blue birds- a tessellating pattern

This little quilt was made as my response to this month’s art quilt challenge with my local group, Gatton Quilters. Each month we are creating a quilt using only one colour, and as you can see this month it was blue!

Blue Birds- Karen Mundt

Blue Birds- Karen Mundt


Using only one colour can be quite a challenge. You need to create something that is appealing, still shows pattern and texture, variety, shade – all while not having a variety of colours at your disposal. I took the opportunity to try out something that had been stirring around in my mind for awhile.
I’m interested in tessellating patterns- where a repetitive shape can cover a surface without any gaps or overlapping. I had a play with some graph paper and drew up a bird shape. To see the bird shapes would require different fabrics or colours or darks/lights to distinguish between each bird.
I want to eventually make a large quilt using this pattern but saw this challenge as a way of practising it, or a trial run if you like.
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Because this quilt only had to be 14″ square, the size of the individual squares had to be small enough to create a number of birds across the surface. I decided on each square measuring 3/4″ (finished) and was able to create the pattern using whole squares and half-square triangles.
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I had some beautiful Reece Scannell shot cottons in a variety of blues which were ideal for this. These cottons are lovely and soft and their colours so lovely to look at in different lights or angles.
Blue Birds- Karen Mundt

Blue Birds- Karen Mundt


This is only the top finished at this stage. I’m thinking of adding a mitred border to finish it off.
Blue Birds- Karen Mundt

Blue Birds- Karen Mundt


Dear Jane quilt block: this is F12 Starburst (although it looks different to the one in the book!- I think I made the original design on point. Oh well, you wouldn’t have known if I didn’t tell you, right?!
F12

F12


Linking up to ‘WIP Wednesday’ on the Freshly Pieced blog.

how to… make a pineapple quilt block

Do you ever get an idea in your mind that you can’t get rid of- until you actually do something about it? I’ve been thinking about pineapple quilts lately. There seems to be a few on websites and Instagram and I’ve becme curious. I think they appeal to me because they are a block for a pieced quilt, as against an applique quilt. And my over-all favourite type of quilt is one with lots of pieces which allow you to play with different fabrics and placements and variations.
So today I had to scratch that itch and try one out. This is my finished block:

LittleBirdie- pineapple block

LittleBirdie- pineapple block


As you can see, I chose to use some of my made-up fabric that I’ve put together from scraps, and contrast that with a texty-type cream fabric. This fabric actually has a print resembling vintage dress patterns all over it, with little bits of green here and there.
I cut strips out of both to use with a paper foundation. I obtained the foundation paper from the Generations Quilt Patterns site, where you can print off either 6″ or 8″ blocks. The instructions are also there for how to make the block, as well as cutting instructions for the strips you need.
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I didn’t actually follow those exactly, but instead used another method of paper-foundation piecing that I prefer. You first cut the middle square and a strip to add to that to start the first round. You then use a small card to help you fold the foundation paper back over against the straight edge of the card.
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Take a ‘Add a quarter Inch’ ruler that has a little ridge along it at the 1/4″ mark and hold it against the folded fabric and card. It snuggles in nicely against the card. You can then cut the fabric pieces underneath with a quarter-inch seam allowance.
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When you go to add the next strip, you just have to line the edge of that strip against the cut edge of the partial block and flip it over and sew on the marked line.
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Cut off the tail of the strip and use for the next piece. This also avoids having to cut exact lengths of the strips.
You then just go around the block in number order, sewing exactly on the lines of each piece. Use a smaller stitch length, e.g. 1.6, so it makes it easier to peel the paper away later.
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This is what the back of the block looks like.
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I also chose to only put the coloured pieces at diagonal corners. Usually, the coloured piece would alternate with the cream strips, and therefore there would be colour pieces going out to each corner like in a cross, but I had seen a picture somewhere with a striking pattern created when all the blocks are joined and just that diagonal colour stripe going through the quilt top.
LittleBirdie- pineapple block

