New Quilt – In Progress

Four days ago I shared my work on a new quilt – I had sewn together 3 panels of four strips each – I had 7 panels left to create.

4 Panels Sewn

I’ve worked away at the panels – finished sewing them yesterday.

40 Strips Sewn in 10 Groups of Four

Here’s where it got interesting. I made the decision to revamp the panels into 4 sets of 10 strips – I accomplished that by sewing two sets of 4 then splitting the next adjacent panel in half and joining the resulting 2 strip sets to the first 8 and the second 8. Repeated that with the remaining strips giving me 4 sets of 10.

What I did next was create two 20.5″ squares from each 10 strip panel, matched up two non-identical panels, stitched around the outside, then cut along the diagonals. From my first two panels I got the following:

The first eight blocks laid out

Not a bad start – you get two large blocks with an encircled square. But my other eight blocks are very different in colour so how do I use them?

The first layout was a more or less random placing of the 16 blocks. The second layout set up a dark square in the centre and build more or less randomly on that centre. The third layout took the initial 8 blocks and added the second eight to the sides. At the moment I have no idea which to use. Each time I look at the photos I see new conflicts I want to resolve.

In addition, I’m planning on putting a navy speckled 1/2″ sashing between all the blocks which should actually bring the hodgepodge of colour together – fingers crossed on that. Furthermore, I really don’t want a square quilt! I want a rectangular one. I could get that, if after sewing the square together, I cut each of the two sides in half and place the cut pieces at the top and bottom! I have a hunch I may actually do that.

I worked on another half-square triangle project yesterday as well – the quilt is really a half-square triangle block (just built from 10 strips rather than a smaller number, usually 4).

Table Runner

I’m on the calendar to teach a quilting class Thursday on experimenting with HST. I had a layer cake – I matched up the fabrics – same batik pattern in two different colours, and made the blocks. This is the layout I will probably use. I can’t really sew the blocks together since I want to use them to show the many different ways these blocks can be assembled. In fact, it’s Sunday, tomorrow is a holiday, I won’t find out whether anybody actually signed up for the class till Tuesday – at which point I’ll have to scramble to contact the participants to notify them about what to bring to class on Thursday. Crazy! If nobody has signed up I’ll be able to work on the quilt!

Charm Quilt – Finished

Finished the quilt last evening. When all the quilting in the hoop was done (it went reasonably quickly), I added the binding. I didn’t want much of a binding but in the end I finished with a 1/4″ binding on the front (3/4″ binding on the back) which had to be hand-sewn. I never do hand sewing if I can help it – but in this case the binding on the back was wider than on the top and I didn’t want a machine stitched seam next to the binding; so hand sewing it was.

Charm Quilt – Finished

I’m pleased with how the back turned out, as well. I was able to use the column of HST I’d taken from the panel on the front, added a few sashing pieces that evoked the colour pallet of the front with a slightly darker grey fabric.

Finished Charm Quilt Back

This could be a quilt top on its own!

Now, I’d intended working on this quilt as a demonstration for the “quilt in the hoop” class – it was cancelled a week ago, the gals couldn’t make it yesterday, so far only three are able to come next week. I just kept working on the quilt and I finished it. So for the class (whenever it happens) I’ll work on my sample muslin piece. For now, I’ll be back to working on the bargello table runner.

Charm Quilt Top

In the end I went with an on-point square layout set off-centre.

7 x 10 HST Panel

However, the finished panel was too small, even with 3.5″ borders, to be a good size throw quilt. So what to do with it…

I had used all of the white/grey background fabric I had, I had no batik charms left. I also thought the 8 x 10 array wasn’t rectangular enough, so I removed one of the columns – set it aside to use in the quilt back.

Next, I decided to use the panel offset to one corner and create narrow pieced stripes in the wide border to the left of the panel as an accent for the HST array.

