Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Waaaay back in January, I had a lovely day at the quilt show in Ardingly. I had never been before but it is quite handy for me to get to and coincidentally, the Bluebell Railway is about five minutes away, so my boys were happy for the day and I was happy for the day! It's quite a small fair but that I meant I had time to browse at lesiure, especially once the coach parties had left by early afternoon.

My eagle eyes spotted a pile of delicious looking quilts and I headed over for a nosey.  It happened to be the stall of a lady called Carolyn Forster and some happy chatting informed me that she has written several quilting books and I was very interested in her title, "Quilting-on-the-Go".  Now I don't know if you've heard of this before but I had heard of quilting-on-the-go, I just didn't know anything about it.  Inspired by Carolyn and her quilts, off I went armed with her book and a reel of hand quilting cotton.

I devoured the book from cover to cover, drooling over the photos and projects.  There are some lovely ones and projects for all abilities.  I was pretty taken with the "Turkey Tracks".

I was rather ga-ga over the "Scrap Baskets".

But I knew that to tackle this new technique, I had better not try to walk before I could run!  I had particularly liked one of the quilts Carolyn had with her, it had lots of fabric in from the "Dear Betty" range which I liked and even happened to have a stack of at home which I'd won courtesy of Fat Quarterly.  Nothing stopping me then!

Now I actually started this project right away but I haven't done anything further on it since at least before we went on holiday in April.  Life, gardening and particularly the builders, have got in the way but this week, I decided I needed to find more time for quilting again.  I'm not happy if I'm not sewing.

So today, I dug out my pile of abandoned blocks.

You may be able to see that first I make up the pieced top, a nine-patch with a border.  They're pretty large, I'm not going to measure but I think probably about 16".  The construction is refreshingly simple, I seem to recall I got through the first two series of North and South whilst making these!  I then make a sandwich, just as you would with a regular quilt, but this time I do it with each block.  The idea is that this makes the project portable so you can bung your 16"ish block in your bag wherever you may be going, and fit in a spot of hand quilting.

Well this, dear reader, was music to my ears.  I like nothing more than a hand quilted quilt, you can't beat that old-fashioned puckery look.  You can't achieve the same effect with machine quilting as it's just too hard to get your machine to do certain fiddly patterns without driving yourself bonkers.  However, whilst I have hand quilted dolly quilts, I haven't quilted a large quilt and nor do I think I would (or could).  This for me then, is perfect.  My main love is machine sewing so I get to do that to piece the top of the block.  They I get to practise hand quilting on a manageable scale and...I can do it on-the-go!

Here's the back of the block.  Hmm, liking that hand quilted look.

In my pile, I was chuffed to see I have amassed quite a few finished blocks.  They're easy to quilt whilst sitting in front of the tv of an evening or on a short rail journey.

The magic occurs when joining the individual blocks together, again a mixture of machine and hand sewing.  Yes, I probably should wait and sew everything together once all the blocks are finished but I was dying to have a go!

My fabric palette was quite eclectic, that's the look I was going for; somewhat scrappy, bright and colourful.  Sort of thrown together (with much behind-the-scenes deliberation, of course!)  There's the Dear Betty, then, some ditsy floral Cath K, some 1930's repro fabrics, a bit of gingham and polka dots. I laid out my "buffet" of squares as I usually do, the cutting did take some time but I wanted to have a lot to choose from for each block to get that scrappy look.  There's not many on my buffet now as I've pieced quite a lot of blocks.

So, I'm going to need to get chopping again.  Not a problem? (Cue: gratuitous stash shot.)

Oooh my giddy aunt, I then remember that months ago, I treated myself to some fabrics to use in this project.  They are by Denyse Schmidt, goddess designer of the much coveted '30's style ranges "Katie Jump Rope", "Flea Market Fancy" (so popular it sold for silly amounts on Etsy once it went out of print but has happily been reprinted this year), "Hope Valley" and so on.  (Please allow me my little obsessive fabric ramble.  Thank you.) I seem to recall that this range was produced solely for retail in certain budget stores, Spotlight in Australia and Joanns in the USA I think, but of course, anything is possible with the www.  My lot came via Etsy from a super seller in New York and arrived in five days.

