Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Halo Star Medallion--Month 6

This month we make sawtooth borders--the reward for doing all those wonderful curved flying geese:

Mine are totally scrappy, using the fabrics I used in the curved flying geese.

I know some people really do not like paper piecing. This border is one you can easily choose to piece in the regular fashion. I did that with the left border. Then I used paper piecing for the right border so I could choose which method I preferred for the top and bottom borders--more on that later.

Here are some tips for piecing the half square triangles (HST) by regular piecing. There are several different methods you can use, I'll show you what I did. IF you are making the HST from only one fabric, it would be faster to use a grid method to create a bunch of them at one time. I will discuss using a HST ruler and how to make HST from squares--there are detailed photos of both those methods on an earlier blog I did for our Sew-A-Long, earlier this year.

I like to use a half-square triangle ruler; there are several brands. The one I use is from Creative Grids, CGRT45. The advantages to this method are:

1. It uses less fabric--for 1.5" finished HST, strips are cut 2".
2. It is easy to check completed sizes as you sew.
3. It's not paper-pieced, important if that is not your "thing".

The disadvantages:

1. It may be slower.
2. The seam allowance is critical.
3. You make the units, then sew them into a border, two different steps.

Here I have 2" strips of a lavender and background, placed Right Sides Together. With this ruler you place the line that corresponds to the cut size of the strip on the bottom--each ruler has it's own instructions, some use the finished size of the HST, so be sure you know which line to use with your ruler:

Ready for the first cut

Ready for the second cut

Two HST ready to be chain pieced

The blunt edge on the top makes it easy to feed through the machine, no point to get "eaten" and saves a bit of trimming. I cut lots of these units, then chain piece them in one long chain:

"Chain, chain, chain..."

A bunch of HST chain pieced

An easy way to separate the units--a Clover thread cutting disc set in a child's wooden block

A new tool: Sunflower Quilts thread cutter, new to the Market

Pressed toward the darker fabric and ready to trim

I use a very scant seam allowance with units this size, more than an 1/8", less than a 1/4". It works for me. That makes these units a tad bit larger than 2" so I get to "Trim to Perfection". Above is the first trimming, below I have rotated the unit 180 degrees and trimmed the other side:

A bunch of perfect 2" unfinished HST
With the HST ruler, if you cut the strips EXACTLY 2", and sew EXACTLY a 1/4" seam, and press EXACTLY flat and square, in theory, your units should need no trimming. That's more perfection that I want to perform, I am happy to make the units slightly bigger and then trim them to the perfect size.

Once you have 34 HST you are ready to sew them into the Left border:

Here is the most important tip:  As you make pairs, check to be sure they are 3.5" unfinished. You will see quickly if your seam allowance is too narrow or to wide. Then join those pairs into units of 4--these should be 6.5", check to be sure. Then two units of 4 become 12.5".  Remember, if they are NOT THE RIGHT SIZE NOW, they will not miraculously become the right size in the next step:

Two HST = 3.5" 

Eight HST = 12.5" 

When all 34 are joined together your border should measure 51.5 (34 x 1.5"=51" + .5" seam allowance).  I was zipping right along, checking as I sewed the units, then got too sure of myself and stopped checking.  The border was 52" when I got done. I used a ruler to see where the culprits were, then snugged up four seams and Voila':


I did not keep track of how long this process took, only whether I liked the method. To compare, I did the right side border by paper piecing.  The advantages of this method:

1. As the units are sewn, the border is also being sewn, it's one step.
2. If the papers are the right size, the border units should be accurate.
3. It is easy to lay out the fabrics I wanted in each position.

The disadvantages:

1. Some people just don't like paper piecing, it's upside down and backwards--that's OK.
2. It requires a good bit more fabric.
3. Taking out those tiny stitches when you make a mistake is tough.
4. Seam allowances among the HST may be different sizes, that bothers some people.

If you want detailed instructions, with step-by-step photos, go back to Month 2.  That sawtooth border was 1" finished but the process is the same.

Let's talk about what SIZE to CUT the triangles. Sue's instructions say to cut squares 3", then cut those in half.  First, I started with 2.5" squares because I had 2.5" strips left over from the curved flying geese. That was TOO SMALL. The "drop-dead, has to be sewn perfectly" measurement for cutting 1.5" finished triangles from a square is 2 3/8" squares. So, 2.5" squares leave only 1/8" extra and when you cut the square in half, that means each triangle is only 1/16" larger than the space it has to fill on the paper.  Not good. I found I was a lot happier with squares cut 2.75". The larger the square, the more waste you have but being too small is just not fun. You decide what size to cut the squares, just make them bigger than 2.5"--and 3" works just fine.

One paper unit of 6 HST sewn


Paper has been removed and unit should measure 9.5" 

Join units of 6 HST with a 1/4" seam
Join 2 units of 6 HST--they should now measure 18.5"

Once you have all 6 paper pieces made, the paper removed and the units sewn together, your side border should be 51.5". Mine was so I was good to go.

What I decided about the two methods:

1. I was more accurate with the paper piecing.
2. I was faster with the paper piecing.
3. I am willing to "waste" a bit of fabric to achieve the accuracy I wanted.

