Tuesday, 19 May 2015

May blocks

For May, members of the Comfort Circle of Do Good Stitches were asked to make blue and white churn dash blocks in a variety of sizes. Here are my 12", 9" and 6" blocks finished and ready to send off.

The other bee that I am member of is the Siblings Together Bee 2. This month, Catrin asked us to make a couple of her double heart blocks. I enjoyed this so much that I made an extra block. I may have to make even more for a whole quilt at some point in the future!

And my April blocks for the same bee - square in a square blocks in blues and greens.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


The quilt that I'm sharing for this spring's Bloggers' Quilt Festival is the mini quilt that I made for the UK mini quilt swap that was organised through Instagram this spring. I'm entering my quilt "Jurassic Aquarium" in the Appliqué category.

"Jurassic Aquarium"

My swap partner was Nick at Quilts from the Attic who makes fantastically original modern quilts. I wanted to make something that he would love, and that also reflected me. Tough ask! I read and reread the likes and dislikes he had noted on his sign up form, stalked him on Instagram, and wracked my brains trying to decide what to make. At the bottom of his sign up sheet, Nick had mentioned that he was a bit of a dinosaur fan and as I read that statement for the umpteenth time, I recalled something that I had written on my own sign up form - that I'm always looking for time to design quilts inspired by my day-job as a palaeontologist.

I chose to design a quilt based on an ichthyosaur rather than a dinosaur since my first interaction with Nick were some comments on a picture of some ichthyosaur fabric on Instagram. I tried to make the design a little cartoony and relatively simple while still being recognisable as an ichthyosaur.

design tools - pencil, Sharpie and my chosen fabrics

Nick had mentioned his love of Alison Glass fabrics, so this Bike Path print in grey and black seemed the perfect background choice to represent the shale rocks that most ichthyosaurs are found in. He'd also mentioned teal and mustard as favourite colours so that dictated the other fabrics I went for. I chose Oakshott shot cottons which I cut in different orientations to give subtle variation in colour.

I used hand stitched needle turn appliqué using very fine silk thread to construct the ichthyosaur. It was quite time consuming, but it seemed like the best way to get the appliqué shapes to stand a little proud of the background. In my view, fused appliqué never has quite the same "body".

pinning all the paddle bones in place before hand stitching

After completing the appliqué, I used free motion machine quilting to outline all the ichthyosaur bones in black thread and add a little detail to the eye. In the background I added free motion wavy lines, bubbles and the occasional (not morphologically accurate!) ammonite.

quilting - outlines around all the bones, plus some ammonites and wavy lines in the background

I am delighted with how this mini quilt turned out. Mr Q thinks it's the best thing I've ever made, and is petitioning me to make a replica. I think I probably will, but will wait until the skin on my needle-pushing finger has recovered!

Forcing myself to slow down and make this quilt by hand really helped me find some inner peace whilst we dealt with my beautiful little cat Coco's final struggle against Feline Infectious Peritonitis. I think she enjoyed being able to sit in my lap as I sewed, and concentrating on each stitch helped me to stay calm and strong for her.

Coco vanquishing the ichthyosaur.