Bluebird of Quiltiness

Bluebird Tiny Quilt_1

Another Tiny Quilt was hatched today, and its this Bluebird of Quiltiness.  Based on a 1-1/2″ block size, I figured it out and made it up, finishing it with the perfect faceted black bead for the eye.  There are multiple patterns out there for pieced birds, and while I changed this one up enough that I consider it my pattern and no one else’s, I’m not putting a PDF out there.  Just in case.

Bluebird on Nest

However, this one is different enough that I’m posting up a PDF of the pattern pieces, in case you want to make a bird on a nest for your next Tiny Quilt.  Grab the PDF file here: Nested Bird pattern and have fun making another little Tiny Quilt.  (I have a listing of all the Tiny Quilts on this blog, in case you’re interested.)

After you create the bird (with, or without nest), then you sew on borders until it’s large enough.  See the first Tiny Quilt for more instructions.

 

Wanting to finish this today made me leave the house, avoid the parking lot also known as our Memorial Day freeway gridlock, just to get over to WalMart to buy a landscape-oriented frame. It’s those cheesy plastic frames, nothing fancy.   To modify this one, I laid the frame down on my quilt, traced around it, and used those lines to create the backing and put the binding on.

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I also finished this bird-themed stitchery, purchase eons ago at Primitive Gatherings.  I took it with me to Berlin, but finished it up here.  Now to find a frame for this.

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The other day I pin-basted three wall-sized quilts, and started stitching on the first one:Quilting with no direction

Right.  I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m having fun.  I think am hoping it will make more sense when I get the whole thing done.  Stay tuned; it will be long while, as I still limit my daily quilting minutes.

Bindings Needed_1

And the three quilts came back from Cathy of CJ Designs, my quilter.  One is in Active Binding Mode downstairs by the TV, and two (above) are waiting for binding.  The whirly-gig backed quilt is also waiting for more quilting along the borders.  The fun thing was that I’ve had a number quilts done by her, and so I hit the magic number and the last one was done for free.  It’s her way of saying thank you to her customers.  (Thank you, Cathy!)

Mom and her quilt

But I’m leaving all this behind this next week, as I head up to my Mother’s to help celebrate her 91st birthday.  (I do like to remind her that if you turn the numbers upside down, she’s a girl of 16.)  She’s shown above with about the only quilt I can remember her making: a cross-stitched top which was sent out to be hand-quilted.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mom on young birthday SM

Mom, around age 12, holding her birthday cake

 

EPPing again with French General

Sometime ago, I glimpsed this quilt in an Instagram feed:

The description says it’s from the North Country of England, so I’ve taken to calling it the North Country Patchwork Quilt.  The more I looked at it, the more I liked how those red squares just kind of blended into the background on the outer rings, but floated over the foreground in the middle.

I tried to convince my husband to buy it.  That was funny, as he made some comment about didn’t we have enough quilts?  Seriously, he’s nearly perfect, but in the end, I decided to go ahead and make it.

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Because I sure need another project.

But the project I need is a hand project, really–one that can be toted around in the car.  I finished my hexies project, and I finished (thankfully) my millefiore quilt, so now what am I going to do on long car rides?  Just sit there?

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So I drew up the block, working between two different pieces of software: QuiltPro and Affinity Designer, and have created this pattern (click on the following link for free PDF file): North Country Patchwork Quilt

This quilt has 624 pieces in it, and if you divide that by four, you’d have to print out gazillions of the pattern page. So here are my tips for making that go more quickly:

Print off several of the free North Country Patchwork Quilt page.  Like 10.

Stack each printed page with about 4-5 plain pieces of paper.  Staple them together inside the pieces, as shown on the left.

Cut them apart in chunks, like the image on the right, using an old rotary cutter that you’ve dedicated to paper; or, a guillotine paper cutter; or, your paper scissors.

Then further cut them into the individual shapes: a honeycomb and a square.  Remove the staples.

That ought to get you started. No, I didn’t use cardstock, but I had some 24 lb printing paper that I used.  And yes, I’m gluing the fabric to these pieces of paper.   I used this paper when I did my Shine EPP quilt (most blocks are free on this blog) and it worked out just fine.  Repeat this process as you need to.

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I’m going to vary from the fabrics in the original quilt, as I fell in love with this Vive La France line of fabrics from French General.  I’m over the moon for those dusky blues and strong reds.

I worked out some variations of this quilt in QuiltPro software, and they vary by how much of a border is around the central rectangle.  Here they are:

I also had some fun with putting the blocks in more contemporary colors (lower left), but decided I didn’t like that version.  The top three are sort of in the colors of the original quilt and it looks like to me, it was someone who was making do with cast-offs from her household clothing, as well as men’s shirtings.  But I’m anxious to get going and trying this out in the Vive La France fabrics.

I have no idea how I’m going to sew this together, but I will be concentrating on those arms that come into an X, and somehow I’ll do the red square.

Lastly, a reminder to pre-wash your fabrics: working with reds can be tricky.

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See you in a couple years!

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

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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. 

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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

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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.

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!

Criss-Cross Christmas Quilt Top

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Criss-Cross Christmas Quilt, top finished December 2017
59 ” by 68″

It all started when my friend Leisa gave me a mini-charm pack of Merrily fabrics by Gingiber.  Then the Fat Quarter Shop had the fat-eighth stack, and then when my making dictated more, I scooped up a layer cake of the line, and I was set (and I still have some left).

