Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2018 BOM PATCHWORK BARN--Introduction and Preparation for the New Year

This is the FREE Block of the Month pattern Patchwork Barn, designed by Edyta Sitar exclusively for The Quilt Show. You must be a Star member of this world-wide quilt guild/show/internet community to receive the free patterns each month, beginning January 1, 2018.

I have been a very satisfied member of The Quilt Show since January 1, 2007. There is so much to learn on the website, not just from the hour-long shows that are posted every two weeks, but from the Classroom, and the Forum--where I  have made friends from all over the world, to the Daily Blog and Newsletter. And for fun, I enjoy the Puzzles and Games.

Each month I will post a blog on the first of each month, featuring tips and tricks for that month's patterns. The pattern provides excellent step-by-step cutting and sewing instructions. I will provide suggestions for speed-piecing, OR paper piecing if the block lends itself to that.

And the Patchwork Sunday Sew and Sews will appear again--this time we are meeting at a local quilt shop, Patches & Stitches. This way more people can attend and they get to shop when no one else is there--fun!  See what the Halo Sunday Sew and Sews did in 2017: here.

PRINTING NOTE:  I only printed the complete quilt in color for the front of my notebook and the first page of my patterns. The actual pattern instruction pages I printed in black/white. Each month the first page is the full color quilt pattern and the last page is a "For Notes" blank page--I did not print either of those pages. Instead, I selected a range of pages to print:  for example, 2-3. If you want to print it all each month, that's fine too.

Let's get started. The Introduction Information is available now, for Star members, so be sure you are logged in to have access. Introduction. This features the fabrics in the optional kit you can buy, if you want to make the quilt just like the sample. It also shows how much of each fabric you need, so if you are working from your stash, as I am, you can get your fabrics selected and put together.

1. Select Your Fabrics. Here are mine:

The sashing/border is Kona Snow solid white, and lots of yellow, cheddar, pink, red, purple, and green. I don't know how much is here--LOTS, more than enough for several quilts, probably. I did pre-wash these, a dark load on the left and a light load on the right, including the white. See the Color Catchers to see the amount of dye that ran in the wash. Read more about pre-washing here.

2. Prepare a Notebook. Here is mine:

I used page protectors for all the pages--easy to remove if I want to take them to a retreat or to the sewing machine. And many of the months are just two pages of instructions, so using one page protector with the pages slipped in back to back keeps the bulk down. Remember, I didn't print the full color quilt cover page nor the "For Notes" last page for any month.

3. Quality Tools: 

You will need a sharp blade in your quality rotary cutter. My two favorite brands are shown. 45 mm size blade, replace if it skips. I have never known a person to change a blade and then say "I could have gotten another two weeks out of that old blade." Award-winning chefs use sharp knives, so should you. 

AND you will benefit tremendously from having a 6.5" square ruler. The blocks measure 6.5" when you have them made, 6" when sewn into the quilt. My two favorite brands are shown here: Quilter's Select, top, has a non-slip back that is very helpful and Creative Grids has excellent markings that make it easy to trim up the units and blocks. If yours is old, chipped, cracked, or not 6.5", buy a new ruler.

4. Prep Your Machine: Clean and oil it, replace the needle the proper size for the thread you are using. Have it serviced if you haven't done that in a year. Mine goes in for cleaning the day before my annual trip to Houston. I also sweep out any lint each time I change a bobbin, and do a deep clean and oiling every second bobbin.  Use top-quality thread--I recommend Masterpiece by Superior, Aurifil 50 wt, or Quilter's Select 60 wt. To find out why Thread Matters go HERE.

5. Handy Accessories:

This is a nifty two-zipper pouch, hole punched to be used in a notebook. In mine there is a highlighter, pens and pencils, small sticky notes and a small calculator. Wish I could tell you were I got it, but I've had it for years. You can probably find something similar in an office supply store.

I also put about a dozen sheets of lined notebook paper in the back of the notebook, in case I want to write notes as I'm working on the blocks--really handy when I sit down to write my blog. 

Having the patterns divided by month is very helpful. Here are the dividers I found:
The tabs are labeled 1-12. You can also print a Table of Contents, instructions are included in the package. I didn't find that necessary.

Be sure you have plenty of paper and ink. Here is what you get when your ink is low:

The one on the right was when I "thought" I had enough ink. The one on the left is after I replaced all 4 cartridges, the 3 colors and black. The poor quality one is worthless--unless I want to color it to match my fabrics. NO, not going to do that. But somebody probably would.

The only thing I have to add to my notebook is the master list of the 20 Sunday Sew and Sews group. Last year's group was very successful and I know this one will be too.

