Thursday, September 1, 2016

Welcome to Sparkling Spring! - And to my New Federation Seven-Point Star Block

After what felt like a very long, cold, wet, winter it's wonderful to be welcoming the First Day of Spring!   Not a moment too soon!   

Here in Melbourne, the past few years have usually given us rather dry, cool, sunny winter days. So this Winter, I really missed the opportunity to spend more time outdoors.
On the bright side, I've been powering ahead with my hand-piecing, and feel like my technique is improving noticeably.   

I prefer to use the simple 'running stitch method' - no papers required, so it's much simpler and faster

I've also been having fun with Liberty prints and Kona Solids. 
I've finalised the design of my hand-pieced Federation Seven-Point Star block, which I originally drafted about 3 years ago.  

There are many variations of traditional 6-point and 8-point star blocks.  However, my research couldn't locate any reference to a pieced 7-point star block, (apart from one with appliqued pieces).  I'm not surprised, as the maths is pretty complex, even for me.
My starting point was trying out the measurements of the 7-point Federation Star on the Australian Flag, as outlined on the Commonwealth website.  Only, this is far more complex than it looks!   

The star diamond points are not symmetrical vertically (neither the edge lengths, nor the angles).  So, when I practiced a block, I kept mixing up the direction of the diamonds!  Not good.

So, after many months of trial and error, I came up with the dimensions that work for me - and I'm very pleased with the result.  The Diamond forms the star (for as many rounds as you wish to add), and the Triangle and Corner pieces turn your star into a Heptagon! (7 sides).   Makes a change from a circle, don't you agree? 

My new  Window templates are listed on my Etsy Store, and will soon be on my New On-Line Shop - 

These templates are hand-made and laser-cut for accuracy from 1/8th inch thick (3mm) Plexiglas.  (The same material used for commercial quilting rulers).  

The ones pictured are in "Pale Blue" - or choose from 5 other colours.   
I enjoyed designing, laser-cutting and using these handy templates for my hand-piecing. They make cutting the fabric pieces very accurate.   The pieces come together beautifully and there's no worrying about maths or angles.  You can draw along the outside edge for the cutting line, and the inside edge for the stitching line.  So convenient and portable!

Soon to come are my Border or Frame templates (4 templates to cut 7 fabric pieces), which extend the star into a Square 18 inch finished block.   Such a neat number!     Four blocks will make a 36 x 36 inch square quilt - perfect for a small lap quilt or wall hanging.  Or make and join more blocks for a larger quilt.   

I'm in the process of writing a pattern for this - (my first one - another new skill to learn!)


On a totally different note.....

Due to all the unseasonal rain this winter, there hasn't been much vegetable gardening for the past few months. I know - ironic, isn't it?  If I had been disciplined and steeled myself against the damp and cold in April / May, I could have been enjoying some massive vege growth by now.   (Though my caution did pay off in the sense that I managed to avoid coming down with the flu or even a head-cold).

Well, as it was still August (as of yesterday), perhaps it's not too late to plant some cherry tomato seedlings?  Maybe the garden bed will reward me after lying fallow for nearly a year?   

Our family loves home-grown cherry tomatoes, and we've found the perfect growing spot against the shed, facing the north sun, which has produced prolific crops over the past 5 years. These tasty tomatoes are terrific to toss into salads, grilled with eggs, or can be frozen (to add to casseroles).  I think I've almost talked myself into getting out the tools??!!  It's a lot more likely now, since the weather is definitely warming up. Hopefully, my next post will show some progress (and photos).

Thanks for visiting! Have a great month!

Lisa   1st September 2016.