More blocks done over the past week. I’m not posting about all of them, but I am putting them all in a Flickr set for anyone who’s interested.

I know you’re supposed to match your thread to the main fabric.  But I was enjoying myself.  It’s still pretty.

I have already done 10% of this quilt!  The enthusiasm surely can’t last… as surely as this horrid Winter is over, I will be out and about and into other things as well.  That is what patchwork is for, perhaps… a form of hibernation.

In other news — I have done a bit of a Spring Winter Clean around this blog.  If you’re interested in a particular project, you can click on it in the sidebar and see all the relevant posts.  Nifty!

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I’m just going to warn you, straight up, that this is a loooong post with a lot of pictures.  But it covers something that I wanted to know how to do, and I couldn’t find a good enough tutorial on the Web so I figured it out myself by trial and error.

One thing I knew about my wedding dress — before I even sat down to draw, before I looked at fabric — was that it was going to have a row of tiny little buttons with loops.  They’re so romantic and dreamy — and even though I wasn’t going the white wedding dress, romantic was definitely on the cards.  It’s like wearing a veil: sure, I could do without it, but when else am I going to wear a dress that can legitimately require assistance just to get it done up?

The buttons needed to be about 11mm wide — that’s 7/16 of an inch to those of you over the ocean.  And every time I went to cover one in the silk dupioni, said silk unraveled and puckered and was just generally dispiriting.  I asked around and had a play  — here is a better way.

Draw your motif on a clean sheet of paper, in black pen that can be seen through your fabric. The motif should be at least 2mm (technical term — a smidge) smaller than your button.

Cut a piece of silk three or four times the button’s size — this is not the time to be stingy with fabric.

Trace the motif ever-so-lightly with a pencil (you may need to use a lightbox or a window) and thread your needle with one strand of embroidery floss.

Of course you can use any stitch to embroider your button, but I used ol’ reliable, chain stitch.  For this one, you bring your needle up, wrap the floss around the needle at the front, pull tight, and repeat (it’s easier to understand from the pictures.)

Huzzah, done!  Sorry about the weird colours.  My camera, it seems, cannot deal with tiny macro shots of shiny silk.

Self-cover buttons will almost always come with a cutting guide on the packet.  Cut out the appropriate size and push a pin through dead centre — find it by folding the circle twice.  Now rest the pin on the dead centre of your motif and push the cutting guide down.

Trace around, leaving a smidge of room because you’ll be cutting well inside the line.

Take a scrap of lightweight, iron-on interfacing and iron to the reverse side.  It’s best to put a light cloth between the iron and the silk/embroidery.  You don’t want to burn the silk or squash your stitching.

Now cut around your circle, inside the guide line.  Thread your needle with regular cotton and make small running stitches all around it.  Leave a considerable tail at either end (I could have used more in this example — at least 10cm or 4″.)

Pull tight, making sure that your motif remains centred.  You may need to wrap the thread around the shank to get it tight enough.  This is fiddly work.  Be patient.

Place the backing on the button. Use a fingernail to make sure all the edges are sitting underneath the backing, then push down firmly all around the sides.

Congratulate yourself and take a photo!

Now go find some other places to take photos.  Admire how pretty and how tiny it is.

Ahhhh.

Now you can get married!

Danger, Will Robinson:  picture heavy post ahead!

I have had the Dear Jane book for many years now, and I’ve made a block here and a block there.

I have never allowed myself to start, because I have so many other projects on the go!

But I have finally got my big hexies together and basted (photos as soon as it’s not pouring rain outside) and It Is Time.

Not to mention, Dan and I had a week off.  It rained.  He wanted to show me the Lord of the Rings movies.

He insisted on the extended versions.

I’m not making the blocks in any particular order and I’m not following a colour plan: I’m choosing things from the stash on a whim and assuming that I can make 225 blocks of anything go together if I move the placement around.

Some of the blocks aren’t as enjoyable or visually pleasing as the others, so I’ll redraft or replace them with something else.  Or leave them out. ZOMG these are so much fun.

