String Quilt layout

Did you know how much variety you can get with just one simple patchwork block: the string quilt is awesome!

Here’s the basic block I made (you can read more about how to make it here):

Making a string patchwork from scraps for a scrappy quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Making a patch from strings of scrap fabric

So far I’ve sewn 42 patches using up lots of blues from my scrap basket; I really love scrappy quilts, they’re the epitome of ‘make do’ and re-purposing fabric from old clothes. Lots of the fabric scraps in this quilt top have been given to me by friends and there are old shirts and off cuts from other projects too. Once you’ve made a number of blocks you can really begin to play around with layouts.

First of all let me introduce you to the diamond quilt!  This layout is easy to achieve  - just remember you need four blocks to make a diamond and you won’t go wrong!  Obviously I didn’t remember my own advice…just pretend you can’t see that bottom row, haha! Or maybe I was a bit hyper on caffeine or something (the perils of living so close to a Starbucks!).

Layout for a blue scrappy patchwork string quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.comLayout for a blue scrappy patchwork string quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Diamond layout (gone slightly awry in the bottom row, oops. I know, I know, I could have cropped it, but hey, I’m human!)

Next we have the chevron layout. Again, very easy to achieve: begin your first row by rotating adjacent blocks through 90 degrees and then the blocks in each row underneath follow in the same direction as the one above.

Layout for a blue scrappy patchwork string quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Chevron layout

And here we have the even simpler diagonal stripe version – every block is facing the same way.

Layout for a blue scrappy patchwork string quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Diagonal stripe

The single diamond string quilt layout requires a bit more thought, but is easy enough. Start off with central diamond and radiate your blocks out from there.

Layout for a blue scrappy patchwork string quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Single diamond

And finally today (or I could go on forever!) here’s a combination layout of diagonal stripe and diamond, which really seems to emphasise the scrappy look.  I started off this design by arranging a diagonal row of diamonds, then I added a diagonal row of stripes either side and then another diagonal row of diamonds beside that, etc.

Layout for a blue scrappy patchwork string quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Diamond and stripe

A lot of the fun in designing string quilt layouts is to start from somewhere other than the top row as it feels unfamiliar and forces you to be more inventive.  And just think, this version I’m working on is fairly monotone – add more colours to the mix and you’d give yourself a whole other range of possibilities!

I’m going to keep my finished layout for this quilt under wraps for now and leave you guessing for a while – but hopefully not too long, I want to get it finished up asap! It’s so much fun to make!

If you’re looking for more string quilt inspiration check out the blog Anne told us about in a previous comment String Thing Along, because if I haven’t got you all excited about string and strip quilts this sure as heck will! And I tell ya, once you start you won’t ever want to throw a scrap away again!  What? You never did anyway?  Well, at least you know what to do with them now :D

Happy stringing,

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Tutorial - Foundation piecing flying geese units

Patchwork: Foundation Piecing

Reindeer pillow / cushion in Scandinavian inspired fabrics. Patchwork and hand quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Flying geese units are indispensable for borders and blocks on all kinds of patchwork quilts, like those in the left and bottom borders on the pillow illustrated, and with this paper foundation piecing method you’ll be guaranteed accurate results every. single. time! In this guide I’m even going to show you how to piece them to minimise waste. Exciting eh?! Let’s get to it!

The Dawn Chorus Studio pattern!

Here’s the pattern I created for a block that finishes at 3.5″ / 9cm.  You can download it as a pdf here: 3.5″ flying geese paper pattern. It looks a bit complicated but once you get going you’ll find it works easily – and brilliantly!

Step 1

  1. To begin, cut out enough paper patterns for your project (this tutorial will assume we’re just making four units, so cut 4).

Foundation pattern for Flying Geese patchwork, designed and © by Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Step 2

  1. Cut 4 triangles from a 5 ¼” (13cm) square of of your main fabric (the centre triangles) as shown below.
Making flying geese units for patchwork. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Cut your square into quarters to create 4 triangles (this will be enough for four units)

 

 

Step 3

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation paper method. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Getting the main triangle into position.

