Pezzygon Park – top

It’s funny, but a 20″ square quilt goes so much quicker than a ‘full size’ baby one. Imagine that! I’ve been making a modified Hexagon Park, because I wanted to play around with machine-pieced hexagons. It’s my first time playing with angles – spray starch is my friend!

I have a complete top!

And some binding cut, joined and pressed, ready to go!

The quilt is basted and I bet I can get it done this week. It will be my first time quilting on this sewing machine, so I’ll keep it simple and do echo-y zig-zags between the hexagons. So that’s my priority WIP for the week.

Other WIPs include turning a flat sheet into a fitted one, and waiting for the thread to arrive so I can quilt my Colourful Lemonade top (it’s basted and ready to go). If that takes a while to show up, I might just start cutting out fabric for placemats.

And I woke up this morning to some great news. I won a giveaway! The lovely Very Kerry Berry was recently giving away some Art Gallery FQs. They’re gorgeous and it totally made my day!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced, guest-hosted by Katy this week.

WIP Wednesday

Hey, look at that, I did some sewing! I finally finished my cutting mat bag (more in a later post), which had been causing a bit of a blockage with my mojo. That, and being away last week, meant very little sewing was happening around here. Which is a shame, because I have a ‘Want to do’ list as long as my arm:

  • Quilt for our spare (air) bed. A practise run before I work on…
  • Quilt for our super-king bed. The quilt that got me into this in the first place! I decided to start with smaller projects for practise.
  • Placemats. Our existing ones are a bit very grotty, and I’m afraid they’ll fall apart in the wash. I took advantage of Abakhan‘s recent sale and scored some fabric on clearance to make some new mats (Moda at 70% + off? Hell yeah!).
  • Hot pads. Our existing ones are as useful as a chocolate teapot. I’ll make some to match the placemats.
  • A table runner to match the new mats. Just because I want to experiment with Dresden wedges.

But first, a modifed Hexagon Park in Pezzy Print. I’m making this in a preemie size for Project Linus to practise machine-sewing hexagons. I finally got started on the piecing today and it felt so nice to make progress with something!


Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced, guest-hosted by The Busy Bean this week.

Baby’s first quilt – finished!

My first finished quilt! Go me!


A variation on a Trip Around the World quilt, made with strips from a Kona Solids Classic jelly roll and Moda Snow. Machine quilted in a square double spiral, using King Tut thread in Cleopatra. Binding: Benartex Scribble Multi. Backing: from the Very Hungry Caterpillar range. The quilt finished at 34″ square.

Lessons learned:

Accurately cut pieces are vital if you want to achieve an accurately pieced result! I pre-washed my jelly roll strips, which left me with frayed edges, which meant my squares are far from square. They also don’t line up – I didn’t know about pinning my seams to help them match up. My borders are wavy, because I measured the edge of the quilt, not the middle.

Machine quilting turned out to be much easier than I feared. I attached the binding by machine, too, and that worked out ok. On my old sewing machine, I had no seam guide, so if I was using the walking foot, I couldn’t easily measure the seam allowance properly. On my new machine, I do have a seam guide, so next time I’ll be able to sew an accurate 1/4″ seam and use the walking foot.

I love the binding fabric, and the backing is super cute and cheerful, but I wouldn’t use them together again. They’re too busy together. I should probably have used a single-colour stripe for the binding instead.

Now don’t think I’m putting myself down for writing this! I’m a scientist, after all, and part of my job is to analyse, to learn, and to do better next time. I love the quilt I’ve made, and I love it even more for all the lessons I learned making it 🙂

Linking up with Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, TGIFF at Quokka Quilts, and Richard’s LAFF!

Baby’s first quilting!

I quilted my first quilt!

That was so much fun! I was a little apprehensive after reading around online, but once I got going, it was really straightforward. I basted with pins about 6″ apart and I’ve ended up with just one tiny little pucker on the back, in one corner. I could probably press it out with the iron, that’s how tiny it is.

I did a simple square double spiral in a rainbow thread, to keep going with the rainbow theme. Since nothing else on the quilt is straight or square, I didn’t worry too much about straight lines and square corners – I’m embracing the wonky. I learned a lot, too. Like so many things in life, it’s worth taking a moment to settle in and get comfy before starting (it made quilting so much easier), and if it feels like it’s running away with you, stop/slow down and take a breath. I can see how hauling a double quilt through the machine would be tiring, too.

I had to do this on my old machine, because I don’t have a walking foot for the new one yet. But I think this will be even easier on the Singer – it has a much bigger working area to the left of the needle, which would help avoid ‘drag’ on that side from the weight of the quilt. And I’m keen to give free motion quilting a try now – that must be even more fun! Perhaps there’s a pot holder or two in my future…

Next up, trim it, bind it, wash it, admire it! But first, I’m linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict – I think first time quilting gets a Whoop Whoop! A linky to Richard’s LAFF, too. The first rule of Richard’s blog is there are no rules, so I’ll link even though it’s not a finish 🙂

Colourful Lemonade (top)

Hey, look at that, I finished my second quilt top!

I adore the cheerfulness of this, but when I pieced all my strips and laid them out next to each other, I was worried that it would be a little too loud. Thankfully, the grey sashing has calmed it down nicely. I love it.

So what to do with my sewing time this week? I’ll either be turning my swirly tree Ikea fabric into a bag for my cutting mat, or I’ll baste and quilt my first quilt top. Exciting!

Linking this up with Richard’s LAFF, and Plum and June’s Blog Hop.

