Saturday, 5 December 2015

Easy Swap UK Mini Quilt - DONE!

This summer I signed up for my first ever swaps and, with my usual over ambition and enthusiasm, I didn't stop at one!

The first of these was the Easy Swap UK hosted by Nina of Bossy Oz.  The brief for my partner was either red, black and white, or rainbow plus low volume.

I went with red, black and white just to try something a wee bit different.  I added some light grey to the mix too.

Last year I participated in the Little Blogs Quilt Bee and Celine of Espirit Patch had requested foundation paper pieced (FPP) pineapple blocks.  I was intimidated by trying a new technique but soon realised FPP is easier than it looks and a guaranteed way to deliver clean lines and matching points.  You can see my first block from that bee here.

As my mini was going to be for someone else, someone I had not met, I wanted it to be something a bit special but still not too complicated to sew.  I instantly thought back to the pineapple block. My partner had said they liked log cabins too and I thought there was sufficient similarity between them to go for it.

I opted to quilt the mini using "Stitch in the Ditch".  I was using white thread and it was inevitable that I would be successful on the white fabric and wobble on the black.  However, it was my first time doing quilting like this and, again, I wanted to try something a bit special as it was a gift.  I didn't think my usual stipple would compliment the design at all so I braved it out. The front looks good and the back looks ace!

I sent it off to my partner along with some perle cotton in matching colours so she can use her favourite shades in other work.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

UK Low Volume Plus Swap

 Back in June 2015, I signed up for the UK Low Volume Plus Swap.

I had no plans to make a plus block quilt, but thought it sounded fun.  I had lots of low volume charms (all different) having participated in a swap a couple of years ago.

The swap was organised by Joanna of My Quilts and Other Stories and the tutorial used was by Craft Buds.

This is my pile-o-completed blocks:

I should have taken individual photos but I sent them before I thought of it!  For once I was well ahead of deadline.

This is one of the lovely blocks I recieved in return:

So now I have the first 6 blocks of a new quilt and yet another project to add to the WIP list!   

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Peiced for Work in Progress Wednesday

Monday, 30 November 2015

Stitch Gathering 2015 - Goodies

I was well and truly spoiled at this years Stitch Gathering.

At the notions swap and I received a fabulous EPP kit.  My lovely partner had included pins, thread and some wee scissors.

I was so thrilled, it is a such a great, well made pouch.  I've already been able to move all my EPP bits and bobs around the house with ease and it's meant I've made great progress on sewing up my hexies.  So chuffed.

The goodie bag this year was another treasure trove.  I counted 17 fat quarters!

And finally, I was once again given an excellent name tag - this year, there were extra pouches and places to keep stationery!

Thanks to all the sponsors of the event:

Michael Miller
Cloud 9 Fabrics
Coats UK
Dear Stella
Lewis and Irene
Blend Fabrics
Duck Egg Threads
Love Patchwork and Quilting
Nairn's Oatcakes
Aurifil (particularly as I won a pack of ten spools of thread in the tombola!)
My Bearpaw

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Stitch Gathering - FMQ and Free Stitching

I was VERY excited when classes for the Stitch Gathering were announced and it was confirmed I had been allocated a place in Trudi Wood's FMQ class.  Trudi discussed the whole process of successful FMQ, including needles, threads, feed dogs, gloves vs. no gloves, which wadding to use and the best way to use it, and how to sit.  All that before you've even started - it was fascinating.

It was a short workshop so we were drawing patterns and getting used to making the shapes without lifting the pen off the paper.  

These were a couple of my favourites.  Since then my work notebooks have been covered in doodles and I tried a new flower technique on my #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap mini (more than on that soon!).  It was such a great class and really gave me the confidence to move beyond the stipple!

The next class I took was on cutting freehand  - throw down your rulers, they have no place here! 

Again, it was a great class for expanding my skills and building on last year's attempt at sewing curves.

I practiced by making blocks for the scrappy block swap I participated in.  Here's all my blocks together:

I definitely picked great classes this year and really enjoyed being able to actually finish them in the time allotted!  One day, I WILL finish the rainbow triangle quilt I started at the very first SG....

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Stitch Gathering 2015 - MEGA PINNIE

One of the classes I took at the Stitch Gathering was learning to make the MEGA PINNIE!

It's a large pin cushion designed by Sheila Donnachie which can hold various notions and help to keep your work station neat (or in my case neater).

There was some pre-sewing to do and I finally found a use for my first EPP hexagon.

I achieved a PB at the Stitch Gathering this year by actually finishing something I'd learned to make! I was glad I did the quilting of the panels in advance as I would not have had enough time to do everything in the class.

Here's how it came together:

It now has pride of place on my sewing table and stores everything I need to hand - mainly scissors, the rotary cutter and, best of all, thousands of pins! 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Stitch Gathering 2015 - Pre-Sewing

At the end of September, I attended the Stitch Gathering in Edinburgh.  This is the third time I've been and the first time I finished the items I started - hooray!

I'm going to start with the pre-sewing and write up the classes and day itself in another post.

The ticket for the Stitch Gathering is sent to you for embellishment and return at the end itself.  This has previously been a quilt block and a canvas bag.

This year the brief was to embellish a piece of white cotton with a word - any word - which could be sewn up into a quilt.  

I struggled for a long time to think of a word.  My initial thought was democracy, but I didn't want anything too long.  The night before the event itself when I was tearing my hair out, I decided to go with VOTE.

I cut the letters out of 3" by 3" squares, to represent the box on voting papers, and appliqued it onto the piece of cotton.  I ironed it before I handed it in, I promise!

You can see some of the other fantastic words people came up with in Jo Avery's, My BearPaw and Stitch Gathering organiser, post here.


For the name tag swap this year, I decided to make a little needle book which could be used after the event.  The hook was attached to a string for wearing on the day but can hold scissors afterwards.

I made the pattern up, which meant I made lots of mistakes and this binding was on and off about three times before I got it right.  

I used matchstick quilting on the outside and left negative space for my partners name.


This was a new addition to the pre-sewing homework.  Swappers were asked to make something for a partner which they could use as a sewing accessory.

I was flicking through Quilt Now Magazine and stumbled across a EPP kit case which I decided to make for my partner.  Having a pattern for this one meant no mistakes!

It's  bit wonky but I was super proud of this zip!

It turned out my partner is making a La Passacaglia quilt so this will come in handy - success!  

I also had some other sewing to do in preparation for the big day which I'll show you in the next Stitch Gathering post!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

On top of the swaps

I love it when I get free time to sew.  Weekends with no other plans, evenings when I get home unexpectedly early or a random day off - when there's nothing else more pressing to do than sit and sew.

Most of the time though, I sew vicariously by mooching around Instagram and blogs, often in between other tasks or engagements.  As a summer of BUSY comes to a close, I've found myself trigger happy with the SIGN UP sheet and have enrolled in two swaps.

I'm doing the Easy Swap UK and the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Swap.

I've never participated a swap or made a mini before, so as per usual I thought I'd sign up for some uncharted territory with deadlines!  I've got some ideas so here's hoping they work out.  I believe it's bad etiquette to show too much in advance of the actual swap (your partner gives such specific instructions as to their likes and dislikes so they will be able to guess if it's for them) so I'll keep quiet on those for now.

The swap I can tell you about is the Stitch Gathering notion swap.  With uncharacteristic efficiency, I've completed my item (the deadline is a month away).

It's a travel EPP kit, based on the pattern by Laura Jane Taylor in Quilt Now a couple of months ago. I'm going to include a couple of paper templates, pins, needles and some thread (mainly to show what it is!).

It's also got scissor holders and a zipped pocket (representing four hours of swearing and tears).

My top tip for inserting this zip was Scotch Tape.   I realise the illusion is shattered at this point, but if it helps even one other person conquer the misery of zip instertion, it will have been worth it!

As this swap was randomly allocated, rather than based on partner criteria, I think it's okay to show it to you!  I'm really looking forward to the Stitch Gathering at the end of September.  I've already started my name badge too and have started thinking about my ticket.

I feel as though I'm a massive over achiever in comparison to my usual last minute approach, but then I have signed up for rather a lot over the next couple of months so better get cracking.  Especially when you consider those two wedding quilts are still no closer to finished!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How to make a triangle quilt

I recently completed the largest quilt I've ever attempted, an 80" by 90" bed quilt.  It was also the first time I've made a triangle quilt so I thought I'd share some hints and tips I picked up along the way, as well as some advice from others I really should have followed!