Look for the first set of pattern instructions January 1, 2018 and my blog post with tips on those first blocks. I look forward to this new journey we'll take together.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, December 17, 2017

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

One bite at a time...

This is my Lifetime Quilt, Thousands of 1.25" finished half square triangle units, all from reproduction fabrics. I give step-by-step instructions and more background in this post, written more than two years ago. This post shows how I make the units today, cutting pairs with a half square triangle ruler:  updated method.  What you see here are 7296 triangles.

When finished it will be 100" x 100" and contain 12,800 triangles. Today I wanted to see how far along I am--I have decided I want to finish this quilt in 2018. So far, it's been made exclusively as my "Leader/Ender" project, but it may get a little more attention in the coming months. Today I have to cut more triangle pairs, the supply is getting low.

Yesterday I taught two classes. First, was Mug Rugs to two students who were excited to make small projects, perfect for gifts. Rosa brought her machine and in two hours completed these, and was eager to go home and make more:

Top one is completely done, bottom needs quilting

The bottom one is the reverse side of the bottom one shown above--adorable!
The other student, Mary, brought her notebook and while Rosa sewed, we all discussed lots more design ideas--Pinterest has a wealth of pictures to give you ideas. Decide on a size you like, then cut extra hunks of batting into that size. Throughout the year you can easily make one or two a month and then have great gifts ready to go by Christmas. Mary works with a group making Quilts of Valor and she liked my idea of using the leftover fabrics from each quilt to make a pair of mug rugs to present to the spouse of the veteran, when presenting the quilt.

The afternoon class was Session 4 of Long Time Gone--13 students are plugging away at this one:

 Not everyone was able to be in class this time and not everyone put their whole quilt up but aren't these fun?!

We were all taken with Joan's Birdhouses, a wonderful way to accent this block.

They don't bring machines to this class, just the pattern book and their questions and their blocks. I bring my  machine and demo lots of tips for each block, and I do believe they are all learning a lot.

I have the first 5 sections done--next month I'll show them how to do partial seaming to join Section 5 blocks together.

And now for a laugh--Cyndi in the Long Tine Gone class sat where Rosa had been in the Mug Rug class. Cyndi raided the trash bucket for the chunks of fabric she found there--what Rosa threw away, Cyndi recognized as perfect for our tiny little blocks. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure:

Christmas is a week away and I have two projects to start and finish by then. And I have to clear off the extra spare bed, the one I call my "Archaeological Dig":

Since we have two spare bedrooms, I keep one always ready for guests, but this one... This one holds quilts most of the time. It will take me a while to remove and dump in a pile in the studio, most of these quilts.

Fortunately, several are being shipped to Road to California tomorrow. The Smitten class filled the first week, the Antique Rose Star has only a few spots left, and 2-for-1 is more than half full, quite a good showing for this largely "unknown" teacher. If you are attending Road to California in January 2018, I'd love to see you in class OR in the Roundabout Event Saturday evening--I'll be demonstrating several super tips for improving your binding technique. More info is here.

If you don't hear from me this week, I'm either buried under quilts, sewing those gifts, or baking cookies. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, blessed Kwanzaa, whatever you celebrate may it include family and friends.

Let's quilt,


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Halo Sunday Sew and Sews--Wait Until You See!

Today was the wrap up of the Halo Sunday Sew and Sews--we had a Christmas party with goodies to eat and quilts to show off.

The food was great but guess what? They brought me a gift!! Behind my back, they had a little project going. Using the fabrics from their Halo Star Medallion quilts, they presented me with this amazing top they made as a group:

What a touching surprise! I love it and all the memories it holds, of friendship, fellowship, love and learning. They suggested I add a border with my fabrics--maybe I will. It's pretty perfect just the way it is. Can't wait to quilt it!

The house was ready:

My Quilt-y Tree with quilt, dragonfly and an A-6 ornaments

The new household tree so Stella can see our family ornaments

And I had gifts for them too:

None of us knew everyone when we first met last January 8, 2017 but we are all members of the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville. We started with 15, one dropped out and today 3 were unable to be here. The 10 who did come brought snacks and I had the hot apple cider ready--it's cold here today!

After we ate and they presented my quilt gift, I pulled their names from a hat and each was able to select any quilt they wanted from these shown in the basket. They couldn't open them, just had to choose from the folded part they could see. The last person thought she would be stuck with the last quilt but NO, she got this:

Halo Star Leftovers 24" x 28" 

So sorry I didn't get a photo of Donna and I with this piece--my leftovers from my Halo Star Medallion quilt. She was happy to get it and I think the others wished they were last. As I made this I knew I was going to give it to one of them, so glad I decided to give everyone a quilt. Just like Oprah said:  you get a quilt, and you get a quilt, and you get a quilt...!

