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.

 

Circles Block #2, English Paper Piecing

EPP Circles #2 Block_finished

Circles Block #2

Here we go again, with the second block in our slow sewing, English Paper Piecing, series of circles.  While I call it Sunshine, because of the fabric I used, the official name is called Kansas Sunflower (I like it best when we quilters acknowledge the history of our blocks).  Barbara Brackman’s book shows its origin around 1928.

I have created a PDF pattern (roughly drawn, as I am no graphic artist); click to download: EPP Circles #2  Since it is a free pattern, 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.

This one has a large center circle, which measures a bit under 5 1/2,”  but I would cut the fabric circle for the center at 6″ diameter, because I think having the extra bit of cloth is better.  To get a smooth template to gather it up over, iron two pieces of freezer paper together, then trace the circle.  It should give you enough stability.  Or do as I did: head to your iron, and using the tip, iron it in small bites around your paper circle, then sew it to the paper.

EPP2 Circles block #1

Here’s the sketch of the block.  On the lower right you’ll notice that I colored in one half-arc green and one half-arc blue.  If you want to split yours up like that, I included just one tracing of that as an option, but you could also just cut the other arcs in half and go at it that way.  I prefer the larger outer arc. As before, in Circles Block #1, there is an assumption that you know a bit about English Paper Piecing, where you take the pattern, lay it out, then fold the seam allowances back over the paper pattern, then baste.  Others have used freezer paper, or glue.  Do a Google search if you are curious about these other ways of securing the paper.

EPP2 Cutting out EPP pieces

I wanted to use a chevron for the “petal” piece, so I fussy cut them so the chevron stripes would meet along the sides.  I pin down my pieces (since these are symmetrical pieces, it doesn’t matter whether the printed words are up or down), then just freehand rotary cut around them.

EPP2 Pieces Laid Out

Auditioning everything.

EPP2 Arcs Basted and Stitched

After basting the seam allowances down to every pattern piece, I stitched the petals together in two groups of six.  Then I sewed the arcs in between those, as shown below:

EPP2 Setting in Outer Arc

EPP2 Stitched and Center Circle Pinned

I stitched those two flower halves together, then the last two arcs, then laid on the center.  I don’t know why I chose this orangey-red; it just spoke to me.  I had already basted the seam allowances down so I just arranged it on the petals and pinned it down.  I appliquéd it onto the petals, and that’s when I discovered that maybe a 6″ diameter circle might make you happier as it’s a scant 1/4″ overlap in some places.  Then the fun part: taking out some of the papers.  I released the center circle basting threads and the petal basting threads and took out those papers, but left the papers in the deep blue outer arcs.

EPP Circles #2 Block_finished

I’m putting the photo in again, because now you have a decision to make: do you want those four seams in the outer pieces to line up with a point?  Or to be offset (like mine)?  I went back and forth and decided I didn’t want it so busy–I liked the slightly off-kilter look of not having points dead center at Noon, Three, Six and Nine O’Clock.

EPP2 Sewing Diagram

I don’t think there is any easy way to get those four outside pieces on.  This is how I do it: I stitch the seams between parts #1 and #2 to get two pieces hooked together, then pin it about four places around that the #1 arc of the outside circle.  I begin at the lower center  (XX) and stitch around that 1/4-arc, stopping one inch short of the next seam allowance.  Part #2 is just flapping in the breeze.

UPDATE: After doing a couple of circle blocks I found I liked it better using a 14 /12″ square and appliquéing on the circle.  Your choice.

Then I go back to where I started stitching (XX), and stitch the other side (#2), using a few pins where needed (not too many, or it’s ouch-ouch-ouch).  I then seam together pieces #3 and #4, and repeat the process.  As I draw near to the #2 piece, I thread a different thread, do the seam between #2 and #3, then tie it off.  I go back to the thread I was stitching with before and then finish it off.  Repeat for 1/4-arc #4.

I just reread this, and if you are confused, I don’t blame you.  It’s just hard to navigate those pieces when they are backed with paper, and I get tired of fighting with them.  I suppose you could just seam all four outside corners together, then pin and appliqué it down like you did the center circle.  I don’t think there is a wrong way or a right way to do this.  Have fun and let me know what works for you.

 

EPP Circles Block 1 and 2

Are you worried about the fact that my circles aren’t matchy-matchy?  Sometimes I was worried about that too, but then in the previous post I noticed that there was such a variety of circles and colors in a couple of those quilts, and calmed right down.  Keep going.  Keep stitching.  Have fun.  Next circle block comes up around the first of August, right after our Four-in-Art Reveal of Contrasts.

I’ve started a tab, above, with all the blocks and their posts, for easier reference.  By the way, there is no big deadline for any of this; I think I’d have a heart attack if I had one more deadline.  I just wanted a project to put in a little box and carry with me on car travels, on vacations, and while I collapse in the heat at night on the sofa to watch a good movie. (And given that it will take me several months, I may be curling up under a quilt in the cold, still hand-sewing.) Just know that it’s here if you want to make some circles, or a pillow, or need a hand project that is an alternative to 5,000 hexagon papers.  If you do decide to make one, or several, send me a photo and I’ll put it up here on the blog.  Have fun sloooow sewing!

Circles EPP Button