Oh! Christmas Tree Quilt

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Oh! Christmas Tree Quilt
Quilt #175
Began January 2016 • Finished December 2016

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It’s finally finished.  I started this once I saw the QuiltMania magazine it was featured in.  It is a pattern from Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits.  I had a companion in the making of this, in Wendy Welsh from New Zealand.  She was about a month ahead of me in construction and was such a great help, especially in untangling the borders dilemma.  All of the posts about the making of this quilt are referenced in the Quilt-A-Longs tab, up above.christmas-tree_2

I did finish it by my goal of December 1st, but had to find the right locale accessories, like the lumber-jack looking guy above.  (By the way, the most important man in this photo is unseen, holding up the Christmas Tree quilt.  Thanks, dear!)christmas-tree_3adetail

I had written about how I quilted the center: a meander with tiny stars here and there.

oct_fmq-for-starsAs usual, I printed out my quilt with partial transparency and doodled and doodled, coming into a dead end always.  But finally, inspired by an idea from  *here,* I chose to do swirls around my stars with a spiral in the center, linking them all together.christmas-tree_3detail

I quilted the cream background fabric around the wool felt appliqués, then in around those red triangle points, leaving them unquilted.  I did outline them in a straight stitch, helping them to stand out from the background.

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My husband Dave and I went out for a photo shoot as the sun was dimming, first hitting the tree lot at Teen Challenge (below), a charity near our house.
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And then we went looking for more evergreens for backdrops, a near herculean task in Southern California.  We finally found these pines in the university parking lot.  I told my husband that Marsha, in Vermont, could photograph hers out in the woods amid the snow, but that typical to our climate and locale, we have to pose in an asphalt parking lot.

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The back is a series of panels and fabrics from Cori Dantini from her Merry Stitches line, purchased at Quilt Market this past May and available now.  It’s fun to use them on the back.christmas-tree_front1

This quilt (or parts of it) have gone to Spain, all around my town, and then finally tucked in at home to be finished with the quilting. I took inspiration from all of those who followed along on the Quilt-A-Long and on Instagram, but am indebted to my husband for his love of my quilting and constant support.  Lastly, the design for Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus are found here on the blog. Uusually we say that what’s important about Christmas isn’t found under the tree.

But in this case, it is.

I hope your Christmas season is merry and bright and filled with the love of our Savior.

Hallowe’en 1904 QAL–Step Six • Final Post

Step 6 halloweenQAL

First up, some business to take care of.

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I recently had a post about creativity/uniqueness/Uppercase/Collaboration, where I had a giveaway with two Uppercase magazines and a charm pack of Uppercase Fabric.  So many of your comments were incredibly thoughtful about the process of creativity and the quality of being unique.  Several were very encouraging to me, which was quite appreciated and touched my heart.  Of course, I’ve pasted them in my journal for those less-than-stellar creative days.  Thank you all so very much.

I used the True Random Number Generator (I like to spread the love around the random number generators), and it picked Mary, of NeedledMom.  Email is on it’s way to you, Mary, and I’ll get the treats mailed off to you this week!

Okay, back to Halloween 1904.  This was our schedule:

Step 1 (Preparation): February 13, 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Patterns are available from Primitive Gatherings.  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 2: March 13, 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, strips for the wonky stars, but save the piano key border for later.

Step 3: April 13, 2016–Assemble four blocks and add large appliques; use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. Make and add half-square triangeles (HSTs) around these blocks, using the 8-at-a-time method of HSTs.

Step 4: May 13, 2016–Cut and make the wonky star blocks from templates and strips.  I’m doing five blocks, so will need to make twenty wonky stars and true them up.  Add on the large outside triangles.

Step 5: June 13, 2016–Assemble the rest of the star blocks, by adding their HST borders. In the pattern, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

AND NOW!  WE ARE AT Step 6: July 13,  2016–Arrange the blocks on your design wall and stitch together.  Cut the pieces for your borders.  Make the four corner pinwheels. Sew borders together and attach them to the quilt. Ta-Done!!