The paper pattern will be your sewing guide as you stitch the units together. It can be confusing when you assemble the units before sewing, but I find it easy if I remember that if I were stitching a seam without a paper pattern I’d have the right sides of the fabric together and that this remains the rule even when you’re using a paper pattern. Therefore, your paper pattern will always go on top of the wrong side of the fabric, and you want to be able to see the sewing guide so keep that right side up.

So in step 2 we want to get the centre triangle (labelled ’1′ on the pattern) in place under the pattern. It’s easiest to do this with a light behind it, so if you haven’t got a light box, hold it up to a spot light or a window as shown above:

  1. Have the right side of the triangle facing you in front of a light source
  2. Place the pattern right side up over the fabric and make sure you have fabric covering the areas marked ‘seam allowance’ on the diagonal lines (see photo above)
  3. Pin into place.
  4. Complete all four.
Making flying geese units for patchwork.  © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

This is how the unit now looks from the back – note the wrong side of the pattern and the right side of the fabric.

Step 4

  1. This is where we can save fabric. Cut 3½” (6cm) wide strips of your secondary fabric (the fabric for the outer triangles) and hold it up to a light source, right side towards you (a strip about 17″ (43cm) long will be fine).
  2. Take the first of your paper patterns with the pinned triangle and hold it right side towards you and at an angle so that the edges of the triangle create a right angle with the strip of fabric (see image below).
  3. Ensure the right hand edge of the strip covers your seam allowance.
  4. Pin into place (along the marked centre line is convenient).
  5. Add more patterns to your strip in the same way, leaving a small gap of fabric between them.
Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting with the foundation piecing method. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Place your strip of fabric against a light source and pin your fabrics as shown.

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

You can also pin them in place without using the light source as long as you ensure you have fabric covering the marked seam allowance.

Step 5

  1. Using a fairly small stitch (which will help you when you remove the pattern later on), stitch along the marked dashed lines along the edge of your strip. It’s almost chain piecing so is pretty quick to do!  You can make one or two stitches into the greyed seam allowance area, but don’t stitch into the dotted area marked waste.

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Don’t stitch too far into the grey seam allowance

Step 6

  1. Cut your units apart along the long edge of the pattern.
Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Cut your units apart

Step 7

  1. With the fabric side towards you set the seam and then flip back the top fabric and press.
  2. Carefully trim the excess fabric to the edge of the paper pattern. This will leave you with roughly ‘triangle’ shaped scraps, which we’ll use in step 8, so don’t discard them!

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Set the seam and then press.

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Unit pressed and trimmed.

Step 8

  1. Place a triangle scrap right sides together with the main triangle, matching up the two triangle edges (to ensure the new triangle covers the seam allowance).
Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Placing the final triangle in position

Step 9

  1. Flip the unit over and stitch along the dotted line (3) as before. Do the same with all your units.
  2. Set the seams and press as you did in step 7.
  3. Trim off the dotted areas marked ‘waste’ along the long edges of each unit (leave the short sides as they are).
Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Stitched and trimmed unit

Step 10

Joining units together.

  1. Place the long edge of one unit along the long edge of another, fabric sides together, ensuring that you have one ‘point’ and one ‘base’ together. The arrow heads marked on the pattern will help you position the point and the centre of the base together.
  2. Put a pin through the intersection of the centre line and the dashed sewing line of one unit and ensure it matches the intersection of the centre line and dashed sewing line of the second unit.
  3. Stitch along the dashed line (long edges) into the greyed seam allowance area.

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Pinning the two units together, ensuring they’re centred.

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Two units stitched together

Step 11

  1. Press the seams open to reduce bulk.
  2. Continue to join units in this way until you have your required amount.
  3. Once your units are all joined together trim away the dotted waste area along the sides.

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Notes!

