Welcome to Siblings Together Bee 4


We had a great response to the recent appeal for new Bee members, not only sufficient to bolster Bees 1, 2 and 3 but enough to start another Bee. This is very exciting and it’s been wonderful to see everyone’s enthusiasm and so rather than wait until the end of the month to post this I thought I’d get this up a couple of days earlier. You’ve still got to the end of October to send them to me but for those who want to crack on then here it is.

I’m acting as coordinator for this group and whilst everyone settles in I thought I’d kick it off and set the first month’s blocks. So here goes…. something reasonably straightforward for people to cut their teeth. The bow tie block… which when you put four of the blocks below together make the blocks above in the top picture


I try to be reasonably prescriptive not to tie you down (oops pun there!) but stop the agonising – what colour did she want, is this what she meant, how low a volume does she want etc etc!! But equally I don’t want to be so prescriptive that no one has that colour of fabric in their stash. For this block I would like quite a strong contrast between the background and foreground colours so saturated or strong colour please but any colour would be perfect. It doesn’t have to be the same print in each block but they do need to be from the same colour family and the same sort of strong tone like my yellow and pink blocks. They’ve each got a couple of different prints but read the same tone of colour. With the background fabric I’d like white or very light grey again the lighter the better so the contrast is good. The background fabrics can be scrappy too as in my blocks above or all the same. Hopefully my example blocks give you an idea of what I’m after.

Each block needs four bow ties blocks. I’d ideally like 2 large blocks so that is 8 bow tie blocks. When you’ve sewn up the four bow ties blocks into one block can you please trim the blocks to 12.5″- these are the unfinished size and when I sew them together to make a quilt top they will be a 12″ finished

So how to make them. I will show you how I made mine but as we have many experienced and talented quilters in this bee do feel free to make them your way as long as the final block is made up of 4 bow tow blocks and equals 12.5″.  As I’ve said this is the unfinished size  and I used a scant 1/4″ as I normally do for all blocks as I often need wriggle room when trimming

Cutting for 4 bow tie blocks to make 1 larger block

From background fabric cut

8 x 3.5″ squares

From coloured/patterned fabric cut

8 x 3.5″ squares

8 x 1.75″ squares


Taking a 3.5″ background square place a 1.75″ square right sides together on the corner and then sew across the corner – you can just make out the stitch line in the photo below.  You can if you wish draw a line  on the back of the small squares but perfect accuracy is not the issue here it’s more about effect and I just eyeballed it. But then again imperfection  comes very naturally to me!!



then cut off the corner



and iron back the corner so it’s now a 3.5″ square, trimming if necessary



Now lay out your blocks and sew together  to make a bow tie block and then make 4.


By putting 4 of these bow tie units you get the larger block as shown below


Now please repeat the process to make a second large block. Any questions please don’t hesitate to call me or email me.

I try but don’t always succeed to get these quilts finished within 4 months. So hopefully if you can get them to me by the end of the month and there aren’t too many extra to make then we should have a finish in January. I will make sure you see it.

Don’t hesitate to shout up if it doesn’t sent make sense or the maths gremlins have crept in!

Project Caddy and the mysteries of interfacing

0AE30DB4-D289-49E3-BC81-BF51FCBAD671There’s is nothing I like more than  to make something I need and will be in constant use. Being able to make it to a design I like, a design that will be functional for me and then with the fabric of my choice is one of the joys of creating. I imagine dressmakers feel exactly the same.

I do a fair bit of hand sewing. Nothing like as much as many sewists but I’ve a long term Glitter project on the go and there’s always someone wanting badges sewn on or labels etc. So in response to this last year I  made myself another bionic gear bag to hold hand sewing stuff.






This is a fab design and I’ve made a number blogged if you’re interested here.  I love the zips, the fold out tray and it’s a good size but as a hand sewing caddy that’s on display (because it’s used so much) it’s blue which doesn’t go in our living spaces and floppy! It’s deliberately floppy as it’s really a travel bag so it can be crushed down in bags etc and take as little room as possible. To this end it is a boon on flights where much to the horror of my children I sew.

So I was on the look out for a hand sewing bag/caddy that was smart enough to have on display but crucially functional. And I found it in the Project Caddy of Aneela Hoey. This lady is a very talented designer both of fabric and bags/pouches. This is the first of hers I have used and it certainly won’t be the last. The instructions were clear and comprehensive. Perhaps choosing to do it at the weekend and in the kitchen so I could use the island unit for cutting out wasn’t  the best idea because of all the disruptions from teens wanting feeding, lifts, more feeding, more lifts  etc. It’s a pattern that needs careful thinking through not least because I was using a rather unusual, for me, fabric.

I’d seen this fabric in blog land and immediately had to have some. It took some tracking down but when it arrived I discovered it was rather more yellow than I had anticipated having been drawn by the rich reds and oranges. Nonetheless it needed to be used and I thought given this project might not be particularly successful it was worth a try. But of course it meant cutting the pieces to make the most of this large scale pattern and no bird or butterfly got cruelly cut.  282AD7D0-31DF-43CC-955B-FDD9258B2942

As a consequence the cutting took hours….. This was in part because of the frequent interruptions as mentioned above but also many of the pieces for this had to be cut in fabric and then again in various types of interfacing. In fact if you do the sturdiest version of this bag then you’re using four different types of interfacing. I can’t speak highly enough of my local quilt shop The Cotton Patch who went through with me the pattern and from which I could source at least three of the interfaces needed. The other one I got from Sew Hot with their usual lightening service.



The actual sewing was relatively quick up to getting the base done but the lid was more of a trial. If I do this pattern again I must hand baste more to check neatness etc particularly around the top. But that aside, in the main, the combination of careful cutting and marking definitely paid off.


I am really pleased with it. And it’s vast. I’ve covered a couple of boxes in the fabric to make containers. And enjoyed myself putting everything away.


Sky was fascinated by it as you can see and was constantly head-butting it hence the cat hairs. If I were doing it again I’d make the side lining seam at least an inch not 1/2” as the lining is a bit puffy and  ill fitting. But other than that I would make it just as the pattern suggests.


I use this blog as a ready reference for me. So if there are tips along the way or specific issues then I try to record them so I’m not left scratching my head knowing that I once had worked this out but for the life of me have forgotten! So as this was an interfacing dominated  project which introduced me to three new to me interfacings I thought I’d list out what I’ve learned and then use it for reference.

This is particularly so as interfacing has been quite a mystery to me given how many types of interfacing there are and yet they all look vaguely similar, so it’s very confusing. What further adds to the confusion is that you can combine different types of interfacing so for example in this pattern you are required to use up to 3 different types of interfacing on one piece of fabric.  But in reality my most successful finishes have often been because of using a combination of interfacing on one fabric piece. So based on some experience of using a number of different types of interfacing in various bags and pouches with varying degrees of success I have listed what I’ve found albeit I’m far from expert and do please share any interfacing experiences or favourites you have.

Thick interfacing for items that typically need to stand up

Annie’s Soft and Stable. This is thick, foam covered fusible  interfacing. It has a spongy feel to it. It worked very well with Anna Graham’s Noodle-head’s  Divided basket


Peltex 71F. This was new to me but recommended for the Project Caddy. It’s fusible and firm but can be bent and springs back. Useful when you need to turn the bag inside out to pull the lining through. It’s rough though so needs at least a couple of fabrics covering it  to feel nice. It gives a more rigid structure than Soft and Stable.

TIM Ted – this was also recommended for Project Caddy. It’s very firm, firmer than Peltex and doesn’t spring back easily. It is sew in type interfacing. This was slotted into the caddy between the exterior and interior lining. Perfect for something that needs to stand upright

Medium interfacing

Vilene or their new name Visilene (why bother changing their name?) H630. This is quite a thin fusible wadding and on its own it’s rather insubstantial I find . Being fusible is helpful although it doesn’t fuse well but maybe mine is old. With Project Caddy I used it to soften and smooth the exterior piece which definitely gave it a nicer finish.

Vilene H640. Thicker and with more substance this gives more heft than the H630. I like it for larger bags and totes. For larger totes I nearly always use upholstery fabric. It’s often cheaper and sturdier or I will use a linen type quilting cotton like that used here.

Another thicker fusible wadding is Pellon 987F. This gave a nice quality feel and structure to the Fold Up Sewing Folio  


Lighter weight interfacing.

I have a few of these which I’ve used to basically make the fabric stiffer and less floppy. This is a good complement I’ve found to the fusible waddings  above.

Pellon Craft Fuse. This was new to me. It’s fusible and fuses well unlike the Vilene H630 above. But it has a tendency to ruck and it’s very difficult to remove once that’s happened. You can see an example of that here.


Vilene S320 is is similar to craft fuse in all respects in terms of function. Fuses well but can ruck. I have found this is a good combination with Vilene H640 for bags to give them structure and a professional look.

SF101 This also helps give cotton weight quilting fabric a much firmer feel. This was recommended by Aneela for the caddy. It’s woven whereas the other two listed are more like paper. I’ve tried to capture the difference in the picture below, the SF101 is under the scissors. It’s fuses well and didn’t ruck.  In fact this may be a new favourite of this type for that fact alone. I would have used just this interfacing for the caddy but I ran out and had to switch to craft fuse for a couple of pieces.


I don’t think I’ve cracked it when it comes to interfacing and I will keep trying others.  But what I have done is put each in separated plastic bags all labeled as they still look very similar.

Of course now there is no excuse but to crack on with those glitter block pieces in the caddy!

img_4543Linking up with Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts and Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts

Bloggers Quilt Festival entry 2 – the scrappy one

Thinking about my second choice as an entry for The Bloggers’ Quilt Festival run by Amy’s Creative Side  I went for  the polar opposite of my first entry which was a quilt that was planned and scoped out to a millimetre of its life. This time it’s  a quilt that was easy and quick to make, pretty much thrown together and yet one of my favourite quilts today. It’s another quilt that lives with me and gives me pleasure every time I see it or sleep under it. The original post is here.


This quilt also celebrates the wonderfully collaborative, generous and inspiring quilting community of which we are a part. I first came across this simple but oh so effective design on the IG feed of Poppy @cuckooblue. Poppy was making a multi coloured version seen here on her blog. What I loved about it was the colour contrast with the scrappy neutrals in fact Poppy has done another similar styled quilt using the drunkard path blocks. Well I had  plenty of scrappy neutrals. So I blatantly copied her and she cheered me all the way.

I wanted a bed quilt for our spare room that doubles as my sewing room so blues/greens were going to work in there. I had plenty of blue/green scraps of course. So an evening with a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, my accuquilt and a couple of Sherlock Holmes episodes (which I had to watch twice as the plots twist and turn so much) I had a large pile of 2 1/2” squares and another of 4 1/2” squares. Then a couple or so sessions of fairly mindless chain stitching to get the units sewn, then some vague matching of blue/green tones to get the actual blocks. It really was that easy.


I was pleased with the quilting which was fast FMQ in a lazy figure of 8 style. The density of quilting was right for a bed cover as opposed to one that gets draped over shoulders and snuggled up in.

Probably best of all is that it is like a memory quilt with all the fabrics (well the bluey green ones) I’ve used since I started quilting each with its own history and reminder of other quilting projects around the house or gifted

And it appears I’m not the only one that loves it …..




Bloggers’ Quilt Festival entry – Division’s Judgement Day!

It’s time to link up with Amy of Amys Creative Side for this year’s Bloggers’ Quilt Festival, a chance for bloggers to feature a couple of quilts they’ve made in the last year. It must be a huge undertaking for Amy although this year it’s gone back to basics, Amy’s words not mine,  and there won’t be the frisson of voting. That’s no bad thing in my book but it is another chance to catch up with quilts I’ve admired over the year and see some new inspiring quilts of all shapes and sizes.

So to my first entry…. no surprises here


This quilt, called Division, was a quilt specifically made for the Festival of Quilts, the biggest quilt show in the UK. Its not the first time I’ve made a quilt that has been in an exhibition at a show but it is most certainly the first time I’ve made a quilt for a competition and where I’d get judges’views. These are shown in all their glory at the end if you want to cut to the chase….  It’s a long time since I’ve had feedback on my performance other than staff appraisals so I have to admit I was a bit daunted…..

That nervousness translated into obsessive attention to detail trying to make the quilt as perfect as possible. That is very counter to my normal style which is laissez faire. What this meant in practice is that normal tasks got squeezed out,  cats weren’t petted, children pretty much neglected and my sewing spread round the house in order to meet the deadline. Of course the quilt isn’t remotely perfect but it is good enough and everyday I see it hanging on our landing it gives me pleasure.

The full blog post is here.


I got some lovely feedback and it featured in the blog of one of the quilt magazines  describing it as being on trend as mid century modern! Well I’m certainly mid century but even my dearest friend wouldn’t call me modern! And my teens would be hysterical at the thought of  their mother being on trend!

Here are the judges’ views for good or for bad.  Whilst I’ve yet to see anybody else’s posted which suggested it is not de rigeur to do this, my blog is my sewing record and you can be very confident if they are not  committed to electronic record these bits of paper will disappear in no time!


I think 3 handwritten notes giving quite a bit of feedback is pretty good value for an entry cost of £12 (I think).  I presume they had more than 3 judges as there were 100s of quilts in the competitions.

I was rather pleased with such kind comments. It didn’t win anything but I genuinely had no expectation of winning.  It reminds me when a rather pushy mother at school asked me whether I thought no. 1 son had done well enough in his first year exams to get into the top set the next academic year. I answered that being realistic if they put him in the top set then something had gone horribly wrong for a number of children. Similarly with my quilt I hoped it would ‘wash its face’ but it wasn’t in the league of some of the top quilts.  Not that I liked every winner I hasten to add but you never do do you.

The reference to it ‘meeting the remit’ is that it was judged as being modern. According to the judges, this section contained the most misplaced quilts that  should really have been entered in other sections. Mindyou it is confusing in that they have a Contempory quilt section and because you can only enter one quilt per section that also blurrs the line. I  think at QuiltCon, the Modern Quilt Show, they switch your quilt if you’ve got the category wrong and of course under the generic heading of Modern Quilt  there are a number of categories.

I picked up the quilt at the end of the quilt show and got the judges slips which I read on the way back to the car.  I was so pleased with them that I wasn’t too aghast at my car being missing from where I’d left it in the car park. By the time I’d got back the car park was pretty much deserted and I could see from a distance that the car had gone.  I really can’t imagine what possessed me to walk the entire length of the car park to look at an empty space. But on that long walk  I did reflect on whether car thieves would really want a large, dark grey estate car, the sort of vehicle owned by someone who wants safety and size to fill with children and clutter over excitement and glamour. I was right of course, I’d got the wrong car park and my car was waiting for me fortunately ignored by the criminal classes of Solihull!!


Sunday Stash

I haven’t done one of these posts for some time but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been shopping for fabric. So if it seems a bumper crop of purchases  it is spread over some months and if I’m brutally honest not every fabric purchase is included. I don’t want to alarm my mother!!


So to start with these gorgeous Soulful fabrics by Maureen Cracknell. I’ve wanted a new quilt for the lounge so there are more quilts to throw over each other than just the one existing quilt. My lounge and indeed whole house has warm colours, we have more shades of cream than you can possibly imagine and every room has muted warm colours.  The lounge is dominated by a beautiful terracotta Indian rug and I’ve been looking for a fabric range that would complement it for ages. Someone suggested Fig Tree fabrics and some of the earlier ranges would have worked but not the latest. The Soulful range, particularly the Soft and Gentle colour way which focuses on caramels, apricots and  terracotta but not the plums, looked perfect.  The only problem was finding it in the UK. I think one shop now has some but not the full range so I had the bright idea that I would order from America but have it delivered to our US holiday address.  So whilst the children chose western riding boots and hoodies  for their holiday presents I choose fabric. Be honest it’s exactly what you would have done!


With that haul I’ve also ordered this Galaxy print of the Encyclopaedia Galatica range. One of the many quilt designs I would like to do is the mariner’s compass as a wall hanging and I thought this would make a rather splendid central circle.


I had been lusting after a particular  ombré screen print that the very talented Karen Lewis had shown on her IG account. But I wasn’t the only one as they sold out very quickly. But when Karen said a new batch had been freshly printed  I very selfishly nabbed three. Whether I can bring myself to cut them up is another matter.


And another screen printed fabric by new printer on the block Helen Steele which I nabbed at the Festival of Quilts. These are beautiful as well. I’m waiting for inspiration.


And yes you do spy black/grey batiks in the background, not my normal fabric purchase, but these have a very specific purpose of a cat portrait and their variability and stiffness will work perfectly for that.  I hope because if not they are unlikely to end up anywhere else!

linking up with Molli Sparkles Sunday stash


Yes another plus quilt!!


I make no apologies for another plus quilt. It’s such a very versatile design and for an older teen  for the charity Siblings Together quilt is perfect.


My wonderfully generous  bee 2 members had together sent me over 85 blue hourglass blocks when I was the monthly mama last May. I love being mama all that happy mail and all to my design!

The first quilt I made from these blocks was a very clever and effective design by Trudi Wood in a copy of Quilt Now.


But as you can see with all that negative space it is a block efficient design so I had plenty left for quilt 2.  I didn’t want to do the same design all over again so played around with Quiltography.  This is a cheap app circa £10. Very easy to use and intuitive it is good for designing a typical matrix quilt made up of blocks. It’s not so good if your blocks or quilt are non standard but then TouchDraw comes into its own, another cheap app I rave about in this post.

I came up with a range of ideas and picked my favourite


It was a quick make helped by simple quilting. Albeit not helped by the cats who were living  dangerously …..



In fact I still have some 15 or so blocks over for quilt no. 3. This will be a nice holiday project for my mum and me when she comes up in October.  She did offer!!!

On Bee news you may have seen our appeal for more Bee members for Bee 2  which had got a bit on the thin side. Well it went very well, so well not only have we filled the gaps in Bee 2 but started a new Bee 4 more on that later in the month when that kicks  off. If you are one of them welcome on board.

This is a finish on my Q3 FAL list first blogged here

Linking up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean for  Crazy Mom Quilts 


Plus quilt for Grenfell



Another beautiful bee quilt made by members of the Siblings Together Bee 2 but this time for Grenfell. At one point the organisers of the quilt drive had had such an amazing response that they put a stop on new quilts but when I checked after we got back from holiday they were open to receive more quilts and had pushed back the deadline to mid September. This was just as well as there wasn’t much sewing going on in my house in August. But with the new month and that deadline looming this got turned round pretty quickly.


I had a head start with blocks as I’d made a quilt from the same block earlier in the year but had a fair few spare.


It was just a question of asking my lovely Bee members to come up with any colour other than blue. It meant it didn’t take too long to get the required number of blocks. I even roped  in my mum to help make some when she was up staying with us .


Prompted by Nicky Eglington who is one of the quilting power houses behind the wonderful charity Siblings Together I used a flat bed sheet instead of quilting fabric.  A backing for a quilt this size which is around 65″ by 75″ needs 4m of 44″ wide fabric (yes I know I’ve mixed metric and imperial measures but I’ve been doing that all of my life, I’m not stopping now!) and then you have to piece it together. Prices for good quality quilting cotton can be as high as £16 per metre and very rarely less than £8 per metre. You might get a solid fabric say Kona for £6 per metre in a sale but it is usually around £8 per metre. So getting a backing is expensive. I’d read about others using a flat sheet and I have to say it worked very well. It cost £12 from Dunelm. The only problem was that the colours were limited and rather insipid.


