Autumn Block 53 (and allotment)

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Finished this a while ago, but I’m a bit all-over-the-place craftwise. I think I’ve now 11 left to make. I’ve now used up the last of the olive green rosehip fabric which I’m pleased with as it would be a shame to waste it. Getting the other pieces to match was a bit of a struggle but the fussy-cut pumpkins came to the rescue again. I slightly dread to think how many blocks I’ve used that fabric in; maybe it’s not as many as I think…

I’ve finished the LeMoyne Star placemat and sent it down to my parents on Saturday, so it won’t have arrived yet. I’ll wait to post about it until Mum’s received it! I may alternate and do one autumn block, one placemat, that will keep my interest piqued (I hope). However, I’m doing a lot of knitting and finding time at the weekend to design a new autumn block is proving to be tricky because I’m spending a lot of time in the allotment. So many weeds, so little time! We’ve visitors coming for tea on Sunday p.m. so I’ll no doubt be doing mad tidying and cleaning beforehand. This is how my mind workds – in preparation for that I have finished the front of one of the two jumpers I’m knitting, so I can put it away and it’s one less thing cluttering up the table in our living room! I really don’t like the jumper but have now ‘only’ the sleeves to do, so I’ll go back to them later, probably next year. I want to finish my multi-coloured jumper first, then start on a cardigan I’m knitting Dad for Christmas.

It’s exciting to see the allotment produce starting to come through, after a colder and wetter June than normal. Last year was baking hot which I hated more, and I suppose you can’t win either way. I’m happy my third attempt at nurturing a pumpkin seedling to teenager-hood has worked – so far, I don’t want to curse it! I’ve had a bad year for pumpkin and squash seedlings, they’ve gone leggy, got whitefly, snapped…. I think I’ve lost at least 4 that had got as far as being planted in the soil outside. I’ve one ‘winter squash’ that needs to get bigger and stronger before it can go in the soil, but otherwise I think that what’s planted is all there is to go in the ground, just have to keep feeding and watering! Planted lots more flowers this year and am enjoying those, even if some of them (roses mainly) went ‘splat’ in all the rain we had. One nasturtium I grew from seed and nearly lost is now rampant (the orange flowered plant in the photo) and has almost swallowed the beans.

LeMoyne star early stages

I’m having a bash at a LeMoyne star for a placemat. My parents have had new windows put in and the new windowsills scratch easily so Mum suggested I make some mats for them, which pleases me greatly as it’s nice to have an excuse to try something new and to use up some of my stash. Trying out new things on a small project is ideal. So I browsed through Linda Clements’ ‘Quilter’s Bible’ and settled on the LeMoyne pattern. I really want to try something with shapes other than half-square triangles and flying geese, but am a bit daunted by templates. I did use templates for the farmer’s wife cushion 9-block cushion cover I made a couple of Christmasses ago and it was easily the hardest thing I’ve done in quilting terms!

This was me yesterday, trying out a few different combinations (not including the corner pieces. I decided on the one without pink, though I may use it for the binding. I will use the other pieces I cut for another place mat, to be decided.

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I cut out the pieces using a rotary cutter and a multi-size perspex diamond template, though I think I made a mistake cutting out the green ones because I thought straight grain could be either horizontal or vertical, but the first strip I cut (the plain green) was really stretchy which made it hard to cut around the template accurately; I cut the patterned fabrics on the grain that runs parallel to the selvedge and that was much easier. I don’t have a right-angled triangle template so cut squares then cut them in half diagonally.

I’m sewing the units of 2xdiamond + 1 triangle using the inset seam method as explained in the Quilter’s Bible, though I’m confused by it also saying to offset the seams as I don’t see how when the point has to go where the point where the two diamonds meet, but I’ve gone ahead and hope it makes sense later.

So far I’ve sewn together the long edges of two sets of diamonds (it was three but one wasn’t accurate enough and then I saw I’d sewn it with the wrong edges together for the pattern anyway) and have attached the triangle to one. This is it when I had the last seam of the triangle left to sew on.

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When I finished the unit I found I’d made the half-square triangles too big, they line up with the edges on the diamond before they’re sewn together, but not afterwards! Glad I only made one set.

This is the finished unit, front and back. It’s bulky where the points meet and you can see some stitches at the point, but it seems okay… have to wait until I’ve done some more to be sure.

