Economy and Rough Drafts

Economy Block_6

I help teach a group of beginning quilters, and we call ourselves First Monday Sew-day, and yes, I know it’s not the First Monday today, but it’s COVID-19 season and nothing is normal anymore.  For this First Monday Sew-day, I chose to teach the Economy block, also known as the Square-in-a-Square block.

April 2020 First Monday ILLUS.png

I’ve made a little handout to go along with this, which includes a detailed chart of measurements.  Click to download the PDF file:

FirstMondaySewday_4_2020

(NOTE: I’ve also collected all my First Monday Posts and put them in their own page at the top of my blog, just in case you want to find them easily.)

Economy Block_1

I looked at Catbird Quilt Studios’ chart, but then decided I wanted to test out my own measurements.  First I cut some sunny yellow fabric for the centers.

Economy Block_2

I pulled some neutrals from my stash, cut the triangles, then painstakingly went through each measurement, adjusting it to what I thought would work for teaching beginners, then went to work.

Economy Block_2a

After getting the first set of triangles on, I squared it up, jotting down the measurements as I went through each size.

Economy Block_4cEconomy Block_4bEconomy Block_4a

When you trim, do your best to leave a 1/4″ of seam allowance at each point, as shown above.

Economy Block_5

I love this color of blue, known around our house as painting-tape blue.

I’ve already put the triangles on the first two sides and pressed them.  Now I’m starting on the second set, with the finish below:Economy Block_3

Economy Block_7

Here are all the sizes, stacked up together.  I’m thinking bordering the smallest sizes again to equal that large 15″ block in the lower left, and seeing what evolves.

ISpy_ISpyPanel_Bermuda

This is a free pattern from the Robert Kaufman Fabric Company, and it uses the Economy block, but the quiltmaker fussy cut center blocks for more interest.

Into the Woods front

I added one more set of triangles on this economy block to get this quilt. Doing a search on “economy block” yields lots of images to scroll through.

Pinwheel with Economy.jpeg

I liked how this quilt maker had pinwheels inside their Economy blocks.  Our beginners learned how to make pinwheels when they learned about Half-Square Triangles.

tiny nine patches

Making Masks April 2020

And I’m still making masks.  I am making them for people I know, friends and family who need them as our particular county is a mask-wearing place.

Mask Iteration 4.jpg

So when two friends came by and I realized that these masks wouldn’t work for them, I went back to the Accordian-style mask, added a nosewire sleeve and turned the sides into plackets, through which I could slip some elastic.

I’d say this is the fourth or fifth iteration of cloth masks that I’ve made.  I kept wondering why I couldn’t be like all the other mask-makers of our particular universe, and just settle into one kind?  I was heartened by “Tear It Up and Start Again,” an article by Harry Guiness, that reminded me of things I used to teach my college students, back in the day.  I reminded them never to turn in their first draft, as the really good writing starts to happen on the third or fourth rounds (inevitably the class would groan about this point).  Guiness notes that “Too often, when it comes to self-improvement, we create idealized, top-down systems with unnatural rules and regulations. We naïvely assume that we will somehow stick to our rigid plans when life gets random and hard, throwing unavoidable chaos and crises into the mix.”

We’ve all had some unavoidable chaos recently.  While this article dealt more with those self-improvement plans we all make for ourselves (I hope you have all torn yours up during this stay-at-home time), I did like his nuggets of truth, such as this one: “When a plan or resolution fails, the solution isn’t to dismiss it and try a new, equally rigid prescription next year or next time. It’s to build on what worked, ruthlessly cut what didn’t and start straight away on a much-improved second draft.”  I like that I won’t have to discard what I learned in my first draft, but can carry forward the best parts.

“I never lose. I win or learn.” This phrase has been attributed to many, but whoever said it was on to something.  Hopefully we won’t lose during this time of forced idleness (for some), crashing boredom (for some), an onslaught of toomuchtodo (for some).  We can win at our tasks if everything goes smoothly.  However, you can tell by my variety of masks that it doesn’t — usually — go smoothly for me, but we can still learn new things about others, or new things about ourselves.

I’ve learned I like to tinker to figure out which mask will fit which face.  I’ve learned that I can’t read the news before I go to bed at night.  I’ve learned that my current forced isolation and distraction (courtesy of the novel corona virus) is not the best working environment for getting my quilting projects done.

I’ve learned a million new science-y facts about peak dates and doubling rates and flattening the curve and so on (I am married to a scientist), which may or may not come in handy in the Life After COVID-19.  But hopefully I’ve also learned that my first drafts can lead to successful subsequent drafts, no matter whether it’s writing, or quilting, or making masks.

tiny-nine-patches

Last Supper

The Last Supper of Christ, by Jorge Coco

Happy Easter to everyone!

