Basket Block Tutorial • February 2018 • (Gridster Bee Month for Me!)

gridsters-250-buttonx

I belong to an online bee called the Gridsters, and February is my month to choose a block that my beemates make for me.  You can find all our work on Instagram, using the hashtag #gridsterbee. 

Basket_8

I chose a basket block.

Basket_food fabrics

I also have been saving food-themed fabrics forever for a basket block quilt with the baskets full of food beginning at least a couple of decades ago, and continuing as I picked up a food fabric here and there.

I was also inspired to make basket blocks by Barb, of Fun With Barb and Kelly of Pinkadot who decided to do it together; their tutorials are on each of the links, above.  I upsized the basket block to 10 inches in size, so the making would go faster.  (You’d think with all the quilts in this house, I would have enough twin-sized, but I don’t, so I’ve already decided that’s the size it will be.)

If you want to join in with me, or Barb and Kelly, in making baskets, I’d suggest we follow their request to tag our Instagram photos with #basketswu [Baskets Sew With Us]. (Gridsters please tag them also with #gridsterbee.)

For the Gridster Bee

I’ve sent you some food fabrics; please use those for the A section of your blocks.  I don’t care what you use for the basket–it can match, it can contrast, it can coordinate, it can clash–choose what you think creates the look you want.  You can use small scale prints, large prints, florals, novelties, checks, whatever.

For the low-volume background, use these types of fabrics:

Basket_low volumes YES
They are a range of creamy-toned fabrics, without strong secondary designs.

Avoid these types:

Basket_low volumes NO

Solid in creams is okay, but avoid white, grey, tan, beige, white-on-white (I really don’t like beige for this quilt, but understand the limitations of our stashes–just do your best).  Many of the above fabrics have strong motifs and patterns, so reject those too.  Basically, I want the background to recede without being dull or same-same.

Basket Tutorial

Basket Block_ESE

Not to size, for reference only–please use the PDF link below.

Here’s my cutting sheet for this tutorial, in PDF form, but the usual requests apply here–don’t print off a million copies for your mother and your friends, but please send them here to get their own: Basket Block 10 inch_OPQuilt

Basket_1

All my basket pieces laid out.

First, make the Half Square Triangles.

[Background:  One method is from Alyce, and she has a nice chart if you want to figure out your own eight-way Half-square Triangles.  However, I also have a different chart on this post which came from Jeni Baker, who encourages the use of a bigger initial square.  That means for us (and especially if you like to trim your HSTs) you would begin with a 6″ block, which is what I’ve specified on the cutting chart. BTW, her book on triangles is a good one to have in your library. ]Basket_2
Place one 6″ background square and one 6″ basket square right sides together. Mark two diagonal lines, and sew 1/4″ on either side of the marked lines.  On the left is the pieces with the sewn diagonals.  Press it flat to settle down the wrinkles, which you see on the right.

Basket_4b

I moved mine apart to demo this; leave yours close together.

Cut on marked lines.  Now without moving your squares, cut on mid-lines, crossing the centers, as shown below.  Press, with seam allowance to the dark side, trimming out dark fabric, if necessary, so it doesn’t show through.  Trim to 2-1/2″ inches square.

Basket_3
Make center half-square triangle (piece A-1):  Place a food fabric (measuring 6-7/8″ square) onto a basket square (same size), drawing a diagonal line, then stitching on either side of that line.  Press, then cut on marked line, then press towards the basket.  You’ll have an extra center to toss into your Random Patches Box.  (You do have one of those, don’t you?)

Press seam allowance ALWAYS towards basket, to give that dimensional look that something is IN the basket.  Now trim that center to 6-1/2″.

Basket_5
Here are all the pieces, laid out.  I chose a stripe to demo, so you can see the direction the stripes go.  If you use the eight-at-a-time half-square triangle method, you’ll have no problem getting the stripes in the small half-square triangles go the direction you want.  Yes, I did cut the 6-7/8″ square (basket) on the bias, so I could have the stripes go across the unit.

Basket_5a

I made two blocks at once; one had a light center, and one had a dark center.

Stitch together the three small half-square triangle pieces; press in the direction they want to go, which is usually toward the flat triangle piece.

Basket_5b
Stitch one 2-1/2″ block onto one unit (shown in upper left corner).  It helps to arrange your square as you go, so you get everything all sorted out right.

Basket_5c
Sew the first three-unit “basket handle” to the center HST, as shown on the left.  Press seams away from basket, even though they don’t want to go there, again to preserve the illusion that something is in your basket.

