OAKSHOTT BLOG HOP AND A ‘MOUNTAINS FROM A MOLE HILL’ QUILT

Welcome new visitors and old!  How exciting that you’re all here to join me on my stop of the Oakshott Scandinavia Blog Hop!  The perfectly curated bundle of eight new shot cottons from Oakshott had the same effect on me as the Autumn bundle from last year.  There’s something about a folded pile of fabric that gets the brain cogs turning, and this time was no exception.

The collection draws inspiration from an airy colour palette and clean Scandinavian interiors.  A milky white warp combines with 8 different weft tones to create a collection that is unassuming, yet full of depth.  In all the past projects in which I have used Oakshott fabrics, none have caught the light in different ways so much as these colours. They really are amazing to work with and only an up-close-and-personal look will do them justice.  Hopefully, once you get to the end of this post you’ll all be inspired to go and get some!

Whilst I was waiting for my bundle to arrive, I began to brainstorm some ideas I thought might work for these, the subtlest fabrics I’ve used to date.  Much like the fabrics themselves, I wanted to take inspiration from Scandinavia and began looking at Danish and Swedish art, design and architecture.  Several ideas began taking shape, each more elaborate than the last, until my mind was overflowing with creative thoughts.  I was making things too complicated! I went back to the drawing board and the fabrics themselves.  They were crying out for something simple.  Then, probably through a combination of my teaching a HST class at the time and the fact that my creativity was getting out of control, I happened upon the idea I eventually ran with.  A quilt, inspired by Scandinavian landscapes and the idea of making something out of nothing or, more specifically, mountains from mole hills!

With simplicity being the key, I settled on HSTs with the odd quarter circle thrown in for good measure.  My original design saw a lot more quarter circles topping the ends of the ‘pillars’, but after some thought I decided that the quilt would be more impactful if the ‘mountains’ sprung from just one ‘mole hill’.  I used my trusty Sizzix Big Shot to cut the drunkards path pieces (which I did before revising my idea, so don’t be surprised to see a Oakshott mini quilt in the not too distant future) and used new dies, the 4.5″ (659838) and 5″ (657626) square to cut the pieces for the rest of the quilt.  My preferred method for making HSTs is to place 2 over-sized squares together and sew either side of the diagonal line using a scant quarter-inch seam allowance, making 2 at once. I then trim the units down and find this method to give me better accuracy when it comes to joining the blocks.  If you have a Sizzix machine, then the process can be sped up by using the HST die.

In terms of piecing, this is a really simple quilt to make.  A little fore-thought is needed to cut and pair up the fabrics so that the pattern forms correctly.  There are many great online tutorials for both HST and quarter circles, so I won’t cover old ground here.  If you’d like to make your own ‘Mountains From A Mole Hill’ quilt, then use the follow cutting list.  Once you’ve cut and pieced all the required squares, HSTs and quarter circles, use the photograph as a guide to piece them, the squares and the quarter circle units into rows before sewing the rows together to complete the quilt top, which finishes at 48″ square.  When joining the blocks, be sure to alternate the direction in which you press the seams in each row, i.e, press all the seam in row 1 to the left, all the seam in row 2 to the right, all the seams in row 3 to the left, etc.  Doing so will enable you to nest and better match the seams when it comes to sewing the rows together.

Materials:

1 FQ bundle of Oakshott Scandinavia as well as an additional half yard of Bergen (cream), Uppsala (light grey) and Stockholm (dark grey).  You will have some fabric left over, but that’s never a bad thing!

Cut the following:

Cream           17 4.5″ squares and 7 5″ squares

Light Grey     24 4.5″ squares and 13 5″ squares

Dark Grey     28 4.5″ squares and 14 5″ squares

Green           7 4.5″ squares and 6 5″ squares

Yellow           9 4.5″ squares and 4 5″ squares

Blue              6 4.5″ squares and 4 5″ squares

Pink              3 4.5″ squares and 3 5″ squares

Purples         5 4.5″ squares and 3 5″ squares.

Use the 5″ squares to make the following number of HST.  Due to the method of making a pair at once, you’ll have some left over, which you can piece into the back or use in another project.

