Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A Few Works in Progress


Although I have been making good progress on my La Passacaglia this week, I have no new pictures to share. Instead I'm taking a look at some of the other works that I have in progress. (Yes, There are a few!)
I joined the Farm Girl Vintage Quilt Along hosted by Lori Holt from Bee in My Bonnet and based on her latest book Farm Girl Vintage.


The quilt along only started a couple of weeks ago so there is plenty of time to catch up. if you want to join in. We are working through the blocks in the book and each Friday Lori posts both a 12" and a 6" version of the blocks along some extra ideas. Search the hashtag #farmgirlfridays on Instagram or Facebook to see what everyone has been making.
These are the two blocks I made last week.


I've actually got a little ahead of schedule and made this Friday"s blocks already. Part of my reason for taking part in this quilt along was to improve my accuracy on small 6" blocks. I'm getting better!!
Here they all are together. I'm really pleased with how this is coming along

I've also joined another quilt along based on this wonderful pattern in the latest Special Edition of Quiltmania.


The Disney "It's a Small World" ride holds happy memories for me.
We took the boys to Euro Disney many years ago and the youngest was not big enough to go on many of the rides. My (now "late") husband took the older two on the thrillers whilst I took the youngest one round. As soon as we came out of this ride, when asked what he wanted to go on next, it was this ride again!!So we re-joined the queue. We must have gone on this ride at least 6 times, and he would have gone for another 6 if he'd had the choice! We laugh about it often.

I had actually purchased the pattern and started mine before the quilt along started, but I put it on hold for a little while as its more fun quilting in (virtual) company, right?
The quilt is made in 6 sections. I had done the sky for section 1, but then found that my stash was sadly lacking in small scale prints in a deep grey. for the skyscrapers. A few purchases later and its in full progress again. I hope to add some photos soon.

And finally, I joined a Hand Pieced Mini Swap on Instagram.
This is the design I'm making for my (secret) partner.


The hexagons are 2" on each side, so the pieces within them are fairly small, but good fun to make.
I'm not overly comfortable working with the colours that she prefers, but then that is why I joined in the first place - to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone!

It's a long weekend here in the UK and I don't think the weather forecast is very summery, so I won't be short of things to do!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend too.uilt

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

La Passacaglia - My Process

This is my Passacaglia sitting on my design wall. It only just fits and it doesn't photograph very well here as the light is not very good. I shall have to find another spot to take pics from soon.
A few people have been asking me questions about my process, so today however I thought I'd share my method and a few of the tools I'm using.

The pattern is in this book (it's shown on the front cover) and is the work of Willynne Hammerstein. The quilt I'm making is officially called Passacaglia with Mr Penrose. Sir Roger Penrose is a mathematical physicist who, amongst many, many other things, explored tiled shapes, some very similar to the design of this quilt.

The finished quilt will measure 56" x 70" (144 x 176cm). My colour palette is very different to Willynne's. I'm using mainly aquas and pinks with some lime, blue, grey, orange and purple thrown in. 
Willynne pieced hers by hand. I'm using English Paper Piecing for mine. It's a lot slower, but I find it very relaxing. The nice thing about this project is that it is so portable.
There have been many comments on the blog suggesting I must have a lot of patience to undertake this. No, I don't!! This is slow, but it is accurate and therefore stress free. You should see my lack of patience when I've tried machine piecing something and then find that my points are truncated or seams don't match accurately. There is certainly no patience displayed then !!

For English Paper Piecing you need templates and papers to fold the fabric around. When I first started this at the beginning of the year there were no templates available to buy specifically for this pattern. I traced the templates given in the book onto overhead projector film, added a seam allowance, cut them out and drew around them onto the fabric. Yes, it was a tedious process and it's not the most accurate method, so for the first rosette, I didn't do any fussy cutting.

Several of the shapes used are popular english paper piecing shapes so I was able to download free pages from which to cut some of the papers. You can find these at  Others I had to trace from the book several times until I had enough to fill a page and then photocopy it.
This pattern has since become so popular! I post regular photos of my progress on Instagram and the number of people making this pattern is incredible. Just search the hashtags #lapassacaglia and #passacagliaquilt to see some of the amazing work that is being created by quilters all around the world.
The upshot of this popularity is that you can now buy acrylic templates and papers specifically designed for this pattern from several places.

