Friday, February 26, 2016

Smitten by Westering Women, Circa 2016--Splendid!

I've kept the pedal to the metal most of the week to get Smitten together:

I added a 1" black solid border and then a 4" black printed floral border.  The first border really helps--the outside edges of the top and bottom contain a lot of bias pieces--using that narrow border and cutting them to fit precisely, brings the quilt into square.  The bold floral print made the quilt the size I wanted and it really seems to work well with all those bright fabrics.  The quilt top is 58" x 73" and I'll quilt it later this spring.  This will be an upcoming class, either summer or fall.

There was a Quilt-Along in 2015 for this quilt--I didn't follow along but you can find that here.

This week Block #2 of Westering Women was posted this week so I got that 12" block done:

Remember Circa 2016? And how I thought I was done?  Fortunately for me, this week there was only one small 3" finished block to make.  Here it is with the Center Medallion portion:

This was easy to keep up with.  Eventually, there will be more blocks to do, I'm sure.

The Splendid Sampler is going strong--a new 6" block each Thursday and Sunday.  There are more than 20,000 people who have signed up worldwide to receive the blocks by email.  The Facebook group has 16, 500 members currently. There are 84 designers providing the blocks.  Lots for people to learn by going to the designers' websites and blogs for tips. Wish I had done a little more research on the fourth block--I used freezer paper for the stabilizer and it was challenging to remove:

Rather than just create and store the 100 blocks over the 50 weeks of this project I decided to sew them together as they are made:

This is a good plan as long as you know for sure how you want to set the blocks.  There will be setting suggestions throughout the year so if you're not sure, just wait.  I know this is what I want, 10  rows of 10 blocks each with 1" finished sashing from dark turquoise.  So the quilt will grow each week until it's done.

I also had a student here all day Wednesday for private lessons.  She had to miss two of my classes earlier this month due to a family emergency so I had her come here and taught her the Leaders/Enders class and Kisses and Hugs--we had fun and went out for a good lunch too:

Kisses and Hugs (Japanese X and +)

Leader/Ender Ideas
I do practice what I preach, usually, and while piecing Smitten, I joined 8 more rows to my tumbler Leader/Ender quilt, brought to you by Bonnie Hunter. 

This probably won't be done by July, when Bonnie reveals the next Leader/Ender challenge--I plan to add 18 more rows to the 27 shown here.  That may not sound like much but it's 1098 more tumblers--still have lots more to cut.  It's easy and I cut them as I'm cleaning up from whatever project I'm doing or just from scraps.  This has all kinds of fabrics in it, batiks, repros, brights, muddy, everything.

My grand-girl Stella is on her way, arriving with her folks shortly.  She'll be 9 months old next week and she is really crawling a lot now.  We'll be chasing her soon.  There will be photos next week!

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Joining Rows to Create a Quilt Top

I've been asked to explain my process when joining rows of blocks to create a quilt top.

This tutorial applies to a "Straight Set quilt". For information about an "On-Point Set quilt" go here.

Using this antique top I bought last year as an example, I will show you my process.  

Garden of Eden blocks
This is a design done in EQ7 of a simple pieced quilt top with rows of blocks and sashing with cornerstones:

First, I design the layout, choosing which blocks go where.  As I usually make quilts with lots of fabrics, this can take a little time.  In this example, all the blocks are the same so I just put them on the design wall and start sewing.

We will start with the first row of sashing/cornerstones and call this Row 1.

There are a total of 8 of these rows:  1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15.

There are rows of pieced blocks, let's call this Row 2:

There are 7 rows of pieced blocks, Rows 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14.

Working from the top, I sew the first row of sashing, from left to right.  Row 1. This goes quickly.

I then sew the first row of blocks. Row 2.  This takes a little more time, as the seams are longer.

Now I join Row 1 to Row 2, carefully matching the intersections where the sashing and cornerstones meet.  Yes, I pin all those intersections.

Unit 1/2:

Now I put that unit back on the wall and sew the next set of these units, Row 3 to Row 4.  When I have that done, Unit 3/4, I join them to Unit 1/2:

Now I repeat with the next set of sashing and block rows:

Unit 1/2/3/4 + Unit 5/6/7/8


This is the TOP HALF of the quilt.  I put it back on the design wall and proceed in the same manner to create the bottom half of the quilt.  NOTE the final row of sashing/cornerstones on the bottom:

Then I simply join the top half to the bottom half:

All that is left to do is add the four borders and this top is done.  Why don't I just start at the top and keep going?  Because as the quilt grows it gets more awkward to deal with the whole thing.  By breaking it down into sections, I only have the entire quilt under the needle for that final seaming, joining the two halves.  If you want to start at the top and just keep going, that's perfectly OK, it's your quilt, do it your way.  

