Monday, March 30, 2015

directional prints and hst units

i've been working on the last few of these arrow blocks and came across an idea that i wanted to share.

with these arrow blocks, the wings of the arrow are made from a single pair of hsts, cut from one block set. if you are only making one block from any given fabric, you just have to deal with what you have and accept that, if using a directional print, one of the wings won't be matching up with the center square. however, if you are doing two blocks (or an even number of any amount), you can adjust that.

when doing two blocks, you can switch around your hst units so that you can get them both going in the same direction. you will end up with the directional print going in different directions on each block, but the whole block will be uniform.

here's another example:

you can apply this logic to any block or pattern that uses hst units in pairs.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

at the end of a triangle: a trimming technique

 i've been cutting lots of triangles for my "indian blanket" quilt. the fons & porter 60` ruler works really well for this. i especially like two things about it: the top tip is blunted and it has maths on the ruler for you. the ruler is marked with the strip size you need for the finished height you want to achieve.

all that said, i was having one trimming issue - whenever i reached the end of the strip, it was hard to figure out where to cut the last piece straight so i ended up with a half piece, which i need for the quilt. after all the triangles are cut, you are left with a bit that is angled on one side but too wide to be a half triangle.

what i wanted was a piece that is cut down that middle dotted line there, bisecting the triangle in half.

here's a closer look at the line i wanted to trim on. trouble is, of course, that you can't cut through the ruler. so i usually either flip the piece over, shift the ruler to the side, and trim off on the angle (which leaves you with a skinny, angled piece with two bias cut sides), or i use the straight ruler to make a cut, but this is hard to figure out accurately.

well, the other day, my long-buried geometry knowledge kicked in and somehow i got the idea to simply shift the ruler around to get my straight cut. please don't ask me which theorem i used or the measurements of the angles that make this work. i don't know. but i do know this works!

as you can see, i lined up the center line with my outside angled edge and my blunt top tip with the top of the fabric. then i cut down the angled edge of the ruler.

this gave me the perfect half triangle i was looking for and the leftover piece is straight cut, not biased, on both sides.

now i take my bow and leave you for today.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

triangle auditions

 my "indian blanket" quilt is still looking cheery on my design wall, but i'd like to get it off there eventually. however, i've had lots of other projects prioritized above it lately, including a few finishes. my other hangup has been i couldn't decide what to do with my next row. this particular row has a mix of 4" and 8" triangles in three colors. the fabrics above are the ones i had originally slated for the row. but when i was cutting, the two low volume prints (smaller triangles) just didn't seem to have enough contrast between them. i decided this after i'd cut all the darn triangles.

 so i dug around and looked everywhere for a solution. a box containing some "folksong" had just arrived on my doorstep and this coloring garden print seemed to have all the right colors in it. except that pinky-purple background color wasn't right. also, it was too similar to my larger "focus" print, the peachy background floral print. again, after cutting everything, i made the choice to try again.

 this soft pink from "color me happy" had all the other right colors and was a good choice for contrast in scale, but the pink was too clashy. again, decided after cutting. boy do i have a lot of cut triangles now. fortunately, i think i can use them for different rows in the quilt. just not this one.

at this point, i had tried everything i had at home that might remotely work.

so that meant a trip to the store.

i found four different prints from joel dewberry's "bungalow" line, which all had the right colors. i got a 1/4 yard of each, knowing this would be a decision to be made at home. one got nixed for being too dark and the other two were nixed for scale. in the end, the wavy, funky dot print gave me what i was looking for.

here's an in-progress shot of how it's looking so far. (i wish you could have seen me standing on top of the dining table to take this photo from above so as to make it flat.)

this might seem like a tedious post, but i thought it might be helpful for someone else to see the selection process i went through. having learned about contrast in scale and color value helped me the most when making this choice. even a small vocabulary of words to guide an otherwise somewhat intuitive thought process really does help me make choices.

linking up with lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

how to get time to quilt

 i had a quilting deadline this weekend. my dear friend, jill, who used to come sew with me on friday mornings before she moved away 9 months ago, was coming into town and i needed to finish up that "bloom where you are planted" quilt so i could give it to her when we would be seeing her on sunday. i had a top and two days to do the rest.

