Miniature Sampler (15cm blocks)

This is the first sampler block I’ve made in American Paper Piecing.  I’m not very confident with the technique, as I’ve only made about six blocks this way, total.  But there are certain blocks I can’t make any other way.  Gem Block was training for Linton and String Block (coming soon).

This version of Gem Block is adapted from Block 14 of Gail’s Midget Blocks Sampler (a Depression years sampler).

Patches in this block: 24

Patches so far: 472

This one was fun to make by hand — would have been too small and tricky by machine IMHO.  I drafted my own pattern and then accidentally stitched it in mirror-image.  I didn’t notice the wrinkly bit until I’d uploaded this photo: it’s small enough that quilting stitches will take care of it.

Patches in this block: 31

Patches so far: 448

In other news, NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow so I’d better get to it and figure out some kind of a plot!  And the lovely Bronwyn has sent me this award for hosting the Vintage Sheet Swap.  I think I’d better pass it on to Alex. She’s been coaching me in the art of climbing mango trees, so that I can have a tree in my book.

It needs an iron.

Since the Baby Janers have been making this block, it’s high time to fix mine.  Sad, though, that fixing a block doesn’t get me any higher in the patch tally 🙂

In honour of Block 16 (which makes a nice 4×4 set), some progress shots.  I think it’s about time to update the WIP page, too.

I’m so over that idealistic plan to only post photos of my mini hexes when they’re sewn together.  I will post again when they’re done.  Glory!  Glory, I say!

I’ve cut the pieces for Block 15 again (third down, second along) as it’s not like the original and very wonky.  I also cut pieces for Papa’s Star, and I’m really looking forward to sewing it.  Any Dear Janers done this block in hand piecing?  I’d appreciate your advice.

Unrelated: I’ve decided to join NaNoWriMo and make a book as well as my crafty things.  Note, I did not say a good book.  It may be gibberish. But it will be a romance, it will be 50,000 words long, and I will write it between 1 and 30 November.  I’ve put a progress ticker on the sidebar so you that you all know where I’m up to, and so that the guilt of everybody knowing makes me actually finish.  If you’re planning on doing it, too, send me an email and we can be online writing buddies!

Also totally unrelated but exciting: we’re going to meet a litter of schnauzer puppies on Saturday.  They’re about seven weeks old, I think.  Sooooooooo excited!  I’ll take the camera so there can be many puppy photos on Saturday night!

Time flies, it seems: I wouldn’t have thought it was June when I last made a sampler block, but sadly it’s true.  This one didn’t go exactly according to plan.


Reality goes a little wonky:

Perhaps it’s because the pieces are small, perhaps it’s because I’m rusty with the mini-measurements, but the wheel part came out a lot bigger than the plan and I had to cut back, stretch out, and improvise. I still like the block very much.

Patches in this block:34

Patches so far:417

I woke up this morning thinking ‘Marmalade! I can show everyone the lovely jars of marmalade I made!’. Not so lucky: the MQA had already discovered it for himself, and scarfed half a (large!) jar. So, if you want to see it all dolled up, make some! I don’t know any easier jam recipe, or any less likely to fail.

Super-easy super-chunky marmalade: Cut four oranges and two lemons in half. Slice very thinly. Remove pips, place in a saucepan, cover with 1.5 litres water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 mins. While that’s going on, put 1.5 kilos white sugar in an oven dish, and bake at 180C for 10 minutes or until it starts to smell *just* caramelly. Add, stir to dissolve, simmer for another 45 minutes or until a sample placed on a cold plate crinkles to the touch. Ladle into sterilised jars and hide from your boyfriend until you have a pretty picture for your blog.

In more blog-related news, I received a lovely comment from Linda, who is quite rightly wondering whether I’m still making sampler blocks:

“Anne, I have made a mini Dear Jane (50 blocks) AND have made some of the blocks for the Sundial Quilt. Please continue to post about these quilts!!”

First things first — Linda, I’d love to see pictures! Send them along so we can all see!

Second — Linda’s comment came at a good time. I haven’t posted a sampler block in aaaages, and a general clean-up of my sewing corner last weekend shows why. I have works in progress coming out my ears:

  • Finish closures on Very Hungry Dress
  • Finish apron from Very Hungry Fabric
  • Quilt and bind cot quilt
  • Quilt the blue sampler quilt
  • Finish the big hexagon quilt
  • Continue with mini hexes and sampler
  • Make Mum and Dad two vintage sheet quilts

And that’s not counting things like my box of strawberry-themed fabric that I’d like to use someday, the box of 1″ squares, the folder with miniature blocks in it, or the hat box full of favourite bits for a happy scrappy. Oh boy, and it really doesn’t count the ‘someday’ fabric.

I get incredibly excited about new projects before I’ve finished the old ones. Nothing much to worry about — we all need variety, especially in a hobby. ‘Having’ to finish things is for working hours. More fixably, too much of this was to be done by hand, and I’m loving the sewing machine much more right now. Not to mention that having a million hand projects is intimidating. It’s all very well having something to make slow gains on, but divide the time by five and I rarely see any convincing progress. So, I think I might start making some of the sampler blocks by machine, and quilt the blue sampler by machine. Guild friends will cry heresy, but I’ll have two more pretty quilts before I’m in a retirement home. For the next little while I’ll pick a project and work it through to completion. This week: cot quilt.

