A Mixed Bag of Minis

I live close to Wigtown, Scotlands National Book Town, which holds a book festival each year from late September to early October.  To celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, the artist and illustrator Astrid Jaekel covered the exterior walls of eleven buildings in paper designs. Here are some of her designs. Aren’t they fabulous! I just love them and wish they could stay up forever.

I have more variety to show you in my quilts today, as I have digressed a little from my usual designs since my last post. I have been working on one quirky (maybe a little odd) black-and-white mini quilt, a few more of my usual Scottish themed ones, one for Christmas, and one just for fun. Some are traditional patterns that I have re-imagined and some are just traditional patterns with a pictorial element to them.

I have been making good progress with my plan to do a whole lot of quilt tops first, rather than do one at a time but actually it’s rather addictive and I can see that I might  eventually feel overwhelmed by all the ones I then have to finish. Luckily they are small!

I’m in a hurry to finish the series of 8 inch square mini quilts I have planned because I am itching to try something else altogether; something more ‘arty’ using paint and stitch, with only the odd pieced background, maybe.

I have noticed that I am rather rubbish at triangles and have been avoiding them for years. I also notice that guidance/tutorials on the English Paper Pieced triangle are non-existent. None of my EPP books cover them. So, if you come across a tutorial, or are good with EPP triangles and feel like passing on a few tips, I’m listening. In the meantime I have bought myself Gwen Marston’s ’20 Little Triangle Quilts’ to get in some serious practice. IMG_1646It comes with templates inside and, in this book, none of them have an added seam allowance which is great for EPP addicts. There is a whole series of these “20 Little” books but strangely, some come with templates on card stock, some on paper and some do have an added seam allowance, which is annoying when you don’t expect it. You you will probably notice that my fabric tends to pucker where the points of my triangles meet other pieces. I think I have stitched the triangle point in too tightly, worried that a gap might form in this area. When I figure it out, I’ll you know.

I’m thinking a trouble shooting page might be good on this site where people could share tips and strategies and pass them on.

By the way, I watched Stacy Dooley’s documentary called ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ a few days ago and if you are in the UK I urge you to watch it on BBC I Player. I knew cotton used a lot of water but didn’t realise HOW much and had no idea of the effect that producing cotton, and clothing in general, has on the environment and people’s health. I was shocked and saddened to learn the reality of the fast fashion business in particular and I’m glad to say I live miles away from any high street and can’t afford to buy more of what I already have, anyway. However, I love cotton and most of what I buy is cotton. I have always thought of it as a wonderful, natural product, and wouldn’t quilt with anything else. However, I have now resolved to buy and use less.

My quilts are made from best quality cotton, usually from designers like Moda, Lewis and Irene, Riley Blake and occasionally Makower and Robert Kaufmann. I choose these because their fabrics don’t shrink, the colour doesn’t run, creases iron out like magic and they are the right weight to produce good results. However, fabric from these makers is now becoming quite expensive for even a Fat Quarter (18″ x 22″ piece) so next year I plan to paint and stitch over old sheeting instead.

So back to my recently made quilt tops. I am strangely happy with a this black and white one that I call ‘House Angel’. I told you it was odd ;

IMG_1641 I wouldn’t say I believe in angels but I like the idea of my house being protected something larger than myself.  The idea came from a traditional pattern I was looking at called ‘Storm at Sea’, which I love, when I saw an angel. Can you see her in the top left hand corner? And can you see two others, one on either side of her?

S at sea

Storm at Sea 

I chose to feature just one but I think I will make another quilt that includes all of them, maybe for Christmas.

The danger of these unfinished quilts is that they can look a bit blah when they have just been pieced, not necessarily squared up and have ugly tacking/basting stitches all around the edges. But even the most basic one is transformed once quilting and/or surface embroidery is added. I may paint the House Angel’s face, embroider her wings and embellish the house doors and windows.

My thoughts have turned to Christmas recently as I always buy my gifts early, to spread the cost, reduce stress and because I have noticed that prices go up as we get closer to Christmas. I have only one family member left to buy for which is good because we are only in October. I bought some lovely Lewis and Irene fabric recently, with scattered red thistles, and planned to add some of it in with a red, green and tan mini charm pack I wanted to use up. I wanted to call it ‘Thistle Jam’.

However, much as I loved the thistles, they didn’t work with this little on point pattern. Sometimes the ‘mood’ that fabrics project just isn’t right, so I used some little stars I had in my stash instead. Now, it’s more like Pine Tree Jam. Sadly, the triangle tips have caused some puckering but I am hoping that when I add the border, it won’t be as noticeable.


For a continuation of my Scottish theme, I first chose to make this simple block aptly named ‘Bonnie Scotsman’. I am still wondering whether to add a stag and a moon like the paper shape I have placed on it, or if that is too obvious and I should add something more unusual.

IMG_1635 copy

I have begun the first of two Unicorn mini quilts. This one has a lovely soft feminine colour palette. I know some little girls that dream of unicorns and think they might like this one.  IMG_1638

I have also begun a second Luckenbooth, using Liberty fabrics in gorgeous candy pinks (see my March 19th ‘Update – Work in Progress’ post to find out what a Lukenbooth is, if you don’t already know)  but it’s not coming right and I have unpicked some of it and I am leaving it to one side for a while, so that I can see what’s gone wrong without getting upset about it.IMG_1644

Lastly, I have had fun making a modern version of the pattern traditionally called ‘Little Boy’s Britches’ that was popular in the 1800’s, long before women started wearing trousers. I thought would be great if it featured pairs of jeans.

IMG_1637Soon I will add the stitching up the leg and across the belt, fly and pockets and then they will look more like jeans. I was thinking of embroidering something in the centre like ‘Love Your Jeans’ or ‘I love My Jeans’. What do you think? Better left blank?

So that’s it for today, more Scottish themed ones to come before a return to some houses (with a difference), more angels of different kinds, two or three with birds (starlings and geese) and a some fun ones of different kinds. And lots more pesky triangles!

Till next time…


4 thoughts on “A Mixed Bag of Minis

  1. I like the white stag and moon. It makes me think of a cold, clear winter night, crisp and clean and wrapping up in a warm plaid blanket. Maybe, too, it has something to do with the cold weather we are experiencing here as Fall sets in. Ha! And I agree, it looks like you’ve been busy. Well done.


    • Thanks Jean x. I love your vision of a stag on a cold winter night. Now all I have to do is embroider it on. Hmm. Those antlers worry me a bit. We’ll see how it goes. I prefer appliqué because if it looks awful you can remove it easily but those skinny antlers would present problems I think, so embroidery it is.


  2. Wow, you have been busy!
    I really like your idea of painting your own cloth. Have you tried using Derwent Inktense blocks or pencils? They give a very rich result. I seem to remember that Derwent have a video or two on how to use the product with fabric.


    • Yes, I love those pencils! I used them last year to colour the little daisies on some house brooches I made. I’m glad you said I’d been busy. That’s reassuring as I always think that I’m slacking.


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