Signature Blocks

I’ve done several types of signature blocks, so thought I’d update my tutorial on how to make a signature block for friends.  The basic kind I make (L)  is a small block, that the people in the Bees I participate in, send with their blocks.  The larger size (R) is suitable for a friendship quilt, which we made for our friend Lora when she moved away.

Cut one white, or light, 3 1/2″ square and two 2 1/2″ squares.  I like to use the fabric that was in my block that I sent. (Click on any circle to enlarge it.)

Place the smaller block on the top of the larger block, aligning corners, right sides together, and draw a diagonal line.  Stitch one-to-two threads away from this line, towards the corner.  This is the same technique used when making snowball blocks, in order to give room for the fabric to turn over the stitching line.  Trim off the excess corner, leaving 1/4″.

In Circle 1, I’ve trimmed away the excess fabric and pressed the block.  The center should measure about 1 1/2″ wide (Circle 2).  In the last circle (seen from the back), I pressed a scrap of freezer paper, shiny side down, to the wrong side of the white strip in order to stabilize the area where I’ll be writing.

I’ve made myself a card that I place underneath the white area, to help keep my writing aligned; I use paper clips to keep it in place. I use a Micron Pigma 08 pen to write.

What to write on a Signature Block that is included with bee blocks? In our bee, we suggest: Name, IG name, the date (in smaller writing) and the city where the quilter lives.

When making the larger signature blocks (quilt shown above), I used a 6 1/2″ white square and a 5″ contrast square.  It gave a good amount of room for Lora’s friends to write their names.  I did back every white part with strips of freezer paper, and collected signatures from all the church ladies to give her a good send-off.  Many wanted to write a message, but we encouraged them to just leave a signature.

I’m sure you can see the double stitching on the corner.  Because this was a larger block, I did two lines of stitching on those corners, 1/2″ apart, then cut right down the middle when I trimmed.  That yielded a sweet-sized HST to use for other projects.

Signatures

Some time ago, I made myself a signature quilt, collecting names of those who were significant to me at that time in my life.  Some six years later, all these sweet granddaughters who signed a block (above) have grown up.

SilverGold_draped

Silver and Gold, 2013

In this case, I used the center of the King’s Crown Block (also the basis for the popular Meadowland block that is currently all the rage; see below), sending around white blocks of fabric backed with squares of freezer paper all over the country, asking them to write their names in pencil (which I later traced over with my Micron Pigma 08 pen).

However or whatever your need for signature blocks are, I hope these tips are helpful!

KingsCrown_Meadlowland Quilt Blocks

tiny-nine-patches

Photo Gallery Label

Sampler Quilt 2015with Sigs

I’ve circled where I used my beemates signature blocks.

Signature Blocks19_11

This shows the signature blocks of my beemates set in the back of a recently finished quilt, like kiss marks (sweet thought!).

Piggies-signature blocks

I inserted the signature blocks in a row on the back of this quilt, with my “label” the same size and shape in lower left.

Piggies2_back

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.

The Visual Story of a Sewing Kit

Rescue boats fill a flooded street at flood victims are evacuated as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Okay–here’s what helps keep me busy while I’m watching hours of footage about the Hurricane Harvey disaster: hand-sewing.  So I came up with my own little sewing kit.  Start Here, with this rough sketch of a pattern: Sewing Kit_opquilt-pattern

SewingKitESE_1and these dimensions:
SewingKitESE_dimensions
Cut out.  Quilt Soft & Stable lightly to backing, as you just want to hold it in place, you don’t want to distort it. NOTE: although it doesn’t show really well, I cut two of the notions pocket (thimble and thread glide); the dotted one (you can see it below) is the lining.  Remember to cut with wrong sides together, as the pattern piece is not symmetrical.

SewingKitESE_2

Stitch it together along the curvy top, and the right side.  Turn inside out, topstitch along the curvy edges. and make the pleats.  Top stitch along the two sides and the bottom, holding it in place to the inner lining. I like light linings, so I can see what’s going on.SewingKitESE_3

SewingKitESERefer to above photo for the rest of these sketchy detailed directions.

Sew down one long side of the scissors pocket; turn and press.  Turn in 1/4″ on the other long side; press.  Top-stitch the scissors pocket onto the lining.  Slide your scissors into place, and figure out where the ribbon needs to go: backstitch a ribbon into place.

Match up the backing with the lining and all its decor, putting wrong sides together and pin. All the edges will be raw edges.  Find the center line (where you will fold this closed) and stitch down the center to anchor the parts together.

Insert the zipper between the two zipper pocket pieces, cutting zipper down to size after sewing thread tacks on each end to keep the zipper on its track.

