Category Archives: Quilted projects


I’m almost done talking about Loulouthi Tiles, I promise.

I was dreading quilting this quilt, and for good reason. I finished quilting it a week ago Sunday, it’s now the following Monday, and I’m only now able to fully bend the fingers on my right hand. That bizarre cut I have across the bed of my index finger nail is not going anywhere, either, and it really hurts.

I bought my sewing machine a few months after I learned to sew. I was waiting to see whether this sewing thing would stick, since I tend to get quickly obsessive about new things and then equally quickly drop them. At the time, I hadn’t started quilting and my two main issues with sewing were being able to sew in a straight line and being able to control the machine’s speed. The hand-me-down Singer (514) I had at the time was so powerful that I felt it controlled me instead of the other way around. So when it came time to look for a machine,  the only feature I cared about was that the machine had speed control.

I had gone to John Lewis to have a look at their machines and settled on the JL250, a branded machine made by Janome. It had speed control and I could sort of afford it (I had been out of work for about a year at this point because of my visa troubles and had only just gotten a job, so there wasn’t an awful lot of money in the pot). It was absolutely great and I was really pleased with it.

Then I made The Quilt That Ate Berlin.

The Quilt That Ate Berlin

The Quilt That Ate Berlin

And another friend’s wedding quilt.

Wedding quilt

Wedding quilt

And our Dreamweaver quilt.



And my niece’s Mixtape quilt (my first and only FMQed quilt).

Mixtape quilt

Mixtape quilt

Well. The machine has turned out to be a complete nightmare. While it’s fine for piecing and doing any number of things, it is a disaster for quilting. It has a 6” throat space, no automatic thread cutter, no needle up-down control. You know what it does have? Speed control, which after two years of sewing is a feature I can now only scoff at.

So I obviously had to do something. On Saturday at the Harrogate show I went to the Janome dealer and had a go at the Horizon Memory Craft 8900. It. was. gorgeous. But it was also £1500 (after a £500 show discount!) and I’d just quit my job (I QUIT MY JOB!)(Eeeeee!). The saleswoman also pointed at the MC8200, which is very similar, but comes with fewer stitch designs (275 instead of 900) and no extension table or hard case. It was selling for £1000. Let me tell you, with every shove of that quilt through my John Lewis machine on Sunday, that £1000 price tag was looking more and more reasonable. I hemmed and hawed for about TWO MINUTES before ringing the dealer first thing on Monday morning and ordering the MC8200. I plopped down an extra £70 for the extension table, too.

You guys? THIS MACHINE IS A DREAM! It has an 11” throat space. I could fit my head in there if I wanted! It also has all the requisites for quilting: needle up-down, thread cutter, stitch reinforcer, a stop-start button, a knee-lift (haven’t attached this yet), an extra lift of the presser foot so you can fit really bulky quilts under it. I haven’t even looked at the stitch options, though admittedly, of the thirty six stitch options on my John Lewis machine I use precisely four (standard, needle to the left, needle to the right, zig-zag stitch), so I’m not entirely sure all those stitches will make much of a difference. They’re about as important to me as speed control at this stage.

It arrived last Wednesday and by the end of that day I managed to bind the Loulouthi Tiles quilt (fully by machine–needle up down IS A REVELATION, PEOPLE!) and sew five more Tula Pink City Sampler blocks. I also made the new block I hinted at in my lat post, and I then had a quick go at FMQ and OH MY GOD it is amazing. AMAZING!

Janome Memory Craft 8200

Janome Memory Craft 8200

So yeah, I’m a little excited! And a lot broke, but way more excited than broke!

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

Huh, is it Wednesday already?

I’ve got a few irons in the fire at the moment, but the most pressing one (pressing! harhar!) is getting Rachel’s quilt finished. On Saturday I put together the quilt back (of which I took no photos because… I don’t know). It is, as requested, mostly black, but I added two 2,5″ stripes near the top and near the bottom with scraps from the front, running from purple to green, in alternating directions. I also included a small square near the bottom with an embroidered dedication, made by mom. It took me ages to put the back together, mostly because I’m one of these people who cut first and then measure, but in the end it turned out just fine.

I spray basted the quilt on Sunday morning, which took ages and was really messy because I was doing it on our carpet which is just covered in lint and cat hair. This normally doesn’t show, except when you’re working with black fabric, so there was an awful lot of de-linting as I was getting it ready to quilt. It was so tiring that I took a couple of hours’ break and went to the kitchen to make some stock and jam, only to come back to this:

Kiwi and Schnitzel, sending me a message to take the rest of the day off.

Kiwi and Schnitzel, sending me a message to take the rest of the day off.

How cute are they?! They stayed in that position for a good three hours and I didn’t have the heart to push them off, so I just left them and puttered a bit more. By the time they finally walked away the quilt was completely wrinkled and hairy and I had to press and de-lint it, again. I decided they were giving me a message to take the rest of the day off.

We had a bank holiday on Monday so I started quilting that morning. Because I insist on making things hard for myself, I decided to quilt each block in straight-line spirals. Is that a thing? Not sure what term to use to describe starting on the outside of the square and working in? Concentric squares? Here are a couple of pictures.

Concentric squares. Notice THE ENTIRE QUILT in that six" throat space?

Concentric squares. Notice THE ENTIRE QUILT in that six” throat space? FUN!

You’ll notice I’m using a regular foot, not a walking foot. That’s because the walking foot that came with my machine has nowhere to slot in a guide. Well done, Janome! Ever so helpful to do that so I’ll pony up £40 for an actually usable walking foot! This might explain why I got a bit of squishiness at the start of some of the squares. It’s obviously annoying, but I’m not especially fussed about it.

Things get a little squashy at the start of each block.

I’m using an Aurifil 50wt thread and I honestly don’t know how I ever sewed with Gutermann. It is AWFUL. I tried using it in my machine after I put the quilt aside and it just jammed up constantly. Infuriating. Anyway, for the top I’ve used a variegated blue/green shade and on the back I’m using a dark grey. I’ve only been quilting the blue/green squares so far, but I’ll switch to the variegated purple when I’m ready to tackle these. For the three feature blocks I was thinking of quilting just diagonal lines in one direction, just to switch things up a bit.

I realized this weekend that I’ll need to finish the whole quilt by this weekend as the birthday girl turns 18 on the tenth. NO PRESSURE.



Half-Square Triangle Chevron Quilt

When you’re new to quilting everything looks daunting. You start out making lots of mistakes and doing a lot more work than you need to because you’re guessing how to do things that others have figured out long before you.

I’ve not done a tremendous amount of angled sewing. It’s pretty much been straight lines for me so far, so chevron quilts looked quite complicated, until I came across this tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Company.

A couple of years ago, right after I’d learned to sew, I went to a quilt shop with my mom and sister and bought a Tonga Treats 2.5” strip pack, which turned into this (cat not included)(unless you want her; she’s a bit of a beast). My sister bought the matching layer cake, but nearly two years later it had turned into nothing at all. I convinced her that she wasn’t going to do anything with it anyway, so she may as well just give it to me! And she did! And it’s just perfect for this chevron quilt, isn’t it?!

Finished half-square triangles.

Finished half-square triangles.

I didn’t have a white layer cake, so I cut out squares from some white-on-white fabric I had in my stash and got to work. Piecing this quilt took no time at all. I did it piecemeal but I estimate that I had a finished top in about 6-7 hours, including the (minimal) cutting time. You could probably save an hour if you’re working with two sets of layer cakes.

Finished chevron quilt top

Finished chevron quilt top. Special appearance: My piggy slippers.

For the quilting, I followed along the chevron with straight lines, though I admit I just sort of went at it without measuring (I used the sewing guide), so things got a little squishy towards the bottom of each chevron. I used white thread in the white spaces, and matching colours in the coloured sections. It probably took me longer to quilt this quilt than it did to piece it. It just seemed endless, particularly on my sewing machine, which has a tiny, TINY harp.

Quilted chevron quilt

Quilted chevron quilt.

Quilting detail.

Quilting detail.

For the back I used a colourful polka dot fabric. I normally add an extra touch to the back of a quilt to connect it to the top (usually a patched strip using the fabrics from the top) but I had a deadline, plus the backing fabric, though colourful, didn’t really match the colours of the batiks on the front nor was it white, which would have clashed with the leftovers I had.