IMPORTANT TIPS FOR BORDERS:  Do not just cut a long piece of fabric (or piece a long border), sew it on and whack off the extra.  This will pretty much ensure your quilt is out of square.  MEASURE your quilt and cut the borders the actual size they need to be to precisely fit your quilt. In this example the sashing rows finish at 2.5 inches and the block rows are 11" high. 

In a PERFECT world, my seams would all be exactly 1/4" and the top would now measure 97.5" x 84", before adding that outer border.  That is raw edge to raw edge. Measure your quilt to find out what size yours really is before proceeding.  Cut borders to fit YOUR quilt.

 The left and right borders are cut (or pieced to become) 5.5" wide x 97.5" long.  After they are sewn to the left and right sides of the quilt, I measure again and cut the top and bottom borders 5.5" x 94".  Sew on the top and bottom borders and you have a completed quilt top, that will finish at 93.5" x 107".  

NOTE:  I mark the center of each border and pin each outside edge and the center.  Then I use as many pins as necessary to keep the border neat and tidy while sewing.  With borders this long, I put pins about every 5".  The more pins you use, the more likely your borders will fit nicely.  We are using the accurately cut borders to create a quilt top that is square, not wonky.  

ANOTHER NOTE ABOUT BORDERS:  While it is generally best to cut your borders on the lengthwise grain for more stability of the borders, I often cut them crosswise and piece them to the correct length.  The most common reason for this is I don't want to buy more fabric just so I don't have to piece a border and can have it all on the lengthwise grain.  I use what I have.  It would take 1.75 yards to cut these borders crosswise, but you would need at least 2.75 yards to cut lengthwise.  And you would have a long piece leftover, approximately 18" x 99".  Yes, you could use that for the binding, but the point is: Do what makes sense for YOU and this quilt.  If this will hang on the wall, use lengthwise cut borders.  But if it's going on a bed I don't think it makes a lot of difference.  You get to choose.  

If you are still with me, I hope this makes sense and gives you a road map to follow as you piece your next quilt top.

Oh, and I had to use diagrams from EQ7 for this tutorial because here is where I stand with my reproduction quilt so far:

Let's Quilt!


Friday, February 19, 2016


This week I've been making a concerted effort to get Smitten put together--I started it some months ago, as a handwork project when on the road and by machine when home.

Here she is stuck on the design wall--the block rows are not sewn together yet.  My first thought is this would be an easy finish, just diagonal rows of blocks, OH, Yes, those are Hexagon blocks and each of those joins is a 60 degree angle--not so fast!  But it's on the design wall so I will push forward and get it done now.

The pattern is Smitten, by Lucy Carson Kingwell, and measures 48" x 61" when done, unless I add another border or two.  I first saw someone doing it on Instagram and I was "smitten".  Lots of people do this by the English Paper Piecing method; I much prefer to do hand or machine piecing.  Perfect Patchwork Template Set H, by Marti Michell, makes cutting the many pieces very easy.   This will be a class this summer and I'll teach EPP and hand and machine piecing, whichever method the student wants to use.

Here is my other ongoing project, The Splendid Sampler for Stella:

Block #2, Wings.  The pattern shows obvious butterflies with embroidered antenna.  I chose to leave those off and altered the color placement.  There are more than 18,000 working on this currently, from all over the world.  It is interesting to see the fabric choices people are making.

As a number person, I am tracking the number of pieces and the number of fabrics, for no good reason other than it's easy to do while under construction--way too much work when it's done.  Here is the spreadsheet I am using:

Someone asked me if I am tracking the fabric designer and manufacturer--no.  For me, it's all about the fabrics I choose to use, not the company or designer who created it.

My photographer/musician son, Joshua Black Wilkins, will be here in town tomorrow night for a show--the first time in many years he has had a gig in Huntsville.  We are looking forward to seeing him play.  And next weekend, Stella, our grand-girl, and her folks will be in town for a couple days--she is crawling now so it will be a busy time for all of us!

Let's Quilt!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Rainy Days and Mondays

Are great days to quilt.  Here is my first block in The Splendid Sampler for Stella:

It's machine appliqued and uses the bright fabrics I selected for this year-long project, see my post on my fabrics here..  Find out more info here.  The Facebook group has grown to almost 14,000 members and the other day Pat Sloan wrote there were more than 17,000 people signed up by email for this 100 block Mystery Quilt from 84 Designers.

Look at this great tin I am storing my blocks in:

It is a"Baltimore Album Quilt Limited Edition Canister" from 1997 that originally came packed with Milky Way bars. Can't say what happened to the Milky Ways, but I've had this tin since then, using it to store various quilt-y things.  Luckily, it was empty this morning and ready to go to work.