AND THERE IS AN UPDATE AT THE END OF THIS POST, added December 2016

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We finished up here last time, with the center of the quilt put together, the blocks placed and sewn together (and yes, I fixed the lower sawtooth edge on the right). Leisa and I are making a 9-block quilt; the pattern calls for 12 blocks.

Halloween6_0Make more HST blocks: there are four blocks per pinwheel, so this time I didn’t use the eight-at-a-time method, but instead, followed the pattern’s recipe for two-at-a-time (check there for dimensions). Halloween6_0a Halloween6_0b

Trim each HST to 3″ using your favorite method, then stitch four together to make a pinwheel.

Halloween6_2Press, as shown, with all seams to the dark, popping a few stitches in the middle to allow the seam allowances to make their own tiny pinwheel.Halloween6_1

True the corner pinwheel square to 5 1/2.”

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You’ll be making four corner pinwheels.

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Cut your pieces for your borders, following the pattern directions.  For the smaller nine-block quilt, adjust down to 24 total per side.  I tried to randomize the sewing of the oranges in between the black pieces, as I had many more different types of orange.  Just do your best. Halloween6_2bHalloween6_2c

Press the seams going one way.  You’ll notice that you begin with a black and end with an orange piece (or visa versa).  I chose to press my seams toward the orange, from the black, doing the same on all four border strips.  Halloween6_4

Matching all the seams, pin and stitch on the borders: I sewed on the top border and the bottom border and pressed the seam away from the quilt top (towards the border).  Then I sewed the sides on, but I left one inch free on the beginning of that seam and on the end of that seam, which would allow me to stitch on the pinwheel blocks later.  You can kind of see where it’s not sewn down, above.

Now, audition your pinwheels–you’ll like them going one way or the other, or swap them out to get the look that pleases you.  But please don’t overthink this step.  When you get them how you like them, stitch them on the side borders at both ends.  Press.  Then finish stitching the side seams.

Halloween6_5Now press those seams away from the quilt top, towards the border.  You are done!

Halloween6_quilt2I went outside in the sunset and took pictures of the completed quilt top.

Halloween6_in the garden Halloween6_quilt1 Halloween6_quilt3I know when you were deep in wonky stars and then deeper in making millions of half-square triangles, you wanted to quit; however, this last part is easy-peasy, so you should come roaring into the finish line.

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All Hallows Eve
Quilt #174
68″ square

Update (December 2016):  I finished the quilt, taking it over to my quilter.  She got it back to me by the end of November and by December, the binding and sleeve were on.

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Here’s the back!
(Now back to the original post)

Congratulations on finishing your Halloween Quilt, and so early!  Thanks for following along our QAL.  Hope you enjoy your quilt this Halloween!

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When you finish, send me a photo (or two) and I’ll put them up on the blog.  Happy Haunting, everyone!

Oh Christmas Tree QAL • STEP 3

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Here we are again, gathering together for the next step of the Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-A-Long (#ohchristmastreeqal), using the pattern found in Quiltmania’s Simply Moderne, issue #3, designed by Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits.

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At this point, you’ve been working on your flowers for a month, and if you are like me, that first one was like jumping off a high dive, and thinking the pool was empty and you’d go splat.  But you didn’t, and your flower circles are looking wonderful and you are actually having a great time.  Keep working on them, you’ll need 21 of them in the various sizes shown on the pattern.  I have to admit that all of mine are not the “perfect” size, as some are larger than what is called for.  I mocked up the tree the other day (I’ll show you this at the end) and it was okay.  So no fretting.  Just #startyourneedles and keep creating and stitching.

But. . . this month we’re adding two easy tasks: leaves and birds.  First up, birds.

