Sunday, 19 April 2015

Two-by-two Rose Tea-party quilt progress

I've been doing some quilting this weekend, haven't done any for a while. This summer has been quite hot, so I have not been much in the mood for sewing, especially since the sewing room gets full sun in the afternoon. I've been working on my two-by-two Rose Tea-Party quilt using left-overs and scraps from several previous projects. 
I've finished laying out the blocks, now I will begin assembling the quilt. The two-by-two square blocks are each made from four 2.5" squares (2 in a warm colour print, 2 in a cool colour print). I've placed the blocks on point, with the cool colour blocks pointing in one direction and the warm colour blocks in the opposite direction. It creates a rhythm, that is fun for the eye to skip over.

When I came to my sewing machine to begin piecing, I found this:
"Someone" had pulled out all of the pins on my pincushion and thrown them on my sewing desk and on the floor. I thought to myself, why would my husband do that? I scanned the room and then this caught my eye:

Ah, so it was little sewing "helper". Sweety-Bird must have been very, very busy during the week. I must remember to unplug the sewing machine cord when I'm finished sewing, otherwise he uses it as a rope to climb up onto the sewing desk. With such a cute little budgie face, who could be angry?
Sweety-Bird has got a buddy now, an olive budgie, called Luc. He used to be my mom's budgie. He is also relatively tame, a few years older than Sweety, but definitely not as adventurous/naughty. He does sing lovely trilling budgie songs all day and he is quite gentle. Sweety-Bird speaks English quite well, I will make video of his ramblings and post it sometime soon.
Sweety-Bird and Luc

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Postcard quilt progress

I've been working on my Postcard Quilt (Designed by Liza Prior Lucy) from Kaffe Fassett's book "Quilt Road". Since many of the original fabrics are no longer being produced, I've been doing substitutions. Its quite tricky, because I want the quilt to have the same feel as their version. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Summer holiday arts and crafts

I haven't posted in a while... That's because I haven't been doing much quilting lately. But I have been doing some of other arts and crafts over the past summer months.

I did some painting, which I haven't done for ages. I definitely need to practice more, so please don't laugh too loudly at my attempts. I took photos of the surrounding vineyards for inspiration and managed to finish two landscapes, using different styles and a small vase still life (Please excuse my poor mobile phone photography). I want to paint more loosely, so I will keep on trying.
View of Devon Valley, Stellenbosch painted by Cape Pincushion
Flowers from my garden painted by Cape Pincushion
View of Simonsberg, Stellenbosch painted by Cape Pincushion
I also did quite a bit of dress-making, using quilting cotton fabrics that I bought on sale. I made 4 dresses during the recent holiday. Cotton dresses are perfect for the hot South African summers, I never wear anything with polyester, its just too hot and doesn't breath.

First, a fitted bright red shift dress using Moda scarlet solid fabric and pattern Burda 6920 (View A). It fitted quite snug so I must be careful not to eat too much...

Next I made a flared skirt dress  with a square pleated neck using pretty blue Moda American Jane fabric and pattern New Look 6184 (view C). I wear it with a red belt which compliments it nicely.

Then I made lovely 50's styled dress using pretty lime green Jennifer Paganelli Happy Land Rose fabric using pattern Simplicity 2444 (the sleeveless, collarless version). This one is my favourite, it fits so nicely and is very flattering.

Lastly I made a more challenging Cynthia Rowley dress using an abstract blue and violet Hoffman fabric print and pattern Simplicity 2281 (View A). It is a bit short for me since I'm a tall lady. But it looks modern.

Now I'm back at work, marking dissertations, writing research reports and preparing for lectures (sigh). It was so nice to wake up each morning during the holiday and to paint or sew the whole day. I do love my day job but I love being creative too.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

My first Kaffe Fassett Quilt: Spring Boston Common
I was recently invited by the very inspiring and extremely skillful quilter Oops-Lah (Vreni) in Singapore to take part in the in Around the World Blog Hop. Please do check out her lovely blog, she is an expert at applique quilting and making beautiful fabric boxes. The blog hop is quite simple: answer a few questions and invite three more people to join in.

