Saturday, February 28, 2015

Simple Whatnots Club Collection #2 Session 2

WARNING:  this post is long and photo-laden.

Last night we  had the second session of the second whatnots club, in the second month of the year.  This is a club from Henry Glass Fabrics designed by Kim Diehl.  It runs 6 months and we meet monthly for my lecture/demo class.  There are 35 people signed up and about half were there last night.  It was postponed last Friday due to an ice storm and this week we had 8" of snow so everyone's schedule is somewhat upside down.  I thought those who missed would like to see what we did and you can see what this is all about.

Here is the project I featured for February, Hen Pecked, 10.5" square:

Those are 1" finished half square triangles (HST).  My method for making HST is to use a triangle ruler--I use Omnigrid, there are a couple other brands that work the same way.  With a 1" finished HST, cut strips 1.5", lay them right sides together and cut like this, placing the light background fabric on the bottom:
With this ruler, place 1" line on the left, cut

Rotate, do not flip, the ruler, 1" line is at the top, yellow tip line is at the bottom. Unit on left was moved slightly so you can see the process.

I pressed the seam open, and trimmed carefully to exactly 1.5". 

Rotate the unit 180" and trim other two sides.  I am willing to throw away that much fabric for perfect piecing/cutting
Pressing seams open, some do, some don't.  I don't usually because I burn my fingers and my motto is "I want the fastest method that gives me the result I want." So pressing to the darker side  has been my fastest method.  Then I discovered this tool and now it's easier:

It's made from heat resistant rubber, does not roll, does not get hot, has two different end tips to allow for turning corners in things like pockets, pillowcases, etc.  Press Perfect by Joan Hawley from Clover.
As I only made 2 HST from each set of fabrics, after cutting the red set, I placed a different dark fabric on top of the background strip, cut 2 of those, added a different dark, cut 2, etc.  I used 5 different background fabrics, use only one if you please.  It's your quilt, do it your way.

When I got this done I looked at it for a few days on the design wall and thought What If?  Those 1" HST are pretty small and I can't see the fabric very well so I made another middle, using 2.5" strips for a 2" finished HST.  Instead of 35 1" HST, I made 20 2" finished HST:


The original border treatment of using different fabrics really appeals to me--with the one on the left I think I will add only 2 borders per side, from 8 different fabrics.  Time will tell.
Seams pressed open, top is flatter on the front than if I had pressed to one side, alternating rows
Another discussion we had was how to keep your sewing straight.  This is how I pin and sew:

I pin at each intersection, pinning IN FRONT of the seam, not after the seam.  I remove the pins as I get to them, I don't sew over them since I sew at a pretty good speed.  If you use fine pins and sew slowly you can probably get away with sewing over the pins without damaging your machine.  Once I get right up to the intersection the pin has done it's job, so I remove it.

 Notice the last pin, at the very bottom on the left.  I put that pin about 1/2" away from the corner and leave it in place as I sew off the piece.  This helps me stay straight all the way to the end.  It is easy to get lazy at the end, reach over to grab what you plan to sew next, and sew less or more than a 1/4" at the most important part, the outside edge of the piece. 

This happens at the beginning too--notice I have a leader/ender unit at the very top--I  LEAD with two 1.5" squares together at the beginning of any piecing I am doing, and END with two 1.5" squares as I finish chain piecing.  This photo shows the pieces at an angle so you can see them, they would actually be straight behind the machine in real life:

Here is the ENDER for the small quilt top shown above:  two 1.5" squares being sewn on the end of the quilt.  Place the ENDER, or any of your piecing, right up against the needle when you start to sew, this keeps your piecing straight at the very beginning too:

 What do I do with those small squares? I make four-patches, of course:

I have a small box full of these and have a project in mind to use them, later, when I finish some of the other things I'm currently working on.  Beside my machine, I have two small plastic tubs, one with light 1.5" squares and one with dark.  Easy to pick up two and sew as I go.
Here is a neat trick I learned on the Internet that I was so excited to share with the class.  This comes from Lori Holt of Bee In My Bonnet.  I love to make flying geese four at a time, but the slowest part for me is drawing the diagonal line on the back of 4 squares, as I describe in my Flying Geese tutorial.

