Artnextdoor's Blog

My place to be creative

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How far can a layer cake go?

From just one pile of 40 10” squares of fabric and 1 metre of two coordinating fabrics and 1/4 of basic white, how many items can be made?

I chose to work with Moda’s basic grey/blitzen with the coordinating fabric taken from this range.

Christmas Layer CakeChristmas Yardage 1Christmas Yardage 2


The basic white I had from Doughty’s online – I bought a whole bolt as I can get through white at a rate that can be quite frightening at times as it is so versatile and it is slightly cheaper to buy a bolt.

I did not use the layer cake pieces as 10” squares but chose to cut these into 5” squares.  Which in effect gave me 4 charm packs.

From these charm packs I used 69 squares for the large quilt with a 1/4 metre of white and 1/2 metre of the red yardage.

Large 51x51

This quilt measures 51”x51” and came from an idea I had seen many years ago (sadly I can’t remember where).  Once I had made this quilt top I decided it was far too large for my needs so I got to work again reducing the number of 5” squares for the centre.

Medium 41x41

It has yet to be finished but is a much more the size I require 41″x41″.  All that is left to do is:- layering up, quilting, and finally the binding – this applies today to all the items I have made from this fabric line.

With the left overs I have made 3 smaller table toppers measuring 18” and the backing for one of these toppers, which could be used to make a cushion instead as the piece measures 19” square.

small 1 18x18Small 2 18x18Small 3 18x18

Backing 19inches


At the present time I only have scraps left of the layer cake and about 1/2 metre of the white/red/green yardage. Perhaps I will make a cushion and use the basic white as the backing.

Could I have made much more from just this one layer cake?

Next time I use a layer cake  it will, perhaps, be time to change shape!

The layer cake is (apart from being a calorie loaded type of cake) a selection of approximately 40 x 10” squares of fabric, the selection is usually from the entire fabric designs in one range but can and often does contain duplicates. The name Layer Cake was originally coined by Moda, although there are other selections from other manufacturers.


Restocking my stash of hand dyed fabrics

After many months of using up my stash of fabrics I thought it was about time to start restocking with hand dyed fabric. This has also made me think about the fabrics I actually use – do I really need to buy the considerably more expensive patterned fabrics anymore?  No I’ll try to just use those I dye myself.  Thank goodness for my washing machine as it does all the hard work of rinsing the fabric once they have been in the dye bath for a while and my hands stay relatively dye free – I can’t get on with wearing gloves.

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To dye my fabrics I use a combination of techniques from all over the place but basically it is 2 teaspoons of dye mixed with a small amount of water, which after mixing I added further water to about 400ml.  To dye the above I divided this mixture in half and then half again until all the dye solution was used.

  1. 200ml of dye solution, topped up to 400ml with water and 400ml of salt solution.
  2. 100ml dye solution topped up to 400ml with water and 200ml of salt solution topped up to 400ml with water.
  3. 50ml of dye solution, topped up to 400ml with water and 100ml of salt solution topped up to 400ml with water.
  4. 25ml of dye solution topped up to 400ml with water and 50ml of salt solution topped up to 400ml with water.
  5. whatever is left topped up to 400ml with water and whatever is left of the initial 1 litre of salt solution topped up to 400ml with water.

All measurements are approximate.  I add the above solutions to zip lock bags with a piece of cotton fabric which measures approximately 50cm by half the width of the fabric.  Give the bag a squeeze and a mash around as much or as little as required to distribute the dye solution and leave – I leave mine overnight before rinsing and washing with a mild detergent and fabric softener.  I iron my pieces dry as I can’t wait to see what they look like and I can get all the creases out much more easily.

The salt solution I use is 200g of salt dissolved in boiling water to make 1 litre of solution.

All my fabrics have been soaked in a solution of soda ash and water for at least 20 minutes before wringing out and used for dyeing.  This can be left to dry and will be ready to use as and when but one thing I have learnt the hard way that soda soaked fabric should NOT be ironed until it has been thoroughly washed, as the soda seems to stain the fabric yellow which will not come out.

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Talking of Quick Quilts!

table runners 1

These two table runners were made from a layer cake my cousin picked up for me whilst we were in America in August.  They both took me less than an hour to cut out and assemble.

table runners 2

The top one of these two runners was made from some left over fabric I had purchased years ago, not really knowing what I was going to do with it.

The bottom one used recently bought fabric, again both took less than an hour to cut out and construct. 

Now all that’s left is the layering up, quilting, binding and labelling – Easy – I’ll do it later, maybe.

I think these will end up as presents and Christmas Fayre donations as Myton Hospice is having their Christmas Fayre on 17th November in Warwick.  They were very kind to someone very dear to me who is sadly no longer with us.

They do extremely good work and are well worth supporting.

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Quilt top in under 2hours

I had time between washing the floor and letting it dry before I started on the cooking and baking for the weekend, so instead of wasting time I cut out and stitched together a quilt top from a layer cake of 20 Dan Bennett fabrics which I have had for sometime and which have been on my to do list for sometime, the date I had set for doing something with these fabrics is fast approaching too – September 30th.  All that’s left to do is to add a border if I decide whether to or not, then layer the top up with batting and a backing fabric, quilt it and add a label, all possible by the 30th.


It has taken me under 2 hours to get this far – amazing – but perhaps I need to find a cheaper hobby!

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And for my next project–Aprons!

This fabric was purchased from Jo-Ann’s in Spainish Fork (I think) Utah, it was our second trip there of the day!  My aunt kindly gave me the pattern book as we were unable to find it in the store nor on the UK Amazon site, so she bought another one for herself from the US Amazon website.  So this afternoon I will be making one of these up the purple one I think for the first one.


Do You Starch?

Another question I would like to ask – Do you use starch on your cotton quilt fabrics?  If so, at which stage?  Before cutting out or after?

I do use starch sometimes, it goes in phases for me, just like a fashion trend I suppose, I feel that trend is about to start again. 

It makes sewing together easier.  I suppose that makes sense as it stiffens the fabric, less drape the better it behaves.  It gives the sewing machine something sturdier to grip onto.  I have also found that construction marks show up better.  Having said that, there is then even more need to wash the project after construction but I do that as a matter of course anyway as I like the feel/texture of washed quilts.  Although I wouldn’t wash a hanging for example, in this instance I would use the fabric as fits with my design, for example to increase the ‘weight’ of a fabric to match others I would use Vilene or something similar – but that is a whole other ball game.

So to starch or not to starch? (In your quilt projects)


To wash or not to wash that is the question

Do you wash your fabrics prior to using them in patchwork/quilting projects?

I didn’t.  Then someone told me I should, I didn’t know why, that wasn’t explained to me.  Now I know but do I bother to wash before I use the fabric – no, it’s too much hassle, I have never had a fabric bleed colour on me yet, nor have I have a shrinkage problem.  I suppose there’s is always a first time but I’m happy to take that risk, are you?   Please let me know your thoughts on to wash or not to wash.

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Festival of Quilts 2011- Kaffe Fassett Workshop

The above photo’s are of some of the quilt tops produced during the workshop I attended at the Festival of Quilts on Saturday.

Many thanks to Miss Road-Kill(Donna), Miss Doll’s House(Jane from Torbay),Miss Blue and Yellow (Pam), Miss Thinker(Jane from Australia), Elaine and Olivia(from France now of Leicester), without you all the day wouldn’t have been the same and those of you with additional names will understand.  I am sure we had more fun and laughed much more than we were supposed too, but hey-ho we did manage to get the work done regardless.  I must also thank Brandon for turning the fabric over to mute the colour.

Large floral prints or floral prints in general are never my thing; to go this far then decide to step even further from my comfort zone by using a pastel colourway as well was a big move for me.  I usually go for bright zingy, or bright jewel colours, I have never worked with such muted, pastel colours although I have included a bright orange based print, a bright lime green batik and a darker red patterned fabric.  I am surprised at how pleased I am with the whole effect even down to the pastel striped fabric I have chosen for the sashing background.  I have also not used a design wall before usually relying on the floor or table to try to see what is going on.  The construction of a design wall will be on my to do list, at the very top this week.  I regularly change the blade in my rotary cutter and am surprised at how infrequently others change theirs and it was a joy to help Elaine change her blade and vicariously enjoy the pleasure she gleaned once she had started cutting with the new blade, no drag, no need for added pressure thus reducing stress to her wrist; she has agreed to change her blade more often now.

See you all next year, perhaps we will include something a bit stronger than double espresso coffee – no on second thoughts maybe not!

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Fabrics for Kaffe Fassett Workshop at The Festival of Quilts.

I went to see my mum for the first time since the beginning of May yesterday.  With me being ill, fetching Dear Daughter from university, getting her off to work in France, Dear Husbands work schedule, Number two son’s school schedule it has been difficult.  Mum doesn’t like us to go if we are in anyway ill as she doesn’t want to catch it – which is fair enough but it is sad that I haven’t seen her for such a long time.  Her next door neighbour is a bit of a ‘You can’t do that’, ‘I’ll make your life a misery if you do’ sort of person has complained that mum’s attempt at saving water by installing a water butt has blighted the area as this woman can see the butt from her front door!  To keep the peace mum has had to part with money to screen it off from this person’s view.  Yet this woman has left an unsightly wheelie bin parked in the centre of her drive right outside mum’s front door, smelling away in this hot weather whilst she’s away on holiday. Unbelievable!

Well back to the fabrics for the workshop.  On the way home from my mum’s I called into the Cotton Patch in Hall Green.  My husband and little son went to do the shopping and take it home before returning for me.  I spent an enjoyable hour and a half with Denise playing with bolts of fabric, even snatching some from under the nose’s of the chaps trying fulfil the mail order requests.  Eventually I managed to gather all that I need (I hope!).  I had gone in there with an idea of a colour scheme but that was completely abandoned within minutes of starting.  Below are the fabrics I have chosen, please let me know what you think.  The instructions were for low contrast I think I have achieved that.

Fabrics 1Fabrics 3

Today I have scanned and photographed each individual fabric, resized and up loaded each to EQ7 for designing with – a mammoth task on one of the hottest days of the year.  I even ironed some of them – mad of what – I like to call it dedicated.  I had to get at least 9 large scale prints (done – just) and at least 15 small to medium scale prints (done with 3 to spare).  Now for a cup of tea.

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Experiments with 10 minute block

The fabric may be a bit ‘off’ but to experiment with they are ideal – left overs from other projects.  I have taken to basic principle of the 10 minute quilt and played with size.  I have found that the centre on-point block can be nearly as big as the finished 4 patch square.  It needs to be at least 1/2” smaller otherwise the points of the centre on-point square will be caught in the seams when the 4 patch is joined to another 4 patch.  The edges of the on-point square can be rolled to make faux cathedral windows with or without a further addition to the centre or just left as an on-point square.  The rolling of the edges also creates an illusion of curved seams without the stitching of curves.  The only proviso I would make at this point is not to go too small with the centre on-point square as this would make the manipulation that is required to make the block ‘work’ very difficult, but there is still plenty of room in this technique for more experimentation.  What if…………….. the square became a rectangle, a circle – I will have to have another ‘play’.

Feel free to let me know what you think.  You can either leave a comment here or email me at

‘Til next time.

sample 1sample 2