New Waterwheel Quilt – Free Pattern

New waterwheel quilt

New waterwheel quilt

The New Waterwheel quilt is far larger than I had intended it to be.  It ended up measuring 85″ by 112″, large enough for a king size bed with some left over either to drape down the sides to wrap around the pillow.  The blocks are large and very simple, so the quilt went together really quickly.

I have used twelve 27″ blocks, half in blue and white with the other half in red and white.  The fabric required is 1.1/2 yards of light blue, 2 yards of red, 2.1/4 yards of dark blue, and 4 yards of white fabric.




Cutting requirements for the New Waterwheel quilt

9.7/8″ squares:  twelve red, twelve dark blue, twenty four white

3.1/2″ squares:  thirty red, twenty four white

9.1/2″ squares:  six light blue

3.1/2″ by 9.1/2″ rectangles:  twenty four red, forty eight dark blue, seventy two white – read the pattern before cutting these as they can be made using strip piecing

For the border you will need to cut nine 2.1/2″ strips of light blue across the width of fabric.

Sew the triangles together

Sew the triangles together

Make the new waterwheel quilt block

Use the 9.7/8″ squares to make half square triangles.  As the squares are quite large I have not made them in pairs, but just cut each square along the diagonal and then sewn a white triangle to either a red or a blue triangle.

Make the striped sections

Make the striped sections

For the striped sections of the blocks I have saved time by using strip piecing.  For the new waterwheel block sew together 3.1/2″ strips of white, red, white along the length.  Cut these panels at 9.1/2″ intervals to create 9.1/2″ squares.

Central section

Central section

For the central section of the block make a nine patch unit of red and white squares.  The top and bottom rows are 3.1/2″ squares of red, white, red while the middle row uses white, red, white squares.

Sew the squares together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.

New waterwheel quilt block layout

New waterwheel quilt block layout

Assemble the full quilt block

Lay the sections out in three rows of three.  Place the nine-patch in the middle with a red/white half square triangle in each corner.  Make sure that the red triangles are on the outside, forming the corners of the block.  Between each pair of corners, place a striped block.  These should form a frame around the central area – the top and bottom ones are laid horizontally while the side ones are placed vertically.

Sew the blocks together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.  The block measures 27.1/2″ square at this stage and you need to make six of them.

Alternate quilt block layout

Alternate quilt block layout

Make the alternate block

The alternate block has most of the same elements as the new waterwheel block.  It is even easier to make because there is no nine patch in the middle – just a plain light blue square.

The striped blocks are made in exactly the same way as above, but using dark blue, white, dark blue strips.  Place the light blue square in the middle with a blue/white half square triangle in each corner, blue on the outside.  Place the striped blocks so that the stripes point away from the middle, rather than framing the middle.  Sew the blocks together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.

The alternate block measures 27.1/2″ square at this stage and you need to make six of them.

Rows one and four

Rows one and four

Assemble the new waterwheel quilt

Sew the blocks together in four rows of three.  Rows one and four are the same as each other.  Place a blue block in the middle with a red block on either side of it.

Rows two and three

Rows two and three

Rows two and three are the same as each other.  Place a red block in the middle with a blue block on either side.

Sew the blocks together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.

Add the border

I just wanted a small border for this quilt because it is so large, so I used 2.1/2″ strips of the light blue fabric.  You’ll need two lengths of 81.1/2″ for the top and bottom and two lengths of 112.1/2″ for the sides.  The new waterwheel quilt top is now finished and ready for layering, quilting and binding.  Full details of these steps can be found in the beginner quilting section.

Here’s the video:

Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor

Recently I visited Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury.  It’s a magnificent property, built originally for the Rothschild family, along with equally lovely parkland.  To see my photos click here or click on the photo.

Tom and Anna

Tom and Anna

And of course last weekend was the wedding of my second son Tom to the lovely Anna.

The church had been recently refurbished and was beautiful, the cake was carrot and banana and was delicious.  My daughter was a bridesmaid and was also beautiful.

 

My daughter as bridesmaid

My daughter as bridesmaid

Wedding cake

Wedding cake

Heytesbury Church

Heytesbury Church

My granddaughter

My granddaughter

My eldest son with my grandaughter.

 

Waddesdon Manor – Aylesbury – Photos

Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor is another delightful National Trust property.  It was built in the late nineteenth century for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild.  He wanted somewhere to display his arts and sculptures – and of course to entertain his friends.  Although the property is owned by the National Trust, it is managed by the Rothschild Foundation.

A visit there is a real treat as both the buildings and the gardens are superb.  We had to park quite a distance away, but they have a shuttle bus between the car park and the manor, which helps.




The aviary

The aviary

The Gardens

The first place that we came across in the gardens was the aviary.  We didn’t look as closely as I would have liked at the birds because there were about three school trips that day and the noise from the children was deafening!

As you can see, the buildings are substantial and the birds had plenty of room in their enclosures.  Now I would never think of putting red and purple together in a quilt, but don’t you think that the flower bed on the right makes a lovely display.