It's not really finished unless Schnitzel has supervised the quilting.

It’s not really finished unless Schnitzel has planted herself on it while I’m working.

I made the binding out of the leftover strips I had from my sofa project and I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. I originally intended to fully machine bind, but it was taking too long and was looking pretty dodgy, so I hand finished it.

Binding detail. That's the same polka dot as the quilt back.

Binding detail. That’s the same polka dot as the quilt back.

The deadline I mentioned for this quilt was a visit to Toronto, where I left the quilt behind at my parents’ house. I didn’t cajole that layer cake out of my sister because I’m mean, I did it so I could make her a quilt to welcome her to her new/old home in Toronto, to which she’ll be returning after having lived in Israel for over a decade.

Oscar’s Baby Quilt

This baby is kind of my fault. My friends and former colleagues A and J used to be just A and J until I quit to move to England. Guess who hooked up at my going-away party? And three years later, Oscar arrived, so it was only fitting that I would make him a quilt.

I chose colours that more or less went with the colour scheme in their apartment; anything baby-ish would have looked out of place (um, not that I’ve been there for a while–for all I know they’ve turned it bubble gum pink).

I’m partial to 4” square quilts, so for this one I used shades of grey, purple, and green.

Quilt top

The back is made of a green polka dot Tilda fabric, with a vertical line of scraps from the quilt top.

Quilt back

For the quilting, I stitched straight lines, a quarter inch on either side of the seam line. To add a bit of interest, though I’m sure not many would notice, I used purple thread for the upper quilt lines, and green for the lower ones.

Quilting detail

The binding used the same green polka dot Tilda, with a short length of one of the purple fabrics aligned to one of the square rows. I managed to completely machine bind this quilt using the tutorial by Red Pepper Quilts. It wasn’t perfect, but I was really pleased with it. I’ve since tried machine binding two other quilts, to rather disastrous results, so I’m going to have to have a rethink about binding.

Binding detail

Along with the quilt, I sent some fabric cubes that I sewed ages ago and were just sitting in a drawer, waiting for a recipient. Doesn’t he model them all well?


City Sampler Sew-Along

I’ve never been good at long-term projects. I am easily bored and even more easily distracted, which is why I’ve resisted joining any sew-alongs making the rounds in the quilting community. Until, that is, Tula Pink published her City Sampler book.

I should probably mention I don’t especially care for sampler quilts, but I was so impressed with Tula’s first book, Quilts from the House of Tula Pink, that I had to buy this one, and when Sara from Sew Sweetness announced she’d be running a sew-along for the book, I decided to play along.

True to my word about not being any good at long-term projects, I jumped right in and made nine blocks in one weekend, and then promptly forgot about the whole thing. However, now that I’m documenting my quilting, there is somewhere to be accountable for it so I’ll try to get a block or two (of the hundred in the book) done each week, and to hopefully finish the quilt by the end of the Sew Along in January. That’s doable, no? It’ll also ensure that I sit down at my machine and actually sew at least once a week instead of just dreaming about and planning my sewing projects.

I was incredibly lucky to see and touch the Gridlock quilt in person this weekend at the Festival of Quilts, and I am even more motivated now to get this quilt made. I can’t even describe how much this quilt… glowed. It was so, so beautiful in person–so much more so than in the book!

Tula Pink Gridlock quilt

Another shoddy, fuzzy iPhone picture, you say? Tula Pink Gridlock City Sampler

In the book, each two-page spread is dedicated to a single block. The left side shows a photo of the finished and quilted block, and the right side provides an illustration of how to piece it. It’s a simple and quite lovely presentation. The last part of the book offers a number of block assembly options, and I’m going with the Gridlock assembly, which has the blocks arranged (shockingly) in a rainbow range, with vertical and horizontal sashing. Quite helpfully, the blocks photographed in the book are from the Gridlock configuration and are already arranged to create the rainbow range, so as long as I stick to the colour scheme in the book for each block, I don’t need to calculate how many blocks I need of each colour in order to attain the range.