If you want a needle holder, cut a piece 1-3/4″ by 4″ and stitch to the zipper pocket as shown in photo above.  Then fold the zipper-pocket-assembly in half, creating a pocket.  (You can see the aqua ribbon sneaking into the pocket in the above photo.)  Place zipper pocket on right side of lining and stitch around this narrowly–just to hold it in place.

Lay a spool of thread on all the corners and trace; cut the edges into a rounded edge.  You can omit this step, and just do the corners like a quilt binding.

Bind the edges with a double-fold binding: cut a piece approximately 20″ long and 1-1/4″ wide.  Fold raw edges into the center and press.  Open out binding; first stitch WST with binding to back.  Fold to the inside, pinning or glueing to keep in in place, then topstitch.  Make two other double-fold pieces, roughly 12″ by 1-1/4″ and zig-zag.  These are your ties.  Stitch them to either side of the outer edge (refer to photo way below).

SewingKitESE_3a

Add other trim: two buttons for the “String & Button” closure (yes, that is its official name).  I found some interesting thick string and sewed that through the little pocket at its tallest point and then knotted it behind the pocket.  I used Fray-Chek on all raw edges of string and ribbon and ties.  To close, you wrap it around the button (shown, above).

SewingKitESE_4

SewingKitESE_6SewingKitESE_6aSewingKitESE_7SewingKitESE_8SewingKitESE_9

I use the Superior Threads Bobbin Donut in doing my hand stitching.  I tried and tried to think of a way to get it attached, and finally resorted to sewing a ribbon to the center. SewingKitESE_10

I also tried it out on their new Super Bobs box, which is what is replacing the Donut.  They still have a few donuts for sale on their website if you hate to see it go.  Truth: I probably won’t shove the donut or the box into the sewing kit…but I might.

I realize that I assume you have some sewing knowledge when I posted this, but another Truth: it’s also for my reference if I ever want to make another one.  The very cool fabric on the outside is from Timeless Treasures Fabrics a few whiles back.  It’s called Lux, if you want to go looking.

Why did I make this?  I have lots of pouches and bags and I love them all, as most came from friends.  I also have a couple of sewing cases, too, but I found myself toting around my stuff in a zipper baggie, as nothing quite suited me.  So I know this is what works for me, but maybe you can find something in here that will work for you.

SewingKitESE_11

It matters little how much equipment we use; it matters much that we be masters of all we do use. ~Sam Abell

I have to say that my attention has been preoccupied with the victims of the Houston flooding.  My son and his family moved there a week ago (I know!), and I try to keep tabs on them as much as he is able to.  I’m not the only one focused that way, with loved ones being flooded.  We’ve contributed to the Google Hurricane Harvey Response (they’ll contribute matching funds), and there are many other charities where you can donate.  Please consider helping in this way, as this is catastrophic.

And One More Thing: Get your own Emergency Supply Kit.  Have water, basic necessities, food that’s portable.  None of us can expect that rescue will be a part of our community’s offerings, in case of disaster (and you know what your own disaster can be).  We have to expect that we’ll need to help ourselves first.

Samaritans help push a boat with evacuees to high ground during a rain storm caused by Tropical Storm Harvey along Tidwell Road in east Houston, Texas, U.S. August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX3DRSF

SaveSave

SaveSave

Single Binding on a Mini Quilt

Mini Quilt Binding TutorialWe all put double layers of fabric bindings on our larger quilts, but have you thought about using a single binding on a smaller quilt?  It’s quicker, flatter, and really–are you going to wear out those edges any time soon?  And if you do, won’t you just repair them?  That idea came from Gwen Marston, in one of her last workshops.  That idea — that a quilter would just repair them if they became worn — is why she uses single bindings on all her quilts.Mini Quilt Binding_1Start by squaring up your mini-quilt.  Yes, that is a gigantor square ruler, and I use it a lot, actually.Mini Quilt Binding_2Prepare your hanging corners, by cutting a larger square (for a 24″ quilt, I use a 5 1/2″ square), folding in half, diagonally, and pinning it in the upper corners of your mini, against the back, matching raw edges to the edge of your quilt.

Mini Quilt Binding_115a(Here’s what it looks like on another quilt, as my corners just disappeared on this one.)

Mini Quilt Binding_3Cut strips of fabric (lengthwise, if you can) about 1 1/2″ wide and the size of two sides.  Pin, then stitch on, using a 1/4-inch seam.

