Of Blocks and Bees…and Some Honey!

My facebook quilting group Desi Quilters started a virtual bee in July this year! For the first two months, I requested some fellow quilters to make my blocks while I was visiting my son in the USA.

For September, the ever-gracious Vidya  was the queen bee and she decided to wait for me! She had a long wait, as I did not have white poplin and she wanted a lot of negative space in her block!  And a lot of squares…Her block has finally been sent on Monday , as have the blocks for the next 3 months!

This is Vidya’s block . I played around with the squares till I found an arrangement I liked for her modern block. It was the first time I ironed the seams flat and I found it difficult to match the seams – with so many squares to take care of!

Bee block for Vidya
Modern block with squares

The queen bee for October was the gorgeous, artistic Brinda. Brinda’s block(s) gave me much heart ache and I am not very happy with what I came up with finally 😦 I have only small floral print fabric in my stash and she wanted polaroid picture blocks! Anyways, this is what I made for her…

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November Queen Bee was the gentle Nirmala. She wanted sail boats for her block party. That was a quick make! I only read later that she wanted only solids for it 😦 But since she was okay with it when I showed it to her, I mailed it to her anyways!

Bee Block - Sail Boat
Sail boat for Nirmala’s Bee

The last block was for the Star of our group,Elvira! Elvira has a wonderful eye for colour and sews oh, so neatly! And this was the block that gave me the maximum trouble. First I cut it wrong, then I sewed it wrong.  I ran out of black thread, and the thread that I found was really linty. Nevertheless, I managed to  finish it and post it – for the first time, in time! This is Elvira’s Double Star Block. The colours are slightly darker than what they appear here. I just hope she does not look at it from the back 😉

A double star for Elvira's Bee
Flying geese double star for Elvira’s Bee

So that was about the bees and the blocks! What about the honey? I shall post about that later today…

I’d like to be, under the sea…

In an Octopus’s Garden…in the shade!

Appliqued Octopus
Machine appliqued Octopus

I made this quilt for a challenge with my quilting group Desi Quilters, for which one had to make a quilt using strips. I had always wanted to make a Convergence Quilt and I had the perfect print for it!

For making Convergence quilts, a great resource is the book Ricky Tim’s Convergence Quilt  available on Amazon.com. I found a great tutorial on Rafael’s Mum’s blogspot ” Adventures in Quilting and Sailing., and set out to work on my four fabrics. For those of you too lazy to go look up that blog , for a wall hanging / baby quilt about 40″ X 40″, you need two or more  fabrics, though generally one uses 4 fabrics, like I did. So, the recipe is:

4 fat quarters of nicely contrasting fabric.  It works best when the main fabric is a large diffused (all over ) print or batik with strongly contrasting colours.

1 yard 40- 44″ wide fabric for the border

1.5 yards of 40-44″ fabric for backing

48″ X 48″ batting ( I used an old woollen shawl :-))

So here  are my four fabrics ( remembered to take a picture only after I had already started working on it)

Convergence quilt fabric
Trying out arrangements for the quilt fabric

And here is the how the  top would look once finished… I added a 1/4″ inner border to frame the strips, before adding a wide 7.5″ border (cut at 8″) on the outside.

Quilt top finished
Quilt top

I quite love it! As I was sewing it, a song kept playing in my head – no points for guessing which!

We would be warm,

Under the storm,

In our little hideaway

Beneath the waves…

So I had to get my Octopus. After browsing through hundreds of octopus images, I zeroed onto these two, that I absolutely adored:

Debra Harry’s Octopus Quilt  and a quilt on The Calico Cat’s blogspot.

I decided to base my Octopus on Debra Harry’s Octopus.  For the fabric I turned to a Fossil Fern charms pack  gifted to me by a wonderful friend Chumkie, from my Desi Quilters group.

I needed a range of shades in the same colour. Brighter for the tentacles in the foreground, and darker in the tentacles to the back. Also, the underside of the tentacles had to be a much lighter shade. It was like painting with fabric!