What lovely colours

What lovely colours

My mind was still on quilts when I came to the next flower bed – those colours look gorgeous together.  There were statues all over the place and a rose garden that you could smell well before you reached it.

Beautiful topiary

Beautiful topiary

The other eyecatcher on our way to the manor was the topiary.  I’ve seen clever topiary before now, but what stood out here was the way they had used different plants to give a different green for the bird’s breast.  Very clever.

Tapestry fire screen

Tapestry fire screen

Inside Waddesdon Manor

The interior of the manor was breathtaking.  The colours in this tapestry were stunning and they had some really large tapestries hanging on the walls as well.

Zebra in harness

Zebra in harness

I was brought up in Africa and I was always told that zebra could not be tamed so it was delightful to see this photo of zebra pulling a carriage.

This is just an example of how varied the treasures are within the manor.

Twelve Caesars

Twelve Caesars

While we were there – and just about to finish – was an exhibition called the Twelve Caesars.  This consisted of gold or bronze sculptures of each of the first twelve Caesars.  It was fascinating and the amazing thing is that they don’t know who made them or why.

Dining in style

Dining in style

The meals were obviously sumptuous when the Rothschilds lived at Waddesdon Manor.  This table was set for a wonderful feast.  It was the chandelier that was truly beautiful, but I’m afraid my photo hasn’t done it justice.

Waddesdon Manor is an amazing place to visit both inside and outside – well worth it if you’re in the area.

Diamonds Are Forever Quilt Pattern

Diamonds are Forever quilt

Diamonds are Forever quilt

My Diamonds are Forever quilt has been named in honour of my son’s wedding this weekend.  I have used two different quilt blocks with various colour variations to provide diamonds in both the overall quilt design and in some of the blocks.  Please don’t think that it looks too complicated – each block is actually very simple to make.

The quilt is rectangular, measuring 64″ by 70″, so it would be suitable for a double bed or a throw.  I have used twenty five blocks which are all 12″ square finished size.  For the quilt top I needed 2 yards each of green and white, 1 yard of purple and 3/4 yard each of lilac and yellow.




Completed quilt blocks

Completed quilt blocks

Cutting requirements for the Diamonds are Forever quilt

2.7/8″ squares:  ninety eight purple, forty eight green, one hundred and fifty white, four yellow

4,7.8″ squares:  twenty four purple, two yellow, twenty six lilac

2.1/2″ squares:  one hundred white

8.1/2″ squares:  twelve green

For the borders you will need to cut three 3.1/2″ yellow strips, seven 2.1/2″ green strips, all across the width of fabric.

Make half square triangle units

Make half square triangle units

Make the half square triangle units

You need to make these using both the 2.7/8″ squares and the 4.7/8″ squares.  Place two squares with right sides together and mark a line along the diagonal.  Sew a 1/4″ seam either side of the marked line and cut along the line.  This will produce two half square triangle units.  Trim the two corners where the fabric sticks out.  In the 2.7/8″ squares, place white with either purple or green.  For the 4.7/8″ squares, place lilac with either purple or yellow.

First quilt block layout

First quilt block layout

Make the first block

My original intention had been to use a green/white four patch in the middle of this block.  However I felt that it made the quilt look too busy so I changed it for one green square.  As I had already cut the fabric, it meant that I had lots of 4.1/2″ green strips cut – that’s why in the full quilt you’ll see that I have sometimes used two 4.1/2″ by 8.1/2″ green rectangles instead of one 8.1/2″ square.

Place a green 8.1/2″ square in the middle.  On each edge of this square place two purple/white half square triangles with a 2.1/2″ white square on either side of them.  Place the purple triangles together so that they form a larger purple triangle always pointing away from the middle.  In each corner place a purple/white half square triangle with the purple triangle on the outside, forming the corner of the block.

Partially sewn block

Partially sewn block

Sew together the four squares above and below the green square and then sew them to the green square.  Join together all the squares down each side to form two columns of six squares.  Sew these to the central section to complete the block.

At this stage the block measures 12.1/2″ square and you need to make twelve like this.

Make the second quilt block

The second block is very similar to the first block, but I have created a diamond in the middle instead of a square.

Second block layout

Second block layout

Place four lilac/purple half square triangles (made from 4.7/8″ squares) in the middle.  Lay them so that the purple triangles lie in the middle, forming a purple diamond.

Place two green/white half square triangles and a white square on each edge of this central square.  Place them so that the green triangles together form a larger triangle pointing away from the middle.  Add a purple/white half square triangle in each corner with the purple on the outside.

As you can see, the outer frame of the block is the same as the one in the first block, but with green triangles instead of purple forming the diamond behind the central square.

Sew the four large half square triangles together first to form a square.  Then continue as for the first block.  At this stage the block measures 12.1/2″ square and you need to make eight of them in this colour selection.

Central block

Central block

Make the central block

The central block is the same as the basic second block, but with lilac/yellow half square triangles forming a yellow diamond in the middle rather than a purple one.

You need to make only one of this block.

One more variation

In order to emphasise the diamond theme of this quilt, I have created one further colour variation.   These blocks I have placed in the middle of each edge, at the tips of the overall diamond formed by the purple blocks in the quilt design.