on friday, the marathon finish started. i had to stop to tend to the children so many times, which can be frustrating. but it's just the way it goes around here. i got rather desperate to entertain them, so i pulled out all the stops, using my best tricks and most desperate measures. namely, i let them make a complete mess just so they could be with me but entertained as well.

 d5 loves anything to do with scissors. i gave her a pair of snips and a bag of stuffing strings. this worked on and off, but not as well as i had hoped at keeping her busy. she'd rather "help" me sew or jump on my back while i'm at the machine, yelling, "climbing monkey!" when she does. i just have to go with the flow and periodically stop to read books to her.

 d4 spent a lot of time playing with the eeboo patchwork tiles. and then she got out her sewing box and made some pjs for a toy bird.

d3 stayed the most involved, picking out scraps for her gee's bend inspired concept quilt. but she did have a meltdown moment when i had to pull all the pretty little strings she'd taken from her little sister's stuffing strings pile. she just couldn't understand about 1/2" disappearing into the seam allowance and why she couldn't use pieces smaller than 1". "But its going to ruin my whole quilt if you take those out!" there were tears, but i think we've moved on. i gave her a small 1"x6" ruler and told her the pieces for her quilt had to be at least that big.

i think there were other desperate things i tried, but in the end it paid off because i got this done:

i'll get a proper post of this finish up as soon as i can.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

auntie charming

so i made a quilt for my husband's aunt. in two weeks! like my 16 year old said, "that's the fastest you've ever made one, mom!" i made it so fast i didn't really get pictures of it. there were a few peeks of it on instagram last week, but that's it. 

another part of the reason i didn't photograph it much is that i'm personally not in love with the fabrics. i'm not even sure how they ended up in my stash. i think it was a case of an on-line clearance sale, fabrics that looked different than when they arrived, or i don't even know what. that was four years ago. i am not and have never, ever been a purple person so a fat quarter bundle that was half purples boggles my mind. what was i thinking? surely not that some day down the road these would be the perfect fabrics for aunt sue. but that's what i ended up with.

the sunday after valentine's, aunt sue was in town to visit with her mother, my husband's grandmother. we had them both over for dinner. aunt sue says, "so i hear you quilt. may i see some of your quilts?" i brought out a few to show. and then each child subjected her to their own personal quilts and any others i hadn't shown yet. aunt sue was so sweet, looking at and admiring each and every one of them. it was probably a good 30 minute quilt show.

after she left, i saw the purple and pink fat quarter set sitting on my sewing table. it had come out of hiding because it was packaged with another bundle i was using, and i hadn't returned it to stash oblivion yet. well, aunt sue has always been a lavender/pastel/floral sort of lady, and she liked my quilts so much, that i decided on the spot to make one for her. it seemed the ideal use of those fabrics.

she was only visiting for two weeks, so i wanted to make something as quick as possible. i'd just seen fat quarter shop's new "layers of charm" pattern. even though the pattern was made for a layer cake and charm pack, i decided i could quickly cut the pieces from the fat quarters. i did have to size it down a little to 9" and 4.5" squares, but it totally worked.

i altered the pattern (there's a big surprise!) just a little more by using different charms in each corner rather than one universal color. i took the five lightest fabrics from the collection, three polka dots and two swirly prints, and cut my charms from those. it seemed a bit small, even for a throw, after i'd reduced the block size a little, so i added a border. i got yardage of some coordinating pink polka dot fabric from "whitewashed cottage" by 3 sisters for moda to make a border and backing. i had the top pieced and sandwich basted by saturday.

then i outline quilted all the seams on each side and did a dogwood blossom in each hourglass block formed by the charms. i bound it up with all the leftover pieces from the blocks. i was literally finishing it off at the last minute because we were going over to see aunt sue and grandma for dinner the night before she left. it had been rainy all day and i was in such a hurry i didn't bring my big flash, so i couldn't get any decent pictures of the quilt. we squished into grandma's kitchen to take a photo of it together.

