Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mini-Tutorial: Pinwheels/Whirly-gigs

After making my two whirly-gigs quilts, the wallhanging and the one for Olivia, Bek and Sally both asked me to put together a little tutorial for making the blocks. They're super simple and completely adjustable for how big you want your blocks to be.

For Olivia's quilt I made the blocks 4" finished, and below is a diagram of the sizes of the pieces:

To get a finished block of 4" the easiest thing to do is cut rectangles of 4.5" x 5.25" and then cut the diagonal line along the middle. For this example I cut my diagonals at 1.5" in from the two opposite ends of the long edge - you can do this by either marking the edge at 1.5" in, or what I tend to do when I'm cutting lots or something I put a couple of little marks on my ruler using a sharpie to guide where to place the ruler to do the cut with the rotary cutter.

If you wanted to make a bigger or smaller block, but with an angle about the same as this one then you just need to cut a rectangle with one side 0.75" longer than the shorter side. If I'm doing something and am not sure about the size, I often draw it out on paper and measure it to be sure, so if you want to test it, that's a good way to go about it, much better than wasting fabric by cutting it wrong!

Alternatively, the way I did the wall hanging is to cut a square on an angle, then trim down the blocks once I'd sewn the diagonal seam together. I did this because I had some squares left over that I'd pre-cut so I used them. This would probably also be a good way to go about it if you were using charm squares. Make sure to cut the two sides equally so that the whirly-gigs don't end up uneven! (Unless that's the look you're going for of course)

A very brief tutorial of this today, but hopefully enough to encourage you to give this design a go! As always, please let me know if you have any questions, want any clarification or assistance with working out sizes for these please get in touch. And of course, if you make one of these please share a photo with me!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Laura's Quilt - 3- Piecing & Quilting

This is the third post about the quilt that I made as a wedding present for my friend Laura. Last time I talked about process I went through to choose the design of the quilt. Once I'd chosen the design I pieced the quilt top together, by adding white fabric in between my squares. Here's what it looked like laid out on my bed (before I'd added the white strips to the top and bottom of the quilt as I had to go and buy some more white before I could add them):

After finishing the quilt top I had to start thinking about the back. Laura had a bit of a bunting theme going on with her wedding, it featured on her save the date cards, on the invitation and I knew she had plans for bunting for the wedding itself. Therefore I knew from the beginning that I had to include bunting somehow in the gift. Rather than make it obvious and potentially tacky on the front, I decided to add it to the back; appliqu├ęd onto a solid white back.

Triangles of heat n bond ironed onto the back of the fabric and cut out to make my bunting flags

After spending quite a while fiddling with the flags until I was happy with the layout and fused them on

Then did a small zig-zag around the edges to secure the flag onto the fabric

Now that my top and back were done I could baste and start quilting. I actually tried something different with the basting this time - I used a quilting frame (owned by a friend) to baste the layers together:

It was an interesting experiment to try, but in all honesty I wouldn't use that method again. While it was much much quicker than the normal way of basting, and much more comfortable (no crawling on the floor!), I don't think the quality of the basting was anywhere near as good. Because of the way the quilt was rolled onto the frame, the back of the quilt was around the outside, so it actually pulled the back onto it disproportionately to the front and I actually ran out of backing before the end of the top (problem one), and then when I started quilting it I actually ended up with puckers on the backing (problem two). I also noticed towards the end of the whole process that somehow the top had become wonky, I guess from basting it a bit wonky, which was disappointing (problem three). You can't tell any of these three problems unless you really look for them though.

However, despite those problems I'm still happy with how the quilt turned out, I just wouldn't use that method again. Once I completed the basting, I could start quilting. I actually already shared a sneak peek of the quilting of this quilt. I chose to stipple over the white sections and do a leaf design in the coloured squares...

I really am thrilled about how well the quilting went. It was a bit of a risk trying something new like this on a quilt that I really felt I needed to work. It wouldn't have happened at all if it wasn't for Sally, as my sewing machine was (still) playing up, and she incredibly generously let me use her sewing machine for the quilting. Other than basic functionality of the machine, Sally's machine made the job easier because hers has a 12" throat, whereas mine has a 9" one - those extra 3" make a huge difference!

What do you think? What quilting design would you have chosen? In the next, and last, post about Laura's quilt I will talk about the binding and show of some pics of the finished thing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mini-Tutorial: Concentric hexagons

When I finished my concentric hexagons quilt Bek asked me how I had pieced the top and if I could post a tutorial. I've been meaning to post a mini tutorial since then, and I've finally got a chance to put one together.

The pieces hexagons were all made using two sets of pre-cut strips - a jelly roll and honey bun. A jelly roll is a set of strips that are 2.5" wide and the length the width of the fabric (~44"). A honey bun is strips 1.5" wide and the same length.

I spent a little while working out how many strips to piece together to make best use of the two kinds of strips I had and to get the least wastage. I worked out that a finished width of 5.5" (5" finished) was ideal as it gave almost exactly 12 triangles with only a little bit of waste but enough leeway if the ends of your strips weren't quite exactly even. Thus, each set of strips makes two different hexagons (the order of the strips is reversed between the two).

