Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Splendid Sampler Update

I've lost a bit of momentum on these blocks over the summer.  I haven't had much time to sew or to blog.  Dog-walking, caring for an aged parent, and spending time with the grandchildren, have filled my days, but now the children are back at school and my life seems to have quietened down a bit i hope to get caught up.  Here are a few blocks I have managed to complete.

#26 Dreaming of dresdens
 This was a fairly easy block to make designed by Jane Davidson.  I kept the blades to just 2 colours as I didn't want it too fussy.

#44 Stitch in the Garden

This block, by Gail Pain, combined a touch of applique with embroidery.  I kept to just redwork for the stitching to match all of the embroidered blocks in this quilt.  I outlined the reels with stitching to create more impact as they didn't seem to stand out.

#46 Twirl Time

 This block, by Sarah J Maxwell, took a lot of my time to choose just the right combination of fabrics and then the placement of them.  I love the way the legs appear to be running away.

#47 Circle of love

A block by Geta Grama.  I cut this one out all in one piece and appliqued by machine.  The original was cut out all in little pieces, but as I've only used one fabric, it was easier this way.

#48 Whim

Another one that took me ages to choose the right fabrics for.  I paper-pieced this one and used the very under-used embroidery stitches on my sewing machine for the crazy quilting.  Love it!

#49 Summer's Gift

A combination of piecing and applique designed by Karla Eisenach.  I cut the outer petals all in one piece rather than separate petals.  It made it much easier to get the placement right.  Fussy cutting for the centre.

#57 Starting Point

A quick and simple little block by Lissa Alexander.  The original has a 4-patch in the centre but I simplified it a bit.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Star Sampler Quilt - Finished!

I started this quilt back in 2013 and it is, at long last, FINISHED!

The journey began on this one because I had a lot of the blue scraps left over from another quilt I had made.  They are all from the same line - Chambray Rose by Shabby Chic. I didn't want another blue quilt so I searched around and found the red fabric, which seemed to match the shabbiness.  The red is Clermont Farm by Moda.  I kept the background nice and simple with Kona Snow.

It started of as a Combined BOM for 2013, using blocks from many different BOMs, but then I hit a stumbling block as there were some block designs that just didn't seem to fit, so as I found a block I liked, I included it in this quilt.  The early blocks all seemed to have a star-like theme so I continued to find other starry blocks. 

The quilt top was finished in June 2013 and I decided to quilt it by hand.  I found a cotton quilt cover in Ikea in a lovely Toile de Jouy print that made a lovely backing.  It was a fairly thin cotton with a not-too-tight weave, so ideal for hand stitching, and it only cost about £10, I think. I chose a luxury bamboo batting to see what it was like.  It's so soft and silky and quilted easily.  It's wonderfully warm, too.

I thought it would take me the winter to complete it.  How wrong was I!  It's easy to get bored with the same project, and I had other smaller projects that needed my time so it got put on the back burner for months at a time.  When the summer came it got put away completely.  It's no joke trying to sew in the heat with a quilt on your lap.

The quilting is fairly dense all over, and I realise now that it needn't have been.  Mostly it is straight lines following the patterns in  each block, but for the sashing I used a template.  For the border I went back to straight lines.

I didn't have enough of either the blue or the red fabric to do a binding, but then I came across this super easy flange binding.  Because the strips are cut narrower and then joined together I just had enough.  The joy of this binding is that it is all completely sewn on by machine.  Definitely will use this method again.

All of the pictures were taken in my daughter's gorgeous garden.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Two more Splendid Sampler blocks

#40 Flights of Fancy

This block is designed by Barb Groves and Mary Jacobson of Me and My Sister.  It's another block that is made up of 36 x 1" finished squares.  I made the half-square triangles using the 8-at-a-time method, cut out my background squares and then ironed them all onto Pellon Quilter's Grid.  I then folded and stitched down the seams and sliver cut the seams to press them open. The seams match up perfectly using this method but it does make the block a bit firmer than the others but I don't think that will matter when they are all sewn together and quilted. I've deviated from the designer's choice of fabric placement by only having one colour for all of the stars and also having solid centres. 

#41 Sew South 

This block is designed by Jennifer Mathis.  I used some paper 1" hexagon templates that came free with a magazine. I knew they's come in useful one day. I've modified the design to make it a bit easier.  The original has an exploded group of hexagons; each hexie sewn to the background separately, with about 1/8" in between each hexie.  I've chosen to sew all of my hexies together first and then applique them to the background using my machine blanket stitch.

I've now decided on the setting for these blocks and have bought the fabric and washed and pressed it ready to cut out.  I shall be sewing the sashings on each individual block over the summer so that when I have made enough  blocks I can decide on placement and then sew them altogether.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

My Brexit block

Back in April a block was designed for the Splendid Sampler QAL by Cheryl Arkison to commemorate Earth Day. The original pattern gave a design of either the US or Australia in the middle but as I have no affiliation to either of those countries I decided to do a map of Europe.  I Googled outline maps of Europe but to get the whole of Europe inside a 4" circle would mean losing all definition of the various countries, and the UK was tiny with hardly any shape.  It seemed that my only other option was to do a map of the UK on its own and I found this outline shape and reduced it down to fit.

I just happened to be embroidering this one whilst waiting for the Referendum results to come in.  I think it rather prophetic that my block shows the UK on its own, outside of Europe.  Piecing the background today I thought it looked like a whirlwind, reminding me of the state of our two main political parties at the moment as they try and decide who is going to lead them.

I hope  that the original designer doesn't mind me changing the name of the block from "Earth Day" to "Brexit".  It will serve to remind me of the momentous decision that this country has made.

Bonus Block "Brexit"

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Getting caught up

Now that exams are over and I've no more invigilating to do I can have a bit of me time.  My father is so much better now and has resumed going out to his Lunch Club twice a week, so I get two days a week when I don't have to go and get his meal ready.  This gives me so much more time to do do the things that I really want to do, namely getting caught up with my blocks for the Splendid Sampler QAL.

This is #27 Sewing Machine and was designed by Pat Sloan. This was a fairly simple applique block and came together quite quickly.

This one is #31, designed by Jenny Reynolds. I chose to do it all in red backstitch, as I have the other embroidered blocks in this quilt. I used Sulky Fabri-Solvy which is a printable, self-adhesive, water soluble stabilizer.  I just printed the design straight onto it, stuck it onto the fabric and then embroidered straight onto it.  A nice long soak, not the 2-3 minutes the instructions say, and it all dissolves away. I've been stitching this one on and off for about 3 weeks.

Monday, 27 June 2016

#39 Balls in the Air

This is another paper-pieced block for the Splendid Sampler QAL.  This one is designed by Aylin Ozturk and I wasn't going to do it as it had so many teeny-tiny pieces in it to make it into a circle,  some of the pieces had seam allowances larger than the actual piece and would have been really bulky.  On closer inspection I thought that I could do the centre, cut it out into a circle and then simply applique it onto the background, which is what I've done. I cut a circle of Bondaweb, snipped away the centre of it to make a ring and stuck it to the circle.  Then centred it onto the background piece and sewed it on the machine using the blanket stitch.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

More Splendid Sampler blocks.

I've completed two more blocks from the Splendid Sampler QAL.

# 32 The Constant Needle

This block, by Laurie Simpson, was a fairly straightforward applique block.  I used Bondaweb to stick the shapes onto the backing fabric and then used the blanket stitch on my sewing machine to finish it off.

#35 The Wishful Garden

The designer of this block, Kristyne Czepuryk, meant for the cross pieces to be strips of hand embroidered flowers but I've just used strips cut from my French General collection. I've been wanting to use this Fleur de Lys fabric for some time but it doesn't seem to fit well being cut up into small pieces and joined back together again.  This block is perfect for it, though.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Catching Up!

It's ages since I last posted, April actually and now we're in June.  My elderly father's been ill and spent a couple of weeks in hospital and since then I've been having to go into Winchester every day, sometimes twice in a day, to take care of him. He is very much weaker, and more frail, than he used to be, and it is taking him a long time to recover, but I think he is, at last, getting stronger. Today is the first day that I haven't gone in to see him but I telephoned and he said my brother went this morning so not to bother going in.  It has given me a bit of a break as I've also been working the last few weeks.  I invigilate exams at the local sixth-form college so between that, seeing to Dad and my usual doggie day-care for my daughter I haven't had a lot of time to myself.  Oh, I nearly forgot; the grandchildren were on half-term last week and I was called upon a few times to look after them.  That isn't a chore, by the way, but it does curtail the time to do things for myself.

Looking back, I'm actually amazed at how much I have actually achieved.  I've managed nine blocks for my Splendid Sampler.  I've been catching ten minutes here and five minutes there.  I know that one block took me a week to do and I must have spent about about two dozen short sessions doing it. The embroidered one took me over a week to sew, mainly during the evenings.  So here they all are.

# 17 Family Stars

 I simplified this one by doing all of the star points in one colour.  This meant that I could make the Flying Geese units using the no-waste 4 at-a-time method.

#18 Lina's Gift

This basket block looks a bit plain compared to some of the others but I think it will be a bit of resting space for the eyes when it is sewn in with all of the others.

#20 Nature's Walk

This one is so cute.  I've kept the embroidery as simple redwork as it will go with the previous embroidered block.  I've a feeling there might be more of these embroidered blocks so I'll keep them all in the same style.

#21 Sweet Candy

A super simple one that didn't tax my brain too much although I did agonise over choosing the fabrics to use.

#22 Goose on the Loose

This one was foundation paper-pieced.  I've only ever used this method of construction since I started this Sampler so I was a bit wary but I'm so pleased with how it's turned out.  Such perfect points in each quadrant.  It did create a fair bit of waste, though.

#23 Hand in Hand

This one had a really intriguing way of creating those long triangular shapes which was really super easy to construct.  It did involve making a template but it came together in a unique way and is rather pleasing.

#24 Inspector Sidekick

The pattern for this one used half square triangles but I decided to use Flying Geese units so that I could fussy cut those Fleur de Lys and make it quite symmetrical.  I also decided to use my new-found skill of paper-piecing and drafted out my own patterns to use for those units.

#30 Simple Surprises

After the last three time consuming blocks it was a relief to make this one.

#33 Selvedge Saver

I've been saving my selvedges for some time now so I was pleased when this block showed up today.  I've only used my French General edges as that is the fabric line I am using for this QAL.  I made this by starting in the bottom corner and using a few dots of basting glue to stick the first strip to a 7" paper square.  I continued sticking strips on top, working back up to the top corner.  When the paper was covered I then stitched close to each edge.  Some of the selvedge edges have a fringed edging so I've left them lying on the top.  I quite like it.

I've missed out quite a few blocks, about 10 I think as well as a few of the bonus blocks.  These are mainly applique blocks or complicated paper-piecing ones and I might come back to them when I have more time on my hands.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Hospital visit!

I haven't been able to sew for a over a week as I've had to take my sewing machine in for a service.  I was stitching on slow speed and I noticed that the usual purr had changed to a distinct 'clonk' so immediately stopped.  It is now in the 'hospital' until I get a phone call to say it is well enough to come home.

I also have my father in hospital at the moment (a different one) so I don't have much time for sewing anyway.  I have managed to cut out two more blocks though, so they are ready and waiting for when my machine returns.

Meanwhile, here are all the blocks I have made so far.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

#16 Pieces of Friendship

This is the sixteenth block for the Splendid Sampler Quilt A-Long and is called Pieces of Friendship designed by Lindsay Mayland. A fairly simple block to put together, but I had to be mindful of the bias edges to the triangles.  There's a little bit of a wavy edge that I've tried to tame with starch.

Monday, 4 April 2016

#15 Family Affair

This block for my Splendid Sampler QAL is called Family Affair and was designed by Janice Ryan.  I wasn't going to make this one as it is paper-pieced and I've never attempted that, but being at a loose end yesterday I read through several tutorials and had a go.

My first difficulty was choosing my fabrics.  As I'm only using red and neutral fabrics I wanted to make sure that each shape was distinct and stood out against the others.   Also, these shapes are very small and so a large pattern would be lost.  It must have taken me about an hour just to choose the right combination.  

The paper-piecing was easy to pick up once I got into a rhythm, but I didn't like the amount of scraps it made. Also, because of the method used I wan't able to press the seams open and so it's quite bulky in places, especially where the points taper.  

I'm pleased that I've learnt a new technique and I know now that I can use it again when it's called for.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Not an 'official' block

This block is called Rose Park and is designed by Amy Smart.  It hasn't been designed for the Splendid Sampler QAL but I found it on the Babylock site where Pat Sloan has posted a bonus block.  As I was at a loose end this morning I thought I would make it to go in with my other blocks.  It was really easy and went together quite quickly.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

#13 Scrap Star

This is my version of #13 Scrap Star by Corey Yoder for the Splendid Sampler QAL.  The original has a scrappy pinwheel centre and scrappy star points but I like a more regular, less busy design so I've simplified it by using just one print in the centre and using one solid for all the star points.  It does change the character of the original somewhat but it is more in keeping with my personal tastes.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Bonus Block

It was just by chance that I found this bonus block last night.  It's called Inside Out and is designed by Pat Sloan, but she didn't design it for the Splendid Sampler but for Babylock and it can be found on their website.
Finding myself with a spare hour this morning I thought I'd make a start on it.  It was very easy cutting and piecing this one and it went together quite quickly.  I really like symmetrical blocks and this one ticks all the boxes for me.

Friday, 25 March 2016

#11 Crocheted Thoughts

This is #11 of the Splendid Sampler QAL.  The designer is Alyssa Thomas of Penguin and Fish and is a representation of a crocheted doily.  I started this one before #12 but the embroidery has taken me ages to complete. The designer used chain stitch but I've done mine in backstitch and I rather like it.  I've also done slightly different borders and used snowball corners.  This was an enjoyable block to do.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

#12 Checkerboard

I just knew that somewhere in this QAL there would be a square that was made up of 1" squares, so I've been saving every little scrap.  Made this one without cutting into my bigger pieces of fabric.  It's turned out perfect too, but I did make it the 'cheats' way.
When I went to the Festival of Quilts a couple of years ago I bought a piece of Pellon Quilter's Grid because I had seen a tutorial for making a Postage Stamp quilt using the grid.  It's been sat in the drawer ever since but as soon as I saw this block I looked it out to give it a try.

Oh my goodness, it is so easy to use.  Just cut out 1 1/2" squares, arrange them on the Pellon, cover with a damp cloth and then press.  then you just have to fold it along the joins and stitch a scant 1/4" seam from top to bottom  of each row, and then turn and stitch the rows across.  No matching up of seams, it just matches perfectly. Once stitched the first way I sliver trimmed the seams and pressed them open to help it lay flat and did the same for the across rows.  Start to finish less than one hour, and I spent the majority of the time cutting the squares to begin with.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Nine completed

Now that I've completed nine of the ten squares published I'd thought I'd group them together to see how they interplayed with each other.
I'm pleasantly surprised at how good they all look together.  Of course, working with fabrics from the one designer helps a lot.  These are all made French General by Moda but from different lines, and I'm only using the red ones with a couple of the neutral solids.  I've probably got enough to make the runner I want but I'll wait a bit longer and see what other blocks come along.  I've no idea how I'm going to set them or quilt them yet, either.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

#10 Iowa renamed Winchester

We're up to #10 of the Splendid Sampler QAL today. This block is a modified Snowball block and was designed by Sherri McConnell. On her blog, Sherri tells the story behind her design and has called it Iowa as that is where she grew up with her family.  I've renamed it Winchester because that is where I grew up and my elderly father still lives there.  I live five miles away.

I think I spent more time choosing which of my glorious French General reds I should use than I did actually sewing the block.
I've been debating with myself whether it needs something in the middle, perhaps a little heart as a couple of the other blocks have hearts in them.  I haven't any red thread at the moment so when I've bought some more I'll have another think.

Monday, 14 March 2016

#9 Local Quilt Shop

This is #9 Local Quilt Shop and is designed by Jane Davison for the Splendid Sampler QAL.
All of the fabric I'm using for my blocks are reds from the French General by Moda ranges.  I love the little printed selvedge that is cut off and often just thrown away, so when I saw this block with it's little title above the door I knew that I had found a use for one of my saved selvedges.  This selvedge has the line name printed on it with a little fancy border printed above it.  I wanted the the fancy border under the name as well so I had to piece a tiny bit underneath to match the top edge.  It wasn't quite long enough so had to piece an extra 1/4" each side.  On the original block the designer had made the door only 1" high, the same size as the window, but this seemed out of proportion to me so I added an extra 1/2" and I think it looks better.  

After my success with adding embroidery touches to the last block I couldn't resist a little bit on here too, just to fancy it up a bit. I still think it needs something on the roof, maybe some shingles, and what about a little flower box under the window. If I've got time this week I might take another look at this one, but for now I think I should just leave it as it is.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

#7 Revisited

Remember last time I said I'd missed out the little feet peeking out from under the blanket?  Well, when I had a minute I threaded up my needle again and stitched the little feet.  Looking at my block with fresh eyes on the screen in front of me I realised that I had room to fit in the frame of running stitches as well, so as the needle was already threaded I stitched the frame. I was quite enjoying myself and remembered seeing other blocks where each little block on the tiny quilt had a different pattern stitched onto them, so I merrily went ahead and did some more stitching.
It was at this point that I thought that I better put my needle away before I filled in every inch of bare fabric left showing.  I didn't want to get too carried away with myself.  After all, I'm the person who "doesn't do embroidery!"

Friday, 11 March 2016

#7 Splendid Sampler

I wasn't going to make this block as I thought it wouldn't fit in with my other pieced blocks so I ignored it and carried on with other stuff, waiting for block #8.  That one went together so quickly and easily I wanted something else to do before #9 comes out and so thought it wouldn't hurt if I just gave #7 a try.  With a border around it I think it will do nicely, thank you very much.
This block is called Snug as a Bug and was designed by Amy Sinibaldi.  I trimmed my embroidered square down to 4 1/2" and cut borders 1 1/2" wide.  All sewn together it measures 6 1/2".  I've just noticed I forgot to embroider the little toes that peek out from the bottom of the blanket.  I'll thread a needle and do them now.  They won't take a minute.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Splendid Sampler #8

I decided not to do the #7 block.  It was all embroidery and it wouldn't have sat well with the other pieced blocks I've made so far. I might come back to it though.  I'm thinking it might be good with a pieced border around the outside.

This block is called Friends Around the Square and is designed by Julie Karasek.
This one came together really easily and needed minimal trimming. 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

#6 Focal Point

I just love this block.  It's designed by Natalia Bonner who is just the most amazing long-arm quilter.  If I ever win the lottery I'd love to have one of my quilts custom quilted by her.  I'd even travel to the States to have it done.

I took my time with this one. I made sure I measured and cut accurately.  My seams are the perfect scant 1/4" and every piece behaved itself.  I pressed all the seams open to reduce the bulk on all those intersections and a little spray of starch has kept everything nice and flat. There was minimal trimming to do, just a couple of wispy threads.

I've deviated from the designer's pattern a bit as I wanted that central fabric to stand out, to be my 'focal point' and I wouldn't have achieved that if I had done the hourglass centre, as then my pattern would have been all chopped up.  Also, I couldn't use that fabric for my corners because the pieces would have been so small and the pattern  would be lost in the seams, so I 've gone for the same tiny pattern on all four corners.

For me, this is my best one yet.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

#5 Splendid Sampler

Here is #5 of the Splendid Sampler QAL.  It's called Simple Simon and was designed by Celine Perkins.
This was a lovely block to piece.  I managed to cut accurately, sew perfect scant 1/4" seams and it needed no trimming apart from a couple of wispy bits.

If you have read my previous posts on The Splendid Sampler you may be wondering where #4 is.  Well, I didn't do it.  It didn't really do anything for me and so I'm missing it out, for now.  I may go back and look at it again at a later date.  I have seen some super interpretations of it on the QAL's  Facebook page but it doesn't seem to fit in with what I want my finished item to be.  Maybe I'd like it better as a stand alone 12" block in a frame.  I'll think on it. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

#3 Lots of Love

This block is called 'Lots of Love' and was designed by Melissa Corey for the Splendid Sampler QAL. This was a really fiddly block to do with lots of tiny stitch and flip corners.  I pressed all of the seams open, but even so, the seams are very bulky especially at the intersections.  I've given it a good press, using some spray starch to keep those seams flat.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Splendid Sampler #2 - Wings

Here is my second block for the Splendid Sampler QAL by Jane Davidson and Pat Sloan.  This one is called Wings and was designed by Jane Davidson.  I have done my own interpretation of the block as I found the original too fussy for my tastes.  I've only used four different prints instead of completely scrappy, and I changed out the 4-patches for rail fence blocks.  This gives me a much more symmetrical pattern which I find very pleasing.  I'm loving working with my French General reds and neutrals.