Westering Women III

It’s been a while since I posted anything about the Westering Women BoM series I’ve been following.  I’d like to say an insane fear of ‘Y’ seams is the reason for my lack of progress, but the truth is more prosaic. (Although ‘Y’ seams are still a bane to me.)

Summer holidays and Christmas derailed my timetable plus I became taken with other projects.  Before I knew it I was already three blocks behind with the last block due at the end of December.  So, after all the festivities were over, I turned a new leaf and made a determined effort to catch up.

Some of the blocks needed Y seams if they were to be made in the way the instructions said. But I cast about and found alternative methods that served the purpose and I’m really pleased with the outcome.  (Block 8: Chimney Rock and Block 9: Sagebud for Fort Laramie were the headache). By the time the December block was published I’d caught up (Block 12: Road to California) and I’ve completed the full set, so right now I’m feeling a little smug.

I’ve made a start on the sashing and found some nice silver grey fabric for the backing.  Once the blocks are all sewn into rows, I’m going to put this quilt together in the same quilt-as-you-go fashion as my Jackleberries quilt.

Barbara Brackman has already announced her new Block of the Month series.  It’s called Yankee Diary, and she’s already put up a post about it’s design along with fabric recommendations.  I’m looking forward to the first block being posted.  One of my many new year resolutions for 2017 is to keep up with making them as they are published at the end of each month… (we’ll see how that works out!)

Link to previous Westering Women post….

Florida Holiday III

I’ve returned from my holiday now, and settled back in at home. I did visit one other quilt shop while I was over in Florida –  Flash Sew and Quilt in Fort Myers on the west coast. It’s a great place, full of lovely fabrics, patterns and notions, and an active workshop was in full swing on the day I went there. I heartily recommend it as a place to visit, but unfortunately I only have a picture of the store front as my phone battery died after that.

What I did notice in Florida is the pattens and fabrics on offer mostly seemed to be bright, breezy and colourful. I didn’t see many patterns for projects based on Civil War colours. Maybe it’s something to do with the quality of the light there, i dunno really.

On the home front, I needed a bit of a breather to recover from jet lag. But a couple of days later I was itching to meet up with my quilting pals and see what they’d been up to. I was amazed at their sheer productivity. Tracy had made a lovely hourglass blocks quilt from start to finish, and Angie, my word, had been busy sewing loads of Christmas goodies for friends and family plus a gorgeous appliqué Christmas quilt.  I can see I’d better put my skates on.

… link to previous Florida Holiday post

… link to Florida Holiday II

A Memory Quilt for Len

Irene and Len are longtime friends of Angie’s mom, and Angie herself knows them well. Sadly, Irene passed away at the beginning of this year.

It’s a special time in the grieving process when a surviving partner can bring themselves to part with their spouse’s much loved possessions, but now Len has begun to quietly rehome some of her chattels where he thinks they may do most good. Irene was a seamstress of the old school and, knowing she is also a sewist, Len has given a bewildering collection of fabrics and notions to Angie along with an impressive old sewing machine.

Angie told us all about this at one of our regular sewing group get togethers. She then showed us a lap quilt she has made from the plaids and tweeds she unearthed in the donated fabric stash. She plans to give it to Len soon to keep him cosy this coming winter. I cannot think of a more wonderful way to commemorate Irene than the thought that has gone into the making of this beautiful memory quilt.

Summer Progress

While Angie’s been relaxing at her Welsh hideaway she’s been catching up on her hand sewing. She really is a wiz with English paper piecing and uses up all her offcuts making hexagons and such, so it’s economical too. I think it’s a great way to make the most out of every scrap of leftover fabric and the results are just beautiful.

Not to be outdone, Tracy has completed a pretty quilt top. It’s just two colour ways in shades of white and turquoise and looks really effective. I can’t wait to see her finished quilt.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been busy making lots of small work, like bookmarks, pouches and little baskets, which we hope to sell at upcoming fundraising events in aid of Cancer Care and MacMillan Nurses. This little project is ongoing so I’ll post more about it as we progress

I’ve finally finished the binding around my vanity sewing case. I’m not all that happy with the result as the top and bottom tend to bow inwards. Again, I think it’s all to do with the foam batting which seems to have a life of it’s own.

I’m in the process of making some fabric bins so I can conceal the piles of batting and interfacing I’ve amassed. I decided to use a different technique with the remainder of my foam stuff. I cut the batting half an inch smaller all round than the size of the fabric, so that when I brought the sides of the bin together I just had to stitch through only the fabric to secure them. To add strength and definition I rolled the seam allowance in on itself at each side and covered it with a binding. The bin still bows out a bit, but I think it kinda works.

Currently my waddings are jammed in plastic carrier bags and stuffed under the sideboard. It’s not a pretty sight. I intend to make some floppy lids to top off the bins later, but for now I’ve just covered my first one with a piece of fabric. I have to say it already looks much better, so I best crack on with a couple more.


…link to All is Vanity

A Little Bit of History

I take in museums and places of interest all the time when I’m on holiday, but I never seem to get round to visiting the ones that are near my home.  I live in the Black Country, once the industrial heartland of England, whose grimy factories were built on the rich seams of iron ore and coal found beneath the earth in the 1800s. There are plenty of places here that celebrate the legacy of those times and that I’ve never been to. One of them is the Museum of Cannock Chase.

The museum mostly celebrates the lives of the coal miners and the mining industry. Our little sewing group found it fascinating although we didn’t visit because of the exhibits but because the venue was hosting the Cannock Chase Quilt & Embroidery Festival.

It was an enchanting little festival with a beautiful collection of quilts on display, all made by local enthusiasts. Considering it was the first time the festival was being held there were a surprising number of fabric and notions stalls too.