So the first thing I did was sort my strips into sets. I did this rather than sew them together as I went as I wanted to split my strips into the different colours, so sorting them first allowed me to make sure that I had the combinations that I was after.

The strips were sorted into any combinations that added up to 5" finished (eg 2x2.5" + 1x1.5", or 1x2.5"+ 3x1.5", see diagram above) and stitched together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Then the sets of strips are cut into the 12 equilateral triangles (see diagram below). My ruler has a 60 degree line marked on it, so I used that line as a guide for cutting the triangles. You could also use an equilateral triangle ruler/template.

I then stitched the two sets of 6 matching equilateral triangles into sets of three "half hexagons". Once you have all your triangles stitched into half hexagons you're ready for planning the quilt layout.

To plan the layout I just found a space big enough to lay out the half hexagons (which is actually a bit bigger than the finished quilt as the seam allowances haven't come out yet). In my case I used a bed (plus a bit). I laid out the half hexagons, leaving space where I was planning on adding my "negative space" background fabric.

Once you've decided on your layout you'll need to cut out the background fabric for your negative space. That's nice and easy! For the small areas you need to measure your half hexagons and cut some half hexagons of your background fabric. For the larger areas I cut strips, with the end cut at a 60 degree angle and then cut them to the correct length.

To assemble the quilt top you first need to join the strips of half hexagons (which on my quilt above runs horizontally across the photo), and once you have the strips pieced, join all the strips together into one big piece. For my quilt I then added a border of the background fabric all the way around, wider at the sides than the top and bottom to make the quilt squarer.

Let me know if you have any questions, and if you make anything using this tutorial please do share piccys with me!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Melbourne Sewer Meetup

Have you heard? Rachel from 'Boo Dog & Me' is organising a Melbourne Sewer Meet up on the 18th of August! Will you be coming along? I've already got it in my diary and am looking forward to it! If you're in Melbourne, you should come to! Click through to Rachel's blog for the details.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Laura's Quilt - 2- Design & Layout

This is the second post about the quilt that I made as a wedding present for my friend Laura. Last time I talked about the quilts that I used as inspiration, and the fabric that I chose. The from the last post that provided the most inspiration was this one:

IMG_3304 (800x533)

I was particularly struck by the above pictured quilt so decided to use it as inspiration for mine, but didn't want to try and do a straight copy. Although I like the negative space, I wanted to have some more colour than this one. I actually worked out my design the old fashioned way with a piece of graph paper and a pencil, however as I'm writing this post in England and my pieces of paper are in Australia I can't show them to you. I can describe my design process though (hoping I remember it correctly). First I thought about what the above design really is when broken down into squares

But from that I estimated that the squares are smaller than the size I'd like so modified it slightly but still pretty similar

But this is where I decided to start adding in some more colour to the design, so I added in another row of squares

But I didn't really like how the sizes reduced in such an ordered way. So I tried something else

But this option was even worse! It looked like two strips of filmstrip, and that definitely wasn't the look I was going for!! Since I was working on this at a Sit and Sew Day I was lucky enough to get input from others, and my final design was actually entirely due to Sally, who suggested the slight alteration to one of my previous designs

Having settled on my design I started cutting

4.5" squares for the larger squares, and 2.5" squares for the smaller ones, to give finished sizes of 4" and 2" respectively. By the end of the day I was able to lay out some of the squares and get a preview of what my design was going to look like

The last stage of choosing the design was working out the layout of all the fabrics within my design. To do this I laid them all out on the floor in my chosen design, swapping the fabrics around until I thought was happy with the balance

But after taking photos of my layout I realised that one of my green fabrics just wasn't working, it was too dark. It's easier to see in the below photo that I've converted to black and white

And finally here is my final design and layout of the fabrics within it:

What do you think of the design and layout that I chose? I'm really happy with it, I love it! In the next post I'll talk about the piecing and quilting of the quilt.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thurlow Trousers

I showed you my Thurlow Shorts the other week and at the time promised to show you the trousers that I made from the pattern.

The trousers I made are out of this lovely black and grey weave fabric, that appears grey unless you look closely. The fabric (also from the fabric store) is a bit thinner than the stuff I used for the shorts, and has a slight amount of stretch. I forget what the fibre content was.

Although I still absolutely love the pattern, I definitely love the shorts waaaaay more than these trousers for two main reasons. Firstly, I'm not that fond of trousers these days, so they've got an uphill battle from the start. Secondly, because of the slight stretch in the fabric these trousers have ended up slightly bigger than the shorts, making them borderline too big.

They are, however, a huge success over the last pair of trousers that I made - for starters I didn't royally mess up the zip, and secondly they aren't super shiney.

Having said all that, I'm not sure how much wear they'll get, so if anybody local is slightly larger than me and wants to try them and see if they fit, I'd be happy to donate them to them. Let me know!

I do like the fabric though, and have enough left to make another pair of shorts, which I think I'll make in the size smaller to try and compensate for the fabric stretch.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Down Under Doll Quilt Swap - Round 3 - I'm in!

