Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Free pattern - In a Whirl

Welcome to the  Free Tutorial - In a Whirl  Sewmiriam Blogpost !  

I thought that this week it would be nice to have a free tutorial. After making  several quilts with indigenous prints and contrasting solids , I found myself with a pile of scraps left over, too bright and cheery to leave looking lost, lonely and neglected. Looking through some traditional quilt block books I stumbled across the block called Whirlwind. 

This tutorial covers how to make the block easily from 2 1/2 inch strips of fabric . ( Got some of those? I thought so! )  I have also included a description of how I made my In a Whirl Quilt using these blocks, just in case you like it and want to make one too. 

Let's get started.  A 1/4 inch seam is used throughout. 

Step 1. Take two  width of fabric (WOF) strips that are 2 1/2 inches wide and join lengthways. I always keep the darkest fabric on the top. This is important for later steps. (In the quilt shown I chose patterned and plain fabric strips for most of my blocks. )

Step 2.  Take a ruler and rotary cutter and measure 4 1/2 inches across the joined fabric strip and cut a 4 1/2 "  x 4 1/2 " square, as shown below. Cut 4 of these .   ( handy information  - a WOF strip will yield 9 of these squares) 


Note that I keep the dark fabric on the top at ALL times for cutting. 

Step 3.   Cut each of these squares diagonally in half as shown below.

Step 4.   Separate the pieces into 2 piles - one predominantly light and one predominantly dark,  as shown below.

 Step 5.  Arrange the light pile of triangles into the whilrwind formation and stitch together.

Step 6. Arrange the dark pile of triangles into the whirlwind formation and stitch together.

You end up with 2 finished blocks.  One has a light centre and one has a dark.

Important note - these blocks will not seam match exactly if you try to join them side by side so they they do need to have sashing separating them .

In my quilt design In a Whirl I gave the sashing a modern twist by using a variety of neutral tones .
I gathered together as many shades of cream, beige and taupe I had in my scraps ( not many as it turned out) and cut them into 2 inch strips.

I made the quilt block units by adding these 2 inch strips to the  right side of the whirl and them the base of the whirl so that the quilt block units looked like this

I made 49 of these units.

These units were arranged in a grid 7 x 7 for the In a Whirl Sewmiriam quilt.

I then added the remaining sashing pieces where they were needed - to the top of the whirls on the first row, and to the left hand of the whirls at the beginning of each row.

Next I stitched the units together in each row, and then I joined the rows together.

With the remaining scraps I cut a heap of 2 1/2 inch squares and joined them to make a border of 2 rows of these squares .

Following this is a 2 1/2 inch neutral border.

Last , but not least in a 5 1/2 inch border of  striped fabric to frame the quilt and bring all the colour and movement together nicely.

Final statistics.

In a Whirl  by Sewmiriam

Size - 68" x 68"

Backing Fabric - 4 yards ( 4 metres )

Wadding - Quilters Dream Cotton

Quilting - I knotted this quilt

Binding - 6-7 cuts of 2 1/2 inch strips . ( I used left over strips)

Here is the back. I added a strip made up of orphan blocks and pieces.

Thank you for stopping by. In this crazy busy world a few minutes at the Sewmiriam blog is a safe haven. Here you can slow down, learn something new, be inspired and enjoy fabric that has been curated,  mixed and matched, cut up, stitched together and made into something totally unique and useful.

I really hope you have enjoyed this free tutorial!

Happy sewing, love Miriamx 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Australis -New Beginnings Part 3

 There is a real nip in the air today in Sydney. The autumnal tones of the Australis  quilt suit this weather to perfection. Welcome to Part 3 of this growing quilt series. Australis is now too big for me to photograph well, so get ready for a few giggles when you see the finished quilt top towards the end of this blogpost. Photographic perfection is not my forté. I tend to favour the "before the makeover" look. At least I am authentic.

Let's start by revisiting the Australis quilt in my previous posts. You can read about the creation of the quilt in the New Beginnings blogpost by clicking here  and the Australis - New Beginnings Part 2 blogpost by clicking here .

In my last blogpost the log cabin variation round had just been added.

I chose to next add another neutral 2 inch border to frame the log cabins. To upsize the scale of the next pattern round I decided to add a wonderful large scale flying geese round. I mixed up all the fabrics   and  used a Marti Mitchell ruler to cut  the flying geese triangles. There really is something easy and delightful about using a purpose built ruler when making a quilt.  The   corner squares were created by  putting 2 flying geese units together pointing away from each other. 

