Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Quilting Bee: April 2015

Now, I know that this was actually supposed to be January's block, but hey better late than never as they say!

This month we are making a Simplex Star, and a variation of it is also known as a Friendship Star.  Very apt for our little group I thought...

So here goes the instructions for the Simplex Star.

Firstly, you will need three different fabrics-
A: For the centre square and one half of the Half Square Triangle (or HST, which I will explain later),
B: For the other triangle of the HST
C: For the four squares in each corner.

Measurements for each fabric:
A: 1x 4.5" square, 2x 5.5" square
B: 2x 5.5" square
C: 4x 4.5" squares

I would recommend after cutting your fabrics to make your HSTs.  These are simple and not at all scary.  I know the fear of triangles out there, so we need to see how easy these babies really are...ok?!

Making your HSTs:
First of all take your two 5.5" squares of fabrics A and B.

Whichever is the lighter of the two fabrics, draw a diagonal line on the REVERSE side from one corner to the opposite corner.  Do this for both fabrics.

Then, place Fabrics A and B right sides together.

You will be sewing a line on each side of this centre line, a quarter inch away.  If you like, draw another pencil line on either side of the centre line a quarter inch from it.  

Once you have stitched these two lines, you will cut along the centre line, giving you two triangles.

Open each piece up to give yourself a square and press towards the darker of your fabrics.

These squares will then need to be trimmed down to measure 4.5" square.  You can do this easily with you quilting ruler.

That's the tricky part done!

Now, lay out all of your fabric pieces in the arrangement in which they will be sewn together. 

In blocks of this type, I nearly ALWAYS sew in lines, i.e. top line, then middle, then the bottom.  So stitch each row, starting with the top.

Press your seams for the top and bottom rows to the RIGHT and for the middle row to the LEFT to make it easier when you come to join the rows together.  Firstly stitch the top and middle rows together, taking care to nest your seams.  Then attach the bottom row.

Press your seams open,


Well done everyone, I'm sure you found those HSTs a lot easier to do than you thought, right?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

December Quilting Bee: Churn Dash

This month is the turn of the gorgeous Churn Dash block.  Definitely one of my favourites!  It's so quick and easy to put together once you have done it once, that you can quickly make an entire quilt top of CDs... ;)

The Churn Dash block is most effective in just two fabrics, one for the feature and another for the "background".  This doesn't mean you have to use one light and one dark fabric, just make them different enough so that they compliment well.

Right, here are your cutting instructions....

Fabric A:
Four x 2.5" by 4.5" rectangles
Two 5" squares

Fabric B:
Four x 2.5" by 4.5" rectangles
Two 5" squares
One 4.5" square (this is the centre block)

Nice and easy to cut!  This month, we are making the two-triangles-made-into-squares blocks differently, using a method called Half Square Triangles.  It's much quicker and when doing it this way, you make it more accurate, as you have to cut down your squares to size.


If you prefer written instructions, here goes!

1.  Cut out all of your fabric as above and lay out on large surface, by firstly placing the 4.5" centre black down.  Then surround this with your Fabric A rectangles and finally your Baric B rectangles above those.  You will end up with a cross shape.

2.  To make the Half Square Triangles, it's best to watch the video, but here is a step by step....

Place one square of each of Fabric A and Fabric B right sides together.  Pin together.
Draw a line from one corner, diagonally, to the opposite corner. 
If you have a quarter inch foot on your machine, all you need to do is use this line to sew a quarter inch EACH side.  If you don't have a foot, then draw another two lines, each a quarter inch from the first line.  Then use these two outer lines to sew along.
Cut along the first line drawn (corner to corner)
Open out your pieces.  You will now have two squares made up of your two triangles of fabric A & B.
Press your seams towards the darkest fabric.
Trim down your squares to 4.5", taking care to place the 45 degree angle line on your ruler along the seam line, to ensure that your square is cut straight (please watch the video if this doesn't make any sense!)

3.  Lay out all of your HSTs in each corner.

4.  Sew each rectangle together, along the longest side.  Press your seams to one side, or open.

5.  Sew together the top row (HST, rectangles, HST), then middle, then bottom.

6.  Press your seams to the LEFT in your top and bottom rows, and to the RIGHT in the middle row.

7.  Sew together the top and middle row, taking care to nest your seams.

8.  Sew on the bottom row, again, nesting your seams.

9.  Press your seams open or to one side!

If you want to have a little experiment with HST (you can make so many lovely designs with just HSTs!)  then firstly decide on the size of FINISHED square that you would like to use.
Take you two chosen fabrics and cut them 1" LARGER than your finished square size (i.e. if you want 5" finished squares, but your fabric to 6")
Make up your HSTs as above, trimming down to your finished size.

Make up 4 HSTs (using just 4 pieces of fabric) and see how many different layouts you can do.  Then add in another 4, play, and so on.  Honestly, they're addictive!!!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

November Quilting Bee!

So this month, we're making a Sawtooth Star... Perfect with Christmas coming up! Adapt it to make cushions or even little Xmas tree decorations and gift pouches!