I bought acrylic templates from

You can choose the colour of the acrylic and whether you want 1/4" or 3/8" seam allowances added.
You can also get them from

Papers specifically for La Passacaglia can be bought from and from

There is a lot of possibility for fussy cutting in this quilt.  I fussy cut the centres of the rosettes and sometimes the diamonds in between the stars. It is fun seeing the different designs you can make with fussy cutting, but the reason I do it is to create movement. I want to keep the eye moving around the quilt and fussy cutting helps to create circles and therefore movement. The other way to create movement is to have areas of light and dark as in this rosette.

Without the light areas the circular motion would not be so pronounced.

I use the templates to help with the accuracy of the fussy cutting.

I use a Frixion pen to draw around the templates and to mark sections of the design right onto the template when I create my first shape. Then when I move onto the next one I can use  the drawn lines to ensure I'm placing it in exactly the same position on the fabric as I did with the first. I also mark through the little holes at the seam allowance intersection. When I've finished a set of fussy cutting shapes for a particular rosette, the lines on the acrylic can be simply rubbed off.

I hadn't done a lot of fussy cutting before I started this project and if you are thinking of buying fabric purely for this purpose I would suggest being a little cautious. Often a fabric that you think is going to fussy cut well ends up being problematic, whilst others you already have in your stash surprise you  with how useful they are. 
I have got a lot better at choosing fabrics to fussy cut as time has gone on. My local quilt store is now used to me wandering around with templates in my hand, pulling out bolts and laying the templates on to see if they'll work. I would suggest buying as the need arises rather than making a lot of purchases at once.

When I first started I was determined to baste the pieces in the traditional way with needle and thread. I soon changed my mind and swapped to glue basting.

I use a Sewline glue pen. It is widely available and you can purchase refills for it. I like the precision of this glue. Some of the pieces like these star sections are very small and I use the glue very sparingly. Just a very fine line from the edge of the glue stick or a couple of dots is all it needs. That way they come out easily when I want to remove them.

Finally I want to show you the thread that I use.

YLI silk thread is very fine and the stitches just blend right into the fabric. I use a small quilting needle and short lengths of thread so that it doesn't shred and break. I don't knot the thread. Instead I hold down the end of the thread with one finger and work 2 or 3 stitches in the same place before starting to progress along the seam. I do the same when I finish the seam. It's how I was taught and I'm a creature of habit! The thread is quite pricey so I've restricted myself to a range of neutrals and they seem to be working very well.

Well if you've read this far, then Thank You! You certainly do have patience! I hope this has been of help to anyone considering starting this quilt. It won't be a quick project, but I hope you'll find it enjoyable. I certainly am!

Linking up with Lorna at Let's Bee Social @Sew Fresh Quilts

Thursday, 30 April 2015

More Passacaglia Progress

Slow, peaceful and contemplative stitching. My english paper pieced Passacaglia quilt continues to grow. So much so that it is too large for my design wall now - hence the need for photographing it on the carpet if I want to show all the rosettes together. 

Just 4 more grey stars need to be added to this one and then its complete.

This one is my favourite so far.

This one has a place in my heart too.

And this was the first large one to be completed.
All the big rosettes are complete now. Its time to work on the little ones! That means lots of fussy cutting for the centres and lots of playing around with colours. Its a little too pink for my liking at the moment. Need to tone it down a bit with more neutral colours.
Heaven knows how I'll photograph it though until I start sewing some more of the rosettes together.
I can honestly say I'm enjoying this project more than any others I can think of.
Slow hand stitching is good for the soul !!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A Quilt Finish!

It's a finish! My Hazel Hedgehog quilt for Siblings Together is finally all done. I'm kind of sad, it was such fun to make, and got such a lot of lovely comments here on my blog and on Instagram. But now I can send this, along with the other two I have, off to Siblings Together to be handed out at their summer camps, and I can move on to all the other hundred and one things in my head!
There was no chance of an outdoor photo. We've had gale force wind and a hail storm yesterday! but I think you can see it OK on this bed.

I quilted it with wavy lines from top to bottom....nice and easy and no ends to sew in.

Fortunately I had just enough of some of the fabric scraps left over from the hedgehogs to make a scrappy binding. The backing fabric is Lime Twist Harlequin by Makower which I bought at a recent visit to the Sewing for Pleasure and Hobbycrafts Show at the NEC Birmimgham. Its such a lovely fabric and very useful for backings. I wish I had bought more of it.

