Category Archives: patchwork & quilting

20-Blade ‘Christmas’ Dresden Plate

OK, I promise this is the last Dresden Plate block for a while. However, I have scheduled in to teach a class for this lovely patchwork block so there will be a few more appearing next month as I prepare the class materials!

None of these patchwork projects were in my September Sewing Plans and now I have only a few days left to complete what I should have been sewing! Outstanding are 2 dresses and covers for the chair in my sewing room. So far I have only managed to cut out one dress which will take a couple of afternoons of sewing therefore I will have to be philosophical and accept that none of my plans were set in concrete and it is of no great importance that the plans have changed.


On to tell you a little about this particular version of Dresden Plate. I found a picture on Pinterest of a similar 20-blade block worked in shades of Green and finished with a dramatic Red Bow. It looked like a Christmas wreath. As I could not decide on fabric for the large bow I have opted for a smaller version set on a well-padded centre.

The cushion is piped with some ready-made Ruby Red satin piping and has an envelope closure on the reverse. The cover measures 15 inches square and is well-‘plumped’ with a 16 inch pad.

Valentine Heart Dresden Cushion


Free Pattern from

I did say that I was hooked on the Dresden Plate block design!
After a browse on the internet I found the pattern for this delightful 'Valentine' Dresden block free on the website.
I knew that I wanted to use stripes to radiate from the centre of the design and the only narrow striped fabric I could find in my stash was this 100% cotton which has been overprinted with some 'crazy' chickens. In the finished result I quite like the 'picasso-esque' nature of how the design has come out.
The block is easy to make providing that you ensure you keep to a ¼ inch seam allowance. Once the blades had been stitched together I backed the block with some plain White cotton and with right sides together, stitched around the outside. I turned through using the centre before applying the central heart motif. The block was then appliqued onto some plain Pink polyester cotton fabric. 
I used some bias binding to make the piping which I prefer to plain cushions. This cover has an envelope closure on the reverse.
The finished cover is 15 inches square and has a 16 inch polyester-filled pad.

In the Pink – Catherine’s Dresden Plate Block

I did say that I was hooked on this block. My sister, Catherine visited over the weekend and I took the opportunity to show her how to make this delightful design. We chose a selection of Pink/Red cotton prints together with some plain White from my stash and got stitching!

A couple of hours later we had a completed cushion cover with envelope back. Unfortunately, time was running short and we did not have sufficient time to insert a pad but Catherine has returned home with a set of templates and inspired to have a go herself.

Next step is to make the heart-shaped Dresden, the pattern for which I found as a free download on the website.

Sprat & Winkle Quilters Group Raffle Quilt

At the Summer Social meeting of Sprat & Winkle Quilters we completed the final draw for the block raffle.

An explanation: Each member was given a pack containing full instructions for a particular 12½ inch block together with a fair-sized piece of ‘accent’ fabric. To complete the block construction the members added fabric from their own stash. For each completed block a ticket was placed in the raffle. There were 39 completed blocks which meant that four lucky ladies won nine blocks each plus a fifth member won three blocks. It was entirely up to the individual what they made using their blocks. I was one of the lucky winners.

Virtually the next day I laid out the blocks and decided that I would use a contrast sashing in Dark Lavender (fabric from my stash) plus cornerstones in some of the scraps of the accent fabric that came with my winning selection.

original block placement

Once I had settled on the arrangement of blocks I cut sashing 2½ inches wide with cornerstones also 2½ inches square. I joined each section in rows of three blocks and finally joined the rows together to form the entire quilt top. I used some 2oz polyester wadding from my stash plus some pretty Sage Green print from Lewis & Irene (also loitering in my stash!) for the backing.

I quilted the ‘sandwich’ together with 5-point stars in the centre of each block plus some outline quilting of the block design, it was only then that I noticed a ‘not-deliberate’ mistake – oops!

Oops – spot the error!

Having completed all the quilting I declined to unpick the work, the error will remain with a note to self to be more attentive when stitching blocks together.

I needed to decide on the binding so hot-footed it to New Threads Quilt Shop at Weyhill Fairground, Andover. I was fortunate that I found the bolt of the accent fabric was still available and purchased ½ metre which would be combined with some more of the backing fabric to make a co-ordinated binding.

Sometime ago, the flange method for quilt binding was demonstrated at our meetings and after a quick review on Missouri Star Quilt you tube, I made the binding by using the backing fabric as the flange and the accent fabric for the binding.

close up of the flange binding

This technique is very quick and easy. It also means that no hand-sewing was involved in the making of this quilt, other than a little hem stitching for the labels on the reverse! My kind of patchwork and quilting!

Label of original block makers

My personal label

The finished size of the quilt is approximately 44 inches square so a good size lap-quilt or table topper for our dining table.

The completed quilt

I have enjoyed making this quilt – now it is back to dressmaking as I have some pretty fabric gifted for my birthday that is calling to be made up into a Kitty blouse.

