Siblings Together Bee 4 September block

Another bee year, another bee block. But first a health warning. I’m mama for two Bees this month so please make sure you are following the right instructions…… I often get confused as well!! This block is for Bee 4 coordinated by Jane.

I thought I would give everyone a chance to attack their scrap mountain! And these blocks do use up a fair amount of scrap, I had to dig in twice and the blue scrap drawer definitely slides back in much better!

I would love 2 blocks please.

You will need 2 times 8.5″ squares of bright white fabric

A bunch of blue scraps, any variation of blue, in fact the more variety the better as you can see from the pictures. They need to be cut 5″ long but varying widths from 1.5″ to 3″

Sew the strips together joining the 5″ edges together until you get a 8.5″ length. Do try and make sure your start and finish strips are wider so you don’t have a seam right to one side. You will in fact need 2 times 8.5″ strips and 2 times 13″ strips.

Now sew the strips on as follows

Any finally please trim to 12.5″ square.

I hope that is reasonably straightforward. But any problems do let me know.

September Block for Siblings Together Threadhouse Retreat Bee

Welcome to a new Bee quilting year. It’s my turn to set a block and I’ve gone for a gentle start to the year with fairly straightforward snowballed blocks.

The catch? Well not really a catch but I’m again hoping for a quilt suitable for an older boy so dark or mid blues, mid or dark greys ideally with little or no white in them so there is quite a sharp contrast with the neutral corners. And as to the neutral, again white or very light grey and it can be a print or a solid. But for the snowballed corners I’d like to have bright white so those hourglass blocks really stand out.

I’d like 4 blocks please as pictured above, 2 with a dark centre and 2 with a light centre.

Please note I’d be grateful if you could sew 2 blocks together but not all four just in case I need to mix it up with all the blocks together. See picture below

So as to instructions.

Please cut 4 x 8.5″ squares, 2 dark and 2 light.

And then cut 16 x 2.5″ squares, 8 from dark fabric and 8 from bright white.

Now snowball corners to the relevant 8.5″ square. I’m sure you will know this technique but you simply lay on top of one of the corners of the 8.5″ square the contrasting 2 1/2 square in fabric and sew diagonally. You can eyeball it or if you prefer draw a pencil line or iron the small square diagonally and then sew along that line. When you iron back the small square you will see that you now have one corner of the larger square in the contrasting fabric. You will need to cut away the excess fabric. Before you join up the blocks you may want to trim it back to 8 1/2 inches. That of course depends on whether you are an accurate sewer or not. I always have to trim!

Then simply sew two squares together one of each type.

Many thanks. Any problems, as always get in touch.

Festival of Quilts 2019 – at speed!

I spent the entire year thinking that I wouldn’t be going to this year’s Festival of Quilts as it clashed with our annual holiday. The Festival of Quilts is the quilt show in the UK and some say Europe so it’s a fixture in many quilter’s calendars. For a variety of reasons we always have to book our holiday well ahead and I knew from the outset our plans precluded going to the Festival. So for that reason I didn’t pay much attention to news of the Festival until I happened to read a few days before the event a blog post by Jo, The Crafty Nomad on tips for surviving a quilt show (a good read incidentally). She mentioned the dates and it suddenly hit me that I could go albeit only on the first day. I’d forgotten that just after we’d booked the holiday our travel agent had had to push it back a couple of days. So set was I in my thinking I hadn’t realised that meant it gave me one small day of opportunity! But it was an opportunity I was definitely going to take.

The only problem was it was one day before we actually travelled. Where we go in South Africa is in the middle of nowhere so we do have to be quite thorough in our packing as if we forget anything then really that’s it. But as we’ve gone for so many years now our packing lists are very well honed. Also one of the benefits of having older children is they pretty much do their own packing so I escaped for three hours. It helps hugely that I live 30 minutes from the National Exhibition Centre where the Festival is held so travel time was pretty minimal compared to some who come from all over the world.

Nevertheless I literally only had two hours at the Festival. Madness really as you can easily spend two days through a combination of seeing the quilts on display and shopping. And don’t forget concurrent with the quilt show there is a whole program of classes, lectures and workshops. You can make a weekend of it without any difficulty at all and many do. So I had to prioritise where I was going to spend my time.

In fact for me that was relatively straightforward. I’m really trying not to buy more fabric until at least there is a dent in my current stash. I do make exceptions for the colour green. For some reason I never buy green so I have been forcing myself to buy green. Such a sacrifice! So the shopping opportunities weren’t really top of my list. But what I really wanted to do was see the quilt shows in particular the competitive shows which are divided into a number of categories such as Traditional, Modern, Two person, Group etc. Of course for me the one I particularly wanted to see was the Modern category.

Here are a few quilts that hit the button for me, not all are from the Modern category.

Anyway here goes

The first couple are by Jo Avery. Jo loves vibrant colours and she has a really strong signature style albeit she reigned it in for the second one. The link to her name above takes you to a cracking post about the quilt below. How to turn round a potential disaster so brilliantly!

The one below is by Jo Westfoot of the Crafty Nomad. The quilting was exquisite. She would be the first to say that she has been developing this skill in the last year or so and boy has she excelled!

This is probably my favourite quilt. So clever and effective.

Another one from Jo Avery

This one I saw kicked off years ago in a sew along. Mine is still languishing…..

This quilt is made entirely from log cabins. Oh the patience ….

This is Nicky Eglinton the amazing women that masterminds all the quilts for the charity Siblings Together. In order to further promote the charity she came up with the idea of a group quilt (another category) made up of a block from each of us involved.

This quilt is by Chris English. A clever use of recycled fabrics it looks like there’s someone’s old curtain in there to make the point of reusing fabric.

A see through English Paper Pieced quilt….. you could see from the back the maker had left the papers in so it had some structure

This used very shiny metallic fabric

Tearing around most of the categories snapping wildly and after coffee with Jackie one of the Siblings Together Bee members I didn’t really have any time to see any of the specialist exhibitions. The exception was the Bloomfield quilt exhibition. This was run by the UK’S Quilters’ Guild who asked each quilt section eg modern, traditional etc of the Guild to submit quilts for display inspired by one of their antique quilts from their collection Bloomfield quilt. There is more in this post. I was pleased mine got selected although my bubble of pride was somewhat burst when the organiser said in fact only a few weren’t displayed.

You will see in the bottom left hand corner my offering. It was starkly different to anyone else’s. In fact it was fun to see quite how different they all were, not just across traditional, modern et cetera but their interpretation. This was definitely a victim of my lack of time as I would love to spend much longer looking at each one but needs must.

Well it was a fun whirlwind visit and I’d do it again but next year I don’t have to! Fortuitously our holiday is mid/late August and the Festival early August so I’ve got two days pencilled in and I’m going round in leisure next year. It might mean two blog posts though….

Siblings Together Bee 7 July block – Rippling Sea

I love blocks that use up scraps as I try to reduce the volume of scraps so I can close the drawers that hold them! I came across this design on Pinterest and this very simple but effective block needs 2 pieces of fabric about 9.5″/10″ by 12″ each, perfect for larger scraps.

I’m after a blue quilt, but any shade of blue and it could be a solid blue or a print. (I know the block on the right looks black but it’s actually a dark blue!). Nothing too flowery please. The neutral needs to provide good contrast and preferably grey or white tones as opposed to tan/cream. I’m hoping that this will resemble the sea. We are land locked here in Solihull and we choose to holiday in a location that is also landlocked so I miss the sea.

Anyway as to what is needed please cut out 2 pieces of fabric 9.5″ by 12″.

Now let the slashing begin! You can slash pieces off and combine them as you go. But what I did was to put the fabrics both right side up and then make 5 or 6 cuts.

Please feel free to add in some wonk as I think that makes it look as if it’s rippling more. I then reassembled them thus. I put them on my wadding board which is just a piece of wadding on an old folder cover to take them over to the machine to sew. Easy peasy!

You will then need to join them together to make a block which I’d ask you to trim to16.5″ by 8.5″.

Top tip! When I was sewing these together I was a little haphazard with my seam allowance thinking I’d got masses of wriggle room. But in fact when I combined the above two blocks together it was still short of 16 1/2 inches long so I had to add another strip. Hardly the end of the world but one to watch.

Any problems or queries please reach out as always.

Oh and remember we don’t make blocks in August so these don’t have to get to me until September. And yes where’s the summer gone!

Siblings Together July block for Bee 4

A word of caution to start with, I’m Mama for two bees the month of July so this is for bee members of. Bee. It’s easy to get confused, I am afraid it happens to me very frequently but at least this block design is going out on time!

Its a nice and simple block of just half square triangles (hst). I saw the design on Rachel’s Stitched in Color. She is a regular blogger and well worth following not just for quilty inspiration, of which there is masses, but she shares her life, stuff like the hugely brave adventure of moving to The Netherlands from the USA. I had also seen the design in a quilt magazine so it’s not unique but another way, out of myriads, of using hsts.

So the plan is quite simple. I’d like you to make two complete blocks. Each block contains 8 hsts. The hst need to be 4 1/2 inches unfinished size and then when they go into the block they will become 4″ finished size. I will leave you to choose the best method for you for doing hst. There are multiple of ways and we all have our favourite.

My preferred method is using Bonnie Hunter’s Essential Triangle Tool. The downside is you are sewing on the diagonal as opposed to the straight but the upside is the speed. You cut strips, you put them right sides together, you cut triangle pairs and then chain sew them together. Provided your 1/4″ seam is good (well good enough…) then they don’t need trimming other than one dog ear.

As to colour I am relaxed but I was thinking no especially bright colours or any primary colours, so no bright red, bright blue etc You will see I’ve chosen prints but no primary colours. As to neutral as long as there is a good contrast and it is light then go for it.

If you recall we have August off to allow for most of us who will be away a part of the next two months. So no rush…

Have a good few weeks and enjoy the summer.

Living Coral – Pantone quilt challenge.


A night shot to get in before the deadline


…and a day shot when at last after the wettest and greyish of June weeks the sun appeared

Quilt name: Coral Glitter

Size: 43” by 37”

Location: UK

Each year Pantone, the colour advisory organisation comes out with a colour of the year. I’m not entirely sure of the purpose of picking one colour but I guess the idea  is to promote Pantone and to get people excited about  a particular colour and how it can be used in fashion and styling. Anyway it’s the perfect  excuse for a challenge  to Quilters to make a quilt featuring that colour. Rebecca of Bryan Quilts and Sarah of No Hats in the House are hosting it this year.

This year it is Living Coral.


The last time I participated was 2015 when the colour was Marsala, a burgundy brown, no not the colour of a curry!


Since then the colours have been purple, bright green and a weird pink/ baby blue combo.  None really inspired me but I like coral so I thought I would go well out of my colour comfort zone and blend it with some other colours to make an improv curvy design.

As to design I’d always liked pointy shapes like diamonds, Jen Kingwell’s Glitter block (in honour of  which this quilt is named) and the periwinkle block. I was further  inspired by an unattributed  wood block design on Pinterest that appealed to me but I reworked it into curves and  different colours using fabric of course and it became this quilt.

I first sketched it out in TouchDraw, the poor man’s EQ software! It was very helpful in pinning down the colours. Also by fluke I extended the background and got  that large negative space to one side which made it for me as a design.

As you can see it’s pretty similar  although rather rough and  ready.


All the fabrics are Kona and the main colour is Curry, along with Nectarine, Green Tea, Bone, Mediterranean and Overcast. They have such nice names. Someone must have fun thinking them up. It’s interesting how the coral really brings the piece alive.

Assembly was frankly quite a headache. A range of methods were used from the inset circle method using freezer paper, improv curves for the very gentle curves and those that are more pronounced I fitted it up on the design wall. It was like a steps exercise class as I needed steps to reach my design wall and I was up and down, up and down….


It was also a little  bit like dressmaking as I pinned the pieces in place. It was assembled in curved pieces…



The final assembled quilt top was a bit baggy in places so needed a fair bit of readjustment to get it flat, well flatter! You can see the amount of flapping on the bottom section. For some reason the top section and the pieced middle were pretty good but it all went pear shaped, quite literally, in those bottom sections.