I purchased some needles from a stall run by John James Needles of Redditch and discovered that the company has been producing high quality needles of all types since the 1840s, and Redditch was once know as the ‘Needle Capital of the World.’ All made possible by the high quality steel being manufactured close by in the Black Country.  Small nuggets of history like that become kind of personal when they’re so close to home, don’t you think?

Angie and I succumbed to purchasing a few bits of fabric which we didn’t need but absolutely had to have. Tracy bought a complete handbag kit, ‘The Juberry Messenger Bag,’ designed by Julie Betts from the Juberry Fabrics stall. She got to work on it straight away and the end result is a fabulous looking bag that only took her a couple of evenings to complete. Which reminds me I’d better get on and make my travel bag soon. I bought the fabrics at Uttoxeter way back in April and haven’t even made a start yet.

Angie’s Album Quilt

I’ve been waiting for this little beauty to be finished so I could photograph it. The blocks were done, but Angie was waiting to find just the right shade of fabric for the large outer border. I think the deep mauve she eventually decided upon is perfect. It really brings out the soft muted colours of the centre pieced blocks.

The quilt is the Album Quilt, and is a lap quilt taken from a pattern in Kathleen Tracy’s book, The Civil War Sewing Circle. Quilts evoking this period of American history are Angie’s absolute favourite to do.

Since the blocks are the stars of the show, she’s sewed a minimal amount of echo quilting so as not to detract from them. I have to say I simply love it, and it’s definitely a pattern I must get around to trying for myself.

Westering Women BoM 2016 II

I think it’s fair to say that Barbara Brackman’s Westering Women BoM Block 3 has been the cause of major headaches for our little sewing group! The block is called Sweet Gum Leaf and, oh joy, it calls for a whole lot of inset, or ‘Y’ seams.

I tried and tried to get good matching points, but I guess this is where my inexperience shows as I couldn’t come up with a block that really satisfied me. Practice is supposed to make perfect I know, but my best effort remained my first try, the others were all downhill from there.

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Sandra – WW Block 3

At our Friday night get-together I was relieved to find it wasn’t just me that was having problems. So, we put our heads together and came up with an alternate design using only HSTs. It’s not quite as elegant as the original but it’s manageable, achievable and it gets the job done.

Button was being her adorable self and insisted on getting in on the act too – she’s a stern supervisor. (You might notice that Angie and Tracy haven’t quite got round to appliquéing the stems onto their blocks yet, so I had to use a piece of stand-in fabric for the photos!)

A few days later I felt in a more relaxed frame of mind to tackle those dreaded inset seams, so I chose a whole new colour scheme and spent an afternoon carefully cutting, marking and sewing pieces to make the original Sweet Gum Leaf block. I was so pleased with the outcome, until…..

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Sandra – WW Block 3 Version 3

…..I compared it with my previous blocks and discovered that I’d cut my six leaf pieces without the addition of the quarter inch seam allowance. So although the block worked, it was a miniature version of what it should be. Talk about frustration!

It was another week before I could bring myself to have yet another crack at it. Thankfully, this time everything went well and I have a passable block, but it’s going to be a long time before I approach inset seams without thinking about sweet gum leaves.

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Sandra – WW Block 3 Version 4

In the meantime, Blocks 4 and 5 in the Westering Women series have been published so there’s quite a bit of catching up to do.

…link to previous Westering Women BoM 2016 post.

 

Stars ‘n Stripes

I had thought that my other half regarded my sewing with benevolent disinterest since every time I waft my latest achievement under his nose I’m greeted with a glazed smile and a ‘that’s nice.’  Turns out he thinks my patchwork passion is neat, and can he have a quilt in the shape of the American flag for his birthday, please?  He’s renovating an old Chevrolet Pickup truck and wants to drape the quilt across the seats when it’s done.  What can I say, of course, but yes?

So, when we went to the quilting show at Uttoxeter, I was on the lookout for deep reds and warm white fabrics, but most of all I was interested in a way of representing all those stars on the blue part of the flag.  I did buy some blue fabric with white printed stars, but now I’ve had chance to look at it properly I don’t think it will fit the bill as the stars are too large.  I’ll have to surf the web to see if I can’t find an alternative.  Either applique stars or a printed fabric might do.

In the meantime, I’ve decided on a series of half square triangle blocks in shades of deep red and off-white for the flag stripes.   I discovered a method for making eight at one time on the Generations Quilt Patterns website which makes the work a whole lot faster,  but don’t let anyone tell you that HSTs are simple because if you want to maintain accuracy when making loads of them you still have to concentrate. I made them oversized and trimmed each one down to precise 2½” squares.  So that’s where I am at now.  I’ve sewn up the red stripes and I’m working my way through the white ones.

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I may take a break from it soon though, because the new Westering Women BoM has been posted, and I do love a challenge….

.. link to Stars ‘n Stripes II

Friday Night is Patchwork Night

My love of patchwork all began when my friend, Angie, invited me over one Friday evening.  The conversation quickly turned to her fledgling efforts at patchwork.  She showed me some Log Cabin pattern blocks she was making that would one day become a quilt.  They were (and still are) fascinating to me.  I have been sewing all my life, but this was something completely different.  Nothing like running up curtains or lifting the hem on a dress.

We agreed to go visit a fabric shop the following Saturday as she needed more material. The moment I walked through the door of White Cottage Country Crafts in Seisdon I was hooked.  Floor to ceiling is filled with the most gorgeous fabrics. Examples of finished work – quilts, cushions, bags and much more – are festooned about the shop, and there are heaps of patterns to try out.

I bought a pattern for a bolster cushion cover and a jelly roll of fabric.  (Angie bought enough fabric to start a shop of her own.)  Time to have a go myself….