Armed with the knowledge that flat sheets make a rather smooth and easy to sew backing I then went to look for more colourful alternatives. John Lewis do some lovely 200 count, 100% cotton in great colours.



But at £22 they are no different in cost than 4m of fabric from the Fabric Guild. I did a post about this online/bricks and mortar fabric shop recently. This is an example of a couple of recent purchases. The top one was £22 and the bottom £30.60.  Both Makower and both being patterned means less obvious quilting on the back –  no bad thing with my FMQ.


Just the label to pop on and then this is off.

This is a finish on my Q3 FAL list first blogged here

Linking up with Kelly My Quilt Infatuation



September Mama for Siblings Together ….



In the dim and distant past I regularly  had to visit Minneapolis and there I came across the legendary kindness of my US co-workers and got many invitations to stay on at the end of the week and join them at the family cabin.  It seemed that many had log cabins up in ‘the woods’ usually next to a lake in the northern part of the State.  Some, I was told, were quite basic (basic for me = outside toilets, wuss that I am!!) but treasured family cabins going back generations. Others had every mod con going and water sports equipment on tap. Knowing the length and harshness of the Minnesotan winter I can quite understand why residents make the most of their summer. I was sorely tempted but as I’m afraid I counted the days off to get home to the family I never took them up on it.   A shame because I’d really love to have that experience. And of course now they are teens I think I’d make a different decision!


So for this month inspired by log cabins I want my Siblings Together bee mates to do a quarter log cabin block .  As an aside this lovely bee which makes quilts for this fantastic charity that brings together siblings that are separated in the UK care system for a holiday at which one of the highlights is each child being given their own quilt,  is sadly a little on the thin side.  We had a number of kind quilters who had to drop out  because of other commitments. If you are UK based  (being practical given the extortionate cost of international postage) and you are willing to make a block a month or even be a monthly mama and make a quilt from blocks made by others please get in touch – thelilaccat (at) yahoo (dot) com. The blocks tend to be simple and geared to using scraps.

Anyway back to log cabins  over the summer I saw a log cabin quilt that Rachel Hauser of Stitched in Color made and then she very conveniently did a pattern which I bought. With her kind permission I can give you the dimensions/pattern of the log cabins then I will sash and do the setting triangles.

You can see this quilt by clicking on the link and you then need to track down to the bottom of the post to see the on point quilt look I’m after. Although the layout of the test blocks below gives you an idea.  Doing it on point is effective isn’t it? Thanks Rachel.


The finished log cabin block will look something like this. Again I am going for blues/greens but any hue. They can either be mixed into a block or an entirely blue or green block,  it’s up to you. And also feel free to use floral fabric if the predominant colour is blue or green. You see how relaxed I am compared to the strict mama of last May!  I can be kind….

So to the block, the dimensions that Rachel uses are given below. They end up a 8 1/2 inch square block.  But do feel free, as I did, to use whatever scraps you have to hand in that colour range to make the 8 1/2″ square. My starter squares were between 4″ and 5″ and I just sewed on the strips until I got to something over 8 1/2 ” square and then just trimmed it  back used to 8 1/2″ But do it as it suits you and your fabric. But for those who are happy for Rachel to do the maths then these are her dimensions.

Starting square 4.5″

Log Layer 1: 2″ x 4.75″ and 2″ x 6.25″
– Log Layer 2: 2″ x 6.25″ and 2″ x 7.75″
– Log Layer 3: 1.75″ x 7.75″ and 1.75″ x 8.75″

Finished size needs to be 8.5″ so trim down to this

Can you make 2 or 3 blocks please.   They are quite quick and easy to do and aside from sorting out scraps et cetera (which I did during the adverts in the new Great British Bake Off) then it shouldn’t take too long.   But keeping it real if you are like me there is a fair bit of mess to clear up after sewing with strings so I will need another advert break to do that !!


Many thanks.