Hello! I’m really delighted to be with you today! I happened to be on the UK Quilters Facebook page when there was a request for anyone who fancied designing blocks to volunteer for this special blog hop. Strictly speaking, I’m a beginner; I’ve only done 4 quilts ( can you count a WIP?!) and some orphan blocks, but I’ve wanted to try my hand at creating a block for a while. I mean, how hard could it be?!! (harder than I first imagined it turned out!) After doing some maths (who knew I’d finally use what I learned in school !) I came up with an initial design using this flower..
Why the Thistle? Well despite not having any formal links with Scotland, we did have some amazing breaks in the Scottish Borders a few years back and I adore the beautiful scenery. According to history, the thistle was used on silver coins during the reign of James III and was incorporated into the Royal Arms of Scotland from the early 16th Century. Design wise, I particularly love geometric shapes so the thistle seemed like the perfect choice. I love the way they sway in the wind and their utterly unique shape.
My first attempt wasn’t entirely successful, but that’s the fun of the process; tweaking and improving.
The stem just looked wrong. I know, it’s not sewn perfectly in the middle. I blame the after midnight sewing session (but that’s just my excuse!). The bottom of the flower was too big and bulky, and not true to the form of the thistle. So I thought I’d try doing a little stitch and flip and see if I could simplify the design without making the pattern too complicated!
This is what I ended up with. The green section looks more wonky than it is in real life- but it’s about finishing it, right?
I envisage this on a quilt made up with different shades of purples and pinks or maybe the odd rogue orange toned block! I thought I’d show you a few step-by-step photos plus if you manage to make it to the end of this blog post, I’ve a couple of additional ideas for altering the basic pattern.
Part of my initial exploration involved trying to work out how to sew three 30 degree triangles together so the points matched up perfectly. For many of you, you probably did this aeons ago, but I loved trying to work it out. Turns out, it’s pretty simple, you only need to make sure the second and third triangle points line up in a parallel fashion.
After you’ve got the first three triangles, you need to repeat for the other side and you’ll end up with a ‘fan’ of triangles.
I wanted a little angled section on each side of the flower so a simple stitch and flip was in order. Next up, we had to work out how to do the bottom. The easiest thing would have been to just use green fabric (which for speed, or if you want to simplify the process is fine) but I wanted to add texture. Creating strips is pretty easy but it does really add something ‘extra’ to the finished block.
To get the angles, it’s a little more ‘stitch and flip’. If you’ve never tried this technique before, let me assure you that it’s pretty easy. I’m a beginner and could cope with it, so you can too!
The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that my points don’t match up perfectly. Once I’d created my second and third variation, my points were much better. Turns out, practice does really make (sort of) perfect!
I think I had the most fun creating the pattern and diagrams using Quilt Assistant, which is free downloadable software and pretty intuitive. Even if you’re not tech savvy, you’ll pick it up quickly. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at your own designs, I thoroughly recommend having a play with it (and your points ALWAYS match in these diagrams!)
I can’t wait to sew up an entire quilt top using this design but before you go, do you want to see it in a different colourway?
If you don’t have the bottom triangles as white, and pop in some more colour, turns out that the block now looks pretty close to a carnation. If you take the stitch and flip one step further…
I just added another stitch and flip set of squares underneath the triangles as well as above them. Add a little appliqued piece on the top and you have a cute little acorn.
Now it’s just time to quilt to your heart’s content. I did some hand quilting and machine quilting and loved the combo. I used the really beautiful Vlieseline 266 wool mix batting and it quilts fabulously.
As it turned out, this was a wonderful exploration into basic quilt design and really got me chomping at the bit to create more. I’ve got some quilts planned out already, but if you’re interested, there are more designs in my UKQU shop here.
You can size this block down to a 10″ or less by just reducing the borders. I made a smaller block which was a great size for this sturdy book bags using left over fabric and some upcycled charity shop jeans! I loved quilting this, adding the diagonal quilting to make the base of the thistle more realistic and trying to mimic the spikes of the leaves on the purple triangles.
This post is already long enough, but if you want more hints and tips about how to put it together plus other photos, check out the blog post on my personal blog. Don’t forget to come back to the Blog Hop each day and look at the fabulous designs of the other ‘hoppers’. Perhaps you will create your own Hopper Quilt from them all? The patterns for all designs can be found in the UKQU Merchandise shop here online
I’m excited to see all the other designs and ‘hop’ along each day. All that’s needed now is to say thank you for joining me (and having me here) and I hope to see you again soon.
Keren Baker x