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?)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

This weekend...

I am heading to the seaside to take part in the annual Leigh Art Trail. I am so excited to be exhibiting alongside actual artists (although a bit nervous that I will sound like a total idiot).

Leigh is a really pretty little fishing town with loads to do, so if you get the chance please come along and ask me some awkward questions about my "motivation" and stuff. I'll try not to panic.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Me-Made May

In spite of the absolute lack of photographic evidence, I actually managed to wear me-made clothing every day in May. This was in no small part due to the sweatshop nature of my dressmaking habit. Thanks to my favourite Croydon-based, rainbow geese-obsessed, dirty-minded, photo-taking quilting friend, Kelly, and yesterday's Nintendo Guild meet-up I can now show you what I've been sewing.

First up, the Red Velvet dress by Cake patterns. Love the 50s vibe. So wearable in jersey. Goes nicely with buttercups.

I'm an idiot. And I am not missing a leg.

Next, the Lady Skater, in some unnamed viscose jersey that I picked up at a quilt show. I *love* this dress. It's so comfortable, and skims nicely over my curvy bits.
Not sure what I was going for here.

And jumping on the bandwagon (and channelling my inner Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, apparently), the Moneta. I must make more of these, immediately.

Next up, complete with photobomb from Baxter, the giant horse-dog, a Flora (with massive FBA). I am *very* proud of this one. I did actual alterations on a proper muslin and everything. Go me!

I'm happy because my legs are hidden by the grass.

And finally, an Emery dress, with a pleated (rather than gathered) skirt. What a great pattern - there will definitely be more of these in my future.
This is allegedly a dog toy. I'm not buying it.
So there you have it. All my new clothes at once so you can skip the ridiculous photos in one go. You're welcome!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Blogger's quilt festival - Original design

Hello and welcome, especially if you are visiting from the Blogger's Quilt Festival. I'll put the kettle on. Everyone else can make your own - you're family.

I've decided to enter my Migration quilt into the Original Design category. The blocks for this quilt were made to my rather persnickerty requirements by my wonderful friends in Bee a Brit Stingy. I really love the cohesive scrappiness that comes from having a fairly strict colour scheme but no other control over the fabrics used.

I tried not to obsess too much over the placement of the blocks and just aimed for a balance of values across the top, and I am so glad I did. I can waste DAYS faddling about moving blocks around, and that is time you just don't get back.

The backing is (of course) Ikea Nummers (so cheap, so wide, so much of it in my stash), and the quilting is irregularly spaced wavy lines in variegated yellow/green thread.

This quilt is one of my favourites. The only problem is that the kids fight over who gets to use it. I wonder if my bee mates will be up to making another...


Wednesday, 21 May 2014


The brewing is finished, and I'm left with (if I may say so myself) a pretty good artisan beer. If you follow me on Instagram (@charlottequilts) then you might have seen more pictures of this than you can stand, but please bear with me while I show some taken with an actual camera.

The idea had always been to matchstick quilt the hell out of this thing, both to attach the shreds of fabric and to add more layers to the colour gradation. I used five shades of Aurifil (40 wt) ranging from white to black, with three greys in between. Luckily, the extreme smallness (15 x 16 inches) of the piece meant that this only (HA!) took about three or four hours. I take my hat off to anyone who matchstick quilts anything bigger than this. *tips hat*

I knew that the grey background was just that - a background to something else - but I wasn't sure what. I had originally thought something yellow, but that's my go-to place with grey and I've been there and done that. So green it was. Teeny 1/4 inch strips of eleven different greens.

And this is where I can no longer pretend that my solids stash is anything other than pretty extensive. Ahem.

Bound with Kona Ash, backed in Ikea Nummers (again) and here it is. "Fortitude, and the rewards that follow." It's, like, so totally deep, right? So deep that I've entered it into the Art Quilt category of the Blogger's Quilt Festival.


Don't forget to check out all the other entries. Thanks so much, Amy, for hosting!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Quilt brewing

No, that's nothing to do with beer (although I wouldn't say no). It's more about the way things seem to grow in my brain. Little idea bubbles coming to a head in the form of crappy pencil sketch.

Then the stash raiding and cutting fabric into tiny little shreds.

Followed by something that kind of resembles the thing in my head.

Or at least it will after I've done an awful lot more to it.