Lori shows how to cut one large square the size that will give you four squares, draw the lines on that one large square, then carefully cut the large square into 4 squares and there you have it, four squares with the lines marked perfectly!  Brilliant!  Another plus to this method is, if you are using a fabric with a direction, for example, a stripe, this insures you can have all those striped star points going in the same direction, IF that is important to you.  Lori draws both sewing lines, I only draw one line down the center diagonal and sew with the 1/4" foot but either way works.  Here are my photos, hers are better:

To get four squares, each 2.75", cut a square 5.5", draw pencil line down both diagonals

Carefully cut in half, ruler on the left is set at 2.75"

Being careful not to move the two halves, cut again, 2.75" from the bottom

Four squares, 2.75" each, with perfect pencil line--the fastest method that gives me the result I want--thanks, Lori!

Lori has lots of great ideas for speedy processes, check out her entire blog when you get a chance, Bee in My Bonnet.   Here is her Mini Design Board Tutorial--you'll want to make several.

OK, we are almost done.  In planning for the March project, Honeycomb, I decided to English Paper Piece the entire top:

To prepare those papers quickly, I drafted the design in Electric Quilt 7 (EQ7), and printed the block out onto terrific heavy duty freezer paper, from Cut Rite:

The paper is about the weight of card stock, has a good amount of waxy stuff on the back side, and printed perfectly in my deskjet printer.  All I had to do was carefully cut out the pieces and I was ready to go. 

To make it easy for Club members, I will print them a page onto the Cut Rite Heavy-Duty Freezer paper for a small fee.  If they prefer, I will print it onto copy paper and they can trace it if they like, onto regular freezer paper or cardstock.  They will let me know before the March meeting which page they want, if they want one at all. 

Next month I'll show details of the English Paper Piecing process. 

So there you have it, some of what we talked about last night.  And a reminder, Monday, March 2, all the Kim Diehl Heritage Hollow collection fabric goes out on the store shelves for any customer to buy--until then it is reserved ONLY for Club members.  Yesterday we got in 8 replacement bolts of the most popular fabrics, and two of those were sold out again last night.  Get it while you can.

Let's Quilt!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Day--Let's Play!

Every quilter in North Alabama is happy because we are supposed to get 6" of snow today and Alabama is closed.  I'm sure there are some essential personnel, like first responders/doctors/nurses who have to go to work today and we thank them for being there to protect us.  But most quilters are home and sewing today.

Yesterday I finished my Kisses and Hugs top (AKA Japanese X and + blocks), at least as far as I'm going to finish it until I teach the class in July.  I want to show this at the March guild meeting so they can see what my Quilt In class will be:

I like how these are coming together and will make quite a few more of these. 

Some of the blocks I made seemed too dark,  not bright and exciting enough.  I thought I might use them as an outside border:

But I don't care for that.  So I'll make more dark ones, after all the brights are done, and make a second quilt with them:

As I was making these, I thought there was something not quite right about them.  So I went to the computer and looked all lots of photos of the Japanese X and + quilts and studied the ones I really liked.  It was the bright, vibrant colors that really appealed to me.  So from then on that was what I used.  My studio looks like a bright fabric factory exploded in there so now I will clean all those fabrics up and put them away until July.  I've got other things I need to go back to.

Here are the Stars in a Time Warp block so far, really enjoying this project:

I've got a few different ideas for how to set these, this is not one of them, they are just on the wall so I could show them all to you.

