Friday, March 27, 2020

Quilting On Point

On the Fence  in progress. Pattern coming next month!

While I was sewing up the sample for my next pattern, I realized I have used on point settings in a few patterns.  It occurred to me that some may find "on point" intimidating.  If you are one of those quilters, let me ease your fears.

Sewing  rows of blocks on point is just like sewing horizontal rows of blocks, with the addition of a triangle at each end of the row.  You don't have to sew at an angle. You're sewing straight lines.

Let's talk about those triangles.  Side setting triangles are the ones that will make up the sides of the quilt.  Corner setting triangles, as I'm sure you guessed, will be the corners of the quilt.

There is no way around having at least one stretchy bias edge on a cut triangle, but you definitely can avoid ending up with those stretchy edges on the sides of your quilt, where they might cause distortion. To avoid having bias edges on all sides of your quilt, you want any triangles sides that end up on the outside edge of the quilt to be on the straight of grain.

That requires the use of quarter-square triangles for the side setting triangles, and half-square triangles for the corner.  Don't confuse these with QST and HST square units.  

Quarter-square triangles are cut triangles obtained by cutting a square diagonally twice into four triangles.  Assuming that you cut your square on a straight grain, the straight grain will end up on the longest side of the triangle, which is where you need it to be for a side setting triangle.

Half-square triangles are cut triangles obtained by cutting a square  diagonally once into two triangles.  The bias ends up on the long side, leaving both short sides on the straight of grain so you have two stable sides for your quilt corners

What size to cut squares to make triangles

If you're using a pattern, the math should be done for you.  Just check to make sure the pattern uses quarter-square and half-square triangles in the right places.  If not, or if you are working without a pattern and making things up as you go along, I prepared a reference sheet for you. It has a chart of common sizes, and formulas you can use for less common block sizes.  Feel free to download and print it to have it handy when you need it.

Sewing tips

Of course, though they won't be on the edges of your quilt, the bias edges haven't gone away and you'll need to deal with them when you sew the triangles to the ends of the rows of blocks.  Don't panic and keep these tips in mind:
  • Starching or pressing the fabric with a starch alternative like Best Press before you cut can help stabilize the fabric while you sew.  
  • Press rather than iron the fabric: lift the iron to move it instead of sliding it across the fabric and potentially pulling the fabric out of shape.
  • Avoid pulling on the fabric.
  • Pin the seam before you sew.
  • When sewing two pieces together, keep the piece with the bias edge on top, away from the feed dogs so they can't pull that bias edge either. 

How to line up the triangles

You might also wonder about how to line up the triangles to fit with the blocks/rows.  I have actual photographs for this part!

Corner triangle

Remember to use a quarter-square triangle. As you can see below, the long side of the corner triangle is longer than the side of the block or row to which it needs to be sewn.

This is normal. Once all the relevant seam allowances are taken into account, everything will fit together properly. To help everything fall into place, mark the center of the long side of the triangle, and the center of the side of the block you will be sewing it to.  The easiest way to do this is to fold the pieces in half and finger press the fold.

Lay the triangle on top of the block, right side down, matching the fold marks, and pin.  Pinning will help reduce the risk of stretching the bias edge on the triangle.

Sew the seam with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Flip the triangle back and press.  I like to press towards the triangle, but do what works best for your project.

You can trim away the dog ears sticking out the sides.

Don't worry about the triangle having a blunt point where you trimmed.  That blunt point will be inside the seam allowance when you sew the rows together and add borders or binding, and your triangles will have nice pointy points.

Side triangle

Side triangles are even easier to match up.  Here you will be sewing a block/row to the short side of half-square triangle. The side of the triangle will be longer than the side of the block.

You will match the second short side of the triangle with the bottom edge of the block, and the tip of the triangle will extend beyond the top of the block.  Pin before you sew to help reduce the risk of stretching the triangle's bias edge.

Again, sew with the triangle on top so the feed dogs can't pull on the bias edge.  After sewing the seam, fold the triangle back and press the seam in a direction that works for your project.

Again, the messy dog ear tip sticking out can be trimmed off.  The tip, messy or trimmed to a blunt tip, will be in the seam allowance and your finished triangle, after all additional seams are sewn, will be nice and pointy.

That's it!  I hope you find this information useful.  Now you're all set to tackle these on-point Canuck Quilter designs:

Find these and more in my Etsy shop.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Sun-seeking quilting

It's been grey outside for most of the last week and I'm looking for sunshine.  My scrap bins teamed up with a ruler and a book that have been patiently waiting on my shelf for several months to bring some into the sewing room.