LittleBirdie- pineapple block


Having said that though, I’m not sure if it was the right decision? or even if my choice of fabrics was the best? I like the finished block but you need to have a lot of blocks to put together so you can play around with the secondary patterns you might create. And, making this one block took me the better part of today! So the jury is still out on what I’ll do next with this- satisfied the itch though, for a little while :)

shells, dear

The little clamshell quilt I mentioned back here is now finished.
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It was fun making this, and by using this method of raw-edged circles overlapping each other, really quick too.
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I used the Sizzix die-cutting machine to cut out perfect circles all at 4″ wide. By not repeating any fabric, it was another way to use up some fabrics sitting in my stash. All the circles were placed with a couple of dots of glue then machine sewn a row at a time.
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I decided to sew really closely to the edge of each circle, and used a light grey Invisifil thread which blended into all the colours. Choosing that thread colour was probably the hardest part of the whole thing! because I didn’t want to be changing threads all the time I wanted to use one that would fit in with all the colours of the circles. I even used up some more fabric left over from a past project to make the backing.
clamshells2 Very bright, hmmm?
I decided not to bind it and instead stitched the top and backing right-sides together all the way round leaving a little gap to turn it through, and then just closed up that gap with some hand-stitches. I also put some little loops in to use for hanging.
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It was at this stage that I considered leaving it as it was, wondering if I could get away with not quilting it at all. After all, it’s only smallish??…. But no, it didn’t look right. It needed something to highlight the shell shapes, so I’m going to hand-quilt with big stitches along the tops of each curve, across in rows. I’ll use a crimson-coloured 12wt thread called Spagetti by Wonderfil.
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Other things I’ve been up to: I thought I would get caught up with photos of the quilts I’ve made over the last year or two and put them in my album.
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Do you do that too? I think it’s good to have a record of them, even if for no other reason than to look through them every now and then. It seems a lot when they are all together.

I haven’t mentioned about this next quilt before on here, but it is one I have been making, or not, for some years. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of the Dear Jane quilt, made by hundreds of people all over the world. I started it with a couple of lessons and have been making a block every now and then. But it was also a project that got put on the back burner when I was trying to finish last year’s Lollipop Trees quilt. So I thought I would start to show a block every week on here (that I’ve already completed), as a motivation to keep going with it! I am making it in batiks, which are more my style than the traditional reproduction fabrics most often used.
This block is E8- Mama’s Maze.

E8 Mama's Maze

E8 Mama’s Maze


Hope you have a good week quilting!

9-patch improv

Improvisation in quilt-making is something I love to play with- the ultimate ‘What If?” So when I saw a call for quilters to try a new method and make a quilt that could possibly be shown in a to-be-published book, I thought why not?!
The book, which comes out in March, is called the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, by Sherri Lynn Wood.
This is the quilt I made:
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Sherri provided us with a ‘score’ that guided us in making the quilt. There were no specific patterns to follow; the score provided a framework which we then interpreted in our own way. There were about ten different scores and a lot of quilters working with each one, from which Sherri would choose a selection to feature in her book. While my quilt didn’t get included in the book, it was still a fun process to go through.
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The score I received was ‘Flying Geese’. I can’t give the details of how the score worked, but I can show a few photos of what I did. I decided to put my own take on it by limiting myself to striped fabrics and my hand-dyed fabrics that I’ve made over the years. I made lots of flying geese and it was fun to see how some of the colour combinations I put together looked really good…
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I didn’t have any preconceived idea of what the finished quilt would look like but went along making decisions as I went.
I auditioned lots of different border fabrics with the original idea to use white or some other light colour, because that seems to be the common colour with many modern quilts. However, the best effect was achieved with black so the bright colours could pop against it.
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And for some reason, when putting it all together, the smaller blocks wanted to arrange themselves into a rough grouping that resembled a 9-patch, hence the name Flying 9 patch.
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I free-hand quilted it myself on my long-arm, using a bright variegated thread and lots of lines and angles, and bound it using a fused machine binding.
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So even though, my quilt didn’t make the cut- I’m not sure whether those quilts will be mentioned at all in the book- I guess I will have to get the book when it’s published and have a look!
Linking up here to Nina-Marie’s Off-The-Wall-Friday!

circles and clambakes

A quilt pattern that I have seen around in recent times is using the clamshell shape. Once again, it is also a design that has a traditional background but when used with fresh new fabrics, or – my favourite- lots of scraps, it produces a lovely colourful quilt. I recently saw a quick and easy version of a clamshell quilt on the Stitched in Color blog and thought it was right up my alley!
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It takes lots of circles sewn in overlapping rows, machine-sewn with raw edges. It looks quick and easy so I thought I would have a go at it. I want to use up lots of fabrics from my stash, so I have been trying to make some scrappy quilts lately to use as much as I can. You might remember my spiderweb quilt, which used strips of varying widths all sewn together:
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and I have almost finished a scrappy Round-the-world quilt which I’ll show on here soon.
For this clamshell quilt I need to cut lots of circles. And it just so happens I have a new toy with which to cut them with!! This is my new Sizzix Big Shot:
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I had always resisted these fabric-cutting machines in the past but had recently changed my mind when I realised they would be ideal for cutting accurate curved shapes, like circles, petals, leaves etc. When I saw this one on sale at Lincraft last month I thought why not?!
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I have had to buy the cutting dies separately so have at the moment just bought circles in three sizes and a half-square triangle die. I tried to get a clamshell-shape but still trying to source that online, plus some other shapes.
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It cuts circles so quickly and perfectly. You just layer the fabric, up to 6 layers at once, on the die between the cutting pads and wind it through. I wish I had it when doing the Lollipop Trees quilt last year! It can also cut paper and card and be used for embossing.
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Lots of playing ahead! Have a good week :)

a baby at Christmas

We had a beautiful family-oriented Christmas, with children and adults and dogs all joining in. I hope you all had a lovely day as well. There’s something special about Christmas with children; we love to see them happy and excited. They put the bounce into Christmas! Just when it looked like the ‘children’ in our family were growing up and moving into adulthood we have a new generation coming along.
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My beautiful little ‘great’ nephew- he is the first baby for my niece- was born barely a week before Christmas. So he was only 7 days old but the definite star of attraction for our day. So tiny to hold, to cuddle, to stroke such soft baby skin. I’m now a Great-Aunty! His new Nanna, my sister, made him a little baby quilt, which I was so happy to quilt.

quilt top before quilting

quilt top before quilting


She made it especially for her first grandson in crisp whites and blues and reds, just perfect for a little baby boy living at the coast.
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I quilted it with an all-over swirly pattern, except for the straight stitching in the skinny border.
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The fabric used for the backing and the binding is the ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ fabric.
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The swirly quilting resembled the trail of the caterpillar as he moved over the quilt…
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and I couldn’t resist adding just one word- I like writing with quilting!
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A lovely day with our cold Christmas lunch of seafood and ham and salads…. I don’t feel like eating for a week! Happy New Year to you all!
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looking towards Christmas

At long last I’m starting to think about Christmas, and in particular what sewing-related projects I want to make – either as Christmas gifts or for our own home. I like to make something different each year to put up on the wall or on the tree. I should have started before now, but the last week or so I have been fairly productive and had a good start. I really love Christmas and all that goes with it, but by the same token its hard to get into gear!
I have started a little Christmas cloth, in which I’m utilising techniques I’ve learnt from following Jude Hill on Spiritcloth. The ground is a nine-patch, made out of two different fabrics.
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The dark blue is some cloth made when I did some bleach discharging earlier in the year. The top-left right corner looks like a moon, don’t you think?
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The light squares at the bottom are some fabric from our eco-dyeing workshop. As it is a fine knit, I’ve backed it with some light iron-on interfacing to give some body. The gauze, or cheesecloth, has been sewn on and resembles some hills.
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When I got to thinking about what else to do with it and started rummaging through my scraps bucket, a triangle-shaped piece just fell out. I picked it up and thought- hah! this resembles a tree. Put it on and spur-of-the-moment decision has given me a Christmas tree. Serendipity :) I’ll show you more as I work on it leading up to Christmas.