So, I also did the top and bottom borders by paper piecing.  That's why there is chocolate AND vanilla--you get to decide which method you prefer. My motto, in life and in quilting is "I want the fastest method that gives me the result I want.". For me, with this border, it is paper-piecing.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Sue changed her design, replacing the top and bottom corner pieces with ONE WHITE SQUARE, instead of a half-square triangle, probably to make them the same as the Month 2 half-square triangle borders. We were not able to change her pattern so here is my workaround for pages 7 and 9, the bottom unit on the right hand side of the pages:

The top and bottom borders have 35 HST and ONE white square--they should measure 54.5" when sewn together, including the seam allowance.

Whichever method you choose to sew the sawtooth borders, when all four are done, you are ready to follow Sue's directions on page 3 to determine the size your floater borders need to be. They join the center of the quilt to these borders, filling in the space needed. Another name for these borders is "Coping Borders"--they help us "cope" with the different size borders.

Next month we will be making Pinwheel blocks for the next border. One of the members of my small group, the Halo Sunday Sew and Sews, said she really doesn't like Pinwheel blocks. I'll give you some alternative suggestions for the next border if you want something different in that space.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

International Quilt Market Spring 2017 St. Louis, MO

I love Market and Spring Market especially. Because there is no Festival right behind it like at Fall Market in Houston, we don't have extremely late nights and we get to see the Market quite a bit.

A very added bonus for me is that my grand-girl, Stella, lives in St. Louis, and I would get to see her and show her off a bit. We spent 2 hours together Saturday morning and had a great lunch at Sugarfire BBQ, just up the street from the Convention Center. She was unhappy when I sent Mommy and Daddy in to Market to look around, but really "on" when they came back out:

Things I noticed:  LOTS of Blue and White quilts and fabrics. 2019 is the Sapphire Celebration of International Quilt Festival in Houston and a Blue and White Exhibit has been announced: see here.
I fell in love with this quilt and have already got plans to teach it locally this Fall:

Spellbound from Calico Carriage Designs
Detail of quilting designs
It uses two jelly rolls for Shibori II from MODA and 3 yards of white. What a great quilt to practice free motion machine quilting!

More Blue and White:

Laundry Basket Quilts Edyta Sitar

Carolyn Forster in Schoolhouse talking about handwork
Calico Carriage booth
Other things I noticed:  lots of bright fabrics, children's clothing samples, handwork, and still some "primitive" and "country" feeling lines. Wool is popular for handwork. Embroidery is strong. Whatever brings new and younger quilters/sewers into the industry is fine with me. My daughter-in-law was surprised at what she saw, not the quilts she knows that I make. She was smart enough to take photos and send them to me--now I can get busy on special request projects.

Here is my loot, er, stash, er, inventory additions:

Most important of all for me, is seeing some of my favorite people, faculty, show staff, vendors. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just good folks you should know:

Julia Kelly-Hodenius of Pique

Catherine Redford

Cindy Rennels of Cindy's Antique Quilts

A few of the Quilts Inc.Show staff: Deann, Debra, Terri, Becky

Charlotte Angotti

Jen Kingwell and me
Kay Roberts of Franklin Quilt Company

Alex Anderson and Friend
Last, but absolutely not least, the Education Team that I am honored to be a part of, at our farewell dinner. Did I mention we ate really well at this venue:

Marcia Barker, me, Vicki Thomas, Meg Zimmerman, Barb Cline and Jill Benge, at the Bridge.

There you have it, a taste of Spring Market 2017. I could add many more photos. Instead, I recommend you go to Instagram and search for #missingmarket and #quiltmarket. You can spend hours seeing so many booths, projects and people. Enjoy!

Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Playing with Rulers

It is so much fun to free motion quilt (FMQ) using rulers. Some people call the plastic devices used for this purpose "templates", which is probably more accurate. They are used to quilt around as a guide for the quilting designs, they are not used to "measure" anything like a ruler typically does.

Hand Quilting on the right, FMQ on the left

This quilt has been languishing since 2013. I did Stitch in the Ditch on all the black sashings, then hand quilted simple shapes along the top row so I could bind the quilt and attach a hanging sleeve. I have taught this X Block quilt several times since then, always intending to get back to the rest of the hand quilting each time I brought the quilt hone from the shop after class. Realizing that was probably not going to happen, I decided to FMQ all the remaining blocks so it can be done now, not years from now.  I have a Tutorial on this block here.

There are eight blocks in each row. I am quilting one row a day, only seven more days to go and this quilt will be done. And, sometimes, "Finished is Better than Perfect". Here is how it's going:

I LOVE this Line Tamer ruler for Stitch in the Ditch (SID).It's by Four Paws Quilting.  The channel is 1/2" wide, the right size for my Bernina Q20 Ruler Foot #96. If your ditch is straight, it works great.

 After stitching the X with the Line Tamer, I use this Sew Steady 12" arc template to do the curves on the triangles. There is Handi-Grip on the bottom of the template to help prevent slipping. It works great.

The outside triangle edge is longer than the two inside edges so I made the outside line deeper than the other two. I suppose I could have made them the all the same but I like this look. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
A finished block

The back:

A busy back is the machine quilter's best friend, until you get REALLY good.

Like most things, there are a few rulers I find myself using a lot, the others I have to think about how to use. Here are most of mine:

Here are a few more photos of Ruler Work from the Random Ohio Stars quilt I wrote about here. These were taken after the quilt was washed and dried:

And the finished quilt:

Let's Quilt!