It’s been a very long time since I sewed a quilt block! Almost a year to be precise! But hey, I’m not going to beat myself up about it!
This is the 24th block I’ve created to date and it’s another version of the Basket of Flowers design, which I make first time round here.
I much prefer the pretty fabrics in this block but I wasn’t so hot on those points!
It doesn’t pay to have a long break from quilting. I am so out of practice and I could easily have made another pair of pj’s in the time it took me to put this little fella together.
I’ve acquired some extra tools in the meantime… a quilting ruler, a new rotary cutter and a larger self-healing cutting mat. Can’t imagine how much longer still, it would have taken without those!
Incidentally, do not ever place your cutting mat on your ironing board, lest you forget that rubber and hot irons aren’t the best of friends! I came to my senses at the crucial moment!
Name: ‘Basket of Flowers’ or ‘Lily Basket’ or ‘Flower Basket’ History: This design was ideally suited to the dress and feedsack prints of 1930s America, where it was a particular favourite Level: Set in seams require experience. No. of pieces: 13
Now we are getting interesting… if you like this sort of thing! Meet the Windblown Square block. Number 23 from issue 25, The Art of Quilting.
It required all of the techniques that have been employed in the previous blocks. Diamonds were sewn along each edge of the Brighton Pavilion square, then the small green gingham triangles were inset in between the red diamonds to make a square. The remaining large triangles were joined in pairs and then sewn to the outside edges of the block to make a larger square… simples! Or not… if you try and rush it.
I completely forgot that I had previously cut these pieces out, so all I had to do was whip them up. But as the old saying goes, more haste, less speed. Indeed! I sewed the outer pairs the wrong way round which resulted in the gingham pieces sitting together. I thought I might get away with it but it would have been a forever niggle. So I unpicked, albeit sulkily!
Apart from concentrating to make sure all the right pieces are sewn on the right way, you also need to be so accurate and consistent with those seams. One wayward line of stitching and it all goes belly up!
Name: Windblown Square or Star. History: Also known as Balkan Puzzle. Nancy Cabot recorded this name in the Chicago Tribune in the 1930s. Thought to reflect the complex politics of Eastern Europe in the early 20th century. Level: Straightforward to assemble but accuracy with set in seams is a must. No. of pieces: 17
Happy new year all! And boy am I glad to be back. Not that I’ve actually been anywhere. Just glad to be back in my sewing seat after a whole week of being struck down by a virus. All those sewing plans… all that time off… I really didn’t account for being totally useless for all that time. I have to say, my mojo is still not motoring as normal but I’m getting there. And this was the perfect little project to ease me back in gently.
This quilt block is called the Whirlwind Square, a variation of the whirlwind block I did here. It is block number 22 from issue 24 ‘Art of Quilting’.
In a nutshell: The small white triangles are paired with the tapered rectangles to make 4 triangles. All four of those triangles are seamed to make the central pinwheel (the final seam being pressed open). Then the blue polka dot triangles are sewn to each edge to frame the central block.
No major issues in making this little fellow up. A simple operation but great practice for making sure those points line up.
Name: Whirlwind Square History: Traditionally found on mid-19th century quilts Level: Some experience needed to ensure that seams and points meet accurately. No. of pieces: 12
This quilt block is called Old Maid’s Puzzle, though also more recently known as the Bachelorette. It is block number 21 from issue 23 ‘Art of Quilting’.
This is the first of my blocks, so far that incorporate a classic ‘bow’ effect, formed by the points of paired triangles touching centrally.
Though there are lots of pieces, there are no inset seams and so it was pretty straightforward. The only problem I encountered was the triangle points being drawn down into the feed dog a couple of times. I have had this issue before. Not sure how to stop it happening but it seems to happen most if I reinforce the stitch at the beginning. It kind of gets chewed up.
In a nutshell: the pink dotty and white triangles are joined along their diagonals, as are the pomegranate and lime gingham triangles. They are ‘chained’ to make 6 squares. After clipping apart they are given a good pressing. The white squares are seamed alongside the pink dotty sides of the made up squares. Then the rectangles are paired to make ‘bows’. The remaining white triangle pieces are sewn to the pomegranate and lime gingham squares to form a larger triangle and then this triangle is seamed to the larger green paisley triangle. Finally the 4 larger blocks are joined together and the final central seam pressed open.
As with most of the blocks, I’m sure they will work much better when they are in position but I do think this one is one of the more interesting ones. A bit wonky on the edges but I’m sure I can cheat that when I come to do the edging!
Name: Old Maid’s Puzzle or Bachelorette History: This block features in 19th century Amish quilts Level: Some experience needed to create neat joins where the triangles meet No. of pieces: 22
I have been seriously neglecting my quilt blocks of late. Am more behind than ever but heyho… I will have a lovely quilt on my bed one day. Just not some day soon!
Introducing the Whirligig block, number 20 from issue 22 ‘Art of Quilting’. Though issue 21 supplies the batting and instructions on how to join the first 6 blocks, I feel the need to get a few more blocks underway first.
Inset seams are second nature now. Not so daunting any more. Which is lucky because there are a few involved here!
The ‘orange blossom’ triangles are first sewn to the gingham pieces. Important to mark the 6mm seam allowance on the triangles before making the first seam. Then you know at what point to stop, where the seams meet. The ‘red daisy’ pieces are then joined to the triangles and then the final seam to the blue gingham completes a quarter of the main block. Once they have been arranged in position, the bottom two quarters are seamed together and then the top two. They can be chained and then snipped apart. Finally the two halves are joined together and the centre seam pressed open with the ‘toe’ of the iron.
I have to say this is my least favourite block so far. I think its the fabric colours. They create such a clumsy shape. I did consider selecting different fabrics but I wanted it to be consistent with the rest. The design is meant to be characteristic of the propeller look but it is very interesting how the design changes with use of pretty vintage pastels with more contrasting triangles, which seem to draw the eye more to the centre pinwheel.
Name: Whirligig History: The combination of printed fabric and gingham is very typical of the feedsack quilts of the 1930s. Level: Some experience needed to create neat set-in seams No. of pieces: 16
Ooo… get me with my two posts in a day! I didn’t actually make them both this morning, I hasten to add!
This is the Diamond Pinwheel block, number 19 from issue 20 ‘Art of Quilting’. Joining triangles to make a square is one of the first lessons in patchwork and a great way to use up tiny scraps. The central pinwheel is best achieved with contrasting colours such as the red and the white used here, and if you swap the position of dark and light pieces, the pinwheel will appear to rotate in the opposite direction.
Again, not particularly complicated but perhaps a little more time consuming owing to more pieces and pressing in between. Oh and of course the dreaded matching of all those points! The central seam is pressed open to help it to lie flat.
Name: Diamond Pinwheel History: This design has been seen on quilts dating back to the late 1700s, though it would not have been named until much later. Level: Some experience needed to match the triangle points neatly No. of pieces: 24
Fair and Square is block 18 from issue 19 ‘Art of Quilting’. The name reflects its pleasingly balanced appearance and its adaptability.
This block is also known as Diamond in a Square and indeed a variant of the Diamond Square I made here.
I found this one a breeze to put together. No inset seams. Just straight lines and simple pieces. In a nut shell, the four white triangles were stitched to the sides of the central daisy diamond. Two orange blossom rectangles are then sewn, one each side. And then two strips are made by sewing a daisy square to each end of the remaining two rectangles, which are then sewn top and bottom to complete the block.
I do like the colour combo of this one too. Red and orange and black… all pertaining to my fiery fire-sign no doubt!
Name: Fair and Square History: This geometric design and its variations have been found on Amish quilts made in 19th century Pennsylvania. Commonly used as a singular central piece but also as an all-over design. Level: Some experience needed to match seams neatly, otherwise relatively simple. No. of pieces: 13
Let it not be said that my littlest daughter doesn’t finish anything! I am so proud of her and I think you can tell by the photos that she is pretty damned pleased with herself too! And most amazingly, all the photos were bribe-free! No hard cash, no ice creams…. nuffink!
She made the central quilt block – a double four patch – back in January. She sewed each little square by hand and made such a neat job of it. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have done any better myself!
So this weekend, when she asked if she could turn the block into a cushion cover I dutifully abandoned any sewing plans of my own, made a dash to the market for a cushion pad, and did some maths to work out the remaining blocks needed for the front panel and two for the envelope back pieces. Actually, the maths, was probably the most time consuming part of this project!
I had the powder blue linen in stash so this counts as a minor stash bust too…yay!
And Little Miss Ooobop! cleverly rooted through the button box to seek out these lovely purple buttons for the back.
She loved being the ‘master of the machine’! And as soon as she’d finished the cover she was practicing the different stitches for her next project!
It is so lovely to share a child’s enthusiasm. Especially when it is focussed on something so basic and traditional. I know I can’t push it too far. I so don’t want to put her off. She has to come to me with her own desire for crafting but I might just happen to plant a little creative seed of thought every now and then!
Nelson’s Victory is block 17 from issue 18 ‘Art of Quilting’. Only 12 pieces but boy did those little pieces cause trouble!
This block is a variation of the Trafalgar Block which I made back in March. I had trouble with that one too but to be honest, I would gladly make another 20 of those before I made another one of these!
Nelson’s Victory was included as an opportunity to practice the set-in seam technique. I really haven’t mastered it fully yet. When I can do it in less than an hour without holding my breath once, I will let you know!
In-set seams really have to be accurate. finishing the next seam at exactly the point of the previous one finishing. In a nutshel: The blue spotty and Brighton print tapered rectangles are sewn together first, along their diagonal sides, from the edge of the pointy bit to 6mm short of the other end. Then the pink spotty squares are in-set, first seamed to the blue and then to the Brighton edge. Then all four little blocks are seamed together to make the finished block.
All was going swimmingly until I sewed the final centre seam to find that all that breath-holding and tongue-poking (I’m so glad no one watches me when I sew) was in vain, and the points only matched up in half the places they should!
Oh well… what’s the point in it looking perfect? No one will recognise its handmadeness otherwise!
Name: Nelson’s Victory History: Dates back to 1906 to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar (which took place a century earlier) in honour of Lord Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, which led the British fleet. Level: Some experience needed for the set in corners… just a bit! No. of pieces: 12
Chequer Star, also known as Scrappy Star, is block 16 (of 80!) from issue 17 ‘Art of Quilting’. 20 pieces no less! This one is a close relative of the Sawtooth Star block, the only difference being the single square in the centre. It is a favourite design with quilters as it utilises the smallest scraps and offcuts.
It wasn’t particular tricky but did take some ‘get up and go’ to even get started! The weather is far too beautiful in London to be sitting in and sewing, as much as I love it. I am seriously going to have to come up with some outdoor-friendly projects. Perhaps some traditional hand quilting. Does anyone else craft al fresco?
Name: Chequer Star History: This block dates from the 1900s. Level: Some experience needed to line up the triangle points with the square seams. No. of pieces: 20