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Blocks 51 and 52

In my stroll to the finish line of 64 blocks I’m evening up the number of ‘stars’ as opposed to ‘diamonds’, as the pattern of the finished quilt alternates blocks with the centre 4 flying geese reversed. The first of these ‘star’ blocks I finished in February and enjoyed putting together, even though in the scheme of the quilt in may be more green than most, I love the colour combination. I made a similar one earlier but with the diamond centre and a bit of brown, so I wanted to make another with the flying geese reversed. I did want to include brown in this but just couldn’t make it work. If this isn’t the only block in the quilt that consists of only 4 fabrics, it’s certainly one of very few. Lots of nice Moda fabrics again, including Prairie Cactus, one of my favourites.

Green

This next block, on the contrary, is not one of my favourites. It’s the subject of my last blog post reworked so that the centre square is a lighter shade of brown, repeated on the outer four corners, and with the dark brown triangles on the outer edge replaced on two sides with all that is left of one of my favourite fabrics for this project (salvaged from an unsuccessful block I took apart). The trouble is that I could not get the centre four squares right, no fabric I tried looked right, so in the end this was the best I could muster. I’ve nearly run out of this fabric so couldn’t afford to do too much fussy cutting, hence the purple remains and I don’t like it. I don’t like the overall effect in that when it’s gloomy and you stand back from the block, the centre four squares blend into the dark orange of the star so it looks like a big dark lump in the middle. I think it would have been better with a smaller print but there was only one in my stash that sort of worked, but alas not well enough. So this is the best I can do. Orange and brown

I think I’m going to have to have a recount of how many blocks I still have to do! Thought it was 10 but if these really are blocks 51 and 52 then it’s 12…

Bad idea

I started making this. It is revolting! I don’t know what I was thinking. As I near the end I wanted to use this pumpkin fabric, because I’ve made one block with a little bit of it in and thought I should make at least one more with it in so that block wasn’t alone. I thought all of this was okay except the four little squares in the centre block-within-a-block and eventually decided these were the best I can do. But yuck! In the light of day, this has to come apart. Maybe I can swap another fabric for these centre four and it will be okay, but I’m not convinced. I’ve known this in my heart of hearts for days but just haven’t acted on it. At least I know what I’ll be doing on the commute home tonight (provided I have a seat). What I don’t think I’ll be doing is taking apart any more flying geese, the cream and the dark orange are being re-used as it is and are a bit frayed. But I do wonder if the dark brown is too dark here, and if I still think that when I’ve tried replacing the four little squares I may have to change the centre and outer squares too.

Yuck

Baby quilt

The baby quilt has been safely received in Australia. Not that the baby needs it in the hot weather they’ve been having, though they’re near Melbourne where it gets chilly in the winter so they may have a use for it in a few months’ time.

Baby quilt

Baby quilt hanging

Shan’t lie, I enjoyed using pre-cut squares! Apart from a few a cut from the cloud fabric I used for the back.

Doing a wavy design was fun, I can’t do freemotion quilting so it was nice to find a way of quilting that didn’t involve straight lines. I had a bit of a to-do working out how to do it, til I thought of using thin craft masking tape. They don’t line up, but I don’t think it matters.

Baby quilt back

I had my usual issue with finishing the binding. I almost had it right and in fact thought I’d finished, though not exactly as in the book I had it close enough that it would pass. Then I found I was so tired and the light so poor I’d managed to put the entire binding on inside out… then I couldn’t go to bed til I’d unpicked it so that was a late night. The result was that because I’d already trimmed where the binding met and it was at the wrong angle when you put on the fabric the right way round, I just had to sew over the top of it, complete with frayed edges (thought about blanket stitch but it seemed to make it worse and I’m bad at blanket stitch).

Baby quilt binding problem

So it remains the case that I have yet to finish a quilt with the binding done properly, grrr. Perhaps by the time I actually finish the autumn quilt that is my original ‘first patchwork quilt’ I’ll have worked it out!

We’ve had a weird extra-warm spell for mid-February so I spent a lot of time in the allotment this weekend, which was great (if back-breaking). Wish I could be there now!

