Thursday, February 22, 2024

Tiny 9-patches

 Everyone across Blogland is making little nine-patches, thanks to Taryn at ReproQuiltLover.  She is replicating an antique quilt with truly tiny nine-patches, and offers tutorials for 3 sizes. She calls then Teeny Tiny (1/2"squares), Tiny (3/4"squares) and Small (1"squares). I was intrigued, but not tempted to join in; I have enough to be going on with, until my eyesight improves.

However. On a recent visit to Mereth's sewing room she showed me an old Quilters Newsletter Magazine with an interview with Lee Porter. One of the quilts on a bed was a beautiful old 9patch with pink sashing, and I decided it would be perfect to use up my extensive collection of 1.25" strips. Mereth has already made a trial block, and I have unashamedly pinched her idea; that's the problem being identical twins, we usually love the same things.. 

I did some rough calculations and decided that the 2.25" 9patches would make a nice size quilt, with 25 or 30 blocks.  It would also use up those containers of 1.25"strips that have been hanging around since 2013. In order to use these strips of all lengths I'm making my 9patches by a different strip pieced method.

I cut a light and dark strip to 6.5", plus a 1.25"square from the dark. The strips are joined together, and subcut into 5 1.25"slices. 

I need 4 for the 9patch, plus there's an extra one to build into a scrappy block later on.

Three of the little units are sewn together, and the single square is added to the other one. Then that unit is added to complete the 9patch.

The scrap blocks are going to be cute; I'll raid my box of squares for the single piece needed to complete the 9patch.

 I'd probably prefer to strip piece 5 blocks at a time as Taryn details in this tutorial, but until I whittle these strips down I won't do that. My quilt plan needs 480 blocks, and even though each 9patch block only takes 2 six and a half inch strips I don't think I'll have enough.

The setting strips are also 1.25" strips, and I can use the longer strips for that. I'm really hopeful that I can clear out those 2 boxes, and then I'll have permission to cut new scraps. 

These will be a long term project, and I will have to start looking for a pink sashing fabric. EQ8 says I'll need 2.5m, so I may have to go shopping. Such a chore 😄.


Sunday, February 18, 2024


I started with this collection of scraps and leftovers, plus some more in various other piles.

I've been assiduously cutting for days, not thinking about the final destination of this fabric, just trying to get it cut down into useable sizes.

So many decisions are involved, but to make it simple I just tried to get the biggest strip or square that I could from each piece.

It's very satisfying to see an empty container, and know that everything in it has been trimmed and assigned a new home.

These are my little strips, and I emptied that white tray cutting these little bits. They range from 1"to 1.75", and I have plans for each size strip. There may be some Log Cabin blocks in my future, featuring 1"strips, and I'm thrilled to be using every last skerrick of a scrap. 

I still haven't conquered Mt. Scrapmore, but I've made lots of progress.

The strips starting at 1"and ending at 3.5". Lots of squares to go into the boxes for current and future projects.

This is the pile of larger scraps, all ironed and ready to cut the bigger size strips. I have plans for the 3.5"strips, and I enjoyed my last 2.5"leader-ender so I'm going to do another one. Even though that size seems too large for my taste, I like working on blocks that grow so quickly.

I have three quilts that I'll cut for from these strips. I think I've powered through the cutting because I haven't stopped to cut individual pieces for those projects. Once I've dealt with the whole lot I can go back and kit up the blocks I want to make. Maybe I can finally get a handle on how to manage my scraps; just being hopeful here.


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

I'm mighty sick of the mess in my sewing room. every surface is piled high with random collections of fabric and strange containers full of scraps. Not to mention the shirts draped everywhere. Enough is enough!

First up I pulled out a bunch of light blue and white scraps and cut enough wedges for another 7 Dresden Plates. Now all the rest of the shirts can go back where they belong while I piece these together. I'll have to find enough fabric for the background squares, but I'll deal with that later.

What is most urgent is sorting out 5 containers of strips and scraps, some dating from quilts I finished 2 years ago. I've never sorted out the leftovers from any quilt I've made, it all accumulates into a giant mess.  I can see several days of sorting and cutting ahead of me, but if I get sick of it I know Mereth will take all the rest. She's positively willing me to fail, 😀. (Ooh look, we have emojis now. How exciting..)

