Moda Blockheads 3

January 20th, 2021 | Moda fabric, Other | 14 Comments
Janet Clare - Moda Blockheads 3 - Windmill Block

Hello and welcome to my last week as a Moda blockheads 3 designer. It’s been so much fun sewing along with you all and a great distraction from the ugly real world out there!

I grew up on the Kent coast not too far from the White Cliffs of Dover and we spent a lot of time as children on the sandy beaches building sandcastles and playing in the rockpools. We used to decorate our sandcastles with shells, seaweed and pebbles but every once in a while we were treated to a real paper windmil!

My block features four windmills and is quick and simple to piece particularly if you follow my technique for making eight half square triangles at the same time.

I’ve been making my Blockheads quilt with my Geometry fabric collection and have been loving the sharp green accents with my favourite indigo and cream colour palette.

My newest fabric collection is called ‘The Blues’ and here’s a little video of me describing my inspiration and design process. This video was edited by our sixteen year old and I think he did a brilliant job (I might be a tad biased though!).

So, without further ado, click here to download the pattern for our ‘Windmills’ block!

When you’ve made yours please share it in the Moda Blockheads 3 Facebook group and a little Moda bird tells me there is a ‘The Blues’ layer cake ready to be won by a lucky Blockhead!

Moda Blockheads 3

October 14th, 2020 | Other | 5 Comments

It’s my turn to design our Blockheads 3 block again! This time I’ve chosen string blocks as they’re so quick, fun and using up all those little strips of fabric makes them thrifty too.

I like to cut my strings with scissors to give me a more spontaneous and lively looking block, but if you prefer things to be accurate and tidy then you can certainly cut your fabric with your rotary cutter.

I also chose to use the foundation or ‘flip and sew’ method for my string blocks as it means I can stitch however I wish and then trim neatly to size later – the best of both worlds!

First, cut your foundation squares referring to the sizes in the pattern. I use a lightweight interfacing to do this as it is less bulky than fabric. Draw a diagonal line on each foundation square.

Cut a wide range of strings.

Place the first string with right side uppermost on the diagonal line. I kept the first string the same in every square to form a stronger diamond pattern.

Take the second string and place that with right sides together on top of the first string. Sew. ‘Open’ the second string and press in place.

Repeat until all your foundation square is covered. Press well. Don’t worry they always look a complete mess at this stage!

Trim your stitched square to the size you need (don’t forget your seam allowances!). Repeat the above process until you have all the string blocks you need.

Stitch them all together and press well. Admire your handiwork and never point out your mistakes!

Thank you so much for being a Blockhead with us. Here’s your ‘Strings’ pattern.

Zig-Zags

It’s my turn to be Head Blockhead this week! And we’re going to be making zig-zag blocks.

I’ve kept the pieces small because it’s important to have a variety of sizes and scales in a sampler quilt so it’s interesting to make and also to look at. Our zig-zag blocks will add energy and a sense of fun!

Space

I chose to make the half square triangles using the ‘8 at a time’ method, which really speeds things up. You’ll have half square triangles leftover but I’m sure they’ll come in handy for later blocks.

The following tutorial is for one inch finished half square triangles. This method of making half square triangles leaves you with a lot of bias edges which can stretch out of shape very easily. Starching your fabric before you begin will help enormously as will handling your half square triangles as little as possible.

To make 8 half square triangles take two x 4 inch squares (one dark, one light or as you wish)

Draw both the diagonal lines on the reverse of the palest square.

Spac

Put pretty sides together and stitch a scant quarter inch away on both sides of the drawn diagonal lines.

Space

Now cut your squares in half vertically and half again horizontally.

Space

Cut again on each of your drawn diagonal lines. You will now have 8 half square triangles.

Space

Press well. Trim to 1 1/2 inches unfinished.

Arrange your half square triangles as you wish and stitch carefully together.

Space

Stand back and admire your handiwork and never point out your mistakes!

Download Block 26 – Zig Zags here

It’s so much fun stitching along with you all! I’m really happy with my blocks so far! I haven’t got a layout planned, I’m just going to see where this adventure takes me and make it work from there.

