Queen Bee for Gridsters: Piggies!

Queen Bee

I am the Queen Bee this month for the Gridsters Bee, and thought and thought and thought of what I could do.  I happened on this design while surfing the blogs, and something about it just made me smile.  Since I am one month post-op on my interminable rotator cuff repair recovery, I realize that it’s probably because I just needed some happy-cheery-goofy-fun in my life.

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IG: #gridsterbee

Yes, I made the tutorial and wrote it all up before I went in to surgery, perhaps anticipating the need for something happy-cheery-goofy-fun. To start us off, here’s something to get you in the mood for making my block this month (stop it about 3:00):

babe-the-gallant-pig

For those of you who can’t see the link, it’s from the movie Babe, The Gallant Pig, completing his “sheep” trials. (Go to the blog if you want to see it.)

Yep.  Somehow little piggies have gotten in my heart and under my skin and I want a whole quilt of them, although I may add a barn or tree to break things up.  I first found them on Gayle’s blog, Mangofeet, where it says she is a bonafide farmer.  She found them on Sally’s blog, The Object of Design, which is where I found a tutorial for littler guys.  And I found Gayle, by following a link from Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville’s Linky Party for her En Provence mystery quilt.  Connections everywhere!

Before I leave all the attributions, please visit Sally’s tutorial page, where she has other tutorials for bunnies and fish and all sorts of creatures.

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But mine are slightly different, both in size and in style, so I wrote up atutorial for what I want.  Since they are small, I’d like you to make me two, if you wouldn’t mind.  I used Gayle’s post for inspiration (also look *here.*). To make it easier on yourself, make them both the same, but if you get adventurous, it’s okay to flip the orientation of the piglets, or make one going up and one coming down.  But really, keep it simple so you aren’t calling me names in the middle of this process.

Again, while Sally has a tutorial (linked above) and she is the designer of this block, I changed up a few things (like the dimensions), so please follow along and make my piglet according to my tutorial.  The piggies are all scrappy, but I do need:

  • sky–a consistent low-volume or “background–no need to make them the same fabric, but the do need to be the same lightness: pale blue, cream, white, tan, low-volume with grey/tan/etc. prints.  Avoid prints with too dark of  text or design so that it throws it to a muddy tonality.  Some background prints are fun and will make the quilt more sparkly.  It’s okay to mix up the borders, but I’d probably stick to the same fabric around the piglet.
  • body–a medium value fabric: small print or geometric, floral, Kaffe, but avoid fabrics that look “splotchy” when cut this small (such as cutting a giant polka dot in half)–generally anything in your stash.  Have fun.  Make me some colorful piglets.
  • ears, feet, snout–a darker-toned fabric that stands out from the body fabric
  • tail–embroidery floss/Perle cotton to match your piglet, to embroider the tail. Pattern is not given for this, but below are some piglet tail ideas. Please use a back stitch.  More info in the tutorial.

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Gayle showed hers on a tilting grassy hill, which I like quite well, so that’s what I’m asking you to make for me.  Copious amounts of photography and images and text follow, but really it isn’t too hard.  The following directions yield one piggie, so cut everything out double, out of two different piles of scrappiness.

Lastly, I follow standard print journalism standards: the caption in UNDERNEATH the image (MQG had theirs backwards on their award-winners page and I was so confused!)

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Cut the background (sky).piglet-tutorial_opquilt_2

Cut the body fabric.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_3

Cut the accent pieces of snout, ear and feet.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_4

Step one is to snowball body fabric onto the background fabric, using the 2- 1/2″ square pieces of background and the 1 -1/2″ square pieces of body fabric.  Then the last snowball is a double: use one 2- 1/2″ square of accent fabric and snowball on one 1 -1/2″ square of background and one 1- 1/2″ square of body fabric.  Press the snowball corners to the dark side, and trim after pressing.  With the double-snowball, you’ll press one square’s seam allowance toward the accent fabric and the other toward the body fabric.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_5

Step two is to gather the other pieces together:  Line up the 1 -1/2″ x 4″ pieces in body and background, AND the 1- 1/2″ x 3″ pieces in body and accent.  Place on the front accent piece (snout) and the back background piece on the large body piece (lowest piece).piglet-tutorial_opquilt_6

Step three: sew the strips together and then press to the dark side on the top one.  I don’t care which way you press the bottom one, but I went towards the dark as well.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_7

