Monday, March 31, 2014

Star Value Quilt of Valor Top

I finally finished piecing my Star Value Quilt of Valor.

Notice the clothespin at the bottom left in the photo above. I put it on that corner in an attempt to weight that corner down a bit. I was lucky to get the photo above yesterday. It was very windy.

Click here for the free pattern from Melissa of Happy Quilting. I adjusted the pattern a bit so that I don't have any partial stars. This also makes the quilt a better size for a Quilt of Valor. It will finish at 60" by 72".

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Break 2014

This week has been Spring Break for us. We went out of town for a couple of days.

We saw two movies: The Muppet Movie and Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

We enjoyed them both.

The hotel had an indoor pool, a requirement for us. The boy swam both days. It was nice that there were other kids in the pool both days for him to play with.

We did quite a bit of shopping. I don't mind shopping online, but it is nice to be able to touch and try on things occasionally. I didn't drag them to any quilt stores but did spend about an hour in Eddie Bauer trying on every style of pants they had. I came home with a couple of pairs of pants and now know my size and style preference so I can order with confidence.

My boys with their new shoes

We didn't go far, just to Colorado Springs.

Pike's Peak is visible from any where in town

We used to live in Colorado Springs. We know where things are and there are many fun things to do in The Springs.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Free Motion Quilting Sample Book

I'm teaching a Free Motion Quilting class starting in April at my LQS, Heartstrings and Heirlooms. I finished up the class sample over the weekend. In the class the students will do larger samples, but I needed a small book of designs to advertise the class.

As you can see in the above end view, I used three different types of batting for my sample book - Quilter's Dream 100% Cotton, Hobbs 80/20 (80% cotton and 20% polyester), and a 100% wool.

I used a tutorial from a recent Quilting Arts Magazine issue (the February/March 2014 issue) to make my little book. The instructions involved drawing some lines on a piece of fabric, then sewing on the lines with a walking foot to make a larger sheet and baste the layers together.

Then you quilt your designs and cut the "pages" apart. The tutorial in the magazine was very good. If you are interested in making a book like mine, I suggest you get a copy of the magazine.

Below is a collage of designs I plan to cover in the class.

Along the top of each page I wrote the name of the design, the batting type and page number from the book I will be using for the class. In case you are interested, I'm using the book Free Motion Quilting with Angela Waters. It has become my go-to book for quilting ideas as of late.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Tutorial: Stars and Scrappy Stripes

This tutorial makes a 45" by 54" finished quilt. It uses 30 blocks in a 5 blocks across by 6 blocks down layout. The finished block size is 9" by 9" square.

You will need:

  • 1 yard of star fabric (this is the black in my quilt) 
  • (720) 1.5" by 3.5" scrap rectangles. 

I cut my scraps 1.5" by 3.75" because I often have difficulty with strips lining up once sewn. This adds an extra step to the process and wastes a little bit of fabric, but increases my accuracy. You cut your pieces however you want. Another option would be to cut longer 1.5" strips and sew these together into threes then cut your strip set units from this. Most of my scraps were not long enough to do this and I wanted the freedom to get more variety so I just cut the rectangles.

From the star fabric cut (3) 3.5" by WOF (width of fabric) strips; then subcut these into (30) 3.5" by 3.5" squares. For reference, you should be able to get (11) 3.5" squares from one WOF strip.

From the star fabric cut (12) 2" by WOF strips; then subcut these into (240) 2" by 2" squares. For reference, you should be able to get (20) 2" squares from one WOF strip.

I'm giving you the number of squares you can get from the WOF strips so that you can adjust the pattern to make more or fewer blocks if you desire. The (1) yard of star fabric required is sufficient for a 30 block (45" by 54" finished size) quilt. If you want to resize the quilt, adjust the star fabric required accordingly.

Step 1: Pick three scrap rectangles and layout them out in a pleasing arrangement. Don't agonize over this!

Three scrap rectangles
Step 2: Sew them together. Really, just pick up two strips and sew them together! When it comes time to add the third, just make sure it isn't the same fabric as either of the first two. Agonizing over whether or not the three fabrics "go" together just wastes time and doesn't make a bit of difference in the finished quilt.

One scrap unit
Press this unit however you want. It won't matter in the end. I pressed all the seams in the same direction.

Step 3: Trim the above unit into a 3.5" by 3.5" square. I looked through my units to find one that would photograph nicely for this step.

