Flowers! (and Rules)

Sunflower1

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

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

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

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

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

Poppy block constructon1

trimming snowball corners

Poppy for Grace

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

Here’s the Poppy Block:  Poppies for Grace

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

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

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

redwhite triangles1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.
˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

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.*

Circles Block #13–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block 13 EPP_OPQuilt.com

Tiny Swirly Gig
Circles Block #13 of the Circles EPP Sew-A-Long

Since I so rationally decided that I needed SIXTEEN blocks to make up my quilt, all I can chalk it up to is summer heat (coupled with our drought, we are going to have so.much.fun), regular old garden variety stress (having cloth in your fingers lowers blood pressure so I heard), or a blissful existence of sitting on sofas eating bonbons while watching videos and stitching.  Choose one.

But here I am again on the Final Four of the Circles Blocks, created because I wanted something more than straight lines to English Paper Piece.

I have been giving away these patterns for free, as I want to share my designs for anyone else who wants an interesting pattern to sew up on those days.  But Please: do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt  (or OPQuilt.com) and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends.  Please direct them here to get their free copies.  Many thanks.  Here’s the pattern in a PDF file for you to download: EPP Circles Block 13 from OPQuilt Printing for block 13

I print out my papers on 24-lb. weight copy paper, a bit heavier than the usual stuff, and make sure my printer scaling is at 100%.  Print off four copies of the pattern, and cut them out around all the lines. You only need one circle, though.

EQ7 Block 13I also print off a color picture of the block (this one made in EQ7) and keep it in my little baggie full of pieces.  It helps when my brain fades, or too much is going on around me, or I’m trying to remember what the heck all those little pieces are for.Circles 13_1fabric selection

Fabric selection is usually based on what falls out first of my stack, as I glance over at all my blocks up on my pin wall and try to find fabrics that I’ve used before, so the quilt will blend.

The other day I put a photo up on IG and someone asked me what my fabrics were.  If you’ve been following me for any length of time, while I am totally impressed that a designer can make up a line of 14 fabrics that all go together, and I love love love them, doesn’t mean I’m going to use them all in a quilt at the same time (although I have done it once.  Or twice.)  And I’m a selvage cutter-offer, so the chances of me knowing what they are might probably be very slim.  I’ll probably know the designer, but the name of the fabric?  I have a thing for using a LOT of different fabrics in a quilt.  I mean, it’s a great big fabric universe out there.  Why not have fun?

Color and Value Wheels

The other tip to picking good fabrics is to know your color wheel–how it works, as well as your value scale (light-to-dark).  (Illustration above from *here* which has a quick primer on color and value.) More quilts have been ruined by the inclusion of medium-value fabrics only, especially by the use of medium gray (ACK! ACK!).  Try to get a range of hues (colors) in light (tints) to dark (shades).

Circles 13_2Which direction do you want your swirls to go?  If you want it to look like the pattern, place the printing face down on the wrong side of the pattern.  Which ever way you do it, be consistent on both colors of swirls.  I pin the pieces, slice around them with my rotary cutter (no, I am not exact), then use the glue method of getting the fabrics on the papers.

Circles 13_3

Ta Da!

Circles 13_4

I like to lay out all the pieces to see how they play together.  I like this bunch.  Often this is where I’ll switch out fabrics, trying to catch it before I get everything sewed together and then hate it.  If haters gonna hate, let it be at this stage.Circles 13_5Sew a light swirl to a dark swirl, being consistent as to which color is on the left or the right.
Circles 13_6Sew the sets of two into sets of four.Circles 13_7Add the points to the sets of four, attaching the rounded edge of the pointy piece to the swirls.Circles 13_8Stitch the background points in between those.  I make sure that the “extra” background point always ends up on the same side, in this case, the right.Circles 13_9Don’t they look great?Circles 13_10Now join two sets of four to make a set of eight. Circles 13_11Beauty shot.  I stitch at night while watching movies with my husband and this dark leather foot rest makes a good backdrop.  I am NOT eating bonbons because a) my hands are busy, and b) it would get chocolate on the fabrics.Circles 13_12Now join the last two seams.  Yes, it’s okay to switch thread colors if you want to along one seam.  In this case I used yellow on the swirls and white on the points.Circles 13_14Another beauty shot.  Cut a 14 1/2″ square of background fabric, fold in fourths and lightly iron in the creases so they will serve as registration marks for aligning your circle.  Remove all but the outer-edge papers.  If you see some wild seam allowances, trim them now (you’ll do it again at the end).Circles 13_15You know the point-up or point-down drill by now. [If you don’t know what I mean, I have lots of tips and tricks in the other twelve circle patterns.  Click on the tab, above, to see the other circles.]  Take time to try yours out on your background.  Obviously I went with point up.  Now I am not liking the center circle I had planned.Circles 13_16I have a bag of Rejected Center Circles, and I’m trying more out now.  Circles Block 13 EPP_OPQuilt.comBut in the end, I went with this one, because often you just need a dark center to anchor the circle.  And sometimes you just need some dark chocolate to anchor a life.  But hold off, you are not done yet.  Applique the large circle to the background, then cut off the back, as shown in earlier circle posts (you can access them all by the tab up above).  Again, trim any wild-looking seam allowances.  Now appliqué on your middle circle, using tiny stitches.  Press face down on a well-padded ironing board (or a folded towel, if your board isn’t padded).