Sunflower block from Soak Up the Sun from "Mini Wonderful Curves" by Sew Kind of Wonderful

I bought the QCR Mini ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful in the fall, planning to use it to make their Posh Santa for Christmas.  Umm, well, Christmas comes around every year, right?  It might still happen.

I also bought the Mini Wonderful Curves book on impulse.  I don't usually buy on impulse, but this one has several projects I think I'd like to make, time permitting.  I'm starting with the cheerful sunflowers in the Soak Up the Sun quilt.  I didn't really want to make 9 sunflowers, as I have other projects also clamoring for attention, but just three for a runner sounded about right for a short diversion.

Cutting and trimming take the most time with these blocks.  You start with squares and rectangles, and cut curved pieces from those, then after sewing you trim again.  It sounds like a chore, but I really like that it makes the curved piecing very forgiving.  There isn't any pinning, or matching ends of curves.

I should have done a bit of math before I got started. Now that I have all the curved units made and have started laying them out into sunflowers on the design wall, I realize this runner is going to be too long for my table, as well as much wider than I like for a table runner.  I have a few options.  I can add a little extra length and turn it into a bed runner, but I'm not sure that will coordinate well with the other things in my bedroom.  Option two is to create a new layout that makes a quilt using only 3 blocks.  Option three would be to make extra blocks and make the quilt as described in the book but again, I'm not sure I want to devote that much effort to this little distraction.

What to do?  Play around in EQ and see what I can come up with, of course!

I think I like this.  This quilt would end up being about 54" x 70", a decent size for a couch throw. The triangles would be 2" tall prairie points to dress things up a bit.  I have plenty of green scraps for a scrappy green binding.  The grey/neutral background squares and borders would be the only sticking point. If I have enough in my scrap stash, I'll go ahead with this plan.  Other wise, I may retrench to a bed runner.

However, for right now I need to step away and do a bit of planning for my turn as a guest designer with the Just Wanna Quilt Inventory Quilt project in April.  I'll write more about that soon.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Happy National Quilting Day

Happy National Quilting Day!

Wandering Geese

Let's put the daily news on hold and enjoy some pretty pictures and quality time in the sewing room today.  But first, I spent some quality time with technology learning to use a new app to make and share this video.  Well, it's a video of still pictures.  I'll work up to video.  Maybe.  Baby steps!

Happy Worldwide Quilting Day! by CanuckQuilter on Jumprope.

Next I'm taking Rosie for a walk (can't resist those pleading puppy dog eyes) then I'm going to start a new project because I don't have enough UFOs yet!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Temp Quilt Wednesday?

Temp Quilt Tuesday has a better ring to it than Temp quilt Wednesday, but I missed Tuesday.  In this somewhat surreal state the world is in right now, I lost track of my days, but I'm overdue for a Temp Quilt update, so Wednesday will have to do!

Temperature Quit progress to March 14, 2020

With new pattern releases at the end of February, a last minute trunk show with the lovely Fort Dodge Area Quilters (thanks for inviting me!) and preparing and teaching a two-part ruler quilting class, the temperature quilt was rather neglected.  When I picked it up last weekend I had about 5 weeks of blocks to catch up on.  They are quick, simple blocks, but keeping the colours in the right places when catching up on 35 blocks at once required a bit more organisation to be efficient.

I borrowed some ideas from Raewyn to get organised.  I had precut strips of each colour and was cutting squares off the strips as needed. This worked fine when I was keeping up, but was bit tedious when I had 35 days' worth of catching up.  I decided to keep a supply of cut squares handy.  If I end up with extras of any color, I'll just have to come up with a little bonus project or add them to the scrap bin.  I am keeping the squares organised by temperature in little baggies, and clipping the bags together to keep them in order so that I can find each temperature's colour quickly.

Raewyn also writes the date and temperature range on the seam allowance of the block.  I adapted this to note the date and whether the square represents the maximum or minimum for that date, to help me sort things out easily if I get the squares jumbled up before sewing the pairs together.

I also tried to press towards the minimum temperature square.  This helped me keep track of top and bottom when I added the grey background pieces, without having to flip it over and check the marked seam allowance again.

I also too some time to cut out all the background pieces.  I had cut a bunch ahead, but I decided I might as well get them all ready, since I am definitely committed to this project now.  These pieces are also nicely sorted and stored.

I'll have to come up with a more environmentally friendly sorting solution that these plastic bags.  I promise I will at least reuse these again and again.

