Thursday, 2 July 2015

Before and after

It's been a long time since I posted anything about our house renovation. We don't tend to move very quickly with renovating - taking our time to come to a decision that we will both love (no easy feat) and then tracking down all the bits we need.

Let me remind you what our spare bedroom looked like the day we moved into our house. "Amazing" 60s/70s carpet, floral wallpaper and two-tone green painted wood-chip walls that looked a bit like mould.

before - eek! - the day we moved in
Once the carpet was up and the wallpaper gone, we realised that the plaster needed to be replaced. We went back to the bare brick, and to our surprise found a bricked up doorway that had once led through to next door!

discovering a secret doorway

We had the room replastered, replaced the skirting boards and window architrave, and then we painted the walls a pretty duck egg blue (Mr Q took a lot of convincing about this colour).

The next job was to have a quieter carpet fitted, and move the furniture in. A super-comfy bed from Ikea, a fantastic antique pine wardrobe I found on eBay and a wicker chair that I've owned for more than 20 years (I originally carried it home from Habitat on Tottenham Court Road in London on the Northern Line of the Underground - when people looked at me like I was mad I explained that it was often hard to get a seat on the Tube).

The painting is by David Goodwin. I bought it at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre with some birthday money. It's something else that I brought home by public transport. The Orla Kiely bedlinen was a steal at TKMaxx, and I made the curtains and cushion covers.

I have a selection of objects that I love on top of the chest of drawers... a lino print by Shelagh Dwyer, a wooden bird sculpture by Michael Griffin, a tiny metal house and tree sculpture, and a ceramic bird dish from PrinceDesignUK.

 There are still a couple of finishing touches to go - some shades for the bedside lamps and a hook on the back of the door - but I am delighted with how this room has come together. Perhaps we should move in while we think about renovating another part of the house.

after - a study in tranquility

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Squirrel at the Wheel block tutorial

July is my month as queen bee of the Siblings Together Quilting Bee 2. This entails deciding on a block and a colour scheme for the quilt that bee members will contribute to this month. After a lot of indecision, I have finally come up with a block which is based on a traditional quilt block variously known as Squirrel in the Cage, Broken Wheel or Rolling Stone. I was particularly inspired by Camille Roskelley's Puddle Jumping design and Riel Nason's scrappy Rolling Stone quilt.

I'm going to call my variation Squirrel at the Wheel. My colour choices were inspired by the tangerine palette of Joel Dewberry's Notting Hill fabric line.

Joel Dewberry's Notting Hill fabrics inspired my colour choices for the quilt

Please use solid white or white-on-white fabric for the background. I'd like this to be as white as possible, so no cream please. For the centre and wheel fabrics (see picture below), please use oranges and bright pinks...

I'd like to have some blocks with pink centres and orange wheels, some with orange centres and pink wheels, and others that are all orange or all pink. Make whichever you would prefer. The 4 options are shown below. I just need one block from each of you.

4 alternative colour arrangements

The rest of this post shows how I made my block with a pink centre and an orange wheel.

From the background fabric:
cut 10 3.5 x 3.5 inch squares and 4 3 x 5.5 inch rectangles

From the centre fabric (pink in my case):
cut 2 3.5 x 3.5 inch squares

From the wheel fabric (orange in my case):
cut 16 3.5 x 3.5 inch squares.

All the squares are going to be used to make half square triangles.

Pair the 2 centre colour squares and 8 of the wheel colour squares with background squares. Pair the remaining 8 wheel colour squares with each other.

For each pair of squares, draw a diagonal line on one of the squares and sew a seam 1/4 inch either side of the line. I chose to draw 1/4 inch lines either side of the diagonal and sewed along the drawn lines.

Cut the squares along the diagonal and press open. Press your seams however you prefer - open or to one side. Then trim the squares to 3 inches lining up the diagonal line on your ruler with the diagonal seam line.

cutting along the diagonal

trimming to 3 inches square
At this point, I laid out all my blocks and fiddled with them until I had an arrangement I liked. You will have:
8 squares made entirely of wheel fabric (orange)
16 squares made of wheel and background fabric (orange and white)
4 squares made of centre and background fabric (pink and white)
4 rectangles of background fabric

triangles all sewn
The next step is to sew the wheel coloured squares and background rectangles together. Take two squares made completely of the wheel colour and sew them together. Sew this unit to the long side of a background rectangle. If you have chosen to press seams to the side, press towards the background rectangle. The following 3 pictures show this step which you will repeat for all 4 background rectangles.

The next step is to sew the remaining half square triangles together in groups of 4. First the centre colour ones...

Then the wheel coloured ones...

If you are pressing seams to one side, the following picture should help you with pressing directions to allow the seams to nest together more easily...

Each of these mini blocks should measure 5.5 inches square.

Sew the blocks together in 3 rows, pressing the seams in each row in alternating directions.

Finally sew the three rows together. Give the block a good press. Your completed block should measured 15.5 inches square.

Make yourself a cup of tea, or pour a glass of wine. You deserve it!