Last layout variation

Last layout variation

The layout for the block is the same as for the basic second block, but with the substitution of two yellow/white half square triangles for two of the green/white ones.  This block also measures 12.1/2″ square and you need to make four of them.

Rows 1 and 2

Rows 1 and 2

Assemble the Diamonds are Forever quilt

Sew the blocks together in five rows of five blocks.  Row 1 consists of one purple block with substituted yellow triangles in the middle.  Rotate this so that the larger yellow triangle points upwards.  Place two green blocks on either side.

For row 2 place a green block at each end with three purple blocks in the middle.

Row 3

Row 3

Row 3, the central row, is made with a yellow diamond block in the middle.  Place a purple block on either side of this.  At each end place a purple block with substituted yellow triangles,  Rotate these so that the yellow triangles point to each side away from the middle.

Rows 4 and 5 are similar to rows 1 and 2.

Rows 4 and 5

Rows 4 and 5

In row 4 place a green block at each end with three purple blocks in the middle.  In row 5 place the last purple block with substituted yellow triangles in the middle.  Rotate this so that the yellow triangle points downwards, away from the middle.  Lay two green blocks on either side.

Sew the blocks together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.

Add yellow to top and bottom

Add yellow to top and bottom

Add the quilt borders

I wanted this quilt to be rectangular, so I have added 3.1/2″ strips of yellow to the top and bottom of the quilt, but not to the sides.  You’ll need two lengths of 60.1/2″.

For the final border I have used 2.1/2″ strips of green fabric.  You’ll need two lengths of 60.1/2″ for the top and bottom and two lengths of 70.1/2″ for the sides.

That completes the Diamonds are Forever quilt top.  It is now ready for layering, quilting and binding.  Full details of these steps can be found in the quilting for beginners section.

Here’s the video:

Tomorrow my son is getting married to Anna.  No travel news this week as I have been busy finishing the bunting and my jacket for the wedding.  With my next pattern I hope to bring you lots of travel and wedding photos.

 

Orange Peel Quilt – Free Pattern

Orange peel quilt

Orange peel quilt

I have made my orange peel quilt using applique – so much quicker than sewing lots of curved seams!  The thing that I love about orange peel quilts is the way circles form in the design.  There’s always something more to see when you look at the quilt.

I have used thirty six blocks which are 7″ square finished size and the final size of the quilt is 48″ square.  The fabric requirement is 1.3/4 yards each of blue and white, 1/4 yard of pink and 1/2 yard of the border fabric.  You can buy these fabrics at a discount in this week’s special offer.

As this is the end of August I am also holding an autumn sale of 15% off everything in the shop – no coupon required – lasting till next Thursday.




Completed blocks

Completed blocks

Cutting requirements for the orange peel quilt

5.1/2″ squares:  eighteen blue, eighteen white

1.1/2″ squares:  thirty six blue, thirty six pink

Strips cut across the width of fabric:  two 5.1/2″ blue strips, two 5.1/2″ white strips, two 1.1/2″ blue strips, two 1.1/2″ pink strips

For the applique you need one 3″ strip of pink and three 3″ strips each of blue and white

For the border you need to cut five 3.1/2″ strips of border fabric across the width of fabric.

You can download the template here.  Please check that your print square is 5″ square – I’m not sure if it is printing to the right size.

Strip piecing

Strip piecing

Make the background blocks

Sew together 5.1/2″ strips of white with 1.1/2″ strips of blue along the length.  Cut these panels at 1.1/2″ intervals to make rectangles 6.1/2″ by 1.1/2″.  Repeat with 5.1/2″ blue and 1.1/2″ pink strips.

Blue background block

Blue background block

Place a 5.1/2″ blue square in the middle with a 5.1/2″ blue rectangle on either side.  Hindsight being a wonderful thing, I could actually have used a 5.1/2″ by 7.1/2″ rectangle instead.  For the top row place a blue/pink rectangle with the pink on the left.  Add a 1.1/2″ blue square on the right.  In the bottom row place a blue/pink rectangle with the pink on the right.  Add a 1.1/2″ blue square on the left.

White block layout

White block layout

Sew the patchwork pieces together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.  This block measures 7.1/2″ square at this stage and you need to make eighteen of them.  Repeat with the white/blue pieces.  You also need to make eighteen of the white blocks.

These blocks form the background for all of the orange peel sections.

Cut the orange peel shapes

Cut the orange peel shapes

Make the orange peel applique shapes

For the applique I used Steam a Seam for the backing of each shape.  It comes in a 12″ width which I cut to 21″ lengths.  I cut the 3″ blue, white and pink strips in half so that I had 3″ by 21″ strips which I could then press to the steam a seam.

You can download the orange peel shape here.  The print should be 5″ square – you may need to adjust it if it’s bigger than that.  Print and copy on to paper or card.  I found that card worked better as I was using the template thirty six times.  Draw and cut out the shape on the fabric.  I managed to get three shapes from each half strip of fabric.  Altogether you need to make four pink, sixteen blue and sixteen white orange peels.