I added Kona Snow, and got creative.

I’d seen a variation of this quilt in my Instagram feed, but I changed up a few things to use up all my ideas.  Basic construction was to take a 10-inch square, and cut it either way: into four squares or four triangles.

But then I wanted to use the mini-charm pack, so I bordered them in strips, then cut them at an angle.

The “criss-cross” filler strips are cut at 1-1/4″ wide, so they have some presence, but don’t overwhelm the structure.  I seamed two squares or two triangles with the filler strip, then seamed those units together into a block, as I wanted to have the “criss-cross” pieces be random–the best of improv quilting.  I trimmed up the block to 9″ square, making sure to “center” the ruler as much as possible, so they aren’t wonky at all.

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I ended up not liking that seamed-up business in the solid portion of my mini–charm square block, visible in the upper right block.  I discarded all those triangles, and just went with the ones shown in the lower-left, with no visible seams in the solid.

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Still wanting to use up more of the mini-charm pack, I made my own “squares” of fabric and let them stand in.

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I just started making…and putting them up..and making…and deciding to enlarge it…

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Then I moved around the blocks, making sure the light of the mini-charm-square blocks were balanced against the heavier “filled-in” blocks.  At some point I decided I was done.

I sewed them together, stopping mid-way to celebrate Christmas and get the flu. Because the flu shot is only partially effective this year, more people will probably get the bug.  The good news, though, that by having had the flu shot, the duration and intensity will be lessened.  I hope so.

I’ve got some year-end sewing to do!

Flowers! (and Rules)

Sunflower1

My nephew’s wife, Grace, wrote to me and asked for help.  She is a young quilter, who makes awesome gooseberry jam (she shared a jar with me), so I wanted to help. The quilt was for someone close to her who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she thought a quilt was needed.  I agree.

She sent me the screen shot you see above, and since it was on Pinterest…and you know how much I LOVE their search engines (NOT), I thought it was easier to draft it on my computer using QuiltPro than try to find the original design (I tried…and failed…but kudos to whoever dreamed it up).  Besides, that was one of those “barn” quilts, painted on wood, not a cloth quilt.

This is what I came up with.  But I knew Grace wanted to move quickly, and yeah–all those pieces?

I thought about my Home Sweet Home mini quilt, and how she could make fewer blocks, but bigger blocks, and I modified it as on the left.  Nope.  Those middle petals look like cookies or fingers or something.  I left the pattern in the same, but just colored it differently, and came up with the one on the right.  I sent it over.

Grace wrote back.  She loved what I’d done, but now they were thinking poppies. She sent me a sample of a quilt she’d seen.  I drafted it up in my QuiltPro program, drew up a quilt.  But I thought I should test out my own pattern, so I made a Poppy Block:

Poppy block constructon1

trimming snowball corners

Poppy for Grace

I think it will be cute quilt.  This is a 10-inch block and I thought you’d like to have the pattern, too.  Each is a PDF file which you can download.

Here’s the Poppy Block:  Poppies for Grace

And here’s the quilt instructions: Poppies for Grace Quilt

It can be made in reds and greens and be thought of as poinsettias for Christmas.  Or made to commemorate Anzac Day in April, for the Australians.  Or red and white for a bouquet of posies for Valentine’s Day.  Have fun, but please don’t print off dozens for a class or for your friends–send them here to get their own free pattern.  Thanks.

About QuiltPro: they do not pay me or give me free stuff.  I started using that quilt program eons ago, and they are still going strong.  If you are struggling with the current software (I know, I have it and love/hate it too), consider trying this software, as it’s based on making shapes, not connecting lines.  I find it pretty intuitive, but as with anything, there is a learning curve–it’s just that theirs is not quite as steep.

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Making that block added to my collection of red and white triangles (ignore the interlopers in the upper right corner).  I trim them to whatever measurement’s closest, without it being a weird number, and save them.redwhite triangles2

Every once in a while, I sew them into four-patches.

I haven’t decided yet what to do with them, but a couple of questions arise: do I include the Christmas prints?  Or do they get their own collection? (I think so.)

Do you ever quilt with “rules”?  It’s about all I remember from my beginning art classes, ages ago in college.  The assignments laid out rules to create by — an edge to the sandbox — if you will, and went something like this:

  • Take an old piece of clothing, adhere it to a canvas and paint it like something else.
  • Use three shapes only.
  • Create a composition by taking a square of black paper, cutting out some shape and using the negative and positive pieces.
  • This assignment will use only two colors, but you may use any range of those colors.

And so on.  There are many books out there in the marketplace for guided creativity, but they all start with a rule.

Sometimes I find little bags of treasures in my sewing room, with pieces inside that have been collected according to some rule.  Like the red and white triangle rule.  Or the 3-inch square rule, but I kind of think that last one’s a bit of a cheat.

About seven years ago, I saw this on Jan Burgwinkle’s blog, Be*mused, and fell in love with it.  Maybe that’s why I started making little HSTs.  (While she doesn’t seem to update her blog much these days, it’s still amazing to read through the archives.)

So that’s my rule and I’m sticking with it: red and white triangles, although seeing this quilt again does make me wonder if I should break it.

PS.  I did adhere that old piece of clothing to a canvas and paint it.  It was a maternity shirt, which I stuffed and painted it like a landscape: three mountains and a river.  Somewhere I have a photo of it, but the original was mercifully carted off to a dump somewhere.