Rookwood Retreat Day

When the month of May comes around, the Sprat & Winkle Quilters enjoy a ‘Retreat day at Rookwood’ when we get together and make a project. On previous occasions we have made jelly roll quilts and reversible bags. This year the project was a ‘Twisted Pole Table Runner’.

The day starts as we unload our cars with ‘stuff’. The fabrics, sewing machine, mini iron and essential sewing tool kit, crockery and cutlery – not forgetting a large mug for the endless cups of tea(!) and a contribution for the lunch and afternoon tea.

We set up our workstations and then Lizzie ‘Head Girl’ introduced the programme for the day and the project(s) that we will undertake.

The table runner is made from a vertically repeated basic block which is then outlined with 2 borders. The block is a simple one made entirely from half-square triangles.

We were shown 3 different ways to work the half square triangles which are the main block for the table runner. I opted for the simplest method:-

2 x 5” squares with a diagonal line drawn across the middle. Stitch ¼ “each side of the line, then cut apart down the centre of the stitching. Press towards the dark side (sic).

After the introduction we scattered to our workstations to get cutting and stitching. At lunch time we downed tools and enjoyed a chance not only to enjoy the fabulous food supplied by the ladies, but also to socialise, to view the various quilts on display, to have a go at the Tombola and to browse the items for sale.

Back from lunch, we were set a new challenge. A pack of fabric and instructions was supplied for each of us to make a disappearing 4-patch block. The blocks were then ‘raffled’ and the winner received all the blocks to make up into a quilt, we don’t expect to see it next week so you have some time to put it together.

Back to work and by the end of the afternoon I had completed the runner top including the two borders of contrasting fabrics.

The end of a lovely self-indulgent day and home for a rest!

I have now completed the runner with a poly/cotton wadding and calico backing. There is some simple straight line quilting, now all it needs is an embroidered label for the reverse.

I think this block design will make a great lap quilt if repeated in columns- watch this space.

2nd Baby Quilt – Blue & Yellow

I have several lengths of fabric and dressmaking patterns set aside for projects in May but for the first make of the month I have ‘indulged’ in a second heart-themed quilt for the Special Baby Care Unit at Winchester Hospital. It is again inspired by the cushion from Cowslip Workshops but this time worked in a Blue & Yellow theme.

Again I raided the giant box of scraps and using a smaller, more traditionally shaped die, cut 25 heart shapes from the various blue coloured printed cotton fabrics. This time I cut the backing squares at just 4½ inches square so that I could utilise some of the fresh-looking Lemon and White striped fabric. Also, this time I did not use HeatnBond fusible web. I simply pressed all the fabrics with a light spray of starch prior to die cutting the shapes.

The squares were stitched together with a ¼inch seam allowance and then I went in search of some wadding. I could not find sufficient wadding in the same fibre combination but, what I did find, was a length of pre-quilted White Broderie Anglaise polyester cotton in my stash. I have used this for the quilt ‘sandwich’ and am pretty pleased with the end result.

The quilting was done on the machine using a 3.5 stitch length, a quilting needle and walking foot. The design is a grid of straight lines approximately ¼inch from each joining seam. The binding was cut from one of the other remnants in my scrap bin. I cut on the straight grain 2½ inches wide with diagonal seams. The binding was pressed in half wrong sides together before applying to the right side of the quilt. I mitred the corners and turned to the reverse of the quilt before hand stitching in place. The finished quilt measures 20½ inches square.

I am pleased with this quilt which has provided me with a ‘holiday’ from jersey sewing and the delights of ‘fitting’ cotton fabrics. I am now invigorated and inspired to go on with some more dressmaking in anticipation of a long, hot Spring & Summer.

‘Have a Heart’ Baby Quilt

At the Sprat & Winkle Quilters Group we have been asked to make small quilts for the Special Baby Care Unit at Winchester Hospital. This is something that we do usually every other year. The maximum size of the quilt should be 24 inches square and this year the theme is Hearts.

I remember a design used by Jo at Cowslip Workshops in Cornwall that featured squares with appliqué hearts and decided to base my quilt on that idea.


I checked my (giant!) box of scraps and selected several pieces in the Red colourway. These were pressed and the final selection was 3 different pieces to which I applied HeatnBond fusible web. I have a great ‘folk art’ style heart-shaped die for my Sissix machine and used that to cut 25 shapes from the prepared fabrics.

Using mostly plain calico (from Lady Sew & Sew) I cut some 5 inch squares to which I then applied the heart shapes. Then I arranged the squares/hearts in a symmetrical design before using a fine satin stitch around the edge of each heart shape.

The squares were sewn together using a 3/8th seam allowance and turnings were pressed open and flat. The quilt sandwich is made from some cotton/polyester wadding from my scrap plus more plain Calico for the backing.