Now cut those strips in half.  Exactly.  The top strip set (A) will yield two with body and background fabric that will measure 2″ across.  The bottom set (B) will yield body and accent fabric that will measure 1 1/2″ across.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_8

Step Five is to lay them all out.  If you were going to make a reverse-direction pig, you’d need to fiddle with that ear (double-snowball) piece to sew that up differently, otherwise, everything else is the same/can be moved around.  (See second pig at the end.)piglet-tutorial_opquilt_9

Sew the top row together, then the middle and yes…sew the bottom row of pieces together.  Pressing instructions are in a minute, but generally press towards the dark.  PLEASE DO NOT PRESS THE SEAMS OPEN. piglet-tutorial_opquilt_10

Babe!!! Babe!!piglet-tutorial_opquilt_11

This is how I pressed the seams.  I just realized I pressed the legs the wrong way.  Oh well.  Either way is fine, but just not open. [NOTE: I show it correctly in the second pig, at the end.]piglet-tutorial_opquilt_12

Time to tilt this little guy.  Start by sewing on a 2- 1/2″ strip of ground–can be green for grass, or flowery for a meadow, or brown for forest floor or purple for Outer Space.  It just has to have contrast to the background and side strips.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_13

Sew on three side strips, by FIRST sewing on the top, then the two sides, all 2 -1/2″ wide strips.

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UPDATE FOR MY BEE MEMBERS:
Please do not trim.  After sewing on borders, just send untrimmed, untilted.  

Now back to our regular programming.

Now to cut.  Please check the areas in those red circles to make sure you are leaving 1/4″ seam allowances (one above the line, one below the line).  Lay your ruler with the edge along the black line, above.  Cut.

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Now lay a square ruler at the bottom (newly cut) edge.  Now play with the adjacent side it a bit, making sure to leave that 1/4″ in the circled area.  Cut.

Now think about it as a beginning rectangle.  Turn the piglet 1/4 turn clockwise so that the newly cut green line is at the bottom of the mat and the black line is to your left.  Measure over 7 3/4″ from the black line; cut.

Measure 9 1/4″ up from the green line; cut.

Tilt the pig back to a proper vertical and it should look like this:

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The piglet’s rectangle will measure as shown above: 7-3/4″ high by 9-1/4″ wide..

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Again, this is the most important corner when you cut for the tilt.  It’s so the ground will look merged together when seamed.
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I made you an overlay, if you are nervous.  Download the PDF file: piglet-tilt-overlay1 and print it out on vellum paper, or make a template out of this (too much trouble, I think).  It will help you get the right angles.

screen-printing-settingsPlease print it at 100% or you will again find yourself cursing.

If you are really truly too nervous to cut this pig, send it back to me untrimmed and when I get better, I’ll be happy to trim it up.

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Now let’s add the pigtail.  Draw on a squiggle, originating from the pig’s backside edge.  My drawn line is really faint, above because I don’t want to have to figure out how to get the pencil off.  Sometimes I’ve just eyeballed it.  Sometimes I’ve just scratched it in.  See the picture at the top of the post for pigtail ideas.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_16b

Tie a knot in your perle cotton (I used size 8, but 5 or 12 is fine, too) and bring it out at the fold, at the beginning of your drawn line, hiding the knot in the seam.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_16c

Take one stitch (#1) and then skip a stitch, coming out as shown in the photo on the left.  Now put your needle in the same hole as where you came out on your starting stitch (#2) and backtrack and stitch that empty place, which will put you on the road to backstitching the piglet’s tail on.  piglet-tutorial_opquilt_16d

Insert the needle in the last stitch and pull it to the wrong side.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_16e

On the wrong side, weave your thread down from the top , then make a knot (below) by making a loop and drawing your needle through it.  Continue weaving your thread for one or two more stitches, then cut it off.piglet-tutorial_opquilt_16f

Okay, let’s do it again, but with the pig flipped to the other side.

