Saturday 26 October 2013

Patchiqué Week 2 – Blocks 3 and 71

Block 3 in "Japanese Taupe Quilts" by Susan Briscoe is called Sakiori shima which translates to ‘rag-weave stripe’. 
Block 3 - Courtesy of Susan Briscoe
The book instructs you to cut 27 small rectangles and stitch them together.  But I’ve got a simpler, quicker way.  Cut ten 12" x 1½” strips – five from one fabric and five from another.  Stitch them together along the 12" length using a perfect ¼” seam.  You should end up with a block that measures 12" x 10½” and looks a little like this:
Your block should have ten strips
From this block cut three 3½” wide strips.  Remove one rectangle from each strip so that, when you stitch them together, you will have alternating blocks. 

It sounds a lot of work but it is actually very quick.  If you cut and stitch accurately you will find Block 3 goes together really easily.

As for Block 71 (Mizuno kengata rokuyō) – it is rated as a medium difficulty.
Block 71 - Courtesy of Susan Briscoe
But this is not true – it is an easy block – a very, easy block.  You don’t even need your protractor to set the appliqué leaves at 60 degrees apart.  All you need to do is position the top and bottom leaf so that they are in the middle of the block and approximately ½” from the outer edge.  From there, position the remaining leaves so that the edges line up in straight lines – as shown in this photo, leaving a small gap between each leaf.        
And do you see what I see?
Yep – a flower.  The gaps between the leaves make a secondary flower pattern.  Very clever.  (It was hard to see this in the book due to the fabrics used.)

Be sure to check out Susie’s Sunroom and Sew Crooked in the next couple of days.  Susie is making some awesome blocks using turquoise and mocha.  And Helena, at Sew Crooked has set out to make every block in the book and, if the first few are anything to go by, you’ll want to be checking each and every one!

The next two blocks I intend to make are Block 4 (patched) and Block 72 (appliqued).

Sew until next time ......

Friday 25 October 2013

Fabric Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkins

Jack-O-Lantern and Pumpkins

I did warn you it might happen!

Martha's Stewart's fabric pumpkin gets a Patchsmith make-over

If you fancy making your own fabric jack-o-lantern then click on the links for the Martha's free tutorial and my free Halloween face pattern.  I cut my fabric at 5.5" x 11" but on reflection another inch or two bigger would've been better.  And for a nifty way of making the stalks check out my previous blog.

Sew until next time .....

Sunday 20 October 2013

Acorns and Pumpkin Stalks

Sometimes a little piece of heaven passes by and if we are lucky enough we notice it, scoop it up and smile each time we catch sight of it.  So it was with Susie’s first paper-pieced pattern – an acorn.  It seems like such a little thing but as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make it.  And that is just what I did.  
I whipped up this lovely little acorn coaster in less than an hour.  And now, each time it catches my eye (and how could it not?) - I smile.  It reminds me that we never know when something we create will touch the lives of others.  (If you fancy making your own little patch of autumn heaven then pop over to Susie’s Sunroom and download her free pattern.  And if you’re new to paper-piecing check out Carol Doak’s easy-to-follow tutorial.)
And whilst we are on the subject of autumn – this lovely little coaster needed an autumnal setting for its photo-shoot so I whipped up two fabric pumpkins using this free tutorial from Martha Stewart.  I followed the tutorial exactly – up until the stalks.  Instead of using fabric, I created felt stalks that included a base so that they could easily be stitched to the top of the pumpkins, covering any gathering stitches.  Here is how .....


To make a pumpkin stalk for a small pumpkin all you need is a 3” square of wool felt.  Make two cuts in the square of felt 1” down from the top on both sides but leave ½” uncut in the middle as shown.
Roll up the (larger) bottom piece of the felt tightly and slip stitch it in place so that it doesn’t unroll.  

Fold the top (unrolled) section in half and stitch the cut edges together as shown.   Finally trim the corners to create a round stalk base – all ready to slip-stitch in place on the top of your fabric pumpkin.
You can easily adjust the size of the stalk dependent upon the size of your pumpkin. 
Of course, it is only a matter of time before Martha Stewart meets the Patchsmith in the form of Scary Fabric Pumpkins!! 
The Patchsmith's FREE Pumpkin Face Pattern
Now that will be interesting!

Sunday 13 October 2013

Patchique Week 1 - Blocks 1 and 76

Firstly, congratulations to Margaret from Quebec – Margaret won a copy of Susan Briscoe’s ‘Japanese Taupe Quilts’ book to mark the beginning of my Patchiqué Quilt Project.

Just in case you missed the details – I am creating a quilt based on 9” blocks from Susan’s book.  The main section of the quilt will consist of 49 blocks (seven rows of seven blocks) and I shall be making one patchwork and one appliqué block every fortnight – hence the title Patchiqué.  However, I am not sticking to the taupe colour theme. Instead I am using beige, tan, green, cream and raspberry hues.

Each fortnight I shall detail two blocks I have made from the book, together with hints and tips, in case you wish to sew along.

