Monday, February 13, 2017

RSC butterfly block tutorial

Thank you for all the positive comments about my Rainbow Scrap Challenge butterfly blocks.  For those of you who asked, I took pictures while making last week's block so I could write a tutorial.

I'm going to share how to make the basic butterfly, without specifying how to make the wing markings.  I've just been playing around with my scraps, sewing scraps together then cutting down to the right size base sections J and I.  Go ahead and just play with your scraps and see what you end up with!

The block will measure 12" finished (12 1/2" unfinished).  For a single block you will need:

Background fabric:
  • 6 - 2 1/2" squares A
  • 2 - 4" squares B
  • 2 - 3 1/2" squares C
  • 2 - 2" squares D
  • 2 - 1 1/2" x 5 1/2" E
  • 1 - 1 1/2" x 4" F
  • 1 - 1 1/2" x 2" G
Brown (body):
  • 1 - 1 1/2" x 7 1/2" H
Wing base sections pieced from scraps:
  • 2 - 6" x 7 1/2"J
  • 2 - 5" x 5 1/2" I

Step 1: Draw a diagonal line, corner to corner, on the wrong side of each square.

Step 2: Sew F and G to the ends of H as shown below.

Step 3: Position squares A on the wing base sections J and I as shown below, right side down and with the drawn lines running across the corners. Notice that the right wing will be a mirror image of the left wing.  You'll need to keep track and make sure the squares are in the correct corners.  I didn't the first time and ended up wielding my trusty seam ripper.

Close-up view of A sewn to J

Step 4: Trim fabric from the corners, 1/4" away from the sewn diagonals.

Step 5: Press the background fabric into the corners.

Step 5: Position squares B and C on the wing base sections as shown below, right sides down and with the drawn lines running across the corners. Again, take care to make the wings on the right side a mirror image of the wings on the left side.  Sew along the drawn lines.  Now sew 1/2" away from the drawn line, on the corner side, to gain two bonus HST units.

Step 6: Trim away the corner fabric by cutting between the sewn lines.  The corner fabric will open up to a bonus HST square to use in another project.

Bonus HST units
Step 7: Press the background fabric into the corners.

Step 8:  Sew strips E to the sides of the lower wings.

Step 9: Sew each lower wing to the corresponding upper wing, as shown below.

Step 10:  Sew the wings to either side of the body to complete the block. 

This is the basic method for making my butterfly block.  You can choose to make the bases for the wing sections any way you choose.  

Just a few more thoughts about the two butterflies I've made so far.

Purple butterfly details

When I made the purple butterfly, I had a lot of assorted squares and strings.  I pieced squares in rows to make two sections a little larger than were needed  for the upper wing base sections, then trimmed them down to the required 6" x 7 1/2" size.  I sewed strings of assorted widths together to make base sections with the strings running vertically, and trimmed those down to the required size for the lower wing base sections. You'll notice I didn't pay attention to making the right side wings match the left side ones.

Aqua butterfly details

 For the aqua butterfly, I decided I wanted the wings to match.  This required piecing the base sections as mirror images of each other. The lower wing base sections were string pieced with the strings running diagonally, then trimmed to size.

I made the upper wings by sewing strips sets, subcutting them on an angle , shifting the sub-cut strips before sewing them back together then cutting my base section H out of that.  I actually had 5 colors in my strip set, but adding the background over the corners hid two of the colors.  From now on I will remember not to bother piecing anything interesting in 3 of the 4 corners, because they will just be cut off in the end!

Linking up with:
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion  by the River 
ScrapHappy Saturday at SoScrappy (a little late - sorry!)
Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tweaking Chic Country

I'm using Sew Kind of Wonderful's Chic Country pattern for my daughter's next bed quilt, but I'm tweaking it.  The original pattern is for a throw, and I needed it to be big enough for a twin bed, so of course I needed to add blocks.

Just adding blocks wasn't enough however, because I needed another half block's width extra to get to just the right size, but adding just a half block interfered with the pattern repeat. One side of the quilt would look like the top of the first picture below, and the other side of the quilt would look like the top of the second picture.  One emphasizes the four petal block, the other emphasizes the secondary circular pattern. They wouldn't match and I'm a matchy-matchy kind of girl! Plus I really like that circular secondary pattern.