Saturday I had 3 friends come over to help me prepare for the Make It University class I'll be presenting in Chicago next month.  First, we spent an hour on a test run class--I taught the class to them to be sure what I thought could be accomplished in one hour actually could.  Good news--we were right on time!  Then, they helped me mark and prepare the kits with the star parts I  had cut out previously.  In two hours we got 25 done so I'm half way there.  A big thank you to Brenda, JoAnne and Kathy!

6" Lemoyne Star, hand-pieced
After I clean up the studio, I'm going to piece a back for the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt, using leftover blocks and fabrics from the front.  Then I can put all that fabric away too.
Be safe in the snow and stay home and sew!
Let's Quilt!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Is It Just Me?

Who has several projects ongoing at the same time?  Here is my current design wall:

There are Stars in a Time Warp, a growing collection of those.  I'm making 2 6" blocks each week.  There are Simple Whatnots Club quilts, I teach one of these each month for 6 months.   There are X and + blocks, bright ones and darker ones, a class I will teach for our guild Quilt-In this July.  The log cabin blocks are a simple leader/ender project, easy to cut from the Kim Diehl Simple Whatnots collection 2 fabrics.  There are HexieStars, a project I may be teaching at Quilt!Knit!Stitch! in Portland, this August.  And there are Lemoyne Stars, samples for a Make It University class I'll teach at International Quilt Festival in Chicago one month from now. 

Here is the Honeycomb quilt from the Simple Whatnots Club, Collection 2, featuring Kim Diehl fabrics, 11" x 13":

The pattern has you make split hexagons with freezer paper, then applique' those to a light pieced background.  I decided to English paper piece (EPP) the entire thing.  I drafted it in Electric Quilt, printed the design onto heavy duty freezer paper, then cut out the papers and used a glue pen to wrap the fabrics around the shapes.  There are hexagons, diamonds, and triangles, all EPP.  It took a few nights of hand sewing and I like how it came out.  In the class at our club, I'll offer the page of shapes printed for students who want to do it this way.  And I'll do a tutorial of the process before the class meets and post it here.  There are more than 30 people in the class and it can be hard to see my demos in class. 
So the design wall has lots of things to look at up there.  My plan is to start sewing the X and + blocks together next week so I'll take a bunch of stuff down, giving me room to play with color and design. 

It has been very cold here, today we won't break freezing and it was 10 degrees this morning.  We may get sleet and freezing rain tomorrow afternoon and evening so the Simple Whatnots club may be postponed a week, we just have to wait to see what actually happens.  We can't complain, it's not Boston!  They just have too much snow!

Let's quilt!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kits are Cut

I'll be teaching a one hour class at International Quilt Festival Chicago on hand piecing the Lemoyne Star, 6" size.  It's part of the Make It University education opportunity on the show floor.

They are not hard, but there are some tricks to getting that pesky Y-seam in place.  These are two sample blocks. 
The hard part was cutting 50 kits, all the fabrics for the two classes.  Might not need them all, but do have to be prepared.  A few friends are coming over next week so I can run through a practice session and then they will help me mark the registration dots beginners will find helpful.  Here are the bags of parts waiting to be marked and kitted:
I machine piece these stars too, when in a hurry, and cutting them with these templates really helps to get the parts lined up just right. 
My other project is Barbara Brackman's Stars in a Time Warp, see the button on the right side:

These are 6" blocks too, but lots quicker to cut and sew by machine than the  Lemoyne Stars.  Each week Barbara gives info on the colors/prints used in the past.  Last week was Cheddar /Chrome Orange, a real favorite of mine.  I'm doing 2 each week.

Now that the kits are about done I need to get on to making String Blocks for a small swap I'm in.  I also have to prepare another Simple Whatnots sample--this one will be challenging so I need to get started.

Let's quilt!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Featherweight TLC

I had a grand time this afternoon learning how to service and clean my Featherweight sewing machines.

Here is the Centennial, "birthdate" 8/22/1950, after her cleaning:

I installed a new LED lightbulb and she really puts out the light now. 

