Sunday, 4 January 2015

Welcome to the Star Block of the Month!

I'm so excited to be sharing my new quilt pattern as a block of the month over at The Daily Stitch. The quilt is a twin size made from 12 different star blocks in four sizes, with two colour palettes to choose from.

The cool palette includes green, turquoise, blue and cool purples (and is not-so-secretly my favourite), and the warm palette is a gorgeous, bright mix of yellow/orange, red, pink and violet. I've used my favourite low volume fabric ever - the wonderful Botanics Crosshatch in grey by Carolyn Friedlander - as the background.

Annie has put together kits for each colourway, with all the fabric you need to make the quilt top in the warm or cool palette.

I'd love it if you sewed along with me. Get the monthly tutorials over at The Daily Stitch, and join in the fun on Instagram with #starBOTM

Thursday, 30 October 2014

I blew into the world on a leaf*

*prizes if you can identify that quote**
**ok, so there aren't actually any prizes. Sue me.

Once again I wax lyrical about the wonders of Oakshott fabrics. The shimmer, the colours, the all-round gorgeousness. Sorry if I sound like a stuck record, but it's all true. I've even taken to wearing the stuff, having made an Aubépine dress from a gorgeous green I snapped up in the sale recently (photos eventually, if I can ever persuade Croydon to get her camera out).

Mr Oakshott sent me an Autumn F8th bundle recently with a view to designing a quilt (#bestjobever) and I had lots of leftovers (the fabric is 60 inches wide, making a F8th surprisingly enormous). So, what's a girl to do? The answer is, apparently, to go a little bit handstitching crazy with some needleturn appliqué and chunky quilting.

image from

The background is made up of 2 inch (finished) squares of assorted neutrals (some Oakshott, some Kona, some whatever-the-hell-was-in-the-drawer), pieced together before adding the leaves. I believe that technically you are supposed to appliqué first and piece second, but I didn't want to risk losing all my points in the seams so I REBELLED! Of course, I could totally be imagining that you are meant to do it that way round, in which case let's just pretend that nothing untoward happened.

Moving on.

Once again my ridiculous stash of perle cotton came into its own, with five neutrals used to represent the swirling wind and stitching co-ordinating with each leaf. See - you can never have too many colours.

This baby finishes up at 20 inches square. I'm going to need to rejig the quilt wall so I can squeeze it in there somewhere.

Daughter number one and puppy for scale
I think I can live with that.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Fairy Tale-tastic

A while ago Aneela asked me if I would test her new patterns for a sewing wallet and (totally adorable) teeny weeny needle book and pouch. I said yes straight away and then promptly failed to get off my arse and make them for a couple of weeks. Oops. I thought they needed special treatment so I finally cracked open some Spoonflower Heather Ross FQs that I won at QuiltCon (that was a while ago - nearly time for the next one!).

(blimey, that paragraph was linktastic)

Anyhoo, first with the sewing pouch. I *love* this pattern. It's got everything you need for popping some handwork in your handbag (or schlepping it from room to room). The see-through pocket is so useful, and is assembled in a really clever way. I did slightly overstuff my pincushion (no, that's not a euphemism), which made it difficult to attach, but that was entirely my fault. And just look at the cute fabric! Ugly ducks! Pretty ducks! Swans! And (slightly off-topic) Rapunzel!

Must. Calm. Down.

Onto the teensy pouch. OMG CUTE! Also, the construction was so clever. I want to make a gazillion of these and use them for everything.

These patterns are really clearly written and result in such useful and well thought out items. The finish is really professional (even with my, ahem, skills) and I think the pouches would make a fantastic gift. Just putting that out there. *Cough* 78 days to Christmas *cough*.

Saturday, 27 September 2014


It's happened again, that thing where time just keeps moving in spite of my best efforts to slow it down. A whole year. And now you are twelve - a hilarious, brilliant, and (dare I say it) increasingly self-confident almost teenager.

Speaking of which, you are getting quite the dab hand at some teenagery characteristics. Sleeping late has suddenly become the most important feature of your weekends. Being embarrassed by your parents is a permanent state of affairs (and I look forward to dancing like a loon at your upcoming Bat Mitzvah). We are not yet at the (no doubt inevitable) door slamming, you-ruined-my-life, stroppy phase, for which I am grateful. You are sweet and kind and funny, and so creative you take my breath away. Given the right materials, there is nothing you can't make.

Happy birthday, sweet girl. And watch out World - Lucy's coming to get you.

Still alive

Well, that was weird. I'm not sure what happened there but I apparently dropped off the face of the bloggy world for a (long) while. It's not as if I haven't got stuff to show you, I've just been feeling quiet, I guess. That, and Instagram is so quick and easy.

In the last few months I have made a lot of clothes, several bee blocks (although not as many as I should have - ahem), started knitting again and finished my Courthouse Steps quilt just in time for Lucy's 12th birthday. I've been ill (missing out on teaching at the Fat Quarterly Retreat - bloody timing), been working at realjob, teaching (loving the sampler quilt class at The Village Haberdashery), fretting about my suddenly ill, very aged grandmother, and trying to keep my head above water in the summer holidays. It's been quite the time.

I miss this space. I miss having the opportunity to ramble on. It's not good for me to stay so quiet - it permeates everything. The silence isn't just here. I write for myself, and I miss it.

Note to self: make more of an effort. And knit more hats.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Reflections - an Oakshott mini quilt

My love of Oakshott fabrics is not exactly a secret. They’ve featured in many of my quilts, and had a starring role in several (most notably the Oakshott Explosion). That’s why I was so excited to call dibs on the beautiful purple and green Freesia bundle in the Oakshott Colourshott Bundle BlogHop hosted by Lynne.
I can accept no responsibility for any drool-related computer damage

As always, photographs just don’t do these fabrics justice - it’s impossible to see how they glow and shimmer unless you get to see them in person. I spent absolutely ages putting them in different orders, pairing them up and generally stroking them and can absolutely and confidently assert that they are at least five gazillion times more gorgeous in real life.

In order to show the colours off properly I decided to make two sizes of improv triangles on a background of Camargue – a lovely, warm off-white. Improv triangles are quick and easy, and so much fun to sew.

For each large triangle, you will need a 3 x 3.5” rectangle of coloured fabric and two 2 x 4.5” rectangles of background fabric. Lay one background piece diagonally across the coloured rectangle and sew, then trim the seam allowance and press:

Repeat with the other background rectangle:

Now trim the piece so that it measures the original 3.5” high, and there is 0.25” seam allowance on either side of the triangle base:

The small triangles are made in exactly the same way, but using a 1.75 x 1.25” piece for the triangle and two 2.5 x 2” background rectangles. Trim these little triangles to 1.75” high with a 0.25” seam allowance on either side of the base.

Varying the angle of the background rectangles will change the shape and size of the resulting triangle, so don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit. I made a whole load of triangles and then pieced them together in pairs, matching them by the width of their bases. These were then sewn together into long strips and set into more of the background fabric.

All that negative space cried out for some heavy quilting so I went all matchsticky with lines about 0.25” apart in Aurifil 50wt (2021, as always), leaving the triangles unquilted. It took absolutely ages, but I love the effect - the triangles really pop out of the background.

The binding matches the background, with just a teensy bit of colour on one side to tie it all together.

Don’t forget to check out all the other stops on the blog hop. There have been some gorgeous projects already, with more to come.

31 June:  Jo from My Bearpaw
1 July:     Kerry from Very Kerry Berry
3 July:     Nicky from Mrs Sew And Sow
4 July:     Helen from Archie The Wonder Dog
7  July:    Sonia from Fabric And Flowers
8 July:     Charlotte from Displacement Activity
10 July:   Trudi from Trudi-Quilting Prolifically
11 July:   Susan Claire from Gourmet Quilter

Friday, 27 June 2014

Bee-friendly Courthouse Steps Tutorial

I love being (beeing, geddit?) part of an online quilting bee. It’s so lovely to sew for others and have them make blocks for you. Not to mention, you get access to a whole new range of fabrics that aren’t in your stash. The only fly in the ointment is the understandable and pretty much unavoidable inconsistency in block size that comes from even the tiniest person-to-person variation in seam allowance.

It is my turn in Bee a Brit Stingy this month (hello, ladies!), and just to make things difficult for myself and/or everyone else I have decided on courthouse steps blocks, with a (hopefully) accuracy-ensuring method. So here you go – a bee-friendly 12.5” (unfinished) courthouse steps block tutorial.

For each block, you will need to cut one 2.5” square for the centre (black), and four sets of five 2” wide strips (maximum 12.5” long; one set in chartreuse/green/teal, one in yellow/orange/peach, and two in cream/white/grey). Please use prints if possible, but solids and non-muddy batiks are welcome if necessary. Here is a handy dandy guide to my chosen colour scheme for your delectation:

Once you have cut your strips you can start to piece. Begin by sewing a neutral strip to the top and bottom of a black square. Press your seams open (to make hand quilting easier), trim the strips level with the centre square, then add one strip from each colour set to either side as shown in the numbered diagram below:

The accuracy of the block comes from trimming the strips after piecing, so once you have finished the first round of strips line the 1.25” line of your ruler up against the edge of the centre square and trim away the excess:

Continue adding strips according to the numbered diagram. Trim with the 2.25” line of the ruler against the edge of the centre square after round 2, the 3.25” line after round 3, and so on:

After adding the final (fifth) round of strips, trim the block to 12.5” square by placing the 7.25” mark against the corner of the centre square:

And there you have it, a perfectly pieced, precisely 12.5” square, bee-made courthouse steps block. Have fun!

(and aren't you glad I didn't make you sew geese again?)