Thursday, October 30, 2014

Baby Steps (AKA Star Steps) in Bloggers’ Quilt Festival

My second entry in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival is Baby Steps, which I am entering in the small quilts category.  It measures 50 1/2” x 64”.

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Until I made Quilter’s Scrapbook (my other BQF entry) I always bought fabric for specific projects and didn’t feel I had enough left of anything that went together to make anything else. I certainly didn’t consider the leftovers a stash. With the success of Quilter’s Scrapbook I was inspired to use up my strings for Sparkling StringsThat went well, so I was encouraged to head to the bins of leftovers instead of the quilt shop when I needed to make a baby quilt last spring.  Surprise!  I had enough brights and novelty prints to pull this quilt together AND  there was  fabric left over.  I guess I do have a stash after all!  It’s just in mostly smaller pieces.

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This quilt just went together effortlessly. Besides the fabric jumping out of my bins and saving me a trip to the shop, the quilting cooperated beautifully.  As I wrote in April, a cardboard circle saved from some packaging was exactly the right size to fit evenly along both the width and length of the border and wrap around the corners with absolutely no fudging required!  How often does that happen?  I used my walking foot to quilt straight lines in the steps and to quilt the half-circles in the borders.  The swirls in the star are free-motion quilted.

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I made this as a baby quilt (generously sized for tummy time and big enough for when the baby grows into a toddler) and I love how it turned out. My blogging friend Sandra recently tested the pattern I wrote for this quilt, using “all grown up” fabrics.  You can see her version here.  It got me thinking about alternate colorways and I decided to rename the pattern Star Steps, since it obviously works as a more grown-up quilt too.

Since it was so quick and easy to piece, I’m tempted to make it again in a totally different style.  I’m plotting…if I can get the list of other things to do down to a manageable size, can I try one of these versions? Which one would tempt you, or would you choose another colorway entirely?

Star Steps ChristmasStar Steps CW Reproduction printsStar Steps Blue and GreenStar Steps in Jewel batiks

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quilter’s Scrapbook in Blogger’s Quit Festival

It’s Blogger’s Quit Festival time again.  This time around I’ve decided to enter Quilter’s Scrapbook in the Scrappy category.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve seen this one before.  I love it because it has a scrap of just about every project I made in my first 13 years of quilting.  I have to think a bit harder for some fabrics than others, but I can still identify which project most scraps came from.

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When I started cutting down my scraps into strips, squares and rectangles a few years back, I cut 1 1/2” squares from the smallest scraps.  Once I had a pile of them, I felt ridiculous.  Seriously, when was I going to use those small bits?  I’m not a very scrappy quilter.  I work well with matchy-matchy, organised designs. and all those varied bits were all so…NOT matchy matchy!  Plus they were so small!

I held on to the box of little squares a little longer.  Just as I was about to throw them away, I saw a picture of a quilt made of 144-patch blocks.  All those little disparate bits in each block looked fantastic together and I started thinking that perhaps I could use my tiny squares after all.

In the end I made 100-patch blocks, making a conscious effort to not try to match fabrics as I sewed squares together. After the blocks were made I dressed things up a little with pieced sashing and a pieced border.  I waited until the blocks were done before choosing the sashing and border fabrics.  Once the blocks were made I had a better idea what colours would set them off well.

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I quilted it very simply using my walking foot to quilt straight lines. What you see in the block above was Take 3.  I forget what else I tried, but I do remember picking out whatever my first two ideas for quilting the blocks were!  I knew exactly how I wanted to quilt the border, but it was tedious and I didn’t get a good rhythm going until I was onto the last side.  I think it was worth it though.

This is possibly my favourite quilt so far (well, at least until I put it away and pull out another favourite for a little while!)  It measures 59” x 73”, just perfect for curling up under on the couch.  It’s not quite big enough to drape over my queen bed, but it has been used on top of bigger quilts for an extra layer on colder nights.

I released the pattern for this quilt last January.  I have since updated the pattern to include instructions for strip piecing the blocks as well as those for piecing individual squares.  It is one of my most popular patterns, available in my Payhip store.

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Hop on over to the festival to see all the other lovely quilts. You can nominate your favorite entry for Viewer’s Choice until October 31, then go back and vote for Viewer’s Choice and your favorite quilt in each category between November 1 and November 7.  Enjoy browsing the eye candy!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Snowalong Week 5!

Let’s have a few cheers for Judy and Sandra who both linked up last week!  I hope you popped over to see their eye candy.  Over in the Facebook group Deanna posted pictures of her 4 lovely snowflakes, and Cindy showed us her first one – her first ever paper pieced block too!  Whoot whoot!

Snowflake 5Snowflake 6 cropped square

You’ll find extra options for week 5 of the Snowalong.  Adding just one line to the Snowflake 5 templates created new designs and I couldn’t resist.  Snowflake 6 is just Snowflake 5 plus one extra seam line, so I went ahead and lumped the two together this week.  You could use Snowflake 6 templates to make Snowflake 5, but I included both sets anyway.

