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

liberty-usa-quilt1_stars

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.
liberty-usa-quilt2_sewing-stars

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.

liberty-usa-quilt11 liberty-usa-quilt11a

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.

liberty-usa-quilt12

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 !

Oh Christmas Tree QAL • STEP 6 and Giveaway

6XmasTreeJune

Today is Step 6 of our Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-a-Long (#ohchristmastreeqal), following a pattern by Wendy of FlyingFishKits and which was published in Simply Moderne issue #3, by QuiltMania. As always, we have an assist from Wendy of  Wendy’s Quilts and More (blog) and wendyquiltsandmore (IG).  Our hashtag on Instagram is #ohchristmastreeqal so look there for more ideas.

I’ve been keeping a log of the steps in the tab above, Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-A-Long, so consult that page when you need to find a post.

And yes, there is a giveaway at the end of this post, so have fun reading through the maze of red triangles.

great wall of china1

Today is the Dreaded Border Problem. No, not that kind of border problem, but a QUILT border problem. To guide you through all the blather this longish post, I’ve broken it into 5 parts: 1) The Pattern and the Problem, 2) The Fix, 3) Construction, 4) Fitting it to the Tree, and 5) More Ideas.

The Pattern and the Problem

As SuggestedThese were the inner red/background fabric border blocks, drawn to the measurements listed on the pattern in Simply Moderne.  You can see the troubles already, right?  None of them can play nicely together (that last shape is the dimension of the half-triangle, minus its diagonal line).

MetricImperial Stormtrooper(from here)

Maybe the Metric vs. Imperial measuring system may have something to do with it?  but I don’t know (and to be truthful, I just really wanted to use that image).

As Re-drawn

When I tried to subtract the seam allowances, and create the wedge piece for use at each end of the borders, it just got messier.

But never fear!  Wendy informed me that the seam allowances were left off the triangle and the wedge piece, EVEN THOUGH IT SAYS THE SEAM ALLOWANCES ARE INCLUDED.  She sent me photos showing a difference in the base of about 3/4″ across.

Which explains. . . a lot.  Like a lot of you have gone ahead and cut out the triangles then got to a place like where Gwen did, when she noticed that they were too small!  She eventually made more triangles to fit across the area needed.  Leslie, another friend who was trying to make this at a retreat, emailed me with the same problem; she decided to stop until I figured it out.

The Fix

But before I knew about the news from Wendy,  I had scrapped their templates entirely and made my own, which work fine (free templates for download are below). I compared my triangles to the revised pattern (now including) seam allowances, and mine are slightly larger by about 1/4″ total on the large triangle (1/8″ each side), but interestingly enough, perfect for the wedge triangle.  So you have a choice: do theirs in their imperfections — first adding seam allowances — or, forget theirs and go with mine.  You should know, however, using my templates will change the number of wonky stars you’ll make for the border, if that matters to you.  The finished quilt photo is at the very end of this post, if you want to compare how mine turned out with the magazine’s photo.  And Simpy Moderne’s  link for the errata; it simply says “add seam allowances.” Okey, dokey.

I figured out my templates by starting with their lower border measurement, which just happened to be one that I could evenly divide by 3.  So I redrew my triangles to measure 3″ across the bottom. Then I had to change the side border measurement to also allow division by 3.  Here’s my working snapshots from my QuiltPro software.

OCT6_Side border1

These images show the measurements without seam allowances.  The templates that you’ll print off (at 100%) include those pesky seam allowances.  OCT6_TopBorder

So here is that link to a PDF file that has templates for the new triangles and corner block: OCT New Border Templates.  To make sure you are printing it out correctly, the inside measurement of the cornerstone (w/o seam allowances) is 3.5 inches (or the entire square is 4″).  Please print out only one copy for yourself.  If your mother or friend want the pattern, please send them here to get it.  Many thanks.  

