Tag Archives: piecing

Making Time

egg timerJust a short post today, almost a ‘proof of life’ post.

Last weekend I finally managed to get some sewing done, something I hadn’t been able to do for several weeks. I’m working on another friendship braid quilt, using a Moda jelly roll. I spent two weekends cutting the pieces, aiming for accuracy rather than speed. Now that I’ve started sewing, the tempo is picking up, with two braids done and two more well on the way. In fact it’s coming along so well that I’ve already had a look through my stash for border and backing fabric.

I wish I had more time for craft, but right now I don’t. So I’ll just keep doing what I can, when I can, keeping in mind that this particular quilt is intended as a gift for a birthday in January. Seven months. Should be doable. I hope.

Getting Started on the Friendship Braids

I know from the search terms that bring readers to this blog that I’m not the only one working on the Friendship Braid quilt from the Jelly Roll Quilts book.

The braids are, as they say in the book, quite quick to string piece once you get started. I found that to be the case and was able to complete a braid within a few hours on a day when I didn’t have to go to the office.

Getting started is a whole other story though. That made my head hurt and there was some unpicking in the mix, too. The illustrations in the book aren’t quite to scale and the use of colour in those illustrations didn’t help, because it wasn’t clear to me which they were treating as a light trapezoid and which as a dark.

So I thought I’d share my photos, in the hope it might help someone else.

The outside edges should be parallel when you’re done sewing as shown by the hand drawn lines on the second photo. I eventually learned to check for that before sewing.

Lining up the pieces, with the book at hand

Pinned and ready to check

Starting the Friendship Braid

Opened up, but not sewn yet

Stash Busting Pot Holders

I have plenty of scraps and plenty of short lengths of fabric that I’ve bought on sale, some as holiday souvenirs. Pot holders are a perfect way to use up the scraps. Christmas will be upon us before we know and I actually could use a couple of new pot holders for myself. Remember the saying about the cobbler’s children having no shoes?

Until now I’ve based my pot holders on traditional 9 inch blocks, my absolute favourite being the churn dash. However, after measuring a much loved (and almost worn out) pot holder from my own kitchen I decided an 8 inch block will work fine.

About.com Quilting has these cutting instructions for an 8 inch block called Sarah’s Choice.

Light Neutral Background
Four 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ squares
Four 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ rectangles

Dark Print
Two 2-7/8″ x 2-7/8″ squares
Four 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ squares

Medium Print
Two 2-7/8″ x 2-7/8″ squares
Four 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ squares

Sarah's Choice Pot Holder

Sarah's Choice

It’s a pretty block. Just wish my points had come out a bit sharper. I’m not entirely convinced I made the right fabric choices either.

Another idea to use up scraps is piecing some strips together. This tutorial at Fresh Lemon Quilts is a great stash-busting idea that uses a seven inch block. The tutorial provides a pattern but I would take a more improvisational approach, using string piecing on a foundation block. I do wonder if a seven inch block is big enough. My hands aren’t big but I do want them to get a good amount of protection when dealing with heavy objects that are hot from the oven.

The Sawtooth Star block let me showcase this cute heart print.

Sawtooth Star with Heart Print Centre

Sawtooth Star

Leah’s Star is another block I considered. This pattern is from Quilt in a Day. She has you sew the half square triangles over-sized and trim them down after pressing them open. That’s a new approach for me. I see the benefits of ending up with a perfectly sized square, but I am also reminded of a lesson shared by an expert photographer, back in the days when that was a passion of mine. He said, “There’s only one exposure, the right exposure.” To me, the wastefulness of deliberately making an oversized block goes against the frugal tradition of quilting. The idea doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

I’m just a little too pressed for time to consider binding a pot holder just at the moment but I do concede that it gives a lovely, professional finish. Fellow blogger supermom kindly shared her very useful instructions for making hanging loops. The instructions are in the comments the follow her post about completing three hot pads. I will definitely give her method a try at some stage in the future.

Dresden Plate Doll Quilt

I had been hoping to buy myself an EZ Dresden template on my recent visit to San Diego but the shop was out of stock.

Doll Quilt with a Dresden Plate Motif, made in Autumn Colours

Tied Dresden Plate Doll Quilt

The universe provided an alternative in the form of Mikarah’s tutorial where she posted instructions on how to make your own template. Making your own template is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than flying from Australia to the United States to go buy one.

My beloved helped me with the template, after just a little begging. I drew the template on heavy paper first, and he helped me transfer the design to the template plastic.

Petals for Dresden Plate Quilt Block with the Cutting Template

Some of the Petals and the Template

I cut sixteen petals out of two orange tones from my stash, not sure whether I’d got the template right enough for them all to fit together when all the seams are in place.

First step – sew the points. I used my new long flat pins to help me with the alignment. I like using them, but because they’re so long and thin, they feel a bit bendy compared to my regular glass-head pins.The flat pins were lovely for the applique part of the project and I’ll put them aside for that in future.

It turns out sixteen petals was too many. I got a complete circle with fourteen petals. Maybe my quarter inch seam was a little too scant or maybe I didn’t cut the template quite right. Either way, it was a good experiment. The main thing I learned – I’m not sure I’ll bother making another Dresden Plate. I admire them when others make quilts out of them, but for me the effort just wasn’t worth the result.

I did enjoy tying the quilt sandwich and I like the effect so I think I’ll do that again. I also enjoyed machine appliqueing the blades to the background fabric, even though it was a bit fiddly. I used my sewing machine’s blanket stitch for the central bright orange element and a narrow zig-zag around the outside.

This will be a doll quilt for a future swap, most likely. It’s the perfect size, at 15 inches square.