i have to admit that i have struggled to claim this quilt because it is so not me. it's not my style or colors. but once i saw how much aunt sue appreciated it, i felt a lot better about being affiliated with it. i made a quilt that made her very, very happy and that is what counts in the end. not how stylish it looked, how pintrest-worthy it turned out, how many likes it might garner from the blogland quilting community i usually run with. i made a quilt someone will cherish. that was the whole point, not how many comments it's going to get me. aunt sue is happy and i'm happy, too.

the next morning i happened to be across town, close to grandma's house again, so i ran in and asked if i could get a better photo of the quilt. aunt sue was happy to oblige. i got three separate big hugs from her the night before during the course of the evening and now i got more. when she pulled it out, she started talking about how pretty it was again. "oh, there's my lavender! and all those pretty flowers. i still just can't believe you made this for me. no one has made me a quilt since my wedding." she really does seem to like it. for real.

 yesterday there was no lighting and today there was too much. we had to scrunch in on the side yard in the shade to get a photo. grandma decided she should be in it, too. sure, why not?! i only wish my 14 year old son had left that ladder out of the photo.

 here's the back, pieced a bit with some of the last fat quarter and the polka dot fabric. i do rather like the back.

 it has a nice grid pattern and those boxed dogwood blossoms, which all show up really well (in real life) on the soft rosie polka dot fabric.

 aunt sue was so excited about the quilt i had to warn her a bit. i'm no expert and there was plenty wrong with this lady. for instance, in the square above i totally forgot to line the inside of the square. i did all of the quilting on this quilt with my fmq foot, even the straight lines. in fact, it was mostly straight lines. there was plenty of wobble going on everywhere. i'm hoping the wash will help hide that.

well, there you have it. my husband's unique and talented aunt with her "layers of charm" quilt. put the two together and you get "auntie charming," the fastest quilt i ever made and a lesson in being happy when you make someone else happy.

now i need to take all those leftover hsts and bits to make a quilt for grandma, who wanted to know, "how does sue rank?!"

i guess if you flatter me enough and i have appropriate fabrics, you get a quilt.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

what the barn was missing

 this pile of fabric has been sitting on the end of my bawthroom sewing table since december 2013. that's over a year now. it was a pull for sarah schraw's barn door quilt along. it's a different color palette than i normally work in: brown, apple green, buttery yellow. the green and yellow aren't so different for me, so i guess it's mainly the brown that's a branch out. there are some dark espresso browns and some softer chocolate ones, too. i liked the idea, but the pull kept feeling a little muted somehow and i was worried it was going to be rather boring. if and when i ever worked it up.

 i did not start the quilt along when sarah got it going and it just fell to the bottom of the "wannabe wip" pile. but it was sitting there in my bawthroom, in plain view all this time.

a few months ago, at the end of last year, i was sitting at the bathtub, bathing a baby, but also thinking about the fabric pile when what was missing finally hit me. it needed just one little punch of something to liven it up and save it from boredom. the color intensive class and my personal experience with the penny patch quilt along i did with rachel hauser last year both really helped me develop my color sense a bit more. so as i was studying the pile of fabric, i saw the missing pop - teal!

three of the fabrics already had just the tiniest bit of a teal blue in them: the deep brown floral that is outlined in teal, the ditsy art gallery print, and the green and teal piece on top. i scoured my stash and found one teal polka dot fabric that is perfect. i like how it brightens up the mix without overpowering anything. it's still a calm palette, but now it's a little more awake.

now that i unlocked the secret to this pull, i'm fully motivated to get cutting on this quilt. but first there are a few things i need to move forward.  i haven't done a wip wednesday report for a long time, so here goes.

my current state of the union for the past week:


bandwidth - complete but not photographed
auntie charming - see friday's post

in progress

indian summer blanket - four rows down, more to go
s1's wonky stacked coins quilt - 9 blocks complete; completely redesigned this week
valentine's pinwheel quilt - 4 blocks complete
easy dreaming - 40+ blocks complete, needs less than 20 more
penny patch 2.0 - still in corner of shame needing to be enlarged
bloom where you are planted - needs basting
sugar block club - still lost in feb 2014
hst diamond quilt - untouched
gypsy wife - um, in progress
epp - 21 wheels complete

trips to the store


internet activity

purchased half yards of "folk song" and several moda bella solids charm packs

linking up with lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced