amazing what some paint and some fabric can do

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Japanese Sampler (Post 1)

For about three years now I have slowly been collecting Japanese themed fabrics with metallic elements. It was all sparked off by one of the speakers at Staffordshire Patchworkers and Quilters, Katie from Japan Crafts. She was talking about traditional Japanese textile work (kimonos, sashiko, etc..) and I just thought it all looked utterly stunning. Hence – fabric hoarding.

My quilt is … evolving. Like a lot of my quilts I didn’t plan it all out before I started. What I did decide what that it was time I did a sampler quilt (you know with actual blocks and stuff, rather than just joining bits of fabric together however takes my fancy). I figured a sampler quilt would be a good way to showcase the lovely Japanese fabrics and would be a great way to stretch my skills. I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone so rather than using white or cream for the background fabrics. I decided to go with black!

I did a lot of internet searching and found some great inspiration from other quilters but not many sampler quilts made in a Japanese style. In the end I gravitated towards Susan Briscoe‘s book ‘Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match’ so I bought myself a copy and started reading.

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I also did some pinning on Pinterest to give me a virtual design wall – so useful!

The quilt is still a work in progress, but I’ll post each block as it gets done so you can follow my sampler journey with me

Childhood

At the Uttoxeter quilt show a couple of years ago I picked up a Flower Fairies alphabet panel. I’ve always loved the artwork of the flower fairies books and the panel just really appealed to me.

As I think so many of us do, I carefully placed the fabric safely in my stash and there it sat. Waiting…

Eventually I was in the mood to be selfish and do something just for me, just because I could enjoy it and it would make me happy.

I took out my flower fairies panel, cut it up, and added wonky red borders from fabric in my stash to each letter. I then put it back in the cupboard to wait again…

This time it only took me a few weeks to work out what I wanted the border to look like. I ordered some golden yellow fabric, added a simple border and then made up my quilt sandwich and quilted with an all over dogwood design.

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I got the idea for this quilting pattern from Elizabeth Hartman’s Oh Frannson blog. I’ve used it a couple of times now and I really love how simple it is to do but how effective it looks. Much nicer than meandering all over a quilt.

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Finally, I made a quilt label that reflected the mood I was in and what I needed this quilt to do for me. I made the quilt during a stressful time at work. It now hangs in my office to remind me that I can let go and just have fun every now and then. Quilt therapy at its finest!IMG_0635