Construction

OhChristmasTree6_1 cutting triangles

I cut three 4″ strips WOF: as you can see, the strips were big enough to accommodate the triangle pattern.  I did flip it back and forth so was able to get about 10-12 triangles out of that folded cut per strip (I forgot to count).  So, from three strips I had plenty.  You’ll need 11 red triangles each for the top/bottom border, and 13 red triangles each for the side borders.  Cut 12 whole background triangles and 2 smaller wedge triangles for each side border; top/bottom borders require 10 full background triangles and 2 smaller wedge triangles.  [NOTE: I do show you two different ways to think about your placement; read all the way to the end before cutting.]OhChristmasTree6_2

I put a double loop of painter’s tape on the back of my template so it wouldn’t shift while I was cutting.OhChristmasTree6_2a

I also don’t really worry about the outside edge of the template so much, instead focusing on lining up my ruler with the actual dimensions of the triangle.  That way, if I accidentally trim off a bit of the template while cutting, the world doesn’t end.  I’m paying more attention to the inside “actual triangle” shape when I cut, than to the triangle’s outer seam allowance line.OhChristmasTree6_2b OhChristmasTree6_3 cutting arrangement

I’ve also learned to shift the fabric going up away from me (north-south direction) when I cut angles, shifting it slightly left or right as needed, so it’s easier cutting with less stress on my hands.

OhChristmasTree6_4 sewing

All lined up, ready to sew. OhChristmasTree6_4a

Since I cut three strips at once, I work with a stack of six red triangles and six background triangles, laying them out like this.

OhChristmasTree6_4bb

Line up the tip like this, then sew along the top edge with an accurate 1/4″ seam, shown here by the dotted line.  Do your best to get that seam as accurate as you can, as you are working with a ton of seams here, and a little scoonch off at this point can yield big differences later.  Having said that, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, as there are lots of ways to adjust these borders.OhChristmasTree6_5 pressing

I stitched them in pairs, then pressed to the dark side.OhChristmasTree6_6

Then I seamed two together, pressed again to the dark side, then built out my four different borders by combining these sets.  Watch out–you will have an odd number so you’ll need to sew on just one red triangle at the end of each border, then sew on the smaller half-triangle shapes to make your borders.  To reiterate, you should then have:
•  two borders with 11 red triangles
•  two borders with 13 red triangles

This is different than the pattern in the magazine.  Sew a corner block on the ends of the 13-triangle (side) borders and iron all the seams to the dark side, as before.

Fitting It to the Tree

Find yourself a nice big flat surface, preferably with a grid.

OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quiltLike a cutting board, or something (Why yes, I do work on my guest bed all the time).  I smoothed out my tree, aligning the tree trunk on one of the lines (north-south) but quickly realized that even though I thought I had sewn the tree on straight on my background, it was slightly off (see the slope of the lower edge).  You’ll cut the background 33 1/2″ by 39 1/2″ if you are using my templates.  Please follow the measurements in the magazine if you are using theirs.

OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt1

I was more concerned that the tree be upright and straight, so I continued lining up the tree trunk and the limbs with the grid underneath, then putting pins to anchor them straight.
OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt2

Since I want the background to be cut to 33 1/2″ inches wide, I put the 16-3/4″ inch line in the middle of my tree.OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt2b

If you have one of these hanging around the house, that’s even better.  They are nifty rulers that allow you to find the center easily.  Just line up the similar measurements on the outside (in this case, the 1-inch marks on the top edge of the Center-Finding Rule) and you’ll instantly find the center.  OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt3

Mark the outside edges.OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt4

Now connect the marks.  I also used the grid underneath to aid me, deferring to those lines, if I thought my marks were a little wonky.  I measured the height of this rectangle (39-1/2″) and it turned out to be almost exactly two inches above the big circle at the top of the tree and the lower edge of my manger in my scene.  (Lucky me!)  I then used the grid underneath and the right angles of my big ruler to draw the top and bottom lines.

The idea is to draw yourself a squared-up rectangle.  If you draw the lines at 33 1/2″ and 39 1/2″ then you can align the raw edges of your borders with those lines as you pin them on.  BUT DON’T TRIM THE BACKGROUND YET!!OhChristmasTree6_8 sewing borders1

Of course, the best-laid plans often go awry.  I’m a bit short here, but instead of stretching the border to fit (which I could do, since it’s mostly on the bias), I let it be a bit short.  I’ll adjust the outside wonky star borders as needed.  Sew on the top and bottom borders first.OhChristmasTree6_8 sewing borders2

While ironing this seam, I just realized that the red triangles should be pointing TOWARDS the Christmas Tree. I un-sewed, then re-sewed, all the while listening to this (30 hour!) book:

Alexander Hamilton

In this season of political intrigues, constitutional fights and jockeying for power, it’s been interesting to revisit the original story of political intrigue, constitutional fights and jockeying for power.  Okay, back to the triangles.