People who know me know I am a "numbers" person, I just think in numbers.  While making my Red and White--By the Numbers quilt in 2012, I kept a spreadsheet listing all the patterns, the date I made them, the number of pieces and number of fabrics.  When it was done I knew there are 2770 pieces and 59 different fabrics in that quilt.  Now, I would NEVER count pieces in a quilt when it was done, but keeping up with each block as it's made is easy.  I am doing the same with this Splendid Sampler for Stella.  My spreadsheet lists the Block #, Block Name, Designer, number of pieces, number of fabrics, and date completed.  I also have columns for the cumulative number of pieces and fabrics.  Block 1 has 9 pieces and 6 different fabrics.  Just a thought as you start this journey...

Look what else happened today:

 My Rajah Revisited Center is featured in The Quilt Show's Newsletter for today.  If you are just finding my blog from this link, Welcome!  I hope you'll stick around for a bit.

The Quilt Show Newsletter February 15, 2016.   They also provided a direct link to the post I wrote about the Red and White Quilt Experience, what it meant to me, one of my favorite posts:  Red and White The Wrap Up.

It is also important to note the passing of a wonderful woman and amazing quilt artist, Yvonne Porcella:

She has so many awards and accolades but among them was being the International Quilt Festival's Silver Star Salute Winner in 1998 and  The Quilt Show's Quilting Legend in  2010.  To honor her and so you can learn more about Yvonne and her art, The Quilt Show is providing the Legend show free for everyone to watch through February 29, 2016--I can't recommend it highly enough:

2010 Quilting Legend Show.

"I am a part of all that I have met" and I'm so glad Yvonne was part of My Joyful Journey.

One other funny thing to tell you:  I don't always read all the instructions.  Friday I posted this photo on Instagram, about the Circa 2016 quilt from Temecula Quilt Company:

 It is 18" square and my comment was "All Done".  A couple of friends alerted me I WAS NOT DONE YET!  This is just the center medallion of a quilt which will be 48" x 55".   Thanks, Rhonda and Kathy.  Imagine how surprised I would have been this next Friday when more instructions were posted.  So glad I didn't add an outer border and start quilting this!!   Note to Self: always read ALL the instructions before beginning.  So glad I have lots of fabric so I can keep going.

Let's Quilt!


Thursday, February 11, 2016

New Class Sample

Always on the lookout for projects that will make fun and interesting classes, I found this a couple years ago:

The pattern is called Hexie Stars by Nellie's Niceties and is available for free here.

Last year I taught this at International Quilt Festival in Chicago and Quilt!Knit!Stitch! in Portland in our Make It University, a one hour, hands-on make it and take it Educational Opportunity on the show floor.  One hour isn't enough time for more than the basics so this summer I will teach it at my local quilt shop, Patches & Stitches.  In a three hour class, most students will get their first star done and will fully understand how it goes together.  An added bonus is I have kits already prepared so they can start sewing right away--it will be their choice whether to piece this by hand the regular way or to use the English Paper Piecing method.  Their choice.

Here is the sample I got together today--for a class sample, I like to have a completed project:

I will quilt and bind it before it goes on display--it is 32" x 17".  You can certainly make many more of these blocks but this is just enough for a class sample.

Also this week I did the Circa 2016 Quarter Square Triangle blocks:

One little issue--I miscalculated and created 14 pairs of  squares, instead of 7 pairs,  so would have made 56 QST instead of the 28 needed.  I caught myself when I had 44 done.  Maybe I 'm just ahead for some future step.  I'm enjoying these, and am using repro scraps I  hadn't put away from the last project.

Sunday February 14, besides being Valentine's Day, is the first day of The Splendid Sampler Mystery Quilt going gang-busters on their Facebook group.  A week ago I was number 9950 to join the Facebook group--today it is approaching 12,000.  It will be fun to see what the 6" patterns are, there will be two each week over the course of a year.  You do not have to use Facebook to get the patterns, just sign up for email delivery. I wrote about my fabric selection here.   A few friends have accused me of roping them into yet another internet project--I plead No Contest!

Let's quilt!


Monday, February 8, 2016

The Splendid Sampler

Have you heard of this?  Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson created a 100 block Mystery Quilt that will run for 50 weeks, 2 blocks a week, with 84 designers providing 6" blocks, tips, techniques, giveaways, lots of stuff to learn.  The Facebook Group has over 10,000 followers and is growing rapidly as the February 14 start date approaches.

Here is all the info you need to get sucked in. OH, I mean to "consider" this project:
The Splendid Sampler.  I recommend the Facebook group if you do join in, there is quite a buzz there.

I only really paid attention to this two days ago and selected my fabrics to make a "Big Girl" quilt for Stella, my 8 month old  Grand-Girl:

As you can see, she is out-growing her baby quilt.  And this might take a year or two to get finished so NOW is a good time to start her next quilt.

