Hello – I’m Carolyn Gibbs, and my great love is traditional style patchwork and quilting – designing and making things myself, as well as enjoying antique quilts made by others.

In my “other life” I teach Chemistry – and this mathematical and technical interest is perhaps why I love the geometry and precision of patchwork.

I have been developing and teaching my own designs for over twenty years from my base in Sheffield. During this time, I have worked out lots of methods and tips that will give really good results – and I am particularly known for considering which way to press diagonal seams to obtain those elusive “perfect points”. It’s great when students try this out, and I hear the delighted shrieks that “it works!” – without constantly needing the unpicker. There is a lot about this on my website www.CarolynGibbsQuilts.co.uk which my daughter (who is a tech wizard) has been helping me create this year. You’ll definitely be seeing more about this in future months on this blog – but let’s start with a really simple tip for perfect points:

One danger place is where diagonal seams meet vertical or horizontal ones  – when joining triangles onto a border or into a block, for example. It’s very easy to chop off the triangle point when stitching the next seam.

To avoid this, stitch with the triangle side uppermost, and aim for the place where the two seams cross that have already been stitched.

It helps if the vertical seam can be pressed away from the triangle so that you can see the junction.

If anything, stitch just to the seam line side of this point (so that the tip doesn’t hide unseen in the ditch of the seam). You can always stitch another line fractionally closer if necessary – and of course because the first one is in the seam allowance, you don’t need to unpick it!

You may have noticed that the fabric edges are not lined up in the photo above – if more than one triangle meet at a point, you may have to shuffle the relative position of the edges around to get a perfect point, even if this means that that the seam is no longer ¼” wide – it will look right on the front, as seen below, which is what counts!

The final Northern Lights project looks just perfect:

Northern Lights is a great little block for experimenting with, as there are so many ways it can be arranged to give different effects.

You could use up some of your scraps – the pink and purple fabrics I used for the star layout above were left over from a double bed quilt called Solitaire. You can see photos of this on my website.

Just taking four blocks, and rotating each one through 90 degrees can make a cushion cover:

Arranging lots of blocks all in the same direction looks like this:

If the little blocks are arranged in groups of four, with the diagonals circling round in each set, then this is the effect:

And finally, this variation, in which the four square units are rotated so that the Light squares run down the diagonal, and is known as Buckeye Beauty:

You can buy the download pattern for Northern Lights for £8, including all these suggestions, and requirements for a cushion cover or cot quilt. Click here to take you to the page in the UKQU website shop.

Happy quilting!

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