Like my Missing U quilt, I initially planned to only use scraps for this quilt, but realized I’d never finish it if I waited for scraps, so I’ll cut into fabric as necessary. Since the blocks for this this quilt are quite small (6.5” unfinished), they don’t call for much fabric anyway. That said, I’ll still go to scraps before turning to my stash, so I won’t be making the blocks in the same order as the book, but rather will go with whatever scrap colours I have.

Here are the pictures of the blocks I’ve done so far (more dodgy photography, I know. I started constructing a lightbox this weekend to make sure that this never happens again!)(who am I kidding, the iPhone is never more than a foot away from me and is always the first camera I reach for)(but I promise to try!). You can also follow along on my Flickr stream, where I have a set dedicated to this quilt.


I took my sewing machine in for a service (and um, to help recover the feed dog screw I may have dropped into it) so I spent last night cutting up pieces for five or six more blocks. I’ll cut a few more this week so I can power through the blocks as soon as I get her back.

Just One Slab

I bought Sunday Morning Quilts when I was at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham last year (going again this weekend, stay tuned for a post!). The book, authord by Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts and Cheryl Arkinson of Dining Room Empire, is all about scrappy quilting projects. I looked through it shortly after I got it and then set it aside and mostly forgot about it for the next few months.

A couple of months ago I had another look through and decided to make the Quilted Storage Box project, which uses scraps to create boxes for storing scraps. This seemed a logical first step (they thought so too, which is why they put it at the front of the book), since my scraps were a bit all over the place. I really enjoyed making the scrappy surfaces for this, but the truth was that it turned into a really time-consuming and kind of tedious project. That said, the boxes turned out beautiful and I am quite pleased with them, though I made the mistake of not inserting cardboard to the sides, thinking they would be thick enough to retain their shapes having added extra-thick interfacing; instead, they’re quite squashy, but I’m willing to live with it for now. (Amusingly, by the time I’d finished making them, I no longer had many scraps left to put in them.)

Scrap boxes

Scrappy storage boxes, Sunday Morning Quilts

Having completed that project, I then took a closer look at the projects in the book and just fell in love with the Missing U quilt. With the exception of incorporating a single white scrap, it uses the same block assembly technique that the scrap boxes used, which is just to sew scrap to scrap until you get a 15.5” square. I ended up making four blocks, in purple, green, light blue, and red. I didn’t have enough scraps of the other rainbow colours to make more slabs, but decided to wait for the scraps build up rather than cutting into fabric from my stash.


Missing U quilt blocks, Sunday Morning Quilts

Since I was working on a couple of other quilts at the time, one of which was a priority as it had a deadline, I’d not gone back to making more blocks, until I saw a post by Cheryl, asking for Missing U block donations for a quilting drive to benefit victims of severe flooding in southern Alberta. I debated whether to just package up the blocks I’d made and send them in or whether to make new ones, and decided to go for new. Many of the scraps I’d used in my blocks had a bit of meaning to me, having come from my first forays into quilting, and since I’m making the quilt for someone special, it felt like it added an extra dimension to the quilt. I didn’t have quite enough scraps to make new blocks for the quilting drive, so I did cut into a bunch of fabric that had been given to me, of which I had plenty and to which I was not particularly attached. I managed to make four slabs before my trip to Toronto in July, and another one while there by raiding my mom’s stash.

Having cut into fabric to make these blocks, it occured to me that I don’t need to wait for the scraps to accumulate for the special quilt I’m making, and that I have plenty of fabric I can cut into without even making a dent in the stash, so this may mean the quilt will be ready sometime in this century.

Addendum 1. I’ve decided I can’t live with the wonky, squashy boxes and have been adding the cardboard to bolster them up. Massive difference.


Not squashy, squashy.

Addendum 2. Cheryl managed to collect 1,630 slabs. That’s ONE THOUSAND, SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY, people! Well done!

Addendum 3. Most of the photos I’ve taken since 2010 have been with the iPhone. I realize that the photo quality of iPhone pics is pretty fantastic if you want to look at your photos on your phone, but pretty awful under any other condition. I’m starting to take photos with my DSLR, but most of what I’ve made over the past couple of years has fallen victim to the iPhone, so apologies in advance for the shoddy photos I might upload initially.