How about adding borders to make up the extra size?  The original pattern went for the modern no-borders look, so I wasn't sure how borders would look.

Meh. This isn't very exciting. What about giving up on circles on the edge?

This is, maybe, better, but still isn't very exciting.

Getting better!  I just changed the color of one piece in each of the edge units to make the circles stand out.

Oh yes! I like this!  Stay tuned!  I have just 7 more seams to pin and sew before I can add the orange border and call this a complete top!

Linking up with:
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Saturday, February 4, 2017

RSC butterfly - aquamarine

This months color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is teal/aquamarine, what Angela called "anything between blue and green".  Here's my butterfly for the month, plus the four bonus HST leftover from construction.  By the end of the year I think I'll have enough of these bonus units to make a scrappy pillow to go with my scrappy quilt!

Aquamarine butterfly quilt block
February butterfly block and bonus HST

Since I'm only planning on making one butterfly block each month, I decided to play a little bit more with each block.  The basic shape is the same, but I'm going to try to come up with different designs inside the wings.

Last month I had a lot of squares, so I made the base rectangles for the large wings from a grid of squares.  This month I started with more strips and strings.

The strings were great for the smaller wings again, though I sewed them diagonally across the base rectangle this time. 

String block base for small wings

I pondered the strips for a little bit, then decided to make strip sets and cut them diagonally into strips to get parallelograms.  I shifted the strips a bit, sewed them back together, and cut my rectangles for the large wing bases out of the wonky pieces that resulted.  I don't have a picture of this because I meant to take pictures as I made the second wing, after I figured out what I was doing with the first one.  However, it then occurred to me to make the wings mirror images of each other, and I had some difficulty wrapping my mind around how to make the mirror image happen.  It involved a lot of seam ripping (but no grumbling, because this was playtime).  My mind was busy enough sorting this out that there wasn't any room for the thought "Take some pictures", so I don't have any.

I really do like how it turned out. Here are January and February's block together, waiting for next month's color to join them.

Though I missed pictures of the wing base construction, I have pictures of the basic butterfly construction, so I will have a tutorial for you by next Saturday's RSC linky party.  I hope you'll come back for it!

Linking up with Scraphappy Saturday at SoScrappy

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Chic Country progress

Chic Country in progress
I need 32 more orange units for the border I'm planning for my Chic Country, but I have enough units to assemble the center of the quilt. I have started joining units into blocks, and blocks into larger sections.

a few blocks in short row, but rows are not joined yet

So far the points are all matching up pretty well without too much fuss.  There is a lot of pinning though.  I hate pinning! I think I'll join the blocks in sections instead of rows to minimize the number of long seams with a lot of points to match.  The total number of points to match will be the same either way, but seems less daunting when tackling just a few at a time!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Trying to let Chic Country be random...

...but failing!  I have all these two-color quarter blocks done, and I thought I could just put them up on the wall in random fashion.  Nope, I couldn't do it!  There was too much dark here, two same fabrics too close together there and so on.  I fussed and rearranged!

I had to get these up on the design wall tonight to encourage me along.  On its own, each quarter block is not particularly exciting.  Start putting them together and things start to happen!  This week I'll make the blocks that have the orange accents,  then work on the border.  The original pattern doesn't have a border, but I needed one for size so I came up with something that will accent the circles.  Stay tuned!

Linking up with:
Monday makers at Love Laugh Quit 
Moving it Forward at Em's Scrapbag 
Linky Tuesdays at Freemotion by the River 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

RSC butterfly - purple edition

Purple scrappy butterfly quilt block
January 2017 RSC block
I finally caved.  For the past several years I have been drooling over all the beautiful blocks and quilts popping out of quilters' scrap boxes as they join in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I've always admired and not joined in because my quilt "to do" list was already long enough.  Last Saturday's linky party showcasing finished RSC quilts just pushed me over the edge and I caved. I'll be making at least one block a month this year.

