Tag Archives: foundation piecing

Unrealistically Optimistic Quilter

Christmas Sewing 2016


I’m not going to call this a New Year resolution, for one thing it’s much too late for that. But I am determined that this year it will be back to keeping up with the blog. So I’m going to start with my Christmas 2016, or maybe that should be 2015, sewing.

I started these star placemats before Christmas 2015 and we did use the first six of them then. But when I first embarked on the project I was determined, ambitiously perhaps, that we would have enough to use if all the immediate family were here. I decided that twelve was the ideal number. Ten placemats and two extra, perfect.

I was going to complete the whole set in January but as always priorities changed. Christmas 2016 was a long way in the future!

Back to November 2015! Foundation piecing was, and still is, a challenge. It’s still very much a case of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’ I had seen a variety of the foundation pieced stars made up and loved the Christmas Makower Scandi fabric that year and my vision was for a perfectly Scandi set of table mats. Red and white Christmas star perfection!

Puzzling endlessly over piecing orientation  and overworking my seam ripper was by no means part of the perfect vision. My project planning is nothing if not aspirational! The header for my ‘Quilt Inspiration’ Pinterest board is after all ‘Unrealistically Optimistic Quilter’!  Having a good run at making up the stars would leave me feeling I was really getting to grips with the piecing – then a gap in working would have me back to staring blankly at the pattern, the orientation of the fabric and the scribblings I had made over the original copy.

There were a lot (really) of points to get right. To say some are better than others would be an understatement. Now I really do have a sense of achievement having finished. Okay I know they’re not perfect, I know that the number of mismatched seams far outnumbers those that line up just right but I am more than happy with the overall look of them on the table and they certainly shout ‘Christmas’ loud and clear.

I quilted along all the individual points of the stars, you can see that clearly on the reverse. That was a very calm and soothing conclusion to each star and very satisfying. Then I completed each one with binding in red and white Christmas fabric.

Not all of it in the same range unfortunately but I actually like the fact that they are the same but different! January 2017 has seen them finished and I hope that they will grace the Christmas kitchen table for many years to come.


Pedal Pushers Beach Bag

From Capel Bangor to Aguadulce


We didn’t spend a lot of time on the beach on our most recent trip to Spain and we didn’t ride our bikes down to the sea as often as usual either, but I did carry everything I needed to the beach in Aguadulce in the bag that I made  in Mel’s class in Capel Bangor.

Back in Capel Bangor in pale and watery March it looked almost too shockingly bright but on a sunny Spanish beach it wasn’t a bit out of place.

Well, the connection is not about cycling at all but the lovely Moda ‘Pedal Pushers’ fabric designed  by the mother and daughters Jung that caught my eye in the days before we started making Mel’s brilliantly designed, multi-pocketed bag.

Here’s the whole 1950’s inspired ‘Pedal Pushers’ range:product-collageIt was, of course, the red and aqua end of the range that caught my attention. A combination that always draws my eye.

The mini-patch, quilted back pocket shows all of my selection with raspberry ‘Wicker’ and sky ‘Floral Crest’ as my main fabrics.

I had a real sense of satisfaction putting the bag together, putting a range of skills to use, getting the inner and outer pockets in place and finding that everything fitted perfectly – thanks to Mel’s clear instructions and direction of course. Left to my own devices it probably would have been assembled and reassembled numerous times!


And as always our group worked happily and supportively; having lots of fun and, on occasion, really getting down to some serious work!


And when it came to going downIMG_1905 2 to the beach in sunny Almeria with all the necessary paraphernalia my bag was light and easy to carry and not just a brightly coloured beach bag but a practical, organised super-bag. Oh! And the soft padding meant it also served as a soft place to lay my head!

I think my beach dress just serves to prove a point about my current colour preferences!

And just look at all these pockets -perfect!

Thanks Mel!

Time for UfOs

UfO Number 1

Aboriginal Dots

IMG_1851It’s only just over a year since I began this sampler quilt. Quite a short time in the long line of UfOs waiting in line in my workroom really!

