My Favourite Block Quiltalong- a strippy leaf block

Today is my turn to give you a block for the “My Favourite Block Quiltalong”, which is being hosted by Kim at Persimmon Dreams. Kim will have a little interview with me on her blog so hop over and have a look!
My block uses two techniques- scrappy stripping to make some fabric from your own scraps, as well as reverse applique, which I think gives a great effect with not too much effort.

This block can be made either as a 12 ½” block or at the 6 ½” size. Four of these smaller blocks look great sewn together as a four-patch and you can try a couple of different arrangements. The instructions below are for the larger block, the smaller block measurements are in (brackets).

Strips of colourful fabric
Pink spotted fabric for top – 12 ½” (6 ½”)square
Freezer paper
Spray starch and paintbrush
fabric glue (optional)

To create this block you will need to first make some strip-pieced fabric (or if you rather, it can be made using one fabric piece for the bottom layer).You can use strips cut from the fabrics in your stash and your scraps- they can be any width but will need to be about 13” long (or 7”). Use any colours- the better to give that scrappy look. Just pick up any two strips, of any width, and sew together with a ¼” seam. Keep adding another strip until you have a piece approximately 12” (6”) wide. This strip-pieced fabric will be the underneath piece in our two layers so that is why it doesn’t have to be exactly 12 ½” (6 ½”)– in fact it really only needs to be as big as the leaf shape that you are going to have, plus a little extra for the seam allowance around all sides. Press this stripped fabric so the seam allowances all go to one side, ensuring that you have pressed it as flat as possible and there are no little ‘pleats’ along the seam lines.
If not using strip-pieced fabric for the bottom layer, cut a 12 ½” (6 ½”) square from your chosen fabric.

Cut a 12 ½” (6 ½”)square of fabric that you wish to use as the top fabric for your block. I’m using a pink spotted fabric for this- it will have the leaf shape cut out of it to reveal the colourful stripped piece underneath.

Prepare the leaf template
1. You will need a 12 ½” (6 ½”) square piece of freezer paper. On the dull side of the paper, use a pencil to mark a point in one corner about 2” (1”) in from the side and 2” (1”) down from the top. Draw a corresponding point in the diagonally opposite corner. Using these as the points for each end of your leaf, freehand draw a large leaf shape diagonally across the square. If you wish, you can practise drawing it on a plain sheet of paper first and then trace it onto the freezer paper. To make it easier for turning later, you might want to round off the tips of the leaf instead of leaving them pointy – you choose what leaf shape you would like.

2. Using paper scissors, cut out the freezer-paper leaf directly on the line you have drawn and discard it. If you do this as neatly as possible, you will be able to keep that piece you cut out to use in another project.

3. Take the square piece of freezer paper which now has a leaf-shaped hole in it, and place it shiny-side down onto the wrong side of the square of the ‘top’ fabric, lining up the sides. Iron with a dry iron for a few seconds to make the freezer paper adhere to the fabric.

4. Take a marking pencil and mark ¼” on the wrong side of the ‘top’ fabric, inside the cut edge of the leaf shape. This doesn’t have to be exact – you can just ‘eye-ball’ it when cutting if you like.

You now can either use a small blade cutter or scissors to cut out a leaf-shaped piece from the top fabric, leaving a ¼” seam allowance that will be used to turn under.

If you have pointy ends on your leaf make a little nick right into within a couple of millimetres of the point, still allowing enough to just turn under.

Don’t cut right to the point as this may fray.

5. Spray a little starch into the lid of the can and use a clean paintbrush to dab the starch on to the seam allowance all around the cut-out shape.
Then quickly, before the starch dries, use the iron to turn the allowance over and press down. You might also want to use a stiletto or chopstick to help turn the edges over as you move the iron along.

This will make a crisp turned edge.

6. The freezer paper can stay on until you are ready to stitch the pieces together. When ready, peel it off and the edges of the cut out shape will stay turned under.

This freezer paper template can be re-used a number of times.
Assemble the block
1. Place the top fabric square on top of the stripped piece, or whichever fabric you are using for the bottom layer, lining up the edges if they are the same size, or otherwise ensuring the cut out shape is completely filled with the stripped fabric showing through from underneath.

2. Pin both pieces together, or use a few dots of fabric glue stick to keep both pieces together. You are now ready to hand sew around the turned-in edge of the leaf cutout. Use a fine needle and thread and take small slip stitches. Start along one of the sides so you aren’t stopping and starting at the points. At the leaf points you will have to use the needle to help turn the fabric under and take little stitches to keep in place.

The stripped fabric underneath can be trimmed from the wrong side, leaving about ½” allowance all round.
You can then do any embellishing on top of the block if you like, such as hand-stitching. You can also cut out a different shape instead of a leaf – there’s lots of scope to play with in this block!
Here are some variations that I have done: 4 single 6 ½” blocks….:

which can also be arranged like this….

Or this…

Or, instead of the pink spotted fabric…….