Scrap unit needs squaring up
Notice that my three rectangles are not all the same length. Remember I cut these at about 3.75" long, but obviously one of these was closer to 4" long. It doesn't matter. Trim off each of the pieced edges so that you end up with a 3.5" by 3.5" square. Note that the unit does measure 3.5" tall because my strips were accurately cut to 1.5" wide.

Squaring up the scrap unit
You will need (240) of these units to make a 30 block quilt. 

To make one block you will need (8) three strip scrap units (this unit is often called a Rail Fence Block), (1) 3.5" by 3.5" square of star fabric and (8) 2" by 2" squares of star fabric. Again, my star fabric is the black in these photographs.

Pieces for one block
Step 4: You will be sewing on the diagonal of the (8) 2" squares of star fabric. Since my star fabric is black, a drawn line is hard to see. I could use a white pencil to mark the diagonal. I could also press the square in half along the diagonal either by finger pressing or using an iron. However, I prefer to use my Clearly Perfect Angles tool instead. There are other similar products available that do the same thing. You can also just use a piece of masking or painters tape. I like the Clearly Perfect Angles tool because it is a vinyl cling. It is easy to remove when I'm not using it and it stays in place nicely on it's own when I need it.

Clearly Perfect Angle
Notice the gray bar and the green bar coming toward you (away from the needle) in the photo above. The line between these two bars is centered on the needle. (If you want to use tape, use a ruler to get a straight line coming from the needle. Place the tape right along the edge of the ruler. Use the edge of the tape the same way as the line between the two bars.)

Place your 2" square in the corner of one of the scrap units. Then put the far corner of the 2" square right at the needle and run the opposite corner right along the line between the two bars as you sew, this gives you a perfectly sewn diagonal line with no marking.

Sewing on the diagonal
Choose four of your scrap units and attach one 2" square in this way to each of them. Notice that on two of the scrap units the 2" square is sewn with the strips laying horizontal (top row in photo below) and on the other two scrap units the strips are vertical (bottom row in photo below). This is very important!

One star point attached
At this point you need to decide if you want to cut off both layers 1/4" away from the sewn line, or just one layer or none. I'm living dangerously and cut them both off.

Cut off corners
Then press the star point over to complete the 3.5" square unit again.

One star point completed
Step 5: Attach the other star point. Be sure to attach it to the proper side. In the photograph above, the next star point will get added to the bottom right corner of each unit.

Second star point attached.
Again, cut off the excess (or not) then press the star point fabric over to complete the point.

Star points completed
Now layout your block units. You have (4) star point units, (4) scrap units without points, and (1) star center. All of your units should measure 3.5" by 3.5". They should be laid out as shown in the photograph below.

Block units layout with pressing arrows
You will sew the units together into rows and press the seams according the arrows on the photograph above.

Once you have the rows together, you will have two more seams left to complete the block. The photograph below shows this layout with arrows indicating how these seams should be pressed.

Sew block rows together with pressing arrows
Your finished block should look similar to the one below. 

Completed block, 9.5" unfinished size
I recommend that you construct all of your blocks with the same layout and press as directed so that all of the seams will be opposing when it comes time to put the blocks together. Below is what the back of the block looks like for you to use as a pressing reference.

Back of the block
The quilt layout is shown below.

Quilt layout
At this time the above are the only three blocks I have completed! For the quilt layout, look at the top left corner of each block. Notice that in the first block the strips are vertical in the corner unit. In the middle block, the strips in the top left corner unit are horizontal. In the third block, the strips in the top left corner are vertical. If you just alternate the blocks by turning them so that the strip orientation alternates in the top left corner all your seams will be opposing and all of your strips will alternate.

When I get the top completed I will edit this post to add a photograph of the completed top.

Edited to add a photo of the finished top (April 21, 2014)

If you use this tutorial to make something, please send a picture. I'd love to see your work!

If you have any questions, ask them in the comments but please be sure that I have a way to contact you to answer your question. If you are a "no-reply" blogger, leave your email address in your comment. If you don't know whether or not you are "no-reply" then google "no reply blogger." There are lots of tutorials explaining how to tell whether or not you are "no-reply" and how to fix this if you want to.

Edited to add: A .pdf version of this pattern can be found by clicking this link.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

WIP: A Quilt of Valor

I realized at my recent retreat that I was short on white/gray half square triangle units for my Star Value Quilt of Valor. This is why I didn't make more progress on it at the retreat. I remedied that yesterday.

Now that I have the required amount of units I can finish this up. Here is the layout of one block.

