Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Cathedral Windows completed as diamonds can be a little daunting.  (I think so, anyway).     Cathedral Windows seem to be back in vogue and the traditional manner of completion is a little bulky and difficult to combine into a quilt.   Whilst trying to work out the easiest way possible to get the look without the folding, I suddenly had an epiphany  - what is the basis of the Cathedral Window - it is working with a bias edge.  Buzzinga, an idea was tested.   It works!!  So the following is a brief description/photographic how to on making the easiest Diamond Cathedral Window Quilt ever. With planning  it can be used to complete Cathedral Windows as any shape or size you wish to try.   

 I had a stack of batiks that where sitting around looking pretty, so I put them to work.    I started cutting and realised I would naturally need a trip to the fabric shop - I had 14 fat quarters, so off I went to find two more fat quarters in shades that would be suitable for the job.

If you are using one colour for your background, you will get away with a lot less fabric.   Those calculations I will leave to you.
 First you are going to need rectangles.  Technically, 4 rectangles make 1 block.     I cut these ones at 6 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches.   From each fat quarter I cut a strip at 6 1/2 inches and then cut this strip down to 4  x 4 1/2 inch pieces.   On each 6 1/2 inch strip there were rectangles left over that didn't quite make size.   Before cutting, count out the 4 1/2 inch strips, if the layout doesn't give you at least 4 across the fabric, check if they can be cut  from the other direction.    I repeated this for all the fat quarters.    I decided to go for a random look (how hard is that - I think it took longer to decide on a random plan, than it did to sew).
Once all the rectangles are cut, you will need to cut the bias strips.   You do not need to do anything fancy, such as making a long piece of bias, you just need to cut strips.  On your ruler, look for the 45degree mark.  Line this up with the edge of your fabric - I placed a ruler on the line to show positioning. 
Make a cut across the fabric.    Now measure out 2 inches and cut.  Repeat this 4 or 5 times.   Remember this is what I did with fat quarters, if you are using a single fabric for this part, you can  cut a few longer strips and then cut more as needed.    In the picture, you will see that I am actually cutting a strip off the corner I  removed.    I got a couple of strips off this piece that were usable, and then I went on to cut strips off the bigger  piece.    Be careful with the strips, they are bias and can easily be pulled out of shape or stretched.

When all the strips are cut, I gave them a good spray with Crisp Spray Starch and then proceeded to press them all in half length ways - now double 1 inch strips.   Remember to press, NOT IRON.

I pinned my strips to the rectangles, to try and spread the darks and lights evenly.   This took a while.   If you are using a single fabric for this part, you can get stuck straight into the process.  
The double diamond shapes are created by placing the strips in a zigzag fashion.   Each Square on the first row has only one strip (unless you want to take the design right out to the outer edge).    Working from left to right, you will need to mark the corners of each square - I marked mine at 1/4 inch - make sure you keep the marks within the seam line if you are using something permanent to mark, otherwise the lines will be visible when the seams are sewn!  I kept the strips out of the corners, to keep the bulk to a minimum.   If you want your diamonds to meet right in the corners, then you will have to place them from corner to corner.  The strips are placed on the fabric rectangles, with the fold towards the centre of the block.

I used my 1/4 inch foot to sew these strips into position with a straight stitch.  You can see in the picture that I am sewing with the foot aligned with the raw edges of the strip. 
This is what the blocks look like when forming the middle section.   Both strips are sewn with the folds in to the centre of the block.
Work row by row,  making sure that where the strips meet, they match perfectly.   You may find that the second strip misses the seam when sewing block to block, do not worry, they will be sewn into position when you sew row by row.      As each row is completed, trim any excess from the strips.  All the seams are pressed OPEN.   This keeps the bulk down.
As you finish a row, sew to the previous row.  This helps to keep everything in order!   You will notice that the outside blocks only have one strip - this again is to keep the design away from the edges.  If you want to take it out to the very edge, place strips accordingly.   You can see the diamonds starting to form.
The bottom of my design wall was starting to get a little messy as bits cut off already sewn blocks, were  added to blocks yet to be sewn.
When all the rows are sewn together, it will look like this. 

I decided to pad my diamonds out, so used cotton batting.  You may decide that you wish to skip this step and just place the fabric straight into position.    I cut out a piece of paper and played with the shaping until I was happy that it would fit nicely in the diamonds.   So first cut the batting to the shape required.  I then trimmed just a little off each point.  This will cut down on bulk later.  You can see how the  folds are going to make the diamond window.  Make sure that the wadding is just within the folds, otherwise it will possibly be too thick and cumbersome.
Once you have cut all the wadding/batting you can now cut your feature fabric.   I bought a metre of the orange for this.  Place the batting diamonds on the fabric and simply cut the same shape and size with the exception of the tips.    These I put back onto the diamond shape.   (I hope that makes sense!)
Using my "Best Friend in the Sewing Room" (glue stick), I then folded the tips back over the wadding.  If your final folding doesn't quite cover (and some of them won't for whatever reason), then they will stay neat and won't fray.
Place the diamonds into position once covered with feature fabric.

Start folding the bias strips into position.   Try and fold the same way for each diamond.   I pinned mine at first, but they kept sticking me as I sewed,  so went back to using the glue stick to hold everything in place.  This worked much better.   For best results take the work back to the ironing board and once a diamond is glued, I hit it with the iron.  Glue sets, folds stay in place. Pins don't stick you in unmentionable places!  