Guess what! I've signed up for round 3 of the Down Under Doll Quilt Swap! Surprisingly, this is the first one of these online flickr based swaps that I've signed up for, and I'm super excited!! It coincides perfectly with my aim of having a cluster of little quilts to put on my bedroom wall, so I'm hoping for a quilt on the smaller side.

Below is my mosaic of some quilts around flickr that I've spotted that I've liked as inspiration for whoever is partnered with me of what I might like.

Have you signed up? If you haven't and you're in Australia sign-ups are open until the 26th of July.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Laura's Quilt - 1- Inspiration & Fabrics

One of the reasons that I've come over to England this July is for the wedding of one of my best friends, Laura. As a wedding pressie for her and her husband-to-be I made them a quilt. This is actually the secret project I mentioned here back in January. Now that I have given them the quilt I can finally share the quilt and the progress of making it. I actually quite enjoy sharing the progress of making quilts, so even though the quilt is finished and with its new owners I'm going to tease you with it a bit longer and post a short series of posts about the creation of this quilt.

The creation of the quilt started right back last November when I asked Laura for some input on colours and styles that she liked. While I kept the final quilt itself a secret, I wanted some guidance with what she did and didn't like to increase the chance of making something she(/they) would like. So, as a starting point I asked her to take a look at quilts I'd added on pinterest and marked as a favourite on flickr and tell me which ones she liked. Above and below are many of the quilts that she said she liked, from which I got the inspiration for the quilt I ended up making.

1. Mod Times Quilt - finished!, 2. innocent crush kaleidoscope quilt, 3. HST Sheet Quilt , 4. Pinwheel Quilt

 She also told me that her favourite colour was purple, and her husband-to-be's favourite colour was green, so I enthusiastically chose that colour scheme. A trip to spotlight and I managed to find some fabric in the exact colour scheme I was imagining:

Once I had those two, I then hunted out other fabrics to match. It turned out to be harder than I thought, I hadn't chosen 'fashionable' colours - all the purples were too pink and all the greens too yellow for what I wanted. I managed to find some in bricks and mortar stores in Melbourne and Perth, but most of them came from the internet. This is the selection I ended up with:

What would you make from the above inspiration and the fabrics I bought? I'll be back in my next post with the next stage of the process and you'll find out what I decided on.

Trip to Cowslip Workshops

Today we went out to Launceston to visit Jo at Cowslip Workshops(For those crazy Aussies who pronounce it wrong, that word has TWO syllables, not three! Launce-ston). My Gran has been taking classes at Jo's for years, and I used to tag along when I would visit in my school and university holidays, so these days always try and pop in for a visit when I'm in the area.

Jo has a really lovely place out there, located in the middle of a functioning farm in the Cornish countryside, you'd probably be happy enough to just look at the view. It was pouring down with rain while we were there today, but it was still picturesque.

There's a lovely workroom, filled with inspiring quilts on the walls (regularly changed as far as I can see, all the ones on the wall there today were ones I'd never seen before. They run various workshops in the workroom, which has lovely big tables, and is really well lit.

She also has a lovely little patchwork shop with a nice variety of fabrics and very well priced. While the style of fabrics isn't necessarily the 'all bright and modern' stuff that is so popular in the 'modern quilting movement' I recon everyone would find something that they like there, I certainly did.


There's also a lovely little cafe, where we had some lunch before we left.


They also have exhibitions of quilts (and related things), and the most exciting thing is that they are doing an exhibition showing my Gran's quilts! It's going to be on from the 27th of July until the 11th of August, so if you're in the area you should go check it out. I know I'm biased, but my Gran really has done some amazing stuff!

Above is the fabric that I came away with, not too much and I have plans for it all already. At the top is some laminated cotton by Tanya Whelan for Free Spirit Fabrics, and below some pieces of Summersville.

I also got something pretty unique while I was there - a bag of wool batting that they've started making locally from wool from their own sheep. I've been interested in finding some better wool batting, as I was disappointed with what I used before but have heard such great things about it as a material, so I'm excited to try this out and see what I think. Jo was telling me all about how they're making it though, and it's using wool from the sheep on their farm, and a lady hand feeds it into the needle-punching machine locally.

Above and below is a quilt that Jo is just finishing off using this batting, and it was so soft and drapey! You can see that it's been quilted really densely with micro-stippling between the feathers and it was still so soft, no stiffness at all. If you want to see it in person yourself, it is apparently headed up to Birmingham for the Festival of Quilts next month.

I'll of course report back when I've used some of this batting with how it works for me, but based on the quilts that Jo showed us that she's used it in it looks pretty great!

They have got an online store, so if you're not in Cornwall you could still take advantage of their great stuff.

**Please note, I have no affiliation with Cowslip workshops, and am not being paid or anything to write this. Infact Jo doesn't even know that I am posting this! This post is my honest opinion of a business that I really hope keeps going strong, as they're a proper local business with the kind of ethics that I like to see and support**
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