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!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

1600 Jellyroll quilt top

1600 Jellyroll quilt top

I always like to do something different so when one of the vendors at our Quilt Guild's quilt show in June, told me about an easy quilt top that you can make using 2 1/2 inch strips of fabric, I decided to give it a try.  It is called a 1600 Jelly Roll quilt as the strip of fabric that you use at the start is 1600 inches long! (Yup!) 
I bought a package of Northcott Stonehenge 2 1/2 inch fabric strips from that same vendor and started my Jelly Roll quilt top a few days later.

It's quite easy to do: You start off by taking all 40 of your  2 1/2 inch strips and sewing them together end to end. (You can sew them together straight across or diagonally like you would to make fabric strips for binging). Cut  about 15-16 inches off the first strip of fabric (don't use it) and then just randomly sew all the rest of fabric strips together.  (That helps to stagger the fabric joints a bit better in the quilt top.)

Take that big long strip of fabric, fold it right sides together (being very careful not to twist it), then sew that  together along one side. When you get close to the end, cut the loop of fabric there, then sew to the end. (In essence you have created 2 strips of fabric out of the long one which you've now sewn together.)

Do the same thing again, fold the 2 ends right sides together and then sew along one side, clipping the loop at the end.  Now you have 4 strips of fabric sewn together like in the photo below. 

Your length of fabric is reduced in half each step of the way. 

Fold the 4 strip fabric in half again, right sides together, sewing along one side. Now you have 8 strips sewn together Like the photo below.

8 strips of fabric sewn together
 Do the same thing again, then you will have 16 strips of fabric sewn together.

16 strips of fabric sewn together

Now do that same step one last time and you will have a quilt top with 32 half inch strips of fabric sewn together creating  a quill;t top that is 50 inches across and 65 inches long.

Each time you sew sides together your fabric strips will double but the length will shrink in half:

1 fabric strip = 1600 inches long
2 strips= 800 inches long
4 strips = 400 inches long
8 strips = 200 inches long
16 strips = 100 inches
32 strips = 50 inches 
resulting in a quilt top 50" by 65"

After that I bought some more Stonehenge fabric and cut 2 1/2 inch strips to make a border around my 1600 jelly roll top.  Next I cut 5 1/2 inch strips of another Northcott Stonehenge Spring Meadow fabric to make an outer border. I love the birds on that one! I really like the Northcott Stonehenge fabric line, especially the Spring meadow line. 

1600 Jellyroll quilt with 2 inch inner border and 5 1/4 inch outer border

The quilt top is now 65" inches wide and 80 1/2" inches long.  Thought that would make a nice size quilt to put on the couch or throw across the bottom of the spare bed.

I am going to look into getting some "Fireside", a soft type of fleece, for the back.  Not sure how hard it will be to quilt with, but I'm not quilting anything fancy, just a wave across the centre of each strip . Haven't decided yet how I will quilt the outer bird border...

I did some calculating and figured out how to make a baby quilt top using the same method:
If you were to sew 700 inches of 2 1/2 inch strips together, using the same method as the 1600 jelly Roll, you would end up with a quilt top with 16 fabric strips measuring 43 1/2 " by 32" inches.

Or take 600 inches of strips, keep sewing the sides together till it measures 37 1/2" by 32". If you added a 2 inch border around it,  it would end up measuring 41 1/2 " by 36", an adequate size for a baby quilt…

Might just give that a try! :)
Happy quilting!

One of our "little monkeys"


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pillowcases, Sundresses and another Baby Quilt

Toddler-sized pillow cases
Sewed 2 more pillowcases for our little twins for their new toddler-sized pillows. These two are  15" X 24", a little longer than the first 2 that I had sewn. (In fact just yesterday, I added a few more inches to the end of the first 2 cases to make them extend over the edge of the pillows a bit more.)

New baby Girl Quilt: for Chloe who arrived on June 14th/14

I started off with 2 strip sets with light and dark fabrics, 2 1/2 inches wide. The squares are also 2 /12 inches and the rectangles 2 1/2 X 4 1/2".
The 4 small blocks below were sewn together to make one 8 1/2 inch block.

Creating the 8 1/2 inch block (with seam allowance)

Kitty panel in centre with created blocks all around.

The centre kitty panel was 18" X 22 1/2".  I added some white sashing to make it 24 1/2 inches square.  ( 1 1/2 inches white sashing on the top and bottom of the panel, and 2 1/2 inches of sashing on the sides.) 

(OOPS! I saw a mistake in the arrangement of one of my blocks on the bottom. Flipped it the wrong way! Had to use my seam ripper to take that apart.)


Completed quilt top: 40" X 40" inches square. Next I washed and ironed the flannel back fabric (white with tiny stars) and sandwiched it together with a chunk of batting. (Had to whipstitch a 6 inch width of batting onto the side of the chunk I had in order to make it wider. )

Now it is sitting here while I contemplate ideas to quilt it. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Heartland Quilt Show

Our quilt guild had an enjoyable, successful quilt show last weekend (June 13 and 14, 2014). What a lot of work and organization, but a good event for showcasing quilts and socialization of like minded (quilt-loving) people!

