Sunday, February 25, 2018

Classes, Planning for More, and Hitting the Road

I had a great day with the Long Time Gone Students yesterday. We only have one more class, in March, and our 6 month adventure will be finished. It was amazing to me--they asked me to come up with another class so they can keep coming. This class involves no sewing machines. they just bring their fabrics, the pattern, and paper to take notes--all the sewing is done at home. So I am working on a brand new class, called My Favorite Things, and will offer it as a 2 hour, six month class beginning in June probably--stay tuned.

Here are some shots of their work--our design wall is small so some had taken theirs down  before I could take their photos. Next month I'll have each quilt with its' maker--they have kept up and are really enjoying the project, Long Time Gone by Jen Kingwell Designs:

Two students work--the big dark piece on the right is Holly's "placeholder" for 9 pineapple blocks--it is pineapple fabric!

Another beautiful half 

The first half--too bad students are hidden by their work

Marilyn's blocks laid out--her first quilt!!!

I think these beautiful blocks are from Kathy

It will be so fun to see each top finished next month--3 students missed class yesterday so there will be much more to see.

This week I head north to the Illinois Quilters Inc. in the Chicago area. March 1 is a lecture "How to Make an Award-Winning Quilt". Friday March 2 is a workshop "Feathered Stars Precisely Paper Pieced". Saturday March 3 is a workshop "String Stars--Use Those Scraps".  I think there is room still in each workshop for 1 or 2 more.  Friday requires a lot of pre-cutting so we can get this 2 day workshop done in only 1. Pedal to the metal... Saturday requires no prep. just bring a machine to sew, along with basic sewing supplies and cutting tools. More information is on their website.

String Stars--Use Those Scraps

Feathered Stars Precisely Paper Pieced

Two weeks later, March 15, I am the guest speaker at my home guild, Heritage Quilters of Huntsviile. "Time Management for Quilters"--everyone is sure to learn at least one tip for making better use of our "creative" time. We all have 24 hours, it's all about how we use it.

It's also time for me to figure out what classes I'll teach locally for the rest of the year. I teach at 3 local shops, different offerings at each. Finding room on both my calendar and the shops calendars is sometimes a challenge--pre-planning is the key.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, February 18, 2018

One Quilt, One Day, Start to Finish

Yesterday I made this quilt:

OK, so it is only 11" x 13" but it's finished!

The backstory:

Our guild, the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville, is having a little contest this year:

1. Check a book out from our large library
2. Make a quilt from the book
3. Bring the quilt to a guild meeting
4. Fill out a slip
5. At the end of the guild year, August, two people will win $50 gift certificates to my favorite shop, Patches & Stitches .

I had known about this for a few months with no plans to participate. At the last guild meeting, Thursday, the Librarian made a pitch for this because, more than half way through the year, there was only ONE participant, the Librarian herself.

So the next day I was in Patches on other business and since our library is housed there, I checked out this book, Little Handfuls of Scraps  by Edyta Sitar:

That night I looked all through the book--there are several designs I really like in it. I selected the one I wanted to make, Sophie, page 66.

The next day, yesterday, I was ready to begin about 11 a.m. I selected all the fabrics from a shoebox full of reproduction prints I keep close at hand. All the pieces were cut out and assembled on a flannel board I use to take blocks ready to sew from the cutting table to the  machine:

I sewed and  pressed, took a short lunch break, sewed and pressed some more and  had the top done pretty quickly. I cut the batting and backing to size, ready for quilting.

My plan was to hand-quilt it as I needed a hand project for evening sewing. But first I would stitch-in-the-ditch on the Bernina Q20 sit-down longarm machine. That didn't take long so I thought, I'll just machine quilt the entire thing. That didn't take long either, less than 45 minutes to fill the squares with "orange peel" designs, using curved rulers.

Next, it was time to trim it, cut and create the binding, cut and create the hanging sleeve, and attach the binding and sleeve by machine.  By 3 p.m. it was done. Last evening I hand-stitched the binding and sleeve in place and this morning I hung it in the hallway.

So, one quilt, one day. I sent an email to the Librarian to let her know her pitch was heard by at least one of us. She was happy. Next month I'll take it to show and put my name in the hat.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Color in Black and White

I had a great time teaching a fun class yesterday:
Queen Size, using 2.5" strips

The Small version, using 1.5" strips
When I began to cut fabric for my large one, it was a joy to dig through my "deep stash" of fat quarter or less pieces. After cutting for one color family, I put those all away and selected the next family. As I was ready to put the second group away, it dawned on me--pulling the fabric was the most time-consuming part--why not cut two different sizes while I had the fabrics out? So, I cut sets in the 2.5" size from the pattern, and 1.5" sets for a smaller version. The smaller version is one-quarter the size of the bed size and I love them both.