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You can see how the ear needs the double-snowballed corners switched.piggy_opquilt_2

And the back, showing the pressing, this time with the correct pressing for the legs.piggy-trimming_opquilt_1

You have to think on this step: do you want your piggie going uphill? Or downhill? piggy-trimming_opquilt_2

I voted for downhill since I already have an uphill.
Here’s how I laid my ruler, keeping an eye on those 1/4-inch seam allowances.piggy-trimming_opquilt_3

Now you can see how I use my square ruler to find the next edge.  piggy-trimming_opquilt_4

It’s really straight, even though the photo doesn’t look like it.piggy-trimming_opquilt_5

I put the ruler on as I described above, and worked it until I had the correct measurements of 7-3/4″ by 9-1/4.”  I ended up trimming off a slice of a previous cut to get those dimensions.  Then I do the tail. piggies

Here they are together, but not sewn together.

piglet-c_opquilt

That’ll do, Pig.

Thank you everyone!  I look forward to a whole farmyard of little piggies, running around my design wall.  While I attribute all these ideas to two very fine quilters: Gayle, of Mangofeet (she is hilarious to read) and Sally of The Objects of Design (who has made a stunner of an En Provence Mystery Quilt), all the photographs and instructions above are my own.  Please do visit their blogs to see all the fun piglets that are running around there.

The Grid, the Gridsters (and a wee bit of news)

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When I say the grid, you probably think of something like the image above: a rendition of the electrical grid in the United States.

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Or you might think of a street grid, or the computer grid, or any other type of connected web.

Is it This? Or That?

I also think of the grid we use in making our quilts.  Above is my example of a regular grid, using a 9-patch variant.  This style of quilt — that of using repeated blocks set in a grid — didn’t become popular until the 1840s, as earlier quilts were more whole-cloth, medallion, or broderie perse styles.

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The name of our Gridster Bee is a nod to the idea of the grid, and since I’ve had some non-sewing time, I did some research about the grid, finding its origin in the way that text was laid out on the printed page.  (Note: Where the quotes are unattributed, I could find no source for them.)

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This method of intersecting lines and angles, known as the Van de Graaf canon and used medievally, was popularized by Jan Tschichold in his books discussing classical book design, and became the standard for book layout.  You can see the proportions at work in the magazine layout (above) on the right.

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Some myths about the grid:

  • Grids are a design trend
  • Grids impede creativity
  • Grids are confining, and can only be used for certain designs
  • The grid is a static, even, regular subdivision of the surface both vertically and horizontally

types-of-grids

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There are all types of recognizable grids, such as those above, and in the images below:

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Patricia Walker Rusk’s Sunset Gardens

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pencil cubbies in a shop in Switzerland

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Bullseye by Vicki Ruebel

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Upward Modbility by Stephanie Ruyle

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Christa Watson’s Square in a Square

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Lisbon Subway Tiles

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Cindy Wiens’ Delta Breeze

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Three versions of my Neighborhood Quilt, by my students

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(more designs from Spain and Lisbon)

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Velda Bowen’s Fractured Rainbow

(circular grid used, both above and in combo with a regular grid, just below)

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Shine: The Circles Quilt

golden-spiral(Golden Spiral • from here)

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(A diagonal grid, both in Shutty’s and Van Orman’s quilts) )

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Tesselation by Jenn Van Orman

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Stephanie Ruyle’s Embers

I love the grid, as ultimately, the function of the grid is to help determine and define proportion, such as the last two quilts, which seem to have some unseen glue holding them together. That’s why some quilts that seem to use no grid at all can either make us shake our heads in confusion, or can capture our gaze.

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And that’s why we’re the Gridsters — not just those in the bee — but all of us in the quilt world.

tiny nine patches

And a little bit of news.

I wake up everyday and see this:

sweetsixteen-in-hiatusOn some of my harder days, it has crossed my mind that I won’t ever sit there again, happily stitching away, and I feel so far away from the quilting world that I love.  Cue the tears and the Sturm und Drang.  And then I received this:

quilt-entry-announce2017Pineapples and Crowns_front iphoneGuess the universe doesn’t want me to give up yet.  (If you’ll be there at Quilt Festival-Chicago, please take a photo of my quilt, and tag me on IG [occasionalpiecequilt].) And I was also asked by our guild, The Raincross Quilt Guild, to present a Trunk Show on May 16th.  I’m pretty excited about this, and have been working on my program notes.

So…guess I’ll be a good girl and keep all my Physical Therapy appointments so I can get back to quilting.

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Liberty USA Mini Quilt, 2

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I’ve made some progress by getting the first (left) side sewn down.  liberty-usa_first-side-sewn1

It’s pretty wonky, but I’m leaving it as a testament to this wonky time in my life.