Last time I was at Seonaid's we did jigsaws again, heads together as we searched for the right pieces. We were both a bit appalled then, when she tested positive for Covid.  She immediately isolated in her bedroom, I wore a mask and so did she when she came out for something to eat. I couldn't go home straight away because the next day was a 44° day, way too hot to travel, so we just tried to minimise the contact. I wrangled the kids for another day and a half so she could be sick in peace, then I came home hoping that I wasn't going to get sick.  And amazingly, I didn't. I did 4 tests, all negative, and no symptoms.

And then after a family get together last week at the coffee shop, Mereth tested positive. Again I waited to see if I'd contracted it too, but I didn't. I think it's pretty amazing that I've avoided it when it's come to so close to me. Mereth's granddaughters are the source for her infection, so it's going through the schools yet again.  I just hope I can continue to dodge it.


Monday, February 12, 2024

Still here...

 I've certainly had enough time off from the blog, time for a catch up.

I haven't blogged in so long because I don't like complaining on here, but I've done a mighty lot of that in real life. Problems with my eyesight, problems with the Statler, problems with several customer tops that had many, many issues, catching some sort of cold/flu from the grandkids after Christmas that floored me for 3 weeks. Plus my dear old AC just blew up, so there is no respite from the heat. I wasn't remotely inclined to go near the sewing machine, which is so unusual for me. I guess it's because I can't see properly, and I don't want to struggle with it. Sigh!

I've mainly been reading, and doing jigsaws, and finally getting all my bookwork up to date. Which was literally painful, trying to see what I was doing on the computer. I can type and type and type, no problems, but trying to proof read and edit is really difficult. The optometrist suggested plain 2x readers for my computer work, and they are helping. My second surgery should be next month, and hopefully things will improve then.

See! Lots of complaining. Must do better, and look on the positive side; I've read heaps of books...And blogs of course. I feel guilty that I get so much pleasure from other people's blogs, but I don't bother to update my own. I can't do Instagram, I don't understand it, and reading one little bit after another just gives me a headache. I know other people feel the same way, so I'll do my best to contribute to blogworld in future, even if my posts are full of typos.

Just lately I've been sewing a few minutes here and there, just playing around. I need to clean up the sewing room yet again, but I keep getting distracted. Those darn shirts are always leading me off the beaten track. 

Cutting fabric is hard when I can't see so well, but this Dresden Plate pattern can be mashed into shape with an iron so the accuracy isn't that important. I designed this with 15 blades, so any inaccuracies in the piecing don't really show up the way it would with an even number of blades. 

I printed out a template and stuck it to a ruler; I make sure I have a straight edge to line the base of the wedge to. I cut along the top of the ruler, then flip the cut fabric over.

Then I line up the template with the cut edges and trim the top of the wedge. Easy. I just cut enough for one block at a time, I'm determined to keep this playful, and not let it turn into an almighty chore.

The background blocks are huge, so there is not much left from a shirt back; once I use all the suitable backs I may start piecing 4-patches as a background block.  I'll applique circles at the centre so I can trim out the bulk of so many seam allowances meeting there, and because it's a nice little pop of colour.

I'm working on another project, to use up scraps of course, so I'm gradually getting back into the sewing room. It's slow going, but I'll get there.


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Cleaning up

I've been jumping from project to project for quite some time, and sewing haphazardly on varous new ideas, before abandoning it all to do another thing. It was a mess, and finally it got so I couldn't work in all the litter anymore. So I started to tidy up.

I sorted out all the various things I'd been dabbling with.

Shirting Spinning Rectangles, with leftovers from my Zigzag top. So many leftovers. 

I have 32 of these, and many more pieces.

Flying Geese leader-enders. I now have 210.

Lots of 3" triangles, leader-enders again. These will go in the project box with 70 or so others.

Another Carolina Chain, because I enjoyed the last one, and there were leftovers from that, and I like making these blocks. 12 more to add to the box.

And some madness made me start stringing together all the shirt collars from the many, many shirts Mereth and I have collected. I made my first shirt quilt in 2018 I think, and though I've made many more, I still have some of those first ones. And I saved all the collars and cuffs and yokes, to make something string pieced.

