Tag Archives: Aurafil

African Block Swap #1

As a member of ‘The Patchworkers and Quilters Guild of Victoria’, Leslie Edwards – a contemporary quilter – has organised a ‘block swap’ with a patchwork group in Africa. The brief included a block between 6″ and 12″, and ‘see what you can come up with’.

What to do? I thought I’d document the thoughts behind this block as part of the ‘Process Pledge’, so …

  • what size to make …
  • which method of construction …
  • what pattern to use …
  • which fabrics to select …
  • what colours would be suitable …

So for the first block – let’s keep it simple. A 12″ block, pieced by machine, some Australian fabrics including a medium value burnt orange, a light aboriginal patterned fabric for the background, and a darker Leesa Chandler floral fabric as the feature.

Which pattern? It needed to be reasonably large pieces in the block to show the fabric designs, and I came across ‘Kentucky Chain’ by Maggie Malone in her book. Although I can do Y seams by hand, I thought I’d have a go at doing this one by machine instead.

African Block Swap #1

‘500 Full-Size Patchwork Patterns’ by Maggie Malone

African Block Swap #1

‘Kentucky Chain’ block.

African Block Swap #1

Next was to draft the pattern up to a 12″ size.

So, the measurements came out to be an awkward size, and rather than cut out to within an 1/8th of an inch,  … there must be an easier way to make sure it remained accurate.

African Block Swap #1

Get out the Freezer Paper

African Block Swap #1

Clip a sheet over the pattern and start tracing.

African Block Swap #1

After tracing the pattern, number and mark the pieces, and cut them apart.

African Block Swap #1

Iron the freezer paper to the wrong side of the plain and background fabrics, cut them out and draw in the 1/4″ seam line ready for sewing.

I wanted to fussy cut the feature fabric, so …

African Block Swap #1

Freezer paper ironed to the front of the feature fabric.

African Block Swap #1

Fussy cutting wastes fabric and makes holes in it like ‘Swiss Cheese’!

African Block Swap #1

Laying out the prepared pieces.

Time to sew. I used one of my favourite threads – Aurafil – for the piecing. As there was a significant amount of orange in two of the fabrics, my usual medium grey piecing threads showed up a tad more than was usual , so I did something I normally don’t do, I used a coloured thread instead. The challenge was to work out what pieces to sew into patches, and the order of sewing the patches, to keep the number of Y seams to a minimum.

African Block Swap #1

A minimum of 8 Y seams in the block as seen from the back – there could have been as many as 20!

African Block Swap #1

Circling the centre seam keeps the bulk of the fabric evenly distributed and flatter than ironing to one side.

African Block Swap #1

The first block for the ‘African Block Swap’.

Now for the next one …

RobynsPatch

Salamander: Applique

Now that the edges are turned, I use a dab of ‘Roxanne Glue-Baste-It’ on seam allowance and each ‘twirl’ of seams. It washes out and only a tiny amount is needed to hold the block in place.

Dabs of glue on half of the block.

Dabs of glue on half of the block.

By carefully flipping this half over onto the background and carefully smoothing out the fabric, it is easy to check that no seams have been twisted in the process. The second half is then temporarily stuck down.

Threads for applique.

Threads for applique.

I love using Aurafil 50wt threads for appliqué, they are fine and blend well with the top fabric. This is my personal preference, as I have tried using the silk threads, but dealing with a thread that is almost invisible to see when stitching, and has a life of it’s own, is not for me. What are your favourite appliqué threads?

Hand stitching is usually at night, under a daylight, while watching something on the ‘box’. Hence the stitching is not always perfect, and even if there is no such thing as the ‘Quilt Police’, I at least aim for a consistency that I am happy with. I’ve given up trying to get them straight and have settled for bumpy bits. I do so admire the many women from the past who  stitched without electricity to light their work!

Applique as seen from the back.

Applique as seen from the back.

Back to stitching!