Sometimes when the folds are being worked, you may find that those little flattened corners are not sitting correctly.   If they won't sit well behind the fold, just shave a little off -(but don't cut the folded bit off itself) - any little pokies can be pushed into position with either a needle or the pointy end of the quick unpick.
If you look closely at the picture below, you can see that the orange bit is not going to fit.  I just thinned the point out a little.
Now you are ready to sew.    Keep the bulk of the fabric to the left of the machine.  I worked down one side of a row of diamonds - stopping and starting for each one.

As I completed one side of all the diamonds in the row, I then went back up to the top and started sewing the other side of the diamonds.   This cuts back on the amount of turning you have to do.   When I reached the halfway point, I turned the whole quilt around and started again working back into the centre.

As you can see, you have all of the dimension of a traditional quilt without all the stitching and folding.
If your feature fabric has a large design, you could certainly fussy cut the design elements you want.

 I am thinking of cutting out the diamonds from the back, so when I get some fabric to finish it off I will let you know what I decide to do.    If you didn't add any wadding to the diamonds, and you are concerned that you can see any of the seams or the point where the four corners meet, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn't remove this portion.  Once the final quilting is done, none of it will be seen.   There are lots of bits left over, so these may be incorporated in the binding.

I can see this technique being very useful, if you wish to vary the size of the diamonds or squares, leave some out, the possibilities are endless.   

Now just for a laugh, this is what happens when the men in my life are left in charge of O'Reilly. 
Just checking this couch out for size - I still have a foot on the floor!

Nope, this one is definitely better.    It is like Goldilocks trying out all the beds.......

Ahh, to sleep and dream in such comfort.

I hope you find this tutorial useful.    Til next time, Sue xxx

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More on 3D Flowers

As I mentioned on the last post, here is another way to complete the flowers.   In this example, I used some hand dyed fabric.    Again the squares were cut at 6 1/2 inches.     The following arrangement uses 6 petals to form the flowers.
For this flower, I stitched a centre line through each petal, directly on to the backing fabric.   As each petal was stitched into shape, I folded the other petals out of the way.   From memory I did every second petal first and then finished the others.
For the centre of this flower, which was quite large, I cut a strip of organza on the bias (1 1/2 inches wide) and then stitched through the centre of the fabric, forming a concentric circle.   The outer layer of the organza was then stitch down using the free motion foot.

The pink and purple flower quilt were completed using the "quilt as you go" method.   My theory for using this method, was that I could work on a small piece (I have a bulging disc at the minute, so needed to pace myself at the machine) and complete each block ready to put together.

Cut backing and wadding the same size as your block.....
 Quilt as desired........
I join my blocks together with a wide zigzag.  

I cut strips of fabric, folded them in half, then unfolded and refolded, this time with the raw edges in to the centre (just like making bias binding, only without the bias part).  Using my faithful glue stick, I attached the strips between each block, and stitched in place, firstly with a straight stitch - just to keep everything in place and then with a decorative stitch.   
Each row of blocks was then joined in the same way.      The back needed to be taken care of next, and although a little messy in spots, I thought I would give same lace a try to cover the seams - these were hand stitched in place.    I used a lace which had no directional qualities  (well not noticeable anyway).  My original plan was that the quilt would be a wall hanging but the lace seems pretty hardy so I think it would work for any application.

The binding was done in two fabrics.    When stitched in place, it gives a look of a piped edge and raises the opportunity to add more colour - as if there wasn't enough already.
Cut one half of the binding at  1 1/2 inches wide  and  the other piece at  1 1/4inch wide.   Join with a 1/4 inch seam.   I pressed towards the lighter fabric (the thinner piece).       Now fold in half and press again - you will see just a little of the wider fabric.    Of course, you can make these any width you like and vary the amount of secondary colour that will be seen.   Again I used a little of the good ole glue stick to tack things down as I pressed.   As it is water based it will wash right out at the end.
Next step is to attach the binding to the back of the quilt.   Normally you would attach it to the front.   For those of you who like to do quick quilts, may I say, this is a much faster method and so neat on the back  if you like to sew your binding on and down with the sewing machine.   There are no surprise bits, like finding that you have sewn all the way around from the front, only to discover that you have not folded as well as you should and you have missed bits. 
Mitering the corners is exactly the same, just in reverse.

 Fold carefully on the corners, I use a needle or the quick unpick to get nice sharp corners.
And the beauty of this method is that you can do a bit more decorative stitching if you wish, or you can just stitch in the ditch (if you stitch on the line between the dark and light fabric the piping would be loose and look more like piping).
 So there you have it - a couple of tips to speed up the process of binding.

Now for those of you following the O'Reilly dog, here are a few photo's.  I apologise for the quality - my phone was the only thing close to hand.

We  all know the classic lines from Sylvester and Tweety - I tawt I taw a puddy tad - well you might have seen a pussy cat Tweety, but you didn't notice O'Reilly sneaking up from behind did you?   No.....

Figure 4 Head Lock

 Do you think Tweety has a look of surprise on his face - I thought so when I turned on the lights in the kitchen one night, to find just a head laying by the fridge.  Very disturbing.

And a question I ask many times a day these days - why?    If you get so comfortable on this setup.....
 .......why would you do this?      
Cushion on footstool totally obliterated  (pic taken through fly screen door).  

On a floral note, finally,  previous comments about funereal bouquets  have been taken on board and red roses surfaced for a wedding anniversary.    All flowers these days are the "focus" (pun intended) of photographic endeavours.
Bye for now.
Sue xxx