As the outer triangles have bias edges I prefer to leave the paper patterns in place and stitch through the dashed line when I join the flying geese to the rest of the quilt as it makes it more stable and less stretchy.

When you remove the paper patterns it can be a bit fiddly around the seams – spraying a little water helps it to come away easily and using a pin to help tease it out is useful too.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will give it a go next time you want to ensure you have accurate flying geese!  If you have any comments or suggestions please leave them in the box below – I’m more than happy to help if I can and your suggestions are always welcome :)

My other tutorials can be found here. And don’t forget to check out my patterns too!
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Christmas in July pillow!

A red reindeer, stars, hearts and flying geese all in one 18″ cushion – most Christmassy indeed! I’m really pleased with the way the simple ‘big stitch’ hand quilting highlights the background hearts and makes the reindeer stand proud. I wonder where he’s off to?!

Reindeer pillow / cushion in Scandinavian inspired fabrics. Patchwork and hand quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Finished!

Here’s the pillow in situ – it goes well I think; it’s got that cool Scandinavian look with those pale greys and folk art feel.

Reindeer pillow / cushion in Scandinavian inspired fabrics. Patchwork and hand quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Scandinavian style

Reindeer pillow / cushion in Scandinavian inspired fabrics. Patchwork and hand quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Hand quilting and needle turn applique

The back is in the luscious red, which makes it good enough to use this way round too, don’t you think?  The scrappy asymmetrical binding is something I’m really fond of, I can’t seem to help myself and just put it on everything at the moment!

Reindeer pillow / cushion in Scandinavian inspired fabrics. Patchwork and hand quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Here’s the back

My signature rouleau loop and button fastening, with two closures, keeps the pad secure.  I used the contrasting star fabric for the rouleau loop, which not only looks great but makes it easier to find in all that red, haha!  The buttons were a lucky match from my button jar.

Reindeer pillow / cushion in Scandinavian inspired fabrics. Patchwork and hand quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Rouleau loop fastening

I love these types of fastening, they’re so simple to make (check out this tutorial) and you’ll generally have enough matching fabric scraps to rustle them up without having to go to the haberdashery for things like zips (which aren’t always an eco-friendly option).

Reindeer pillow / cushion in Scandinavian inspired fabrics. Patchwork and hand quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Ready for the season to be jolly!

If you like this Scandi style fabric by the Henley Studio as much as I do follow the link for details. It’s lovely to sew with and it comes in a great range of co-ordinating prints and colours, you could use it for so many things – it would make a great lap quilt. Dammit, now that’s giving me ideas! Also, if you’re interested in how I made those flying geese borders so accurately (well, at least for me!) take a look at my how to guide, which also includes the free pattern.

How have your Christmas in July projects been coming along – only 5 days left now! Can you believe it’s almost August? Already!  We’re having the most wonderful summer here in the UK that it seems a bit odd to be thinking about a Christmas pillow, but boy does it feel good to know that when the time finally comes we’re going to have just the thing to decorate a cosy chair to cheer the soul on a cold winter’s night!

Linking up with Finish it up Friday with Amandajean of Crazy Mom Quilts – a fabulous blog, I’m sure you’ll agree! And for the first time I’m also linking up with TGIFF, which is over at Quokka Quilts this week – take a look!
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A new scrap quilt!

I love scrap quilts! And I started making one, oops… They have a wonderful quilting heritage that’s hard to ignore – couple that with just about as many gorgeous fabrics as you care to lay your hands on, then add a sprinkling of alchemy to create order out of chaos, and well, what’s not to love?! Scraps really lend themselves to ‘string’ quilts – creating patchwork blocks from leftover narrow strips of fabric. All you’re really doing is creating a larger piece of fabric from lots of little bits that you then cut up again and arrange in whatever pattern takes your fancy!

