Japanese Sampler – Silk Circle (Post 8)

After my Good Luck quilt I was feeling confident about my piecing accuracy, but nervous about my ability to accurately resize patterns.

So I decided to go for the Silk Circle Block from Susan Briscoe‘s book. I didn’t change the size at all so these pieces would be the smallest I had ever pieced. I really had to check the accuracy of my 1/4″ seam.


Once I had made the circle I then reverse appliqued the block outline on top of the pieced circle. I cut away the middle and then satin stitched over the raw edge.


I’m not going to lie. I am seriously pleased with myself for this block. It really pushed my ability to be precise and accurate with my sewing.



Japanese Sampler – Good luck symbol (Post 7)

For my next block I used one of Susan Briscoe’s pieced block ideas, but I increased the size a little to fit what I needed. It’s a Good Luck symbol.

I think it’s pretty and chose a simple, quiet pair of fabrics to let the shape of the symbol stand out.


I did slightly misjudge the size of this one. It’s like the hexagon block all over again! Thankfully I did manage to get it to sit inside the block eventually, but you’ll notice the outer border of the symbol is a bit narrower than the inner spacings. It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough so this block will make it on to the front of the quilt. I was getting worried the back would get finished before the front at this rate.

Laying out the Jigsaw Quilt

With a rainbow colour scheme chosen, I went full steam on making the blocks. When I thought I might be getting close to have enough (not actually sure what the final size will be yet) I started to lay them out to see what colours I needed to balance out the quilt. Then I hit another design dilemma…

Should I go for a random placement or a gradient rainbow effect?

Apologies for the shadows in the images and the funny colours. It was late at night when I took these photos. Random colour placement above and rainbow layout below

I don’t want to ask Christopher’s mum to make this decision. I want some of the blocks to be a surprise so I can’t show her a picture of the full layout in advance.

Can you help? What should my layout be?


Japanese Sampler – Sashiko Wave (Post 6)

My Japanese sample quilt is all about learning new techniques. Although I have done a fair bit of embroidery over the years I’ve never tried sashiko. Susan Briscoe‘s book has some lovely patterns for sashiko blocks. She also includes some helpful advice on techniques.

I didn’t use proper sashiko thread. I just used three strands of embroidery floss. It seemed to work fine. I haven’t seen any other sashiko work ‘in the flesh’ to compare it with so I might be way off, but I like my take on sashiko.


I’ve decided there will be quite a few sashiko blocks in my sampler quilt. I’m going to alternate them with pieced blocks. I’ll vary the colour of my thread between yellow, cream, orange and red to try the quilt a little coherence that might it lacking with so many fabrics being thrown in.

I don’t know about you but I’ve always struggled with how to transfer patterns from paper to my fabric. In the course of making this quilt I hit upon a technique that seems to work well for me. I made a full size paper pattern and pinned it in place on top of the fabric. Then I put a really fat denim needle in my machine and followed the template lines, sewing without any thread. This left a great trail of puncture marks I could then connect with tailor’s chalk and use as my sewing lines. I discovered that if I didn’t go over the puncture lines with chalk before I started stitching the fabric would slowly relax and my puncture marks would disappear. The chalk has enough staying power to wait until I’d finished stitching the sashiko blocks.

Building blocks for the Jigsaw Quilt

One of the cute baby outfits my friend gave me to include in her son’s quilt had an adorable little applique panda leaning into view and waving. It was too big for one of the 5″ blocks and it was on a white background which wouldn’t fit too well with the bright colours I’m using in the design.

I decided this might be a good opportunity to get Christopher’s name into the design by turning the panda piece into a large feature block.

I extended the white background by joining two pieces together to give me a wider surface to play with. Then I made some building blocks and hand embroidered his name onto the lower tier. I turned the edges under and got them to more-or-less stay put with the same bondaweb layer than enabled me to fix the blocks to the background.


I stitched the internal edges of each block to help them be a bit more recognisable. However, now I’m really stuck for how to secure the edges without making it look too textured. I’m almost tempted to leave them as they are and just use an all over quilting design to secure the edges ‘almost’ incidentally.

Any thoughts? This quilt is proving quite the design challenge.


Japanese Sampler – Hexagons (Post 5)

After making a few blocks that used a small number of my fabrics I wanted to do something that really threw them all on the table. I decided to have a go at machine piecing hexagons. There is nothing like Y seams to really test your accuracy. I fussy cut some of the funky motifs from all of my fabrics for this quilt, picked a hexagon size that looks nice and started stitching…


I love this block. I think it’s a great showcase for the range of fabrics I’m throwing into my sampler quilt. However it is also a salutary lesson in how to can’t just start stitching things together without measuring. It’s too big. In order to cut it down to the 12″ finished size I need for the sampler I would hack off the six points of the hexagon itself. It would look stupid.

So this is also now going to go on the back of the quilt, along with my rejected wonky crane. Ho hum.

It was fun to make though so I don’t mind too much

Pieces for the Jigsaw Quilt

About 6 months ago our dear friends welcomed their first child into world, a beautiful and happy little boy. I’ve been sort of gently gathering child friendly fabric pictures and building 5″ blocks with them since he was born with the idea that an i-spy or jigsaw type quilt could be fun.

In just two months time he will be Christened and I will officially become his godmother. I’m now on a mission to get this quilt finished in time for the Christening. Eek! Not much time at all.

Last month his mum gave me some of her favourites from his newborn clothes to incorporate into the quilt. Some of the motifs meant I needed bigger blocks to catch the full image, but actually I really liked that effect.


I left the “Little Wingman” pocket open so it still works. It was the bit of the outfit that my friend liked the most so I thought it would be fun to keep the function even in a quilt. I’m a teeny bit worried about small fingers and toes getting caught in the pocket while he rolls around but I’ll always have the option to tack it shut later on so I’ll keep it open for now and just fix if there is actually a problem.

Now I just need to get some time to quilt so I can get this pile of bright pictures turned into a functional quilt / playmat type thing.

At this stage I have mainly yellow blues and greens. The stray reds and oranges seemed to really pull the focus and I wasn’t sure what to go with as a colour scheme. My friend made an excellent executive decision as mum and decided it should be a rainbow quilt. I better get to work making some red, orange and purple blocks to balance things up…