Thursday, 5 May 2011

What I'm Up To

As I posted last time, we enjoyed a jolly day trip on the railway on Saturday (thanks so much for your interesting comments and reminisces, especially yours, Frances. Who knows what might have been?) On Sunday, wild horses were not keeping me away from a car boot sale. We tried a new one and it was a little disappointing in terms of finds but was in a pretty location in Kent in Farmer Tripes' field (I kid you not), so the surrounding greenery and sunny weather sort of made up for the rest. I did not come away empty handed though, of course not! And I only spent a few pounds.

Home came some groovy '60s towelling which will make something funky for our seaside-themed bathroom at the cottage, some pretty buttons and lace, some rather fetching coasters hand embroidered with hyacinths and last but not least, another slightly bizarre doll. Just the way I like 'em, the more "characterful" the better!

Meanwhile, much as the long weekend was wonderful, by Tuesday when the boys went off to work and school, I was fairly gagging to get in my Den and get down to some serious crafty business.

However, I think I had forgotten that this sewing lark can be quite hard work (when you're used to lying down doing nothing for two weeks) and after cutting out what felt like a zillion blades, I just about mustered up enough energy to sort them into colour piles. Ooooh pretty.

Where quilts are concerned, my favourites are always those which come from the 1930s and '40s. I love the colours and the patterns. I also love the way they always use a lot of plain white muslin which only seems to enhance the candy colours more. Despite all this, I have never made such a quilt myself. I have books about them, I have cooed over them at exhibitions and fairs, and it's fair to say I now have quite a respectable stash of both original vintage fabrics and reproductions. For this project, I decided to finally make something both with a 1930's flavour and using exclusively reproduction fabrics from that period. My favourite design? Well, it has to be the Dresden plate.

So that's what all those blades were for! I'm aiming for a smallish quilt to go over the back of the sofa at the cottage. So I have made 12 Dresden plates, each with 20 blades. Following on from the photo of the blades, I took the scissors to them to slightly round the top edges. I can also tell you that I used a nifty gadget for cutting out the blades, a special wedge-shaped Darlene Zimmerman-designed ruler which makes cutting the blades much easier than using a template. I think I'd have lost the will to live if I'd used a template!

Today, I have been busily appliqueing the plates onto their backing squares of plain white cotton. Traditionally, one might have hand sewed all these plates to their squares (or even a large single sheet of muslin) but I went for the machine applique option, using the blanket stitch available on my machine. I remember using this stitch for the first time and thinking how fantastic it is! It makes really tiny tight stitches so they will be nice and secure, and it makes them really fast! I already have a hand sewing project on the go which I started on holiday (more of that soon), so I didn't want to start another here.

Whilst I was taking these snaps, these cushions lounging on the guest room bed behind me caught my eye and I couldn't resist a photo of what is clearly a signature colour palette!

So, a few plates remain to be appliqued then I've got to get down to the serious decision, what colour to use for the sashing? The Munchkin and I made a detour after school to the fabric shop. I'm pretty much set (???) on the darkish delphinium blue on top but I couldn't help picking up a metre of the paler blue. The green and pink, the quintessential colours of the period I think, I already had in my stash. Sadly/annoyingly, the shop didn't have the perfect yellow which I wanted to use for the centres of my plates so it may have to be something else. Pink? Or a trip to another shop?!

Decisions, decisions...


  1. Oh Hen you are very patient, cutting and sewing for a quilt....I am scared to start such a job. It looks great so far and this is just the planning stage!
    PS it is the 1940's weekend at Haworth 14th and 15th May, thought I would let you know.

  2. Just love that seagull towelling fabric.. I have the matching wallpaper (see my recent blogpost!) Lizzie x

  3. Hen - I don't know about you being patient, I think you are off your rocker!!
    Lovely results though & love the seagulls!
    T x
    I hope Munchkin & Monty are not being neglected during the quilting frenzy?!

  4. That doll has a surprised look on her face - perhaps she's just realised who her new owner is ;)

  5. Wow, I'd love to try a quilt, you are so clever, those plates look tricky!!

    I *love* the cushions!!

    S x

  6. The quilt is going to be gorgeous - I love all the 1930s repro fabrics too, but I'd never have the patience to do a Dresden Plate quilt! That is a quirky doll - I think she should be playing the part of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream...

  7. What a wonderful start...looking forward to completion..
    Take care

  8. These are some of my favorite fabrics also. I am loving what you have started.

  9. Gosh those seagulls brought back memories of my Grandfather's bathroom wallpaper- blue background,seagulls,penguins,icebergs and polar bears.It was unheated,north facing and the house was in the middle of what we referred to as 'the blasted heath'.The cold was so frightful it became hilarious.Oh how glad was I that I never to bath in that bathroom!But the wallpaper was awesome.

  10. Welcome home to blogland.
    Lovely to see one of your quilts 'in progress'. I somehow imagined they appeared at a rate of knots on your washing line!