North American wildlife block

I didn’t really set out to make a specifically North American block, but searching for ‘woodland’ fabric on Ebay in an attempt to find more of a fabric I’ve used before but run out of, I came across material with moose, bears, and deer. It had autumn coloured leaves and some pine cones, so autumnal enough to fit my theme and I couldn’t resist! It wasn’t actually that easy to make it blend in with others, perhaps because the background is very white and I’ve been steering away from that to more tan coloured backgrounds, or because there’s something about the way the animals are drawn, can’t quite put my finger on it.

Moose

The centre came together easily but not the outer edge, and I’m not actually sure they go together. I like the fir tree patterned fabric but have only used it in one other, recent, block and won’t use much more of it (if any) in the remaining blocks because the green is quite different to other greens I’ve used. I think it’s a Moda fabric by Holly Taylor and I actually bought more to make a Christmas quilt or wall hanging with, but it’s completely out of stock anywhere I’ve tried, so I’m conserving what I have left. The dark orange I salvaged from a block I took apart and have been trying to find a way to reuse it ever since, but there are some tans and some greens especially that it shouldn’t go anywhere near.

Sorry the background to the photo’s a bit confusing, it’s the wicker lid of my laundry basket because I took it outside to photograph in natural light but didn’t want to put it directly onto the concrete because it had been raining, so grabbed this to use.

I’ve got 13 blocks left to make for this quilt and have started on the next block though I’m worried it’s using too much of one fabric in the same block. I tried deciding on my next blocks at the weekend but it’s getting a bit mind-boggling now, trying not to repeat myself, wanting to use more of certain fabrics I’ve got left over but not having ones to match them with, etc. etc. I’m keen to move on to the next thing so must stay focussed!

Patchwork baby quilt

My husband’s brother’s wife has just had their first baby so I’m making a little quilt. They live in Australia and it’s summer now so I guess this will come in most useful in about 6 months’ time; or they could use it as a mat for him to lie on; or whatever they like!

I finished the quilt top last weekend and this weekend intend to quilt it. I can’t decide what quilting design to use. I’m bored with straight lines and in a way find them difficult because if it goes wonky it’s really noticeable so has to be pulled out and redone, which I don’t much fancy. As it’s only small I can do freehand, but need to decide what exactly. I get hyper-safety conscious when it comes to babies so don’t want any loose threads or things coming undone, so want a minimum of ends that need to be fastened in and will therefore be moving from one edge of the quilt to the other so the ends can be within the binding. Not that I’ve ever managed to start quilting in the middle like the manuals say, I can’t manage it without it looking messy.

I feel mildly guilty at the gender stereotyping of this fabric, though I know the respective grandmothers will approve and I don’t suppose the baby’s going to know or care! There’s no other circumstances in which I would use these fabrics, so I enjoyed it. All but the clouds fabric were part of two packs of 30 charm squares I bought on Ebay, I think cut and put together by the seller rather than by the manufacturer, so I don’t know what the make is. The plain colours felt to me like they’re thinner than the patterned, and puckerered up a bit when sewing, but improved with ironing and I think will be okay when quilted. The cloud fabric is Le Tissu by Domotex and is good quality. I bought a piece to use as the backing and cut just a strip off so there a few squares to include on the front so front and back tie in. I haven’t decided on the binding material yet.

baby quilt

The squares are 3 inches. There were more elephants I think than anything else so I had to include 2 or 3 on each row. The brighter blue fabric with bigger spots is the one that I think ‘pops’ so I wanted to make sure they were arranged so they were distributed evenly (but not symmetrically!) across the quilt. Needless to say I spent yonks trying to make sure there aren’t any inadvertent patterns in the way the squares of different fabrics are arranged. There are a couple of runs of diagonal elephant squares but at least they go in opposite directions so still look a bit random. It’s amazing how much effort random-that-isn’t-really-random takes. The only thing I tried not to do but couldn’t help was always having a bright blue dotty square next to an elephant square, it just wouldn’t work!

The corners of the squares don’t all meet perfectly, but none so badly that I felt it was worth unpicking and redoing, as I thought the same thing was likely to happen again, or I’d be worse off than before. This is the worst of them, so on the whole I’m quite pleased

baby quilt corner

Now I just have to hope that quilting it doesn’t ruin everything!

Oh, and I washed the quilt top after I’d made it because the fabric felt a bit rough and I wasn’t going to wash the squares first because of fraying, and it seems to have survived okay.