I had just finished my kitty quilt "Tabby's Place",  made up of foundation pieced blocks with a bird fabric border.  (The irony in that choice of border being that I am frequently concerned about the nesting birds here on our acreage which our cats are sometimes too curious about. Have been known to chase my cats away from the birdhouses, broom in hand. :)

Tabby's Place" wallhanging 29" X 44"

My other entry for the quilt shoe was my big Diamonds Jubilee bargello quilt. (104" X 105")
Did not walk away with any ribbons or anything special other than the elated feeling of seeing my handiwork displayed, especially this bargello quilt which I invested many many hours of time into creating. I am also proud to say that I machine quilted this giant on my own regular sewing machine after much rolling and re-rolling of this quilt, (and many spools of thread later…)

Diamonds Jubilee Bargello quilt on display at the Stettler Quilt show June 13/14, 2014

Now I am finishing up a little baby quilt for our grand-niece's new baby girl called Chloe Grace who graced the world with her arrival on Sat. June 14. More about that quilt in the next blog. :)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"Tabby's Place" Foundation Piecing

Decided I needed to make something to put up on a bare space on our dining room wall. Cats and plants, two of my favourite things, are the theme of this wall hanging.

I enjoy doing paper piecing blocks, also called foundation piecing…  You don't have to be exact in measuring your fabric pieces and it's a great way to use up scraps.

Recently I got a pack of 100 sheets of Foundation Piecing paper for the computer. This way I can scan the pattern pieces and print out as many as I need.

The old way, you had to trace the pattern multiple times onto thin paper.  That's what I did, (27 times to be exact!) for one of my previous quilts, (which I call "Signs of Autumn") that was made up of all paper pieced blocks,    (See photo of that foundation pieced quilt below.)

Small paper-pieced cat, fabric sewn on

Back of same small cat showing seams sewn on the lines

The fabric strips are sewn right onto the patterned paper,  (To be ripped off later).
The cat and plant patterns are from an old Quiltmaker magazine (2003), a pattern called "Tabby's Place".

Arranging the blocks

The hardest part was placing the blocks in an arrangement that I liked. I did not like the arrangement in the magazine and I skipped putting appliquéd rugs below each cat, too.

Figuring out the sizes of the sashing required to sew the blocks together was tricky. I used my cutting mat to help there as it has 1 inch squares on it.

I worked until midnight last night to get all the saying sewn on and all the blocks together. here is the almost finished quilt top, just missing the outer border.

Then I want to sew some button eye on all the cats to add some interest. :)

Athena checks it out… :)

Here's my "Signs of Autumn" quilt. I am very proud of this one as I used my own design to create it. I had a pattern for the foundation pieced blocks, but not for how to put them together into a quilt top. Up till then, I had never assembled a quilt on the point (sideways like diamonds) and I had no idea how big to make the side or corner triangles (setting squares).

After much searching through quilt magazines to find other quilts assembled this way, none had 14 inch blocks so their directions for those triangle pieces didn't help. A quilter friend finally gave me a link to a table that gives those measurements for all sizes of blocks. Yay, problem solved! I hand quilted the square blocks and free motion quilted the triangles and the sashing on my sewing machine.

25 foundation pieced blocks, arranged 'on the point'.  Two more blocks are in the pillow shams.
This is still one of my favourite quilts, in spite of all the work involved in making my Diamonds Jubilee Bargello… :)

Happy quilting!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Blocks of Fancy" and "The Right Slice"

"Blocks of Fancy" 40 x 40 inches square

Recently I finished another baby quilt, which I call "Blocks of Fancy".  This little quilt is for our newest little grand baby, Tanner Felix, to use at his house, once he starts using his crib, or just for "tummy time".

My daughter, son-in-law and their young family and I went to a quilt show last June in Lethbridge, AB.  We enjoyed viewing the numerous creations displayed there, some of which were very beautiful and quite inspiring!

We saw one quilt there that my daughter particularly liked, so I took a photo to remember what it looked like once I got home.
I printed the photo to help me figure out some measurements in order to make a small sized version similar to the original.

Arranging the 3 inch squares into blocks...
I figured that making the square blocks 3 inches and the rectangular blocks  3" x 11"would result in a finished quilt of  40" by 40" a good size for a baby. (The white sashing strips in between are 1 inch wide.)

Once I figured out the measurements for each part of the quilt top, it was quite easy to make.
My daughter helped me to rearrange some of the blocks at one of her visits here.  Luckily I had made a few extra squares so we could switch a few of them.

Kitty approved :)

Once the blocks and sashing were all sewn together, I 'sandwiched' the quilt with the batting and backing, then pinned it thoroughly together. I 'ditch quilted' the blocks on my sewing machine.  On the white outer border, I free- motion quilted some vines and leaves with white thread to blend in.

With the blue Minkee Fleece on the back and it turned out to be a nice colourful, cuddly quilt for our new little boy.  :)

Blue minkee fleece on the back

They are all coming to visit us here this Easter weekend and I am looking forward to giving the quilt to little Tanner. I hope he gets many hours of warmth and enjoyment from it.

Love all my little Sweetie Pies bunches and bunches! 

The Right Slice:
Our  quilt guild is working on some charity quilts for an organization called Little Warriors which is starting up in June to help abused children in the province. Our group is donating over a dozen quilts, some which individual members have made and some which we worked on during meetings and quilting bees. The quilt below is a pattern called: "The Right Slice" (Quiltmaker Magazine- Nov./Dec. 2013 issue).  We put an "Eye Spy" twist on it, adding a novelty print at the centre of each block.

A number of us worked on the individual blocks which all start out as a basic 9 patch. After that  2 2/3 inches are chopped off the right and the left sides, then 1 1/2 inch black sashing is sewn on.  Then the chopped off parts are sewn back on.

Next the top and the bottom of the block get the same treatment (black sashing added).

The blocks end up being 14 inches square.  Once the blocks were all completed, we arranged the blocks on the floor in rows at one of our meetings and we sewed it together into there quilt tops, one of which you see above. This one I will be quilting and binding on my sewing machine in time to be displayed at our annual Heartland Guild Quilt Show in Stettler in June.
After that they will be delivered to the "Little Warriors Organization for their use.

Happy quilting!