Sometimes it’s better to call in the experts

As much as I learn about fabric manipulation, I discover more I don’t know. Patchwork, as far as I was concerned consisted of paper pieced hexagons created out of leftovers from previous sewing projects. Little did I know what a fascinating world it could be.

Now that I have discovered pre-cuts, and in particular Jelly Rolls, I am in my element. I have tried out a number of different construction methods, including friendship braid, disappearing nine and garden trellis and am just about to embark on something new as a commission for a friend.

I’m a very exacting individual, so my method of quilting includes getting everything lined up precisely. I can’t do off-square corners or mismatched seams because my eye is constantly drawn to them. (I feel at this point too that I should also ‘fess up to being a copywriter and since I spend a lot of my life correcting work I also can’t read a badly proofread book, a single misspelt word wreaks havoc on my enjoyment of a novel!). Consequently I haven’t yet made any attempt at quilting my work in any way that veers outside the parameters of a straight line.

You probably think I am a bit of a coward, but my enjoyment comes from making the quilt top and adding the binding. If I had to make myself quilt the project as well I don’t think anything would ever get finished and I would spend more time unpicking than anything else.


There is absolutely no shame in enlisting the help of a professional and this is where the lovely Janette Chilver from J-Quilts comes in. She was recommended to me by a fabulous quilter called Nicola Foreman and for that I am very grateful. Janette is a professional long arm quilter and a joy to work with. Not only does she suggest waddings and backing, but she also makes great choices with thread and patterns to complete a quilt to perfection.

So, while she gets on with the next stage of construction on my latest creation I can get on with a new project.

Cat x

p.s. The beautiful quilt at the top of the post is one of Janette’s and the one on the left is one of Nicola’s. Am I envious of their talents? You betcha!

A question of wastage

A similarly sewing motivated friend, on seeing a rather beautiful piece of fabric that I was very attached to me gave me a piece of advice.

Cut it. Even if you just take a corner off, cut it. Otherwise you will never be able to do anything with it.

How right she was. There is nothing more singularly handsome than a metre or two of cloth lain out as a single piece. I sometimes spend ages looking for an alternative because I don’t want to slice into a particular favourite, only to have to take the plunge eventually.

One of the attractions of patchwork is that more often than not there is very little in the way of leftovers. You buy a straight bit, cut it into more straight bits and end up with a straight bit. It’s one of the reasons why I love jelly rolls. Lots of fabric, not much left over, and that is generally in useable little squares.

Dressmaking and soft toys I find much more unsettling. You end up with lots of pieces, none of which are quite big enough to do anything with and moreover are in some fairly random shapes. They get put in the scrap bag along with all of the other “might be big enough for something’ bits until this gets to be unmanageable and you end up giving it all to the local primary school for ‘projects’.

This fabric waste hating trait is often the cause of creation procrastination and brings me to discussion of my five fat quarters project. Since I was unable to find online inspiration I decided to use a ‘random’ cutting technique I had seen in a magazine some time ago. The theory is that you layer a number of fabric squares equal to the number of shapes you are going to cut and then you can reassemble them afterwards in a random manner to create new squares.


This works fine, but the problem is that you end up with some very odd shaped squares which you have to trim down. So my original 6″ squares finished up as 4.5″ squares. It also meant that I was left with a pile of unusable trimmings.

I am very happy with my finished assemblage (picture to follow) but I won’t be using this method again simply because I can’t bear the idea of throwing this much fabric away at the end of the process.

Cat x

Five fat quarters – step 1

Measure twice, cut once. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do…?

Well… I had my plan and headed to the cutting board. I’m a cm girl normally, but as the fabric had come from the US it was a quarter of a yard rather than a quarter of a metre I decided to go imperial. At the point where I had cut into my first piece I realised that the idea I had in mind wouldn’t work with squares once the bits were sewn together.

However, I am committed to 6″ squares now so I am already moving onto Plan B.

Cat x

Take five fat quarters

Despite having now completed a small number of quilts I still regard myself as something of a novice on the patchwork front. I have the obligatory cutting board and have amassed a small stash but the number of different patterns I have tried is still in single figures.

Some time ago, a very kind lady gave me a pack of five fat quarters in yellow, white and black. Not colours I would necessarily have chosen myself but they have been blinking hopefully at me every time I open the cupboard door. Having spent the last few weeks clearing up in Spare ‘Oom I am resolved to use both this and a Sew mama Sew charm pack before I start on anything else new.

The problem is, what do you do with five fat quarters? I have found lots of inspiration for my favourite jelly roll and quite a lot of ideas for the charm pack, but can I uncover any easy little projects for my lovely quintet? No. I don’t want to go to the fabric warehouse to go and select extras to go with it, not least because I’ll be tempted to buy other stuff as well (and there is already fabric booty winging its way to me through the post) and that would scupper my ‘no more stash until I’ve used some of what I have got’ resolution.

With my limited experience I have come up with a little plan. I’m not going to tell you yet. You’re just going to have to watch this space…

Cat x