Pip’s I Spy Quilt Blocks 9-16

I made good progress on Pip’s I Spy quilt this week. Whenever I caught a spare few minutes I just popped upstairs to applique another shape to a charm square.

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It was a very yellow themed week. I think I must be missing the sun now the days are so short.

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I absolutely love repurposing scraps left over from other projects. The flower meadow fabric was originally used to make my mother-in-law’s charging basket a few years ago. One of the things I want to be able to do with this quilt is use it to tell stories. Imagine how many bugs and insects could be hiding in those flowers while they get ready for a tea party!

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Pip’s I Spy quilt blocks 1-8

You may remember earlier this year I made a jigsaw quilt for my godson. I really enjoyed making this quilt and the vibrancy of the colours really appeals.

Now that I’m pregnant with our first child (codename Pip) I’m keen to have another go at this type of quilt, this time for my baby to sleep and play on.

I’ve spent a while gathering and sorting through novelty scraps to form the pictures for the quilt. I think I’m going to be aiming to create an 8 x 8 grid of 4 1/2 inch squares with a range of motifs and images for a baby or toddler to have fun looking at and playing on.

Now I’m starting the process of creating the applique blocks. I need 64 blocks in total, so I better get going…

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Basting on the table

This week I added the final row of blocks to my sister’s postage stamp quilt. Each block is 16 little 2” squares of alternating light and dark fabrics in as many different colours as I could gather from my scrap bin. There were no new purchases for the top of this quilt at all (however the batting and backing were purchased specially – shh). While making this top it was really fun to look back and remember the stories of the experiments, successes and “okay, not doing that again”s that each fabric could tell.

It’s a big quilt top at 76 x 68”. When it was all pieced I just couldn’t quite face getting down on my knees for hours to baste it on the living room floor. (I think at 5months pregnant it’s ok to look for shortcuts here and there). So I decided to try using the dining room table. We have a heat protector and a vinyl table cloth on it so I was reasonably confident I could avoid sticking pins in my nice wooden table top.

The first third was easy. Just lay out and smooth the backing, layer the batting, and then add the top. I oriented everything to the top right corner because I knew I would have excess batting and backing to cut away and wanted to maximise the usability of the scraps.

Pin regularly. Here the postage stamp design was helpful to get regular pinning spots.


Once that portion had been pinned I trimmed the excess batting and backing leaving about 2” extra all around the top to allow for shifting during quilting. Then I grabbed a strong cardboard tube that I saved from a few years ago when I ordered some curtain fabric online. It has been sooooo useful over the years for rolling large quilts and once again it proved perfect for the job. I simply rolled the basted section up and then moved it across the table so I could start work smoothing the next quilt section.


Same process again… smooth the backing fabric. Bring the batting down on top of it and smooth that out too.

Then bring the top down and smooth that as well. Pin regularly.

And repeat for the final section.

Voila!! A pin pasted quilt without an aching back and knees. Success.

Now I know I’m taking a risk just pin pasting this. I could have thread basted it or added spray basting glue as I went. The table top method didn’t prevent this, my own laziness did. I’m (reasonably) confident that my quilting pattern will enable me to smooth as I go. My first line will be the long centre spine. Then I’ll be working my way out in lines every 4 inches (two squares) on one side so I can smooth outwards as I go. The advantage of pin basting is that you can reposition if you need to as you go along. Once one side is done I’ll come out from the centre spine on the other side in similar parallel lines, again smoothing as I go if needed. Finally I’ll add the perpendicular lines (again middle out to top and bottom edges) to complete the quilting. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Fingers crossed. 

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WIP – Snowflake

After a couple of simple finishes I felt ready to tackle something a little more complicated. Every year I make some Christmas decorations for our home. Other than the actual tree itself, every single decoration we use is homemade. This year I want to make something for the dining room (which is decorated in grey and blue). I found an amazing snowflake design online here. Isn’t it beautiful!!!

A few hours later with some swearing and arguing with my  pencil I’d come up with a paper piecing template that I hope will give me a decent snowflake if my maths is correct. I’m making it in six 8” equilateral triangles, which theoretically should come together to make a large hexagon that can be a heat resistant place mat on our dining table or a seasonal topper for the dresser.

Last night I made the first triangle. It was actually easier to put together than I thought it would be. I think my paper piecing practice during my Japanese quilt (which is still only half quilted) has definitely helped.

Looking at my fabric choices in situ, I’m wondering if the outermost two triangles would be better just in a plain navy to kind of let the background fade away from the snowflake itself. Or maybe a white? …

What do you think?

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Japanese Sampler – Treasure purse sashiko block (Post 21)

One of the really pretty sashiko patterns in Susan Briscoe’s book is the treasure purse. It was a complicated pattern to transfer onto the fabric. Which sewing it I had to think a lot about the various junctions where lines of stitching touched each other.

It was fund to so though, and I like the final effect. I also like how the top of bag echos the shape of the ginkgo leaf. It helps to add some coherence to the quilt.

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I’m really enjoying making a sampler quilt. It’s nice to have something without a deadline, where I can just concentrating on getting each piece exactly as I want it. I think it’s also really helping my develop my skills. I’ve tried so many new techniques of the past few months.

I can’t wait to see the finished version now though. I want to be able to check I haven’t accidentally made something that doesn’t hang together well. Just those inevitable nerves I’m sure we all get once we’re committed to a large project and know the end is still a long way off.

Japanese Sampler – Sashiko edge blocks (post 19)

My Japanese quilt is starting to take shape now. I’m beginning to get a feel for the layout and the balance between the pieced and sashiko blocks. This meant I know I would need a lot of triangle pieces around the edges to square of the quilt.

These were fun, quick little designs to play with now that I’ve done enough sashiko for this quilt to just enjoy getting on with it.

It was nice to have some quick and easy hand sewing to do in the evenings.

They’re coming along quite nicely now…

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I repeated the teapot pattern (on a slightly smaller scale in one of the sashiko edges.

There is a mountain above a lake, which was a really fun one to do.

The moon and clouds is a little abstract, but I’m hoping a crescent shape in the quilting might help bring it out more.

I did a cluster of five bamboo leaves, again just picking out of the central blocks and using it to frame the quilt.

The fan motif is another repeated pattern in the triangle blocks. It looks so different in outline form. It interesting how different styles can change the same motif.

There are a couple of blossom motifs around the edge to. An orange blossom flower with a couple of leaves is pretty. I also like the plum blossom, which normally appears as a circle of three, but I just did one for the edge block.