As to quilting I just wanted something very simple but with bags of texture and went for match stick quilting, well not actually matchstick width, a  bit fatter than that but I was nervous that too much quilting might dilute the design.. I used a range of different coloured threads to match the fabrics in the quilt.


One departure from usual was not to use double wadding which I would always do for a wall hanging  but have one layer as usual but use a layer of headliner fabric. This is the material which is a very thin foam  on one side and fabric on the other which is used to upholster the inside of ceiling of cars.  It looks as boring as this, even Felix is unimpressed.  …..


But headliner is fantastic stuff, it’s cheap, it gives great structure to bags and 3d objects and I just wondered whether it would work for this wall hanging. Sewing through to quilt it was relatively easy but it does need pin basting. For some reason the usual adhesive basting glue I use just doesn’t cut the mustard. And it does make the quilt more unwieldy when you are wrangling it through a domestic sewing machine at the quilting stage. But overall it gives a nice firmness to the quilt, perfect for a wall hanging but not perfect for one that you want to snuggle up in.

its been a bit of a mad dash to get this finished. I thought I’d done that earlier today and even was so well organised I had taken outdoor pictures.


Can you see the difference? When I looked at the original quilt in the top photo it didn’t look enough like  the original design on TouchDraw, crucially no right hand border and it looked out of balance. So nearly 4 hours later it looked much better but no outdoor picture as it was midnight here. The deadline is 5am UK time so plenty of time…..!!

UPDATE Snooked one in when the sun came out the next day. Nothing beats natural light!!


Siblings Together Bee 2 – Courthouse Corners

So sorry everyone in Bee 2, this one slipped me by, my excuse? It’s GCSE season in my household with the twins having some 40 plus exams between them. One of them has been working hard and diligently revising the other one hasn’t. I have one of each and I will let you guess whether it’s my daughter or my son putting the effort in and the other winging it!

For non UK readers these are mandatory exams for 16 year olds that the lead onto either further academic or vocational. I’m afraid I’ve been rather distracted…… we are 11 days until the finish line.  But Sue very gently nudged me. I don’t think it’s the first time…..

Anyway this is the June block for Bee 2.

The sharp eyed will note that one of those strips is thinner than the others. This was a cutting mistake…

Four of these blocks make a scrappy cross as pictured at the top. But just to say I only need you to make 1 or 2 at most depending on time, fabric and energy.

When looking for inspiration I often drop by Ashley’s Film in the Fridge blog. She has some great quilt designs which she doesn’t sell but are the type that are perfect for Bees. They are nearly always use scraps, all relatively straightforward but pack a lot of punch for the simplicity  of the  block.

I thought we’d have a go at Courthouse Corners

These are absolutely perfect for scraps of the thin variety, even better when you can sew shorter lengths together. I have even used a scrap strip set I used from the very first quilt I made from a jelly roll! As you can see I’d like blue/green colours of all varieties, prints, solids etc.

You will also need plenty of a bright white solid.

Please use a scant 1/4″ seam.

I made four so you can see the effect and they used a large amount of blue/green scraps I’m pleased to say. The first step is to make the centre.

This requires

3.5″ blue or green square

2 strips 3.5″ by 2.5″ strip

2 strips 7.5″ by 2.5″

Assemble them thus

Sewn together they will look like this and should be 7.5″ square

For the outer strips I’d cut to order 2″ coloured strips and a bunch of 2″ bright white strips. They need to minimum be a 7.5″ long up to 13.5″ long. I got through this amount for 4 blocks

Add to the 7.5″ square thus in the court step way rather than log cabin which takes more time ironing

The next set of strips go here

And then again turning the block 90 degrees then add two more strips….

And add the final strips to make the block

The block can remain untrimmed but if you are keen please trim to 13.25″. It should theoretically come in at 13.5″ but shaving it down a1/4″ gives some wriggle room.

As you can see I had help…..

Well the great thing about this block and other bee block I’ve done for Bee 7 my blue scarp drawer closes very easily now.