Here's what you need.....

2 or 3 different fabrics to cut the following:

Fabric A - 
4x 3.5" squares
2x 3&7/8 squares, cut once on the diagonal to give 4 triangles

Fabric B - 
4x 3&7/8 squares, cut once on the diagonal to give 8 triangles

Fabric C (or A again if you choose just 2 fabrics) - 
1x 6.5" square

Once you have your fabrics cut, lay them out as they will be placed in your finished block (see below)

The Fabric A squares make up the corners, and half of the squares around the edge (the beige fabric in the image below)

Fabric B makes up the outer squares with Fabric A (red & Aqua in the image below)

Fabric C is the centre square.

I started by sewing together the triangles to make up the outer squares as below. You are sewing along the LONGEST edge of the triangle. It might be best to press your seams open...

Once you have done this, snip any "ears" off your squares that you made up in the last step & then separate out into rows, as below

Sew each row, top first, then middle (outer pieces first, then attach both to the centre square, see below) and finally the bottom row.

Press your seams to the LEFT in the top & bottom rows and RIGHT for the Middle so that you can best your seams nicely! 

And that's it! Not too bad huh?! 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Quilting Bee: October!

Hey guys!

I can't believe that we're on month two already!

Natasha is the Queen Bee this month, and has chosen the most gorgeous Autumn-y pallette...

This month, we're doing a variation on the 9-patch block and here's what you need:

Fabric 1: 4 x 3.5" squares and 1 x 6.5" square
Fabric 2: 4 x 3.5x6.5" rectangles

I would recommend using just two fabrics for this design as it makes it a little more striking!

Here is the link video tutorial for this month....any questions just SHOUT!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

How To : Patchwork Cushion

Here's the first of my monthly "how do I make....?" patchwork & quilting posts.  Each month I will do a tutorial on how to make a lovely patchwork goody, perfect for gifts or even better, to keep!

The first tutorial is a lovely, quick & simple patchwork cushion cover. It has an envelope back, so no scary zips to wrestle with!!

First of all, here is what you will need:

16x4.5"squares of fabrics in as many prints as you like (you can get 16x4.5" squares from just 1 fat quarter!)

2x 16.5"x11" rectangles of the same fabric for the envelope back

Firstly, cut your fabrics to the above dimensions, making sure to press well before you cut.

Play around with the layout of your squares & take pics of the different layouts so you can easily compare before you sew - they look massively different so it's good to have a reference to look back on! 


Right once you've decided on your layout, we will see the squares together in rows. Starting from the top, using a quarter-inch seam throughout.

You will end up with the four rows as shown above.

Now you will need to press each row. You want the seams to go in the opposite direction to the row above. I always press the top row to the left, the next row down to the right & so on

Looks so much better pressed!

Next, you want to join the top two rows together.  You will need to "nest" your seams.  Basically, this means butting up your seams so that you have no gap or overlap in the seams where the rows meet. Doing this will make sure that each intersection of your squares is clean without a gap:

You'll be able to feel it when you've nested the seam properly as it will feel smooth. If there's an overlap, you'll feel a bump & if there's a gap you'll feel an indent as you run your fingertips over the seam.

Once they're nested nicely, pop a pin thrugh each side of the nested seam to hold it in place until it is sewn together:

Repeat for each intersection of seams. You might find that you have a little extra fabric between some squares & not enough between others. Don't panic! Nest your seams regardless. You'll find that as you sew, as the machine pulls the fabric trough these "problem" squares right themselves! 

I always pin slightly diagonally as shown, as this goes through both sides of the seam and also makes the pins easier to remove as they near the machine foot.

Now, sew the rows together with a quarter-inch seam.

Open out & press seams UP.

Repeat with the bottom two rows & this is what you will have:

Now, sew the two rows of two in exactly the same way. Press the seam UP again

That's the front of your cover done! Try not to spill water on yours...!

Now we need to prepare the backing.

Along the LONGER edge of each of the backing pieces, turn the edge up by about a half inch & press. Then turn by another half inch and press again. 

You'll now sew along this fold, close to the upper edge, to give a nice finished edge to the envelope back.

Repeat with the other backing piece.

Now lay these on your cover front, right sides together, lining up along the top & sides. Place the top piece on first (folded edge in the middle):

and then the bottom piece in the same way:

Now pop some pins to secure in place, especially at the corners & over the folds on the backing pieces

Now, sew around all the edges with a quarter-inch seam. Back stitch (you should have a button or lever to do this on your machine which you may need to hold while you complete the back stitch) over the opening folds, as these will get the most strain when you take the cushion pad out & put it back in.

At the corners, see to about a quarter-inch from the edge & turn.

Once you have sewn around the cover, you might want to "finish" your edges by sewing a zig-zag stitch around. This looks nice and also stops fraying & strengthens your seams up a bit too!

Now turn inside out & you'll see your finished cover!

Give it a good old press, fill with a 16" cushion pad and LOVE it forever! 

Preparing & Pattern Picking...

