Monday, December 27, 2021

Evening Light

In anticipation of a brand spanking new year, I've been tidying up my sewing space this week, including refolding and restacking my sample quilts.  I came across Evening Light and realized I never shared it on the blog!  It showed up in Instagram and Facebook, but not here.  There was even a draft post, but I never hit "publish".

So, here we go.  Presenting Evening Light!

I'm grateful for the man crouching under the quilt, pretending he's a post, allowing me to attempt to artfully drape the quilt beside the prairie grass.  My husband is always willing to hold up my quilts for photography, but impersonating a post is a new twist.  I think it worked pretty well :)

When I saw the digital swatches of Island  Batik's Celestials collection, I knew my astronomer husband  would love it.  I wanted a design that would let that lovely suns, stars and moons focal print shine.  

I was thrilled when Island Batik selected the design for their Spring/Summer 2021 catalog, along with Sailing School and Bright Seas.  I made the quilt, shipped it off to Island Batik for photography, then bided my time until the fabric shipped to shops before sharing the quilt with you.  There's always a rather long delay between sample making, then catalog publication, then fabric shipping to shops, and  it's been stretched even longer this year.  However, fabric is now in shops and I'm happy to be able to share.

I've been playing around with other color schemes for this design. While the design looks very traditional in the Celestials fabrics, one of the alternate color schemes makes it look very modern.  Fabric choice makes a huge difference.  

I'd like to share the alternate with you, but I'm having computer issues.  Apparently the hard drive to which I save my EQ designs is failing.  It's not even 2 years old yet, so I'm a little annoyed.  I do have backups, but I'm going to wait to get the replacement drive installed before I do anything with those backups!  I'm a bit worried about losing things.  I may have wiped out a drive back in my very first summer job, 30 years ago...

Anyway, stay tuned.  I'll share once I get the computer problems sorted out.

The Evening Light pattern is available as a PDF download in my shop, or ask your favourite quit shop to order print copies from major distributors.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Revising the plan to get it done

Where did the year go?  Back in January, I finished up my Temperature Quilt 2020 top and made plans to piece a backing.  I planned to add a temperature/color key to the back.  If I paper-pieced one digit each week, I'd easily have the backing done to finish the quilt by the end of 2021.  I suspect you can guess where this is going.

There you go.  What you see above is all I got done on this project this year.  What can I say?  My priorities shifted.  I've had my most productive quilting year ever, and enjoyed every minute, but this quilt back was not part of that.

At this point, the whole project is sitting in a box on a shelf, sending me reproachful glances every time I grab a different box. It's interfering with my enjoyment of those other projects.  Every time I think I should be working on that backing but I don't feel like it, I lose my enthusiasm for the whole project.  That's just not right, because I was so excited about this quilt!

Temperature Quilt top 2020

So, I have decided to simplify my plan.  As my very wise daughter pointed out yesterday, it's my quilt.  I  can change the plan if I want to.  Plan changed!  I may or may not add a key to the label, but I'm definitely not piecing or appliqueing all those numbers.  I'll piece my color strips together to make a quick pretty back and get closer to a finished quilt I can toss on the couch and be happy with again.

I settled on this layout.

Let's see if I can get the backing pieced and the quilt basted by the new year.  I almost said finished, but honestly, I really don't want to set this quilt up for more disappointment!

I'd love to hear about any stalled projects you've had, and how you got them moving forward again.  

Friday, December 3, 2021

Half-Rectangle Units Tutorial

The sails in this block from my Sailing School pattern are made from HRT units

Here, as promised, is my tutorial about making half-rectangle triangle units (HRT) without specialty rulers. This method does involve a bit of fabric waste as the units are made a little over-sized, then trimmed down.  I think the little bit of trimming waste in exchange for ease and accuracy is worth it.

Traditionally, the HRT is twice as tall as it is wide, so those are the dimensions I worked with.

Here goes!

Step 1:  Determine the desired finished size of the unit. (Remember that the finished size is the size in the finished project, after the seam allowance is taken up by sewing the unit into the project.)

Step 2: You will need two rectangles of fabric. To determine the width of the cut rectangles:

    • For the cut width, add 1 1/4" to the desired finished width.
    • The cut height will be double the cut width.
Step 2:  Cut two rectangles

 Step 3: Mark a diagonal line on one of the rectangles.  Careful!  The direction of the line matters.