Press the orange peels on to the background squares.  You need to put pink shapes on two blue and two white background blocks.  Then press sixteen blue shapes on the white background blocks and sixteen white shapes on the blue background blocks.  Make sure that the orange peels run from corner to corner along the diagonal between the small pink or blue squares.  I found that some of my orange peels were slightly too long so I just snipped the tips off so that they fitted between the squares.

Rows 1 and 2

Rows 1 and 2

Assemble the orange peel quilt

Sew the blocks together in six rows of six. Rows 5 and 6 are exactly the same as rows 1 and 2.  In rows 1 and 5 alternate the blocks across the row, beginning with a blue block.

For rows 2 and 6 you also need to alternate the blocks, but begin with a white block.  Lay the blocks so that the blue orange peels always run from bottom left to top right while the white orange peels always run from top left to bottom right.

Rows 3 and 4

Rows 3 and 4

In rows 3 and 4 the layout is similar but this time using the pink orange peels.  In row 3 begin with a blue block and alternate across the row but use two of the pink orange peels in the middle.  For row 4 begin with a white block and again place two pink orange peels in the middle.

Sew the blocks together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.  Each set of four orange peels actually makes a traditional block known as True Lover’s Knot.

Quilt border

Quilt border

Add the border

For the border I have chosen a completely different fabric to give a bold frame to the quilt.  I’ve used 3.1/2″ strips and you’ll need two lengths of 42.1/2″ for the top and bottom and two lengths of 48.1/2″ for the sides.

That completes the orange peel quilt top.  It is now ready for layering, quilting and binding.  I haven’t had time to quilt this yet, but my plan is to use the blanket stitch embroidery on my sewing machine and outline each orange peel shape with it.  That way I can secure the applique and quilt all at the same time.

Here’s the video:

Last time I wrote I was just on my way to the Swansea Festival of Stitch.  I had a wonderful weekend in Swansea.  The festival was spread over about nine locations throughout the city, so walking from one place to the next was a great way to see the city as well as all the lovely textile exhibitions.

I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old lady, but I did see a quilt using my Owl and Pussycat design, with nothing to suggest that it was my design.  I provide a huge number of free quilt patterns for quilters around the world and I think that it would be courteous to credit me with the design if it’s used in a public display.

St Tiggywinkles Hospital

St Tiggywinkles Hospital

Now for my travels:  when I went to Bletchley Park I also found a place with the delightful name of St Tiggywinkle’s Hospital.  To read all about it click here or click on the photo.

 

PS  Don’t forget the autumn sale – 15% off everything till next Thursday.

St Tiggywinkles Hospital – Photos

St Tiggywinkles Hospital

St Tiggywinkles Hospital

When I visited St Tiggywinkles Hospital I was utterly enchanted – even if I didn’t see a single live hedgehog!  The sweeties in the photo are actually stuffed toys for sale in their shop.

St Tiggywinkles was opened by Sue and Les Stocker with their son in 1978 when they began treating wild animals on a voluntary basis.  It was the first wildlife treatment centre and soon became (and has remained) world renowned for the work it does.




St Tiggywinkle hospital building

St Tiggywinkle hospital building

History

The hospital is named after Mrs Tiggywinkle in the Beatrix Potter books which were a great favourite with my children.  The hospital had become a registered charity in 1983 – and became swamped with hedgehog casualties in 1984 during a drought.

Tortoise patients

Tortoise patients

The blackboard at the entrance to the visitor centre lists the casualties that they are treating and I was amazed both at the number of different species and the total numbers of animals and birds that they are treating on a regular basis.

The tortoise area had a wide variety of tortoises – I hadn’t realised quite how different they are in shape, size, colour and the patterns on their shells.  I was also amazed at the speed with which they could move when following the young lady who brought their food to them!

Recycled bottle tops

Recycled bottle tops

There is a deer paddock for the recovering deer, but this fellow is a timely reminder of how much recycling we need to do.  He is made entirely from used bottle tops.

The visitor centre boasts a children’s playground, quiet area and a lovely area of pens where you can stroll around seeing the enormous variety of wild life that needs help.

Red kite

Red kite

The red kite is a bird of prey, a protected species which was once near to extinction in Britain.  They are being successfully re introduced to the countryside and any casualties are well looked after at St Tiggywinkles.  We saw this red kite on top of the enclosure but we were assured that he was a former patient rather than an escapee.

I was determined to visit this place based purely on its delightful name, but I am so pleased that I went there.  A very worthwhile charity doing wonderful work and they are very welcoming to the general public.

Candy Stripe Binding Courthouse Steps Quilt

Candy stripe binding

Candy stripe binding

In this quilt pattern I have used candy stripe binding to make a simple quilt into something that bit different.  I used seven fabrics within the quilt and then used all seven of them in the binding.  Each quilt block is  14″ square finished size.  The Courthouse Steps is a variation on the log cabin style of block and the alternate block was made with large half square triangle units.

The quilt measures 46″ square and I needed 1.1/4 yards of dark blue, 1 yard of light blue, 3/4 yard of red, 1/2 yard each of medium blue and brown, with 1/4 yard each of orange and natural.  As ever, you can buy these fabrics at a discount in this week’s special offer.