June blocks for Siblings Together Bee 7

C8385666-A9DD-4A7E-9FC7-DC4391570F73Sorry everyone that May didn’t quite happen. I know the Mama was very busy and she did try to send something out but it didn’t arrive with me and the others who were wondering. I’ve checked my junk  because it always surprises how many legitimate emails get lodged there but it wasn’t lurking there although what was was the next mini block drive for ST which looks great fun.

No worries. I am the mama for June so I thought I’d send the blocks out a little earlier than usual  so those who are raring to go can get stuck in.

Here are the blocks.  They will be great for using up blue scrap strings.


In terms of fabrics  you will need a bunch of blue strips around 1” – 3” wide. They can be solids or blue prints where the blue predominates. With each block can you please add a flash of red strip, preferably solid or reads as solid and red not pink or purple. And then to surround the block just a strip of bright white. I would love to have a minimum of three blocks please.

To make them, it’s improv all the way…

I used a 6.5” square ruler just to keep checking the strip square kept to 6.5”. Alternatively you could use paper and actually sew onto that as a foundation.  Your choice.  But what you do need to end up with is a 6 1/2 inch square block of blue strips with one red stripe somewhere in it. The strips can be straight or wonky again it’s up to you But I would like them, as mine have, go diagonally as opposed to straight up or across.

Here are some process shots



When you have your finished strip block, cut from bright white  fabric, 2 strips 1.5” by 6.5” and 2 strips 1.5” by 8.5” and sew as the picture below. Please trim the final blocks to 8.5” square. Use a scant 1/4” seam with these outer white border strips. I speak from bitter experience …..




Any queries or issues don’t hesitate to get back in touch.





April block for Siblings Together Bee 2

Sorry this is a little late but real life tends to get in the way of doing the nice things in life and that’s what has happened this month to our mama. I usually have a quilt design for these sorts of occasions but not this month! But I had a bright idea. Bee 4 have together made this quilt top..



Looks rather good doesn’t it?  The idea is that it would  be a quilt for an older teen probably a boy. Siblings Together always need this type of quilt because  while most/all of the donated quilts will suit the girls not so many suit for boys. As testament to this, when I was doing a photo shoot my 16-year-old daughter, unsolicited, said how much she liked it. Trust me unsolicited praise about my sewing is very rare in this house. At its best they say  ‘it’s okay’!!

As is often the case I had a few blocks over after making the quilt top. I’m always reluctant to put blocks on the back. It seems such a waste so  I thought I’d ask you to make these relatively straightforward blocks. The only tricky thing is I’m being a bit, or rather, very prescriptive on the colour used as it needs to be limey green/olive. Details are given below. If you don’t have any of the right colour fabric, no worries just use grey/ white. In fact you can see that the grey/white blocks far outnumber the green coloured ones and the quilt is better for it.

Details for making the blocks are here 


Any problems please let me know

Mistakes, blunders and downright ugliness

What a great idea of Bernie of Needle and Foot to have a link up to do with all the quilting blunders we make to counter balance the beautiful  and successful  creations that fill most people’s IG and blog posts. I’m as guilty as the next person in showing the pretty stuff I have made but this time I’m going to let my mistakes shine through to show, as Bernie put it, quilting in real life.

Well real life quilting definitely goes on here.


Where do I start there have been sooo many but one I came across only the other day made me smile. I made this quilt for our lounge, its the perfect colours and is probably my family’s favourite quilt and is in constant use. I happen to see a picture of it on Pinterest and suddenly realised that there is a block in the bottom row, left hand side that is the wrong way up. I have looked at these pictures and the actual quilt a 100 times and never seen it.  Its even highlighted as it is draped over the sofa picture. But oddly while I would have changed it pre-quilting now its there I like the quilt  even more.


       Lesson learnt – some mistakes remind us a) we are human and b) its hand made and therefore won’t have factory made perfection. 


Blunders through the misuse of tools..

We all have a humble seam ripper, which in my case gets used very regularly. In fact I have bought and been given tens of the things over the years and yet at this point in time I could only lay my hands on three.  When I leave this house I’m going to find dozens of the things in a pile with all those missing socks…

Anyway for its usual purpose of ripping seams I speed rip by using the little red blob at the end and running up the offending seam.  I’ve sort of learnt when it doesn’t feel right and mostly get away without ripping fabric.  But on one occasion, when my brain had taken a brief holiday, I used the point of the seam ripper to remove papers from a  paper pieced mini quilt being made for a quilt show.  I wriggled the pointy end and pushed too hard and ripped the block across the centre as you can see.



This wouldn’t have been so bad but I’d sewn all the blocks together with the papers still inside. And the blocks were small and it involved a major rework.  The smallest part in terms of time was making a new block, much more time consuming was dismantling the quilt to fit in the new block. It never lay as flat again…

    Lesson learnt – use the stiletto or darning needle, not something with a                           cutting edge to get those paper pieces out.


Blunder – using the wrong thread

This was an experimental piece to practice curves and using scraps for interest. I quite like the top but the quilting is just meh.


It’s an underwhelming design and doesn’t really play to the design. Better would have been just vertical lines but what really detracts is using a  variegated thread. Against such a minimalist design instead of adding variety which was the intention, it just looks weird, as if it’s marked.


Funnily enough I used more or less the same fabric and thread to replicate the sea on this mug rug for a swap and it works really well. The variation comes across as sunlight glinting on the water.


    Lesson learnt – either do a trial of quilting thread on a piece of scrap or be                   very cautious of variegated thread


Blunders – fabric bleeding

I don’t prewash fabric but I will if I ever choose to use a solid red again.

This quilt for my room looks lovely doesn’t it? Just fresh off the machine….that lovely wool batting giving it texture and warmth. The red prints contrasting nicely with the Oyster Kona fabric neutral.  Its a pattern by Sew Wonderful by the way using their Quick Curve Ruler which definitely lived up to its name.



It needed washing much sooner than I’d envisaged – blame the cats! Disaster – the deep red flannel backing bled profusely.


It was madness not to prewash that backing although even after countless washes it still colours the colour catchers. And the quilt itself has a pink hue to the pale fabric. Jayne of Twiggy and Opal who makes beautiful and original, mainly solid fabric, quilts has had a similar issue but I won’t steal her thunder as she may well link up.

   Lesson learnt, prewash solid red fabrics and use light coloured backings for                quilts which have lighter fabrics on the front

Downright ugly

Generally when making a big item like a quilt for example I  spend a fair bit of time looking at what others have done with a similar design, copying effective colour ways or I will do a trial block so fabric choices get tested etc.   And also I am simply not dedicated enough to persevere with an ugly quilt! Of course I’ve made quilts that are less attractive than I’d hoped for and others that have turned out better than I expected  but in the main they have been attractive enough to gift or use.  But somethings I’ve made just look downright ugly.  Look at these….


These pouches are from a free pattern called Zola, a link to which was found on Bonnie Hunter’s blog. She had purchased a similar pouch at Disneyland and loved the fact it contained her hand sewing but made a little tray when unzipped, so useful on the many flights she does. I agree I love fabric trays, they are so handy to stop things rolling away. So I thought I’d make a couple and see whether they worked.

When unzipped they don’t look too bad as trays, although the fabric choice for the zip on the teal/aqua one is dire. But zipped the original design sort of falls over because the base has two parts so is inevitably unstable. I made a second (the teal/aqua one) with a one piece base but higher sides which makes the tray a bit more awkward to use and the third with 3 pieces on the bottom which sits  better.  I also like the colours more. As you can see this one is in regular use.


The other truly ugly one is here


This is from the lovely Tiny Treasures tray pattern by Anna Graham Noodlehead. I’ve made loads of the smaller trays and they are really useful  and effective  so I thought I’d give the bigger one a try. But I didn’t read the instructions correctly and the leather handles were  ridiculously long. It’s funny how  small details can wreck a project because these designs are in fact actually very attractive and easy to do.

I tried to take off the handles but the rivets stuck firm, I even tried to shorten them as in this picture  with further rivets but they looked even more ridiculous.  It was just for my sewing room so no problems there, I just cut off the handles at the rivet point.

As you can see not only is it useful for holding quilty stuff but when it’s empty the cats have loved it as a cat bed!




    Lesson learnt – even ugly things have their uses….