In my pain-killer-addled brain the day I mapped this out, I resorted to doing the freezer paper appliqué method, so everything looks pretty 3D-ish when laid out.  In hindsight, I probably should have done it differently, but the quilt will still get done this way.  Better to move forward, than to take too many steps back.

Be My Valentine • 2017

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Mini Love Quilt, 2012

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Be My Valentine, 2012

Spelling Bee Words, 2015

Spelling Bee Words, 2015

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peacebailey-valentine1 A creation from Way Back: a florid appliqué heart Valentine designed by Elinor Peace Bailey.peacebailey-valentine2

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Hearts in the Pines, 2007

(Pattern for heart blocks on this post.)valentine-heart_1

Valentine Hearts, with a wee pocket with a wee Valentine note tucked in.  The hearts themselves are about 4″ tall, with attached ribbons and keys.valentine-heart_2

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Twined Threads, 1997 (first quilt I ever quilted by machine)

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Liberty USA Mini Quilt, 1 (along with some “slow quilting”)

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I have always wanted a patriotic mini-quilt, so before surgery, I prepped up these little stars, fused them down to 2 1/2″ squares of fabric and stitched them together in a block.  I figured I could stitch on them while healing.  I would use some of those pearl cottons I’d collected while doing Oh! Christmas Tree, and blanket stitch around the shapes.
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The first day, all I could stitch was ten minutes.  liberty-usa-quilt3 I came back to it a week later and over a few days, finished them up. Now what?liberty-usa-quilt4

I taught my husband how to rotary cut, and we got some stripes together (short is 8-1/2″ x 2-1/2″; longer is 16-1/2″ long x 2-1/2″).  I swapped out my big machine for my teeny Featherweight, and stitched them together, one-handed.  At my first check-up the doctor gave me the go-ahead to do stitching, as long as I wore my sling, saying it would be “therapeutic.”  Oh, yes.liberty-usa-quilt5

Putting on these scissor-cut  1-1/4″ borders was not easy (finish at 3/4″).  I’m so used to man-handling the fabric for speed, I’d forgotten how to slow-stitch, or slow-quilt, or whatever you want to call it.  Before, I would grab the strip in front and in back and put some tension on it, floor my foot pedal, and force that fabric into place.  Since I only have one hand available to help guide it through the machine, this wasn’t going to work.liberty-usa-quilt6

Auditioning the next border, with the realization that there is no driving, either, so no running to the fabric store if I don’t like what I have.  I scissor cut the borders, laid out the little mini quilt face-up on the ironing board, and gave it a good press and smoothed it out.  Next I laid the border face-down on top, and again pressed it.  Since I can’t force these pieces together, I have to coax them.  I pinned them together in many places, and fed the seam slowly through the machine.  Flattest border I ever put on, with no puckers anywhere.liberty-usa-quilt7 liberty-usa-quilt8 liberty-usa-quilt8a_word

I had an old printout from the internet (couldn’t find the source when I went back to reference it) that had this word,  so I drew two lines, 5″ apart, then another guideline 1″ inside the top and bottom and freehanded the letters. I fused them on to the quilt.  They are about 5″ tall overall, as that outer border was 6″ scissor-cut.liberty-usa-quilt10

I sketched out a bud, figured out some leaves.  I drew joined leaves, inspired by my love of samaras, or those joined helicopter seeds from maple trees, but also inspired by this photo [PDF of pattern shapes is at the end of this post].  Above, I am trying Sarah Fielke’s method of prepping up shapes for appliqué.  It worked fairly well.

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I laid  out all the parts: leaves, byds (small and large), tubing for stems and more cut stars (on the pattern sheet), trying to decide if I like two leaf sets next to the word Liberty, or one.  I’ll appliqué or blanket stitch down everything…then decide.  Since I work in small segments of time, and ever so slowly, I might make my goal of July 4th.   Here’s the pattern sheet in a PDF document: liberty-usa-quilt-bits
liberty-usa-quilt-printingPlease be sure to set your printer’s settings to 100% so the large star will measure 3-1/4″ where noted. It contains: large flower bud (top and two sides), small flower bud (next to Liberty), joined leaf shape and the large star.  You can either shrink this star for the 16 stars in the central star section, or look for a star online that will measure about 1-3/4″ to 2″ across.

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My set-up is a pattern-cutting board laid out on the extra bed, a chair pulled up to it.

Keep stitching, however s l o w l y !