To make things easier for myself I cut out a whole stack of central and side triangle units and then mixed and matched them at my sewing machine. To ensure that the sides fitted perfectly I  added thin solid colour strips to the short edges of each side panel to frame the corner squares. 

Australis still needed to be balanced, so another neutral border was added but slightly wider this time  being 2 1/2 inch when finished.  To frame the quilt perfectly I decided that it needed a border of squares.  The square border consists of 2 rows of 2 inch finished squares. The first row is made from print fabrics  and the second row is made from  plain fabrics.

Ta Da!!!!   The Australis top is finished. Here it is complete with very fine "model hands." Thank you Evan and Cameron. Thank goodness I have a tall husband and son who both have  loads of patience and tolerance for my crazy crafting ways.

Australis is now patiently waiting to be professionally long-arm  quilted by my friend Jo-Ann Phillips of Quiltwise Quilting.

In the meantime I can play around with the elements of this quilt .

I like the idea of  large flying geese strips and log cabin elements framed in a contrasting colour.

It's always fun to play and free ourselves from the constraints of patterns. Blessed are the pattern breakers!

I hope you have been able to find some time for yourself to pause, reflect and create.

Happy sewing, love Miriamx

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Australis - New Beginnings Part 2

Some quilts have a strong will and a mind of their own!  Australis is such a quilt  it seems. 

Here it is so far. 

When I started this I really just wanted to make a happy block to celebrate Australia Day. 

When that block was posted on Instagram I thought to myself - well now what are you going to do with it?  Out came a few shot cottons, a few indigenous prints, a few modern prints, a bit of Gwen Marston inspiration and the quilt Australis  began.  I am sure that this quilt has a mind of its own. I am learning so much and I am happy to share the journey with you. You can read about the first stage in my blogpost New Beginnings 

So now we are up to the next row of the Australis medallion quilt. After the lovely round of colourful shot cotton half square triangles shown above I decided that a neutral tone on tone print round was needed to balance  the quilt before adding more colour.

Next I decided to make some simple log cabin blocks. I gave careful thought to fabric placement and decided that I would make sure that a shot cotton was placed along the left hand side of each block and also along the right hand side as shown in the following photos.  Keep on reading to find out why.

I made a whole bunch of these blocks so that I could play around with placement to find the perfect balance of colour.

I specifically placed the fabrics this way on the blocks so that when you place them around the quilt as shown below with the plain colours joining, you will end up creating the illusion of a "round" row of coloured rectangles. 

I also added rectangles to the ends of each group of 4 log cabin blocks as shown below

Finally I added the corner square to the top and bottom rows before adding them to complete that round of the  Australis Quilt . 

My thinking cap is on now for the next round . Stay tuned for the next instalment.

Thank you for stopping by. Life is busy and always full of surprises. I hope you are finding a moment or two for some time for yourself to recharge your batteries. We always put others first, but remember that you are also important. We have one life - make each day special.

Happy sewing , love Miriamx

Saturday, 28 January 2017

New Beginnings

A very warm welcome to Sewmiriam for 2017.  You are always welcome here. I aim to make this a place of joy, creativity and inspiration. So come visit often - you never know what you will find. In addition to new blogposts there are  lots of labels on the right hand side of the blog page for you to browse at your leisure. Consider these a treasure hunt!

To get the year started I decided to make a 12 inch finished block for Australia Day.

The block looked very lonely so I  added a border to give it a lift. I am always delighted to see a block transformed by a border.

Why stop at one border? I added a print border and it became apparent that a medallion quilt may well be in the making now - in the style of  Gwen Marston - who is known for her liberated quilt making techniques.

I dug out some lovely bright and happy solids and a few shot cottons. I made and  joined a bunch of  half square triangles to make a third border. 

Where to next - I am not sure, but it will be fun to play and see what happens. I will keep you posted.

The message here is simple - it's not about perfection, or having a clear plan, or following strict rules. Joy is to be found in just starting.  Cut a square,  make a block and keep on going ..............

We often forget that first step when we are bombarded with the perfect ' sparkly' world of quilts on  Instagram and social media.

Be authentic - how liberating it is!

Happy sewing, love Miriamx

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Happy Holidays

Wishing you and your loved ones the peace and joy of the holiday season. 

Heartfelt thanks to all who have visited Sewmiriam this year. It has been a joy and delight to share my creative journey with you. I am very much looking forward to 2017. There are many wonderful projects  already underway in my "room of requirement" that I will be posting about in the coming months.

 In the meantime  why not try a random act of kindness or two for those who are doing it tough at this time of year. Truly a gift that will keep on giving..... 

Happy sewing, love Miriamx 

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Christmas Stitching

What a busy time of the year! This is quite a dilemma  for stitchers because it is the time when we want to be sewing the most.  We have to creatively use our time in order to be creative!  I am so time poor right now it is ridiculous. Move over Jenny Craig - I don't even have time to eat.

I need to STOP  RIGHT  NOW  and think about what really matters. This may differ from person to person but for me what matters most is my family and my friends. I want to let them know how much they mean to me and how much I love them. A handmade gift is one way to do this.

As you know I usually make my own patterns, but I found this great  Sewing Machine Accessory Pouch pattern via the Fat Quarter Shop Blog made by Heidi, aka the Fabric Mutt, which you can find by clicking here. Please note that I am not doing  this as a paid or sponsored endorsement, I am just doing this because I really like the pattern and think that you will too. I have made 5 so far as I think they will make great gifts .

I have chosen fabrics that suit the recipients. I have a Tula Pink fan sewing friend - no prizes for guessing which pouch she is getting! I had a good 'ol chuckle when I realised that Elizabeth looks like she is wearing a Tudor hat !

Then I  have 2 friends who like dreamy, whimsical palettes and they are getting the following pouches

Next up I have a couple of friends who love a more bold, saturated palette. I love how this block can look so different depending on the fabrics used. Isn't patchwork great!

Thank you  Heidi and Kimberly for sharing this great pattern.  


I hope that amidst all the commercial hype that surrounds us this time of year  you can find peace and time for reflection. A thoughtful handmade gift, a few carefully chosen words in a card, a phone call to a friend or making time to catch up with those we care about can mean so much more than all the riches in the world. 

Happy sewing, love Miriam xx

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Saturday Workshop All Stars!

This blogpost could also be called Celebration Saturday because the work that was brought in was outstanding! This workshop was the last one for the year for this group of very talented, creative ladies. I am very honoured to have been  their teacher and am thrilled that everyone in the class has  completed a range of  projects throughout the year.

Everyone has worked hard  to learn new skills, explore creative techniques and give generously of themselves, as quilters so often do.

Many of their projects have been lovingly made as special gifts for others. I have loved teaching each and every one of these workshops. Thank you ladies!

It is a privilege to be able to share with you now the work that came in yesterday.

Can you believe this is Ann's first machine pieced quilt? Outstanding by anyone's standards!

Ann now plans to hand quilt it using Aurofil 12 weight thread emphasising the star and incorporating  Kantha style quilting elements.  It will be stunning. 

Ann has also started her next machine quilting project - a Sewmiriam Quilt As You Go Quilt and here is the first block .Well - you can tell its going to be beautiful. Each block will feature an animal in its centre.

Dee brought in two projects yesterday. After watching me demonstrate my Easy Orange Peel technique, which you can read  about in previous Sewmiriam blogpost tutorials  by clicking here and here  , Dee has created these stunning blocks in a monochromatic palette with stunning results. 

Here are her blocks

Dee will now place the palest of grey 1 inch sashings between the blocks  with  a slightly wider outside border. Dee is such a clever quilter.

Below is her star  cushion cover which is now complete with a perfectly executed  hand quilting finish in deep red thread.

Marg has been very busy behind the scenes with her charity sewing work, and making Christmas table runners and bags for her family. Marg's family must be the luckiest family in the world! She has still found time to make all these beautiful blocks for her next Sewmiriam quilt. I think my favourite block is the centre one with the bird. 

Sue is building up her blocks before framing them in 'black on white' prints and here they are together, in no particular order just yet. The colours will sing when framed and I can't wait to seen them all together. I do love the way the reds, greens and blues are playing together .

Sue also brought along her mini Sandy's Kaleidoscope  quilt which I just had to include here because it is so pretty, but it is wasn't done in my workshop. It is one of Sandy Caller's patterns, a highly talented teacher and member of the Cottage Quiltworks team.  

Well, that is a wrap for the Sewmiriam Workshops for this year. It has been a busy and  amazing year of teaching. I have taught to a range of groups up and down the coast of New South Wales and in Sydney.  I have taught regularly to many people  at Cottage Quiltworks and it has been wonderful teaching each and every one of you. Thank you all so much for your support. I have loved sharing my passion for creativity with you this year.

The teaching year may be winding down, but I will still be blogging on, so keep following me here to find out what's new in my world . You are always welcome.

Happy sewing, love Miriamx