So let’s not waste any more time and make a start .....

Block 1 - Kasuri koshi kaku
The first patch block is Block No. 1 from the book – Kasuri koshi kaku.  You may know it as a nine-patch block (not to be confused with a nine-square block).  This is a very simple block and if you use a scant ¼” seam allowance you will find it an easy block to make to size.   I used two shades of green and a white flower print.  Neat eh? 

Onto the first applique block - Block No. 76 Kumai sasa kuruma (translated to “nine bamboo leaves wheel”). 
Block 76 - Kumai sasa kuruma
This block is rated medium difficulty but once you have your background square marked up it is quite easy.  I say easy but can you spot the obvious mistake between the block from the book (above) and my block (below)?  Yes, it is true - the Patchsmith has made a mistake on her very first applique block.  I positioned the petals the wrong way round, with the pointy end facing inwards!  Am I going to change it?  Nope - I'm leaving it.  Even though it is more 'daisy' than 'bamboo leaves' it reflects my scattiness and my love of daisies.  It is therefore, typical Patchsmith and it stays!
To position the petals accurately you will need a protractor - remember those - they were the plastic half circles in the math sets you had at school.  Don't worry if you haven't got a protractor to hand - there are plenty of free printable protractor templates on-line (just Google it - see comments below). 

I creased the background square by folding it into quarters and ironing the centre. This made it easier to position the petals.  Using the protractor I positioned each petal 40 degrees apart (measured from the centre of one petal to the centre of the next petal) with each petal placed ¾” from the centre point.  Once done, it was a simple case of fusing and stitching which was quick to do using quick-fuse applique. The template in the book is the correct size and can be traced directly onto the paper side of your fusible webbing (i.e. Bondaweb, Wonder Under, etc).

For the centre of the flower I used a 1” circle although the book states a ¾” circle. The reason for my sizing is because I traced around a coin and that is the size it turned out.  It worked out quite well as I was able to fussy-cut the circle to add an extra bit of detail.
And there you have it – the first two 9½” blocks done.   If you are sewing along then KEEP THE PROTRACTOR – you will need it again.  In a fortnight's time I will be sewing patch Block 3 and applique Block 71.   (I haven’t found the right fabric yet for Block 2 so I will come back to that one later.)

If you have any questions then just post a comment and I'll reply. 

Sew until next time .......

Saturday 5 October 2013

Across the Pond for the Skinny Pincushion

Whoever said ‘three into one doesn’t go’ is wrong, wrong, wrong. One of the best things about the Across the Pond sew-along is that it is run by three very different people, Amy, Susie and me.  We all have different tastes, loves and talents.  This month is the turn of Susie to select the project and lead the way over at Susie’s Sunroom.
Susie's matching skinny pincushion and machine cover 
Susie has chosen the Skinny Pincushion – a free pattern from Alexia Abegg of Green Bee patterns.    

Susie loves her pin cushions as you will recall if you joined us in January this year when we made the bird pincushion.  Yet again Susie has picked a real 'corker' (English slang for 'goodun', which is slang for 'super-dooper').
Courtesy of Green Bee Patterns
The skinny pincushion sits at the base of your sewing machine holding your pins ready for when you need them.  It is such a good idea.

But there’s just one problem for me ..... I live in a very little house, with just one work table for sewing, cutting, sketching and pinning.  I slide my sewing machine back and forth across the table all day as I create room for a multitude of tasks.  I need the pincushion to stay in place as I move my machine.  Solution?  Easy – add a sewing machine mat to the pin cushion and hey presto – problem sorted.
I made my pincushion longer - to fit the length of my sewing machine and I made a quilted mat, slightly narrower than the pincushion.  I constructed the pincushion as per the pattern except that I left one long side open.   On the open side, I pressed 1/4" seam allowance to the wrong side on the front and the back pieces.  I then attached the pincushion to the quilted mat leaving a 2" gap for stuffing.  Once I had stuffed the pincushion I slip-stitched the opening shut. 
I used left over batting to stuff my pincushion which works very well but is a little bumpy in places.  I am unsure how Susie manages to use cat litter without it ending up all over the place! 
The most important part of any Across the Pond project
Now before you go a couple of chances to win some goodies ......
Firstly have you left a comment on my Patchique blog?  You have until midnight (GMT) tomorrow, 6th October 2013 to be in with a chance of winning a copy of the fantastic Japanese Taupe Quilts book by Susan Briscoe. 
And secondly, Craftsy is having a blogger-award competition - you nominate a blogger and YOU have the chance to win a free Craftsy course.  As they say "if you're not in it, you can't win it" so just click on the badge below (or on the left-hand side) to nominate your favourite blogger.
Clicking is the easy bit - choosing from the many wonderful blogs out there is the hard bit.  The badge says 'nominate me' but it means 'nominate the blogger who has inspired you the most over the last year' - it doesn't have to be me!   I have lots and lots of favourite blogs but I will find a way to whittle it down - somehow, someway, someone.
Sew until next time ....................