I included 4 variations for snowflake 5:

Snowflake 5  v1Snowflake 5  v2Snowflake 5  v3Snowflake 5  v4

There are at least 3 variations for Snowflake 6:

Snowflake 6  v1Snowflake 6  v2Snowflake 6  v3

Download the patterns here.  This pattern will be free for two weeks.

We’re almost done!  There will be one more snowflake pattern next week. How many have you tried?  Any pictures to share?  Link up to your blog post or post pictures in the Facebook group.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Snowalong Week 4!

Snowflake 4 cropped squareWe’re already halfway through the Snowalong Sew-along!  Be sure to go have a peek at the snowflake blocks other quilters have shared.  So far we’ve seen a few flurries over on the Facebook group. Tracy, Sisi, Linda, Tanya, Deanna and Deb have all shared at least one snowflake.  Here on the blog, Deb (who also posted on FB!), Judy and Sandra have shared as well. Thank you all for participating! I’m hopeful that a few more of the 850+ folks who have downloaded a pattern will be inspired to share their efforts as well!  (Pretty please?  I’d really love to see them!)

Before I share the link to the week 4 pattern, I have just a few things to share about paper piecing.  I know some of you have had your blocks finish smaller than intended, and I have been racking my brain looking for clues about what might cause this and how to avoid it.  Here are a few ideas.  I don’t guarantee they’ll solve the problem, but if you’re tearing your hair out because of shrinking blocks, these might be worth a try.

1. Press at each step, but hold the steam.  Steam can make your paper shrink, and that will alter the size of the printed template.  Even a small loss can add up to measurable loss over several patches.

2.  Choose your paper carefully.  Thick paper results in a thick fold at the seam allowance where pieced sections are joined.  That thickness eats up a little bit of size. Again, a little bit of loss adds up over several sections.

3.  Alternatively, if you don’t have thinner paper, consider removing the paper from the seam allowance before you sew pieced sections together, to remove the thickness that way.  Just remember to sew with a 1/4” seam allowance, and to handle the sections carefully to avoid stretching anything out of shape.

4. I am sure you all do this anyway, but I’ll repeat it just in case. Check that the templates printed out at the correct size.  To test the size, measure the test block that prints out on each template page.  It should measure 1 “ square.  If it doesn’t, you’ll need to adjust the scaling, either by setting scaling on your printer, or by enlarging or shrinking the page on a photocopier.  I’ve been told that printing from an iPad results in losing 1/8.  To correct that you would need to print at 114%. (I think that’s right.  Be sure to check your results before heading off to the sewing machine!)

If anyone else has any tips to add, please share in the comments below!

Now, on to Snowflake 4. The block at the top of this post is this week’s snowflake. It's available here.  I suggest 4 different versions of this one.

Snowflake 4 v1Snowflake 4 v2Snowflake 4 v3Snowflake 4 v4

Finally, here’s my snowflake sewing for the week.

snowflake runner top

I had a request earlier in the Facebook group for fabric requirements and directions for this runner.  Leave me a comment and share a snowflake (in the linky below if you have a blog or in the FB group)  if you would like me to share this.  If there is enough interest and participation, I’ll take the time to write up the pattern.

Link up!



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Slow stitching progress

IMG_8840I haven’t spent as many evenings hand quilting as I had planned over the past several weeks.  Tonight I hope to sit and quilt for another hour or two.  I think it takes me about an hour to quilt everything in the frame so I might get two frames’ worth done if I walk away from the computer sooner than later!

Let’s see how the quilting has progressed since September 21.

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Yes, slowly but surely I am making progress.  I’m walking away from the computer now!

Linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy’s Quilts

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fall sewing

IMG_8834You might have noticed I have been obsessed with snowflakes recently.  In the last couple of weeks the trees here have been putting on their gorgeous fall colours and tugged me back into the proper season. I’m dreaming in rich oranges, browns, and golds now. 

I just love that orange print.  I don’t usually buy fabric just to have it.  I usually need to have a particular use for it, which I did when I bought it, but I could be persuaded to go get more of this one “just because”.

I have a fall themed throw quilt all planned out but I wanted a quick finish first. Six fat quarters plus a half yard for background and inner border yielded a runner and a coordinated pieced backing.  The camera washed out the colours a little bit, but you get the idea.

Stretch runner in fall colours

If you’ve followed this blog for a while you probably recognize this runner.  It’s from my pattern Stretch, available here.  (If you have the pattern, please note I just updated it to clear up confusion.  As I followed my own pattern this week I realized that back in August, when I revamped the format, I apparently I couldn’t count and said to cut 13 squares instead of the required 11.)