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Remember all that tracing you did of the birds, and how you labeled them and marked the dashed overlap lines on a folded piece of freezer paper, so you’d be making two copies of the bird (one regular, and one reversed) and you stapled it together to keep the pieces from shifting? Now’s the time to get them out.  Hold them up to the light and transfer the dashed overlap marking on the wing to the wing piece on the other side, then cut them out and start picking your colors.ohchristmastree3_birdsB

Be bold!  Red beaks! purple bodies! wild wings!  I ironed down the freezer paper patterns, using a wool setting (NOT your regular cotton setting–or you’ll scorch the wool), and then cut them out.  I tucked the beaks under the body, guesstimating where they’d go (hint: NOT even with the top of the body) and pinned them.  Then I place the wing on the bird, using the dashed overlap line to place them, then pinned that in place.ohchristmastree3_birdsC

(No worries…I fixed that purple bird’s wing before I pinned it down!)ohchristmastree3_birds1

Wendy of Wendy’s Quilts and More gave me a tip to sew on the beak first.  I just used a few overcast stitches to get it on securely.  I’d never qualify for a bird plastic surgeon, that’s for sure.ohchristmastree3_birds2 Then attach the wing by blanket stitches (or overcast stitches, or a back stitch or a running stitch), beginning where it attaches to the body and work your way around the lower edge and back up again. ohchristmastree3_birds3

Now do the floaty part of the wing, and tie it off.
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Add a few French knots, or seed stitches, or whatever small decorative stitch.  Cut a teensy circle of white, then an even teensier circle of black and secure them both with a French knot, done with white thread.  I started by cutting 1/2″ squares of white felt, then rounded them off, and then cut smaller squares of black and just kept going around and around, cutting, until it was the right size.  Be prepared to sacrifice a couple of eyeballs until you get the hang of it.ohchristmastree3_birds4a

Ta-DONE!ohchristmastree3_birds4b ohchristmastree3_birds5

I got fancy with that red bird, attaching the wing with running stitches, and doing a zig-zag stitch across the wing.

ohchristmastree3_63birdsallI took them with me on my trip to Portugal and Spain (pictures of that trip are on my Instagram, to the right and on a previous post) and was able to get them sewn without too much trouble on the [long] flight out there.  These go MUCH more quickly than do the flowers, so I’m also adding LEAVES to this month’s tasks.

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Okay, that wasn’t hard!  I traced half of all the leaves I’d need onto freezer paper, doubled it over to get two layers, then cut them out.  Iron on to your felt using a wool setting, and cut out.  Repeat for the inner, smaller, leaves.  I cut a few out of a different green just to give some variety.  Place the smaller leaves as shown, setting them closer to one end.  Using a backstitch, sew them down.  It’s tricky near the tip, but you can see how wobbly mine are and how it really doesn’t matter.  (Last time I checked, The Creator didn’t use a ruler to create his leaves either, and our world is the more beautiful for that variation.)

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So I was curious as to how I was doing at this point, so I smoothed my tree up on the design wall, and stabbed pins through all the flowers and the four birds I’d finished.  Then, ACK! I was stuck.  What number flowers were where?  What had I sewn and cut and what was I lacking?  I got out all the baggies of labeled flowers and set up a little station on my ironing board, right below the tree.  I wrote out post-it notes labeling the flowers as in the pattern, and then a master list of where they were supposed to go.  I then lined up the circles from the pattern, drawn out on freezer paper below each sticky note, so I could see the relative sizes.ohchristmastree3_mockup2

Now that I was organized, I could figure it out.  I had enough of certain flowers and needed more of others.  Some of the directions in the pattern were wrong, so I corrected for those:

OhChristmasTree_pattern errataIf you want it to look like the one in the magazine, Flowers 6: should read “floating above branch 2” and Flowers 7: should read “on branch 3.”  I say, just squinch them all in where they’ll look good.  This is just a test run, but later we’ll do it for real.
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After a while, I could pin up what I’d cut out, fabric medallions, layered felts and all, and was pretty pleased with how it was coming along!  I’d encourage you to do this interim step, if only to give yourself a little pat on the back that you’ve come this far.  After taking the photo, I put everything away in the proper baggies, and planned to keep stitching flowers and finish up the birds.