A downloadable copy of these instructions is available here.
I hope you like this block; don’t forget there will be another block given on Thursday by Shanna of Fiber of All Sorts. You can also post photos of your blocks to the Flickr site as well as have a look at everyone elses while you are there!
Kim has all of the info about the Quiltalong here.

bits and pieces

I don’t have much in the way of finished items for show this week. I’ve been doing little bits here and there, trying to progress a few different projects.
I finally worked out what border to put on my wool applique piece, for which I finished the embellishing some weeks ago.

Following a suggestion, I am making a saw-tooth border. First I’ll put a narrow strip of purple hand-dyed fabric, then the small half-square triangle blocks made of some bright green fabrics. I think that will pick up on the touches of green in the wools and give it some lightness.

I’ve also been sewing a few more New York Beauty blocks for an on-going project which will have lots of these blocks of all varying sizes, playing on the black and white theme with bursts of colour. (Sorry about the threads in the photo!)

And.. I have been sewing the blocks of the My Favourite Block Quiltalong- here is the collection of the alternate colour-way that I’m doing alongside the bright scrappy colours shown the other day. I will be posting the block that I have designed for this Quiltalong here on the blog on Tuesday.

And.. and.. here’s what’s come out of our garden this week, including the sweet little pineapple!

are you quilting along?

‘My Favourite Block’ quilt-along is steadily progressing; lots of lovely colourful blocks. If you would like to check what it’s all about, click on the ‘My Favourite Block’ button on the right hand side of the blog ->
The block I have designed for this will be coming up next week, which is a little bit exciting for me!
The most recent block is this heart block: I have made two in the separate colourways that I’m using.

I’m not sure which I like best, both have their attractions.

Here are some of the other blocks I’ve made so far in the coloured scrappy version:

I intend making extras in all the blocks, which I’ll probably need to fill in spots once I start assembling the quilt top- which is a long way ahead yet, I hope!

show and tell

We have lots of talented people at my local quilt group, Gatton Quilters. At our first meeting for the year there were a lot of finished projects and quilts to share with the members, so it looked like everyone had been very busy over the break.
I managed to take a couple of photos to show here- apologies to those who I’ve missed out; I’ll have to be on the ball a bit quicker next time!



The Art Quilt group has started another new challenge this year. We will each be making a new page each month to eventually make a hand-made book. We will be making our own so how much work we put in to it and the end result is our own responsibility. Each month we will all have the same theme or item of inspiration and we can interpret that however we like, using whatever media, methods and techniques we wish. We plan to put the pages together and bind it by hand into – hopefully- a lovely book full of creativity.
For our first month, we had to use onion or fruit mesh bags for our inspiration and it certainly made for some interesting results! First up, this is my page:

I had decided that I wanted to use some of my old pieces of cloth that I have been collecting, and that I wanted to utilise stitch as much as possible in these pages. For this page I used a ground of loose woven linen and an old soft handkerchief with a fine crocheted edge, with a variety of pieces and scraps on top. The onion bag was used as a stencil through which I painted the birds.

I replicated the open mesh by stitching the wing on the top bird, using a stitch called buttonhole lace. I also used a variety of chain stitches to applique the birds, as the chain also looked like the mesh bag. The stitch across the bottom in a variegated thread also resembles the mesh; it’s a twisted cretan stitch.

Some others from the group included:
Shirley shows her attention to detail with her poinciana tree:

Jan M with her own dreamtime snake:

Helen’s dramatic piece, unfinished as yet; I love the almost-star shape formed by unravelling the mesh- so clever!:

Jan K’s fishing boat, also unfinished at the time:

All these works take a lot of thinking and planning, playing and experimenting and its fun to see what everyone comes up with!

freehand machine quilting

I machine-quilted this quilt for Veronica late last year.

It was only a smallish-sized quilt, with a lovely message:

I quilted it in an all-over pattern for most of the top, leaving the centre medallion. This block I then quilted in some clouds and also outlined all the applique pieces. This helped to male the centre part of the quilt the main focus of the quilt.

It has a nice selection of fabrics, and the colours all go well together. Cute, hey?!

rainbow leaves

I started this little quilt when I went to a workshop with Frieda Anderson.

Frieda was over here in Australia a few years ago to hold classes at the Australasian Quilt Convention. This convention is held every year in Melbourne, and I notice that this year’s event will be in April. It was a great opportunity to go to the show, held in the lovely Royal Exhibition Building, and see the collections of quilts on display as well as attend the workshop.
Frieda Anderson is an American quilter who hand-dyes her own fabrics and she dyes them in beautiful bright saturated colours. Mine never turn out that bright!

This little quilt was started then, and was brought home to finish off. It was a workshop in improvisation- we could cut out fused pieces using a variety of different roller blades with corrugated or wavy edges and stick them down on some baking paper, making the composition as we went. Once we were happy with it, we then ironed it to the wadding and backing fabric.

I used some more hand-dyed fabric to put a border on two sides and the final touch is then to quilt it, which I did in a free-hand style with variegated thread. This also served to ‘secure’ the pieces down in a raw-edge style.