The main prep that you need to do, sadly, is pressing. The single most important step is pressing. The worst thing to hear when all you dread all week is ironing all the washing is pressing....

Anyway! This is a good, pretty kind of pressing. All those lovely fabrics that you've chosen are waiting to be pressed and cut, ready to be made into your work of art. Wonderful!

I went out and bought a relatively plain & simple iron with a steam function from Sainsburys for £12 to use for my quilting. I also sought out a table-top ironing board to sit next to me - this is mainly because if that ironing boards isn't near you, the chances are you won't iron your work, and that's disastrous. Press, press, press. And if in doubt, yep you guessed it! 

Once all your gorgeous fabrics have been pressed, and you've spent longer than is acceptable admiring both the fabrics and your brilliance, it's time to CUT!

The Cutting

The best way is to cut with a large quilting ruler and a rotary cutter. It's quick, clean and accurate (as long as you do it properly!). You can use a ruler, marker & fabric scissors but be aware that this won't be quite as accurate so you might have to accept that your seams/points aren't as matchup as they could be.

I use a large 24"x12" ruler, an A2 cutting may and an Olfa & Dafa rotary cutter. 

The most important step in cutting your fabric - making sure that you cut in the direction of the grain. You might have heard of the warp and weft of fabric, sonic have included the picture below for reference. Save it somewhere you can refer to it easily! If you don't cut in the direction of the grain you risk cutting across it, leaving it more susceptible to stretching out of shape. Not good.

The best way to cut any fabric that I have found it to fold it with the selvedge edges together. If you have a fat quarter, you will have only one selvedge, so match that up to the opposite side (see video).

Once you have done that, you might need to shift the fabric slightly in one direction or the other as you want to make sure the fold at the bottom sits straight without any curve or twist.

Lay your fabric down on your cutting mat (or a stable surface) and put your ruler on top, towards the right side (if right handed). Line up one of the horizontal lines on your ruler to the fold of the fabric. This will ensure a clean cut. Once lined up, hold the ruler down firmly and cut AWAY from your body with the rotary cutter. Keep the ruler in place while you move the discarded fabric away, just in case you need to make any further cuts to free it away from the main piece.

After this, you will need to flip the fabric, without letting the fabric shift. Hold the new cut firmly and move it to the left side of you. You can then place your ruler on the clean cut in order to make any further cuts that you need. ALWAYS line up one of the horizontal lines on your ruler with the fold when cutting, or another edge that you have already cut & therefore KNOW to be accurate.

Below is an image of how to cut pieces from a fat quarter that I refer to quite a lot!

I would always recommend cutting all your fabric first, before you start to sew. Then you have everything you need when you do start to sew. 

I always make piles of fabric, either by size or by block, so that it's much easier to grab what you need as you go along! 

Choosing a Pattern
There are a million and one different places to head to for quilt patterns - Pinterest (see my boards here), blogs, books, magazines - and it's great to keep looking & keeping all your ideas in one place.

As much as I love technology, I tend to print out things I like & keep them all together in a folder so that I can reference easily when I'm sewing.

Don't just look for patterns that appear SIMPLE, as even quilts that look difficult may not be. Sometimes its down to the placement of blocks rather than the actual cutting and piecing.

 Image from Fig Tree & Co

Most patterns will tell you not only the fabric requirements, but also if you can use any precuts to aid in your pattern. American patterns tend to be written I yards as opposed to metres and centimetres that we now use in Europe. You don't have to rigidly stick to the number of difference fabrics that a pattern specifies - be creative and go with what works for you. As long as the totals are the same there's no issue!

I love scouring blogs, Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration and patterns & keep them all in a folder on my Dropbox account so that they're always result accessible.

I have quite a few patterns from Thimble Blossoms and Fig Tree & Co which I absolutely love, so check them out.

Our next post will be on sewing your pieces accurately & the most common shapes you might comes across in your quilting adventures..! 

Quilting Bee : September : Block 1 Rail Fence

Hello lovelies!

Well I decided that it would be easier to film my posts so apologies for my awful voice in advance, oh and the sniffing!  I have also done a post on cutting fabric (another video, sorry!) which you might want to watch first as I don't cover cutting here.

Our blocks will all be 12.5" when we complete them (making them 12" when sewn together).  I decided to make them smaller as 1. the fabric is easier to handle, 2. you'll likely have more scraps around this size and 3. the Queen Bee can then easily add more blocks if she wants to to make her quilt bigger.  Perfect!

So for this lovely Rail Fence block you will need:

Fabric A: 4.5" x 12.5"
Fabric B: 4.5" x 12.5"
Fabric C: 4.5" x 12.5"

The colours which Sue has chosen are:

If you want, you can also do two strips of the same fabric sandwiching the different one in the middle.

Sew them together as in the video (this takes you over to YouTube!).

Ha!  Super simple right?

I have put some ideas up on a Pinterest board HERE so that you can see not just ideas for blocks, but also how you can make quilts up using just that one block.

I am making one extra block each month so that I get a mini-quilt of all 8 at the end of our Bee to hang on my wall :)