ohchristmastree3_64stitchingAt the last minute, I decided to take a bunch of the flowers with me on our trip, squeezing them into a cute bag made by Sherri of A Quilting Life.  I snapped a photo of my stitching on the airplane tray table.  I kept stitching until I had nearly all of the flowers done:

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And after getting home, I did another mockup. I didn’t pay too much attention as to what number flower should go where, but instead put my largest one on top, then the next two largest on the lowest limbs, moving on up the tree and thinking more about size and color placement. I’ll let this stay up on the design wall for a few days while I move things around.  I did have one dud–a flower I ended up not liking, but that’s pretty good, I think.  I only had three flowers left to finish, which I did yesterday, so I’m ready to move on to the next phase.

A recap of where we are:

January, Step “prepare”: buy the magazine, books, gather your fabrics, buy the felt/wool, buy/find the pearl cotton. 

February, Step 1: Make the tree on the background and stitch it down.  

March, Step 2: Make 21 flowers.Keep stitching, keep stitching!

April, Step 3: Make 10 birds and the leaves.  Keep stitching, keep stitching!

May, Step 4: Scene at bottom of tree.

June, Step 5: Appliqué down the flowers.  (Wendy gave me some tips for this last week, which I’ll pass along.)

July, Step 6: Appliqué down the birds and the scene.

August, Step 7: Sawtooth border (reds); sew together and attach.

September, Step 8 (finish up Quilt-A-Long): Make wonky star blocks, sew them together and attach border #2.

See you May 2nd for the next step: scene at the bottom of the tree.  Wendy’s done one scene, the pattern shows one, and I’m cooking up another.  See below for the giveaway.

#startyourneedles for the #ohchristmastreeqal

Giveaway Banner

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Initially I wasn’t going to do a giveaway, but after visiting with Anna in Barcelona, I thought it would be fun to have a Spanish connection from our trip.  In Barcelona, I purchased five balls of size 8 pearl cotton (my favorite size) and will send that to the lucky person who is chosen from comments left below.  I’m also including a 1 yard piece of metallic purple embroidery floss that I purchased in Lisbon.  Even though it is a little like sewing with tensile steel, it makes fun accents on our flowers (I used mine for some back stitching here and there, and also for some French knots on another flower).

Please leave a comment below, telling me either where you’d like to go a a trip outside the US and why, or the place where you had your favorite trip (outside the US) and why.  I love to read about other people’s trips, or their hoped-for travels!  I’ll let this run for a few days, then will close it off and chose a winner.

UPDATE: Comments are closed now.  Thanks for writing!

The Thread in Spain Stays Mainly on the Train

ThreadonTrainin SpainThe title of this post came from Cathy, one of my Instagram readers, after I posted the above photo.  I was on a train, in Spain, wrapping thread onto a little organizer.  It totally cracked me up, so I thought I would write a bit about my trip, and the hunt for threads.  In an interesting ironic twist, it rained all that afternoon.

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It all started here, with me packing a few of my Oh Christmas Tree hand-sewing pieces along on our trip to Spain and Portugal.  I crammed everything into a wee bag and am so glad I did.

Stitching on Airplane2It helped keep my sanity while on the long flight over and on our various ground travel segments while in Spain and Portugal.  Like a train (above).

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Or a bus from Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station to Granada (they were working on the rails so we had to be bussed in).

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We first went to Lisbon, and I thought I’d brought enough threads for what I needed, but when my husband spotted this little shop, I couldn’t resist going in and buying a couple of more.

Threads_Lisbona5I definitely needed some purple threads. Check out those larger organizers, which is what they called them.  Nice big tabs so the threads don’t fall off.

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This shop was next door, and to buy threads, she pulled out her color card, scurried to the back room, and brought back a flat box of DMC, from which she selected one for me.  The first shop I went into, I had a hard time communicating what I wanted because they spoke Portuguese and I didn’t.  I mimed a sewing action, and somehow they figured out what I wanted.Threads_lisbon1 Pearl Cotton Lisbon1

This was from another shop next door to that one, and I chose a couple of skeins. I found out they had metallic embroidery floss in colors–something I’d never seen in the States–so purchased some purple. It’s a bit like sewing with rods of steel, but I split the floss apart into 3 threads; it makes a fun accent on my flowers and birds. Pearl Cotton Lisbon2

Fabric Shops Madrid 2016

The next city I went hunting for thread was Madrid.  In case you ever go there, here’s a map.  I needed regular thread for the appliqué centers of the Oh Christmas Tree flowers, and had left my spool of thread at home (or else it had already gotten lost, which is entirely possible).

POint Zero for MadridIt’s all near the Puerta del Sol, which is the center beginning point of All Points in Spain, which of course, is where the fabric shops are located.  Fabric Shops Madrid 2016_2

As I joked on Instagram, we quilters need a sultry babe like the Maja to be our pitchwoman.  (This comes from a famous painting in the Prado Museum, which is in Madrid.) So this time I had looked up how to say “pearl cotton” in Spanish, tried it out, and even though I’m no slouch in the accent department (having lived in Peru when I was a teenager and having progressed through 7 years of Spanish), they had no clue what I was asking for.

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This lovely woman came to my rescue.  Stephanie is an ex-pat American who has lived more years in Spain than in the US, and took me around to three other shops, all in the same block, helping me find my thread and of course, I bought another couple of balls of pearl cotton.  The selection is amazing there!Threads_spain10 Threads_spain11patchworkfabrics

I was excited when I saw the signs for “patchwork.”  This selection on the shelves. . .is it. Threads_spain13

In the photo, one woman is doing embroidery, one is doing lace making, one is making a log cabin and the rest are just sort of looking busy for the camera.  Stephanie told me that lace making, with all the bobbins, is big there, and that she’d made an entire tablecloth.Threads_spainBCN

And then we went to Barcelona, where Anna of @annaorduna, met me.  She and I had corresponded on IG, and she was teaching a class here at BCN Patchwork.  Notice the interesting flower tiles in front of the shop.  That’s the emblem of Barcelona and I saw it everywhere (check my IG feed, to the right).

Threads_SpainAnna

She was lovely, and she and her class of two women, the shop owner and another employee gave us great suggestions for places to go and see and to eat dinner.  I also asked if she had pearl cotton (this seems to be an obsession with me right now) and they did!  The shop employee asked me what color and when I said “all colors,” she brought down from their storage room 7 different trays of pearl cottons.  I selected a few for the giveaway for my Oh Christmas Tree post (coming on Saturday), and then one more luscious golden orange color for me.

Threads_spaintiles1 Threads_spaintiles2 Threads_spainpatchwork Threads_spaincliniqueOther quilts-related things I saw were hexagonal tiles, designed by Guadi for one of his houses, a sweet little ceramic bin with a simple checkerboard-on-point in the historic La Pedrera house, a series of Patchwork Magazines in El Cortes Ingles department store and lastly, a Clinique Giveaway.  Oh, how I wanted that one (why do we always get the flowery Clinique pouches–I want this one!), but with the prices for American cosmetics roughly double what I would pay here, I had to leave it in the store.  But now I’m determined to make one for myself, in just those colors.  Actually I saw tons and tons of tile designs, all over Lisbon and Spain, giving me lots of inspiration for future quilts.

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Still stitching.  I hated this yellow chain stitch, so I took it out.  Below is what finished up with, then sewed to another larger felt circle when I got home (I didn’t carry any felt with me, and although I saw lots of felt in Madrid, it was all acrylic–yuch).Threads_spain5 SpanishInspiration

Another place I got inspiration from was the costumes of the participants in the Procession in Barcelona.  See that gridded lace-like background?  Why couldn’t I try that on one of my circles?xmastreeflowerX_1

I started by marking the divisions of the circle with pins, then stitched it, as shown, moving from a lower point on the inside to a shifted-over point on the outside.xmastreeflowerX_2

Went back in and subdivided those.xmastreeflowerX_3

Now I’m working going the other way, so that it makes an intersection.xmastreeflowerX_4

