Friday, 4 May 2012

A Reason to Love Rain

Back in March, I seem to recall rather hazily that we actually enjoyed some pleasant Spring-like weather? At this point, as happens every year, I became super-interested in the garden and gardening as a whole, buying up plants, potting plugs on, booking tickets for flower shows; I know some of you know what I am talking about!  Back from holiday, most of my teeny plants have been eaten by snails and the garden is pretty much swimming.  I'm very much a Spring/Summer and fair weather person so I do detest all this awful weather.  A few years ago,the Winter used to get me down as I couldn't spend my time in the garden.  What to do? I'm really not good at sitting watching telly or just sitting really, during the day. It was around this time that I found sewing.  Oh praise the Lord , cue choir of angels.  Ok, so this does mean I do a lot of sitting but it's happy sitting and even productive sitting.  I rather like that term.

For you see, now I have the opposite predicament.  When the good weather does arrive, I'm then torn.  I want to sew, sew, sew but I want to be out enjoying the good weather too.  Yes, I know you can hand sew in the garden but it's not the same.  I have to spend some time on my beloved machine.  When I do go outside, if I'm not gardening, I do tend to just flop and not an awful lot of hand sewing gets done!  So, whilst I really do wish we were enjoying some sunny weather in May right now, I am making the most of this precious indoor sewing time.  Who knows, sun may be just round the corner???  Hmmm, errrm, yes.

Back into the swing of things then, I've just finished a second flannel quilt.  To reward myself, I'm now sewing something just for us, for keeps.  Oooh, too exciting, time to choose a new quilty project.  I mooched through the files on my computer, where I tuck away images and references to things I've seen online which interest me.  Whenever I need a little inspiration, I can have a look.  What I found was this pattern.  I'm liking the look of that, I think.

I didn't want to produce exactly the same quilt as in that pattern, so I just worked out the cutting requirements for the same sort of block.  The block has a 1930's look to me and made me wonder if this is actually an historical block pattern.  Anyone recognise it?  I want the quilt to have that 1930's feel, so I headed for my stash of reproduction ditsy florals, in particular I started with some particularly fetching Japanese numbers by Atsuko Matsuyama.

Oooh, I'm getting ahead of myself.  First, the less exciting and nice and easy bit of making those green and white HSTs.  No boys, I do not refer to high speed trains but half square triangles.  Such a great block, you can use it to make so many designs, windmills, stars, broken dishes and so on.  Just sandwich a square of the white fabric on top of the green, draw a line diagonally through the middle and sew a seam a quarter inch either side of that drawn line.  Press, chop along the drawn line..

Now the magic, press each triangle (with the green on top so that the seam will be pressed away from the light fabric), open it out and you have a "HST".  The best bit is so long as you make them a little oversized, you can them trim them down to the exact measurement you want so the block will be lovely and square.  Ah, these little things bring me pleasure. (To calculate the size of the square you need to cut, take the height of your finished triangle and add 7/8".) 

Right, back to the pretty flowery bits, it's time for a bit of speed stripping, ooh err missus!  What I wanted to end up with was a nine-patch block with each square measuring 1.25" finished.  Instead of laboriously cutting out zillions of tiny squares and painstakingly patching them all together, I cut longer strips of fabric (in multiples of 1.75", that's 1.25" plus two seams of 1/4") and sewed them together in sets of three.  See?

These you can then cross-cut into 1.75" wide slices.  Some as you see, have a white strip in the middle with coloured ones either side; the other variety has a coloured strip with white either side.  So far so good.

I'm inordinately pleased with my little buffet of flowery slices, just ready for me to then stitch together in a chain-pieced speedy fashion. What's the rush Hen?  This is the way I like to work.  I love every second of the sewing but I just cannot do things slowly.  Slow is not me.

I even have my own furry "keeper of the slices".

So now you're getting the picture and after a morning's sewing I have all my component parts ready to make up my final block.  There are the green and white HSTs, the cute flowery nine-patches and also a plain white square.

Time to take nine of those pieces then, set them into three rows of three and as if by magic, a block appears!

Having done all the leg work of making the slices and squares, it's now a relatively quick and easy process to sew the blocks up and before long I have a little pile.  I make enough of the "component parts" to finally make up about eight blocks at a time.

Oooh, loving this quilt so far.

Have a super long weekend all you folks in Blighty and a super two-days everyone else.  Next week, we're talking kitchens...

P.S.  I hope the link works as I couldn't get it to paste in using this new Blogger format, grr.  If it ain't broke, Blogger...