Completed Quilt Top

To build out the quilt, I added 9″ of backing fabric (a different pale grey/white fabric which blended with the original fabric) to the bottom of the panel so I knew the length of the  side panel. Then I began building pieced strips from everything I could find in my stash which blended, or implied, burgundy – the focal colour of the batik charms. I offset the strips by varying amounts from either the top or the bottom of the side piece by inserting appropriate amounts of backing fabric into the piecing. I completed the wide side border with a wide strip cut from the length of backing fabric to avoid a large, obvious mitre across the middle of it.

Finally I added a 3.5″ mitred outer border.

Now I’m ready to construct the backing. I bought a darker grey/white printed fabric for backing. I have a 4.5″ strip of HST I removed from the panel. I haven’t measured the panel width but I’m guessing it’s close to 54″ wide. So my insert panel will need to be at least 12″ wide.

No idea yet how the back will shape up. That’s for tomorrow.

Another HST Quilt

Two weeks ago at class one of the gals gave me a batik charm pack in exchange for the materials I’d given her. The batiks – five related colours – all felt “burgundy”. I thought they’d work with a light background. I decided to create unequal half-square triangles.

I raided my stash of larger fabric pieces and found a remnant of a white with grey fabric from the Zen Chic Fragile Collection.  I measured it carefully – thought I had enough for 40 5″ squares, plus sashing pieces; I started cutting. Turns out I was close, but I had to hunt through boxes of scraps hoping to find a wee bit more – luckily I found exactly enough to scrounge 8 more 4 1/2″ sashing pieces. That was it – there are no scraps of any kind left! This fabric collection, this colour in particular, were popular and are nowhere to be found. Trust me, I looked for hours online.

Stitching Unequal HST

To construct the unequal HST I marked the diagonal, then another parallel line 1/2″ to one side. I chain stitched the diagonals, cut the blocks apart, chain stitched the second line, cut them apart. Then cut between the two lines of stitching. After pressing the blocks open, I added a 1″ sashing to two sides of the smaller triangles.

I’ve interleaved larger and smaller triangles and this is the 8 x 10 array I currently have on my floor. Kinda interesting….

Current Layout On The Floor

I decided to see what other arrays are possible. I took a photo, then cut the paper into sections so I could try other arrangements:

Pinwheel Array

The pinwheel is off centre (centre is at position 4/3). While the centre should provide focus, it doesn’t seem to in this case – what’s there is too busy.

Next layout:


The chevrons work better – the white lines draw your eye in toward the offset centre. However, this layout requires two smaller triangles which I don’t have. I have two of the larger triangles but not a single scrap of fabric to convert them into smaller triangles – no fabric to construct sashing!

I’ll probably stick with the array I currently have on the floor – I need to leave it there for a day or so to make sure I’m happy with the colour distribution.

I didn’t say the reason I’m doing this quilt is so I can demonstrate for a class in early February how to “quilt-in-the-hoop“. I need both a quilt top and back to do this. Stitched, this array is going to be on the small side (but with no more burgundy batik squares and no more backing fabric to extend the size by a row/column or two, I will enlarge the panel with an inner sashing and a wide outer border so the finished size lands somewhere between 40″-45″ x ~55″- 60”.

I have a piece of complementary burgundy fabric large enough for sashing; and the other day I bought a metre of soft grey which should work for the border. I’m thinking a hidden binding from the main backing fabric might be in order because I don’t think I want to define the outer edge of the quilt with another strong colour.

First to assemble the blocks into a panel. I’ll work on that tomorrow.

Another possible layout:


This one works – and I’d complete the diamond on the right in the border (including a narrow sashing all around up to, but not including, that point…).


[BTW – I’ve been doing these different layouts by cutting a paper printout of the layout currently on my floor and holding it together with tape – no need to spend time on the floor arranging and rearranging blocks! The reason for placing my layout on the floor – my cutting table is too narrow to hold the width of the panel and I don’t have a space where I can hang a flannel design wall. I suppose I could set up a flannel panel and use weights to hold it in place on the floor – that could help keep the blocks from sliding around – but I’d still have to be on my knees to work with it.]

