Excuses, excuses and some paper piecing…

Okay I had another slack posting week last week, but I have some good excuses really.  Excuse One….camping.

Yep I spent four days camping last week….Four whole days without a sewing machine, a computer, cell phone connection or a shower!  Despite the limitations I did manage to get some quilting done….

photo 1

I hexied up a storm… four days of hand work produced this lovely collection finished and ready to go….

hexie flower close up

I love the flexibility and ease of English paper piecing.  Whenever I am heading out the door to an appointment or event where I think I may have some spare time I just grab my hexie kit, just in case.

photo 2

So here is a much overdue shot of my quilt top so far… it is growing slowly.

Hexie quilt top wip

I am adding flowers willy nilly, I am sure there is an easier way to put the top together but I kind of like the “stick and flower here, stick a flower there” approach.

Hexies close up

My husband declared a month or so ago that this quilt was going to be his, because (1) this would ensure that he got a quilt eventually and (2) it would also ensure that I did not give this quilt away, as I am prone to do!

HexiesThe fact that the quilt will be pretty and loud and contains flowers does not seem to bother him at all!

Hexies cu

It does not seem to bother the cat either…

Kitty approved

Excuse number two for my slack posting will be part of Wednesday’s post….

Paper Piecing Monday the crazy edition…

Summer has well and truly arrived in Portland and I have been making the most of the sunshine… and not posting as much as I usually do.  Sorry about that.

This of course does not mean I have not been quilting… I have still been sewing away, just a little more sporadically than usual.  For the last week or so the only thing that has been up on my design wall has been my Starry Night quilt.

design wall

As you can see the jigsaw is slowly coming together.  I have finished with the star blocks and I am now just making sky.  Random weird bits of sky.

starry night wip


This week I went through my EQ7 quilting program and found a pile of paper pieced patterns and printed them out (my sky pieces are currently all 6 inch square or 3 x 6 inches).  With EQ I have been able to find a pattern I think is interesting and print it out at both sizes.

tree block sky

Now as stand alone blocks they look a little weird but once you add them to the quilt they just blend into the background in weird and wonderful ways….

star wip 2No matter how hard I tried to hide it you have probably realised by now that I did not have a grand plan when I started making these blocks, and that I am really making it up as I go along.  The blocks are not being placed in any sort of grid and I am just going with the flow, piecing bits and pieces together and seeing what works.

star wipIt is a crazy way to work…but really fun.  If you are interested in exploring the individual star blocks I have used,  you can find links to them under the “Paper Piecing Monday” tab and/or under the “Free Paper Piecing Patterns” tab.

6 inch star sky



Wonky Pinwheel blocks PMQG style

This week we had another Portland Modern Quilt Guild Charity Sew day…and this time I had everyone making wonky pinwheels…loud, wonky, scrappy, fun pinwheels…

photoWe started with a stack of Riley Blake solid grey squares and a huge pile of orange, yellow and red scraps.  You may be having a feeling of deja vu because  a couple of months ago I made a version of these blocks for Do.Good.Stitches.

Pinwheel blocks Both these blocks used the fabulous tutorial from Greenleaf Goods but for the Charity Sew Day I went with 5 inch base block rather than 4 inch.  After a day of sewing, our small but productive team had 30 pinwheel blocks, each measuring 9 1/2 inches, done and dusted.

I then took them all home and sewed them together to make this…

easy wonky quiltSo many fun fabrics were used… all warm and bright.  This is such a fabulous quilt to make if you want to use those piles of scraps you have accumulated…

wonky pinwheel block close upOur finished quilt measures 45 inches x 54 inches and will now head out to be quilted and bound before heading to our Charity for this quarter, Raphael House.

wonky pinwheel quilt top close up

I am also pleased to say the cat has inspected the quilt top and deigned that it is acceptable..

kitty inspected


Look what I have finally got done…

… yes I finally got my red and aqua stars into a presentable form… a finished quilt top….I can hear the gasps of surprise from here…

paper pieced star quilt topThese stars were the product of my first Paper Piecing Monday adventures.  I loved putting them together each week, challenging myself to make some complex and amazing stars.

Star quilt detailSome of the stars were free patterns from Quilting on the Square (you can find the links to the specific patterns under my Free Paper Piecing Patterns tabs) and others were from Carol Doak’s book 50 Fabulous Paper Pieced Stars.

star detail 2So in the end I had 20 amazing 12 inch paper pieced stars and no real plan what to do with them.  After an online survey last year, it was decided that navy sashing did the best job of showing off each and every star to its best, so a plan was hatched. Fast forward a few months (possibly more) and after auditioning a few navy fabrics and ended up using Robert Kaufman’s Quilters Linen in navy. It was perfect the job.

star quilt top detailSo now all that is left is to remove the paper… which will be quite a task as some of these suckers are really complex…

paper to rip offThen it is off to a long armer for quilting.  At no point did I contemplate ruining this gorgeous quilt top with my quilting.  It deserves the best…plus the finished quilt is going to my Mum so I want it to be amazing.

Paper piecing the Night Sky

This weeks Paper Piecing Monday is all about the Night Sky.  This week I have and will be playing with the background blocks for my Starry Night quilt.  My strategy is to use all those scrap pieces of patterns I have printed and lying around the office, with most of them so far being 6 inches square.

I started last week with a half log cabin…

half log cabinand this week I added some paper pieced crazy blocks….

Crazy blocksome left over star pattern pieces from Carol Doak’s book…

Carol Doak leftoverssome strange flower log cabin pattern I found in amongst the paper pile…

Flowerand of course there has to be some flying geese….

Flying geeseI have decided to go with the majority of the sky being paper pieced, as it will make piecing the quilt top together much easier.  I find that piecing paper pieced blocks and traditionally pieced blocks together can be fraught with size issues and usually if there is a large enough amount of traditional piecing I remove the paper from my blocks so that everything is “paper less”.  If I am just sashing blocks then the paper stays on… it is the best way to ensure accuracy.

So the sky is underway… and despite the disparate style of blocks, they seem to work together well.

Night sky wipOkay I admit there is an insanity to this activity but it is kind of fun.  There is no right or wrong… just lots and lots of navy blue, and a smattering of purple.  Quilting heaven for me.

A Wonky Tree Forest…and tutorial

A few weeks ago I forced everyone at the PMQG Charity Sew day to make wonky trees.  We had a large amount of green, brown and cream fabrics donated to the Guild and as soon as I saw the fabric I knew that we MUST make trees.

There were only two rules…. the finished block had to be 8 1/2 inches square and it had have a tree in it.  What follows is the basic instructions I gave at the start of the day…

Wonky Tree Block Instructions:

Step One…. grab all your green scraps…and some of your brown scraps and either some white/cream solid or a collection of cream scraps.

start with a pile of scrapsStep Two... sew a selection of your scraps together to make a rectangle of green goodness… this is going to be your tree top so make it as big or as small as you want you tree to be.

Step Three… trim said rectangle to your desired shape.  For some of our trees we used a triangle ruler…

Making the leavesand for others we just made wonky oval shapes by trimming the corners of our rectangle and adding some corner background fabric….

Trim folageStep Four…. add pieces of your background fabric around your tree top to make the it square and trim the bottom of your tree top so that it is straight…

Tree & skyNote:  You do not have to worry too much about making sure that the “sky” (background fabric) around the tree is as big as your finished block size as you have the ability to add a border to the block as needed.  With the smaller trees we made the tree block up and then sashed the block out to the 8 1/2 inch square finished size (see Step Six and a half).

Step Five… Build the tree trunk by cutting a small piece of brown scrap fabric to make a suitable sized tree trunk.  Remember this is wonky quilting so it can be as fat or as thin or as tall or short as you want.  Sew two pieces of your background fabric to your brown strip, making sure your finished trunk piece is at least as wide as your tree top piece. Make sure that you trim the top of the tree trunk so that it is straight.

Tree trunkStep Six… align the trunk to your tree top and sew the two pieces together.

Step Six and a half… if you have made a small tree sash your tree block to make it the correct size.

small treeStep Seven…. Trim your block to size, we went with 8 1/2 inch square.  Note: that the tree trunk ends at the bottom of the block, with no extra background fabric at the bottom.   I found that having all the trunks at the bottom of the block made the overall look of the pieced quilt cleaner and more uniformed.

Trim blockAnd voila you have a wonky tree block….

Tree treeAt the end of our day of sewing we had a veritable forest of different type of trees.  Everyone embraced the wonky and the freedom to do whatever took their fancy. My favorite creation of the day was the Apple Tree…

Apple treeIt was so much fun putting the final quilt top together, there were so many fabulous blocks to choose from and I spent a good hour or so re-arranging the forest on my design wall.

Tree wipWhen piecing the top together I used cream scraps cut into 8 1/2 square blocks and 4 1/2 x 8/12 inch strips to space out the trees.  From playing with the layout on the design wall I knew I did not want to put all the trees together in one clump.  I then added a 3 inch sashing of cream scraps between each row of trees.

Finished quilt topI am so pleased with how this top turned out.  There is a sense of fun and silliness to the trees…everyone did such a stellar job and no two trees are alike.

lots of different trees

Now our forest is being handed off to one of the Guild’s talented longarmers for quilting.  I can not wait to see how they handle this one.