Some days, the sewing goes slow, and you enjoy the little bits and pieces.

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

I’ve never been to the Stitches and Craft show and had a free day last weekend, so went along.  I was looking forward to a huge expo where I could do workshops and see what crafty people outside the quiltosphere were doing.  Unfortunately I thought it was lame, and I feel confident in saying so because my friend Annemarie thought so too 😉

Seriously folks.  Does the world need fifteen stalls selling cross stitch patterns with twee verses, sad, dated little flowers, and stick on jewels?

Some good parts were worth going for.  A handful of brave crafters had stalls.  The ‘Handmade Nation‘ doco was an enjoyable way to look at cool crafters’ lifestyles while I drank an overpriced Expo coffee (although it was really a long advertisement rather than hard-hitting documentary).

Someone deliberately misunderstood a sign asking for  ‘craft secrets’, which made me giggle:

And someone else lent the show a gorgeous 30s quilt, though I don’t know who as the quilt display was strangely devoid of names.  Perhaps the maker labelled the quilt, but like most quilters I don’t feel comfortable touching display quilts.  Does anybody know the name of the pattern?

Another plus: on the way home I saw the overexpensive and undersafe Southern Star looking beautiful for the first time.  It took Melbourne’s first hard rain in four years to show me its happy face.  Of course: white against a stormy grey sky.  This is from North Melbourne station.

And then the best part: getting home and laying everything out on the bed.

There were only three or four stalls selling fabric, and less with interesting fabric, but of course I did find some bits and pieces to buy.  The fabric here is all for my hexagons (even finished a flower on the train home!).  It is odd to be buying new fabric for a ‘scrap’ quilt, but when the pieces are small, I’m sure it’s fine with the Quilt Goddess.  I bought some applique scissors and pins for reasons that I’ll explain in another post, some variegated embroidery thread, twenty little pieces of the most gorgeous feedsack fabric, and I especially love the yellow rose print and the little owls.

So to wrap: unless there are some major changes to the Expo, I’ll stick to quilt fairs.  For I need not your smocked and bedazzled toilet roll holders.

Pile of cuttings?  No, that one’s huge.

It’s 16 little log cabin blocks made into one block, 15x15cm.  I saw an ultra-miniature paper pieced quilt at an expo last year, and wanted to see if I could do something similar.  Pencil for size reference:

It wasn’t too hard until it came to sewing the little blocks to each other.  That’s when I needed to be precise, and wasn’t, so a fair bit of unpicking had to ensue.  I like this one.

Sandy, I did try freezer paper, but it doesn’t work for me.  I can’t seem to sew right on the seam, or get sharp points.  Maybe it’s just me!

Patches in this block: an ass-whooping 208

Patches so far: 817


Yes, it is, but I’ve never hit Explore before!  (Top right)

cdthorp from Flickr (Cynthia) has been playing with the same pattern.   I love the tone on tone look — what a difference it makes!

Edited 24 September to add:  if you like this tutorial, check out my new pattern for matching cushions!  It’s available as PDF or printed pattern, is in my Etsy store now and uses a new interfacing method which is not only quicker than most patchwork, but also super-good for supporting precious but aged scraps of fabric.

As promised, a post that is not about my garden. Nor is it about my wedding, a fact that will surely astound any friends and family who are reading this!

I made a custom order about two months ago from vintage sheets.  Much like my Grandma’s Vintage Sheet Quilt, these matching twin quilts are made from sheets and pillowcases from the 60s and 70s: the kinds of sheets we had in our house when I was growing up, as well as the kinds of sheets I wish we had.  I took pictures along the way and thought that others might be interested in a tutorial.

This is the simplest kind of quilt I’ve ever made and it can be constructed with nothing more than a sewing machine, a flat space, and an iron.  It breathes new life, beauty and strength into sheets that have worn in some places: worn and faded patches can be discarded, and the good fabric kept.  Experienced patchworkers might feel a little impatient to get past the details in these instructions.  I’ve deliberately tried to make it simple, because a vintage sheet quilt is the perfect low-cost, high-reward first quilt for a newbie.

