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

(which needs an iron!  That’s the problem with cameras these days — they show you things you miss in real life!)

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I made a block for my sampler quilt.  Seriously — the last one was in April last year.  0_O !!

So then it’s appropriate that this be something special, something I’ve been saving.  Like a tribute to the ‘Sundial Coverlet’, a patchwork and applique extravaganza held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London:

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O14716/patchwork-quilt/

It’s around three metres squared — an enormous quilt worthy of the largest of king size beds, and then some.  I seem to remember reading somewhere that beds used to be a lot larger in the 18th century.  Any historians out there who could back that up with some actual facts?  There are ducks and stars and pinwheels and all manner of geometric motifs, all dancing around a sundial and a date from long ago.  I’m just going to go out on a limb and imagine that 1797 is the date it was finished, but that would be because it’s the date a modern quilter would use, and I may be wrong.

In any case, I’ve been in love with this quilt since I saw it reproduced in Kaffe Fassett’s V&A book oh, around ten years ago, before I had made any quilt more complicated than a puff patch.  Kaffe and his team didn’t reproduce any of the applique, instead choosing to recreate the impression of the patchwork in their version — they were working with time constraints, of course, and the quilter who took this on would never see the light of day again!

I chose two particularly appealing applique blocks to reproduce, one with scissors and thimble, the other with a clamp and heart.  A clamp was a sewing tool back in the day — one might clamp the end of the seam to a table, then stitch towards it.  Makes sense for a straight and even line of stitching.

I took a photo of the quilt from Kaffe’s book with a macro-enabled camera, cut the photo down into the pieces I wanted, blew it up in Photoshop until I got around about the right size, and then used the Trace tool in EQ to create applique shapes.

Could I have drawn it freehand and saved the bother?  Probably,  but this way makes me feel a lot more connected to the mysterious quilter who made all these wonderful, magical blocks.  It must have taken so many years.

Patches in this block: 5

Patches so far: 878

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

Dear Heavens. Look what I found on the web this morning. I’m in love.

These Depression era babies are just four inches tall, and the maker embroidered the names of each block in the sashing underneath. What’s more, the quilt’s owner Gayle has been making a set of patterns. You can also click on the quilt on her page to see it large-scale in Flickr.

http://sentimentalstitches.net/free-stuff/midget-blocks/

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.