I love its bright colours and hope to use more of them in future, and also keep playing with the dyes!

I’m linking up here to Off The Wall Fridays- lots to look at!

group activities

The meetings for my local quilt group, Gatton Quilters, are about to begin so I have been busy preparing some things for our planned activities for the year.
We are going to have a ‘Half-Square Triangle’ swap. Utilising the printed papers that are provided generously on the website Quilting and Whatnot it’s very easy to sew up a lot of these colourful little units, a page at a time.
The instructions are given on that website, but you basically just use two pieces of fabric that are at least an A4 size,

place them RST and then lay the printed paper on top of them.

Sew along the dotted lines and then cut along the solid ones.

Remove the paper and press open and Voila! lots of quick little squares made of triangles.

Of course it means that you have 12 that are made at a time with the same two fabrics, so if you want to make a scrappy quilt, it’s a great idea to get with a group of people and swap some of yours for some of theirs- you end up with a much greater variety of fabrics, but still made super quickly.
My group is making squares that will be 2 1/2″ square finished, with one light and one dark fabric.
I’ve made a few sheets of them so I can swap half and keep half so I still get to have some of my own fabric in my final arrangement.
Our little Art Quilt group also has a few different things happening this year. One of them is a challenge where we each bring along a bag of randomly- chosen items which will be passed onto another person, who then has to use those items in an art quilt piece. I have been putting together my bag of goodies, some of which might be seen below.. or I may change my mind….

Last but not least, here is our little birthday girl. Hayley turned one this week, so she got a new toy to chase!

scrappy tripping

I’ve seen variations of this quilt on quite a few websites, and given my liking for ‘scrappy’ quilts, or any quilts that have lots and lots of different fabrics in them, I just had to give it a go. It’s called the Scrappy Trip Around the World Quilt.

The traditional TAW quilts were probably made by cutting up lots of little squares and sewing them together row by row, and also by using a defined set of fabrics. The little squares could be arranged in a diamond pattern on the surface of the quilt.

But this method, which I found on the Quiltville website, is really quick. You just sew together 6 strips of fabric,

then join those together to make a ‘tunnel’ which you then cross-cut so you have 6 loops of joined squares. You then unpick a seam at a different spot with each loop, moving along one square each time, so you end up with rows like these:

Those rows are joined together and you can see the lines of colour going diagonally through the block.

These blocks are just up on my wall at the moment to have a look at them, because it’s so tempting just to see what the next block looks like! So, even though there are so many fabrics, you can still see a diamond pattern emerging:

You don’t even have to have a diamond pattern- you could do anything you want. I’ll probably re-arrange these, to try out some variations, before I’m finished. I may only make another few, perhaps to have 4 blocks across by 6 blocks down?
And I’m linking to the Freshly Pieced Work-In-Progress blog post!

photos for January

I’ve been continuing along with the photoaday challenge (from this site). It’s easy to do- take a photo that is your interpretation of that day’s theme. You can then post it to Facebook or use Instagram on your iphone, which is where I do it. Instagram also has some filters you can play around with to give different effects and borders etc. to the photos.
Here is a round-up of my four favourite photos from January:

January 7 The theme was “street”.

January 10 The theme was “one o’clock” so this is what I saw at one o’clock that day:

January 15 Theme: “an ordinary moment” which I sort-of interpreted as an everyday happening:

January 30 The theme was “down” – my photo is of the clues for the ‘down’ section of a crossword, see the clue for Down. 30.

Well, I thought it was tricky…..

I have also made the next block in the My Favourite Block Quilt Along. This one is called ‘Reflections’, which I hadn’t heard of before. At first glimpse it looks like it could belong in a Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt, but it differs in that only 3 fabrics are used, and the little squares are arranged in a certain order according to their value:

We have to use a dark, medium and light fabric- I’m not sure that these show up the effect as well as they should:

and you do end up with 3 left-over four-patch blocks, which will no doubt come in handy to fit in a spare spot in the scrappy quilt somewhere.

Churn dash block

The next block in the ‘My Favourite Block Quiltalong’, hosted over on the Persimon Dreams website, is the Churndash block. The blocks on this quiltalong. so far, have been favourites that many quilters would be familiar with, but it’s always fun to see the variations you can get when you play around with your choice of fabrics.
Like in my previous posts on this, I have made a few of this block in the two different colourways that I’m trying out. This first one is using bright colours and contrasting them with paler, or lighter value, colours.

I’ve also made two blocks using these other fabrics:

With this colourway, I originally started with a range of fabrics given to me in a Christmas exchange- that’s the brown/cream/green/aqua/pink fabrics. When I went looking in my cupboard for some more to add to them, I was able to find quite a few different ones to contrast. Funny what you find when you look!

Have you thought about joining in the Quiltalong?
I’m also linking up to the Small Blog Meet here – a great special feature hosted by Lily’s Quilts for small blog owners to hopefully connect with lots of others.