A simple one today. Jane used colour patches for the four corners of this block. I didn’t mean to make it differently, I just … forgot … somewhere between printing the pattern and cutting the fabric. I didn’t notice until I went to find the block number for this post. Oh well, can’t be helped, and nor can the fuzzy points. I was paying more attention to films this weekend than my sewing.

On that point, have you seen Salaam Namaste? If not, go down to your local Indian spice shop/DVD outlet, and get it. It won’t cost you more than a few dollars for a double feature. It’s set in Melbourne with a mixed cast (Bollywood stars, Australian and Indian born Australian and Indian actors in every combination, cast members’ wives and boyfriends, and others such as Tania Zaetta as an adorably histrionic love interest). The script flicks from Hindi to broad Ocker and back again without a hitch. It does come with subtitles. Plus, you get to meet an Indian Crocodile Dundee and his hilarious blonde girlfriend, and this film deals with some pretty big problems with honesty rarely seen in Bollywood, or Hollywood. There is a whole lot of eye candy, so don’t be expecting honesty in terms of the house these characters can afford – it’s in Lorne, anyway, not Melbourne – or the wedding scene on the beach, in bikinis.

Love a bit of pop on the weekend.

Patches in this block: 29

Patches so far: 383

It’s finished! Hurrah. Still hand piecing, still at 15 x 15cm.

Patches in this block: 64 (!)

Inset seams in this block involving pieces 1/2″ or less: one bajillion, give or take a million

Seams I had to unpick: about ten

Seam intersections involving eight pieces of 1/2″ or less in this block: one too many.

Undemanding television absorbed: “Dodgeball”, “Transformers” (fun!), “Persuasion” (love!), “Death at a Funeral”, “Starsky and Hutch”, and “Withnail and I”. I realised that I know someone who is trying to be Withnail, and that it explains a lot.

Patches so far: 354

Would you like to try this for yourself?  Perhaps on a larger scale 🙂 ?    Here’s the pattern.

I was thinking today, as I wrote that last post, that I haven’t posted a finished block in a while.  It’s because the block I’m working on is INSANE.  VIz:

It’s called “Flying Swallows”, and it will be the LAST eight-pointed star with seven tiny tiny pieces per point that I make.  I do think this would look phenomenal done on a larger scale.   By somebody else.

While I’m being honest, here are two other reasons why I rarely finish things.  In addition to the wrist cuff plan and the dress plan, I still have this to finish piecing:

And I’ve been waiting to quilt this since 2002:

I made this in my final year of Sculpture at the VCA.  It was part of an installation in a group exhibition at Artistcare (thanks be to them for letting us put our stuff on show).  I showed it in a hoop, in the process of quilting.  I thought then that I would never quilt it, that it was great as an installation.   I think now that I’ll never sell it, and it would be better keeping someone warm than making a Statement in the hallway.  But that means I have to quilt it (

Expect a Flying Swallows block …. someday.  Meanwhile, don’t let me start anything else!

Here we go for the first non-Western block!

This is a method of reverse applique developed by the H mong (‘mung’) people who are dispersed through parts of Vietnam, Thailand and Laos (and more recently, of course, places like Australia and America). It’s one of two basic methods of cloth decoration they favour: the other is a very colourful figurative embroidery, and there are many examples on the web. This is an expert-level flower cloth with an ‘elephants’ foot’ design:

The ‘flower cloth’, as this is called, is formed by folding a square of coloured cloth, making tiny cuts in the edges, and unfolding it again, then cutting and sewing along the lines formed. For this step, I suppose you might think of making cut-out snow flakes in primary school. Here’s my very first try at a basic pa ndau star, folded three times and basted, with chalk where I measured the places to cut:

There’s an extra cut on the long side, for reasons that will become clear.

Then unfold, and you’ll find you have concentric circles of notches. These will guide your reverse applique.

Place the coloured cloth on another piece of cloth (the base). Baste. The H mong will often add a third, but I’m going to quilt mine and need it to be thin.

This photo unfortunately doesn’t show the notches up very well (the cloth is too dark) but you can see where I’ve marked a star shape by joining them up. When that’s done, you simply reverse applique along the lines of the star, making sure that you don’t get too far ahead with the cutting and you don’t let one side get too far ahead of another (stability is the key). You can see here that I’ve started turning and sewing.

Keep going with the centre star, then the second and subsequent stars. There are three in this beginner’s style block.

When the stars are done, there will be an extra cut on what used to be the diagonal lines. These are, usefully enough, the inside points of the stars. They are for decorative little accents, viz:

I’m not that good at applique, but at least though it’s wonky, this is firm.

This block was originally cut a bit bigger, because I had a feeling (justified!) that I’d be marking and cutting a little wonkily on my first go. It’s easy enough to trim back.

I’m not sure that this is really a good guide to get started. I’ll think about explaining it better when I do another one: I want to try an elephant’s foot, now!

Here’s how an expert would make this block:

Patches in this block: a measly 2!!!

Patches so far: 290

There is no PDF for this as it’s not really meaningful. See for examples, photos, and links to more information:

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