Blue scrappy 'string' patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Arranging the blocks into diamonds

Making a string quilt wasn’t on my to-do list this week, nor was sorting out my baskets of scraps. But as Sunday morning rolled on I felt completely overwhelmed with the disorganised mess my work area had become and impulsively decided something had to be done there and then. I’ve been donated lots of old clothes lately by a number of friends, “use them for patchwork” they said, and they’ve been hanging around in bags under the table, on chairs, stacked on the floor…waiting for me to sort them out. And there were bags and bags of them.

Sorting out fabric scraps for patchwork and quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014.  www.dawnchorusstudio.com

In the beginning… (it got so much worse)

I posted this picture on my Facebook page as the sorting began and Anne from Mama Says Sew suggested it was like trying to fit a quart into a pint pot!  She couldn’t have been closer to the truth. So I decided I had to be ruthless and not sentimental (I feel so guilty getting rid of any fabrics friends have given me!): out went the jerseys, anything with elastane or lycra in, old woollen jumpers, items that had worn too thin, very loose weaves, light weight cottons, patterns I’m really unlikely to use… I kept good quality cottons, several linens and some silks. Not everything is useful for patchwork, but will potentially make great cushion/pillow backs, etc.  Once I decided what to keep I cut the clothes up into useable pieces of fabric, reducing bulk and making it easier to store.  Then I started sorting through my ‘small-scraps’ baskets. And wished I hadn’t!  By the time I finished I think I donated about 7 or 8 bags of clothes and scraps for rags to local charity shops. Later on in the day Anne suggested I made some of the scraps into quilts to reduce the bulk even further. What a novel idea, I thought, haha!!!! I noticed I had rather a lot blue scraps and after all that organising thought I deserved a bit of fun, so decided to see what, if anything, I could do with them – et voila, the beginnings of a blue string quilt!

'String' patchwork blocks in blue in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Scrappy fabric detail

How I made it!

These are very quick to make up: I used a square of muslin as a foundation (about 6.5″), then pressed a diagonal crease across the centre (a little spray starch stops it from stretching too far out of shape as the muslin is very thin); I then took two strips of fabric (varying widths but all with parallel edges) right sides together and placed the right hand edges along the crease on the muslin, ensuring the fabric went right from one corner to the other), next I stitched a 1/4″ seam through all three layers.  Then I flipped the top strip back and pressed it in open. I carried on with this process adding a strip (right sides together) on top of the last one, making sure it covered the full width of the muslin, stitching a 1/4″ seam through all three layers, pressing it open, etc.   Once I reached the corner I turned the block around and did the same until I reached the other corner and the whole of the muslin was covered. Finally I trimmed the patches to 5.5″ and machined a row of straight stitch about 1/8″ away from the edges to stabilise them.  Hopefully these photos will help illustrate:

Making a string patchwork from scraps for a scrappy quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2014, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Making a string patch from scraps

(It’s also worth noting that you can chain piece these patches by adding a strip to say 10 patches before you go over to press them open – it saves a lot of time!) I don’t plan to stitch the patches into blocks until I have enough for a lap quilt, so that I can play around with the layout. I have some exciting ideas I want to try out! (Well, in my head they’re exciting anyway, ha!)

I’m glad to say the studio space is feeling a little more organised now and has given me the head space to think about some new projects – as well as some table space to finish up a couple of small ones – the reindeer pillow for one! I’ve finished the quilting now and it just needs to be made up. It should be done by the end of the week, so come back for a peek!

Until then happy sewing!

(NB There’s no Work in Progress Wednesday this week as Lee’s on holiday – hope she has a great time, but I’m going to pop over to Diary of a Mad Fabriholic, Alidiza and of course Fret Not Yourself to see what they’ve been up to this week instead – coming?!)   signature, Stephie x

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Paper piecing a pillow!

Wow, time’s flying by isn’t it?! I’m feeling a bit stressed with all the things I want to do and none of them being crossed off the ever-lengthening list, eek! Good job time seems to stop when I’m hand quilting, which is what I’ve been up to this week.  I bought some of these fun Scandi fabrics by The Henley Studio and my son fell in love with the red reindeer and asked me to make him something with it. I came up with the idea for a Christmas pillow, which is about 18″ square. I drew the reindeer and then needle turn appliquéd it to the heart fabric. The hearts are perfect for quilting round and I wanted to compliment them with some appliqué hearts in the border, but no, Kim wanted stars!