Layer Cake Quilt

I’ve been working on this new quilt for the past ten days. I started with sixteen grey batik 10″ squares and eighteen assorted beige/blue/grey 10″ squares – in effect a “layer cake.” I’d had the fabric in my stash for over a year not sure what to make with it. I didn’t have enough of the grey squares to do a whole quilt top so I added some Zen Chic (Fragile, Chalk Stamped) yardage which I also had in my collection. I decided to do an outer “border” with the white, doing the centre of the quilt using the grey batik.

I cut each 10″ square in four and constructed a total of 96 half square triangles, making sure I had enough blocks using the white to build the perimeter of the quilt top. Next I carefully laid out my HST and began sewing them together. Each block has four HSTs separated with a sashing constructed from 4 1/2″ rectangle “snowball” blocks – turns out I had a jelly roll using many of the same fabrics as the mixed batik 10″ squares I began with. I pulled out 12 strips to use for the sashing. To complete the snowballs I needed 384 one and a half inch white squares to add to the four corners of each rectangle.

Assembling The Elements

So far, I’ve assembled half of the inner panel of the quilt top – you can now see the white perimeter taking form and the grey batik interior squares are emerging.

Quilt Top – half pieced

I have two more columns of blocks to construct to add to this half panel. Then I will border the panel with more of the white patterned fabric. I have enough backing fabric that I should be able to add a narrow border of that fabric as well.

In the meantime it’s back to the snowballs – I have 48 more to construct. Once the snowballs are done the remainder of the top construction will go quickly.

Failed Attempt

Failed Attempt

I needed to piece an eleven inch strip to insert into the single width of backing fabric I had (that’s the primary reason I piece the back of my quilts – to get the width I need for the quilts). I had lots of small amounts of the Asian print fabrics I’d used for the top so I cut single 2 1/2″ strips, sewed them together in pairs on both edges, cut triangles which resulted in 2 1/2″ squares. I assembled the squares into a central row then filled in the sides with another row of the small squares and edged with a set of light coloured triangles to set off my pieced strip against the dark backing fabric.

I decided to construct the insert panel along the diagonal so incorporating the triangles would be straight forward. Nice idea. However, in spite of the fact that I trimmed the triangles, the further I got into the panel, the more it bent away from the straight! I took tucks in strategic seams only to find my next diagonal row was even further off. With the panel half assembled, I gave up.

Unused Small Half-Square Triangles

I gathered up the unused small squares and triangles, looked at them for a while, paired the small squares, then joined two pairs to create five inch squares – I ended up with nine which I aligned on point down the middle of my cutting table (in the end I needed only eight). I had lots of the Kona solid “pepper” fabric I’d used on the quilt top – I cut 6 1/2″ squares (which I cut along the diagonal) and inserted the triangles in the spaces between the pieced squares. Finally I added two narrow strips of one of the black/white fabrics to offset the panel against the backing fabric.

Pieced Back Using Small Half-Square Triangles

So my efforts weren’t entirely in vain. I have tucked away my failed attempt. I inserted my new panel into the backing fabric (offset twelve inches from one side along the length). I pin basted the quilt sandwich and you can see I’ve begun quilting the quilt. My finished quilt will end up 49″ x 62″. My quilt design (in a 360 X 200 hoop) has worked out to 7″ x 13.7″. I’m quilting along the length of the strips rather than from side to side (to complement the strips rather than stitching across them) – I will end up quilting seven rows, each row requires 4 complete and 1 half repeat to cover the quilt from edge to edge.

So far, I’ve stitched two rows and started the third. It’ll take me another two days to finish the quilting. I plan on binding the quilt with some of the backing fabric I was able to find yesterday in the sister shop across the harbour from where I bought the original backing fabric.

I’m already planning my next project – a spring raincoat using PUL fabric (Polyurethane Laminate used to make diaper covers among other things) in black with bright umbrellas which I came across a month or so ago. Now to find a pattern….

Second Pieced Demo Pillow Cover

Finished Pillow Cover Top (Starburst arrangement)

Finished Pillow Cover Top (Starburst arrangement)

Here is the second pieced pillow cover as a demo for the gals interested in having a go at some sewing in ten days time. I had finished the 16 half-square-triangle blocks yesterday, I assembled them into a 4 x 4 array this afternoon. Added batting, stitched in the ditch around the “star” elements to quilt the cover top. Found a fabric for the back, cut batting – my original cut was 16″ – I needed 16 1/2″! so I had to cut a second piece of both batting and fabric. Quilted the cushion back along diagonal lines in both directions.

This time I applied an invisible zipper (I’m actually thinking about taking the first pillow apart and inserting an invisible zipper into that one – I bought a second one for that purpose this afternoon).

Back of Finished Pillow Cover

Back of Finished Pillow Cover

I’m about to sit down and write instructions for making a 16″ pillow cover from 10″ fabric blocks (layer cake size).

  • Step 1: Mark both diagonals
  • Step 2: Stitch 1/4″ on each side of both diagonal lines
  • Step 3: Cut along diagonal lines, then again on both the center vertical and horizontal lines which yields eight 4 1/2″ half-square triangles – perfect for this size pillow cover.

Mark Diagonals, sew 1/4" from line on each side

Mark Diagonals, sew 1/4″ from line on each side

Here’s a tip for making a pillow cover – don’t sew the corners square. I happen to own this Dritz Pillow Cover Template (I’ve had it for years!). As you can see, it rounds off the corners removing about 1/4″ – 3/8″ from the corner. This rounded corner looks square when the cover is stuffed with a pillow. You don’t get those pointy “ears” on the corners. I trimmed my corners on both the yellow pillow cover yesterday and the one I just finished.

Corner Shaping Template

Corner Shaping Template

I applied my zipper along the curved edge just fine, when finished the zipper edge looks square as do the other three sides.

Grey-Yellow IV

The grey-yellow quilt is finally quilted and bound. Before I left for Toronto, I’d assembled the quilt sandwich, pinned the layers, intending to get back to work on it as soon as I got home. Didn’t happen. We had a couple of severe snowstorms, I came home with a dreadful cold that triggered my asthma, so I spent the better part of 10 days doing little other than coughing.

Finally, last Monday morning, I managed to go to the pool for my regular water aerobic class (I coughed quite a bit, but managed to breathe well enough to stay for the hour). Afterward, when I got home, I looked at the quilt and decided it was time to get back to work on it.


Quilt Top

I fused and appliquéd the circle detail in position, and quilted the immediate surrounding block but didn’t get much further till the end of the week when I managed to get the rest of the central blocks quilted. Sunday, I quilted the border. This morning, I added the binding and label.


Quilt Back


I still had a bunch of half-square triangles left over. I decided to use them for a pillow cover. Last week one of the other sewers in our Friday afternoon knitting/sewing group and I offered to assist those gals interested in making a pillow cover with piecing some half-square triangles into a 4 x 4 block. Five indicated some interest so Debbie and I are planning a sewing Friday in my sewing studio to make zippered, pieced pillow covers.


Pillow Top

I started by gathering together all my leftover blocks – I had 13 constructed which I laid out in a 4 x 4 array – I made another four blocks being careful to use the appropriate grey fabrics so I could build some symmetry into my layout. I used my darkest grey in the corners, distributed the other two shades evenly, then sewed the blocks together. I added batting, and quilted along the diagonals to build some stability into the top. Next I cut a 16″ square piece of batik which I also backed with batting and stitched on the diagonal.