11 light grey and dark grey

10 cream and light grey

4 dark grey and yellow

3 dark grey and green

2 dark grey and blue

2 dark grey and purple

2 pink and purple

1 cream and dark grey

1 cream and green

1 light grey and green

1 light grey and blue

1 dark grey and pink

1 yellow and blue

1 yellow and green

1 purple and blue

1 green and pink

Cut 2 quarter circles in green, an arch in yellow and an arch in purple.  What ever method you use to cut your drunkard’s path pieces, ensure they finish at the same size as the squares and HST units, i.e 4.5″.

As you can see, my quilt isn’t quite finished.  I was all ready to quilt this using wavy, edge-to-edge lines but a spark of inspiration at the 11th hour had me reaching for paper on which I scribbled furiously.  I’m not sure if my idea may be a tad ambitious.  If so, I apologise for making you wait to see this quilt finished; I just thought that the idea was worth a little more pondering.  So watch this space…it may fail miserable and I’ll end up using my original quilting plan!  In any case, I’m glad I get to enjoy the simplicity of the pieced top for a little while longer.

This fabric really is amazingly versatile.  Be sure to check out all the stops on the Oakshott Scandinavia Blog Hop. Eight projects from eight different bloggers.  You can find links to all the stops below.  Thank you all for visiting, and to Lynne and Michael for allowing me to indulge my creativity.

 4th  May – Sarah Sharp
 5th  May – Heather Scrimnscher 
 6th  May – Amy Sinibaldi
 7th  May – Rossie Hutchinson
11th May – Elaine Poplin
12th May – Sarah Fielke
13th May – Nicholas Ball
14th May – Lori Landerberger

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A UNITED STATES OF AMERICA QUILT

Regular readers of this blog will know it’s no secret I’m not enamoured with my job.  Yes, I must have one, and yes, the money pays the bills, but after five years doing the same thing, I’m really ready for a change!  I recently found out that a colleague and close friend would be moving on to pastures new.  In fact, as I write this, he’s working his last shift.  I couldn’t let the occasion pass without giving him a small token of appreciation to thank him for all the times he’s lent me his ear and kept me relatively sane in the workplace!  So, I did what us quilters do best and made him a quilt.

One of our traditions was to play a game of “Name all the American States in the shortest amount of time.”  Every other Friday, during the graveyard shift, we would try to best our previous record and not get tongue-tied over all the ‘M’ states!  When I began thinking about what to make him, the answer came quickly – a states quilt!

This was so fun to make!  Followers of my Instagram account may remember I already attempted one of these.  I ran into difficulties early on when I realised that the state templates I found were all different scales, and so fitting them together would be nigh on impossible!  Fast-forward to the second attempt and I decided to use a map that already had the states fitted together to make my templates, thereby ensuring a perfect fit.

The first step was to cut all the states from the map.  I decided to laminate them to make them more durable.  I’ll probably make another of these in the future so having the templates ready to go will be a great time-saver.  The states were transferred to fusible web before being ironed to the wrong side of my fabric choices.  It’s important to remember when transferring shapes to fusible web that they need to be reversed, so that when you cut them out of the fabric they are the right way around.  Of course, this doesn’t apply to circles, squares and other symmetrical shapes.

Pulling fabric for this project was my favourite part.  After some secret information gathering from his girl friend, I learnt the recipient’s favourite colours.  The fabrics are modern, manly and evocative of the states.  Florida is green and swamp-like, Colorado has a rocky feel and Arizona evokes hot, dusty plains.  There’s a really eclectic mix of fabrics in the map; Kona solids, Oakshott cottons, Tula pink, Carolyn Friedlander and Cotton and Steel.  Once the states were cut out, they were pressed into position on a background of black Essex Linen; a go-to fabric for me these days for all sorts of projects.  I ensured the first state, Washington, was placed level on the fabric before placing the others one by one.  It was fun to watch the map grow with each new addition.