All done.xmastreeflowerX_5

Now I went in and put little French knots at each intersection.  I started out with three-wraps of thread, but it was too big, so went down to two-wraps of thread.  And no, I didn’t take out the first few.  There is so much going on in these flowers, I didn’t worry about being perfect, and I’m guessing you didn’t notice at first that some knots were bigger and some were smaller.  Now you can.  This is another reason NOT to point out flaws in our quilts to anyone else.xmastreeflowerX_6

Now for another type of border, one that I learned when I was 12 years old.  (Thank you, Mom, for teaching me how to embroider.)  Begin by doing a simple backstitch around the circle, shown here in red.xmastreeflowerX_7Bring up your needle in a different color just in the middle and using the eye of the needle, weave your thread in and out those stitches, as shown.
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Don’t pull them too tight–you want a lovely little serpentine loop to show.xmastreeflowerX_9

I chose a slightly different color (because I had tons to choose from) but you could use the same.  Bring up your needle where you did in the first one, then weave in the opposite direction, completing the loopy design.  Or you could just stop with one thread. xmastreeflowerX_10

I was worried that I was supposed to do an even number of backstitches. . . or an odd number of backstitches, but decided not to worry about it and just make it work.  Can you see where the problem was?  Yes, now that I’ve told you, but you couldn’t see it before.  Just make it work, and don’t worry about it.

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Here’s another stitch: the herringbone, my style.  (I’m sure there’s an official name for this.)  I numbered the sequence for you.  Start by bring your needle out at 1, then poke it to the back at 2, then before you’ve pulled the thread all the way through, bring your needle up at 3, right in between 1 and 2.  Now tighten up the thread.Herringbone_2

Go up to the outside edge, and poke your needle down at 4, then out at 5.Herringbone_3

Complete the stitch by poking it to the back at 6, then bringing it back out before you’ve drawn it completely through, at 7.

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We’re repeating now, but I’m showing you how I catch the two points with one slide of the needle.  Go through at 8 and come out at 9.Herringbone_5

Then over to 10 and out at 11.Herringbone_6

You can start to see the completed stitch here.  I don’t mind the little gap at “x” but if you don’t like it, close it up by taking bigger “bites” of your needle.Herringbone_7

Here’s the completed stitch all the way around this circle.  I worked this in size 5 pearl cotton–big and fat.

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Finished!
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On the way home, a ten-plus hour flight from Frankfurt to LAX, I couldn’t sleep.  So I watched movies I’d already watched before, flicked on my overhead light and kept stitching and stitching.  I finished all of these on the plane home.ohchristmastree_plane flowers all

Here, posing in all their beauty on an airplane tray table, are all the flowers I finished on our trip.  I hope you are posting them on IG with the hashtag of #startyourneedles or #ohchristmastreeqal so we can all borrow ideas from each other.  Keep stitching–don’t worry if yours are not finished.  We still have a couple of months to go, so just take them with you and add another round wherever you can.  I’ll show the completed set of circles and the tree, all mocked up (again) on my next post on April 2nd, plus I’ll be hosting a giveaway for those Barcelona size 8 threads.

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(posing here with metro tickets from our trip)

I’m glad to be home, and looking forward to our next part of the Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-A-Long!

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Hallowe’en 1904 QAL–Step Two

Step 2 halloweenQAL

STEP TWO: CUT!!

Happy March 13th!  My friend Leisa and I got busy this month, cutting up our fabrics so we could show you this step.  I’ve made some alterations to our Master Plan (below).  If you’re not making this quilt–see you at the next post!

Fearless Leaders HalloweenQAL

Yep, we got a little goofy on some of the cutting, but don’t worry! We made it through, and so can  you.  Remember that Leisa and I are doing only NINE blocks of the original twenty as we want wall-sized quilts, so if you are making the big one, your numbers and cutting time will increase (I know that’s a duh.)

HOWEVER, at the end of this post, I’ve included a smallerized version of this quilt, thanks to Mary Burton, one of my readers, who often “shrinks down” quilt patterns in order to make the full compliment of blocks.  So you can make a smaller quilt, by also making smaller blocks.  More, later.

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As a reminder, we are following this pattern by Blackbird Designs, so of necessity, to protect the pattern designers, I won’t show complete measurements.  But where I’ve deviated or made up my own pattern, I’m happy to share.

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We started here.  I didn’t have the pattern when we were buying, so we went a little overboard on some things, but amazingly, we ended up fairly on target for most of the fabrics.  I would probably add another green, if I were doing it again.  Download and print out the PDF of the cutting chart: Cutting Chart for Halloween Quilt

Here’s a part of it:

CuttingChartHalloween

Across the top I identify the piece, then the color of the fabric and the number (#) of those pieces for one block.  Then I added my column of number (#) for 9 blocks.  You get to fill in your info on the last column.  Keep reading. . . while you enjoy this wonderful quilt from Thelma, of Cupcakes ‘n Daisies:

Thelma’s Quilt, of Cupcakes ‘n’ Daisies

As you look at YOUR chart, you’ll need to decide how many star blocks you want, how many appliqué blocks you’d like to make.  Then, further subdivide your appliqué choices into how many pumpkins?  how many cats?  how many moons/whatever?  The pattern includes the pumpkins, stars and moons, but for the cat, you’re on your own (that’s what we have Google Image for–just type in silhouette halloween cat).  Thelma’s owl is referenced in *this* post.  Leisa and I are making 5 star blocks, 1 cat-on-a-pumpkin block, 2 pumpkin blocks, and 1 moon block.

We are doing the 8-way method of making half-square triangle blocks (HST)–more on this in the next post–but for the size of HSTs we need to go around the outside edge, we need to cut 7″ squares.  Since there are 24 HST around the outside of one large block, you’ll need three sets per block of these 8-way HSTs–three of a dark (orange or black) and three of a light (tan/off-white).  I couldn’t decide ahead what I wanted where, so I planned to cut 27 of each (dark, light) and I’ll figure it out as I go along, but then I’m okay if I have to mix orange and black HST points around the outside.  Refer to the chart.  Quickly, here’s all that we cut:

halloweenqal2_fabriccuts1

Cut seven-inch squares on this step, half in light and half in dark (orange/black) fabrics.halloweenqal2_fabriccuts2 halloweenqal2_fabriccuts3 halloweenqal2_pumpkin block

Then to make sure I was on track, I thought I’d better sew up one of these 8-way HST things and cut the triangles for the corners around the appliqué just to make sure it all worked.  It does.  I’ve put on the leaves on my pumpkin, but not the curlicue stem (that, and appliquéing them down will come later–I’m just testing).  By the way, this block measures 19 1/2″ (finished)– just to compare it to Mary’s version of 9″ (her instruction sheet further down; keep reading).

ATTENTION: If you are going to appliqué down your stars onto the center of your background blocks, skip ahead to the next section.  This next discussion (somewhat confusing until you start the actual construction, but I’ll do my best to explain it now) is for those who want to make wonky stars.

halloweenqal2_star block

Let’s talk about the Wonky Stars.  Here’s a sample (without the HSTs) to see how the fabrics are all placed around.  There are four pieces for the star centers, and five pieces that make up the star backgrounds.  Sew them together, trim and you have our block. halloweenqal2_wonkystar2

While this cutting-bigger-and-shuffling thing was big in the 1980s when we’d make wonky nine-patch blocks, it’s currently being taken to new heights by the Buggy Barn.  But generally you make a pattern for the star bigger than you need, then sew it together after shuffling the pieces.  I’ll give you this template next month, but above you can see one of the earlier prototypes.halloweenqal2_wonkystar3

The stars in the blue/light print are my first prototype and you can see I cut off the points.  Re-draft.  The next set (the lower green/white) just looked weird.  Re-draft.  I am pretty happy with the top two stars (green white) as their proportions look okay to me, and when I did them up in the fabrics of the blocks (above), they still looked okay.  So, how did we figure out what to cut?
halloweenqal2_wonkystar4

First, following Thelma’s lead, I made plastic templates for each piece, then divided them up by star-center and star-background.  Leisa laid out the templates on the cutting board, trying to see how economically we could fit them onto a strip of fabric.  She came up with a 4″ strip of fabric for the star backgrounds (and it will take 18″ of that strip for one background set) and a 3 1/2″ strip for the star centers (and you’ll use 11″ of that strip).  So you can get two complete star backgrounds from one 4″ by WOF strip and three complete star centers from one 3-1/2″ by WOF strip.