In case you haven't yet stumbled across an RSC post somewhere in blogland, here's how it works.  Every month a featured color is announced, and participants delve into their scrap fabrics for scraps in that color to make a block (or several) in that color.  You can make the same block (or blocks) every month in each month's color, or you can make something different each month.  It's really up to you.  Every Saturday you can go to the So Scrappy blog and link up a blog post about your RSC sewing for the week.

My big challenge is to wait next for month's color!  I drafted this butterfly block in EQ, and while I was at it, I popped it into a quilt layout.

Or maybe this one:

I really want to make them ALL right now so I can play with them right now.

This isn't helping:

Overflowing box of fabric scraps
What happens when you take the lid off the scrap box

When I opened the scrap box it exploded and the lid won't go back on.  That's just the unsorted scraps.  I also have several plastic shoe boxes of scraps all tidily cut into squares and rectangles.  (I'm not doing that anymore, as you may have guessed from the picture above.)  One block per month is not going to solve this problem.

Still, I'm going to try to stick to one block per month, because I also really want to work on these projects:

  1. Chic Country (52% of the units are made!)
  2. A quilt using all my snowflakes (all 26 of them!) and maybe turning that into a BOM pattern.
  3. Something else snowflakey - because I may or may not have come up with another versatile snowflake design that will need a quilted something to live in.
  4. Three or four new design ideas floating around.
  5. Quilt math tutorials (I've been meaning to start those for a couple of years - it's time to do it!)
  6. Write up patterns for my son's kaleidoscope quilt and for Fundy Skies.
Maybe listing it all here will keep me focused.  Or not.  I'll just have to see how it goes!

Linking up with So Scrappy for RSC Saturday

Friday, January 6, 2017

Finally piecing Chic Country

It seems like I have been cutting pieces forever.  Of course I took long breaks, so it seems longer than actual hours spent cutting, but there was still a lot of cutting for my daughter's Chic Country quilt.  First cutting squares and rectangles, then cutting 2 to 3 curves in each with the Quick Curve ruler, adds up to a a lot of cuts!

But finally, seams are being sewn!  Here are the first two blocks sewn together to make sure I'm trimming things correctly for points to match.

Two Chic Country quilt blocks sewn together

That's a relief!  I'm sure there will be some chopped off and/or offset points in the quilt, but at least I know it's possible!  I did have serious doubts earlier this week. To trim the block, you're supposed to to mark certain points on the ruler and place those on the three points of the unit to position the ruler for trimming the unit correctly.  Actually, the pattern says "align pieced points on or near reference dots".  On or near?  How near?  I was 1/8 off both outside points if I positioned the corner point on the dot, and the 1/8" didn't seem to be in equivalent directions for both points that were off.  1/8"???  Isn't that too much?

I almost cried and quit right then.  I was sure none of the points were going to meet to create the lovely circles in the quilt's design. Why didn't this bother last summer when I made a test block?  Now I had cut up all the "good" fabric and couldn't change patterns and the quilt was going to be a mess! I didn't cry, but I did stomp and scowl. In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn't have been working on this so late at night instead of sleeping.

Untrimmed Chic Country unit
You can see the unit starts out pretty rough!

Thank goodness for the kindness of bloggers!  I searched for images of the quilt and contacted a couple of bloggers who have made successful versions of it.  Cindy of Hyacinth Quilt Designs and Marion of My Quilt Diet both replied with encouraging words and tips and assured me their points were off too but that it all came together OK and to just keep going.  Helen from Sew Kind of Wonderful (makers of the ruler and pattern) also replied to my panicked plea for advice and wrote that my points were off pretty much the same way as hers are when she makes this quilt.  She assured me it would all work out.

Trimmed Chic Country unit

Tonight I took a deep breath and wrapped my mind around those points to figure out where to mark the ruler instead of at the stated spots, so I would at least be consistent from unit to unit for the best chance of matching things up.  I made and trimmed enough units to make two blocks, so I could join them and see if my alternate marking and trimming was going to work.

I think I am confident enough to go back to assembly line mode now.  Well, not right  now.  I have, at least temporarily, learned something about staying up too late sewing.