Japanese Sampler – Knot (Post 16)

I think I’m getting close to having enough blocks for my quilt. My latest iteration of the design calls for 12 x square coloured block (pieced or applique), 6 x sashiko blocks, 10 x triangle sashiko blocks (for the sides), and 4 x coloured triangle blocks (for the corners). I haven’t decided about sashing or borders yet. I want to see how big it ends up after all of those are done.

I returned to Susan Briscoe’s book for another pieced block. I did enlarge this pattern (nervously after my mistake with the Good Luck block)

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Thankfully. It fitted. Whoop! Another finished block ticked off my list.

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Learning Curve

Back in 2006 my mother announced that as I had left home she was going to redecorate my bedroom as a guest room. Whilst I had no particular objection to my room being used by guests, for some reason (I don’t remember why now) I took exception to the fact that she planned to choose the colour. I can only describe this as a belated fit of teenage pique. 

I declared that the room should be cream with red highlights. To cement this I began work on a red quilt for the bed. Prior to that I had only made one quilt. A paper pieced single bed sized quilt of 4″ squares. The red quilt would be an altogether different animal. 

This has been a difficult quilt. I didn’t know quilting shops existed when I chose the fabrics, so the quilt was comprised of the small range of reds, oranges and yellows stocked by the tiny haberdashery in my parents’ home town. 

I hadn’t seen any quilts in real life (other than the one I’d made) at that point so I had no design ideas to reference or any real technique. I wanted a sort of spiral swirl coming out from the middle. It’s okay, even as I was doing it, I knew it wasn’t pretty or captivating. I persevered. The top was machine pieced on my mother’s sewing machine during holidays from university. It was a little hodgepodge but it held together. 


The one part of the quilt that I was instantly pleased with was the embroidered centre piece. I spent a summer creating the bullion knot fire motif. I then whip stitched it onto the centre of the quilt. Now I would have a much better technique for doing the appliqué, but back in 2008 I didn’t even know what appliqué was. 


Some time later (I don’t remember how long it took) I finished the top and basted the quilt sandwich. I decided that each fabric would have its own quilting design. Initially I hand quilted, but when I eventually got a sewing machine I started experimenting and trying different techniques. 


I got very bored of burying my quilting ends, but wasn’t really sure how else it could be done. This, combined with the fact that I wasn’t enamoured with the fabrics or the design, meant that it was slow going (very slow going). It was often ignored and shoved to the back of my cupboard. Little by little it inched forward before being abandoned for another few years. 

A couple of weeks ago I realised I wasn’t even sure how close I was to finishing it. I pulled it out of the bag and was extremely surprised to discover that all it needed was binding! I must have finished quilting and squaring it last year sometime. I probably then got distracted by something else and it ended up just packed away.

I set myself the challenge of using a lunch break (just 45mins) to see how far I could get with the the binding. I finished it with 90 seconds to spare. 😀🎉. 


Later that evening I made a quilt label. A few days after that I attached the label and… voila!!!


It only took 11 years but my second ever quilt is finished at last. Now it can take its place in my childhood room in my parents’ house where I’ll only have to see it on the occasions I visit. 

Japanese Sampler – Kimono (Post 15)

Just like you can’t have a Japanese quilt without a crane, teapot or fan. You can’t have one without a kimono.

With a little bit of internet searching I came across a series of quilts that used a really pretty kimono pattern. Working from the photos I made up my own version of the block (I’m certainly getting more confident at designing my own patterns as this quilt goes along).

I did forget about seam allowances when cutting out the pattern though so I had to be mindful of that when piecing this block. I also forgot I was supposed to have three fabrics so it ended up with just two but I still really like it.

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I think what I like most is that it was the right size! So this block can also go on the front of the quilt. Whoop

 

Japanese Sampler – Square Spirals (Post 14)

Japanese Sampler – Square Spirals (Post 14)

At my local quilting group meeting we recently held a members’ Market Place where we could each bring along things we no longer needed and sell them to each other. We were all a little nervous about the idea but actually it was great. I got rid of some orphan blocks I’d been ignoring for about three years and some books and magasines I wasn’t interested in any longer.

When browsing the other tables I came across a set of sashiko patterns. I couldn’t resist. When I got them home and took I look I found a really tiny little set of interlocking square spirals that someone has drawn by hand. It was only about 2 inches square but it really caught my interest.

Although I think it would look really effective as s sashiko design. To me the solid outline of the shape was shouting for a fabric to fill it. I made up a 12″ version of the pattern and turned it into a reverse applique block.

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Simple, striking, neat. I’m happy.

 

Japanese Sampler – Set Squares (Post 13)

I’m not sure if ‘Set Squares’ is the right name for this block. I saw a picture online and I just wanted to see what it would look like in my Japanese fabrics.

So I made up my own pattern for the block and tried it out…

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I like it. It might not be a traditional Japanese motif but this block was more about me experimenting with my fabric choices and just having the bravery to mix and match my own ideas. I fussy cut the flower in the centre square and had to be careful when cutting the outer triangle to make the black in the patterned fabric didn’t just blend into the black of my background fabric. I only lost one point with black-on-black so I’m happy with that. This block will make it on the front of the quilt. Whoop.

Japanese Sampler – Flowers (Post 12)

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I decided to have a go at fussy cut needle turn applique. It was hard, and annoying, and not as neat on the points as I would like. However I got a lot better as I went along and the end effect was good enough for me to keep.

Unfortunately that was when I realised that the placement of the flowers worked a lot better if the block was square rather than on point. It’s soo annoying! For now it is still included in the front of the quilt because it does work on point (just not as well) and it was annoying enough to do that I don’t want to make a replacement. I’ll reserve final judgement once all the blocks are laid out and ready to be joined together. It might be relegated to the growing pile of blocks for the back of the quilt.

Repurposed towels for the kitchen 

Recently my sister-in-law gifted me a huge pile of old towels. A strange present you may think, but she knows me well. I regularly use old bedding and linen to make dog beds, either for our dog Archer or for the dog daycare and boarding service he regularly visits. I combine them with all of the teeny tiny offcuts and threads from my sewing to make the stuffing for beds. Bigger towels are useful for making washable covers for the beds. This time however, I had a slightly different plan…

We’ve just redecorated our kitchen so I thought this might be the perfect time to make some new (co-ordinated) items for the kitchen. I bought a couple of packs of dark green fabric dye and chucked the donated towels and some of my old and grungy looking kitchen tea towels into the washing machine. A few cycles later I had a wealth of beautifully matching green towels. My old tea towels suddenly looked brand new and went straight back into the drawer ready for use. The donated towels came with me to my sewing room and emerged a couple of days later as a pair of oven gloves.

 

I also made a heat pad, which is really useful next to the kettle and for getting things out of the microwave. I made a couple of these while I was in the mood


I did then actually make something for the intended beneficiary of the towels. Archer got a nice new cover for his kitchen bed. It’s already been washed twice and it holding its colour really well. 


I’ll probably make some more heat pads and another cover for Archer’s bed at some point soon. 

This experiment with fabric dye worked so well I’m sure I’ll be dyeing more stuff again soon. It’s just such a fun way to create new fabric out of stuff that just looks too dull or stained to keep using. Great fun