1.  What am I working on?

I am currently attempting to make my own version of the fabulous Postcard Quilt (original pictured below) by Liza Lucy Prior from Kaffe Fassett's book "Quilt Road". I have finished the first few rounds of the center of the quilt, still have a long way to go...
Postcard Quilt by Liza Lucy Prior
I am also working on a cheerful two-by-two block quilt (pictured below) made from leftovers from my Tutti-Frutti Granny Square Quilt
Two-by-two Quilt

2.  How does my work differ from other's of its genre?

I love working with Kaffe Fassett's fabric the most; there are endless exciting colours and patterns to choose from, and they look hand-painted. I like my quilt to have a strong underlying structure or pattern (repetition of shapes), so that it has rhythm. I love using as many different prints as possible in a quilt, I think it creates richness of colour and interest. I am strongly influenced by Kaffe Fassett, but I like to use my own colour combinations and also design my own quilt patterns (e.g. my Water Lilies Pinwheel Quilt pictured below).
Water Lilies Pinwheel Quilt

3.  Why do I create what I do?

I love to be creative, and quilting really appeals to me because it involves colour, texture and craftmanship. Also, one ends up with something that is functional (and snuggly). I blog to share my creativity and joy of making quilts. My day job is very logical (soil scientist at a university); so another reason why I find quilting and blogging so enjoyable. I also enjoy other crafts and hobbies such as knitting (see knitted patchwork below), crochet, dress-making, gardening and painting landscapes. I have been knitting and sewing since I was a small child, taught by mom and grandmother. I started quilting in my teens using my mom's scraps from dress-making.
Knitted Patchwork
Unfinished Wedding Ring Quilt started in my teens

4.  How does my creative process work?

I usually start with a quilt block design that excites me (could be from a book, blogs, pinterest or just playing with scraps). Then I proceed to figure our what colour combinations to use to make it pop (e.g. my Summer Star Quilt (pictured below), a happy version of the New Orleans Star quilt by Liza Lucy Prior). 
Summer Star Quilt

I would now like to pass on to some of my favourite fellow bloggers; they will post their blog hop posts on 15 September 2014. Please do visit their inspiring blogs!: 

Smazoochie (Beth) from Texas, USA - She is very creative and I love her use of colour and thrift fabrics.

Mystic Quilter (Maureen) from New Zealand - She has an excellent eye for colour, her quilts are so rich and jewel-like. She is also a Kaffe Fassett fan.

Fleur's Place (Fleurette) from Durban, South Africa she makes beautiful quilts using traditional patterns but with modern fabrics and includes embroidered blocks.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Curio Jelly Roll Hexagon Quilt Tutorial

Figure 1: Curio Jelly Roll Hexagon Quilt top
I've had a few enquiries about my Curio Jelly Roll Hexagon quilt, so I've decided to post a tutorial on how I made the quilt. It took quite a lot of fiddling and calculations to work out the pattern pieces using jelly roll strips, so to save others time, here are the basic instructions and ingredients. The finished quilt is approximately 65" x 77". The quilt is inspired by the My Fair Lady quilt by Brandon Mably from Kaffe Fassett's book, "Quilt Road".

  • 60° triangle quilting ruler template (with a base width of at least 6”)
  • 1 Jelly Roll (40 strips of 2.5” x 42-44”)
  • 1.75 yards of various fabric prints for cutting 30 additional jelly roll size strips (Fat quarters ARE NOT suitable because you need to cut strips of at least 42" wide)
  • 2 yards of solid fabric for background
  • 1 yard printed fabric for border (optional)
  • 0.75 yards of fabric for binding
  • 4.5 yards of fabric for backing

Step 1 (assembling the strip sets)(Use 0.5” seams):
One needs to make 46 banded hexagons in total, so one has to cut extra jelly roll size strips from additional printed fabric yardage. If a typical jelly roll contains 40 strips, and one needs 3 strips to make 2 full hexagons, thus one can only make 26 hexagons from the strips supplied in one large jelly roll (40 divided by 3 = approx. 13 sets of 3). Thus, I had to cut another 30 jelly roll size strips (2.5" x 42") from extra fabric yardage, which means that I needed at least another 1.75 yards (60") of printed fabric in total (in different prints) to cut the extra strips. I also did not use some of the Moda Curio jelly roll strips because they were too dark (black, brown, dark orange) for my liking, so I replaced it with my own cut strips. Thus in total one needs 69 (2.5" x 42") jelly roll size strips. So you could buy 2 jelly rolls to make the quilt top, and throw out the strips that are too light or dark (or ugly).

Once you have enough jelly roll strips (69 strips), make bundles of 3 strips (as shown in Figure 2). Make sure that there is enough contrast between the strips in each bundle.
Figure 2: Bundles of 3 jelly roll strips
Because I wanted the striped bands in each hexagon to be the same width, I had to shorten the width of the Jelly Roll Strips. I did this by using a larger seam allowance of 0.5" (instead of the usual 0.25") rather than cutting the strips. Thus, I ended up with 23 sewn sets of 3 strips (Figure 3). The outer bands of each sewn set ended up being 2" wide and the middle band was 1.5" due to the 0.5" seam allowance used (See Figure 5 later).