Once I had all this set it took me less than an hour to catch up, and I think now I can keep up more easily.  If I get behind again, I have a system that makes catching up easier, so I might avoid the cycle of falling further behind because catching up takes too long, which makes me leave it for later, when there will be even more to catch up on!

January and February rows are complete and sewn to each other.  I'm now only a few days behind for March.  I guess I'll go take care of that next!  I will say it's lovely to see the yellow and orange creeping into the quilt, so that's good incentive to go make a few blocks.

My Temperature Quilt pattern is still available free to download here.

Monday, March 9, 2020


After many peeks at Topiaries in progress, here it is, complete.

This one is made using a precut strip pack of 2 1/2"strips, plus yardage for background, border and binding. This particular strip pack was a Northcott Shimmer colorway, with coordinating yardage for the border and a metallic gold Moda Grunge for the background.

I finished the top in early November, and slowed to a standstill when I decided I wanted to try quilting the whole quilt with my Westalee quilting rulers.  I knew I wanted to use the rulers, but it took me awhile to decide exactly what to quilt to complement the piecing.

I had to pick out the freehand feathered wreath I had tried in one block before deciding to use rulers.  The wreath turned out OK, but it just didn't pop in that block.  I just was not going to go to the effort of quilting 11 more feathered wreaths if they were just going to fade away and not show up!  It was worth picking it out, because I think the petal motif I came up with using the 6" Spiral ruler is perfect for the space and the piecing.

Check out this picture of the back for a better look at the crosshatching in the background bits. Backing fabric is Moda Grunge dot metallic.

I like how the border quilting turned out.  I made good use of my Westalee stitching line discs with pencil and paper to sketch out what it would look like before I started stitching. This was not my first, or even my second idea, but it was the right choice.  I think Rosie agrees.

I really like how the quilt turned out, and I think this is one I might make again for a quick gift.  It comes together really quickly, with easy cutting and piecing.  I think it would work in any color scheme, or in any fabric style.  I can picture it as easily in modern prints as in Civil War or Thirties reproduction prints.  I chose just one color, but multicolor works too.  Take a look at what my testers came up with.

Topiaries quilt made by Sunny of @sunny_4_now on Instagram

Topiaries quilt made by Tina Fugate

Thank you to Tina and Sunny for their testing efforts and for allowing me to share photos of their quilts.  I released the pattern with much more confidence thanks to their feedback.

The pattern is available in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, March 1, 2020


I had so much fun designing and making this quilt!  I don't use precuts often, but when this idea popped into my head as I tried to fall asleep one night and was still there when I woke up in the morning, I knew I needed to make it.

This version was made with Island Batik strips and some metallic Moda Grunge yardage.  I even used leftovers lengths strips for a scrappy binding.

I planned to gift this one to one of my daughter's friends, and my daughter suggested her friend would love a touch of Cuddle fabric (similar to Minkee) somewhere on the quilt. I didn't want to deal with the weight of a cuddle backing as I quilted on my domestic machine, so I added a cuddle applique instead.  I've done this before and liked how it turned out.  My daughter has a cuddle penguin on her quilt.

The pattern for the dog applique is from the Buddies Project Trio Pattern by Karen at KLee 2Strings.  This design was perfect for my daughter's dog-loving friend.  I just enlarged it to fit the space and voila!  The quilt was very well-received.

After deciding to write up the pattern, I made a second quilt to test my written instructions.  Can you believe how well last Sunday's blue sky set off the blue fabrics?  I did a little jig when I looked at these pictures, and the blue version immediately displaced the purple version as the pattern cover quilt. These fabrics are Deep Blue Sea Shimmer by Northcott fabrics, and coordinating cream Shimmer yardage.

Both my versions used a cream for the borders and triangles, but there's no need to stick to cream and neutrals.  Take a look at what my wonderful pattern testers came up with.

This is Tammy's version.  I'm a sucker for blues, so of course I love her blue for the accent!

Sandie let her granddaughter's love of pink guide her fabric choices.  The heart themed fabrics are really cute, so different from my choices.  Now I can picture this quilt as a strip "I spy" quilt for a child.  Just one strip each of multiple novelty fabrics....

Thank you Tammy, Sandie!  Thanks also to Teresa, though I'll have to wait until she gets the quilt back from her longarm quilter to get a photo.

Sprinkled is now available in my Etsy shop.   From now through March 7th, enjoy any or all of my four new patterns for 25% off regular price.