I also have another finish to share this week (Two in one week must be a record for me!)
Its this "Little Zippy Pouch" from Quilt Now magazine volume 9.
Sonia from fabricandflowersuk kindly hosted a Sew Along for this pouch on Instagram, which was great fun to follow. Its the perfect size for all my paper piecing paraphernalia, so was put to good use right away.

I used only organic fabrics. The patterned fabrics are Wildwood by Cloud9 and the solids are Cirrus solids again by Cloud9

Linking up with Work In Progress Wednesday and Lets Bee Social

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Prickle of Hedgehogs

When my kids were little we used to play a game whilst they were in the bath. I would quiz them on the name of animal young and collective nouns. It must have stuck in the memory of my youngest as he bought me a print for my birthday last year with many animal collective nouns on it.
When I started making this quilt for Siblings Together, I looked to see what the collective noun for hedgehogs was, and it said a prickle!! Now, I didn't really believe this so I checked it out, and as far as I can see it's true. There is an alternative, which is an array, but I'm going to stick with a prickle. It makes me smile!
So my prickle of hedgehogs is complete. There are 12 of them and I had enough scraps of the fabric left to make a co-ordinating border. I think it adds a nice finishing touch. 

I pin basted it yesterday.

Those poor little hedgehogs. I felt bad putting pins into their faces!
So now it's the quilting. I'm torn between haphazard elongated wavy lines running from top to bottom and a tight zig zag line using one of the decorative stitches on my machine. The second option would be a lot slower, but its the one I'm leaning towards. I'm hoping to test them both out in the next day or so before I finally decide.
The pattern is by Elizabeth Hartman and you can buy it here

We are hoping to get 100 quilts for Siblings Together before the summer camps start this year so that they can be given out to the children as a reminder of their time spent with their siblings. As you can see from the "Quiltometer" in my side bar we are a quarter of the way there! 
If you would like to know more about the charity or to help in any way, please take a look at this post by Mary Emmens

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Passacaglia Progress

My Passacaglia quilt is progressing well. It's all hand stitched, english paper piecing. It's slow stitching, happy stitching, calming and relaxing stitching, the best sort! When I know I can't rush something, that I'm  not going to get in finished in the next week, month or whatever, I just slow down and enjoy the journey, take time to gather my thoughts and unwind. I'm sure it's good for the soul.
Part of the reason I've been working on this quilt is that my sewing machine is being serviced this week. It made me wonder what life would have been like many years ago when everything had to be hand sewn. Being without my machine really does make me appreciate having the choice to hand or machine sew!!
The top photo is where I'm at now on the second large rosette. These are BIG and take a long time. I couldn't resist trying out the final round of stars before I'd finished the round of pale pink pentagons. 
This is a close up of the first large rosette. (None of them are complete as they all have to interlink when the quilt is put together). The pattern is from Millefiori Quilts by Willynne Hammerstein.
And this is all three together! Although there is one more large rosette in the quilt, I'm going to work on some of the smaller ones next. A little (almost!!) instant gratification is needed!

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday     Let's Bee Social   and Work in Progress Wednesday

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Mother's Day Mug Rug

Today I'm happy to say that I'm a guest blogger over on the Simply Solids Blog
When Justine asked me to make something for the beginning of March, I realised that it was only a couple of week"s away from Mother's day, so a gift for a Mum seemed to be the obvious choice.
I love making Mug Rugs. They're bigger and therefore more useful than a simple coaster, but not so big that you only bring them out of special occasions. They're the perfect size for a cake and a cuppa!
The background is a simple 2x3 grid of low volume fabrics. I've provided full scale pattern pieces, ready reversed which you can trace onto iron-on adhesive  (I used Bondaweb) 

Cut them out

Trace the wording ready to embroider

Iron them onto the background

Sew around with a zig zag stitch and add a little embroidery.

And finish as you would a normal quilt.
I went a little over the top with the quilting...straight lines, just over a 1/4" apart! Yes, I was having fun. There were of course a lot of ends to sew in, but with a Clover Easy Thread needle where you just pull the thread in at the top rather than having to thread it, the job wasn't too bad.

Of course you don't have to embroider the word "Mum" you could  make one for a friend., or even for yourself! You can trace any name onto the mug band. Just make sure there's a nice edible treat to go with it!

Do pop over to Simply Solids Blog for full details of how to make it. You can also download the instructions  with full size pattern pieces as a printable PDF HERE


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