Friday, December 11, 2020

Love and Kisses Blog Tour

When Sherry Shish of Powered by Quilting was putting together a group of bloggers to showcase her new signature collection of batiks from Island Batik, I was thinking of making a new version of Stellar Breeze.  Perfect!

This is Stellar breeze in Love and Kisses fabric provided by Sherry and Island Batik. I loved working with these fabrics. They are crisp for cutting and pressing, but the finished quilt doesn't feel stiff.  And the colors and prints are so, so pretty.  I'm not sure my camera captured the colors quite right, but you get the idea. 

I'm sure you notice I quilted this very lightly.  This was one of those "quiet" quilts.  It just wouldn't tell me what to quilt.   Actually, it did say something about all-over swirls, but I'm terrible at those so I told the quilt to go back and think a little longer.  Well, it didn't get back to me in time for the blog hop deadline, so I started just stitching in the ditch, hoping inspiration would strike while I did that. Guess what?  My mind stayed blank.  I let it sit a day, then decided that outline stitching outside the aqua stars might help emphasize the suggestion of curves, so I did that.

The outline stitching did dress things up a little bit, though very simply. When I stood back and looked at it, I rather liked the simplicity.  I see so much intricate, beautiful custom quilting online that I often feel like I need do more, but sometimes something simple and quiet is all that's needed. This quilt was a good reminder.  Close up, these fabrics and quilt design are pretty enough to shine all on their own. The minimal quilting doesn't look like much in the photo, but it's just about right draped over the living room couch.

That said, I do need to go back and add a little bit of quilting, because those outside half-octagons are definitely large than the minimum quilting distance recommended for Hobbs 80/20 batting.  I'm still not quite sure what I'll quilt there, but I went ahead and bound the quilt so I could show it off  share it in the blog hop.  Whatever specific design I end up with, I'm pretty sure it will involve simple, clean lines.

Oh! Oh! I can't believe I almost forgot!  I had enough scraps left over, with the addition of a little more Island Batik left over from a quilt back, to piece a back.  I think I like it as much as the front.

The Stellar Breeze pattern is available for purchase in my shop.  It has instructions for 5 sizes, and includes templates to use if your ruler collection doesn't include Tri-Recs tools or similar rulers for making triangle-in-a-square units.  If templates make you turn away, check out my recent  posted a tutorial on an easier way to cut shapes with paper templates, no scissors required.

I invite you to visit other bloggers on the Love and Kisses blog hop (links listed below).  It's always great fun to see the very different projects made with the same line of fabrics.  Love and Kisses is in shops now for you to create with as well.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

A better way to use paper templates

Every now and then I want to make a quilt that uses shapes with angles that are not marked on my quilting rulers. 

My Clear Skies quilt from 2013, from the pattern Kyoto Garden by Judy Martin in her book Stellar Quilts.

I'm not a fan of tracing paper templates onto fabric and cutting out the shapes with scissors.  If instead I trace around a paper shape with a rotary cutter, I tend to end up with a gradually smaller template as I accidentally shave a little off the template, which is also problematic. However, as long as the shape doesn't involve curves, there's an easier way, as I learned from Judy Martin's book Stellar Quilts when I made the quilt above seven years ago.  I can tape the template to my ruler and use the straight edge of the ruler to rotary cut a nice, clean edge.  

To demonstrate, I'll use the templates shown below from my Stellar Breeze pattern.  You could also use specialty rulers for this particular shape, but not everyone has the budget for those.  Plus, once you figure out this technique, you can use it for other templates that may not have a ruler substitute.

Pairing paper templates with a ruler

Step 1: Make sure that the template has been printed to the required size. In my patterns, and many others, template pages include a plain square as a size reference and the pattern specifies what size the square should be.  Use a quilting ruler to check that the square is the right size.  If it is, then the rest of the printing on the page should be as well.

Step 2: Carefully cut out the templates.  I use my rotary cutter and a quilting ruler lined up with one side at a time to get clean, straight cuts.

I'm going to demonstrate first with the G/H template shown above.  

Step 3:  Use a fabric strip cut to the width specified in the pattern.  Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, and square up the cut end of the folded strip.  Keep the strip folded.  Place the template on the strip at the cut end.  In this case, the left side and bottom edges can line up with the left and bottom edges of the fabric strip.

Step 4:  You can now see that the long diagonal is the edge you'll want to cut.  Tape the template to the underside of a quilting ruler, with the template's long diagonal flush with one edge of the ruler.

Step 5:  Place the ruler over the fabric strip, lining up the template with the fabric again as you did in Step 3.

Step 6: Use your rotary cutter to cut along the long side of the template.

Step 7:  To cut a second piece, rotate the ruler and line up the template with the previous cut...and discover that the side of the template where you need to cut to complete the next piece is in the middle of the ruler.  You just can't make that cut this way.

You could remove the template and reposition it, but unless these are the only two pieces you need, you'll be reposition things a lot.  Instead, make a second copy of the template and continue to step 8.