The quilting was done on the machine using a 3.5 stitch length, a quilting needle and walking foot. The design is a grid straight lines 3/8th from each joining seam. The binding was cut from one of the other remnants in my scrap bin. I cut on the straight grain 2½ inches wide with diagonal seams. The binding was pressed in half wrong sides together before applying to the right side of the quilt. I mitred the corners and turned to the reverse of the quilt before hand stitching in place. The finished quilt measures just 21 inches square.

I am so pleased with the quilt that I intend to make another! Next time using remnants of Blue print cottons and possibly striped fabrics for the background squares as demonstrated in the Cowslip Workshops cushion.

A long time coming – A Vintage Nursery print Applecore Lap Quilt

At least 5 years ago (and probably more!) whilst on holiday in Cornwall, my husband and I visited Cowslip Workshops to browse their fantastic selection of all things patchwork and quilting.

Amongst other items, I purchased a selection of Fat Quarters featuring some charming 40’s and 50’s style nursery prints. Then, about 2 years ago I spent some time at our Friday morning House Group, hand stitching all the blocks together according to a Sudoku game plan. By using a Sudoku plan I was able to ensure that only on a couple of occasions was a print adjacent to another block of the same design.

Forward to this year, I was asked to make a quilt for a friend’s new grandson and I thought that the Applecore quilt may be appropriate. Here was the incentive to get the quilt finished.

A search through my stash of fabrics revealed a large piece of Blue/Mauve cotton that would be good for the reverse.

Reverse of the Quilt showing quilting lines

I also found a Fat Quarter of a pretty Duck Egg Blue background cotton featuring a print of school buses and animals waiting in line to ascend the bus to use as the binding.

Alas, on checking my stash I could not find a large enough piece of wadding. Infact I could not find much wadding at all! Off to New Threads Quilt Shop at Weyhill Fair on the trail of some polyester wadding. Unfortunately they had no stock of polyester wadding and instead recommended the Soft & Elegant “The Comfort Blend” of 80/20% cotton/polyester batting. This is the first time that I have used this particular blend and wow, it is great! I shall certainly use it again. Having bought 1 metre of the 90 inch wide there is sufficient remaining to make another lap quilt and I already have a plan for a Japanese Folded Patchwork ‘Quilt as you Go’ project.

The quilt was duly assembled and using my walking foot with  80 quilting needle in the machine was quilted ‘in the ditch’. I was at first undecided as to how to finish the binding but eventually decided to apply in a straight line and would forfeit a part of each of the applecores around the outside edge of the quilt. The double fold binding was cut 2½ inches wide and machined with a ¼ inch seam allowance. The binding was then turned to the reverse of the quilt and hand slip stitched in place.

Close ups of the various block prints

Sometime next week I will show the quilt and if acceptable will arrange an embroidered label for the reverse. So after a mere 5 plus years the quilt will be finished.

P.S. My projects don’t usually take this long!

Beginners Sewing Workshop

Saturday morning dawned and I was stationed at New Threads Quilt shop ready to meet and greet 3 students for the Beginners’ Workshop. The plan was to make a padded Scissors case that has 2 pockets together with a patchwork pin cushion in complimentary fabrics. Maria, Tina and Krystel arrived carrying their machines and fabrics, plus I think a little trepidation about what the day would bring. I hope that by the end of the day they had gained a lot more confidence in sewing and using their machines.

We started with an introduction so that I would have a ‘handle’ on just how much experience of sewing they each had and from then on we settled down to make the projects.

The padded scissors case is a hack from an original design that featured in Threads magazine many, many years ago. It is a fairly simple project that provides the opportunity to work with fusible wadding, ‘bagging out’ and lots of straight machine stitching. There are a variety of ways that the case closure can be finished – buttons, poppers, velcro. My three students elected to have plastic popper snaps which I applied using the special pliers that accompany the kit.

A short break for lunch and then we tackled a more ‘interesting’ project – the pin cushion which features a patchwork block called 3D bow tie/faux cathedral window. In hindsight this may have been a step too far for a first workshop but ‘the girls’ were game and having made the first block, were determined to ‘crack’ the fabric origami and so made a second block. By the end of the afternoon they had each completed the pincushion complete with polyester toy stuffing and hand (there’s that 4-letter word!) stitched closure.

It was lovely to meet 3 such enthusiastic ladies and I hope that they will enrol for other workshops in the future.

Mad March Hares

At Monday’s Patchwork & Quilting class based at Franklins, Salisbury we re-visited applique. Emma demonstrated the various ways of applique from needle-turned, raw edge applique and the various methods of machine stitching in place.

As I have great plans to make a new quilt featuring Mad March Hares, I practised using a “seated hare” applique on the bottom half of a tea towel as supplied by Emma.

I am now busy researching “Hare” outlines which will be used in random blocks on the quilt. Other blocks may feature flowers that are in bloom in the blustery month – but we shall wait and see what transpires. I may get side-tracked (yet again) and end up making something completely different!