Friday, September 30, 2011

Block 10-12 Giveaway

It has been a busy week around here.  I am glad it was a catch up week for the Sampler.  Next month we will start exploring foundation pieced blocks.  But for now, leave a comment below if you have finished blocks 10, 11 and 12 in the We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler.  I will draw a winner from the comments Friday, October 7th after the kids go to school.

This month's prize is a fat quarter pack of these fun prints from Treasures and Tidbits collection by Robert Kaufman.  So cute!  So get sewing!!  :)  I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

12 - Improv House and Tree

Today is pure improvisation - no cutting directions, nothing.  Just some general guidelines to get you started towards making your own unique house and tree.   There are only two rules:  keep using at least a 1/4 inch seam and trim the finished block to 12.5 inches square so it will fit with the other blocks.   Let's go!

Start by picking a fabric for your door (red) and one for the siding (blue).  If you want to have windows in your house piece the blue pieces so they have a square in them where you feel a window should be.  Sew your siding onto either side of the door.

Cut a piece of fabric for the area of siding above the door.  Just rough cut these pieces - no real measuring needed.  Sew it to the top of the door piece.

Sew some of your background fabric to either side of the main house piece before you put on the roof if you would like eaves.

To figure out how large to cut my roof piece I placed the roof fabric above my house and rough cut a triangle.  Remember to cut it a little large to accommodate seam allowances.

To figure out what shape to cut the background fabric for each side of the roof, I placed a piece of the background fabric behind the roof piece.

 I cut along the roof line and continued off the edge of the fabric.

 Then I cut along the second side of the roof.

I remove the extra background triangle and sewed the roof to the background starting with the piece that was cut off second.

Next I trimmed the bottom of the roof and the top of the house flat and sewed them together.  Somehow I missed taking a picture of the sew together house with the smooth edges, but I am sure you can imagine it.  :)

With my house done I decided I wanted a tree.  First I measured my house and discovered that the tree would have to be pretty skinny for it to fit into a 12.5 inch block with the house.  So I cut a skinny triangle for the tree and a tall narrow piece for the background.

 I made cuts on either side of the tree just like I did for the house.

 And then sewed it back together again.

 Next I cut a skinny piece for the trunk of the tree and some background fabric for either side.  Word of advice here - trust me, I've messed it up - make your trunk and side pieces wider than you think you need them.  The seam allowances always shrink them more than I expect.

Sew the background to either side of the trunk.  Trim the top of the trunk and bottom of the off tree and sew together.

After I finished the tree, I squared up my house and the house side of the tree block and sewed them together.

 I trimmed the block so it was 12.5 inches wide, but it was still too short.

Instead of adding more background fabric to the bottom, I added a strip of "grass" and squared up the block to 12.5 x 12.5 inches.

But you don't have to make your block like this.  There are an infinite variety of houses and trees you could make.  I searched "house quilt blocks" in flickr and came up with a sampling of the most incredible blocks.  There is also a flickr group called New House on the Block that has some amazing houses.  Here are some of my favorites:

1. First House Quilt Block , 2. Joy Circle May House Block, 3. little houses - block #2, 4. House Block Bee block by Four Monkeys Quilts, 5. Cathy's Liberated House #2, 6. PnP - Amy, 7. Block for Heather in Sew Fun 2, 8. First Wednesday Bee Tiny House Block January, 9. DQS10 Block 4/6, 10. Caroline's Liberated House #2, 11. house block, 12. Megan's Block 1, 13. January Blocks for Megan, 14. Bee Improvisational - November 1, 15. Bee Modern July Block - House 1 Detail, 16. American Gothic, 17. November Bee Blocks - Houses, 18. mid-century modern house quilt block, 19. May 2010 STUD Sent to miniaturequilter, 20. January Swap Blocks for Megan, 21. Block Swap- February, 22. Birthday Blocks - House block, 23. Sew 2 Speak Bee - April Block 2, 24. H2B2 - April, 25. Dionnes block

I had a hard time narrowing it down.  :)

And of course there is more than one way to make trees.   Somehow trees are not as popular houses on fickr - weird - so you are stuck with mine.  :)

 You could just cut out a square and add a trunk to it.

 Or spice it up by stacking squares to make a tree shape.

For a more rounded look, use corner to corner sewing to add triangles of your background color to the corners of your square/rectangle.

These trees are made from tumbler shaped pieces.

This tree is made from a tumbler that was cut in thirds.  The middle section was turned upside down and all three pieces sewn back together again.

These poplars are just rectangles with the bottom corners cut off with some corner to corner sewing and a bit of their sides cut off at an angle.

This tree is made from "made" fabric.  To make the branch, cut out a rectangle and cut through it at an angle. Add in a strip of brown and then sew it to the side of your trunk before sewing the trunk to the top of the tree.

The top of this tree was made using this circle tutorial.

This tree is simply a line of flying geese sewn together.  The possibilities are endless....  There is no right or wrong way to make this block...just start cutting and sewing and see where it takes you.

I can't wait to see what you make!
Edited to add:  
You don't have to make a house and a tree, you could make birdhouses, dog houses, a city, a forest.  Just take these basic house and tree building skills and make this block your own!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Etsy Shop Open for Business!

There are a few less than positive things I am known for in my family.  One of the worst is mixing up the date and time of airline flights.  Yeah.  Not good.  But sheesh, why don't they look themselves to see when the flight is instead of asking me?  Another thing I tend to mess up are little make-some-money-on-the-side businesses - let's not talk about our family's spring plant sale, ok?  But I think my luck is going to change.  (knock on wood) 

I decided to take some of the proceeds from my commissioned Baby Tree Quilt and reinvest them in fabric - who doesn't like fabric?  I opened my own Etsy shop called Sewn and have eight "layer cakes" of Echino fabric listed for sale.   If you have been looking to get a little bit of many Echino fabrics this listing might be for you.  No pressure, just wanted to let you know.   I will be more than happy to take care of any layer cakes that don't sell - not like those dumb hostas.  ;)

Friday, September 16, 2011

11 - Beacon Light

Sorry this took so long to post today, but life happened.  Nothing that a "professional" blogger couldn't have pushed though, but I am not planning on making myself crazy.   Although looking at the block I made could make one go a bit loopy.  :)

I might call mine -  When the Clowns Come to Town.  :)
I saw this block a few months ago on 15 Minutes of Play and thought it was brilliant.  It is even more brilliant now that we are combining 1/4 square triangles and improv.  The idea behind 15 Minutes of Play is to "make" fabric out of scraps and improvisational piecing in just 15 minutes.  Victoria Findlay Wolfe started the site and in this post she shows how to make fabric out of your scraps in 15 minutes.  (You can click on the pictures to make them larger.)   Go on over and read it and then hop back here for more details.

Make Fabric

Isn't that fun?!?  Just sew and cut and sew it all back together again!  I love improv.

So, the first step in making this block is to make two pieces of fabric.  One at least 6.5 inches square and the other at least 9 inches square.  I made my 6.5 inch center according to Victoria's directions, using all of the small leftover pieces from other blocks.  For the 9 x 9 inch piece, needed for the quarter square triangles, I started with a leftover 9 patch and started cutting it apart on an angle and inserting strips.  This wouldn't have made for a very good center block, but when subdivided into four 4.5 inch blocks none of the strips is overpowering.


Out of background:
four 4.5 inch squares*
four 3.5 inch squares

Out of made fabric:
one 6.5 inch square
four 4.5 inch squares*

*I do recommend using these slightly larger than needed measurements for the quarter square triangles.  You will need to trim them down at the end, but it will give you some needed wiggle room when dealing with the bulky seams the made fabric causes.  If you do not want to trim the quarter square triangles to size cut the four background and made fabric squares to 4.25 inches square instead of the 4.5 inches.

Follow Victoria's instructions to make the Beacon Light block.  In brief, you simply make eight quarter square triangles, trim to 3.5 inches square and then sew them all together.

A quick note about pressing.  This block is a killer!  You will need to use a combo of side, open and creative pressing and a bunch of spray starch depending on how your made fabric decides to behave.

But you can do it!  I can't wait to see what fun blocks you make!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Amish Braid - My First Bake Shop Project!!!

Amish Braid
I'm feelin' a little crazy!  My first Moda Bake Shop project is live!  Jump on over and check it out.  

In honor of the event, I wanted to write a post about the ins and outs of my first project.  I really appreciated Rachel's post last month about the behind the scenes process of being published in Stitch Magazine - maybe I will submit a project to a magazine next? - and wanted to pass on the favor to others.

Moda Bake Shop

I was completely clueless but knew I wanted the "fame and glory" of being a "Moda Chef."   (lol at self)  Anyway, I started thinking of ideas using solid precuts.  I decided to focus on solids because:
  1. I didn't know for sure if Moda provided the fabric and solids are cheaper  than prints
  2. I wasn't sure I could get my hands on newly released precuts and worried even if I did that the line of fabric would be discontinued before I finished the quilt.  :)  Solids never go out of print.
  3. No one uses solids in tutorials and I thought I might be able to get my foot in the door by spinning the project as a great way to increase awareness of Moda's precut solids.
The "design concept" I emailed.
I sketched out this idea back in October when I just started my blog.  I sat on it for six months until I got up the guts to email the Bake Shop about my idea.  I don't know where I dug up the email address, but I got back a kind email directing me to the Chef Application Page.   When I went back and looked at the Bake Shop site, "Submit a project idea...  apply here" was staring right at me on the side bar right above the pictures of Fresh Fabric Treats.  Duh.  

Anyway, I got started filling out the online paper work.  It is fairly straightforward.  After name, address etc. they ask you about your blog, a specific example of your work, why you want to be a chef and a description of your proposed project.  They would also like you to attach a picture or sketch of the project.

For an example of my work, I linked to my Diamond Quilt tutorial.  I figured they would like an example of my tutorial writing, not just my sewing.  Plus I think the Diamond Quilt is way too cute.

For the why do you want to be a chef question I wrote something appropriately awkward and hopefully not too gushy.   In plain english?  Because chefs are totally cool, no one reads my blog (at the time) and I would like to get some of my awesome ideas out there.  ;)

For the project description I played up the use of solids, wrote a few sentences about the basic construction of the quilt and listed the precut and fabric requirements.

Then I checked my email multiple times a day for a week until I got the "...we would like to feature your project on the Bake Shop!"   I was directed to email them the fabric requirements needed to complete the project and they would send the fabric to me.  Sweet!  I had thought they probably provided the fabric but now I knew for sure.   A few days later I was sent an "invite" link so that I could have access to the Moda Bake Shop site and create a post.  A week later I got my stack of fabric in the mail.

We were all excited to receive the fabric.
I could reach the Moda site though my google dashboard and create and edit my post all I want during the sewing process.  However, summer happened and my sewing process totally stalled.  About three months after I received my fabric, Jenny emailed and kindly inquired after the state of my project.  Eeek.  I promised to have it done by the end of August.

After I finished writing the post, I emailed Jenny and told her it was ready to post.  She/others? reviewed it and scheduled it for publication.

I was worried that I had ruined my chances at getting another project approved because this one took so long to finish, but I sent in a series of small project ideas and one quilt idea yesterday and they were all approved.  (Happy Dance!!)  Once you are accepted as a chef you can just email in project ideas - no more painful "why do you want to be a chef?" questions.

Moda chefs are allowed to post a project once a month and I have four months of projects set up.  The first three are non-quilty things I can make in an afternoon and the fourth is a quilt made out of this fabric that I plan to have done by January (knock on wood!).

I think one of the funnest parts of planning a project is picking out what fabric to use.  If you go to the Moda homepage and click on fabric collections it will bring you to a list of current and future fabric collections.  Then you can click to see swatches of the fabric in each collection.  Way too fun.

So, to sum up this rambling post, if you want to be a Moda Bake Shop Chef:

-Think of a project using precuts.  They are always looking for non-quilt ideas.
-Make sure it is a project you love and that you would make anyway.  The free fabric and "glory" are not worth the pain of working on a project that you don't enjoy.
-Search the Bake Shop site to make sure no one else has written a tutorial for your project yet.
-Pick out fabrics you would like to make it in - choose three back up lines just in case.
-Sketch out your idea.
-Fill out the online paper work and get ready to create!

Do you have any questions?  Are there any other Chefs out there who have had different experiences or advice they would like to share?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Leila Goes to the Quilt Show

Only three weeks until the annual American Quilter's Society Quilt Show in Des Moines!  It is nothing like the Houston Show or Market, but it is as good as it gets here in Iowa and I have had a fun time going the last two years.