Diane Lowe, a friend who really knows her way around Vintage Sewing Machines, came to my house and showed me all the things I needed to know about cleaning and oiling the Featherweight.  This is no small feat when it's a 100 mile round-trip from Winchester, TN to Huntsville, AL.   We worked on this one as it is the machine I plan to carry to classes.   I have two more, one I will clean and oil myself for practice, and one I am having painted Candy Apple Red, to commemorate my 2014 year of the Red and White-By the Numbers experience.  Here is that one, before it gets painted:

I found this on Craigslist out of state and had my son pick it up for me right before Christmas.  It's "birthdate" is 4/1/1941 and has the lovely Egyptian Scroll faceplate I really love.  The clear coat and decals are about gone, this machine was really used a lot!  But it sews a beautiful stitch and is the perfect candidate for a fancy red paint job.  That will happen sometime this year so stay tuned.

For all my local friends, Diane is willing to come to Huntsville to give a class if we can get a group together who want to learn about their Featherweight machines.  This sewing machine was designed to be maintained by its' owner and it is not Rocket Science, there are just basic steps to take to keep the machine in tip-top shape.  Let me know if you are interested and we'll get a class put together.

Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fun Projects for International Quilt Festival

I've been asked to present a couple educational sessions at IQF Chicago, March 26-28, 2015 and Quilt!Knit!Stitch! in Portland, OR, August 13-15, 2015. 

For Open Studio, I demo how I work on my choice of project.  People come and go over the 2 hour time segment, asking questions, basically they "visit" me in my studio and we converse about the process.  For Chicago I'll be showing String Blocks with several different setting/design possibilities:

Half Red/Half Neutral

1" finished black strip in the middle, color on one side, neutral on the other

There are lots more possibilities and I'll be working on samples for the next month.

In Portland, I'll be making Japanese X and + blocks, showing how easy it is to get those intersections to intersect:

I also get tiny bonus triangles from the corners that are cut off.  They finish to 1" and are so cute.  I wouldn't be likely to create 1" finished half square triangles, but these are too cute to throw away so I'll show several ways to use them.

The other event is Make It University!  This is a one hour, hands-on project that costs just $10.  Each student gets a kit with everything they need to make the project.  All they have to do is drop in, buy a ticket, and they are good to go, no pre-registration necessary.

Finding a project that can be completed, or almost completed, in a hour is a challenge.  And I have to prepare the 25 kits for class.  This will take some time too.  Since I have 2 sessions to kit for, I think I'll need to call in my troops for a "help me" day.  I'll teach them the one hour class to be sure it works well in that timeframe, then have them help me make the kits. 

In Chicago, I am offering  Hand Piecing the Lemoyne Star, yes, the real one with the dreaded Y seam:

This is a 6" star and one I really enjoy making by hand.  Having a hand project ready at all times is a must for a lot of quilters.  I can't take my sewing machine to the doctor's office, but a baggy with the basics of this block is easy to whip out and sew a bit on. 

In Portland, I am offering the HexieStar, 8" across the middle:

I found this on Pinterest and have gotten permission from the designer to offer it as a class.  You can find her free pattern here. Her pattern is available for your personal use only, which is why I sought her permission before going forward with this class.  Please abide by copyright rules--artists deserve that respect for their work.

Here is my question to you about HexieStars:  The top one is English paper pieced over freezer paper templates, while the bottom one is hand-pieced, with sewing lines drawn on the back of each piece.  In a one hour class, would you prefer to only be given one set of instructions, EPP OR hand-piecing, or would you like to be able to choose in class which method you want to do?  The kit prep time for this project will be intense, and my friends will come in handy here.  I need your input on this one.

So, along with everything else I'm working on, I've now got another couple of deadlines to work toward.  I love to teach so this is not a chore, it's fun! 

And, if you are in Chicago and/or Portland be sure to come to our shows and look for the Open Studios and Make It University opportunities we bring to you!  It's a great way to sit for a bit and learn something.

Let's Quilt!