Basket_6
Sew the second three-unit “handle” with the C square to the center unit, as shown.  I pressed the square C-block toward the three-triangle unit so that the seams would nest neatly when I arrived at this step.

Basket_7
Create basket stand by sewing one of your small HST to the D-rectangle.  Pay attention to which direction the triangles are going.  Stitch this first unit onto the basket.

Repeat with second HST and D-rectangle.  Sew ONE of the C (2-1/2″ squares) to ONE of the basket stand units.  Stitch this onto the existing basket.

Basket_9
And you are done!

There are lots of fun ways I can finish this basket quilt:

Basket Setting

from here

I like this setting, with all those energetic chevrons in between the baskets.

Looks like red is a pretty popular color for setting these blocks.  I have more basket ideas on my Pinterest site, if you want to see more block settings.  (I’ve been collecting these ideas for ages.)

Thanks to the Gridsters for making me baskets this month, and I hope you all have fun making a few for yourselves.

Road to California 2018

Ready, set, go into a busy week:

Tuesday: Cynthia England’s class with Lisa, my pal, who has moved away to Utah.  That’s Cynthia’s class sample, above.  I loved taking a class with Cynthia as I was there in Houston the year her quilt won the Best of Show and launched her career.  Upshot? Here’s another UFO for my collection, but I’m glad I took the class and learned the technique.

Wednesday was a day off: I picked up my new glasses, blocked a quilt I’m working on for Paintbrush Studios’ booth for QuiltCon in a month, cleaned the house, and did the laundry.

Thursday: I went in early with Leisa, another pal, and killed time until the show opened, and when it did, made a beeline to find my two quilts.

Here’s Shine hanging in its cubby with a dazzler gem quilt, which quite overshadowed it.  (See below for the link to Instagram, where I did post a lot of the quilts and their names/makers.)  But the fun was being juried into Road!

Then to find the second quilt: Oh! Christmas Tree, hanging with its buddies.  Again, a real thrill to see it there.

Now to tackle the shopping.  The layout, above.

First stop, Pineapple Fabrics, where they stock my favorite solid fabric: Painter’s Palette Solids, by Paintbrush Studio.  Even though I learned about these solids by designing a quilt for Paintbrush Studio, I’m quite in love with their solid fabric and needed a few colors.  Pineapple Fabrics sells them at the best price of anyone out there.

After Pineapple, I started out in the “Pavillion” which is really just a monster-sized commercial tent with awkward lighting.  The first row facing the courtyard was well-lit (above, a Kaffe booth that has a great selection), but as soon as you round that corner, the booths are less well-lit.  Actually I found the lighting overall to be a problem in the main ballroom, too.  It was fine in the small ballroom.  Turn up the lights, Road!

I zipped over to see Dora Cary of OrangeDot Quilts, as I follow her on Instagram, and love her work.

For some reason, this show seems to attract the scooter/walker/cane crowd.  At the entrance they have about 40 of these scooters lined up to rent. Here are some scooters parked alongside a booth.    Will I stop coming to these when I hit this stage?  Who knows, but I am counting on the fact that the online presence will be so strong that I can stay home and hit the vendors that way.

Here is “saw-though-the-head” and “scissors-through-the-head.”  I also saw “hairbrush-through-the head.”  I suppose, as a vendor, you’ll do anything to make your booth stand out.

Fun to see a bee-mate’s quilt hanging up in the Ventura Quilt Guild’s booth.  It looks great, Joan!  And here’s the instructions and the place to send the blocks if you want to contribute to the Thomas Fire Relief Quilts.

I didn’t just shop or take classes (more coming up), but I also took time to look at the quilts.  The one made from a Wendy Williams pattern (above) caught my eye.  I have a lot of the quilts, plus the placards that tell about the quilts, up on my Instagram feed beginning here.  Use the right arrow to advance through them, and I apologize again if you follow me on IG and I blew up your feed.

I had many favorites and wrote about them on Instagram, but I also kept looking at the quilting, trying always to improve my FMQ.

Leisa finished her class with Gyleen Fitzgerald on Pineapple Quilts, and on the way home we stopped by Blaze Pizza for an early dinner (and to catch up with our non-quilt-show lives), because we had…

…Caitlin’s baby shower to attend that evening.  I was the gift scribe, and being the oldest of the bunch I needed a translation program that spanned several decades.  For example, I would write “squeaky toy” and Caitlin would say “Thanks for the teether.”  I would then line out “squeaky toy” and write down what she called the plastic giraffe.  This happened over and over, and left me certain that I was waaaaaay past the child-bearing years.  The language was so different, it was like a different world.  The favors were tiny succulents, the food was divine (I need to get the recipes) and we took a marker and wrote a message on the diapers in the wire basket, above — messages that Caitlin would read at those midnight diaper changes.

