Monday, August 4, 2014

Hive 1 - August Block Tutorial

What is your name? My name is Kathy, (iamacraftykat  on IG, craftykat on flickr and sporadic blogger at

Where do you live? I live in Sydney Australia. Let me tempt you with a picture of the Sydney Opera House during Vivid : festival of the lights.They project images onto various buildings around the harbour and I thought this one was great quiltspiration!

Tell us about your family. I am married with two cheeky kids and two cheeky dogs. My husband is fairly tolerant of my love of sewing only because he is equally obsessed with woodwork, building, electrical stuff and collecting random pieces of junk. I compare my sewing room to his garage so there is no complaining there! I also have a rule that what he spends in the hardware store I can spend an equal amount on fabric - fair right? My little kidlets are Miss Elsie who is turning 4 soon and Mr Clyde is 18 months. And my original fur kids Nala and Sierra who are sisters, rescue dogs, staffy-crosses, wannabe lap dogs (24kg!) and love nothing more than to lie on quilt blocks I am trying to lay out.

Tell us how you got interested in quilting. I have pretty much always been a sewer but starting quilting after visiting a friend about 8 years ago who quilts and thought - that looks easy, maybe I will just make one quilt. Oh an what hideous fabrics I used! but you know what - we still have it on our lounge and use it all the time! I then discovered Amy Butler - it was around the Charm and Belle era and fell in love with modern quilting fabrics! I probably became more obsessed with quilting after having babies who thankfully liked sleeping for long periods at a time. Housework seemed boring so what else was there to do but quilt!
I am now part of the Greater Western Sydney Modern Quilt Guild and it is great to connect with other inspirational quilters in Sydney!

How do you organise your fabric stash? If you would have asked me this at the start of the year I would have said wherever it lands! But since realising I have to answer this question my fabrics are now sorted by colour in boxes. I have even started sorting scraps by colour into little boxes. Within the boxes themselves - whether they land!

Who is/are your favourite designers? My favourites would have to Rashinda Coleman-Hale, Heather Ross, Allison Glass, Amy Butler am loving Katarina Roccella at the moment as well. The list could go on and on...

What is the one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting? Scant 1/4" seam!!! So important!

What is your favourite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out a buy it?
My Hera marker is my most favourite tool. Seriously, everyone needs it! If you don't know what it is it marks your fabric by creasing it - no chalk, no fading pen - just a crease! I find it particularly useful for marking half square triangles and lines for quilting.

Who is your favourite fictional character and why? Ohhh hard question!  I could give such a great literary characters such as Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, or Pip from Great Expectations, or Holden from Catcher in the Rye, Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird who are some of my all time favourites ... but instead I am going to say Tinkerbell! My daughter loves Tinkerbell and I actually sat down the other day to watch. She is awesome - she sews her own outfits, she fixes things and "tinkers" like all good tinker fairies do.

OK onto the tutorial!
Firstly let me start by saying how much Stash Bee has inspired me to try out improv! So in that spirit I would love a somewhat inspired improv scrappy  bookshelf block! It will be a quilt for my daughter who is turning 4 this month and she is a bit of a book crazy girl (can you guess her mother is a librarian!).

I have been thinking about this block for months and am so excited by it! I may already have the backing and border fabrics. It contains one of my most favourite things - scraps!

Colour Palette
Scrappy is great! As this is for a little girl probably more fun colours (her favourite colour is purple!) but just like any bookshelf - a nice mix of colours!

+ low volume backgound (text if you have it - otherwise any low volume or even white will do!)
+ handful of scrappy strips (bits of excess binding work well)
+ not necessary- but if you have any selvedges that make good book titles that would be cool
+ again not necessary - but some fusible web to applique the selvedges on. If you don't have any but would still like to include some selvedges I can applique them on at my end.

Block Size
Your blocks can be any width as I think that would make an interesting bookshelf. The height should be 10.5" unfinished (so 10" finished)

As the blocks are improv I will just show you some general instructions on how I constructed mine. If you wanted to do just vertical or horizontal, or even books on a slant I don't mind. I don't even mind if you wanted to put something besides a book on the bookshelf either! The block I have made has both vertical and horizontal books.
First cut all your scraps to different lengths. I then arranged them on the background fabric until I found a layout I liked.

For the Vertical Books - you will need to cut strips of background fabric the same width as your book. The length will depend on the height of your book but it end up at 10.5". I tend to make them a little longer and then trim to size at the end. Sew your background fabric to the top of your book and press seams open. Then sew your books together starting at the base of your books. Please press seams open.

Horizontal blocks - You first need to decide how wide you want to make this section of the block. My longest book is 9.5" so I am going to add another 4" which will make the block when sewn together 13" wide. Again, cut your fabric the width of the book and make up the length to be a couple of inches longer than your overall width for this section. This will give you a bit more leeway when positioning the blocks later. Continue for all strips and sew the background fabric to one end of your book.

Layout your books how you want them arranged, then use your ruler to find the end of your block.

Using your rotary cutter, cut of the remainder of the background fabric then swap it over to the other side of the book.

Sew these on and then sew your books together and then trim. You will then need to cut another piece for the top of your block the correct width to make it 10.5"

Assemble your book block together! (and yes, in true form my neatly stacked books are now out of order but that totally resembles my bookshelf anyway!)

Selvedges  - now this bit is completely optional! I always keep my selvedges and found a few that could be used as cute book titles. We are going to applique them onto some of the books using a fusible web. I am using a product called Heat and Bond as it is easily available in Australia, but use whatever you have. If you don't have any fusible web but would like to include some "book titles" I can easily applique them on at my end (please don't feel you need to go out an buy any!)

Press your selvedges nice and flat and bond them to your fusible web with your iron according to the manufacturers instructions. Trim them down to size.

Lay your block out and place the titles where you want. Bond them to the block using according to the manufacturers instructions

 Now with applique I like to do a small zigzag stitch around the area. For example on my Janome I put the zigzag stitch at W 2.5 L 0.9 but this might be different on your machine - Just as long as it is not a giant stitch but also captures the layers all is good!

And there you have it - a bookshelf block! Of course mix it up to make it improv and your own. I hope it is a fun block to make and thankyou for taking time to make it!

If you have any questions please let me know!


No comments: