Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tessilating Butterflies- and How!

 Tessilating Butterflies Blocks  Jan. 17, 2015


Sewing curves takes a lot of patience. It's not difficult once you get on to it, but it takes a great deal of concentration and it's very time consuming.

These butterfly blocks are made up of 9 curved pieces.  The first time I tried these blocks, I cut out enough pieces to make 9 blocks for a baby quilt for my infant grand daughter. Then when I went to sew the pieces into blocks, I realized that, YIKE, I didn't know where to start! I had never sewn a curve before, let along pieces that had both concave and convex curves!

I looked online and found a great video that demonstrated it very well. (See bottom of post for link.)
My tweezers became my new favourite tool. :)

I said I was never going to make these tricky, time-consuming blocks again, but here I am, 2 years later making 30 blocks this time!  (Sucker for punishment, I guess… :/ )

Tip:  Before you start sewing, make 1/8 inch cuts around the edges of the curves, especially the concave (inward) curves.

2 pieces that need to be sewn together, with both concave and convex curves

Flip the 2 pieces right sides together just like you would square or rectangular pieces.  Pin the edge where you want to start.  Some sites say to pin the start, the middle and the end of the pieces.  In this case, because of the changing curves, I found that didn't work very well. 

Put your presser foot down and stitch 2 or 3 stitches. Lift presser foot; Move your top fabric edge over to match the bottom fabric edge close to the needle. Then stitch 2 or 3 more stitches.  Repeat...

I use my tweezers to help me grip the top fabric and slowly move it to match the bottom edge as I'm sewing whenever possible. 

Keep moving the top fabric edge over to line it up with your bottom fabric edge after every few stitches. 

Press seam open and you are done!

Putting the body in between the wings was the tricky part especially the last edge.

Connecting Threads-Sewing Curves Tutorial     (Scroll to the bottom of the blog for a good video)

 The 30 butterfly blocks will be sewn into a new "big girl" quilt for my little grand daughter C who just turned 3 and is now in her "big girl" toddler bed.

Arranging blocks- only 6 left to make! :)

Her twin brother H will be getting a "big boy" quilt, too, after this one is finished. 
Happy quilting!

Monday, December 22, 2014

"In the meadow"- Snowman Christmas Stocking

Our littlest Grandchild needed a Christmas stocking this year. Last Christmas he was only 3 weeks old and he had a store bought "Baby's First Christmas" stocking.

I saw a snowman block that I liked on a pattern for a table runner and decided to make one block and create a stocking out of it. Next year I'm planning on making that whole table runner to use here at Christmas time.

Pattern:   "In the Meadow- Snowman"
Quilter's World  "Quilting for the Holidays"  Nov. 2014  pg. 139

It starts out with a 5 1/2" snowball white fabric block (1 1/2" blue corners) for the body, along with a 2 1/2" X 3 1/2" rectangle for the head. The hat is 2 black rectangles: 1 1/2" X 5 1/2" and 1 1/2" X 3 1/2" from black fabric.  Then I added two 1 1/2"X 2 1/2" rectangles next to the head and then blue fabric strips ( 2 1/2" X 9 1/2") on each side.   It creates a 9 1/2" snowman block.

I also sewed 3 smaller snowball blocks 3 X 3" which I incorporated into the stocking below the snowman. The rest of the stocking front is made of strips of Xmas scraps cut in various widths.  The back of the stocking is made out of Christmas fabric printed with cute little birdhouses and other Christmasy things on it.

I used the same template to cut out this stocking as I did for the Star stockings Which I made last Christmas for the twins.
( Xmas stocking template: Fons and Porter magazine Nov. 2013  page 52-55)

Lining: All 3 stockings are lined with Christmas fabric.
Top edge Binding:  The trickiest part was attaching the binding to the top of the stocking and making the loop. (  I cut 2 1/4" strips of fabric, sewed them together end to end, then pressed them in half, right sides out. I used a few dabs of "Speed Sew" glue to attach the binding to the stocking in a few spots, then stitched the binding on securely on my machine. I then flipped the binding over the raw edge to the inside of the stocking and then sewed it in by hand.)

The snowman stocking is quite large, 19 1/2" long X 6 1/2 " wide.  Our little guy seemed to like it quite a bit after he had unwrapped it at his first birthday party on Dec. 3 (2014).

Star stockings made last Christmas for the twins' 2nd Christmas
The star stocking are about 18" long and also 6 1/2" wide.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow- Snowman Placemats

Let it Snow, Let it Snow- Snowman Placemats

Claire's placemat has regular binding made of 2 1/4 inch strips of pink star fabric matching the back and scarf.