Reindeer quilted cushion in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Who says reindeers can’t be red!

I made the stars and the flying geese patchwork using the foundation piecing method (check out my how to guide, including a free pattern), which was the first time I’ve done that in a while and the first time I’ve made flying geese that way at all. It’s very accurate, probably the most accurate way I’ve ever made them. I’ve always thought there’s too much wastage with this method but I found a way that kept it to a minimum, and I could even chain piece them! I’m going to share it with you later in the week, along with a pattern for the block I made, so come back for that!

Lily the cat sitting on a hand quilted pillow in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Lily making herself at home!

I’ve promised myself to keep the hand quilting to a minimum on this project (I want to get on with some other things!), so decided to make a feature of it using a red pearl cotton (size 8, number 46) – Sew and So have a great sale on a the moment! It’s a heavier weight thread and you can make bigger stitches that will make a cushion like this come together in no time. I highly recommend it if you’re new to hand quilting too – it’s much easier to practice getting even stitches with.

I’m wondering who else out there has tried foundation piecing and what you think of it?  What advantages/disadvantages do you find? Or maybe you have better methods you use for making flying geese or little stars?  Let us know in the comments below!

Linking up with Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced – hop on over and check out some other blogs for work in progress this week and a fab GIVEAWAY TOO! :)

 

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Making a quilt backing and sandwich

'Summer Blues' (Bed quilt In progress) ©Stephanie Boon 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Summer Blues, a long work in progress

Work in Progress Wednesday, already?! I don’t know about you but I’ve still got a whole pile of works in progress, so I could show you any number of things this week! I chose my Summer Blues quilt though because it’s all happy and summery and that’s a good feeling!  I’ve been working on this quilt on and off for about 6 years.  There’s a lot of hand piecing (all the 9 patch blocks and half of the sashing), but I decided to finish it up by machine just so that I could get on with the hand quilting and actually use it sooner rather than later. It’s the first full size quilt I made (mostly) by hand and I feel like my ideas and skill level have improved and moved on significantly, so it kind of got put on the back burner. If I remember correctly I even cut most of it out with scissors – now that’s old school! I’m glad I decided to finish it though because I still think it’s really pretty, despite the patchwork not quite matching up as it should in places – oops!

'Summer Blues' (Bed quilt in progress) ©Stephanie Boon 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Hand quilting in progress

I began buying all the Kaffe Fassett fabrics for the patchwork 6 years ago, so when I came to choose backing fabric at Cowslip Workshops recently I was pleased to find the Phillip Jacobs Gloxinia design in the perfect colour way (see the top photo) – serendipity!  I’m hand quilting it so I decided I didn’t want too many seams on the back (it makes it very hard on the fingers trying to go through so many layers!), so have stuck to just the one fabric. It’s 2 pieces that I seamed down the centre. You can’t see the seam at all – and the trick to doing this is to

Match the pattern:

  1. When you buy your backing fabric, measure the length of the quilt x 2, add 12″ (the backing fabric needs to be larger than the quilt top) PLUS (and this is the important bit!) the length of the pattern repeat. Your retailer should be able to tell you the repeat length.
  2. Cut your first length the length of the quilt top plus 6 inches (for a full size quilt), which allows for ‘shrinkage’ as you quilt.
  3. Place this length right sides together with your remaining length (which will be longer) and match up the pattern along the seam.
  4. Pin and baste in place along the seam allowance (basting is useful on a large quilt as it stops the pattern slipping out of alignment as you feed it through the machine) and machine together.
  5. Once you’ve removed any pins and basting, press the seam open and trim the top and bottom edges square and to the same length.

Now you’re ready to begin the process of making a quilt sandwich!

