Deja vu or haven’t I seen these blocks before….

new blocks for dear ethel


A couple of weeks ago I had a bit of a tidy up in my work room (and looking around at the wobbly piles dotted round me which include crochet cushion covers, patchwork quilt tops, a half finished ironing board cover, tins of darning wool, and general sewing clutter, I can see I need to tidy up again)…..and mid tidy I thought to go through the little blocks I’ve been making for my “dear ethel” quilt.  Most of the blocks made me so happy to look at but there were a few that I wasn’t so pleased with, they were just a bit lacking.  I probably could have used them in the quilt and they would have been fine, but I also know what I’m like so I decided to just re-sew the blocks I wasn’t so keen on.

The old blocks have been put to one side to make into pot holders (although one was completely un-picked so I could use the fabric in two new blocks)….I had some odd shaped pieces left from making the star quilts so I was able to use up a lot of fabric destined for the scrap bag (I call it a bag but it’s more like a hoard).  Actually it was while sewing the patchwork for the star quilts that I began to think again about the “dear ethel” blocks. some of the fabric picked for those quilts is just so pretty that I wanted a few keepsakes of my own.

The blocks in the top picture are an evening star variation (called square and points), a nine patch block, friendship star and then cat’s cradle. I’d already re-sewn the evening star before but as it’s such a simple but striking block I felt it wasn’t really looking quite right until now.  I’ve highlighted the original blocks so you can compare the “before” and “after” of each block if you want.


evening star for dear ethel


This “evening star” block was a particular favourite combination used in the star quilt for Pearl…I can’t decide which print I love the most.  My original choice was a bit too brash and modern when placed with some of the more subtle choices.

On the whole I don’t really use a lot of “dark” prints, preferring mid and light tones.  I’m aware this doesn’t give my patchwork as much depth and interest as one using dark, mid and light but I like those softer colours.  Some of my “lights” are very pale so depending which mid tone print I use I can create more of an offset in contrast that way.  I think it’s really a case of personal choice.  I’d rather a patchwork top that I love than one that is “correctly balanced” but uses fabrics I feel are too dark for me.


practical orchard


I un-picked the original practical orchard block, I wasn’t happy how the yellow gingham was working but really loved the pinky/coral with yellow combination.  At least when something is hand sewn it doesn’t take too long to un-pick it, then a quick press with the iron and the tiny pieces are all ready to be used again.  I cut the yellow sections slightly differently this time (a few less seams to sew) and I think this gives a neater finish.  The yellow print form the original block was then used in the nine patch block in the top picture.  (and yes it’s another pink and yellow combination*)

After making these six new blocks I’m already wanting to make more so don’t think “dear ethel” will be finished this year (at the end of the day this is a quilt for me so there isn’t a time scale or rush to get her finished as quick as possible……however in my head I’m thinking it would be nice to have a vague time frame planned, if the rest of the blocks can be completed this year, maybe with sashing and then to allow next year for a flying geese border** and the quilting…..I’m thinking she may be ready for A Festival of Quilts 2017.

*of all the colour team ups used in the “dear ethel” blocks so far, this is possibly the one I’ve used the most…I didn’t realize how much I like this combination of colours but it’s fastly become one of my favourite pairings (both in patchwork and in my wardrobe…ooohhh for a pair of yellow Fly shoes to wear with pink tights!)

** I figure if you’re going to have a patchwork border then this is the one to choose…..I love it.  I know it’s fiddly but like Catherine Deneuve says in those L’oreal adverts as she flicks her hair…”I’m worth it”


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