Lessons and a WIP (or two)

I learned a lot on my Great Wadding Adventure. Firstly, I learned that not all fabric and thread are created equally. The neutrals I used were an ‘essentials’ brand from the quilt store and they were really very thin and flimsy, especially when compared with the Kona solids I used to make a colour-coding stripe on the back of each of the mini-mini quilts. I’ll pay more attention to fabric quality in the future.

For Baby’s First Quilt, I did the piecing with cotton thread from my partner’s grandmother’s stash. It drove me crazy – the thread broke very frequently. The same when piecing my mini-mini quilts for the wadding experiment (except it was vintage grandma polyester). I assumed this was because I’m a newbie and didn’t have things set up quite right. Then I picked up some Aurifil for my new project. Oh! The difference! It’s a much smoother ‘ride’ through the sewing machine, and no breaking! So much less frustrating!

I am absolutely sold on the value of good quality fabric and thread now, that’s for sure.

I had planned to work on a bag for my cutting mat this week, out of this pretty, swirly Ikea tree fabric:

But life handed me a big pile of cra lemons. And when that happens, I seek out bright! cheerful! things, so instead, I picked up a couple of Moda’s A Stitch in Color charm packs and some yardage, and am making a bright! cheerful! little quilt. It’s loosely based on this jelly roll project from Malka Dubrawsky, with a few adaptations. It’s coming along nicely!

(I promise those strips are the same length!)

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, where Sukie is sitting in for the week.

Which wadding?

Oh my goodness, this turned into such a project! All I wanted to do was decide which wadding I’d like best for my first quilt top. I did a bit of reading (Diary of a Quilter’s Batting 101 was a nice summary), and decided I wanted either 100% cotton or a cotton-rich blend. But which to choose? I’m a scientist by day, so the obvious choice was to try several different types to see how they behaved and how much they would shrink. Armed with a selection pack of batting, several colours of thread and some fabric, I got going.

The first thing I did was cut two 7″ squares from each batting sample. This is where the coloured thread came in – I tied a loop of thread in the corner of each square, and also on my handy batting list.

One square of each batting went into the wash (cool, gentle cycle, low heat drying). I compared the washed and dried squares to the unwashed squares, and took measurements:

Top row are unwashed, bottom row are washed and dried. All three battings are Hobbs Heirloom brand. Left to right: Premium (80/20 cotton/polyester); White (100% cotton); Wool (100% wool). The Premium didn’t shrink much – no shrinkage in width, and 3.5% shrinkage in height. The White had no shrinkage in width, and 7% shrinkage in height. The Wool was just a big mess, very distorted. On average, there was 3.5% shrinkage in both directions, but it was anything but square.

Top row are unwashed, bottom row are washed and dried. All three battings are Quilters Dream brand. Left to right: Cotton Request (100% cotton); Cotton Select (100% cotton); Orient (silk/bamboo/tencel/cotton). Request had 7% and 3.5% shrinkage, width and height respectively. Select had no shrinkage in width, 3.5% in height. Orient was the same as Request – 7% and 3.5%.

Top row are unwashed, bottom row are washed and dried. Left to right: Quilters Dream Blend (70/30 cotton/polyester); Warm and Natural (100% cotton). Neither the Blend nor the Warm and Natural had any shrinkage at all.

All those stats are summarised here (same layout as above, numbers refer to shrinkage in each direction):

The next step was to turn these batting squares into tiny quilts. Yes, I made 16 very mini quilts! This seemed like a good idea at the start, but I’ll say right now that doing anything 16 times in a row gets old, fast. I made 6.5″ blocks for the fronts because I wanted to practise my piecing skills. I made bigger blocks for the bag, because I wanted the practise and also so I could incorporate a stripe of coloured fabric the same colour as the ID thread, so I’d know which batting was which when it was all finished. So I pieced my blocks, made my little quilt sandwiches and quilted them on my machine (using that popular beginner’s technique, ‘Quilting somewhere near the ditch’), then bound them. I experimented a bit with various ways of attaching binding on the machine, while I was at it. I then washed and dried my little bitty quilts as before (gentle, cool wash, cool dryer), and compared as above:

And here’s your summary table, layout as above:

Interestingly, almost all of the pre-washed battings had further shrinkage when washed the second time, so pre-washing may not be worth it. As for the practicalities of quilting them, well. I hated the Hobbs Wool. It was very thick and difficult to manoeuvre under my sewing machine foot. The others were all very similar to each other. I’ll probably be going with either the Hobbs Heirloom Premium or White – they didn’t shrink much and have a nice drape/feel to them.

That will do for now. I have more to say, but this got long and it’s lunchtime here!

Baby’s first quilt (top)

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

I decided a baby quilt would be a good first quilting project. Big enough to get a feel for all the stages in the process, but small enough that it’s easy to manhandle. As a bonus, the end-user won’t notice if it’s a bit wonky!

In the spirit of making things easy for myself, I got a jelly roll (Kona solids, classic palette). I love bright colours for babies, so I wanted to make a nice, bright quilt. I decided on a variation of the Trip Around the World pattern, using the tutorial at Quiltville – I made each quadrant of the square a different colour.

A lesson I learned (the hard way): do not pre-wash pre-cut fabric. I ended up with what can only be described as a tangled, frayed hot mess! It was awful. Even with pinked edges, the strips still frayed quite a bit. This had consequences for the whole sewing process – fraying changed the width of the strips (only I didn’t notice because I’m a beginner), which meant my squares came out rectangular.

Other things I learned:

  • How to nest seams when sewing squares together
  • When to press seams open
  • The importance of pressing seams at all
  • That a big stack of post-it notes make a very effective seam guide

For all its faults and flaws, I adore the finished top because it’s my first and it fulfilled my goals: to be cheerful, to be functional and to teach me something along the way. Now I need to learn about wadding (next post), basting, quilting and binding. Easy, right?