The indigo and cream rows above my Blockhead blocks is ‘Twenty twenty’ my free quilt-along for all members of my email club.

You can sign up here

Janet Clare's free 'Twenty Twenty' quilt-along and her Mood BlockHeads3 Blocks
My free ‘Twenty Twenty’ quilt-along with my Moda BlockHeads3 Blocks

Keep up to date with all that is happening at Janet Clare on Instagram.

Spoondrift

May 4th, 2020 | Other | No Comments

My quilt ‘Spoondrift’ as featured in current block of the month ‘Today’s Quilter’ has been really enjoyable to design, but a challenge in terms of calculating fabric requirements when we are not that many blocks further ahead than you.

We are currently up to month 7 of 12 and we try really hard to get things right but we are sorry to say that we have made a few mistakes along the way.

Here is what we should have said:

Month 1 and 2

The requirements list includes ‘Seaweed Sky’ as one of the fabrics, but it is in fact ‘Seaweed Ocean’, which is just a little darker in tone. No ‘Seaweed Sky’ is used in the quilt which is reflected in the full requirements list.

Month 4

For the ‘Time and Tide’ block:

1. ‘Cutting Out’

For Stripe Pearl, the directions indicate ‘six (6) 6in squares‘ need to be cut. Only two are required.

In addition, one 5 1/2 in square of Starfish Ocean is required.

2. ‘Making the centre unit’ – Step 13

The instructions say ‘take the 5 1/4in squares’. However, the cutting directions were for 5 1/2in squares. It is fine to use these, it makes the construction more forgiving and allows the resulting centre unit to be trimmed to 4 1/2 in.

Month 6

There are four things to be aware of in Month 6:

1. ‘You will need’

In the ‘You will need’ section Stripe Dark Ocean – 19in x 8in is listed, it should be 19in x 9in as the British Isles block calls for a 9in square to be cut.

2. Cutting out, step one

After cutting the 13” Starfish Pearl square into four 6 ½”squares, do not cut these on the diagonal, this will result in triangles which are not quite big enough to cover foundation piece A2 and B2.

Instead take the four 6 ½” squares and position the foundation templates as follows to enable you to get all the fabric pieces required and the directionality of fabrics aligned. Make sure your foundation templates include the seam allowance all around.

As you can see in these photos from Pippa, she has made additional copies of the templates and cut out the sections she is working on. You will need the complete foundation template with all three sections on one piece of paper when stitching the block.

In general, this approach of making extra copies of the foundation templates and cutting out the individual sections with a generous ¼” seam allowance all around, will allow you to play with their position on larger pieces of fabric and get the directionality as you wish before marking and cutting to size.

Note: If you cut accurate sections of fabric, it will require more accurate piecing!

Here is another example with the striped fabric used on the compass point.

Working with larger sections of fabric can also help get directionality as you require

3. Foundation Templates

The A and B labelling on the ‘Foundation Templates’ is round the wrong way and will result in fabrics being swapped in your compass points – this is what it looks like when the fabrics are swapped – it doesn’t change the look of the block significantly and would still look great in the final quilt this way!

Spoondrift Compass Block - Swapped colours
Compass block looks great even with the colours swapped!

The template labelled A1, A2, A3 should be B1, B2 and B3 and vice versa. To achieve the same fabric position as the photo in the magazine, just re-label your foundation templates as shown below, then follow the piecing instructions.

Swap the labels on the templates to reverse the colours

4. UK Map Appliqué Templates

A Today’s Quilter reader Heide pointed out that we had omitted her home the Isle of Man from the appliqué templates. Sorry about that, it wasn’t intentional, the Isle of Man did appear on Janet’s much loved ‘Good Old Blighty’ quilt from her book ‘Hearty Good Wishes’!

'Good Old Blighty' by Janet Clare, otherwise know as 'The Shipping Forecast' quilt.

Whilst the map in ‘Spoondrift’ is a much smaller generic representation of the UK, the Isle of Man has now been added and you can download the updated templates here if you wish.

Some General Tips

In addition here are a few general tips to consider as you make your blocks:

1. In the first article (Issue 55) a fabric grid with little fabric swatches for the entire ‘Ebb and Flow’ collection was published. The design did not ultimately use all of these, but uses 20 fabrics to piece the blocks and for sashing. The full requirements list can be downloaded here.