Due to some of the states being quite small (bloody Delaware!), I thought it best couldn’t be bothered to stitch around each one individually, so I chose dense matchstick quilting to add texture to the quilt and secure all the pieces down at the same time.  I began by marking a straight line on the edge of the quilt and used this as a guide to quilt across the top.  I started with lines a quarter inch apart, then went back and filled in twice to leave lines no more than an eighth of an inch apart.  The texture is awesome!  To finish the piece, I used a Joel Dewberry wood grain print for binding.

The last addition was a label, made with the monogramming feature on my new Janome.  I have to admit I’m a little bit in love with it and it makes the perfect finishing touch.  I’m pleased to say the quilt was well received and hopefully it’ll be a reminder of our fun-filled Friday nights for years to come.

OAKSHOTT BLOG HOP AND A LEAF SKELETON QUILT

A big, warm welcome to my stop on the Oakshott Autumn bundle Blog Hop.  I’m mighty excited to share what I’ve been working on over the last few weeks with you all.  When I first saw the bundle that Oakshott have put together I knew I had to get my hands on it.  I mean, come on, just look at those colours, which are not done any justice by my photography.  Most people stare at me with a look in their eye that screams “Is this person for real?” whenever I say “Yeah, I’m more of an autumn, winter kind of guy.  I’d rather be cold than hot.  Give me a log cabin and a roaring fire over a beach any day.”  A sun worshiper I am not, so these crisp, season-changing colours are right up my leaf-littered street.

Though not my first outing with Oakshott, I’d never used them on this scale before, but I can tell you the pleasure was multiplied.  The bundle is a beautiful thing to behold.  21 perfectly folded fat eighths tied together with a contrasting ribbon that got the creative cogs turning.  Obviously something autumnal was going to come out of this fabric, but I was aiming for something a little different.  After a few inspirational dog walks I became interested in the idea of capturing leaves that have broken down and become skeletons; those wispy, frail-looking things that sit amongst the bottom of the leaf litter.  I got to scribbling and finally came up with something I thought would work.

I had so much fun making these blocks and could have easily made many more.  Sometimes, with certain blocks, I almost get a “ugh, how many more?’ kind of feeling.  Not with these.  They were fun and fast to make (especially when your making them at night with a dog at your feet and Dione Warwick for company.)

The quilt layout is simple and finishes at 44″ x 60″.  The leaf skeletons blocks are pieced into rows, with the odd one turned upside down for some added interest.  Since I requested some additional yardage in the nutmeg colourway, I used that to add some negative space in between.  I kept the quilting simple and used a variegated thread to quilt leaf shapes around the skeletons, whilst using the open spaces to add some more elaborate, fern-like leaves. The backing is a great monochrome leaf-shaped print I found at Ikea and the binding, an orange line print from my LQS.  I recently started cutting my binding strips to 2″ and I really like the skinnier binding on this quilt.

Want to make your own leaf skeleton block?  Well you’re in luck.  Here’s a tutorial!

Leaf Skeleton Block

The fat eighths in the bundle measure approximately 27″ x 10″, though you may find some slight variation.  Since this block is pieced improvisationally, exact measurements aren’t essential as we’ll be squaring the blocks up at the end.  You may want to read through all the instructions first to get an idea of the technique.  Before starting, I pressed and starched all my fabrics, though feel free to skip this step.  Each of the fat eighths will yield 2 blocks, though you need to mix and match from different fabrics to achieve contrast.  Take your first fat eighth and cut it as follows, remembering the exact measurements may be ever so slightly different.

Two 0.75″ x width of fabric strips from the shorter side

Two 0.75″ x length of fabric strips from the longer side

Four rectangles approximately 4″ x 13″ from the remaining fabric.

Take the one of the longer strips and cut it in half.  Take the 2 shorter strips and cut each in half to give 4.  Take the second longer strip and cut it into 6 pieces the same size as those cut from the 2 shorter strips.  Take 2 of the rectangles and cut each from corner to corner to give 4 triangles.  You can see that in the example above I’ve taken fabric from 2 different coloured fat eighths.  This will make each side of the block a different colour.  If you’d like both sides of your block to be the same, simply use all the rectangles from the same coloured fabric.  However, the leaf skeleton fabric must be different in order for it to be seen, so be sure to take that from a different fat eighth.  I found it easier to cut all my fabrics first and then mix and match the colours.