Making a quilt sandwich. Making a quilt sandwich.Making a quilt sandwich.  © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Making a quilt sandwich!

Basting

Finding enough level floor space at home to do this required moving a lot of furniture about before I could even start! First of all I laid the backing fabric on the carpet (wrong side up) making sure I kept that centre seam straight. I used masking tape to tape it down working from the centres outwards and ironing as I went. Next I laid the wadding/batting on top and held it in place with masking tape again working form the centres out (I didn’t iron it though). Then came the tedious task of de-threading the quilt top and trimming any seams (why did I make them so HUGE?!?) before I laid it down centrally on top of the batting (right side up and with about 3″ of batting and backing fabric showing all round).  The next important thing was to keep the sashing parallel to the seam on the backing fabric. I devised a cunning plan!

I marked where the seam was on the backing fabric by inserting a safety pin at either end and then tied a strong piece of thread between them – voila, a straight line! Then I matched up the straight central sashing on the quilt top to the line of thread, basting along this line through all three layers with safety pins (from the centre out). Once that was done I removed the line of thread and continued basting and ironing from the centre out with pins, taping down the edges to keep it all nice and taught. I then decided to baste through all three layers with needle and thread because this is likely to take me a while to quilt and I really don’t want to end up with rusty pins marking the fabric.

Once it was basted with thread I removed the pins, then the masking tape (do this very carefully on your wadding) and was ready to begin quilting!  I think the best advice for making the quilt sandwich is to take your time, it’s this process that will determine how flat your quilt lies once it’s finished and if you’ve spent hours on the patchwork it would be a shame to cut corners on the basting – on a quilt this size be prepared to spend a good few hours doing it.

Hand quilting from the back, © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

You can clearly see my basting and quilting on the back – but check out that seam!

I’ve begun quilting the sashing ‘in-the-ditch’ (in the seams along the lines of the sashing) and will probably do the same through the 9 patch blocks, but I think I may try something a bit more imaginative in the sashing itself – but that’s probably a while off yet, so I’ve got plenty of time to decide!

If you have any tips to share for making a quilt sandwich make sure you leave them in the comments below, we’d love to hear them :)

Linking up with Work In Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced – hop on over to discover lots more work in progress this week.

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Fancy a read? Textiles a World Tour

© Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com Photograph: Textiles a World Tour, by Catherine Legrand, Thames and Hudson.

Textiles a World Tour, Catherine Legrand, Thames and Hudson

Time for coffee and a biscuit?!  It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything from my bookshelf, but lately I can’t stop looking at this wonderful book and decided I just have to show it to you!  I hope you’ll find the sumptuous colours as inspiring as I do. Pull up a chair and be prepared for a mini visual feast.

I was lucky enough to be given a Waterstones book token last Christmas (one of my favourite presents, just so’s you know ;) ) and this is what I spent it on:  Textiles: A World Tour: Discovering Traditional Fabrics & Patterns. It’s a large format paperback that’s  brimful of colour and inspiration. The textiles featured are all clothing, men, women and children’s, and feature a significant amount of hand work, whether that’s stitching, dying or weaving. It travels from South America, to Africa and the Far East, including places like Nigeria, Mexico, India and Vietnam. It gives me incredibly itchy feet!

textiles world tour

Feature on the Mayan blouse (the huipil) from Guatemala

textiles world tour with scissors

Feature on The Rabari nomads of Gujarat

world textiles with applique

Feature on reverse appliqué from Vietnam

As well as the inspiring photographs of textiles and the people that wear them there are wonderful images that give glimpses into where they’re made and worn, beautiful shots of mountains or fields of cotton, painted houses, churches and lakes.  We’re shown photographs of weavers at work in a garden, the colourful stained hands and feet of dyers, women stitching on stone streets and wooden decks. There’s a photo on page 191 of two women, Praolina and Jovanna, sat side by side making reverse appliquémolas‘ (part of a woman’s blouse). They’re wearing beautiful, bold-coloured and patterned clothes, their work draped across their laps, a bag of fabric next to them – and one of them has that universal tick of human concentration: her tongue is sticking out as she cuts into the cloth!  I just love it. (I’m always doing it myself :D )

