Stitching News: August 2019

Welcome to the August Stitching News. It is earlier than normal, but we shall be away towards the end of the month, so I am trying to get ahead of myself!

Seventeen years ago, in 2002, I made a quilt which I called Inca. It is one of my all time favourite quilts and was constructed with many “wonky spiral” log cabin style blocks and predominantly machine quilted throughout with spirals. The two large warrior blocks at the top and bottom of the quilt were developed from rubbings that I took from our Peruvian leather topped coffee table that was given to us as a wedding present by my brother in law.

At the time he was stationed out in Peru with the RAF. I recreated them in Mola work, and the work in those panels was all done by hand; the applique and the quilting.

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This photograph shows closer detail of the wonky spiral blocks which surround the central panel, and also the little Inca warriors, which form two long borders down each side. 

If you can zoom in on the device you are reading this on, you can see that every Inca Warrior is different. All pattern on them was inspired by Peruvian pottery.





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This photograph shows the detail of the “centres” of the outer blocks. I created many “centres” first. They were all wonky, and in the region of 1″ finished!

I then built the rest of the block around them. The intention was that the spiral would catch the eye and the rest of the block would sit quietly!






I made this quilt seventeen years ago in 2002. When we moved down to Cornwall in 2010, I was asked if I would do a workshop on the irregular spiral log cabin blocks.

I always like to refresh myself before a workshop, especially if it is a while since I have approached the technique, so I decided to create some new blocks and turn them into a bag.  It would be a totally different use and could show them off well. So here I can explain the process of actually making the “wonky spiral” log cabin style blocks.



Making bags has always been a great joy for me. The one I am showing you now I made several years ago, but I hardly ever used it….. probably because I was onto the “next one”!! However, it is a really nice size and is particularly roomy as well and I am enjoying using it now!


At the designing stage I had worked out the size of the bag, and the size of the pocket I wanted on the front. This view, on the left,  shows the front of the bag, with the patchwork pocket.


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I drew out the full sized finished shape of the pocket onto freezer paper. It was to be 10″ wide by 7.5″ deep. I divided that shape into two. The central dividing line would be a stitch line when applied to the front of the main bag, thus dividing the large pocket into two, both having one large wonky block. I also chose to have a change of scale by creating a 1.5″ deep border of small blocks across the top of the pockets, and then divided the top border into 6 units. Finally I numbered each individual section.

I marked the top edge of each block, then cut them up into the individual freezer paper templates. ….eight in total.  An example diagram is shown above.

I then prepared my strips, choosing two hand dyed fabrics, which contrasted well. Wonky units are made with some strips cut as a wedge shape. I also had standard strips of different widths. Some are thin and others much wider, especially in the larger blocks. 

Those of you familiar with the assembly of various traditional log cabin blocks, will be able to see the seam lines of the blocks and therefore work out the order of piecing, starting in the “centre”, but the photo of the order of piecing is below, as a refresher, and also for newcomers to this technique. The order of sewing the strips is very important as the colour placement creates the spiral.

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The function of the freezer paper templates is crucial to ensuring that the blocks fit well together.

I worked on several blocks together and as they seemed to be approaching the size I wanted, I could place one of the freezer paper templates over them, and could instantly see which edge required another strip, bearing in mind that I needed to trim the blocks half an inch larger then the freezer paper template. As each block became viable, I ironed the appropriate template in place on the right side of the block, lined up the 1/4″ line on the edge of my ruler, on top of the edge of the freezer paper, trimming the blocks with rotary cutter, thus including the seam allowance outside the template.



You can see the back of the bag in this photo.  I made more wonky blocks and stitched them together, making up the “rectangle” to the size of the front panel using the navy blue patterned fabric down each side and along the bottom.

As you can see this wonky panel is asymmetrical….my choice! There was always the option of creating a regular rectangular wonky panel if preferred!






The corners of this bag have been boxed if you are interested in this technique which creates a nice roomy bag it explained the technique in the April 2018; link below

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As the bag was so roomy, and I was going to add a poppa closure with tassel, I decided to make the top of the bag a little less “open”, and vulnerable to “gaping”.

I did this by stitching and linking buttons, back to back at the top of both sides, stitching through the folded gusset….the photo shows the detail.

I just fiddled until I got the result I was imagining! It does the job admirably, helping the bag to keep its shape well!

It does us all good to “think outside the box”.  This is the way our personal ideas and creativity expand. I created interesting straps with this bag as well, because I didn’t have enough of the main blue fabric for two blue straps. but the end result is much more interesting!

In last month’s blog I said I wanted to make a dress and bag, and would show you them this month. The dress is made and the bag will be during the next few days. However I am going to post them next month because there are a few friends and family who read this blog, and I want it to be a surprise when I see them in three weeks time! I have very definitely made the dress “mine” as you will see, next month. I am delighted with it.

I will show them both next month as they go together! The dress pattern is the Merchant and Mills Trapeze pattern. It was very straightforward. I made a toile first, so that I could estimate the size, and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it made up. I must admit I only hand tacked it, without putting the sleeves in even though I had cut them out. It was sufficient to show me that I could get on and make up the dress in my chosen fabric. The toile was made out of a very nice weight white fabric 100% cotton that I bought from Whaleys many moons ago. In the autumn I shall make it up and dye it in the washing machine over dyeing jeans at the same time.

Dates for your diary. 

Brenda Thomas, who many of you will know makes absolutely beautiful pictorial hangings, has an exhibition of her work at Cowslip workshops; Newhouse Farm, Launceston PL15 8JX, until August 30th.  Among the exhibits the “Good Morning Gorran” quilt will be there and a large quilt of Mousehole. Not to be missed if you are looking for a lovely day out in a perfect venue!

August 30th, 31st and 1st September,  Leominster Quilters exhibition at Bodenham Parish Hall, HR1 3BL. Opening times 10-4 each day. More information available at:   (Please note that this is a new venue for the exhibition.)

12th –14th September. Harbour Quilters Exhibition.  Jubilee Hall, Chapel Street, Mevagissey, Cornwall PL26 6SS Open 10am – 4pm. Admission £2. Two beautiful raffle quilts (one French linen & one Irish tweed), trade stall, refreshments (incl. home-made cakes & light lunches). Disabled access to hall, and parking within short walking distance. For further details please contact Pam McCallum on 01726 843520.

Happy Stitching until next time.




3 thoughts on “Stitching News: August 2019

  1. Hi Dithanks so much for sending this – do hope you’ll be doing something wonderful at the end of the month! Hope the rest of the summer goes well for you all. Lots of loveLindsay xx


  2. Hello Di,
    So nice to meet you today at Harbour Quilters and funny we had so much in common- twins, Portscatho, health!
    Hoping this is the place to find out about any workshops you are running as I’m always lookyto improve my techniques.
    Best of luck with the rest of the exhibition, Sharon


    1. Dear Sharon,
      It was an absolute pleasure to talk with you this afternoon. Over the years it has always been of great interest to me just how many nurses and midwives etc are interested in patchwork.
      If you have a chance to read some of the blogs on here, many of them have small projects, with tips etc for small items, and although it is always a great pleasure to stitch with like minded people it is also quite interesting to work through a technique from some given instruction. If you did have an opportunity to try anything out, I would always be pleased to help you out if you needed some help/ got stuck etc
      Hope the twins enjoyed their cake! Very best wishes,


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