It was the first thing I made when I was over the moon at finding Mel’s class. It was the first thing I made after I discovered the joy and the temptation that is the wonderful Calico Kate shop in Lampeter.                              Lampeter or Llanbedr Pont Steffan, or  locally known as Llambed, this quiet Mid-Wales town is the smallest university town in the UK but more importantly for quilters it is the home of Jen Jones’  Welsh Quilt Centre (find them here on Facebook)

Unknownand the most amazing collection of fabrics ranged across twelve mouthwatering rooms at Calico Kate.


This little sampler quilt was also my introduction to the mysteries of foundation piecing. At the time I hadn’t a clue about this particular wonder of patchwork and as I began to find out I realised it may be quite a challenge. It is!  A challenge that I’ve loved and will continue to develop. Thanks Mel!

The Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter has hosted the talented and inspirational Kaffe Fassett as a speaker and tutor on more than one occasion. I was totally blown away by the colours of the Kaffe Fassett Comes to Wales Exhibition when I visited. He has been a knitting and weaving hero for me over the years and now here I was quilting only to discover his amazing quilts.IMG_0773

IMG_0774So it’s only fitting, of course, that Calico Kate stocks a good range of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and since then I have used a few. But for this project the focus was on the piecing so when I chose I went for a limited range from the Aboriginal Dots collection. Like all of his fabrics it comes in many hues but the ocean, teal and silver appealed to me on the day;  I added some of the shot cottons from his range and a fat quarter given to me by Mel.

We made a block each week and I think the only one that wasn’t new to me was the nine patch. I learnt a lot about points and pinwheels  and about half square triangles –  including that they are known as HSTs and are the basis of many more complex blocks.IMG_0807

 I made my first log cabin blocks; a large one and four minis that became the four quarters of a larger one.                                                             I can’t imagine ever tiring of making a new block for the first time, it can be frustrating, baffling, exasperating and totally troublesome but it makes me happy and if I’m not satisfied with the outcome I’m compelled to make another!1460154_10151992301369098_1348956163_nWhen all the blocks were pieced and the top complete I sandwiched the wadding and the back and even began quilting by ‘stitching the ditch’ and trying out some free motion on the sashing but then I was distracted by the quilt I was making for my sister’s 50th birthday (see the post here). More to the point I wasn’t happy with the stitches wandering  in and out of the ditch and so it slipped down the priorities until one day I began unpicking. Somehow over time I got better at staying in the ditch and eventually the next stage was complete.IMG_1853


Stitching in the ditch – a few wobbles but nearly there!



This week in a pre-holiday rush it suddenly became imperative that I finished at least one UfO before leaving and this was it.

I trimmed the edges, made a random binding strip from the scraps and hey presto, finished! IMG_1852IMG_1854Hooray!

Dydd Gwyl Dewi. St Davids Day

Happy St David’s Day. Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus

Last year it was all about the knitting and my St David’s Day make was knitted daffodils. This year it’s all about sewing and in particular my new (and needing much practice) skill of foundation piecing.               I found the daffodil pattern on Piece by Number in the free patterns section. Maybe one day I’ll be able to create my own but for now its enough of a challenge to actually follow one. False starts are a feature and the seam ripper is overworked. Making 4 the same did at least give me a fighting chance of getting it right in the end.                      IMG_4091I found the sashing fabric in the Aladdin’s cave that is Calico Kate in Lampeter (two new rooms since my last visit!)


IMG_4097Well 4 struggles produced 4 blocks to make my square and the sashing was quickly done and the Ikea fleece throw – a bargain at £3 – used for batting added.

Time to let my lovely new toy come into its own to quilt the sashing.



I chose a simple greek key and a loopy egg stitch and let it work its magic. Doesn’t it look perfect!

What joy to just let the Pfaff sew – unlike  bird’s nest back I got when I started sewing the vermicelli on the block backgrounds without help from the machine!




A bit more unpicking then start again, this time with more success and much, much improved on my free motion quilting of  a year ago.


Perfect for St David’s Day and for making the kitchen feel a bit more like Spring! But here it is out on the garden table making the most of the light.IMG_4099