  1. I love everything about this. And that is the perfect 1930's green to tie it all together. Can't wait to see more.

  2. Lovely post Hen, as a very novice quilter I just love to see how you are able to create the most beautiful items.

    Like you I love to potter in the garden and I know that a week of sun, means a week of very little knitting - which is my craft of choice.

    I've spent this week embroidering a knitted bag whilst the weather has been so bad. I think we may be in for another wet bank holiday so my needles will be out again, I expect your machine will get some use too!

    Have a lovely bank holiday weekend.
    Fleur xx

  3. Great post! Love the colours especially the green.
    The weather here is awful! I am settling down to finish things this weekend!

    I too hate this new blogger - quite right if it ain't broke........!!
    Julie xxxxxxx

  4. Hi Hen, love hearing about your sewing and that you are back into the swing of things after your lovely holiday!

    Yesterday morning whilst I was happily munching away on my cornflakes and flicking through the latest edition of 'Style at Home' magazine I got a nice surprise to see your face beaming right back at me from the pages! Your house has featured again in print, still really envious of your den!!

    Take care

  5. What a gorgeous quilt top. I can't wait to see the finished quilt, you used such pretty colors! You make it look easy but its not to me! :-0
    Thanks for showing us your pretty work! Dorothy

  6. Ali,
    You are right! The article is basically a re-issue of the original article that was in Ideal Homes a few years ago. Strange to see it again!
    Hen x

  7. Hen, this is a brilliant post!
    Love, love, loving your quilt and your nine patches!

    I've just started a nine patch quilt myself.

    I've made 6 quilts now (one of them was tiny though!) and am loving every minute of it :o)
    All thanks to you lovely lady!

    Take care dear Hen, and have a super long weekend.

    Love Donna xx

  8. You did all this in one morning?!!
    I'd be hovering over the fabric with the scissors for hours too scared to make the first cut!
    It's very lovely and you really do make it look so easy, it's inspiring. Looking forward to seeing it all finished, I'm sure it will be beautiful.

  9. Ha Ha, Hen, you are JUST my kinda gardener! I too go rushing round, buying plantlets from the market/nursery (and leaving them suggestively where I think they should go, hoping SomeOne will be kind enough to plant 'em for me!), painting garden furniture, planning all sorts of stuff....only to run out of steam and enthusiasm as the weather changes.

    Don't know the name of the quilt block, but it's a kind of double nine-patch with a bit of ducks-in-the pond. In other words, I think it's a bit of a hybrid. But lovely, and those colours really do say feed-sack or 1930's to me. Great post!

  10. Oh my! This makes me want to lock myself away in a cosy room, with limitless tea, cake and lots of fat squares! Well, not want, but desperately need! Can't wait for a little break when I can relax and get back to the sewing!

    A lovely, inspirational and colourful project as always, Hen!


  11. I'm a big fan of speed stripping.Really useful. You might find your block in a Dover book- 101 Patchwork Patterns by Ruby Short Mckim.This is a great little book- 101 patterns, all with their names and stories and the added charm of being a reproduction of the original when it was first published with rather beguiling hand-drawn illustrations.Some years ago I stupidly lent my copy ( from which I made my first quilts some 40 years ago) to someone....I know better than to lend patchwork books nowadays! The cover makes it look a bit grim, but inside it is really informative and charming- very pleased to see it has been published again.

  12. I love 1930's prints...and the green is perfect to tie them all together! Love your 'keeper of the slices''s important to have someone trustworthy to guard our craft ;)

  13. I have long wondered how things like this are created - and now I know! This looks lovely!!! Cannot wait to see the finished quilt :)

  14. Hello Hen, after many years I have just started to patchwork again, you make really beautiful things, one day I hope I will too! Thank you for sharing them! :)

  15. Fabulous post. I love that stack of fabric. What an inspiration. Your finished quilt blocks are wonderful.

  16. Your work is just perfect, look forward to seeing your completed quilt.
    I'm managing to still use the 'old' blogger thanks to the advice from Julie
    Carol xx

  17. I know what you mean, to garden or to make art/sew. The garden usually wins in my mind wars because I hate a weedy garden. LOL Beautiful quilt squares!

  18. You're so cute Hen, I just love your term 'productive sitting!' :D What about a nice long extension cord and moveable table? Then you could bring your machine sewing outside. what would the neighbors think? ;D The blocks are lovely! I'm quite fond of 30's prints and that green. Glad you're making something for you this time. :)

  19. Dreamy!!! My favorites are your reproduction prints. Oh, the soft pastels....Just lovely. And, your kitty is just the icing on the cake.
    Carolynn >^^<

  20. "These are a few of my favorite things....!" I Aunt Grace's reproductions. I started collecting them in the early 90s and still consider them my favorites.
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful and inspirational post.


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