In order to show you the binding I had to finish the quilting so for once I can show you the quilting as well!




Completed blocks

Completed blocks

Cutting requirements for the candy stripe binding quilt

2.1/2″ squares:  five red, ten natural

6.1/2″ by 2.1/2″ rectangles:  ten light blue, ten orange

10.1/2″ by 2.1/2″ rectangles:  ten medium blue, ten brown

14.1/2″ by 2.1/2″ rectangles:  ten dark blue

15.1/4″ squares:  two dark blue, two light blue

For the border you will need to cut four 2.1/2″ red strips across the width of fabric

For the binding you will need an additional 2.1/2″ strips cut across the width of fabric of each of the seven fabrics.

Central area

Central area

Make the Courthouse Steps quilt block

Courthouse steps is a variation on log cabin blocks but you add opposite logs at the same time rather than working round the central square.  All the pieces are 2.1/2″ wide so that you can use jelly rolls if you wish.

So place a 2.1/2″ red square in the middle with a natural square on either side.  Sew these three pieces together in a row.  Add a 6.1/2″ light blue strip to the top and bottom.

Press the seam allowances away from the red square

Press the seam allowances away from the red square

You need to press the block at each stage and it is best to press all the seam allowances away from the red square.

I have shaded the colours away from the central square – light, medium and dark blue in one direction and natural, orange and brown in the other direction.

Second round

Second round

Make the second round with a 6.1/2″ orange strip on either side and a 10.1/2″ medium blue strip on top and bottom.

Full layout

Full layout

For the third and final round, you need to sew a 10.1/2″ brown strip to each side with a 14.1/2″ dark blue strip to the top and bottom.

At this stage the block measures 14.1/2″ square and you need to make five of these.

Cut along both diagonals

Cut along both diagonals

Make the alternate block

Cut the 15.1/4″ dark and light blue squares along both diagonals to create four triangles from each square.

Alternate block layout

Alternate block layout

Place two dark blue triangles with two light blue triangles to re form the square shape.  Make sure that the colours alternate.

Sew the triangles together in two pairs and then sew the pairs to each other.  The block measures 14.1/2″ square at this stage and you need to make four of them.

Row one

Row one

Assemble the quilt

Sew the blocks together in three rows of three.  Row one contains an alternate block in the middle with a courthouse steps block on either side.  Place the alternate block so that the dark blue runs from top to bottom of the block.

Row two

Row two

In row two place a courthouse steps block in the middle with an alternate block on either side of it.  This time the dark blue in the alternate blocks should run from side to side.  Together the blocks form a shape almost like a sweetie or a Christmas cracker.

The third row is the same as the first row – an alternate block in the middle with a courthouse steps block on either side.  The dark blue in the alternate block runs from top to bottom.

Sew the blocks together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.

Quilt border

Quilt border

Add the border

For the border I have used 2.1/2″ strips of red fabric.  You’ll need two lengths of 42.1/2″ for the top and bottom and two lengths of 46.1/2″ for the sides.

Embroidered quilting

Embroidered quilting

Quilting the quilt

As I wanted to show you the candy stripe binding I had to complete this quilt, so I chose a simple embroidery stitch for the quilting.  I used a contrasting thread (red) rather than a matching one and used the stemstitch option.  I quilted around the central area of each Courthouse Steps block, round the central blue diamond and round the edges of the light blue star shape.

Sew a strip of each fabric

Sew a strip of each fabric

Cut the candy stripe quilt binding strips

Sew together one 2.1/2″ strip of each fabric along the length.  This will give you a panel 14.1/2″ wide by about 42″ long.  Press all the seam allowances open.  Place your ruler so that the 45 degree line runs up one edge of the panel (where my fingers are in the photo).  Cut that bottom triangle off at somewhere round the 4 to 5″ mark.  This triangle can be discarded as it’s too small to be of any use.

Cut the first strip

Cut the first strip

Now move your ruler up so that the 2.1/2″ line runs along the edge that you just cut – where my thumb is in the photo.  Cut along the edge of the ruler.  This will give you a strip 2.1/2″ wide.

Continue cutting strips

Continue cutting strips

Continue moving your ruler up 2.1/2″ at a time, cutting more candy stripe binding strips.  These will get longer and then start getting shorter again as you reach the end of the panel.

Join the strips to make one long strip

Join the strips to make one long strip

Join the binding strips

When you place the binding strips side by side you’ll see that you have two 45 degree edges to join together.

Sew them at right angles to each other

Sew them at right angles to each other

In order to sew these together, you need to place one at right angles to the other.

To make sure that you end up with a straight line you need to offset the two strips against each other.

This happens if you don't offset the strips

This happens if you don’t offset the strips

In the photo above the blue sticks out above the red at the top and the red sticks out below the blue at the bottom.  If you don’t do this your line of binding will not be straight – as you can see in the photo on the side.  When you have joined all the strips together, fold and press the entire strip in half along the length.

It should now resemble an ordinary binding strip and you can sew it to the quilt in the normal way.  Full details of this step can be found in the beginner quilting section.

Here’s the video:

My personal favourite

My personal favourite

Festival of Quilts

Last week I spent a wonderful day at the Festival of Quilts – much more easy for me to get to now that I live in Birmingham.  All the quilts were wonderful, as always, but there were two that really caught my eye.  This one was probably my overall favourite.

Beautiful design

Beautiful design

This one was very cleverly designed and really striking.

Neither of my choices matched with the overall Visitors’ Choice quilt.  After it was announced at the end of the show I looked in my photos and found that I hadn’t even taken a photo of that one to show you.

Best miniature quilt

Best miniature quilt

There was one more which was quite breathtaking – a miniature quilt by Philippa Naylor which was quite out of this world – compasses and prairie points in a quilt that probably only measured about 10″ square!  It well deserved to be winner of that category.

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park

And finally.  I visited an extraordinary place recently – Bletchley Park, home of the codebreakers.  This was the home of all the people who worked on breaking codes during the war.  It’s a fascinating place and very visitor-friendly.  You can see more about my trip by clicking here or click on the photo.

Bletchley Park – Bucks UK – Photos

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park

My visit to Bletchley Park was absolutely fascinating – but it also destroyed some of my illusions.  As I’m sure you know, Bletchley Park was the home of our code breaking efforts during the war.  It has now been preserved as a heritage site and is well worth a visit.  The whole site is well set out with plenty of information, loads of stewards to answer questions and some fun activities for children – and me!

This view of the country house set beside a lake with fountains fitted well with my somewhat romantic image of the place.  Inside the mansion you can visit the rooms that were used as offices by the senior codebreakers.




The workshops

The workshops

The Workshops

It was in the other sections of the operation that my illusions were somewhat tarnished.  Obviously there must have been many other buildings to accommodate the offices and workshops of all the people working on breaking codes – thousands of them.  These long low buildings were filled with people – mostly young women – listening in to messages and decoding them before they were passed on for distribution.  Now working at Bletchley had always sounded quite glamorous to me – working on top secret codes and messages to help the war effort.

The reality was somewhat different – these buildings had no heating or cooling so they were too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.  The floors were of unsealed concrete which made the rooms dusty.  The girls sometimes worked 30 to 40 hour shifts if required.  Wow!

Code breakers

Code breakers

The Machinery

Everyone has heard of the Enigma code and the machines that broke this code.  In fact they were surprisingly ordinary looking.  They looked like souped up manual typewriteres, but of course they performed a much more complex operation than simply typing.

Not your ordinary typewriter

Not your ordinary typewriter

The enemy messages were intercepted at various radio listening stations in many places.  They were then delivered by courier to Bletchley Park.  Here they were not just decoded but also interpreted.  They had to be categorised so that they could be linked to other messages and then sent to the sections of government or the armed forces that needed to see them.  This again was done by courier – how different the world was without computers.

The Cottages

The Cottages

Computers

Alan Turing, considered to be the father of computer science, worked at Bletchley Park.  A lot of his work on computers and other groundbreaking ideas took place here in the Cottages.  He developed many techniques to speed up the breaking of codes.  The cottages are used for admin now so aren’t open to the public, but it was fascinating to imagine how they must have felt during the war.

Swans

Swans

The swans

I have always been taught to be wary of swans because they are so strong and can be fiercely territorial.  So it was quite a surprise to see these swans in the picnic area going right up to people at the tables.  It left me with a far more tranquil view of Bletchley that took me back to my romanticised vision of the place.

 

Christmas Star Tree Quilt – Free Pattern

Christmas star quilt

Christmas star quilt

The Christmas star tree quilt pattern is my nod to Christmas in July – well I’ve only missed July by a few days.  The quilt measures 40″ square and I have used 1 yard of red fabric , 1.1/4 yards of gold and 1/4 yard each of green and brown.  You can buy these fabrics at a discount in this week’s special offer.  Apart from the brown they are all metallic Christmas fabrics.

I have created a large star in the middle (24″ square) and surrounded it with Christmas tree blocks.  For the cornerstones I have used several layers of fabric on top of each other.  The tree blocks are not square, but they don’t need to be as they are on the edge of the quilt.




Cutting requirements for the Christmas star tree quilt

6.1/2″ squares: four red, four gold

6.7/8″ squares: four red,  four gold

3.7/8″ squares: sixteen green,  sixteen gold

3″ by 2.1/2″ rectangles: thirty two gold

1.1/2″ by 2.1/2″ rectangles: sixteen brown

For the cornerstones you will need four 5.1/2″ red squares and eight 5.1/2″ gold squares.

For the second border you will need to cut four 3.1/2″ strips across the width of fabric.

Half square triangle units

Half square triangle units

Make the half square triangle units

Place a red and a gold 6.7/8″ square with right sides together and mark a line along the diagonal . Sew a 1/4″ seam either side of the line and cut along the line . This will produce two half square triangle units which are now 6.1/2″ square.

Star layout

Star layout

Make the star section

Lay the patchwork pieces out in four rows of four.  Place the four 6.1/2″ gold squares in the middle with a red square in each corner.  Add two half square triangles on each edge of the central square.  Lay these so that the red triangles together form larger red triangles pointing towards the middle.