Take the remain 2 rectangles and place them on your cutting mat.  Using a rotary cutter and ruler make 5 angled cuts along the length of each rectangle, varying the widths as you go.  Be sure to cut one rectangle with the angle towards the left and the other with the angle towards the right, as shown in the picture.  If you want a particular colour to be on a specific side of your block, it’s important to cut as follows.  To be on the RIGHT hand side of the block, the cuts must match the green fabric above.  To be on the LEFT hand side of the block, the cuts must match the orange.  If you don’t mind what side they appear on, or if you’re using the same fabric, just make sure you have one set of cuts going one way and the other going the opposite.  Hopefully you’re all still with me and I’m not confusing you too much!  Its gets easier from here on, I promise!

Take your 10 short strips and place them into the cuts you’ve just made.  Using a quarter-inch seam (although accuracy is not as important for this block) sew a strip right sides together to each of the cuts, then press the seams to the side.  Make sure to keep the pieces in the correct order.  I found it helpful to chain piece all the strips first, then snip them and place them back onto my mat.

Next sew each of the pieces of the rectangle back together, making sure to line up the edges as shown above, and press the seams to the side.  Repeat for the second rectangle.  You should now have 2 rectangles each with 5 strips in them.  Yay!

Cut each rectangle from corner to corner to give 4 triangles.  Again, a little thought is needed to make sure you cut in the right direction.  You can see above that in the block, the leaf skeleton “arms” always point upwards.  You’ll want to make sure that you cut from the corners that will result in that.  Also, you can see that the direction we cut when we inserted our strips has resulted in the green fabric being on the right of the block and the orange on the left.  Just be sure to refer to the pictures before making any cuts.  The worst that can happen is that your leaf limbs will point downwards rather than up, and who knows, maybe you’ll like that!

Sew a plain triangle to the cut side of your striped triangle and press to the side.  Repeat for the other 3 striped triangles.

Use your ruler to straighten the other side of the block, taking care not to cut too much away.  Take your remaining long strip and sew it to the long edge, allowing a little overhang at the top and bottom.  Now sew the other side of the leaf to the strip.  Despite the amount of fabric build up in the central section of the block, I pressed my seam to the side and had no problems.  Do what works for you.

You now have a completed leaf skeleton block!  All that’s left to do is to square it up.  Due to the improvisational nature of the block the finished size will depended on a few things, most notably the amount you trimmed from the side before inserting you leaf’s spine.  You may notice that you fabric has distorted somewhat, due to all the bias edges.  Panic not!  This is a fun block and shouldn’t course stress.  Just trim all your blocks down to the size of your smallest one.  I found that I could trim mine to 6″ X 10.5″ for a block that finishes at 5.5″ x 10″.

And there you have it, a leaf skeleton block all ready for your own leaf skeleton quilt.  These really do look good en mass, and I’d love to see them mixed in with some other leafy block for a real forest feel.  I’d love to see your versions of the blocks, so feel free to add any links to your work in the comment section below.  If you’re on Instagram, feel free to tag me or use the hashtag #leavesfromtheattic so I can check out what you’ve been up to.  This is my first ever tutorial, so please be gentle with me!  If you have any questions or there’s something you don’t understand, please leave a comment below and and I’ll get back to you.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Oakshott for giving me these goodies to play with, and to Lynne of Lily’s Quilts for organising the blog hop.  Make sure you check out all the other great stuff that my extremely talented peers have come up with by visiting all the other stops of the hop.

Thanks for visiting!

21st October – Sonia Spence – www.fabricandflowers.blogspot.co.uk

22nd October – Rossie Hutchinson – www.r0ssie.blogspot.com

24th October – Mary Menzer – www.fairlymerry.blogspot.com

28th October – Alison Dutton – www.alison-sews.blogspot.co.uk

30th October – Kati Spencer – www.fromthebluechair.com

31st October – Wynn Tan – www.zakkaArt.typepad.com