These are the various colour combinations I thought of –

Purples
I do not like purples and thought it would be good to get rid of them here 😉
Pink Fossil ferns
Pinks? Too predictable!
Earthy browns? too dull…

( A good idea is to lay out your fabrics together and take a picture. You get a much better idea of what ‘clicks’ and what does not!

Once the decision for the fabric was made, I sketched the Octopus on newspaper and cut it out, placed it on the quilt to see how it looked. Too small! So I sketched a bigger one and that seemed just right. Sorry, I did not take pics of this stage either.

I then drew a grid on freezer paper – showing where the Octopus would be placed vis-a-vis the strips. You see, I wanted  a few of the tentacles to come from behind the strips.  [Secret – I had only charm squares to work with, so I could not have too long a piece anywhere 😉 ]

I the sketched my Octopus on the grid, freehand, as you can see!

Octopus sketch
Octopus sketched on freezer paper marked with quilt grid

Note that the image is the reverse (mirror image) of how it shall appear on the quilt. The top line is the upper border – I wanted a tentacle stealing out to the border! I numbered each tentacle, and each part that would be in a different fabric on that tentacle. 1, 2, 3, 4 would be the foreground tentacles in a brighter colour

A close up of the Octopus would explain what I am saying…

Octopus Garden Quilt
A close up of the Octopus to show the gradations in colour between the tentacles in the foreground and those at the back. The undersides were done in a lighter colour

Each small piece was then traced on to Heat n Bond Lite (pink), leaving an extra 1/6″ on the edge that was to be overlapped by another piece. All the pieces were laid on the fabric top, the paper removed one by one, and the fabric was ironed on to the quilt top.

I machine stitched it with invisible nylon thread on the top and white cotton in the bobbin. I could have been neater 😦

Learning: Here I realised that I should have handled it one tentacle at a time. Ironed one (the lowermost), stitched it, then the next… because by the time I was through with ironing it, edges had started to come off! The very small pieces even came off as I was stitching. That is why a few of the tentacles are wonky! I suppose I should overstitch the edges with satin stitch, now that I own a Brother, but I think I like the raw edged look:-) Or maybe, I am just too lazy.

For the backing I had fabric that was just 36″ wide and a quilt nearly 44″ wide. So I decided to add a contrast turquoise to make it measure up!  Alsa! The turquoise was  also a yard width, and only a metre (40″). Eureka! add some of the main print from the front in the shape of a coral rock! I had always wanted to experiment with wavy edges – so they came in next. Here is the end result

Convergence Quilt - Octopus Garden quilt back
Octopus Garden quilt back

I used an old shawl as the batting and quilted it with waves.

For the binding I joined the two solid backing fabrics and cut them diagonally to obtain a bias binding. Originally I machine stitched the binding ( from the back to the front!) because I was in a hurry.  I thought it was quite hideous, and ripped, folding down the edges with invisible hemming.

So

I’d ask my friends to come and see

An Octopus’s Garden with me!

Convergence Quilt with appliqued octopus
Octopus’s Garden Quilt

Of course, my Octopus has been christened  Paul,after  my favourite Beatle!

Convergence Quilt - Octopus's Garden
We’d sing and shout, and swim about
the coral that lies beneath the waves…

I do plan to add some embellishment to this quilt, so watch this space… 🙂

Plans for Another Day?

Sharing some fabulous quilts – enjoy, and be inspired!

** Double wedding ring I by Be*mused
** Double wedding ring I, a photo by Be*mused on Flickr.

Double wedding ring by Ayuko Nagote

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Another Winner from the Tokyo International Quilt Festival 2011

Group Quilt Category, Third Prize by Be*mused
Group Quilt Category, Third Prize, a photo by Be*mused on Flickr

Kofuquilt KURA group

Via Flickr:

Something like this would look great as a miniature too!

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Another Dream – to make a  Mariner’s Compass half this intricate.
Only one shall suffice!

A close-up of a compass

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Another fabulous inspiration!
C’est la mer allee Avec le soleil by Yoko Ueda

** C'est la mer allee Avec le soleil>

Wedding Ring Reversible Mug Rug

This is an adaptation of the traditional wedding ring block pattern into a mug rug! It is a wedding anniversary gift for my sister-in-law and her husband of 47 years.