Sew the squares together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.  The quilt measures 24.1/2″ square at this point.

Top half of the tree

Top half of the tree

Make the tree blocks

I have used a very simple block to make the trees for the first border.  Make half square triangle units with the 3.7/8″ green and gold squares.  Lay these in pairs so that the two green triangles together form a larger triangle pointing upwards.

Strip piece the tree trunk

Strip piece the tree trunk

For the trunk of the trees I have used strip piecing to save time.  Sew together two 3″ strips of gold with a 1.1/2″ brown strip between them.  Cut this panel at 2.1/2″ intervals to make rectangles 6.1/2″ long by 2.1/2″ wide.

Tree block

Tree block

Place one trunk strip beneath each pair of half square triangle units.  Sew the two triangles together first and then sew the gold/brown/gold rectangle to the bottom.  These blocks now measure 6.1/2″ by 5.1/2″ and you need to make sixteen of them.

Four trees per strip

Four trees per strip

Make the first border

Sew the trees together in four rows of four blocks.  Sew one row to the top of the star and one to the bottom of the star.  Place the bottom row upside down so that the tree trunks are always nearest the star.

Make the cornerstones

For the cornerstones I have tried something a bit different to give the design a circular feel.

Make the cornerstones

Make the cornerstones

Lay a red 5.1/2″ square with right side up.  Take two 5.1/2″ gold squares and fold them in half along the diagonal.  Place one on the bottom left section of the red square with the fold of the gold triangle running along the diagonal of the red square.  Pin in place.  Repeat with the second folded triangle in the top right section of the red square.

Sew all round the square very close to the edge just to hold the layers together.

Roll the folds back

Roll the folds back

About half way along the diagonal, pin each fold back about 1/4″, exposing the red fabric underneath.

Roll back the fold all along its length.  It will roll back a small amount at each end and up to 1/4″ where you’ve pinned it in the middle.  Sew the fold down to hold it in place.  In the photo the folds are just pinned in the top square, then one side is sewn in the second square and both edges are sewn in the third square.

Sew the fold down

Sew the fold down

I know that some quilters machine sew this stage but I always feel that I get a neater finish when I hand sew.

I feel that this red diagonal gives a lot to the Christmas star tree quilt design – well worth using.

Complete the side borders

Sew the cornerstones to the trees

Sew the cornerstones to the trees

Sew one cornerstone to each end of the two remaining tree strips.  Take care that the red diagonals are placed correctly as shown in the photo.

The strip on the left will go down the left of the quilt while the other one is sewn to the right of the quilt.

There are actually four trees in those strips but I had to fold the strips up in order to fit it all into the photo.

Second border

Second border

Add the second border

For the second and final border I have used 3.1/2″ strips of red fabric.  You’ll need two lengths of 34.1/2″ for the top and bottom and two lengths of 40.1/2″ for the sides.

That completes the Christmas star tree quilt top.  It is now ready for layering, quilting and binding.  Full details of these steps can be found in the quilting for beginners section.

Here’s the video:

Coffin Works Birmingham

Coffin Works Birmingham

I went to a fascinating museum recently.  It’s called the Coffin Works and you can see my photos by clicking here or on the photo.

I’ve signed up for a stall at a craft fair at the Gunmaker’s Arms in Birmingham on Sunday August 12th.  It’s part of a much bigger festival for the area:  if you’re in the area do call in and say hello.

 

Coffin Works – Birmingham – Photos

 

Coffin Works Birmingham

Coffin Works Birmingham

I have been meaning to visit the Coffin Works in Birmingham for a long time and I finally made the trip recently.  It’s situated in the Jewellery Quarter and is a delightfully quirky place to visit.  They didn’t actually make coffins there – just the handles and plates and such like.

Coffin furniture

Coffin furniture

Coffin Works History

The factory is actually called Newman Brothers and was established in 1882.  At first they made cabinet furniture and then moved on to coffin furniture.  They finally had to call it a day in 1988, facing stiff competition from abroad.  The last owner, Joyce Green, sold the building at a reduced price on condition that it would not be used for houses – she wanted the site to become a museum celebrating the work that had taken place there for the last century.




Silverware for coffins

Silverware for coffins

What they made

As well as the larger items like breastplates shown in the photo above, Newman Brothers also produced any metalwork used on coffins.  The wonder of the museum is that all the original stock of crosses, handles and everything else is still on show in the museum – lying on work tables as if ready to be used any day.

The walls are covered with photos of famous people whose coffins were adorned with Newman Brothers furniture – among them Sir Winston Churchill.

Machinery in the workshop

Machinery in the workshop

How they made it

Much of the machinery in the workshops is still in good working order.  This was one of the smaller presses, but there were some other much larger ones.  Blank silver or brass plates were placed beneath the press and then the arm of the press would be released to stamp a design out.  It must have been an incredibly noisy work environment.

Modified sewing machine

Modified sewing machine

Sewing at the Coffin Works

Obviously I was thrilled to see all the sewing machines and very old fabric and trimmings on the shelves.  There were about a dozen sewing machines which were originally treadle but had been adapted to use electricity.