OhChristmasTree6_8 sewing borders3

Sew on the top/bottom borders first.  Then sew the two sides, leaving the corner block seam areas unsewn.  Press, then check them, THEN TRIM THE BACKGROUND FABRIC.  After that, stitch the corner block seams.OhChristmasTree6_first border on

Ta-Done!!  It changes the look of everything to have this first border on, and now I can’t wait until I can get sewing the Wonky Blocks for the outside.  I’ll cover that on our last installment of the QAL, including how to adjust in case your borders aren’t quite what you thought.

Betty, another friend who is doing this, was working parallel with me that day, and we talked back and forth as we worked. The big take-away is that I think this quilt is jinxed, has a spell on it.  Or maybe it was because it was too hot:
113 degrees_toohot

At one point, nearly in tears, I called my husband and told him this pattern had gotten the better of me, and I wanted to chuck it through the window.  So if you have this reaction, you are not alone.  But carry on, it gets better.  Betty’s quilt turned out like this:

BettyOCT_redborders

(Isn’t that background fabulous?)

Here’s the kicker: she had to eliminate the wedge triangles from the two sides at the lower edge, where it joins the square.  In fact, she had to cut those triangles in half.  Her measurements are only 1/2″ different than mine, so that’s when I decided that with this pattern you have to:

Go Zen Quilter

Go Zen.

Oh yeah, that’s totally me up there, but only after I got the red borders on.  Just let go of trying to make this pattern be a precise, precision-cut and sewn quilt, and just work with it.  And by the way, Wendy from NZ was working with the “good measurements” from the original pattern and she still had a hard time getting the red border sewn.  But like me and Betty — and soon, you — she did it.

Wendy OCT with first border

Yes, she reversed her triangles, but when I commented on it, told me that she was all finished so they were staying that direction.  I mention this to fit in with the theme of Go Zen.  There are many ways to complete this pattern, and they are all charming.  Keep reading for another.

Once you get here, you’re going to want to keep going and get the whole dang quilt finished off.  So, instead of waiting a month for the next installment, I’ll give you roughly a week to get it on (and to get the cursing out of your system) and then I’ll pop up with the the final installment, where we Finish This Thing.

tiny nine patches

More Ideas

OhChristmasTree alternateborder

I first saw this on IG.  She did it all in Kaffe Fasset fabrics (apparently, no wools anywhere), with a red/white checkerboard border and that she plans to hang it up all year long.  This photo is from the IG feed from Linderella’s Quilt Works in North Carolina.  (This is the advantage of tagging your photos!)

SusanHolmanOCT

And then Janice of french75too (and a huge EPP enthusiast) sent me this picture that was posted on the Kaffe Fasset FB group.  The quilt is by Susan Holman, who gave me permission to post it here.  She also mentioned that she “had to cut the inner section a bit smaller” and also “re-drafted the stars to finish at 7.5,” as the depth of the border changed the dimensions.

Just to torture myself further for fun, I decided to think about how the quilt top would look if I used different end wedge triangle colors. Here are two pictures to illustrate what I mean.

OCT6_beigetriangles

This is how the pattern goes: small half-triangles made of the background fabric sit next to the corner blocks.  The center triangle, in the top and bottom borders, is pointing exactly at the tree trunk.
OCT6_RedTriangles

In this one, the small wedge-shaped triangles are red, which means that the numbers are slightly inverted (10 full red triangles, instead of 11) and the points of the center triangles are on either side of the tree trunk.  You get to choose.  And because I promised you, here’s a look at my completed top:

OhChristmasTreeFinalToplabeled

This photo is showing number of triangles and the number of wonky stars (which we’ll do next time).