The quilt is made up of 540 triangles. I cut them using a template but there's lots of great tutorials out there on how to cut equilateral triangles.  I would have used the 60 degree line on my mat and my ruler if I didn't have this template.

I was cutting them two - four at a time and then stacked them neatly, avoiding overhandling. I stacked in pIkea of 20 in ddifferent direction to keep count.

Advice which seems to pop up again and again on triangles is to use plenty of starch, as you end up with lots of bias edges which stretch when handled excessively. Now, I'm not a massive fan of starch (I don't think I've found the right one for me yet - any recommendations?) and so opted to skip this step, and decided to "just be careful". This was fine, but I definitely ended up with some stretch edges.  I was lucky and manage to work it out when sewing them together, but if you're not up for gambling like me, I would starch them.

I used fat quarters (FQs) from my stash and specially purchased quarter yard width of fabric (WOF) strips, and got more triangles out of the FQs than the WOF strips.  This was because I hadn't brought the template to the shop with me and didn't think the process through when I opted to buy WOF strips.


As is probably apparent from the above, I tend to think of instructions as a guide rather than as a rigid formula which must be adhered to and I'm a massive fan of shortcuts!  I don't normally pin. However, I have worked with squares until now and you can nest rows of seams together to get perfect points.

Discarding my usual lazy attitude, I was a good pinner with this quilt.  Drawing inspiration from this post by Connecting Threads on using pins to create perfect points, I pinned every single point in the quilt.

I pinned through the points to make sure they lined up exactly.  I left the pin in until I was within a stitch of it and then removed it.

My sewing machine is a beauty and allows you to regulate the speed at which you sew very easily. Sometimes I'd stop but sometimes I'd just slow right down.  My sewing machine also lets you sew single stitches, which my previous model did not (there were only two states - stopped completely or a thousand stitches a minute!).  This meant I could get very close before I removed the pin, reducing the chance of slippage.

Pinning was time consuming, but I got some of the best results I've ever achieved in quilting. There's a lesson in there somewhere....

I read this tutorial by Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts.  Her tip about pressing open the seams is one I wish I'd taken.  You'll see from the photo below that I ended up with very bulky points.  This really affected the quilting on those areas and it was difficult to stitch neatly, if at all, over the bumps.

I think pressing open the seams would have made life easier.  I also wasn't able to take her tip about pressing in the same direction if you do opt to press your seams to the side because I sewed all my triangles into pairs before deciding on the layout.  This would also have helped to reduce bulk.


I had to rearrange my living room in order to baste this monster quilt!  I spent three hours crawling around on the floor and I thought it was been a great success.

I love stippling and really wanted to use this technique on this quilt.  However, I was very pushed for time and thought that straight line quilting would both be quicker and give a more professional finish.

I managed three length-of-quilt lines before I had to accept that my basting was not tight enough and it was going to be baggier than I'd be happy with.  I had to unpick the three lines, which took an entire evening.  This is the second large quilt I've had to unpick quilting on and it is not a happy place. The stippling did mean I could tighten as I went which was good and I would recommend this technique if your basting is not up to much. It really helped to sort out any problems with the basting.

I would also swallow my pride and spray baste (at least partially) another huge quilt.


I am absolutely delighted with the binding on this quilt and it's a real marker for me of how much I've improved.  I machine bound it as the binding was the same as the backing fabric and, again, I was in a hurry.  However, it was so neat and quilt I think I'm just going to accept that I much prefer it to hand binding, even though the latter is more discreet.

I watched this tutorial by the Missouri Star Quilt Company which has the best tip ever, and allows you to join your binding without an overlap.  It's really smart.


I really enjoyed making this quilt, so full of challenges and the excitement of the prospect of pulling it off.  I watched this video by Angela Walters about quilting before I started and the tips she shared could apply to a lot of things in life, not just quilting.

I was working to a tight deadline to finish this quilt and it was obviously playing on my mind. I woke up in the middle of the night following a dream all about setting up a quilting department at my work! Now, it would be great if they had one, but I don't think it'd progress any of the aims of the corporate plan!

Linking up with
Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts

Sew Fresh Quilts

Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation

My Quilt Infatuation