Newman Brothers would buy the coffins in and then do everything necessary to them – the fabric linings as well as the silverware.  They also made shrouds and there were lots of them there in their packaging as if ready to be sold.

The Coffin Works factory is run by the Birmingham Conservation Trust, largely with friendly and cheerful volunteer helpers.  It really is a step back in time and I found it absolutely fascinating.

Spool and Bobbin Quilt – Free Pattern

Spool and Bobbin Quilt

Spool and Bobbin Quilt

I have used the spool and bobbin quilt block along with the Belle’s Favourite block for this quilt and I think that it gives a lovely quilt.  The quilt measures 40″ square, a good size for a lap quilt and I have used 3/4 yard each of purple, lilac and green fabrics, with 1/4 yard of white fabric.

You can buy these fabrics at a discount in this week’s special offer.

There are nine blocks,  all 12″ square finished size.  They are all very simple four patch blocks.

Completed quilt blocks

Completed quilt blocks

Cutting requirements for the spool and bobbin quilt

3.1/2″ squares:  twenty purple, sixteen white

3.7/8″ squares:  ten purple, sixteen lilac, twenty six green

6.1/2″ by 3.1/2″ rectangles:  eight purple

6.1/2″ squares:  ten lilac

For the border you will need to cut four 2.1/2″ strips of green across the width of fabric.




Half square triangle units

Half square triangle units

Make the half square triangle units

Use the 3.7/8″ squares to make the half square triangle units.  Place a green square with either a purple or a lilac square, right sides together.  Mark a line along the diagonal and sew a 1/4″ seam either side of the marked line.

Cut along the line to produce two half square triangle units.  These are now 3.1/2″ squares.  Press the seam allowances towards the darker fabric and trim the two corners where fabric sticks out.

Spool and bobbin quilt block layout

Spool and bobbin quilt block layout

Make the spool and bobbin quilt block

Lay the patchwork pieces out as a four patch unit.  In the top right and bottom left segments place a 6.1/2″ lilac square.  In the remaining two spaces lay out small four patch units with two purple squares and two purple/green half square triangles in each section.  Place the purple squares so that they form the diagonal running from top left to bottom right of the quilt block.  Place the half square triangles in the remaining spaces.  In the top left corner the green triangles are placed top left while in the bottom right corner the green triangles lie in the bottom right of the square.

Sew the small squares together within each four patch unit first.  Then sew each four patch unit to the lilac square next to it.  Finally sew the two rows to each other to complete the block.  This block measures 12.1/2″ square at this stage and you need to make five of them.

Belle's Favourite layout

Belle’s Favourite layout

Make the Belle’s Favourite quilt block

This block is also a simple block to make.  For the first and fourth rows place a white square at each end with a purple rectangle between them.  I know that the white fabric I have used is more pink than white, but I think of it as white.

For rows two and three use lilac/green half square triangles only.  In row two the green triangles together form two larger green triangles pointing upwards while in row three the green triangles form two larger green triangles pointing downwards.  Together they form two green diamonds.

Sew the patchwork pieces together across each row and then sew the rows to each other to complete the quilt block.  At this stage it also measures 12.1/2″ square and you need to make four of these.

Row one

Row one

Assemble the spool and bobbin quilt

Sew the blocks together in three rows of three.  Form row one with a spool and bobbin quilt block at each end and a Belle’s Favourite block in the middle.  Note that the lilac squares lie in the top corners of the row and the green triangles lie horizontally in the middle.

Row two

Row two

In row two you need a bobbin and spool block in the middle with a Belle’s Favourite on either side of it.  Note that the two green diamonds are placed vertically in the end blocks and the lilac squares are top right and bottom left in the central block.

Row three

Row three

For row three place a spool and bobbin block at each end with a Belle’s Favourite between them,  This time the two green diamonds are placed horizontally as in the first row.  The lilac squares in the end blocks are placed so that they lie in the bottom corners of the row.

Sew the blocks together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.

Green for the border

Green for the border

Add the border

For the border I have used 2.1/2″ strips of green fabric.  You’ll need two lengths of 36.1/2″ for the top and bottom and two lengths of 40.1/2″ for the sides.

That completes the spool and bobbin quilt top.  It is now ready for layering, quilting and binding.  Full details of these steps can be found in the quilting for beginners section.

Here’s the video:

Wimbledon

Wimbledon

Last week I had a wonderful day at Wimbledon.  Our tickets were for No. 1 Court and on that day we saw two men’s double matches and one mixed doubles match (Jamie Murray).  I hadn’t realised how much more entertaining doubles matches are than singles matches.  The tennis was absolutely spellbinding – fast rallies racquet to racquet when the ball didn’t touch the ground for several shots.  I found it difficult even to see the ball, so can’t comprehend how they had time to react to the ball!

The whole experience was amazing – so well organised and such a lovely atmosphere.

Blue star quilt

Blue star quilt

In between my travels I have been continuing to work on my unfinished projects and if you want to see some of my work click here or click on the photo.