    • For a left-leaning seam on the finished unit (from upper left corner to lower right corner), draw the line from the top right corner to the lower left corner.
    • For a right-leaning seam on the finished unit (lower left corner to upper right corner), draw the line from the top left corner to lower right corner.

Step 4:  (optional ) You will actually stitch 1/4" away from the marked line in Step 7. You may wish to draw additional lines now,  1/4" on each side of the diagonal,  to mark where to stitch.  If you have an accurate 1/4" presser foot as a guide you can skip this part.

Steps 3 and 4:  Mark one rectangle

Step 5: Place the marked rectangle on top of the second rectangle, right sides together.  So far this looks very much like the technique used to make HST.  However, if you now simply sew 1/4" on each side of the diagonal, you will end up with a kite shape rather than a rectangle shape.

Step 5: Layer rectangles right sides together

Not how you want it to turn out. Move on to step 6.

Step 6: Rotate the marked rectangle:

    • to the left (counterclockwise) for a left-leaning finished unit, so that the upper right corner shifts to touch the upper left of the bottom rectangle, and the lower left corner shifts to touch the lower right corner of the bottom rectangle.

    • to the right (clockwise) for a right leaning finished unit, so that the upper left corner shifts to touch the upper right of the bottom rectangle, and the lower right corner shifts to touch the lower left corner of the bottom rectangle.

Step 6: Rotate marked rectangle

To check that you have rotated in the correct direction, fold the top rectangle along the marked diagonal, and see if the result is approximately the HRT you plan to make.

Check orientation

Step 7: Sew 1/4" on either side of the marked line, then cut on the marked line.  

Step 7: Sew then cut into two units

Step 8: Press seams to one side or open, as you prefer. You now have two rough units ready for trimming perfectly to size.

Step 8:  Two untrimmed HRT units

Next, you'll need to trim these.  The tricky part is to position that diagonal seam correctly in the trimmed unit so that points don't disappear into the seam allowance when you sew this unit into your quilt.  The diagram below shows what happens when you place the seam corner to corner.  The seam, shown as a dashed line, cuts off points on the short ends of the unit.

What you want to avoid

I've found that using a template to guide my trimming gives me the best results.


Step 9:  Draw a rectangle exactly the same size as your desired finished unit.  

Step 10:  Using a rotary cutter and ruler, cut out the shape 1/4" outside the drawn shape all around.

Step 10: Cut out template

Step 11
  Draw a diagonal between two opposite corners of the drawn inside shape in the direction of the seam in your finished unit, extending the line all the way out to the edges of the cut shape.  Note that this diagonal does not intersect the corners of the cut shape.

Step 11:
 Tape the template on the underside of your quilting ruler, with the template flush with the corner of the ruler, and the drawn line visible through the ruler.

Step 12:  Position the template over the rough unit so that the drawn diagonal lines up with the seam in the unit.  
Step 12: Position the template

Step 13: Use a rotary cutter to trim the unit along the side and top edges of the ruler.

Step 13: Trim two edges

Step 14:  Rotate the unit.  Position the ruler so the markings for the required unfinished size line up with the trimmed edges.  

Step 14:  Position ruler to trim remining sides

Notice that the seam will not fall exactly in the corner of the ruler.

Seam will not go through corner of the ruler

Step 15:  Keeping the ruler in position, use a rotary cutter to trim the remaining sides of the unit.

The unit is now ready to use. The area outside the black outline in the image below is the seam allowance.  The area inside the black rectangle will be the finished unit as it will appear in your finished project, with the points in the corners where you want them.

I hope you have found this helpful.  Now go play with some half-rectangle triangle units!


You can use HRT in many ways.  The sailboat block at the top of this post, and again below, is what made me sit down and figure out HRTs.

This version is 9" square.  If you'd like to make it but would prefer to skip all the math and drawing of templates, I've done the work for you in my Sailing School pattern.  See more of that quilt in this post.

You can purchase a PDF download of the pattern in my Etsy shop, or you can ask your favourite quilt shop to order a print copy for you.

Happy quilting!