Seriously, has anyone ever taken such a scrappy, lazy approach to the Big Quilt?

Save me from the Quilt Police.

I’ve always wanted to try a Dresden Plate block, and this is my first attempt.  Not too shabby for a first effort, but, uh, room for improvement with that centre circle placement!  Ah well — trying new things and improving is what this quilt is all about.

There are a few different types of Dresden Plate block: the most intriguingly different from this are blocks with no centre (ooo hard, no room for fudging!) and those with round petals rather than blades.  They’re going on the list.

Patches in this block: 18

Patches so far: 977

It may be autumn here in Oz but this tulip pattern seemed like a lovely one for Easter.  Plus, I got to practise my applique.

Happy Easter to you all, unless you’re Greek Orthodox (Hi, Aspasia!), in which case I will save my felicitations for next week.

Also, apologies for the magical disappearing photograph in the bushfire quilts post.  I changed the Flickr settings so as not to look like I was showing off (hey! look at my donation!) but didn’t realise making it private in Flickr would make it private everywhere else.

Patches in this block: 18 (yes, I AM counting the background)

Patches so far: 873

Unexpected ‘incidents’ with inset seams aside, it’s been far too long since I tried doing a historical reproduction block or learned a new skill.  But I should have been smart enough not to try both in one go!

This picture, sticky and yellowed at the edges from a combination of time and cheap glue, has been sitting in my old visual diaries and nagging at me (‘Show me! Make me!).  It’s part of an old photocopy I made while visiting America in 2002.  I had two days to myself and spent them, nerd that I am, taking ridiculous numbers of photocopies at the New York Public Library: quilt books and out-of-print Richard Brautigan poetry.   Ahh.  Here is the full original: the block is at A6 (6th across, top row).

Way back then in the library, I fell in love with this sampler quilt.  It’s long ago been separated from the notes I took of the maker(s) and even the title of the book it was in. I feel sure the block I chose to copy was done in Turkey red.  It represents a hand (possibly, probably, traced from a real hand), wearing an abstract thimble and decorated with a heart. 

These complex applique samplers were almost always done as gifts from a group of friends to a new bride or a departing friend, hence the heart.  I think it’s a touching and imaginative design, one that I’ve not seen before nor since.  I decided I’d like to copy it.

To make a block design, I took the photo above (a photo of a photocopy: classy) and blew it up by about 1000% on the PC.  Then I traced the design on to fabric and proceeded to reverse applique the design.  Nooooo… tried to reverse applique the design. 

This method worked surprisingly well; it would be much more problematic for detailed picture blocks like Baltimores.  

Somewhere along the line, I forgot that in the original block, the hand is skewed to face the corner.  No problem, because the white fabric points where the fingers meet the hand is so knobbly and frayed that the block is unusable.  You can see in the photo that the lines get wobbly there.  The fabric is also bubbled and knobbly.  One look at a quilting frame or a wash tub and this baby’s just lint.

I vastly underestimated this block’s degree of difficulty, and/or my decidedly average skill in applique.  Plus, black thread was not a good choice.  After I made the heart I switched to white, but the damage was done.

I’ve decided to go on a little self-guided applique course, starting with reading this book.

Despite trials and tribulations, I still think that this is a neat way of copying basic designs and I hope to use it in the future.  I’m especially pleased with the results since the only image I have of the quilt is a terrible and tiny photocopy.  But I want this block in my quilt — badly, I now realise — and I’m only waiting on applique skills before I can also make this composite block with figures from the Victoria and Albert Sundial Coverlet.

I’ll let you know how it goes…  if you have mad applique skillz, please tell me how you learned them!  A book I can read?  A site I can look at?  Don’t say ‘grandma taught me’ unless she lives in Brunswick and can be bribed to teach me.  I have chocolate, jelly babies, and a decent stash of novelty egg cups.

Little Red Schoolhouse, in blue.

I thought this would be a nice easy one.  But… inset seams with paper piecing!  aaagh…

It’s an old favourite, and much more square than it seems in this photo, which makes it worthwhile.  And hey, new skill.

Patches in this block: 21

Patches so far: 855