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I wanted to make the mug rug reversible, and this is a picture of the back.

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I foundation pieced two wedding rings, about 10″ outer diameter. The centre circles have a flannel insert. I discovered that I had made a miscalculation, and these were half an inch too big! Nothing could be done now, so I slip-stitched them by hand to the interlaced wedding rings, taking the excess fabric to the back.
With no access to a sewing machine, I decided to hand quilt them. I quite like the extra personal touch the hand quilting gives to the gift:-)
It so happens that the monthly challenge on my quilt forum Desi Quilters for July 2012 is monochromatic quilts! So this could be my entry for the challenge.

Here is a closer look at the mug rug:

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And of the back!

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My Cathedral Window Quilt completed!

So my Cathedral Window Quilt has finally reached its new home.

I have shared the first part of its journey from squares to quilt here.

We ended with the 9X4 window frames ready for the panes. And I was staying at my son’s place with access to no fabric except two jelly rolls in yellow and red, from jellyrollfabrics.com and some brown charm squares! No sewing machine either. So be it! Back to the old school and hand stitching.
I did the centre square in red, before I decided to do the corners.
I cut out some 1.25″ brown squares, folded them in half, placed them on the frame, and folded the edges of the pane on the square. Hemmed over it and voila! We are done with corners.
My camera settings were wonky, so I have a video of the corners, instead of a click. And I am unable to post videos from my iPad, so 😦

I did think the brown squares were a tad smaller than comfortable! But the fabric miser that I am, I decided to stick to 1.25″ for the rest, because I was working with 2.5″ wide jelly rolls and 5″ squares, and did not want to waste any fabric:-)

But, I got some washable fabric glue and put a drop on the frame before putting the pane on it! Made life that much simpler.

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I did the edging in brown, and a kind of three window pattern in red!
I love it already, and want to stop right here! 20120725-203134.jpg
And I think I have arthritis developing in my right thumb. Can you get arthritis in a single joint? Not sure, so google google! It could be carpel tunnel syndrome, or osteoarthritis! Doctor son thinks it is nothing so fancy, all I have is iPaditis or Facebook-itis! Dear Husband thinks that the whites look shabby with all the seam joints showing.
It is meant as a gift for his sister, after all.

I go back to my design board ( that sounds fancier than the carpet) and try out different colour combinations on my windows – here are some of those:

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But all of these were vetoed by the Husband and the Son as “too loud”,
And I finally decided to make something more ‘sober(?)’
While I was doing the panes, I saw some of the window corners had this pretty little four cornered flower where the folded corners meet. Where the rows and columns meet was an ugly mess, with even a pinhole! So I went ahead and sewed a tiny stitch around each joint, just so!

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After several hours of sewing, interspersed with tending to a progressively sorer thumb, my Cathedral Window quilt is finally ready:-)

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Would I do it again? YES! Though, I would probably use a faster, simpler method now, like my fellow quilter Chumkie Mukherjee’s quilt along on our quilt forum desi-quilters.blogspot.com!
Here is another look at my little quilt before I sign off for today. I shall come back to this topic to share my learnings from this!

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…and a final look as the quilt finds its final home, on my sister-in-law’s sideboard:-)

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My Cathedral Window Quilt

Cathedral Window Quilt

  1. I cut thirty six 5″ base squares in cream fabric. (Warning – unless you are a serious small/ mini quilt maker, ensure your squares are at least 8″)

    Cut squares numbering – Number of Columns x Number of Rows
  2. Folded them and stitched along the shorter side. I took only a 1/6 inch seam here, as I was not working to any specific size. ( I goofed up and stitch a few along the longer side! My friend Jack – The Ripper – came to my rescue, again.)

    Fold squares in half, and sew on one short edge. Chain piecing is efficient!
  3. And then along the other side! Chain ’em up!

    Now sew the other short edge. With chain piecing, in no time, all the squares are done!
  4. Unchained them – set them free, but not for too long

    Unchained!
  5. Pinned each of them, seams lined up just so. I aligned the seams in opposite directions. You could also open the seams – it is suggested in quite a few tutorials.

    Bring together the two seams and pin. Sew along the raw edge, leaving a small gap.
  6. Stitched along the raw edge – leaving about an inch and a half to turn it inside out. Trimmed the corners and the threads.

  7. Turned the `pockets’ inside out.

  8. Use a toothpick to pick out the corners. Many people slip stitch to close the pockets. I did not. Now I had my 36 pockets ready – thoroughly creased 😦
  9. Sorry , no pictures of this step – brought in the four corners to the centre and steam pressed! You could also finger press the corners to the centreJ

    This is what my squares looked like at the end of this!

  10. Back to the sewing machine! Stitched up the squares in pairs – along the pressing line on the flaps.

    I did not pin at this stage.

    I chain stitch wherever I can! But here I did take a `backtrack’ even while joining them in chains.

    Then I made rows of four. And I ironed the rows individually, taking care not to iron on the edges. In a few places I did manage to iron off the fold crease lines. I just ironed them back!

  11. Joined 2 rows, pinning is quite important here, I discovered.

    And then another!

  12. And so it came along nicely…

  13. So here are my 9 rows from the front. J

    …and from the back!

    So are the window panes ready for the stained glass? Not quite!

    I shall be doing the next steps after a few days – shall continue this post then! There are also lots of things I learnt through this – shall talk about those too in my next post!

    June 8, 2012
    I am just finishing the next step in my my cathedral window quilt…
    Joining the flaps – not doing a terribly neat job, I am afraid. But, more importantly, it is getting done!
    Now I have to wait for my fabric which I have ordered online to make the window panes!
    Wait for the next post….

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Post -Script: The story continues here 🙂

Who wants to Block Party?

Mine was the first Block Party of our Guild! I chose a comparitively simple block, an adaptation of the Garden Fence block by Cindy of Hyacinth Quilt Designs http://hyacinthquiltdesigns.blogspot.in/2011/01/garden-fence.html

I added an additional row of the garden fabric to her block as I wanted a 15″ block!

I had seven different prints in red, white and grey. I chose a grey `fencing’ and a red focus fabric and sent out  9 blocks to my partners:-)

I gave them the choice of making the block chosen by me, or any other  block if the fabric so inspired them! My basic block used only the garden and the fence fabric, they could use the red if they wanted – in any which way they liked!

Here are my instructions for the Block Garden Fence Block

And here is a sneak peek into some of the blocks I have received



While I am waiting for 3 more blocks to arrive, I tried out many block settings on MSWord! Shall share them with you soon:)

Not a very long wait! Here come my settings:

This was my first choice:

But I would have had to add a triangle to all the corners of all the blocks! Not happening! So I thought of the simplest thing you could do, while retaining the `fence’ look. This is not a very good represenatation – but you get the general idea, right?

Too `quiltish’! Again, no go! And I had this seventh print, the prettiest of them all, which I had not sent out at all.  I could use  it plain – as it in the centre, or do something special. So then I came up with this option :

Hmmm – nice… Then I googled (can I  use it as a verb?!? cringe!) some to find a `maze pattern that i liked (Sorry, cannot     remember where I found it. Shall add the credits as soon as I can trace it)

I quite love this one – the colours in the centre are supposed to be reversed. Grey fencing on the garden print, by the way.

But this is not what I am going to make.  I had only 8 blocks in hand, and I wanted the quilt to be ready by DD’s birthday. And so I came up with this:

It would need an additional block but that was fine.  Some of the red and grey sashing is missing from this picture – but you get the general idea! And this frames each of the blocks so lovingly made by each of my block party partners 🙂

And then… I discovered I did not have enough fabric. So, I am waiting for the rest of the blocks to arrive and I have come up with yet another pattern – which shall be the final quilt design. Not to be revealed yet …wait till November:-)

I would be happy to hear from you all – telling me which quilt block setting you like and why!