Shopping in my stash, I came up with this palette:

The fabric amounts recommended for this project are 30-35 fat quarters.  My small pieces are fat eighths, there are 8 fat quarters, the turquoise peeking out is a yard and the big, bold floral is 2 yards--way more than enough to get started.  I may need a few more small white prints for background--there are more of those in my closet when needed so no worries.

When I posted this photo Saturday to the Facebook Group I was totally amazed with the response:  more than 260 people "Liked" this post and 45 took time to make a Comment.  Many asked about the large floral:  it's Brush Dance by Susan Rooney Design for Benartex.  It's fairly new and my local shop, Patches & Stitches, Huntsville, AL  still has it.

The thing I find so odd about many of the fabric choices people are making for this project is how many people think they have to use a SINGLE LINE OF FABRIC.  They are buying fat quarter bundles of complete lines.  Maybe because that's an easy way to get fabrics that "go" together, or maybe because new quilters think this what they are "supposed" to do.  What about YOU:  do you mix, match, shop your stash, and add different lines in the same quilt or stick with only one line??
I'm very curious about this phenomenon that I see across the QuilterNet so please let me know your opinion.

And don't even get me started on new patterns coming out that put bias on the outside edges of blocks--what is with THAT?!  Call me old-school, no bias on outer edges for me.

Let's Quilt!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Rajah Revisited

I have begun the Block of the Month project from The Quilt Show: Rajah Revisited.  Here are the first two months steps:

The center panel replaces an applique' pattern provided.  The panel is available from an Etsy shop owned by Kay Triplett, Quilt & Textile Collections. It was just a smidgen too narrow so I trimmed the panel to 12.75" and added a .75" finished narrow border to make the center the size I needed to join the pieced border.  It is now just a tiny bit large, no more than .25", and I'll fix that with the next added border.

The Quilt Show is an online subscription world-wide quilt guild.  I have been a member since before it went live.  I get far more than my annual $42.95 membership in things like this pattern, wonderful hour-long shows every two weeks, and so many other videos and articles.  And I've made friends from around the world.  There is usually a free show you can watch to see if you want to subscribe and there are often great shows made available free as a gift from time to time.

 Here is the information from TQS about this Block of the Month patterns, which also provides the history of the quilt and the women who made it:

The Rajah Quilt was sewn by women convicts on board the ship Rajah traveling from England on April 1841 to the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land-now known as Tasmania.  The original quilt measured at approximately 128" x 128", but Lessa Siegele recreated it in quarter scale with fabrics from her stash. She used many different scraps, imagining that's what might have happened when the original quilt was being made.  She followed the colors of the original quilt loosely, and tea dyed fabrics that didn't look old enough.  You can obtain the same look with reproduction fabrics, or make a more contemporary-looking version like the one created for TQS.

While looking at photos of antique quilts I have saved, I discovered the original Rajah Quilt had caught my eye some time ago.  Here is the original:

I'm not sure if I'll stick with the pattern provided, in quarter scale, or work bigger.  Time will tell.

Today I also made the first block of the Westering Women block of the month, provided by quilt historian, author, fabric designer, Barbara Brackman:

This is a 12" block and there will be 12 blocks for this sampler.  The posts are so full of wonderful historical information--I learn so much by reading them.

I hope you have found something new and wonderful to work on.

Let's Quilt!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Another Finish for 2016

After the fast quilt I had to make last week, I took time to finish hand-quilting and binding this doll quilt:

It is 17.5" x 21.5".  This was a travel project for a while, English Paper Pieced diamonds from my scrap stash.  I used a wool batt which is so lovely to hand quilt through.  In between big quilts, I like to create these little ones, just for fun, and sometimes they become class samples.

My Lifetime Quilt is so bad--it's like Doritos--I cannot STOP!!  As I cut up scraps for projects, I cut some of these baby HST (half square triangles), in pairs, right sides together, ready to piece.  I find myself making more and more of the 10" blocks.  Here are the 8 that are done so far:

That's 40" x 20" though these eight 10" blocks are not sewn together yet.  Since I add more and more fabrics I figured it best to wait until the blocks are done so I can mix the fabrics all over the quilt.  My plan is to make at least 64 of these blocks so this is just a good start.  I love 'em!

And a new start, Circa 2016:

I know I shouldn't but I'm a Temecula Quilt Company junkie, I love each free project they offer. These little blocks are the first two installments of their little Circa 2016 Medallion sampler quilt, 48" x 55". These blocks finish at 2.25". Some blocks will be 3" finished. Simple instructions post each Friday--find out more here:  Circa 2016.  

Let's Quilt!