Oh joy! The news on the street in the last week is that many quilt shops have gotten their next shipment of fabric, so if you’ve been waiting to order, now is the time!
We’ve been having lots of fun over on the Facebook group – people sharing photos, stories, and I’ve been giving behind-the-scenes looks at some of the blocks and how the quilt along has come together. We’re coming up on 2,900 participants in the quilt along, added a new country – Uruguay (Hi Claudia!) – but North Dakota just refuses to join. What’s up, ND?
Last Week’s Prize Winner
Congratulations Diane from sunny California! She’s a fan of Edith, and so she chose some of Edith’s fabrics to make the basket project. I’m not sure I have anymore Swirl left girlfriend, but I’ll look again!
The Dowager Countess. Lady Violet Crawley, excellently inhabited by Dame Maggie Smith. And I say inhabited because Maggie Smith wears her characters. In Harry Potter, she IS McGonagall. In Downton Abbey, she IS the Dowager. (Incidentally, she also played a Countess in Gosford Park.) I’d forgotten how many movies and television shows I’ve seen her in – some of my favorites like The First Wives’ Club, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and David Copperfield.
No matter who you are, I am willing to bet that Lady Violet is one of your favorite characters. You can’t help but love her, and she gets some of the most awesome lines in the show. My all-time favorite so far has got to be, “Don’t be defeatist, dear. It’s so middle-class.”
But no matter what it is that she is saying, the Dowager is usually the one to diffuse situations, lend a hand when one is needed, find solutions to vexing problems, and even in the presence of a former prostitute, stays for dessert over Robert’s objections because, “It would be a shame to miss such a good pudding.” She is the embodiment of refinement and practicality. Downton Abbey would not be the same without the Dowager, and our quilt would not be the same without this block, Violet’s Dream, which is based on a traditional block by the same name.
What We’re Watching
While you are stitching away, consider watching Series 3, Episode 6 (US) or Series 3, Episode 7 (UK) while you work on this block. If you’re in the Grayslake, IL area, come visit Quilt Play for some tea and crumpets at our regularly scheduled 1pm. Bring your machine and a project to work on!
If you registered for the Quilt Along, you’ve already received the cutting and assembly instructions via email, but if you need some additional assembly and pressing tips, here are some photos to help you along.
This block uses an unusual shape. Some call it a trapezoid, others call it a chisel. If you’re die cutting, this shape is easy-peasy. If you’re rotary cutting, not so much. But, no matter how you cut this, trust me when I tell you to cut all of them with the fabric right side up. RIGHT SIDE UP. RSU, ok? I can’t emphasize this enough. (Ok, technically there is a way to do this block if you cut them right side down, or half and half, but if you want to follow the instructions, cut them the way I tell you.)
Once you get all your pieces cut, lay out your block so you can see how everything goes together.
All the chisels have a triangle to finish off the ends, so the first step is to stitch the triangles to the chisels. If you’ve die cut your pieces, all the triangles are trimmed nicely and match. If you’re rotary cutting, you might want to trim your corners.
Press all the seams open on these units.
As I was making this block, I found it helpful to put all the pieces back where they go – it is a great visual! And those of you who are sick of triangles now should be super-happy from this point on. Nothing but rectangles, loves!
Next up, stitch those chisel units together in pairs. Press these seams open as well.
Next, stitch the rectangles together in pairs. Open seams, y’all!
Now the block is a nine-patch, so let’s work in rows.
With all the seams pressed open, you have to do a bit more work to get the seams matched up. I always pin intersections where seams are pressed open to make sure they match. First, I insert a pin into the open seam, through both layers of fabric, aligning the raw edges.
The pin should come out through the other side, in the same place. You might find it helpful to do this on the edge of a table instead of up in the air.
With the pin inserted and aligning the seams, I add pins in front of and behind the pin. Then I take the pin out of the seam.
Stitch these units together (the center and right column pieces) and press the seams opposite one another. Top & bottom rows, press to the outside, center row press to the center.
Time to attach the first column. Pin ’em if you need it!
Press the seams as above – top and bottom to the outside, center toward the center.
Now you can just stitch the rows together; you’ll still have a few pressed-open seams to match, but you’ll be able to nest the seams between the bigger units.
You know how I am with nine-patch units. The seams you nested will need to be clipped in order to get them to swirl. Clip and swirl seams.
This is just a better picture of where I clipped the seams.
Time to attach the top row and you’re almost done! Clip and swirl the seams as before.
This is the block from the back. Easy-peasy right?
Finished! Don’t forget to make the number of blocks listed in the pattern for your chosen character!
Trivia & Giveaway
My peeps over at Generation Q Magazine are in on the Downton Abbey fun! In their most recent issue of Gen Q Magazine, they announced their Downton Abbey Modern Block Challenge. Have you see it? I won’t write a whole big long paragraph on it, because they’ve done that pretty well over on their website, but if you make a 12″ block, take a photo of it and submit it by the Jan 5th deadline, you could win some awesome swag!
Their staff is in on the action too, making a bunch of blocks that they are posting to their blog to inspire you. The most recent one was made by Scott Hansen that he named Dowager’s Feathers:
But the most awesome part of the GenQ block challenge is that they are asking for blocks to be donated so they can be assembled for charity quilts. Whether or not you decide to enter the block challenge, I love the charity aspect of this challenge. So here’s how this week’s contest will be handled.
This is the season of giving, and so what I would like you to do is make a 12″ finished block (12-1/2″ unfinished) using at least two of the Downton fabrics. You can use scraps and include other fabrics, so don’t think you have to make the entire thing from Downton. If the block is your own design, feel free to submit it to the GenQ contest, but what I’d actually like you to do is make a block regardless, and send it over to GenQ for assembly into a charity quilt (the address is in this file).
This week’s giveaway is on the honor system, so if you will commit to sending in a block for the charity quilt, leave a comment telling me you promise to make a block and send it in before the end of January, and which two fabrics you plan to use in your block. (Remember, scroooooooolllll down to the bottom to leave your comment.)
In return for making a block, you’ll be entered to win a copy of the latest GenQ Magazine and a set of fat quarters. I’m gonna choose 2 winners for this week! It would be so wonderful to have as many of you contributing blocks as possible. You’re up sewing anyway, just make an extra block and stick it in the mail!
Entries must be received no later than 11:59pm CST on Friday December 27th, and the winner will be announced when Block 7 is posted on Sunday. As always, please refer to my Official Sweepstakes Rules for eligibility and entry requirements. Also, you must be officially registered for the quilt along because I will already have your mailing address.
Did you forget to register for the Quilt Along? Do it now so you don’t miss a thing!