It feels like Christmas Day.  Sigh.

Anyway, fabulous fabric fantasies over, here's some I produced earlier!  I've just joined four blocks together to practise the technique. I don't think I want to leave all the joining until the end as that's not exactly the riveting bit, IMHO.

Oooh, Im liking it.

And just to prove that I really have been "quilting-on-the-go"...

Bothered by funny looks?  Not me!

(Please excuse the lack of links but I am not about to drive myself insane with this new Blogger format which will not let me do links.  There's always Google- or another search engine of your choice- eh?)


  1. I haven't seen a quilt pieced together in ready made blocks, looks more manageable to a novice like me :) Loving the colours, looking fab! x

  2. I do love your colour combinations! Oh, to be able to quilt!

  3. Oh I ever love your quilt!! I adore scrap quilts...they are my all time favorite...they look like they just came off of grams bed! I have a lot of that sort of fabric as well! I think I will make a few...hand quilting is also my favorite...this will give me a dose without it taking over my life!! Happy day!

  4. Oh!!! and somehow I missed your 40's post! I love it! Every time you do a post like this I think how my dear dad would have absolutely loved your photos.....Just wonderful!!!

  5. I like working on small pieces too- when I design a quilt I try to make it up from blocks that can be sashed together at the end- way more fun than hauling huge things about and can be done anywhere. I think quilt- as-you-go and anywhere-you-go is the way forward!
    Hope the builders finish soon- building work is always trying, all optimism at the start and then you reach the "just go NOW, I don't care if it isn't finished,just GO" stage...

  6. I like that idea of making a section at a time bit, my kind of quilt. What I don't quite understand is how you join them together bit? I think I'll buy the book and have a go myself. Amanda x

  7. Beautiful. I am ordering the book and quilting right behind you....Smiles..Renee

  8. Oh my giddy aunt! This is an awesome post!

    I'm loving your quilt Hen. It's fabulous!!

    And your fabric stash is amazing!

    I'm off to look for that book...

    Happy week my dear.

  9. I love it! I enjoyed reading your post, positively refreshing in your excitement over fabrics! I will have to read back a little to learn more about your enchanting fabric 'buffet' because it made me quite hungry:) Will you further explain how to attach the quilted blocks together? Do you sew right sides together by machine and then fold and sew by hand on the back? If you don't feel like you should post about this as the author tells how in her book, I understand.

  10. That quilt is going to look so lovely when completed - can't wait to see it!
    I made my son and daughter-in-law's Sampler Quilt that way. I find it easy to cope with and like you love the way the hand quilting looks.
    Julie xxxxx

  11. Hi Hen, I'm not a quilter myself, but I do love them! I have a baby quilt done by an old woman at the time, 40 years ago, oh my! It is hand-pieced and hand-quilted in the tiniest of stitches.. and I also have a 100 year old quilt also all hand-done, it's a beauty. Good for you to do this, it's awesome! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)
    (Just a comment - if you are moderating comments, do you also need the commenter to type in the "not a robot" verification code? :-)

  12. how awesome! such lovely fabrics and a great eye for colour you have too! wish i had the patience to do what you have made! day i hope, one day....!

  13. That looks fantastic Hen...but all those different patterns look so difficult but make me drool.
    I must learn how to do this!!!

    Amanda :-)

  14. Your quilts are always so lovely ,colours to die for ,cant wait to see it all finished xxxx

  15. I love the cover on that book. Must watch out for it.
    Also loved your last post. This time last year I was holidaying in UK and went on a similar old steam train journey. Such fun.

  16. the same author has recently published a book called "Utility Quilting" (big stitches with Pearle cotton or something similar. Have a look at it!
    The Denise Schmidt (SP??) fabrics ar JoAnns are great and clearly labeled and displayed together...but they don't always arrive at once and you have to keep going back and looking!

  17. Hmm, this is the old 'Quilt as you go' tecnique which I tried years ago and abandoned because I just could not bear to do all the faffing about at the end. I can see the point - its portability, but I'm never going to be quilting a double bed quilt on a train, so it doesn't worry me. I don't use a hoop/frame to quilt, and I've never had any bother taking a big quilt out to stitch.

    I do like you fabrics, though and I think this will be a stunner when you've finished!

  18. Oh My, OH!!!!! The fabric stash!! I can barely breathe with jealousy! The quilt you are making is also stunning..there are no more words..fabric..just, WOW! x

  19. Lovely, I like the idea of doing it bit by bit :) xx

  20. OH my goodness!! Your blocks are sooo pretty! :) I bet you smile everytime you see all those pretties all sewn together! :) Hugs, Holly

  21. How funny, My friend Mary from Molly Flanders told me to get some of her books this week, I think I'll be putting in an order especially after seeing your delights!!

  22. Back in the seventies probably before you were born, Georgia Bonesteele taught this method of quilting on the go. I never got the hang of it as a new quilter, but now seeing how easy you make it look, I may give it a try again. Your quilt is lovely.

  23. Your choice of colours and pattern is lovely,it will look beautiful when completed.
    Like Teresa, I'm not a quilter either, but do love them, maybe one day!!!

  24. That quilt looks gorg and I just about choked when I saw your stash. We were talking about piles of fabric yesterday. You outdo anybody I know - awesome!!

    Julie and Poppy Q

  25. que bonitoooo todo, me encanta!
    un saludo

  26. I *love* your quilt blocks. Nothing compares to handstitches. :0)
    I recently posted a tutorial on a method I use. :0)
    I would love to learn how to quilt on the go.
    Have a nice day. Hugs. Trish

  27. Fantastic way to quilt. I'm hand sewing a pile of hexagons and keep joining a few together.
    What a wonderful collection of fabric.
    Carol xx

  28. I haven't tried that yet, but I know I should. I love making the individual blocks, but can't stand joining them once they get bigger than four across, so I seem like a perfect candidate. LOVE the fabrics you've chose, and your quilting. :)

    I don't think I have that green DS print. Actually, there are a couple I don't remember having. That just won't do! :)

  29. Visiting from Carolyn's blog! I am a big fan too and love the vintage style here!

  30. Oh this is wonderful, small projects turned into big kind of sewing (I'm still learning!) Also, I have never met anyone else that says, " My giddy Aunt!"

  31. I love your blocks the fabrics are beautiful. I made my first quilt like this, I did a couple of courses where we made and quoted individual blocks. But I was never taught properly how to join the blocks and so didn't do a great job. I would love to know how to join them you have anywhere on your blog where you show how to do this? Or maybe you will show the technique in another post? I will keep checking in:)

  32. Amazing stash! Love your comment re not bothered by funny looks. Always feel a bit conspicuous when quilting on the go!

  33. There was a book in the 80's(?) by Georgia Bonesteel called Lap Quilting, followed by More Lap Quilting. My first quilt was hand sewn and quilted in this method. It was a sampler quilt. A lot of fun and very easy to do! You have beautiful fabrics and quite the knack on putting them together. Helen, SC

  34. Hello,
    Everything old is new again when it comes to quilting!
    My first hand quilted quilt was quilt as you go. I had a wooden frame.

    It seems that you quilt these without any kind of frame...
    is that correct?

    I'm curious about how you keep it all together. Just the pins? Basting?

    Thanks for answering my questions.

    Please drop by and say hello!
    Harvest Lane Cottage
    ...doing what I can with what I've got where I am
    on a short shoestring budget!


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