Now to show you the wonderful quilts they made. Each quilter stretched herself and learned a lot, especially how to solve problems when they arise, as they will. Enjoy the show:

Jodie--she said this may be all she does and we assured her that was fine--it's a great quilt just like this

Brenda--she may add just one more narrow border

Pam--love that little green border and the funny story that goes with it

Terri--perfect for a large bed. She may take some of the red border off since she will be paying by the square inch to have it quilted

Jo Anne, sister to Brenda--their competition kept them each going

Donna--another happy quilter who learned a lot

Janet--just wow! Can't wait to see this quilted. I want to see this hanging in Houston 2019 in the Sapphire Celebration for the 45th anniversary of Quilt Festival. She will submit it late in 2018 for consideration.

UPDATE: Sheila wasn't able to join us but in early January she sent this photo of her completed top. She thinks she will leave the corners as is--I love it:

This was a great year for me too--at least my studio got straightened up once a month. These ladies have all become more friends than students and most are already signed up for the 2018 Block of the Month, designed by Edyta Sitar. This time we're meeting at Patches & Stitches so we can accept up to 20 people. Sign up for that class  here. We start January 7, 2018. We will be the Sunday Sew and Sews 2. You must be a Star member of The Quilt Show to participate so you can print your patterns.

Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pre-Wash: To Do or Not to Do, That is the Question

Quilters can be pretty set in their ways and this is one of those topics that often gets conversation going, online and in person.

I used to pre-wash everything--it came from my car to the laundry room before it went to the studio.

 Some years ago I stopped that and for the last ten years or so I have basically pre-washed nothing. Using a Color Catcher when the quilt was done was enough insurance for me. This is a miracle product, every kid going off to college should be given several boxes and taught to use them. It's magic:  any color molecules that bleed off the fabric into the water are attracted to the color catcher sheet, not the surrounding fabrics:

I did not pre-wash the 59 red and white fabrics used in my Red and White--By the Numbers quilt. When asked how I could bear to sell that one, my funny reply was always: "I had to sell it before I had to wash it.". Can you imagine the fear in putting a quilt like that in the washing machine? No, me neither. I would probably have used an entire box of Color Catchers. And held my breath until the cycle was done. I did sell it so I never had to experience that level of fear and trepidation.

Today I pulled 40 fabrics from my stash, mostly batiks, for a 40th anniversary Block of the Week quilt from a local shop, to celebrate 40 years of the quilt shop being in business, with the same owner. Patches & Stitches has been my "home away from home" for 30 years and the "happy place" for many, many quilters. There will be lots more info about the quilt coming--don't ask me, the details, I don't know all the ins and outs yet--but we will all know soon!

I am not a Hoarder. I am the "Curator of an Extensive Personal Fabric Collection". Here are the fabrics I pulled in just 10 minutes from my considerable stash:

As I looked at those really dark batiks, especially the reds, purples, and dark blues, I thought I better pre-wash all this fabric, including the stark white with white dragonflies. I separated the fabrics into darks and medium/lights and did two loads.  Here are the Color Catcher results:

You can tell which came from which load. I probably should have washed those reds and purples again but I didn't. I was really surprised how the yellows bled. But the white fabric is still pristinely white, no problems.  I will be sure to use a few color catchers when washing the completed quilt, and will continue to use them until fabrics in the quilt no longer bleed.

Here are my fabrics, pressed and folded, just waiting for the first block instruction:

I'm sure this is enough fabric for two or three quilts so I'm already thinking of another project or two to use them in. I want to USE my fabric, not STORE it.

Do YOU pre-wash? Any horror stories to tell? I'm glad I took the time to pre-wash these--it didn't take very long, less than 2 hours to wash, dry and press both loads. I used the Express Wash cycle as the fabrics are dirty, just new.

Let's quilt!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

New Classes

I've been digging in my shoeboxes of scraps to make a new sample for Scrappy Trips:

Scrappy Trips 50" square so far

Next, I added  piano key borders--to use up some more of those scraps:

60" square

 Last year I completed one of these with no borders:

Quilts just don't look "done" to me without a final border. I am happy with the piano key border.

This class will be Saturday January 27, 2018, 9 a.m. to Noon, at Huntsville Sew and Vac.

I also had fun using some leftovers from Spellbound to make "Bonnie's Baskets":

Bonnie's Baskets, 30" square

This class is Saturday February 24, 2018, 9 a.m. to Noon, also at Huntsville Sew and Vac. It is paper-pieced and this is a great project to learn that fun technique--even if you think you don't like to paper piece, this is the class to show how how easy and accurate it can be.