2. At the start of each month, a section called ‘You will need’ is included. This provides guidance on the amount of fabric you need to make both blocks featured in that month. Do not beginning cutting based on this list! Follow the cutting instructions for each block and you will be able to be as thrifty as possible with your fabric, look to use your remnants first.

3. The instructions tell you how I made the blocks. As you know, there is more than one way to do everything, so if you know a better way or just prefer to do things your way then feel free.

4. Read through all the instructions before cutting. Then plan carefully and consider the orientation of your prints, the appliqué templates and any sections you may wish to fussy cut. If in doubt, practice a little with some scrap fabric first before you go ahead and cut the fabric for your actual block.

5. Look after all your scraps, they will most likely come in useful for future blocks! There are some tiny pieces used for appliqué throughout the design.

Drawing

April 28th, 2020 | Other | No Comments

It’s Spring here in the UK and working from home these last few strange weeks has given me the opportunity to spend more time in our garden. We are not gardeners by any stretch- so there are weeds, patchy grass and bare fences and poppies, wisteria and a few beautiful bluebells.

I’ve been drawing them in my favourite dipping pen and indigo ink.

A few moments of delightful calm and a sketchbook fast filling up with memories of Spring.

Block Heads 3

Block 12 – ‘Hampshire Star’

Welcome Block Headers!

Let me introduce myself;  I’m Janet and live in Hampshire, England with my husband, Tony, our teenage sons and a dog called Betty. Tony runs our quilting design business and is affectionately known as ‘Chief of Everything’ because that’s what he does!

Betty, Janet and the Chief of Everything at the studio

We are lucky to live an hour from London and the seaside and can be in open countryside in half an hour. Hampshire has also had some very famous residents including Jane Austen who wrote ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and made a quilt here:

Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire

Equally famous but completely fictitious residents also live close by at Highclere Castle (the real Downton Abbey)

Highclere Castle - home to Downton Abbey residents

It’s a very nice place to call home!

You can see what we get up to, our beautiful studio and all my creative projects on Facebook and Instagram. And do join our email club and get a free block of the month! This year’s quilt is called ‘Twenty Twenty’ and currently looks like this:

Janet Clare -TwentyTwenty - First Three Sections - Sign up!

And now, on to the reason you’re all here! I’m really enjoying seeing all your blocks on the Block Heads Facebook group page and one thing I keep noticing is how very different the same block looks depending on the placement of the fabrics chosen. You can really change the whole effect of a block just by switching the tonal placements.

So, I thought it would be fun to cut my squares and make my half square triangles (HST) and then keep re-arranging them to see what variations I could come up with. I am using my upcoming ‘Geometry’ fabric collection which we hope will be available to purchase later this month (April 2020). You need four distinct tones to make the most striking blocks.

I have used the same set of units for each the following designs though in some cases I have shuffled and rotated some of the squares and HSTs so two of the layouts do differ a little from the one shown in the pattern. Here they are:

Block Heads 3 - Block 12 - 'Hampshire Star' -  Layout 1
This follows the pattern layout
Block Heads 3 - Block 12 - 'Hampshire Star' -  Layout 2
and so does this one
Block Heads 3 - Block 12 - 'Hampshire Star' -  Layout 3
In this layout, some squares and HSTs have been shuffled and rotated
Block Heads 3 - Block 12 - 'Hampshire Star' -  Layout 4
This layout differs from pattern too, but still uses all the same units!

In the end, I settled on this design!

Block Heads 3 - Block 12 - 'Hampshire Star' -  Final Layout
This is close to the unit layout in pattern, with just eight HSTs rotated!

I’ve popped this onto my design wall in the studio along with the other Block Head 3 blocks and my ‘Twenty Twenty’ quilt-along.

Janet Clare's Studio Design Wall

I’m also thinking about making a ‘Hampshire Star’ quilt, I will post some ideas when I have given it a bit more thought. You can follow my progress on Instagram.

Thank you for being a Moda Block Head!

All in a Row Again

November 14th, 2017 | Other | 192 Comments