Now I need to sandwich and quilt this so I can enjoy it on my table before fall turns into winter.  I did head to the store for fusible fleece to use as batting (I like to use this instead of batting in runners and placemats) and came home with fabric for a bag for my daughter, completely forgetting the fleece.  I’ll have to try again, and try to remember to get enough for these two as well, as birthdays and winter are both right around the corner and I’ll be wanting these two runners then:

snowflake runner top
birthday runner

Monday, October 13, 2014

Snowalong Week 3!

My sewing machine was in the shop all last week, and refused to misbehave there, so we still don't know why it had fits of temper.  It is now home again and behaving for the time being, so I hope to catch up with my snowflake plans.  I really had hoped to have enough red and white snowflake blocks by now to make a Christmassy runner.  I know it's only mid-October and there's still plenty of time.  I was just planning ahead!

I did manage to make a sample of this week's block, Snowflake 3.



I came up with 3 versions for this one, again all by changing color placement.  I really need to make version 2...but 3 looks tempting too.  There just are not enough hours in a day!


You can go here to download the pattern (free for the next 2 weeks).  Patterns for Snowflakes 1 and 2 are still available there as well, with Snowflake 2 still available for free till next week.  See the Snowalong Week 1 post if you need details about how to access the patterns.

All 4 versions of snowflake 1


All 4 versions of snowflake 2


Here are my blue snowflake blocks so far, Snowflakes 1, 2 and 3, version 1 for all of them.

  

Now it's your turn to share.   It's a busy time of year, and not quite winter yet, so there may not be a snowstorm (I was definitely off with last week's forecast!) but please do share any flurries occurring in your sewing room.  You can share on the Facebook Snowalong Sew-Along group anytime, or if you have a blog, write a post and link up below.  I'll leave the linky open all week.  If you are linking up, please make sure the link is to the specific post about your snowflake so that we can find it easily.






Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pillow tutorial

pillows

I like throw pillows but there’s only so much room on the sofa and the bed.  There’s also only so much room in the closets for storage. The solution?  Make pillow covers that I can change out as the mood strikes.

To make a cover for an 18” pillow form you will need:

  • 18 1/2” top (I like it quilted, but a square of pretty fabric will do as well)
  • 2  fabric rectangles 18 1/2” x 13”
  • 2” piece of hook and loop tape (like Velcro) (optional)
  • 2 yards of 2” double-fold binding (optional)

Preparing the back of the pillow

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Step 1: Take one of the 18 1/2” x 13” rectangles. Call it Rectangle 1.  Fold one long edge over 1”, wrong sides together, and press the fold.

Step 2:  Fold the fabric another inch, enclosing the raw edge.  Press the fold.  (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step!)

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Step 3:  Topstitch about 1/8” away from the folds, all along the length of the rectangle. Rectangle 1 should now measure 18 1/2” x 11” and one long side is hemmed with a 1” double-fold hem. 

Step 4:  Repeat steps 1 to 3 with the second rectangle.

To add a Velcro closure to your pillow cover, follow steps 5 to 7.

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Step 5: With wrong side of fabric facing up, position the the hook side of the Velcro halfway along the hem of Rectangle 1 and sew it securely in place.

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Step 6: With hemmed edges overlapping, lay out both rectangles so that together they form an 18 1/2” square.  Measure the distance B (marked with a red arrow in the diagram above) from the outside edge of Rectangle 2 to the edge of the Velcro on rectangle 1.  The distance should be about 7 1/2”.

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Step 7:  Remove Rectangle 1.  With right side of the fabric facing up, position the loop side of the Velcro halfway down rectangle 2, a distance B away from the unhemmed long edge of the rectangle.

The back flaps of the pillow are ready.  Now you need to decide if you want to finish the pillow with or without binding.  The example on the left below has no binding.  The example on the right has binding.

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Finishing without binding

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Step 1: Layer the pillow top and Rectangle 1, right sides facing, matching raw edges, as shown above left.  Layer rectangle 2 over this, right side down, overlapping hemmed edges and matching raw edges of pillow top (see picture above right).  The two halves of Velcro should line up.  Pin everything in place.

Step 2:  Sew with a 1/4” seam allowance around all four sides of the square, backstitching at beginning and end to secure the stitching.

Step 3:  Turn pillow cover right side out, insert pillow form through the back, velcro the back shut and enjoy!

 

Finishing with binding

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Step 1: Lay the pillow top wrong side up.  Layer Rectangle 2 over it, right side up, matching raw edges of rectangle and top (picture above left).

Step 2: Position Rectangle 1, right side up, overlapping hemmed edges and matching raw edges of pillow top (picture above right).  Velcro halves should line up.

Step 3:  Pin everything in place and baste all around the square with an 1/8” seam allowance.

Step 4: Bind as you would a quilt, using your favourite binding method.

Step 5:  Insert pillow form through the back of the pillow cover, Velcro the back shut and enjoy!

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