Now you can hit the chocolate bonbons!

Traveling Threads Bee Block: Peaceful Hours, a Few Thoughts on Collaboration

Traveling Threads_logoThis the second block I made for my recent turn at the Traveling Threads Bee.  This was was found while trolling the web for new bee blocks, but the templates I found had the finished block measuring at 11″ which led to some very strange measurements.  I think it was probably geared for metric users, so my apologies to them for this block, which finishes at 10″ square.

Peaceful Hours Block_7

Here is a PDF of the templates for the block.  I am happy to provide them to you as a free downloadable file, but please don’t distribute these blocks to your mother or your friends.  Send them here to get their own, please.  Thanks.  Click to download: Peaceful Hours 10inch

I always like to simplify my cutting, so I tape together the triangles, then measure them, as shown here:

Peaceful Hours layout

Cut one large 5 1/2″ center square.  I used Lisa’s signature fabric of a bright floral.
Cut four smaller 1 3/4″ blocks to snowball onto the corners.  When you tape these together, remember to cut off that diagonal seam allowance.
Cut two 3 3/8″ squares (orange), and two 3 3/8″ squares (green).  You can either cut them apart diagonally, make them as a two-color half-square triangle (HST), which is what I did.  Trim them to measure 3″ inches square (you won’t have a lot of extra fabric, so be careful).

Cut two 2 1/8″ squares (green), then slice in half diagonally.

Cut the other pieces using the templates, remembering to have all the right sides of the fabric facing UP if you are going to cut them in a layer, as there is a left-orientation and a right-orientation to the F and H templates.  Ditto for the narrow wedge G and I triangles.

Peaceful Hours Block_2

Snowball the corner on your large center square, trim and press, then lay everything out.  This is where you briefly lose your mind on those F and H pieces.  The trick is to find the right angle corner and then let that help you figure out how it goes together.  You’ll always be trying to make those two short sides be that inner corner, but it won’t work.  Look for the right angle: one short side and one long side.

Peaceful Hours Block_3

Stitch on the longer wedgier triangle, press.  Then stitch on the regular triangle.  You’ll have four sets that are mirrors of each other.

Peaceful Hours Block_4 Peaceful Hours Block_4a

True them up to 3″ square.  That tip should fall right about at the 1 and 1/2″ mark, if possible.  While in my early quilting days, I used to just wait to square up the whole block, now I square up the units as I go, especially on these!

Peaceful Hours Block_5

I stitched together the two mirror-units of each of those angular blocks.  While I am NOT a fan of pressing open these tiny 1/4″ seams, in this case, that is the best way to get them to lay flat.  I pressed the rest of the seams to the side.

Peaceful Hours Block_6

Stitch as shown.

Peaceful Hours Block_7And now here it is!  Give it a good steamy press on a well-padded ironing board, let it cool, then true it up.

Peaceful Hours Quilt 5x5

Look what happens when you put Peaceful Hours into a block set of five by five.  I love the secondary circle-type pattern that forms inside.

Peaceful Hours Quilt2 5x5

Another coloration.  I’m playing around in QuiltPro software, which I love because it runs well on a Macintosh.  I also have Electric Quilt, which is also good (I use it to draw all my circles EPP blocks), but since I’m more familiar with QuiltPro, I tend to turn to it as it is more frequently.  And no, I don’t get it for free.  I bought it, just like you do.  I don’t hear about it as much as EQ7, so I thought I’d mention how much I like it.

Traveling Threads_Lisa June 2015

This is what I sent on to the next member of our Traveling Threads Bee: whatever came to me, plus these two blocks, and a slew of Flying Geese blocks for the last person, who puts together the quilt top.

Eastmond Bubble Log Cabin June 2015MCM

I’ve also finished this block for my bee mate Rene’ for the Mid-Century Modern Bee.  It’s from a pattern by Aylin-Nilya, and this one took some time with the weensy little logs in the center.

