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

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: http://www.lib.uci.edu/libraries/collections/sea/hmong.html

Time to celebrate with a progress shot, no?

They’re all wrapped up in plastic so that they don’t collect dust and who knows what else in our crazy house before I’m finished making their neighbours!

I made this to practice gentle curves. I like it. It’s wonky around the edges, which had me worried for a while. However, it seems to be the right size and I’m reasonably certain that the wonk will go away once there’s sashing around the edges. Thank heavens for that, and for quilting – that crease is annoying.

Patches in this block: 17

Patches so far: 288

Get the pattern as PDF

Another very simple one. I’m in the mood for easy things. Besides, I love this one for its name.

Patches in this block: a very un-taxing 14

Patches so far: 271

Get the pattern as PDF

In other news, I made a replacement for block one. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it, it’s just that the quilt turned into a tone-on-white one and it didn’t fit any more. Despite that proviso, I’m actually really pleased at the increased accuracy and better stitching that’s visible in the remake.

After all that palaver over the Sarah Morrell appliqué, I needed to sew something easy but very satisyfing. Plus, I’ve had a little extra sewing time whilst the family have been moving my Grandma out of hospital (at last!) and into a lovely, freshly painted room of her own in a ten-bed house with a full time nursing staff. It’s even backing on to the little shopping centre, so they all go and buy a coffee each morning without crossing any roads. Public nursing homes aren’t what they used to be. Praise be.

Hence: sewing, finished. Another Jane Stickle, because they’re so addictive!

This is one of my very favourite Jane Stickle blocks. Simple, but elegant.

Patches in this block: 33

Patches so far: 257

Get the pattern as PDF

First of all, thanks to everybody who helped me out on the colour scheme.  I’ve put in a monster order at equilter of these lovely Kona packs (in greens, blues, and warm tones)… there seemed to be general agreement that dark blues and some light yellows were the go.

Second… here is the first circular pattern I’ve ever drafted all by myself in EQ6.  It’s a miniature intertpretation of a block in an old signature quilt made for and by a young American lady.  Helen Hayes did a full sized machine pieced/machine quilted reproduction which you can see here (full quilt) and here (detail).  She did change the position of some blocks, but it’s a pretty close repro.

This was the first seriously difficult bit of appliqué I’ve done.  It’s also the second bit of appliqué I’ve done, period.  If I’d stopped to plan, I would have realised that the tiny tiny points on each of the small appliquéd orange pieces were way above my beginner skill level, and I should have modified them or read a book about appliqué first.  On the other hand, I’d already drafted it and I wanted to finish it.  Soon.  Plus, as my helpful resident masculine quilt advisor pointed out, real flowers aren’t symmetrical anyway!

Here it is, at last: by the way, the creases won’t survive hand quilting, so they aren’t a worry.

One thing that did go remarkably well was the piecing.  The angles seemed a bit dodgy (as you can see in the photo below), but it all went together quite easily.  Curves are getting easier. I followed some advice picked up from Alice on the Indiana Puzzle block: not stretching the fabric and keeping stitches small and relaxed.  This has helped enormously.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the stages of Block Nine.

Thanks to Anina over at Dear Baby Jane for the freezer paper appliqué technique!

Patches in this block: 26

Patches so far: 224

I like this one. Not too taxing on the mind (I needed a break after that Indiana Puzzle block!) and not too long in the making. Plus it seems to dance somehow. Not sure why the photo sees a shadow on the right hand side, because there isn’t one.

The next block will be different, promise – not a Jane Stickle block. Maybe a cookie cutter or a Sarah Morrell Album Quilt block.

Patches in this block: 24

Patches so far: 198

Get pattern as PDF (please read the user info first)

New block to come soon, but here’s a photo in the mean time. I fixed the corn and beans block. It looks much better for the square set arrangement.

Get pattern as PDF (please read the user info first)

Hi all,

The number of people stopping by this new little blog is really very flattering – and it’s started me thinking that I could improve the site a little for anyone who’s interested in making a sampler quilt of their own (whether a few blocks or a whole quilt). I get a lot out of your advice and I’d like to make the site a place where I can offer you something as well.

As of today, I’m starting to upload PDF files of the patterns I use into the ‘patterns for sharing’ section. There’ll still be a little graphic icon there for those of you who know how to draft and prefer to do that for yourselves, but for those who’d like to dabble in one or two blocks and would like to use my patterns, just click on the link. The patterns include a small reference picture of the block, and pattern pieces with a 1/4″ seam allowance. I’m willing to reconsider the pattern format for the next project, so if you use them, please let me know how they work (or don’t) for you.

You’ll need Adobe reader or a similar PDF reader to use these files: the software is free in its most basic form and that’s all you’ll need.

I’m doing this one at a time, so for the moment please be patient as I swap them over. In the future I’ll upload the patterns when I post the blocks.

Cheers, and happy sewing. Thanks for reading my blog!