Mini Quilt Binding_6Repeat for upper and lower edges.  Pin and stitch, but watch out that you don’t veer off on those corners (I pin them).Mini Quilt Binding_5Mini Quilt Binding_7Square up the corner, and cut off the excess, both underneath (above) and on the outer edge (below).
Mini Quilt Binding_8While this looks angular, it isn’t.  Mini Quilt Binding_9Press binding out away from quilt.  Mini Quilt Binding_10Fold up lower edge, so the raw edge of the binding meets the raw edges of the quilt.Mini Quilt Binding_11Fold it up again, covering the raw edges of the quilt. Pin in place, and then repeat with the sides:Mini Quilt Binding_12Mini Quilt Binding_13Hand stitch all the way around, or if you are a confident quilter, you can use a glue stick to affix the binding edges down, then machine stitch.  I personally don’t like the machine stitching, as I think it makes the edges too rigid, but “To each his own,” said the Old Lady as she kissed the cow.  (My Dad used to say that all the time.)Mini Quilt Binding_14Here’s the corner already on, but it’s hard to see.  I cut a dowel the width of the quilt, minus 2″ and slip it into place. Then I hang my minis, balancing it on a push pin.Mini Quilt Binding_15Mini Quilt Binding_aThanks to all who came to the Trunk Show and to all who sent their best wishes.  It was a lovely evening!  If your guild would like to see my Abecedary of Quilts Trunk Show, just drop me a note.

Christmas Tree Block Swap

xmastreeswap

My friend Leisa saw a Christmas Tree Block Swap that was going on online, and said “Why don’t we do one like this with our group?” Sure, why not?  We don’t have anything else going on, do we? (right)xmastreeswap_1

I drafted a pattern, just drawing this way and that, then made up a test block.  My graphic design guru Simone approved it, and we were off.  I transferred my dimensions to Quilt Pro, my quilt software program and here it is for you to download: christmas-tree-gdhrtqltrs-swap_pattern  That’s FREE, no charge, but as usual, please don’t print off one for your mother or your sister, but instead, send them here to get theirs.  Many thanks.

printer-settings

AND…as a reminder.  Please be sure to set your scale to 100%, as shown above in the red oval.

Now, the tutorial.  I apologize in advance for the pitiful lighting.  Chalk it up to working on a deadline, because our swap is in a a week and a half, and I need to get this to my quilt group for our Flash Mob Quilt Night.  (I hope they bring Christmas cookies to share…just saying…)

I also apologize for filling up your mailboxes with two posts so close together.  But then again, you might need this too, to spread a little holiday cheer around your sewing room.xmastreeswap_2

This tutorial is for one block.  It took me a grand total of about one minute to make one block.  Choosing and cutting the fabrics took a little longer.  For our trees we are using clear bright tones/prints, such as green, yellow, pink, aqua, purple/lavender, orange, red.  For the backgrounds, we are using black or white prints.  For the tree trunk: something trunkish, please.  Here are all the pieces laid out. xmastreeswap_3(Thank you Mary, for my cool board.)

Sew the Upper Background piece onto the tree.  Leave that tiny wedge of 1/4″ goodness at the bottom right corner (shown in the red circle), and let the top of the upper background just hang off the tree.  Stitch 1/4″ seam.

xmastreeswap_4Backside of that piece.  Now the 1/4″ wedge of goodness is at the lower left, and the extra background is at the top.  Press seam towards the tree.xmastreeswap_5 xmastreeswap_6

Repeat with other side.  xmastreeswap_7

Trim off the extra point.  Press towards tree (see below).xmastreeswap_8 xmastreeswap_9

Seam the Lower Background pieces on either side of the tree trunk.  Press towards the trunk.xmastreeswap_10 xmastreeswap_11

Line up the tree trunk with the tip of the tree, to get it on straight.  I’ve left a bit extra on either side, so if you want it wonky, feel free.xmastreeswap_12

Press all seams toward tree.  You can see here the extra I’ve left you so you can adjust the trunk as needed.
xmastreeswap_13

Trim the block to 6 1/2″ by 7 1/2″ like this: Leave space above the tree tip, roughly 3/4″.xmastreeswap_14

Then whack off the bottom, so the total height is 7 1/2″.  This tree will finish at 6 by 7″.xmastreeswap_15

Fussy cutting is always encouraged.xmastreeswap_16

Now if you want to cut out a lot of Upper Backgrounds at once, do this:

1-Layer two pieces of fabric with wrong sides together (like it comes off the bolt).

2- Cut a square 5 1/4″ by 6 1/8″.

3- Measure up 1 1/8″ on opposite sides, and draw or cut a diagonal line.  It should be the same size as your piece B or D.

Remember that these pieces are opposite of each other, so don’t layer up your fabrics with all right sides up, or this won’t work.

xmastreeswap_final1

Here’s my first batch.  Now I’ll go do this some more.

Have fun making a forest!

tiny nine patches

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚
My blogging software puts ads here so I can use their site for free. 
I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