Five students brought their wonderful stashes of fabric and spent the day cutting and sewing. I was thrilled to see they enjoyed swapping strips with each other: "would you like a strip of this?" and "this would be perfect for your neutrals". I state clearly swapping is strictly voluntary, absolutely no pressure to give up any of our beloved fabric, but this group was happy to help each other and it was fun to watch.

A few shots for your enjoyment:

Sonia making selections from her stash

One quadrant small vs. one quadrant large

One Small block on top of one Large block--Evelyn worked small, Sonia worked large

Laura's luscious yellow/gold block, her neutrals were a variety of styles

Sonia and Victoria, aqua and blue

3 different students work--all made great blocks

Sonia had no trouble selecting from her large hot pink stash
Casey, a new quilter, went right home to finish, she sent me this photo, what warm, bright yellows
The pattern is in the book Making Quilts by Kathy Doughty--she calls it "Soul Searching"--more like "stash searching". 

Let's Quilt!


Monday, February 5, 2018

Bits and Pieces

Now that I am feeling oh, so much better, I am back at it, making blocks, teaching 6 classes I had to postpone, answering email, booking trips,, all the usual stuff.

Here are a few things I'm working on. The Temperature Quilt, showing the first 5 weeks of 2018. More info about that here.:

More Little Monkey blocks, a section to be added to the section that is currently on display at Barb's Sewing Center:

A small applique' top, used as a sample with the Sunday Sew and Sews who are working on the Patchwork Barn 2018 Block of the Month. Applique' appears in month 9, practicing a bit now will make you comfortable when you get to that step. Some of this is machine, some is hand:

My first 6 blocks of the Patchwork Barn quilt--there are actually 3 of each of these blocks, for a total of 18 so far:

Temecula Quilt Company has a new, simple little sampler, with 4" blocks. I couldn't help myself and to keep it easy I'm using the same fabrics as the Patchwork Barn quilt. Find out more 1880 Sampler Sew A Long:

The design wall is bright and cheerful--time to get the last section of Long Time Gone done. And I am making good progress on my Lifetime quilt--it will be finished this year. More info on that here.

Let's Quilt!


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Month 2: The Patchwork Barn

Look who I saw at the Road to California Show:

Edyta Sitar and the Patchwork Barn

Month 2 Blocks: #4, 5, and 6:

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. Join today and get started on this journey.

Previous instructions are here:

Introduction and Preparation
Month 1
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. Be sure you have "actual size" selected when printing PDF patterns.

Block 4 is very similar to Block 3 except that it has Half-Square Triangles (HST) in place of solid blocks: 
There are several ways to make HST, choose your favorite. The pattern has you cut light and dark squares in half, then sew the triangles together.

My favorite method is to use a Half Square Triangle Ruler. This saves a bit of fabric--you cut strips 1/2" larger than the finished size of the unit, place light and dark fabrics right sides together, and use the ruler to cut the pairs, ready to feed through the machine.

Another method has you add 7/8" to the finished size of the unit, place light and dark squares of that size right sides together, draw a pencil line on the diagonal of the light fabric, then sew 1/4" away from the pencil line, on BOTH sides. I don't like this method because you have to do everything perfectly to get a good result: cutting, drawing the line, then sewing precisely on either side of the line.

Here is a detailed blog post I did a year ago showing both of these methods--it is photo-heavy.  You can decide how you want to make your HST:

Half Square Triangle Units

Block 5 is a Square in a Square, sometimes called Twelve Triangles.

NOTE: There was an error in the pattern instructions. After Step 2, Unit B should measure 4.75" square. The pattern will be corrected but if you printed in the first two weeks of February you will want to make this change to your pattern.

This pattern  lends itself to paper foundation piecing.  I used Electric Quilt 8, a great software program I have used since it began with EQ1 many years ago, to create a paper pattern:

You could also just DRAW this pattern on paper.  I like this newsprint paper, bought in a large packet online, others really like tracing paper or vellum. Quilters Select and other companies have paper for making patterns too. Even copy paper you use in your printer will work, but is heavier than I like. If making a photocopy of a printed pattern, double check the copy in both directions to be sure the copier did not distort the lines--some do and you want to know your pattern is not right BEFORE you sew it, not after.

A trick for making several of these patterns at once is to draw or print ONE, stack up several more blank pages, remove the thread from your machine and stitch on all the lines. This perforates the papers, giving you exact copies of the pattern. The perforations have an added benefit of helping the fabric stay in place as you are sewing.

