Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Squaring the circle!

This past weekend, 13 of us from our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society went up to Termonfeckin, Co. Louth to a place called An Grianan (Irish for sunny place - was true for one of the days at least!).  The IPS have a sewing retreat there every two years and this was my first time going - about 80 people from around the country attended from the 8 branches and there were lots of workshops going on at the same time.  I chose a workshop, by Sandra Montgomery of Sandy's Quilts, called Circling the Square which for some reason the entire weekend I kept calling squaring the circle!

This was our show and tell at the end of the day!  Very colourful and all so very different from each other. 

Sandra's sample quilts were all done in Batiks and out of all of us in the class Louise and I were the only ones using all solids.

This is what we were attempting to achieve, perfect circles using reverse applique to allow a lighter colour through from the background and finished in a satin stitch!

I chose to use some shot cottons I had on hand.  I bought a bundle from Craftsy last year and have pulled some colours for my Technicolor Galaxy and these colours which are not really me at all were left in the bottom of a plastic tub.  The class requirements were a fat quarters each of 4 colours in both light and dark shades.  I managed to find some light and darks of orange, pink, purple and greeny blue and thought why not try something different. 

Sewing the colours together to make a light bottom and a dark top and then pinning them all within an inch of their cotton life, took quite a bit of time and lots of concentration to match the seams properly!
Then it was onto the fun bit, sewing the circles using a homemade gadget made from thumb tacks and cardboard and cutting away the top layer to reveal the brighter bottom layer underneath!

I'm not a big fan of batiks but they really shone through with this design.  I really like the brighter oranges that Frances was working with.

My more subtle project with the shot cottons surprised me with how light they were, as despite all the pins, they moved a bit.  This is as far as I got after a day and a half working on it!

We got our group photo on the steps of An Grianan and then it was off home to finish our various projects on our own.  Thank you ladies for a really fun weekend!

Probably just as well I was finishing this at home, as cutting away all the interfacing and the background fabric was something I was glad to attempt my own, so I could concentrate fully and get it all off without snipping through the top layer!  That would have been disastrous but thankfully taking my time it worked out and I got it all off leaving only about 1/8" seam all around the circles!

I did visit the shops available during the weekend, and bought some YLI variegated thread, in blue to go with my collection.  I struggle to find projects to use them with sometimes but like them in this piece.  I use aurifil 50wt in the bobbin and YLI on top and it helps somehow, to get an even look.

This is where I am now and have to decide on which colours to use as a border.  I'm leaning towards purple but could be tempted by the green/blues!  What do you think?
The project makes a wall hanging but I had intended for it to be a cushion for our new sofa.  The fabrics being so light weight has me second guessing that decision.  G thinks so much work has gone into it now that it would be shame not to enjoy it as a wall hanging.  Anyone else had any experience with Kaffe Fassett shot cottons?  Could it take the wear and tear of a cushion in a house with dogs?

If you ever have the chance to do a workshop with Sandra @ Sandy Quilts don't hesitate.  She was a great teacher and we all had great fun attempting perfect circles! 


  1. What a very cool technique. I do struggle with things shifting around when I work with big heavy applique stitching. Did you learn any tips to deal with that or was heavy pinning the way to go?

  2. This looks so interesting, Ruth! I love your project and the colours you used! x Teje

  3. So neat. I love the variegated thread.

  4. Such a cool technique, I love the different effects it can create.

  5. I really like the back of the quilt with the thread circles. It's an interesting technique and the results are quite striking.

  6. Sounds like a wonderful retreat- and the variegated thread is perfect for this!

  7. That looks like such a fun class Ruth and I really love your rendition in shot cottons! The variegated thread used for a satin stitch is something I had never seen before and it looks really cool.
    You should go for it with making the cushion. One thing you can do to strengthen the fabric is apply fusible fleece to the back of the panels before sewing them together. It helps make such a sharp looking cushion that keeps it shape better and doesn't sag.
    So... a new sofa eh? I hope this one survives Wilbur's redecorating tendencies, LOL.

  8. That looks like a lot of fun! Was it difficult to satin stitch the circles? I love yours in shot cotton! A new sofa? I wonder why that made me think of Wilbur :)


  9. This post reminded me of Cindy's story about workshop. I don't know why some people are so fixated with batik. Lovely neat job. Hope you had a lovely weekend!

  10. This is such a clever idea and yours has turned out beautifully. I think your shot cottons are perfect for this design :)

  11. March 29th our theme at TUesday Archives is CIrcles...do ya mind if I highlight this post?? Your circles are so creative and unique!!


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