Contrary wife and friends patchwork blocks…..

bags of mini blocks 002


While I’m working on my “dear ethel” quilt, I’ve found it really helpful to plan a couple of blocks ahead of myself, all this means is that I cut out a few blocks at a time and then pop the tiny pieces into little bags and pin them on to a board.  I also draw out a thumbnail sketch of how the block works and keep that with the pieces.  It allows me to pull all the fabrics I’m using out onto my work table, pair them up and decide which would suit a particular block.  Then when the little pieces are cut out and tidied away on my board, I can fold up the fabric.  I’m naturally a bit of a messy worker, so trying to find tiny triangles and squares when the table is covered in fat quarters and scraps is normally a right old hoo hah.

I really notice a difference when sewing with proper quilting weight fabrics, the better quality you buy, the less the fabric frays (unless it is a particular open weave) and that makes sewing smaller pieces of patchwork much easier.

If I’m sewing patchwork then I now only use 100% cotton (or a cotton and linen mix) and make sure it is the right weight for quilting.

Also, I always wash my fabric (pretty much within minutes of getting home, it’s soaking in a bowl of soapy warm water) this helps if there is any shrinking, dye run etc but it also removes any size from the fabric (used in the dying process).  Once the fabric has been dried and ironed, it’s much softer and a lot easier to sew.


contrary wife and others 004


In between quilting up the cosy for my new computer, I’ve sewn a couple more mini blocks for my “dear ethel” quilt (the rest of the ones I’ve sewn so far can be viewed here)

The name of this block is called Contrary Wife.  I love green and pink together, and I guess it’s those two different green squares at the corners which make this “contrary”.

It makes me think of the supposed tradition in patchwork and quilting where a “mistake” needs to be made somewhere in the pattern.  I’m not sure where I first read this but when I went to the American Museum just outside Bath a few years ago and looked at their collection of vintage quilts, the more I studied those quilts, the more I kept seeing a “mistake” in each one.  I’m not sure how intentional any of them were, maybe the needlewoman (or man) just ran out of a particular fabric… however I’ve often seen it in quilts, generally in a small corner where it is just a case of the fabric being placed so the print or pattern runs in a different direction, so clearly they had the fabric, which makes me think it was deliberate.

If you are able to go, they’ve currently got a Kaffe Fassett exhibition on which my friend Anne (in my eyes she is the queen of knitting….her hand knitted socks are just the best) has been to see and she said it was brilliant…..






One thought on “Contrary wife and friends patchwork blocks…..

  1. I think the mistake thing is a myth. In the US it is attributed to the Amish and the notion that only God is perfect, so their patchwork must not be. My understanding is that the Amish would laugh at that, acknowledging that their work is not perfect under any circumstances, regardless of what the viewer thinks.

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