Being in a bee, or a group is a collaboration of sorts.  While the generally agreed upon conventions for a bee are pretty standard, we are feeling our way with the Traveling Threads Bee.  The biggest obstacle in both seems to be mailing dates, but beyond that, it’s an interesting experience to climb inside someone’s head for a while, use their colors, (and in some cases) their fabrics, their ideas.  Brian Eno noted that “When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness… That’s one of the great feelings – to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.”

And maybe that’s why this digital world of quilting has used bees and groups to engender understanding, which leads to curiosity about our friends’ lives, which leads to friendships that exist beyond the screen and the blog.  I think it is more than just Pen Pals on Steroids.

Amy Poehler, who spent three years in Chicago with The Second City, an improv group (and later famously collaborated with Tina Fey on SNL) had a good insight when she said to “. . . be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

I find that has happened to me more than once, and I notice it also in QuiltLand’s redundancy as I read blogs, watch the latest fad blossom (yes, My Small World is coming along–more later) and bloom.  But when someone has a pop of inspiration, works with it, shares it, that collaboration of sorts changes us all.

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚
Occasionally my blogging software will place videos and ads at the end of my posts.  It’s a tacit agreement we have: they bootleg onto my posts so I can use their software for free.  I do not control the content, nor the frequency of their ads.

Wonky Basket Blocks Tutorial

Wonky Baskets MCM

Carla, of Grace and Favour, asked us to make Wonky Baskets for her bee month for May 2015  Mid-Century Modern Bee.  She sent us some photos of examples of Gwen Marston’s Liberated Baskets and gave us instructions to make colorful baskets with contrasting handles.  I just found my way to completion.  I thought I’d share how I proceeded.

Wonky Baskets_nine

This is a result of the process called “Grading Avoidance.”  (My final papers just came in and I run upstairs in between each paper and play with the cloth to get my brains back.  It’s a skill I’ve learned since becoming a professor.)

Baskets Quilt

Carla’s request reminded me of a quilt I saw last summer in the Springville Art Museum, Going to Market, by PJ Medeiros (quilted by Amity Golding).

Baskets Detail

I liked all the different-sized baskets, so I drew up this sketch:

Wonky Baskets_size options

Wonky Baskets_pair up fabrics

I then pulled up a bunch of two-fabric combinations and laid them all out on my ironing board, and started to cut.

Wonky Baskets_cutting

Wonky Baskets_cutting2

This is how I assemble the basket part, beginning with the bottom piece (or base piece).  I lay the basket piece on top, about 2″ from the edge, and placing the ruler at a slant, I cut through both the LEFT base and the basket pieces.  Shift the basket piece to the left so it overlaps the righthand base piece by about two inches, then lay your ruler down on a slant, and cut through both pieces.  I show you how it looks once you are finished (above).

Wonky Baskets_ready to sew

Pin and stitch, then press towards the basket.

Wonky Baskets_cutting3

Lay the upper piece and the newly constructed basket bottom piece together, then measure about 11″ from where you will cut the base; place a pin.  This is the outer boundaries for the handle.

To make the handles, cut a bunch of bias strips anywhere from 1 -1/4″ to 1-1/2″ wide.  Fold in half, wrong sides together, long cut edges aligned and stitch a narrow (1/8″ seam).

Wonky Baskets_bias pressing

I have these bias strip press bars that help me with the next step: I slide them in, wiggle the seam to the middle back and press.  You can just do this with your fingers on your ironing board.  Try really hard not to stretch out your bias.

Wonky Baskets_sewing handles

The above weensy picture (click to enlarge) shows me 1) auditioning bias strips for the handle (I have a bunch to choose from ).  Go to the ironing board and press, with steam, a curve into your handle, then pin it on (photo below).  It’s better to think about easing in the inside curve, rather than stretching the outside curve, but truthfully, both happen at the same time.

Then back to the above photo: 2) stitch on the handle, doing the inside curve first, then the outside curve; 3) handle stitched, and finally 4) the seam between the upper and lower parts are stitched and trimmed.

Winky Baskets_handle pinned

Wonky Basket_final

For the final press, press seam toward basket so the handle will look like it’s coming out of the basket.

Wonky Baskets_stacks

I cut and stacked a bunch so I could slide up here between grading and sew a couple.  Bias strips are in the front.

Wonky Baskets_ten

And now I have ten!  You can see I’ve made one of them bigger.  I also have a couple of midget baskets ready to make, too, to even out the rows.  I’m just making them–I’ll figure out how to put them into a quilt later, after these last essays are graded, the final given and grades assigned.  A perfect summer project, I think.