  11. I can't wait to see the finished product! I always love your projects! :)

  12. Hen, you are a sweetie to pick up on my bit of wistfulness. Perhaps I should take more train trips.

    Your dresden plates combinations are lovely, and it's interesting to see how you manage to combine modern quilt-making tech with your true appreciation for the vintage colour combinations.

    If I were you, I would hold off for finding that perfect yellow fabric. However...of course, you are the one creating this beautiful quilt.

    Best wishes to you from New York.

  13. ooohhhh i will be interested to see how this quilt turns out i was looking at the dresdon plate in one of my books and looking for a next project i love it but i was thinking it may be to hard for me so it was funny to read your post today but exciting to. enjoy it, dee x

  14. Looking lovely so far and the colour combinations are just gorgeous. Shame you couldn't get the fabric for the centres.

    You got some pretty good bargains at the car boot by the sounds of things.

  15. hi
    i just love these colours - and this dresden plate design is one of my favourites - gorgeous!

  16. I know what you mean about "needing" to go to a car boot - when the fancy takes you, you just HAVE to go, don't you?
    I am loving the colours on this new creation and I'm really looking forward to see how it comes together. As regards the yellow.... sometimes our first thoughts are the best - and with this amount of beautiful work, compromises are surely not an option?!!

  17. Oh wow!! This quilt is going to be absolutely gorgeous. I admire your patience and skill with all the beautiful quilts you make. I'm quite envious as I'm rubbish at sewing or I used to be.

    I gave sewing up nearly 30 years ago as I'm just pants at it (can't sew in a straight line to save my life)

    Can't wait to see piccies of the finished item :)

  18. Beautiful fabrics and I do like your colour choices. :) I love hexagons and I've actually stared my quilt after procrastinating for too many months! I haven't done the 'blade' design before. It looks fun!xx

  19. Love your embroidery certainly have found a doll with character too....I wonder what she is thinking?...
    Wishing you a lovely weekend,
    Susan x

  20. I love your treasures from the boot sale. Wish we had sales like that here. I used to bring all kinds of dolls home with me from flea markets, etc. but have had to restrain myself of late - just not enough space for all of my "treasures." Do love that doll, though. I love quilts and so appreciate all the patience and work involved, but by trying it once myself, I learned it's not for me! My sister had to step in and finish it for me. :-) Your speed and diligence is awesome and your finished products are wonderful! Do love the Dresden Plate pattern and your choice of colors are perfect. Thought: Since it's going to be used at the cottage and you said you are using a beachy theme there, why not use a pretty blue for the centers. I am anxious to see how it all turns out. :-)


  21. Just catching up with myself after losing my blog, and to top it all I lost my following list too that has only just this minute returned!
    Love the bootfair buys expecially the doll.
    Also love the Dresden Plate patchwork, can't wait to see it completed
    Julie xxxxxxxx

  22. Gosh, your boot sale trip wasn't far from my neck of the woods! Have you tried Highams farm, not far from Biggin Hill? That's a good one, lots of bargains.
    Loved your trip to TW too, my friend lives there and we love to visit and window shop!!
    Love all that you do!

  23. Oh Hen you really do have the patience of a saint and the stamina of a marathon runner. I am so fey, always starting and never quite completing!
    What gorgeous combinations you pick, have a lovely weekend,

    Sarah XxX

  24. Love the crochet cushions, perfect colours!

  25. wow i love these.....cant wait to see the finished article....good finds at the boot fair....really not sure about that doll though.....who came up with that face!

  26. I love the colour of the towelling and the two cushions look gorgeous together,

    Victoria xx

  27. Love the dresden, you really got a move on with that. Did you fuse them or turn under the edges before stitching?

  28. Hello, Just discovered your blog. Great finds, I especially like the embroidered coasters.

    Hope you have a happy sunny week. Leah x :)

  29. Love the Dresden plates - and the doll with the knowing look - I had one just like that when I was small!

    Pomona x

  30. This is fascinating Hen, and very impressive, infact, I CAN"T WAIT to see it finished! No pressure mind you, I just know it's going to be special. Love Vanessa xxx

  31. Hen, that is going to be one beautiful quilt when you complete it! I particularly like Dresden plate quilts--in fact, my son has one on his bed that my mom bought years ago.

    I quite agree, Depression-era quilts appeal most to because of the extensive white areas. It gives them an airiness that many modern quilts lack. I was in a fabric shop this weekend, looking at a perfectly lovely quilt (made mostly of French General fabrics from the Moda line), and while it was a nice quilt, there was so much color and not enough relief. It occurred to me then that's why I'm so drawn to these vintage quilts. Anyway, I'm rambling...good luck with your quilt!

  32. Oh, meant to add that I found a great Depression-era quilt the other weekend at an antiques fair:

    (Scroll to the bottom of the post for the quilt photos.)

    I've never seen a quilt of this pattern. The wide band is fetching and the stars are made of odd-shaped scraps. Since you know more about these types of quilts than I, do you happen to know what this pattern might be called?

    I tried searching online for info to no avail.

    Thanks, Hen!


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