The trick is, though, that you need a variety of prints to make the wonkiness.  Since there are 4 pieces to the star center, you’ll need at least 4 strips, each of a different fabric.  For the star backgrounds, you’ll need 5 different strips.

ARE YOU THOROUGHLY CONFUSED?  Me too, and I already did it.  Just download the chart, follow along how many we cut (or count the number in the photo) and get everything cut.  Don’t give away your extra fabric, in case you need more, and tuck it all away in a box until April 13th, when we’ll start constructing the appliqué blocks, and I’ll show you how to do the 8-way HST blocks, too.  Wonky stars are coming in May.

NOW, here’s Mary Burton’s measurements for her smaller quilt.  She writes:

“The blocks finish at 8.5 inches with piano border finishing at 3″ so the quilt will be 40″ square.  I love mine. I don’t usually make bed quilts so I reduce lots of patterns.”

MaryBurtonHalloween

I’ve purposely left this photo uncropped so you can use the outlet for a gauge as to how elegant this smaller version of the quilt is.  Really fabulous, and I love the way her backgrounds in the star blocks go from medium to light.

She and I corresponded back and forth several times.  She mentioned that:

“[Going smaller] isn’t harder when you are an experienced quilter. You just take your time.  Take two squares, sew your seam and measure  that piece to be sure you have the measurement you are supposed to have.  Do that until you get the correct measurement.  If you do that you should not have to pin.  Also, you will always be able to use that needle position for all future projects.
The only part that I had to slow down for were the half square triangles because they are so small.  If you use the easy angle ruler, they actually cut and go together fast.  I just learned how to use it this year and it’s wonderful.   Since I made this quilt last spring I just cut 2-inch squares in half and sewed my triangles together and then squared them down to 1 1/4.”   The Easy Angle ruler leaves that step out and you don’t have any fabric waste.  You do have to find your correct measurement though.   You don’t measure your seam, you measure those 2 squares after you sew them.
I did press my seams open because of so many seams. You can use any technique you wish. I always use whatever works for me. If you have never use the Easy Angle ruler, Bonnie Hunter has a tutorial for it on her site.   Don’t bother with the tutorial from the manufacturer.”
Download her instruction sheet here: Burton_Halloween1904  And if you want to thank her, leave a comment and I’ll forward it on to her.

By the way, I’ve changed some of the schedule stuff below.  Just keeping’ things up to date.  See you next month!

1halloweenQAL logo

Revised Master Schedule:

Step 1 (Preparation): February 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Mine was purchased from Common Threads in Waxahachie, TX (www.commonthreadsquilting.com).  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 2: March 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, strips for the wonky stars, but save the piano key border for later.

Step 3: April 2016–Assemble four blocks and add large appliques; use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. Make and add half-square triangeles (HSTs) around these blocks, using the 8-at-a-time method of HSTs, here and here. In the pattern, and in the photo from Thelma, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

Step 4: May 2016–Cut and make the wonky star blocks from templates and strips. We’ll be using Thelma’s method.  I’m doing five blocks, so will need to make twenty wonky stars and true them up.

Step 5: June 2016–Assemble the rest of the star blocks, adding the large triangles on each corner and their HST borders. In the pattern, and in the photo above from Thelma, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

Step6: July 2016–Arrange the blocks on your design wall and stitch together.  Cut the pieces for your borders.  Make the four corner pinwheels.

Step 7: August 2016–Sew borders together and attach them to the quilt.