Both of these patterns are from Bonnie Hunter and are found on her Free Patterns tab on her Quiltville blog.

In February I'll offer my  one hour Ruler Work Demo on the Bernina Q20 Sit-Down Longarm at Barb's Sewing Center--Friday February 16, 2018, 10 a.m. and again at 11:30. See all the designs you can quilt on your domestic machine, using rulers, also called "Templates". Read more about that process here. Bonnie's Baskets was quilted with rulers in the center and Free-motion on the border. Fun and fast!

Let's Quilt!


Friday, December 1, 2017

Halo Star Medallion--Month 12

This is the Block of the Month 2017 from The Quilt Show.

Normally, the current year  2017 Block of the Month patterns are available free to Star members of The Quilt Show.com until December 31, 2017. The great news for those of you who are behind, or haven't started yet: the Halo Star Medallion Block of the Month patterns will be available until December 31, 2018. There is a beautiful Kit you might want to consider--what a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah gift, don't you think?

As an added bonus, purchase of the Kit includes a one-year membership, how great is that?  Purchase the kit here.

NOTE: Here is a link to Sue Garman telling us how we can change the size of a quilt from this size to an either larger or smaller quilt. She gave this information for the 2009 Block of the Month quilt, which fiinished at 85" square, very similar to our 86" quilt this year. What a treat to hear and see Sue and learn from her still. Check it out here. I provided this link on the Forum BOM 2017 way back in the beginning. It's still good information.

We made it to the end of the year. The only thing left are the four Cornerstone blocks, very simple Ohio Stars.

Sue designed these stars to be paper pieced so the pattern is printed that way. Sue loved to paper piece and did it whenever a block could easily be done like that. I made the first one that way, using the December 1 pattern. While it worked fine, I prefer to piece these simple blocks in the regular manner--it's faster for me.  That's why there is chocolate AND vanilla, you get to decide which method you prefer.

For paper piecing tips and reminders, you will find some help here  Month 1, the Paper Piecing Primer.

To piece these blocks in the regular quilt-making method, let's review simple quilters' math:

6" Block
9-Patch design
Each unit is 2" finished, so will be 2.5" before you sew the block together

The "Cut First" Method, exact measurements:

Background squares for the four corners:  cut 2.5"

Background Quarter square triangles (QST) for the 8 light triangles: cut TWO squares 3.25", carefully cut in quarters by cutting on BOTH diagonals

Star Points, QST, cut TWO 3.25" squares, cut into 8 QST by cutting on BOTH diagonals

Center square: cut one 2.5"
Two light 3.25" squares are stacked on top of dark blue 3.25" squares, then cut in quarters
 Lay out all the pieces, carefully sew the four  Star Point units from 4 triangles each, checking to be sure that each unit measures 2.5":

Sew the block together in rows; each row should be 6.5" when sewn:

Join the 3 rows to create a 6.5" star block, which will be 6" finished when you sew it in your quilt:

The "Sew First" Method, oversize measurements:

Background squares for the four corners:  cut 2.5"
Star Point units--cut two squares 3.5" of the dark star point fabric
                            cut two squares 3.5" of light fabrics for the 8 light triangles
Center Square--cut 2.5"

Place dark and light squares in pairs, right sides together, draw a pencil line down the center diagonal of light square, sew 1/4" seam on both sides of the drawn line:

 Cut apart on the drawn line, press toward the dark fabric, stack the blue/light half square triangles on top of each other, right sides together, with blue fabrics on opposite sides. Draw a new pencil line, sew 1/4" seam on both sides of the drawn line, then cut apart and press as you wish, to one side, open, or "twirl" the center:

"Trim to Perfection". Place the 1.25" mark on the center of the block, carefully line up the diagonal line on the ruler with the diagonal of the block and carefully trim away the excess fabric:

Turn the unit around 180 degrees, trim the other two sides and you have a perfect 2.5" Star point unit:

Use the steps above to sew the units into a star.

It doesn't matter which method you use, or how you get there, as long as you get a 6.5" unfinished Cornerstone star, it's all good.

Just a reminder, I did a different outer border:

I plan to quilt this myself on my Bernina Q20 sit down longarm machine. Unless I chicken out...

And excitement is growing for the 2018 Block of the Month, the Patchwork Barn Quilt, designed by Eydta Sitar:

There is a Kit for this one too, and it also comes with a one year free membership. Find that info here.

I'll be back in 2018 with tips and tricks and a few alternatives if you are interested. The Sunday Sew and Sews are all ready to go--I hope you'll join us!

Let's Quilt!