Figure 3: Sewn 3 strip sets
Step 2 (cutting the banded triangles to make up the hexagons):
Each hexagon is made up of 6 identical 60° triangles. As shown in Figure 4 below, one gets two different hexagons from each 3 strip set; the middle band will be the same print, while the inner and outer bands will be opposite.
Figure 4: Contrasting hexagon blocks obtained from a single strip set
I bought a Perspex 60 ° quilting triangle ruler template, which helped me to cut the triangle pieces accurately (see Figure 4). I made the 60° triangles to have a base of 6", which meant that that the height of the triangles was 5.25". This ensured that I could cut 12 triangles (6 up and 6 down) from each sewn strip set (See Figure 5).
Figure 5: Cutting the 60 degree triangles from the sewn 3 strip sets
I made sure that the top point (apex) of each of the 60° triangles was placed on the top of each of the strip sets (Figure 5). Thus when one cuts a triangle, the top band is 2” wide, the middle band is 1.5” wide and the widest bottom band is 1.75”. Thus the height of each 60° triangle = 2” + 1.5” +1.75” = 5.25” and the base width = 6”. One must cut 6 triangles up and 6 triangles down from each strip set, using the up and down placement shown in Figure 5.

Thus the 23 sewn strip sets must be each cut into 12 triangles (6 up and 6 down) to produce 46 hexagons.

Step 3 (cutting the solid background triangles):
In total one must cut 130 solid background 60° triangles, with a base of 6” and a height of 5.25”. The easiest way to do this is to cut 5.25” strips of the solid background fabric (from the fabric width 42-44”), and then cut 6 triangles up and 6 triangles down using the triangle ruler template.

Step 4 (assembling the hexagons) (Use 0.25” seams):
From each set of 6 banded triangles, stitch 3 together along diagonal seams using usual 0.25” seam allowance and press seams to one side (Figure 6). Repeat for the remaining 3 triangles (Figure 6). Now stitch two halves of each hexagon (consisting of 3 joined triangles) together using usual 0.25” seam and press seam to one side. 
Figure 6: Assembling the hexagon blocks
Do this for all 46 hexagons and then arrange the hexagon blocks layout as desired (Figure 7). Make sure that there are alternating coloumns concisting of of 6 or 7 stacked hexagons (See Figure 1).

Figure 7: Planning the hexagons layout
Step 5 (assembling the quilt) (Use 0.25” seams):
Attach 2 solid background triangles to the opposite vertical edges of each hexagon to form a diamond shape block (Figure 8). The border rows of hexagons will only require the attachment of one solid background triangle (Figure 8).
Figure 8: Attaching background triangles
Join the diamond blocks diagonally to form long  diagonal strips (Figure 9). The join the diagonal strips to one another to build the quilt (Figure 9). In some cases you will need to assemble partial hexagons from the solid background triangles in order to fill gaps (See Figure 1). You will have to trim the upper and lower edges of the quilt using a rotary cutter to make it square.
Figure 9: Joining diamond blocks diagonally
Step 6 (add a border - optional):
Add a printed border using strips of any desired width, I used 2.5” strips to make the border (See Figure 1). Finished quilt size is approximately 65” x 77”.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Summer Star Quilt finished at last

I finished quilting and binding my Summer Star Quilt at long last. I finished piecing the quilt top almost 2 years ago. The pattern was based on the New Orleans Star Quilt by Liza Lucy Prior in Kaffe Fassett's "Kaleidoscope of Quilts" book. I added my own pieced border made up from leftovers from cutting the star blocks. The finished quilt measures around 62"x 74". 
I used the Philip Jacobs print, Japanese Chrysanthemums in yellow, for the backing. The binding is Roman Glass in Ochre.
My next big quilting project is going to be the Postcard Quilt from Kaffe Fassett's book "Quilt Road". Many of the fabrics used in the quilt are out of print, so I will have to make my own substitutions using modern Kaffe Fassett fabrics, but I will stick to the same palette of reds, pinks, blues, greens and grey. I found the original quilt (made in 1830-1840) that inspired the Postcard Quilt on the V&A's website recently. It is not shown in the Quilt Road book, so it was nice to see it. I love the Leopard print blocks, quite fun!

Thursday, 19 June 2014


I had all these leftover 2.5" blocks from the Tutti-Frutti Baby granny square Quilt. I divided the leftover blocks into warm and cool colours and started making 2-by-2 blocks with them. I particularly like how it looks when one turns the 2-by-2 blocks on-point. 
Oh no, please don't start another project... what about all the UFOs???
Sweety-Bird enjoying singing along
to my sewing machine this morning.
At long last I basted my Summer Star quilt this morning (which I finished piecing almost 2 years ago... shameful!). I hope to quilt it this weekend.