From last year:  A Farmer's Wife?  Or did the quilter design her own blocks?  
Except I can never get anyone to go with me.  I thought I had a few gals from church lined up to go last year, but they all (ok, there were only two who showed any interest) had things come up.   It wasn't bad going by myself and I tried not to feel like Loner-Leila-No-Friends, but then I would get really excited about a quilt or fabric and just have to say something to someone about it.  Half the people were friendly and the other half gave me "Do-I-know-you? Don't-you-know-better-than-to-talk-to-random-people?" looks and short answers.  Kind of a downer.  But not this year!!!  Or if it does happen again this year it won't be because I didn't do my darnedest to find someone to go with.

I love this one.  The center hexagon has an appliqued doily.

So this is my Three Pronged Plan to have someone to gush to at the show:
  1. I am going to try to recruit my church friends again...third time's the charm?
  2. I am going to go to the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild meeting on the 15th and see if anyone wants to meet up (They have a fun meeting planned too.)
  3. And I will be in the way-over-priced food court at noon if anyone from blogland wants to get together.  I will be wearing a red rose and eating a sack lunch.  :)
This American Jane pattern is on my "make someday" list.
Common!  You know you have always wanted to visit Des Moines.  Right?!?  It's so exciting, historic......well, there is a quilt show and it doesn't get any better than that.  :)  Did I mention there were lots of vendors?

Friday, September 9, 2011

10 - Ohio Star

First things first:  The giveaway winner is finisher #25, Cassie!  I'll be in touch and will mail you some red fabric goodness!  Also, I want to stress the very deliberate wording of the giveaway.  You just have to finish the blocks for the given month not all of the blocks to date to be eligible.  This is intended to help anyone who has fallen behind to be able to jump back into the Sampler without being overwhelmed with all of the catch up work.  But...there may be a BIG giveaway at the halfway mark for all of those who have completed all of the blocks to date.  Just sayin'.

More business:  Someone pointed out that the schedule said we were suppose to have combined half square triangles and quarter square triangles in August.  I could have sworn I gave each type of triangle their own month, but I guess I didn't.  So this is what we are going to do.  In September we will work on Quarter Square Triangles and Improvisation.  I will probably also throw in an improv. block during another month too - I could improv. all year...  But with no further ado....lets talk about quarter square triangles.
A quarter square triangle is a square made up of four triangles.  You use the same skills to make QSTs (quarter square triangles) as HSTs (half square triangles).   Before going on, please read Sandi of Piecemeal Quilts's excellent post on quarter square triangles.  It gives all sorts of details and extra step by step pictures.

Done reading?  Let's get started.  Today we are going to make a quilting classic, the Ohio Star.  

Ohio Star

From background fabric:
  • four 4.5 inch squares
  • two 5.25 inch squares
From the fabric you want to form the star:
  • two 5.25 inch squares (these will be the star points)
  • one 4.5 inch square for the center

Two Piecing Methods

The first method consists of simply cutting the  5.25 inch squares into quarters from corner to corner... 

Rearranging them...

And sewing them back together again.

Be sure to feed the triangle pieces through the machine flat side first.  If you feed in the pointy side first, the sewing machine tends to "eat" the point.  

This method is especially good when you want each of the triangles in the finished quarter square triangle to be a different color.

The second method is basically the draw-a-line-down-the-center-and-stitch-1/4-inch-on-each-side method used for making HSTs.

First draw a line from corner to corner down the middle of one of the 5.25 inch squares.  Sew seams 1/4 away from the line on both sides.  Cut on the line and press open.

You have now made two HSTs.

Next cut each HSTs in half from corner to corner perpendicular to the seam.

Switch the pieces around and sew back together.  And there you have it -- a quarter square triangle.  Each set of squares will make two QSTs.  You can try out each method or do both with the method you like best.  The finished QSTs should measure 4.5 inches square.  

If you would like, you can cut the 5.25 inch squares larger (5.5 inches or so) and trim the finished QSTs down to size (4.5 inches) when you are done. 

After you have made the QSTs lay out the fabric like so.

Sew the squares together in rows.  Press away from the quarter square triangles.  

 Sew the rows together, press and you are done!  One Ohio Star.

Got Chickens?