ChristmasTreeLogoSM

Here’s our updated schedule (can you believe we’ve been working on this since January??):

January 2nd, Step “prepare”: buy the magazine, books, gather your fabrics, buy the felt/wool, buy/find the pearl cotton.
February 2nd, Step 1: Make the tree on the background and stitch it down.
March 2nd, Step 2: Make 21 flowers.
April 2nd, Step 3: Make 10 birds and all the leaves.
May 2nd, Step 4: Appliqué down the flowers and birds.
June 2nd, Step 5:  Scene at bottom of tree–make, then appliqué onto background.
July 2nd, Step 6: Sawtooth border (reds); sew together and attach. 

July (sometime mid-month), Step 7: (finish up Quilt-A-Long): Make wonky star blocks, sew them together and attach border #2.

September, Step 8 Show and Tell, just in time for school starting again.  Please send pictures of whatever state your Christmas Tree is in–whether it’s just the bones of the tree, of a completed top–we want to see it!

 

Giveaway Banner

Dresden Giveaway

Since we are now winding down our Oh Christmas Tree QAL, I thought you’d like to have another project to start.  How about some Dresdens?  This lovely book, Dresden Carnival, written by Marian Gillian and Yvette Marie Jones, has sixteen different quilt projects using the Dresden Plate block in ways you never thought of.  The color pairings are bright and fun and the settings will have you thinking about Dresdens in a whole new way.

To win a copy of this book, please leave a comment telling me what your best Dresden Plate block memory is–from that vintage quilt you saw in an antique store to inheriting a set of blocks from your aunt, to the colorful Dresdens now flying around on the internet (including the free EPP pattern on this blog).  I’ll activate the Husband Random Name Generator and we’ll pick a winner.

UPDATE:

Well, my husband was reading intently, so I fired up the Random Number Generator and it picked a winner.  See next post for more info.

Flag waving

Happy Independence Day!
After listening to Hamilton, this whole process has a new meaning for me.  I owe a great debt to those early patriots.

Mini House Quilt Finished!

Mini House_frontlabeledMy mini houses quilt is finished!  I know you’ve heard that line before, but let me go back in time to a galaxy far far away, to this:

Fail Mini House

Mini House Fail.  Yep.  That center certainly is puckery, demonstrating clear signs of the Training Bra Effect.

Something, somehow was just not right.  So back to the QuiltPro software I went, redesigning seams and adjusting tweaking.  Yes, I was a veritable Gepetto in my digital workshop, firm in my resolve to keep to the original Rolling Star Block with its Lemoyne Star (or 8-pointed star) center, as I liked the way it interacted with the “bushes” in my little village.

Sewing Skeleton

It feels like I’ve been sewing on this for ages. . .
(photo courtesy of The Quilt Loft, a local fabric shop)

Mini House Redo

But, armed with new templates, I persevered.

As you know, I cut six different combos for the center before I was finally happy.  If the center fabric was too busy. . . fail.  If the center was too washed out. . . fail.  The yellow and the pink below are really strong colors, but the visual texture is “flat.”

Mini House Redo_2

Everything seamed and pressed.  It’s really sort of a giant 9-patch quilt.

Mini House Redo_3

To quilt a small  quilt, I use straight pins to baste, sinking the point into the batting.  First stabilize the quilt by sewing the strong verticals and horizontals (think: nine-patch), then sew around the rest of the straight line pieces, using a walking foot and fine thread.  (I use Bottom Line by Superior Threads for this work as the thread is nice and fine and disappears.)

Mini House_front detail

I stitched in clapboard on the houses, horizontal on the flatter houses and vertical on the squares, but broke out into curvilinear on the dotty houses.  I swirled in a bush, did a curvilinear on the front porches and the yellow points of the Lemoyne Star, then outlined and stitched in the sky in a random fluffy cloud effect.  A strong binding finished it off.

EmmaOttoRussellJames

Here’s the book I was listening to while working.  While I usually never recommend a book until I finish it, so far this has been a lovely and quirky, a perfect summer read.

Mini House_back

I had some great little house fabric for the back.  This is for the Home Sweet Home Mini Swap and it’s okay to post photos of the quilt.  The surprises come in not revealing what extras you tuck into the box for your partner.