The Hallowe'en Jack-o-lantern Placemats were such a hit, I decided to make our 4 little grandchildren a snowman placemat to use over Christmas and the winter.
I found a cute pattern for snowman face block on a wall hanging featuring 3 little snowman faces with different accessories, either a hat, a scarf or earmuffs.  
(Quilter's World magazine-  "Quilting for the Holidays" fall 2014 Page 130)

It starts out as a 10 1/2 inch snowball block made out of white fabric, ( 3 1/2" blue squares for the corners)  then 1 1/2 inch strips of median blue fabric for the sashing.

I added 3 1/2" X 12 1/2" rectangles of pale blue hearts, mitts and evergreen print fabric to the sides, then 1 3/4" strips of the same fabric to the top and bottom.

Tanner's Mat-  Dark green Christmas tree fabric backing and mock binding on edges.

After that chose some fabric to use for the hat, scarf and earmuffs.  Than I tried to scan the templates for the accessories and blow them up 150%. Had a bit of trouble with our scanner so I ended up drawing them bigger, then tracing them onto the back of the Steam-a-Seam webbing. Next I pressed them lightly onto the back of the fabrics, cut them out and arranged them on each snowman block in correct oder. (the scarf has 4 separate pieces, the hat and earmuffs have 3 each.)  I chose a blanket stitch on my Janome and sewed around the outsides of the appliqués accessories in their respective colours. I also appliquéd orange carrot shaped noses on the faces and used my "disappearing ink" pen to draw the eyes, and mouths.

I used machine stitches for sewing the eyes and mouths next:  After a couple of bad attempts which were rectified with the seam ripper, I ended up using stitch #  139 twice to make each eye (once on the right and once upside down to the left). Then Quilt stitch # 93 for the mouths, going over the mouth lines twice (and even 3 times in one case) to make the mouths stand out more.

Hayden's Mat -Red snowflake back fabric and mock binding matching the pom pom

Each placemat has a different back, either pink, red or green print, depending on the colour of the accessory on the front.
Quilting: I machine quilted with white thread around the snowman faces, then with blue thread around the sashing, and coloured thread around the hats, scarf or ear muffs. I free- motion quilted loops and squiggles on the sides and bottom fabric.  Next I trimmed the excess batting off the edges using scissors, and then trimmed the back fabric to 1 1/2" width all around the edges of the mats.

Adelynn's Mat: Pink/white polka dot back fabric and mock binding matching the hat

To make the mock binding:
I pressed in each corner of the extra back fabric, then pressed the rest of the fabric in half towards the edges of each mat.  Then I turned in the edge fabric once more, pinning it to the placemat on all 4 sides. (It should meet nicely in each corner. Then carefully trim off the excess corner fabric parts that are sticking out.)
Last I sewed all around the 4 sides about 1/16 from the inside fabric edge.
Placemat done!  Finished mats:  15" X 18"

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wacky Jack Hallowe'en Table Runner 2014

Wacky Jack Hallowe'en Table Runner
This table runner matches the placemats that I had made for my 4 grandchildren and also the Hallowe'en wallhanging that I had made last year.  It ended up being  22 1/2" X 53" quite a good size.

I made 2 foundation pieced blocks, each one 12 1/2 inches square; one is a black cat and the other is a witch on a broomstick. These were 2 free foundation piecing patterns from this website:  

These were the most difficult foundation piecing I have ever made! There were no directions as to how to start or anything. It looked like you had to cut the patterns into 4 or 5 pieces and make each one separately, then sew them together.   That was more tricky than it sounds. Lining them up was really difficult.

The black cat wasn't too bad, but the witch was a real to do!  I took that block apart and sewed it back together three times! I  finally had to add an extra piece of fabric to one piece in the centre around the broomstick just so it would match up to the rest.  :(

(Note to self: throw this witch pattern away and never make it again.)

The Jack-o-lantern block was easy as I have made them so many times now. :) It is also 12 1/2 square when completed.  Next I sewed  the 3 big blocks together with 1 1/2" strips of sashing (black spiderweb/ pumpkin fabric). I fussy cut 2 rectangles 4 X 12 1/2" from a black hallowe'en print and sewed one on each end.

Next I added 2" strips of the web/ pumpkin fabric to the top and bottom of the runner.

 I appliquéd eyes, nose and mouth (solid black fabric) and a green stem on the Jack-o-lantern.  I used Heat bond thermo web and machine stitched the appliqués with stitch #45 on my Janome.

The back fabric is a cute orange and black eyeball print.  I did not add batting to the middle, instead I used up the rest of my roll of "Whisper web". After that I made a mock binding around the edge (flipping over the extra back fabric to use.)
 Last  I lightly machine quilted it to keep the Whisper Web from shifting around.

I like how it turned out!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tricia's BD Placemats Sept/2014

Fall Scrappy Birthday Placemats

Worked on a set of fall placemats in September as  a birthday gift for my step-daughter.  It was a last minute thing so I only got 2 done in time for her birthday. Worked on 4 more later in September which our son-in-law brought back to BC for her. I have the blocks ready to create the last two, hopefully before the end of the year…  :)

Placing blocks for placemat

Pinned and waiting for quilting

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wacky Jack Returns for Hallowe'en

Wacky Jack Returns!

 I took a break from the Lone Stars for a while. I started thinking "Hallowe'en" as I hung up my Wacky Jack wall hanging earlier this month. With Hallowe'en looming,  I decided to make each of our 4 little grandkids a placemat. I liked the Wacky Jack blocks and had fabric strips leftover from that project from last year. I got busy creating 4 new jack-o-lantern blocks.

The Jack-o-lantern blocks are so easy to make; similar to log cabin blocks. I put a bit of stick glue on the first little square of orange fabric and glued it to the centre of the muslin fabric. Then I put another square of fabric on top, face down, and sewed a 1/4 inch seam;  flipped the 2nd square right side up and pressed.  Then I put a fabric strip down the side, (right sides facing) and sewed another 1/4" seam; flipped that strip and pressed. Then you just continue around and around in the same manner increasing your pumpkin as you go around.

Once you reach the pumpkin size you want,  then you need some black fabric strips, In the same manner sew black fabric across the corners to 'round out' your pumpkin (right sides facing, sew a 1/4 inch seam, flip it open and press.)  Then sew black strips to the top, bottom and sides of the pumpkin to finish off the block. I used my 12 1/2 inch acrylic ruler, placed it over top of the block and trimmed the block to a 12 1/2 square.
(Last year's Wacky Jack wall hanging blocks were 20 inches square, as in the top photo.)

Wacky Jack placemats- without faces

Next I cut two  3 1/2" X 121/2"  rectangles of cute green halloween print fabric (that I call "green monsters in flight") to sew on either side of the pumpkin blocks.   After that I cut  1 1/2" strips of black web/ pumpkin fabric to sew on the top and bottom of each block.

Last but not least, I made some black eyes, noses and mouths and appliquéd them on. I machine stitched around them with black thread, using a tight blanket stitch. Also made 4 stems out of green fabric and attached them the same way.

Backing- I used the same green monster fabric for the back of each placemat, sandwiching them with centre batting.

Quilting- I lightly "ditch" quilted along some of the pumpkin strips, then vertically along the side rectangles and lastly sewed along the top and bottom fabric strips.  To finish off the mats, I sewed a narrow 1/8 seam all around the outer edge of each placemat and trimmed off the excess batting and back fabric.

Edging- I sewed 2 1/4" lengths of scrap fabric together (diagonally) to make long strips of binding for the edges.
                      Finished placemat size : 18" X 14".

Our grandkids were thrilled to get their new Hallowe'en placemats!

Wacky Jack Table Runner

Because I still had a lot of leftover orange and yellow scraps I decided it was time to make myself something for Hallowe'en. I created a Hallowe'en table runner.

I have some free pattern directions for a foundation pieced black cat and another one for a witch on a broomstick. I like to foundation piece and I still have a lot of the paper in my stack so I decided to make them. Thankfully I started out with the black cat block! It was tricky enough without any directions.

The pattern was divided up into sections, A, Ba, Bb, C and D with bold dotted lines in between. I figured that meant you had to cut along those lines and make each section separately, then sew the sections back together like a big puzzle piece.  Sounds easy, but it was tricky lining up the separate pieces. The cat tail was narrow and didn't line up at first…  Finally after several tries, I got it to look right.

The witch block was a real terror to make!!! Will not attempt this pattern again, free or not! The witch pattern had even more separate pieces than the black cat. After making each serrate piece, I tried seeing them together, but I had to keep ripping out seams and trying to realign the pieces to try and make it look right. The narrow broomstick went through 3 pieces and lining them up was tricky. The piece where the witch face attaches to the body was a nightmare! I finally had to add some extra fabric to make the pieces wider so that they would line up half decently….  It looks okay now as long as you don't look too closely. :)

I made another Wacky Jack 12 1/2 inch block and decided to use that for the middle block.  I added 2" inch sashing strips to the right sides of the cat and the witch blocks and Wacky Jack block and sewed them all side by side.

 Next I fussy cut  two 6 1/2 X 12 1/2 rectangles from black Hallowe'en fabric and sewed it on the right and left sides of the runner.   Then I sewed 2" black strips to the top and bottom, similar to the sashing.

After taking a photo of it on the dining room table, I decided it needed to be wider.  I took my pumpkin fabric and cut 4 inch strips. To add a bit of interest, I added orange eyeball fabric to the 4 corners. (Four  rectangles- 4" X 7".

Finished runner top is 22 1/2" X 53"

Wacky Jack table runner 22 1/2" X 53"

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lone Stars Are Tricky!

Lone Stars

I know why they're so "alone"... They are so darn tricky to make! 

Up until now,  the most difficult quilt that I have ever attempted was the Diamonds Jubilee bargello. Yes, it was hard, in that there were a lot of steps involved and you had to keep track of your strips, and most challenging of all, you had to sew accurate quarter inch seams or the segments wouldn't line up.
I think I have now surpassed that in difficulty!

Ten years ago, as a beginner quilter, I attended a novice quilting class in which we learned a ton of basics and a whole lot more! (Thanks, Chris Ludley!)
We were given 2 different quilt block patterns each class to make 2 blocks from each pattern using our light and dark fabrics in different parts of the block. It was so interesting to see how that differing placement dramatically changes the look of the blocks even though the fabric was the same.

In the end we had 16 blocks in total, using 12 different block patterns. It was so much fun to work on something new each Saturday! The only one that had me flummoxed was the LaMoyne Star pattern. Try as I might, after ripping and resewing the seams, I could not get the seams to match well or lie flat! Needless to say, I did not put the leMoyne star blocks in  the sampler quilt  I made. (I think I tossed them!)

My sunflower sampler quilt- hand quilted it myself- took almost 3 years to complete!

Till now, I have never tried that LeMoyne star pattern again, but I do like a challenge and I really don't like to admit defeat.  (Bluntly put: I'm stubborn! )

Auditioning the fabric for background setting squares and triangles

When I saw the pattern for the Lone Star sampler quilt in a McCall's magazine recently, I debated about giving it a whirl. The clincher was when my husband picked that pattern out of the magazine after I had told him I was contemplating making another king size quilt. (We recently got a new king size bed and now most of my quilts aren't big enough to use on it…)

Make a variety of light and dark strip sets, the pattern stated. Okay I can do that, I thought to myself.  Some of the 3 strip sets are 2 light fabrics and 1 dark, or the reverse, 2 darks and a light, or all 3 darks, etc. with 9 different combinations to create 9 different sampler stars.

Cutting the diamond shapes from the strip sets was a bit tricky but as long as you keep recutting your 45 degree angle it works out quite well.

Some of the strip sets

Sewing the 3 piece diamonds together was another matter…  :(
"To sew segments together, align raw edges, matching at seam lines," it said. Okay, no problem, I thought. But I missed the rest of the sentence…"1/4 inch from raw edges".

Try as I might, none of the seams lined up!  I wondered what was going on…

After going online and searching a few lone star sites, I found a You Tube video with some enlightening info...

What the directions SHOULD SAY in BLOCK LETTERS is:  "match your seam lines 1/4 inch IN FROM THE RAW EDGES, mark them if necessary, then sew the segments together with a 1/4 inch seam"!

Draw a line 1/4 inch in from edges using an erasable pen

I had more success when I started drawing a line on the wrong side of the fabric segments 1/4 inch in  from the edges. Then I put a pin through both pieces to line up where the seams should join each other. That worked about 90% of the time. (The times it didn't line up well was usually when I hadn't pressed the segments well enough or when some of my seams weren't  1/4 inch.)

Put pins through the 2 segments at the seams 1/4 inch in from the edges.

...Then carefully pin them together

Tricky -YES! Time consuming- YES!  but once I got my first star together I was so impressed with the results!

 Each 3 segments (made up of 9 diamonds,)  make one arm of the star.

star segments- remember to press well

After pressing well, sew 2 of the 9 diamond segments together with a quarter inch seam, starting a 1/4 inch IN from the raw edge at the start and ending a 1/4 before the bottom edge. (Back stitch at the start and at the end to secure.)

Now do the same for those quarter star pieces, starting a quarter inch in and ending a quarter inch before the bottom edge.

To make this easier, use a pencil on the wrong side of fabric to mark a quarter inch seam at the corners. Where those quarter inch lines overlap is the exact point where to start and to stop sewing each segment. This is so that you can later set in the corner squares and corner triangles for your block background. (So far I haven't done that!)

Quarter star pieces- leave a quarter inch at the start and at the end when sewing them together

That part requires something called a "y-seam" which sounds tricky… but, once I wash and press my background fabrics,  I'm going to give it a shot!

Looking good so far!