Okay, back to the show.

Friday: Lisa, Leisa and I took the Mystery Triangles Class from Jenny Doan.  Another class where I chose it for the person teaching it, as Jenny Doan is fabulous.  This was the most relaxed class, and I really enjoyed it.  The quilt above is all the techniques/options rolled into one quilt.

Lisa finished a baby quilt top, using Christa Watson’s new line of fabrics, that have a lot of wow-factor.  Cute!

We ate lunch every day upstairs overlooking the dramatic hallway with the hanging quilts, and I loved this quilter’s bag, made for her by her daughter, who asked her what were the four most important things in her life.  I agree, except I’d have to make room for my husband’s name on there.  (Maybe leave off gardening?)

We did some shopping, then headed over to El Torito. where our little quilt group gathered for our annual dinner.  Some years we’ve been fewer in number, and some years we’ve been higher in number; this time Lisa’s friend Margaret from Idaho joined us (in the red).  Then we all hightailed it back to the show, where we took in Jenny Doan’s Trunk Show that night.  It was fun and funny and good to be there with everyone.

Saturday: I walked all the vendors one more time, then about noon, Leisa and I left.

Sunday: I had to pick up my quilts at 4:30 so I went early.  My experience has taught me that the show is pretty emptied out near the end, and I could walk the quilts and look at them one more time, taking photographs without any people in them.

I re-visited the Cherrywood Fabrics booth with all the Van Gogh-inspired fabrics and snapped these two panorama shots (which distorts the photo–it’s really quite rectangular).  Next year the theme is Prince, with purple fabrics, if you want to jump in.  They’ve had three collections so far: Lion King, Wicked, and Van Gogh.  I have loved them all. Click to enlarge the above two photos.

The dates for next year’s Road to California are January 17-20, 2019.  Make plans now to come to a terrific quilt show!

Frivols 1 Is Finished!

Frivols 2018_1

Caitlin’s Baby Quilt • Quilt #192
40″ (approx) square

Frivols 2018_3

I finished the first Frivol and I finished it early — before the end of January, so I was pretty happy with THAT deadline.  As I was making it, I was thinking about my friend Caitlin, who is having a girl after two boys.  I decided she just needed this feminine quilt that isn’t so fussy, that it couldn’t be thrown down on the ground when the family has a picnic.

Frivols 2018_4

It’s my first finish in this year; 2017 saw sixteen finishes, but a lot of them were smaller quilts, so it’s nice to lead off with a good-sized quilt.

Frivols 1_2018_front

I used Carolyn Friedlander’s white-on-white cross-hatch design (from her Architextures line) for the sashing and accent, and then used another white-on-white heart print for the borders.

A lot of contemporary quilters are notorious for not owning up to the traditional name of the block, and this group was no exception.  The block has several names, the most common being “Chimney Sweep,” and it was first published in 1929 by Ruth Finley (I get all my info from Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns).  It’s also known as “Christian Cross” (from a book published by the Shelburne Museum that listed all their quilts).

Frivols 2018_5 backing

This backing is from a fabric from about a decade ago.

Frivols 2018_2

I quilted it in an overall lazy large meander, and bound it with a fabric that was a nice companion to the Bonnie and Camille line, interspersed with bits of the fabric from the leftover squares, as I don’t plan to make an extra block for a sampler quilt (one feature of the Frivols tins).

My review: if you are a Bonnie and Camille fan, this box is for you.  I haven’t ever sewn with their line, and part of why I’m doing this is to learn about other styles of fabrics.  I found the repetitive blocks easy, once I learned about the misprint measurement.  Resolved: I’m going to look up any errata (errors) first, before I start cutting.  But overall, it didn’t hold my attention, nor was I fascinated with the fabrics or the block. I guess I’ve spent too much designing my own quilts as well as working in highly saturated colors and splashy patterns.  But, like I said, good to have a change.

It will be perfect for Catlin’s little baby girl. On to Frivols #2 in February.

January 2018 • No. 1 – Hello Darling by Bonnie & Camille  DONE!
February 2018 • No. 2 – Polka Dots & Paisleys by Minick & Simpson
March 2018 • No. 3 – Eliza’s Indigo by Betsy Chutchian
April 2018 • No. 4 – Windermere by Brenda Riddle
May 2018 • No. 5 – Petite Prints Deux by French General
June 2018 • No. 6 – Strawberry Fields Revisited by Fig Tree
July 2018 • No. 7 – Songbird Gatherings by Primitive Gatherings
August 2018 • No. 8 – Bread ‘n Butter by American Jane
September 2018 • No. 9 – Little Miss Sunshine by Lella Boutique
October 2018 • No. 10 – The Cookie Exchange by Sweetwater
November 2018 • No. 11 – Sew & Sew by Chloe’s Closet
December 2018 • No. 12 – Blue Barn by Laundry Basket Quilts

Gridster Bee Begins 2018

Carol kicked off the Gridsters this year, doing a little throwback to fall, for she said she wanted to make herself a quilt for autumn.  She asked us to use this tutorial from The Cloth Parcel. I had fun finding orange fabrics that would work, and picked up some bold orange Grunge dots to work into the pumpkins.  She had mailed us the navy Grunge for the background, and after I finished my first pumpkin, I found I had enough for another, so I sent two.  These come together quick and easy, so if you are thinking ahead…or behind…it would be a fun quilt for fall.

Frivols! (Time to Do Another Undone Project)

I think I mentioned somewhere along the way, that I had collected a full set of Frivols tins, shown above.  Two other quilters, Kelley and Karen, mentioned that they had a full set, too.  I wrote back and forth with each of them, wondering if they wanted to liberate their Frivols from their tins and make 2018 the year that we finally get them done.

There is this temptation to leave them fully entombed, I realize.  They are so cute in their little boxes, and what will you do with all those little quilts?  (Well, some aren’t so little.)  But I can think of many places that you can donate these quilts, if you want (try starting with the Preemie unit at your local hospital, or a Domestic Violence Rescue shelter, or your granddaughter’s doll crib, just to name a few). The point is to have fun, to free up space in your sewing room and to get rid of Another Undone Project.

If you want to join in with us, too, we’re going to try to tackle one a month until all twelve are finished.  If you want to work ahead…well, you have the instructions and the fabrics.  You can still find Frivols tins if you do a search, so you can join in the making.

Here’s January’s: “Kindred,” using the Hello Darling line by Bonnie and Camille. The quilt finishes at 40″ by 40,” a perfect table-topper size.  And here is the Mode blog announcement for how the cutting directions are wrong.  It’s true–the quarter-square triangles should have been cut a bit larger; more on that later.  I’ll always try to link over to Moda’s blog so you can update any errata/changes in your Frivols.

I love how each tin has a little treasure inside.  This tin has some woven tape with Handmade with Love written on it.

And here’s the fabrics.  I started with their lovely diagrams, cutting the blocks into pieces:

I stacked up two stacks of “twin” blocks–the instructions say to cut using two of the same fabric blocks, and no I don’t know why I have extras (on the left).  In every Frivol there is a “bonus” block that you can make so you’ll have a sampler quilt.  I’m not doing that, so instead I’ll keep the extras in my stash.

I cut them according to the sketch.  So far so good.

Frivols_1_5

I stacked up the pieces of one block, with the exception of the Half-square Triangles on all four corners.  Then I kept going:

Frivols_1_6

But I should have checked the Mode blog first, as I cut some of the white side triangles too small.  You can see the problem here:

Frivols_1_7

Block, untrimmed

I will simply true them up a little smaller when I finish all of them.

Frivols_1_8

Six down, ten to go.  I’m making good progress while listening to the sixth book in the Maisie Hobbs series:

Among the Mad Maisie Dobbs

I’m hooked on this series!

If you want to join in, dig out your Frivols tins and let’s get going.  If you leave me your name and blog address or Instagram name, I’ll start making a list at the end of each final monthly Frivols post, with links.  Lisa Bongean, of Primitive Gatherings, has a great write-up about “her” tin with her fabric line.  Have fun hunting your tins down, getting ready to join up with us.  I’ll do an introductory post near the beginning of each month, as well as a final post, on the last day of the month.

I would like to commit to getting the quilt top finished each month, with quilting, if I can.  As I mentioned, the quilt tops are not too big that you can’t finish them on your domestic machine, and that will give us all a chance to practice our quilting.  I’ve got a good start for January’s block, but I’m taking a break to go to Road to California, where I’ll have two quilt tops hanging in the show.  I’m also taking three classes, so it will be a busy week.

January 2018 • No. 1 – Hello Darling by Bonnie & Camille
February 2018 • No. 2 – Polka Dots & Paisleys by Minick & Simpson
March 2018 • No. 3 – Eliza’s Indigo by Betsy Chutchian
April 2018 • No. 4 – Windermere by Brenda Riddle
May 2018 • No. 5 – Petite Prints Deux by French General
June 2018 • No. 6 – Strawberry Fields Revisited by Fig Tree
July 2018 • No. 7 – Songbird Gatherings by Primitive Gatherings
August 2018 • No. 8 – Bread ‘n Butter by American Jane
September 2018 • No. 9 – Little Miss Sunshine by Lella Boutique
October 2018 • No. 10 – The Cookie Exchange by Sweetwater
November 2018 • No. 11 – Sew & Sew by Chloe’s Closet
December 2018 • No. 12 – Blue Barn by Laundry Basket Quilts

Winter Pines

It all began here, with a visit to Gardner’s Quilt shop in Utah, where I saw this quilt.  I realized I had many fabrics that would work, so purchased only the pine boughs and a couple of other coordinates:The two fabrics on the left are from Amy Sinibaldi’s latest line, Little Town, and the two on the right are from Lori Holt’s collections.  I decided my brain hurt from some other projects, so went with the pattern they had at the shop.  It’s called Rustic Pines, from Amber and Amanda and you can get it free online.

But…I didn’t really like the way they made the pine tree.  Yes, they strip-pieced together some fabrics, cut out the trees, but they raw-edge appliquéd on the trees.  Yeah, okay.  I didn’t want my quilt to look old before its time, so I drew up a pattern in Quilt Pro software, that is really very much like the tutorial I already have for Christmas Trees.

The big difference is the size.  I drafted this second pattern to match the size the pattern makers had for their trees, and you can download a PDF version of this tree here: Winter Tree  The usual requests apply: don’t download billions for your friend and neighbors, but instead send them here to get their own.  The tutorial runs about the same as Christmas Trees, with a few different measurements.

After making the tree add the right side by matching up the bottom edges of the piece.  A teeny triangle will overhang the edge, as shown on the left bottom corner in the photo above.  Stitch and press toward the tree (you’ll want your trees to look like they are in front of the background).

Match up the left side, again letting that teeny triangle overhang the background fabric (lower left corner in photo above).  Stitch, then press toward tree.

Stitch two background pieces on either side of the tree trunk; press toward trunk.  Line up the tree trunk with the tree’s top point, as shown.  Stitch seam.  I trim off the little triangles, too.

Because this pattern has you add an extra piece, I cut that too, and kept it to the side (but it’s shown, above).

I like to streamline my cutting.  I cut two rectangles 6″ wide by 7-1/2″ tall, placing right sides of fabric together.

NOTE:  This only works if you have TWO of each fabric, and place them right sides together.  Layer up a couple of these rectangle sets — in units of two-right-side-together — then make marks roughly 1-1/8″ inches in from each side.

NOTE: It’s a FAT 1-1/8″ or a SKINNY 1-1/4″ measurement.  Aim for something in between.  Cut a diagonal line, as shown.  Now you’ll have backgrounds for your trees.

But the deal is, you’ll have to trim that sticky-outee triangle shown above, which really is no big deal.

This is how I kept track of trees, backgrounds, trunks and bits-and-pieces.  I layered them up, stitching a bunch of right backgrounds onto the tree, then right backgrounds onto the trunk.  Head to the iron, then back to the machine to stitch on the right backgrounds onto the tree, then right backgrounds onto the trunk.

PAUSE, to slice off the bigger triangle, as I mentioned, then to the ironing board to press. Stitch the tree trunk unit onto the tree.

Time to true up the block.  My tree blocks were slightly smaller than the pattern’s, coming in at 7-1/2″ wide by 9″ tall.  Really, it just doesn’t matter — true yours up to your smallest tree and move on.

Arrange, and re-arrange until you like your trees, then sew on the extra strips, following the pattern’s instructions (shown below).

Stitch the sashing in between the trees, cutting that strip to the measurements of YOUR tree (mine was 11″), yielding strips of forest.  Then lay out the shorter sashing strips (mine measured 7-1/2″) for the horizontal sashing, making sure to distribute your background prints evenly, then add the sashing square (as per pattern) and sew.

I had a bit of the pine branches fabric and the darker one with the berries, so used them to add two 3″ borders around my quilt.  I just ran it up to the quilter’s and hopefully will have it back to enjoy before our Southern California winter disappears (it’s really only about 15 minutes long these days, given the effects of climate change).  Today is a deliciously rainy day, and I can hardly wait to use my Winter Pines quilt on days like this!