My fancy sewing machine doesn't think I should sew without thread so I used a Singer Featherweight who lets me be the boss. LENGTHEN THE STITCH:  if you perforate too closely the whole pattern may fall apart. When using one of these papers for the demo below, I found my stitches for this step should have been longer, as long as I can get on the Featherweight.

Starting on an inside point, you can go around and around without stopping, pivoting at each corner:

After the center square is done, just pivot and continue doing the next square, when it's done, pivot and do the next, etc.:

 Here is my stack of 6 pages all done. You can easily do 10-12 pages at once if you like:

 The back--you can clearly see the design you need to follow:

 Pros of Paper Piecing:

1. Your piecing will be as precise as you drew or stitched your lines, great for complex patterns like Feathered Stars OR easy blocks like this. It's fast and easy.

Cons of Paper Piecing:

1. You must cut the fabric pieces somewhat larger than called for in regular precision piecing. I add 1/2" to the cut size listed in the pattern to give me wiggle room when placing the fabrics on paper. I waste a little fabric in return for excellent piecing results.

2. This method doesn't lend itself to chain piecing or using leader/enders. I usually only do one or two at a time. Trim all the thread ends as you sew each seam--there will be a lot if you wait until the block is done.

Helpful hints for paper piecing:

 Thread:  I use only a fine,  high quality thread for piecing.  My favorite is Masterpiece from Superior Thread or Aurifil 50 wt. thread.  I wrote about thread here.

 Set the stitch length to 22-24 stitches/inch.  On my Bernina 765 I'm using 1.5.  This makes the paper easy to remove.  Having to pick out stitches when you make a mistake, and you will from time to time, is a challenge but it can be done, carefully.

Do Not Use Steam: a dry, hot iron is your friend.  We don't want to make pulp.

Use an Add-A-Quarter ruler: this is a great tool to help in this process.

The Process:

 Center square is placed on the pattern, 1/4" up approximately from the first line to be sewn. A pin can be used to hold it in place, well away from the sewing line. The first triangle is centered on the square, with the raw edges aligned:

Using a small stitch, the first seam is sewn and flipped open. 

To prepare the square for the second seam, I need to trim some of the excess square fabric, remember the square was cut extra-big. Use a postcard placed on the next line to be sewn, fold the paper pattern back on that line, put the Add-A-Quarter ruler against the folded paper, which is snugged up to the postcard, and trim the excess square fabric:

Now add the second triangle, aligning the raw edges for a perfect 1/4" seam:

Sometimes you get an OOPS:
Since you are sewing on the paper side with the fabric under the paper, if the piece being added moves or gets flipped, as happened here, you won't see it until you have sewn the seam. Using a sharp stitch ripper, carefully remove the few stitches that need to be removed; don't dig so that you rip the paper. 

Here I have added a pin to keep that wayward guy in place--be sure the pin is on the top side where you will see it. I did not have to remove the entire piece, just a few stitches, then I stitched that last part of the seam a second time:

All four round-one triangles are in place and trimmed so the round-two triangles can be added:

The block is all done and it's time to press firmly, trim it and remove the paper:

Measure from the fabric side, NOT the paper side. The sewing will most likely have "shrunk" the paper just a bit and if you use that side you will probably cut your block slightly too small. I always measure from the center out, trim the right and top side, then rotate the block and trim the remaining two sides:

All done, with the paper removed.

Block 6  is comprised of Flying Geese units and Parallelogram units. Both of those can be paper pieced but there are faster ways to do them. 

I love to make Flying Geese four at a time. My detailed tutorial on that is here: Four Flying Geese. It works well for me and I like being able to "trim to perfection". This block uses 4 flying geese so it makes sense to me to use that method.

The parallelogram units can be made several ways. To me the easiest is the way the pattern is written using rectangles and squares. I did a "cut first" method, using the Simple Folded Corner Ruler Video here.  The first thing I messed up was not paying attention that all four parallelograms in each block are all made in exactly the same orientation. I cut the rectangles from two layers, wrong sides together and whacked off the corners. This means I had some going left and some going right:

Oh, my. At least I was making two blocks at once SO, one will go left and one will go right. I also decided to add a third fabric for the center, the gold, and what a surprise when I got the units done and this is what I got:

The one on  the left matches the pattern, the one on the right is my "accident". I actually like the one on the right better--we'll see if I can make the 3rd block just like that one.

The back--I did  press these seams open as that was best for this block:

Here are Month 2 blocks, waiting for their 3rd friends to join them. Those are made as demos in my Sunday Sew and Sews class I am teaching locally.

Let's Quilt!