First, cut out your pieces and arrange in a pleasing pattern.  I used a large square cut from an A4 piece of paper as my template, drawing around it with a soft pencil.  Those who have fast cutting equipment will doubtless prefer to use that at this stage.

Then sew some strips together and iron seams flat. In these single bed quilts, I went for eight squares across, so I built in fours. If placement is important, place a pin in the bottom right hand patch.  Then you’ll always know which way is up when you go to replace the strip in your arrangement.

Then sew fours together into eights, and so on…

…until you have one half sewn together! Again, use a pin in the bottom right hand corner.

Then pin and sew the two halves together. At this stage you can lay it over some batting and backing.  When putting your three layers together, tack them together in an all over criss- cross pattern, or use a series of safety pins (this last option is better for everyday use quilts than those you’d like to be *perfect*.  Now quilt it.

Alternatively you can lay it over a second full sheet and tie it together.  A lovely example of a simple, tied coverlet can be found here. I used soft flanelette for these quilts.  With any other style of quilt, I’d use cotton backing because flannelette doesn’t last forever.  But let’s face it: vintage sheet quilts aren’t going to last into your grandkids’ lifetimes.  They’re soft and they’re for enjoying now.

Bind the quilt with commercially purchased bias binding, or cheat by folding and sewing a pretty ribbon around the raw edges 🙂

That’s a whole quilt — or in this case, two quilts — made with no more equipment than a sewing machine and an iron.

Then find yourself a picturesque cat.

And you’re done.

Flickr set is here.

This is the first tutorial I’ve done at pinsandthimbles.  Did it make sense?  I’d be grateful for any suggestions you might have!

The four sections plus centre were easy to piece, but difficult to put together.  I’m no gun at inset seams on the machine.  Perhaps if I come up against another block like this, I’ll piece the segments on the machine and then use good old-fashioned needle and thread for the final seams.

I’m yet to try out freezer paper piecing as Sandi suggested; I’d already started String Block when the comment came up.  Next one, promise. I can’t guarantee that that will be soon, though; there are some major Other Things happening.

One, I’m belting away — there is no other word for it — at NaNoWriMo.  I have to write 1,667 words a day or I fall behind.  Which would be easier if I didn’t have to earn a living or anything trivial of that nature 🙂  The book is terrible, absolutely without a doubt the worst fiction ever put to paper.  It doesn’t even have the virtue of being silly.  Many WriMo writers chuck ninjas and pirates in to spice things up, but I’m after a manuscript that could be non-toxic after a rewrite.  I need plot, and I have none.  Today I am writing 600 words every hour, on the hour, as fast as possible.  Then I’m free until the next o’clock.  I won’t subject you to a sample of the dialogue this method encourages.

Two, we’re finally, finally picking up our puppy on Friday at 11.  Then we’re heading straight down to the beach to introduce him to Mitzi, my parents’ dog.  Lots and lots of photos will ensue, without a doubt!

Maybe I need a puppy in my NaNoWriMo…  hmmm…

Patches in this block: 45

Patches so far: 609

Ok, now we get serious.  I love this block, but at 15x15cm, there was no way I could make it by hand.  I couldn’t even hold the seams — my fingertips are thicker than each of these little triangles.

American paper piecing to the rescue!

For those who are unfamiliar with the idea, you print the block pattern out on a sheet of paper, then trace the pattern to the back on a window or a light box.  Placing a bit of fabric over one drawn ‘patch’, you then cover it with the next, sew a seam, flip the fabric, and keep going.  I won’t go into more detail because there are many many great tutorials out there.

Not all blocks can be done this way, as they need to fan out; this block was created in eight sections then pieced together.  After you’re done, you pull the paper away.  It’s really quite a lot of fun: the only drawback is, it uses a lot more fabric than my old trace-and-cut method.

For more amusement, here’s Harry Potter in APP.

Patches in this block: a whopping 92

Patches so far: 564

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