Sunday, March 20, 2011

I am a Stripper

I look at Pat's photo workshop of a disappearing 4 patch. This is a very good explanation of how to sew and cut, to transform a simple 4 patch block into a more complicated block- this is also available on Sally's blog where she received 50 enthusiastic comments.

I immediately thought that this could make a wonderful demo at a guild meeting- with sort of Abrakadabra and a simple 4 patch turn into a wonderful striking block. A few blocks and a wonderful quilt can be created. The blocks can be sewn block to block or separated with sashing.

But.... I am a stripper. Looking at this design I realized that one can also strip piece the design. Strip piecing enable one to cut strips from multiple layers at once. It also eliminates handling of small individual pieces and lead to more effective production where one can sew strips, press, then sub-cut them rearrange them and sew again. At the end of this process you have several blocks instead of completing the blocks one at a time.

I tried Pat's method and compare it with my strip piece method. I realised that strip piecing just suite my work style (It was a bit quicker- but when I sew two incorrect strips together and had to "unsew"- the time saved was eliminated.) I also realise that Pat's method look so simple- that many quilters would rather do it in that way. They can understand it without a lot of words to explain it. Quilters is visual people- that is why many quilters go to workshops instead of using a book and teach themselves. (I love both methods- workshops is such a nice social gathering doing the thing I love!)

For those of you who love time saving efficient methods here is how I would strip:
I choose modern bright prints and combine it with white fabric. From every coloured fabric I cut one strip of 9,5 cm and one of 3,5. I cut a lot of these strips from the white fabric.(Inch measurement would be 3 3/4 inch and 1 and 1/2 inch)

I sew all the wide coloured strips to a narrow white strip and all the wide white strips to a narrow coloured strip. I press the seams to the coloured strip. Then I combine the two different sets by sewing the narrow strips to each other. This seam is also pressed to the coloured strip.

I fold a strip set onto itself and add another dubble layer of a strip set. I sub cut this strip set in 9,5 cm slices as well as 3,5 cm slices- the same amount of each.(It does not help to turn the set around- one is sewing a narrow slice to the wide slice) Then I rearranged the slices and sew a narrow slice to a wide slice. Here one must be careful to create identical units- otherwise you will not be able to make this block.
Mirror images cannot be sewn to each other

When sewing I remind myself that the thin slice beginning with the coloured fabric on top, must be sewn first. In this way I can also take advantage of the seam allowance facing the machine- in this way the two layers lock and I get a better match point.

Once again I press first before cutting the chain between the pieces. Then I sew the final seam and press the blocks. Every thick and thin coloured slice yield 4 blocks (when combined with with the white fabric of course) Just carry on making blocks till you feel you have enough for a usable quilt or wall hanging. (All of my quilts hang on the house walls at one time or another- except those that I specially make to use on the bed.)

Is'nt this wonderful icecream like fabric- so cool one just want to lick it!

In Jinny Beyer's book The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns p155 no 11 Counterpane,  another thin row is added around this block to get this look:

Monday, March 7, 2011


This is a small town in the Karoo. It has been a main sentre when wool production experience a flourishing period. Today the town is run down, many of the old houses is in a poor state and the prosperity of the region and the town has sharply declined.

Amidst this is Nelmarié van Eeden and she makes a difference! This remarkable woman have squashed 3 lives into one. She can write several books about her life, but she choose to live the one given to her right now. She bought this building in the main street and opened her patchwork shop "Laslappies". She plan to make Philipstown the "Patchwork" centre of South Africa and she is on her way to do so.

I was in the fortunate position to go to Philipstown last week to teach the wonderful, interesting and diverse group of women new tricks! Due to Nelmarie's hard work to invite all the leading teachers in South Africa to Philipstown, these women can do a lot of things. For instance, Louise produce 4 quilts a month. So I had to go and mesmerized them with some intricate piecing- to make the 1000 km trip worth their while (and mine). My loyal friend Rita, went with me and took the photographs in this post. (I will write about Rita at another occasion again)

Nelmarie and her husband Anton housed us on their farm Brulfontein, 12 km outside Philipstown- on the Colesberg road. This is a wonderful farmhouse in the Art Nouveau style and probably built around 1950. The wide "corridors" has several Persian carpets and the walls are hung with art collected from South African artists, but also French and English artists. This is the tastefull selection of Anton. What a privilege it was for me and Rita to be surrounded with such wonderful pieces.

Nelmarie imported porcelain vases from China 25 years ago via England through a friend of her's. There was a boikot against South Africa at that time and she made it possible for a few people to own this vases. When she sold enough to cover her costs she took the rest for herself. (Her patchwork shop is also a "charity" effort to bring fabric to people who otherwise would have to work with polyester type fabrics.)

Another speciality of Nelmarie is her garden. A formal "English" Garden near the house take into account that the area is rocky and basically impossible to dig some flower beds. Her garden does not end here- it goes on and on into a previously sheep "kraal". Here the sheep manure enrich the ground and roses and spinach grow next to each other with friendly tomatoes growing all over.

The lovely sheep dog is there to greet one and make sure you feel welcome at all times.

And our beatiful bedroom------

Around the house, the Alpacha's add to this perfect picture. The Van Eeden's have only a few but are saving the wool- it can become a lovely quilt batt!

Anton and I studied the USA atlas to determine exactly where Paducah is- perhaps next year in Paducah!

A spectacular Day break- and the Battery in Rita's camera lasted just long enough to capture this.
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