Mini House_back detail

I cut giant 6″ squares, folded them in half diagonally, then attached them in to the corners for easy hanging with a dowel cut to size.

Mini House_frontlabeledThis is quilt # 147 on my 200 Quilts List and is 18″ square. I haven’t shown you the label or the name as I’m keeping that a surprise, too.  I’ll update the post later, after I mail it off in early September.

UPDATE:

Houses Label

The name for my quilt is above, titled in the anxious week before my surgery.  I still feel this way about my home!

Tiny Nine-Patch

Note: For an excellent video with tips for the traditional construction of the Lemoyne Star, head *here.*

Matrix and Offset Pattern Giveaway

Matrix

Sometime back I wrote about the Mid-Century Modern Bee and all the talented quilters there.  I also mentioned my friend Anne of SpringLeaf studios and how she is a pattern designer and maker.  This week she is having a giveaway of two of her patterns, and I thought you’d want to know.

Deister Mtrix2 blog

The first one is Matrix, a beautiful quilt using bold and bright colors as well as soft-toned grays.  It’s fun to make and easy too.  Head to Anne’s blog to leave a comment and enter her giveaway for this pattern and where you can see other versions of this quilt (she is very thorough).  Hurry! for the giveaway for a downloadable PDF version closes soon. You can also buy this in her Craftsy shop if you want (info is on her blog).

Deister tumbler bedroomThe other quilt pattern she is releasing is Offset.  Our group test-drove block patterns for her in the early stages of development, so it’s fun to see both of these patterns.  Head over to her Offset Giveaway to leave a comment and enter your name to win one of her patterns.

OffsetI’ve sewn Anne’s patterns before and she is a ‘cut above’ in the pattern designing market.  She writes clearly and makes her illustrations easy to follow with clear directions.  I also like the “extras” she puts in her patterns, and it was from her pattern Facets that I finally perfected the miter when I end my binding.  Again, you need to hurry! to get in on the giveaway–head over to SpringLeaf Studios and have a look around!

Moroccan Quilt Tile

Moroccan Tile from JillinItaly

So it all started with this photo, from the Instagrammer JillinItaly, a small sweet shot of tiles on a Moroccan floor.  It actually started with my #the100daysof4square project (an offshoot of #the100DayProject) and since I have to come up with four squares of something every day for 100 days, this was what I chose.  Maybe it was the color, the interesting half-clamshell that formed a whole clamshell and an apple-core block, I don’t know.  It was just one of those serendipitous moments that made me want to struggle my way through learning how to draw it in EQ7 (I still depend on my trusty QuiltPro, but wanted to become fluent in two quilt languages).

Moroccan Tile Quilt

I’m also suffering badly from Spring Fever, even worse than my students (which now you know must be nearly a four-alarm alert of Teacher Fatique and Mindlessness), so much suffering that I let them out early today.  Again.  That’s two days in a row and the kid who went his freshman year at Cornell (but is now back here) looks at me as if something was whack-o, and the kids in the back row just grin from ear-to-ear, even though I had to tell one of them she was on track for a stupendous grade of D, if she didn’t get her Stuff Together and pull it up to a sunny C.  Are you surprised when I tell you that she was completely surprised?  Didn’t think so.

So I just had to do something different tonight rather than think about all of that, and here it is: a free pattern for a six-inch block of the above.  Moroccan Tile Block six-inch  Have fun.  I have not yet made it, but Leanne of SheCanQuilt has a wonderful tutorial, complete with video, on sewing curves, so I’d check over there if I were you.  That first picture from JillinItaly’s feed just lit up my wee IG universe (click on the icon on the right to see more), so maybe it’s not the only the fabulousness of the pattern, but also those colors that say Spring Is On Its Way, or if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, it may be saying, You’ve Had a Good Summer, Now It’s Time For Fall, but I’m not really seeing more than those saturated — while also being faded — yummy peaches and golds and magentas.

Quilting in Progress on Pineapple

As far as the other project goes, I have not yet keeled over, but am still working steadily on getting it quilted.  I’ve already ripped out several parts, but I think I know now what I’m doing, so that’s a relief, as any FMQ quilter can tell you.  I might just yet make that deadline of Tuesday.  Stay tuned.