Step 8: With the side you need to cut lined up flush with the edge of the ruler, tape the second template to the ruler.  Just make sure it doesn't overlap the first template.  I marked the second template with a large red asterisk to make it easier to keep track.  Now you can line up the template with the previous cut again, and have a ruler edge where you need to cut to complete the second shape.

Step 9: Rotate the ruler to use the first template again to cut the next piece, than rotate to the second template to cut the next.  Continue cutting pieces on this way, alternating templates.

Step 10:  Remember that you cut through two layers of fabric because the strip was folded in half, so each cut yielded two pieces.  Because the two layers of fabric were wrong sides together, the two pieces are mirror images of each other, which is exactly what you need for a triangle-in-a-square unit.

Trimming Points

You may have noticed this template has angled cuts at the tips.  These are meant to help you line up the parts of the triangle-in-a-square properly.  If your template includes trimmed points to help you properly line up components when piecing, you can use this technique for trimming points as well. 

Step 1: To add these cuts to the G/H pieces, simply reposition the template (or a another copy) so the cut is flush with one edge of the ruler.

Step 2:  Position the ruler so the template matches the cut shape.

Step 3:  Use your rotary cutter to trim away the tip that extends past the ruler and template.

Step 4:  Repeat steps 1-3 for the remaining trimmed tip.

Another example, just to get the hang of things!

Cutting the large triangle (Template B) from my pattern follows the same steps.

You can see the second side of the triangle is under the middle of the ruler where you can't cut.

Simply rotating the ruler doesn't properly line up the angles of the template and cut strip. Because this shape is symmetric, you could flip the ruler so the template is on the top side of the ruler, but then the template is not right on the fabric.   I find it harder to line things up exactly when the template is floating a ruler thickness above the fabric, so I prefer to use a second template to position the cut for the second side of the triangle.  Again, I've marked the second one with a red asterisk.

Keep alternating between templates at each cut to cut additional pieces.  Don't worry about mixing up the templates.  If you try one and can't line it up to cut a triangle, you'll know to use the other instead.

I've shown you how to pair these two templates with a ruler, but you can extend this to other templates.  Just remember that you need to match up the side of the template where the cut will be made with the edge of the ruler, and that you can use multiple copies of the template for different angles and sides.

I hope this helps you try out some new patterns and ideas. Please feel free to send me an email if you have any questions, or to share what you've made with this technique.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Moving things around

I have been moving things around, and I don't mean on the design wall. 

My sewing and work space has slowly been running out of storage space and becoming cluttered.  I don't function well in clutter. Something had to be done, but I couldn't figure out what.  I have limited space, especially now that my husband is working from home.  Wednesday evening, as I was working on a pattern and getting distracted by the mess, it occurred to me to get a measuring tape and check to see if the cutting table really was too big to move to the center of the room.

Ha!  I don't know why I didn't try this before.  I always assumed it was too big and would make moving about the room awkward.  I never actually tried it or measured to see.  I measured on Wednesday evening, and informed my half-awake husband of all of my fine new plans at 12:30 a.m. when I slipped into bed.  I waited until daylight Thursday morning to actually start hauling the furniture around.  It turned out the table fits in the center just fine. I now have access to 3 1/2 sides of the table for cutting and basting.  Woohoo!

The part I'm even more excited about is the extra wall space liberated for added shelving. I was able to order two more shelving units to match my existing ones, though that took a bit of online browsing.  They were sold out on several sites I searched.  Maybe I'm not the only one trying to tidy up and organize my space before winter and cabin fever sets in.  The shelving isn't fancy, or super pretty, but it is tidy and organized and affordable. It also fits exactly along the length of wall, as though it was meant to be.

Moving the table did require relocating a small bookcase to my husband's half of the room, but I wanted to keep the contents easily accessible on my side, so I added  a new cubby storage unit. The books fit easily, with extra space left for things that are more usefully stored closer to the cutting and ironing surface.  I was even able to attach the extension arm I plan to use to photograph (and maybe video?) tutorials.  

There's room for Rosie's bed, but she is not a fan of change.  She seems to not be happy that it has moved, and she is spending more time on the chair, under the printer, or just random spots on the floor as you see above.  She's sighing a lot and giving me dirty looks.

I, however, am thrilled with the changes.  I feel refreshed and ready to attack a long list of sewing and pattern writing tasks.  First on the list is finishing the binding on my quilt for the Love and Kisses blog hop. You can see it on the table, waiting patiently.  My stop on the tour is this Friday, so I'm not late yet.  Next up after that is a tutorial on using paper templates with rotary cutters. That's been in the plans for months now, and I just need to stop thinking about it and just make it.  As you can see on the design wall, my temperature quilt is in serious need of attention.  It hasn't progressed past the end of August!  What can I say, things got busy here even if the blog hasn't been!

What are you up to on this fine December day?