There are watercolour style diagrams showing how the garments are constructed and short ‘how to’ articles on things like tie dying and reverse appliqué. The only sad thing about this book is that you can’t feel the fabrics as well! I guess that means that one day I’ll have to travel and find out what they feel like for myself. In the mean time this book is a visual treasure, a big happy slice of colourful inspiration. I’d recommend it for everyone’s bookshelf, just lift it down anytime you need a pick-me-up.

Happy reading!

 

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Pillow talk!

I started the weekend on a very positive note, with a big smiling face! Good things have been happening to me lately, surprises completely out of the blue. Over a month ago I responded to an online customer survey and as a result won a month’s worth of free coffee at Caffe Nero – I love my local Nero’s so you can imagine my excitement! (I often sit and write blog posts there.) I got even more excited when I discovered that ‘a month’s worth of free coffee’ actually means 30 drinks tokens to be used before the end of December – so in effect free coffee for 6 months, woohooo! But, you don’t even have to spend them on coffee, you can use them on any drink from behind the bar, so that mean’s oodles of hot-chocolate, lovely frappes and iced drinks too. Heavens, lucky me!

Grandma's Hothouse Cushion (pillow). A free patchwork and quilting pattern. © Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Earlier in the week I’d been out for a short run and stopped not much more than a couple of feet away from a young fox cub (one of my favourite animals) eating a bird, he just kept on looking up at me and watching me – it was one of those moments I won’t forget. I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to a fox before that hasn’t just run off! We must have been watching each other for a minute or more.

But perhaps the biggest surprise this week was online. I was scrolling through my Dawn Chorus Studio home page on Facebook when I saw a big ol’ picture of my Grandma’s Hothouse Pillow. It took a while too sink in that I was seeing it because someone else had posted it; once I realised I was astonished to discover that the free pattern had been featured on Quilting Club’s  page (part of Craftsy). Quilting Club has close to half a million followers! (I know, gasp!)

I was overwhelmed with the amount of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ the pattern had received, but one of the most lovely things was seeing a version of the pillow that a quilter called MaryAnn Mings had made!  She used green and yellow batiks on a black background and had given it as a gift to her sister. It’s such a lovely feeling to inspire someone to make such a pretty gift for someone to enjoy. But the green pillow wasn’t the last, MaryAnn went on to make a fantastic red floral version too! She adapted the pattern to make it larger and had the great idea of making up the hexie flowers and appliqué-ing them onto a plain black background (rather than piecing the hexie flowers into black hexagons) – and I’m really pleased to say that she’s very kindly agreed to let me share her photos here with you!
Versions of Grandma's Hot House Pillow (pattern design by Stephanie Boon of www.dawnchorusstudio.com) made by  MaryAnn Mings

Great variations made my MaryAnn Mings

They’re fab aren’t they?! Thank you so much for letting me show them here MaryAnn :) And it’s got me thinking…the pattern has been downloaded from Craftsy 3,700+ times now, so if any of you lovely readers have also had a go at making it (or a variation of course), I’d love to feature it here on the blog, or perhaps I could set up a Pinterest board where we could share them? What do you think, would you pin your version of the pillow if I set it up? Or any of my other patterns for that matter!
In other Facebook news, have you come across the amazing Kaffe Fassett Collective group?  It’s a really active group of quilters and crafters sharing projects they’ve made using Kaffe Fassett, Phillip Jacobs and/or Brandon Mabely fabrics. They’re such a friendly bunch from all over the world – I just love the way people are happy to share tips and help each other as well as share their own quilts. And it goes without saying that one of the best things about this page is that whenever you open it up you get an amazing burst of colour!
How was your weekend?  I wonder what this week will bring – I feel quite excited! Happy stitching.

signature, Stephie x
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