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I also have some photos here of a quilt-top I recently long-arm quilted for Alison. Alison left the quilting decision up to me so I experimented and made up some new designs. The lantern-shapes have large diamond-shapes quilted on them
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and there are some feather-like flourishes (don’t know what to call them!) up through the mid-sections- the negative-space parts of the quilt.
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Here are some pictures of the back which might show the quilting a little better.
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It is quite an unusual backing fabric. I’m always curious on what people choose for their backs!
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Overall, a lovely modern quilt in nice fresh colours.
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Talk to you next week!

making a little art quilt

I had a ‘play day’ today and decided to leave aside other projects to instead make a little art quilt. The large improvisational medallion quilt I’ve been making has been taking awhile and has been on my design wall for what seems like a very long time, plus I’ve also been busy quilting quilts for other people on my long-arm machine. It was time to just do something different.
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Last year, I did a workshop with Gwen Marston when she was over here in Australia. Part of that workshop was about experimenting and improvising, and playing with colour. I made lots of little parts, like those pictured above, but didn’t get back to do anything further with them. Today, I got all those parts out and played with them; rearranging here and there, cutting some bits up and joining others together to see if I could make a little art quilt.
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It started to come together a bit like this:
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I liked the idea of keeping the colour palette to taupe, teal, red and purple, so I picked out those pieces to start with. But one piece had some yellow in it, and that just seemed to give it a little spark, so I added another sliver.
The final arrangement is this:
artscape1
This is the pieced top only- next step is to quilt it with close echoing lines, mainly in those areas of solid colour, and then bind it. It will measure about 9×10″ : a mini art quilt that I’m naming Artscape 1 ( I plan to make lots more!)
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Hope you can find somewhere out of the heat to keep on sewing!

bit by bit

I’ve been making a little progress on this improvised quilt. I’ve written about it here and here before, and it may seem to onlookers that I’m not making much headway! Making up this quilt as I go along is harder than it seems, really hard. I think it is probably the most difficult quilt top I’ve made!
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I have it up on my design wall with all the extra blocks I’ve made so far arranged around it.

The last week or two have been spent looking, re-arranging, looking, sewing bits together, changing my mind and so on. I’ve started worrying that it’s all too busy and will just look chaotic, instead of looking like its meant to be: colourful and scrappy but still just right.
I know that once I have worked out a rough arrangement of the little blocks that are going around the medallion centre, I then will be adding filler strips to make them fit together. Those filler strips will be in the light green that I used in those wide strips top and bottom of the centre, as well as red and some of the stripe. So I’m hoping they will help to pull it together and also give some places for the eye to rest.
Herre are a couple of sections I’ve put together:
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It’s been fun making all the extra blocks. Some unexpected pairings of fabrics have revealed some new favourites, like this block:
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These are some of my ‘extras’ – little parts to fill in spots where needed.
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and lastly, I can’t complain because I have had some help from Dublin the supervisor
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improvising with made-up fabric

Experimenting more with blocks for my medallion quilt, I’ve been sewing scraps together to make a base fabric that I can then use to make blocks out of. Using a variety of odd-shaped scraps that have resulted from the blocks already made for this quilt, I just sew them together:
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Once I have a piece big enough I can then pick which block to make from it and cut the necessary components. Here is a couple of blocks where I used the saw-tooth design:
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It adds that scrappy look, which I often prefer to the ‘clean-cut’ look! Then, there is also the wonky log-cabin block which has endless varieties:

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In this block I added a flying geese block to the top of some randomly pieced strips:
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And some more little strip squares:
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I’m utilising quite a large selection of fabrics for this quilt, but stearing clear of the brights that I normally favour (except for a little bit of bright lime or fuschia here or there!). I’m taking to heart something I read, where by as long as you have a fabric appearing more than once in your quilt, it will look as if it belongs. Once I get it all together, if I don’t like some blocks, then I can just keep them out for another project along the way!
It’s all good.