I don't know how much progress I will make on this today though. I am planning to do a tutorial for you on the scrap project I showed last week. I took a bunch of pictures yesterday for it. Today I hope to edit the pictures and hopefully have the tutorial written by the end of the week. I realized after I made the post last week that I miscalculated how many scrap rectangles this quilt will require. So I also need to recheck my calculations before I post the pattern!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Guild Meeting

My guild met on Saturday. I took our finished raffle quilt to display.

The top was pieced by one of our members, Judy Freeark. It was quilted by another member, Peg Collins. I put the label, sleeve and binding on, which took up most of my sewing time last week since this is a big quilt (92" by 92"). The pattern is "Dreamscape" by Dereck C. Lockwood, used with permission.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Snowman Block Finished

It still needs some embroidery and embellishments (snowman's face, bird legs, outline arms, jacket buttons), but the applique and piecing are done.

The block will finish at just 10" by 16" but it took me over a week to complete. I made a huge mess too with little bits of freezer paper pieces all over the place. I'm please with how it turned out and I learned a few things too.

Notice the bird. It was suppose to be all on the black background, but when I went to square up the block I realized it was going to get cut off. Next time I will mark the cutting lines on the background before I start the applique. A few of the other finished blocks have the applique spilling over into the pieced border, but I think this was part of the pattern.

I still don't like his arms but have gotten some good suggestions for how to fix this with outlining. In the future I will substitute fabric from my stash instead of trying to live with someone else's fabric choices. Lesson learned!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stars and Scrappy Stripes

I managed to get one block made yesterday for my next scrap project.

I'm calling it Stars and Scrappy Stripes. It will require 1020 1.5" by 3.5" scrap rectangles. I better get busy cutting!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lots Going On but Not Much To Show

I've done a lot of sewing recently, but I don't seem to have much to show for it. My main project for today is to get at least one block made for my next scrap group project. Unfortunately, so far all I've done is cut.

These are 1.5" by a little more than 3.5" logs. The black background is also part of the project but I haven't gotten around to cutting it up yet. The next meeting is a week from tomorrow so I need to get at least one block made so I can email my group to let them know what and how much to bring next week. I'll need to write the instructions before we meet as well!

I've also been working on the snowman block for the commissioned Christmas quilt. The applique is almost done.

In addition, I'm finishing up my guild's raffle quilt. I have the label made and attached, the sleeve is made and attached, the binding is made and about half attached. This must be finished by Saturday so it has been the priority project for the last few days. It is large at 92" by 92". I hope to have it finished in time to take a picture of it before Saturday.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Never say never

Do you remember the Christmas quilt I agreed to finish for a friend? I doubt that you do since it has been so long since I posted about it. Take a minute to click the link and go look at that post from April 2013.

I hope you are sitting down because I don't want to shock you. I have decided to attempt to finish this using hand applique. After a bad experience with hand applique early in my quilting career I vowed never to attempt hand applique again. A few years ago I discovered hand applique using wool. I do enjoy this method. The Sue Spargo BOM I'm doing is all hand applique and embroidery. Most of it is wool applique, but there is some cotton and other fabrics besides wool in the kits. I've had good success with that project so far so I decided to pull this Christmas quilt out and give hand applique another try.

It's going pretty well so far. I would not have chosen the dark background fabric for this but I'm determined to use the fabrics in the kits. The one arm I have sewn down barely shows up against the dark background. Oh well! Adds to the charm.

I'm not quite as good at hand applique as the person who did the first four blocks. Hopefully I will be by the time I finish the last one.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Circle Dance

I have another shop/class sample to show you today. This one is called Circle Dance.

It was made using 20 batik fat quarters and the templates shown below.

This is not a beginner quilt. It requires precise cutting using the templates, which are fairly easy to use. And then precise sewing of the curves. These units are not cut to size after sewing like so many of the other projects I do. You must cut and sew accurately to achieve the circles.

The instructions that come with the templates show you how to sew the curves both with and without pinning. I tried it both ways. No pinning worked best for me.

The finished top is 63" by 70". The smaller circles are made from the waste created in cutting the pieces for the larger circles. The pattern is included with the larger templates.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Throwing Stars

I was struggling with a name for this one. My husband suggested "Throwing Stars." The blocks do look like a throwing star.

A throwing star

The finished quilt top is 32" by 40".

I made the quilt with a charm pack, plus a few extra 5" squares, about a yard of black and about a quarter yard of border fabric. The smaller blocks in the border are made using the "waste" from the larger blocks.

The blocks are made using the Corner Beam Ruler.

The quilt will be a shop sample for a while and then a class sample. Eventually, I hope it will become my February quilt here at home.