Saturday, January 2, 2016

Back to the Future

Happy New Year--it's 2016!

I've been working on my two favorite Leader/Ender projects currently--when I really have at least two "real" quilt projects I am eager to get back to.  But sometimes a quilter just has to do what she/he really wants to do right now.

My Tumbler quilt--I've been working on this since July 2015, just not very often. The rows have 61 tumblers in each, cut from 2.5" strips or squares, mostly from leftover fabrics used in current projects or my stash boxes.  First, I lay out a handful of dark and light pairs, sew the pairs into fours, sew the fours into eights, then pick 7 eights and one four--sew those into one long strip, add a dark or light on the end, depending on what is needed for that strip.  I sew 4 long rows together then add that to the "mother ship"--easier than having the whole thing in my lap each time I add a row.

Here you can see a stack of eights on the left, piles of lights and darks with a few pairs in the back, and a bunch of laid out singles, waiting to be sewn into pairs.  If I was just working on this while doing another quilt, I would only be concerned with making pairs--they would become longer units later.

With this quilt I am not at all concerned about what type of fabrics are included:  batiks, reproductions, modern, anything I like and have at least a 2.5" square of is fair game.

Here is my new favorite:

I call this my "Lifetime" quilt and first wrote about it here.  With this project, I am trying to keep the fabrics looking "old"--most are reproductions or look like them.  This quilt will include fabrics I haven't bought yet as I know it will take lots of time to make.

Chain, chain, chain

Clover thread cutter pendant in a toy block

Easy way to separate chain-pieced units

Pressed toward the darker fabric, ready to be trimmed

Trimmed to 1.75" 

"Trimmed to Perfection" my method for precise piecing, oversize and custom cut

The small plastic tubs hold triangle units ready for use.  In the front are 16 squares laid out ready for sewing.  In the back are 4 sets of 4 units.

Rather than make these into long rows of 1.25" finished squares, which would be tedious, I am sewing them into sixteen patches.  Usually I lay out 16 squares and sew them into rows, 4 x 4.  This makes them 5.5" raw edge to raw edge.  Then I'll sew four of those units into a large four-patch.  That block will measure 10.5" square, raw edge to raw edge.  That will make it easy to measure.

Currently, my plan is to have 8 x 10 large squares, or 80" x 100".  Time will tell.  I also think I will make this quilt with four quadrants so if I decide to rotate the quilt into a barn-raising set, I can easily do that.  I still think I like the original best, with all the triangles going in this same direction:

Now that I've gotten this somewhat out of my system for now, it's time to get to those other projects that are calling me.  I will be teaching a class on Leaders/Enders next month and am eager to share this fun way to make "free" quilts--the class is almost full already--we will have fun!

My husband is still recuperating from his leg injury but is getting better, too slowly to suit him, but at least he's improving.  We had a wonderful time with our sons, their women, and of course, Stella.  Here is the only good photo of she and I together--I got lots of hands-on baby time!

Let's Quilt!



  1. Two very ambitious leader/ender projects, Barbara. They will make wonderful quilts. I think tumblers look good in a real mix of fabrics, too.
    You Lifetime project will be incredible!'Oh, sweet--baby time! Nothing better!

  2. First, you and Stella look pretty cute together. Both of your L&E's are fabulous. It's amazing how much you can accomplish without really trying. I pulled out an older project and will make that my L&E for the year, slow but steady.

  3. Brilliant to mount your Clove Thread cutter in a block to make it easier to use - I think I'll try that myself! Love your scrappy projects - you're very ambitious!

  4. That Stella is a looker! How fun to have had lots of hands on time with her! Making memories like that is the best part of life!

  5. I would totally assemble the hst into quadrants as well. It makes perfect sense. Love the thread cutter!! Stella is adorable! Happy New Year!

  6. Love your lifetime project! I have a question after reading your blog today & the 2 postings about this project. Are you now in your "new method" piecing only triangles or are you continuing to get 2 HSTs from squares sewn twice beside the middle line? Thanks so much & have a Blessed Christmas.

    1. Yes, now I only sew triangles together, cut in pairs with the Creative Grids Half Square Triangle ruler. This method is faster for me and allows me to use strips cut 1.75". So glad you like it.

  7. love this quilt. All quilters should have a lifetime project like this one and when completed it will be a beautiful one to use and display.

  8. Love all your little HSTs. I'm currently making lots of 2 1/2 inch HSTs and using a 2 1/2 square ruler to square them up. My problem is, it's so small it's hard to keep it from moving. Any tips, aside from putting sticky things on the bottom?

    1. You bet--I would not use a 2.5" ruler, way too small for my large fingers. My favorite ruler is 6.5" square but even a 4.5" would give you more to hold onto. The trick is to put enough pressure on the ruler that it doesn't slip while keeping your fingers away from the edges.