Pillow Back

I trimmed the corners of both the top and back, slightly rounding them off, to create the illusion of ‘”squareness” when a 16″ pillow would be stuffed inside the cover. Finally, I added a zipper (a regular zipper, not an invisible one) to one end, unzipping it before sewing the two sides and the opposite bottom end.

Our instructions to the women were to purchase just two contrasting fabric from which to construct their pillow top. Here, I’ve used several yellows and three different greys. So, I decided, my next pillow cover had to be constructed from just two fabrics. I dug through my stash and came up with a somewhat dark blue/turquoise batik but I had nothing light to complement it, so back to the fabric store to buy 1/4 m. of a light batik.

I cut each of my two 10″ width-of-fabric pieces into four 10″ squares – paired light and dark blocks, marked the diagonals, placed right sides together and stitched 1/4″ on both sides of the diagonal lines. Then I cut along the diagonals and both the horizontal and vertical mid-lines to get eight 4 1/2″ half-square triangles from just two 10″ blocks! All I need for one pillow top is four 10″ blocks (two of each fabric). I’ve got those done and laid out ready to stitch, which I’ll do tomorrow.

I have already cut fabric for the pillow cover back, and batting squares for both top and back. I still could use an 18″ invisible zipper (I like using zippers that are longer than I need so I can ignore the slide when sewing them in place, trimming them after I’ve completed the side seams). It’s not that I don’t have tons of #3 zipper tape (and slides) from which to make an appropriate length zipper, but if I use an invisible one, you’ll barely see it when I’m finished. Besides, both Debbie and I think the gals will be pleased with themselves for having actually sewn in an invisible zipper which is not difficult to do.

So more tomorrow after I finish my second demonstration pillow.

Grey-Yellow III


Just finished the top borders only to see in the photo that I’ve switched out two blocks and have then in the wrong place. So gotta carefully unstitch that area, and reposition those two blocks – not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Top Finished

Top Finished

Other than that, I’m pleased with the finished top. The grey-black gradation has worked; the yellow doesn’t shift the way I was visualizing it but it’s still effective, more or less. I certainly can live with that. I’m pleased with the points integrated into the border – that worked out nicely.

So now to come up with something for the back. I have a lot of yellow/grey blocks left over – I’m going to have to play with them on the floor to see what I can come up with.

Here’s where the blocks are reversed so the greys are in the wrong place:

OK, I couldn’t stay away from the sewing – I fixed the blocks:

Then I went on to the back – remaining blocks – a spiral:

I’ll fill in around it with the backing fabric – this large 8 x 6 block will get positioned offset toward one of the quadrants.

Grey & Yellow II

Here’s where I left off yesterday – with the darker, busier yellows in the center – too heavy, not enough gradation from center outward.

Where I left off Saturday

Where I left off Saturday

So I began playing some more. The first thing I did was add two more rows to the bottom. It just so happened I cut twice as many blocks (the size of charms – 5″ squares) of both the greys and the yellows than I needed so I had lots of squares to work with.

Next, I dug out an even lighter grey from the stash to use in the centre. I matched it up with some of the stronger yellows. Then worked my way through the other blocks swapping out those with the most detail in the pattern for more clearly yellow fabrics.

So here’s where I am today:


Grey & Yellow – v. IV

The yellow is more uniform – I suppose I could have done this with just 7 shades of yellow fabric from a strong yellow to pale – just didn’t think of it! (The yellow gradient likely would have worked better – oh well, this will also be interesting once it’s completely sewn and quilted.)

I also think the inner very light grey “square/diamond” could use something as an accent – I tried a circle using the darkest grey fabric (neah…), next I found a flower on a dark grey background, fussy cut it and auditioned it (neah…), for the moment I’m placeholding with the golden circle with dots – but looking at the photo I think “circle” is probably the wrong shape – I still have one square left of that fabric – I think I’ll give that a try as soon as I have the top completely sewn together.

So far today I’ve managed to assemble the bottom border and five rows – hope to do the rest tomorrow.