The amount of fabric in the side of a shirt collar that doesn't have interfacing is pretty small, same with the cuffs. After about 16 blocks I was running out of choices, so I had to raid the scrap box for other strange shaped offcuts. I cut a strip off the yokes, and the remaining shoulder and neck bits were pieced into this.

It's not pretty, but it's frugal! I think I'll make a piano key border out of the Zigzag leftovers, because I found a heap of them already sewn together. I have no memory of doing that, but it was probably a leader-ender move.

Mereth always tells me to chuck out the little weeny bits, and now I'm inclined to agree with her. I looked at the overflowing box of dark shirt collars, and put them all in the bin. I have boxes of patchwork fabric strings to deal with, and I'd rather be working on them. 


Friday, December 08, 2023


This was the candlewick quilt that I finished earlier this month. 

It was 96"square, and I was so worried that I was going to get it dirty, or mark it in some way. 

I cleaned the machine every time it went on, covered up all the tracks than can leave black marks, covered it in sheets when it was on the bed so I could finish other quilts. 

I bound it as well, so that involved obsessively washing the floor and sewing table and dusting everything it might come in contact with.

 I was so glad when it was finally finished and returned to it's owner. 

It just reinforced my feeling that I don't want my quilts to be precious, and to have years of my life caught up in them, and to worry and have anxiety over somebody using them, or what will happen if they're washed. My quilts are fun to make, and hopefully they will be used and appreciated, and if they get worn out then I'll make another one. I know my daughter puts the family quilts in the washing machine, which I do only to spin them dry, but the quilts have to fit in with her busy lifestyle, and so far they've come to no harm.

I finished up 2 beautiful cot quilts for 1 year old twins. Their grandmother was going to give them as birthday gifts, except the backing wasn't big enough for either so I had to wait while she purchased more material; she then decided to keep them for Christmas. When she picked them up she said she was relieved I hadn't finished them in time for their birthdays, because they'd had a vomiting bug and all their bedding had to go in the wash. Oh dear, but that's life for a baby quilt.

They had lovely Australian animal images, plus cute puppies. 

I'm sure the girls will love them on Christmas morning. 


Monday, November 27, 2023

Fussy cutting practice

I was working on this post before the cataract surgery. It will be a while before I can work on this project again, but I'll have lots of time to think about a final design, and what fabrics I should use.

I've been telling myself for years that I would start a Patchwork Of The Crosses quilt.

It's made with a honeycomb template, and it's very popular with people who do English Paper Piecing. I find that my hands hurt too much if I piece over papers so I'm sewing mine together on the drawn line. This Pinterest page shows many beautiful blocks, the possibilities are endless.

I still haven't decided exactly what I want my blocks to be like, as far as fabric choices, but I wanted to sew a few blocks to see if I even liked  making them. I chose to start off with fabrics that I have heaps of, but I don't really treasure them, so it won't matter that I'm cutting shapes from them all over the place.

There was a blue coverlet print like the upper fabric, but I've 'lost' it. I don't have a clue where it's gone, and Mereth and I have searched all the usual places. It will turn up one day I suppose, and for now I'll have to use the blue and red one instead.

I'm using a 1" do-nut template, that lets me mark the sewing line and the cutting line at the same time. 

I'm using a Berol Handwriting pen to mark the sewing line; the ink in these pens washes out completely. With my dodgy eyesight I need a sewing line that I can see easily, and these pens mark easily and don't drag on the fabric. I had to order them on the UK Ebay, couldn't find an Australian supplier.

It's interesting to cut the shapes out of different parts of the print, and build them into a block. I'm studying the Pinterest photos for inspiration, and learning by trial and error what will work and what won't. 

I lay out the pieces and plot how I can make different shapes appear; it's handy being able to photograph each layout, so that there is a record of my ideas and choices.

Neither of these layouts were chosen, but I can go back and revisit them later.

So far I have 4 blocks finished. I snuck in another fabric in this one.

This one was an experiment in getting those straight lines to meet at the corners.

It's hard to believe that most of these pieces were cut from those big wreaths.

More fun with making corners and borders appear by magic.

The blocks are easy and fun, but adding the setting shapes takes forever.

I don't know what to make with these; maybe a long table runner, maybe some cushions, or a small wall-hanging? All I know for sure is that they are a lot of fun.

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