Friday, October 28, 2011

Blocks 13-15 Giveaway

 This month's blocks in the Skill Builder Sampler weren't exactly normal, were they?  We started off with a paper foundation string block, then a fabric foundation crazy quilt block and finished up with a paper piecing practice block.  We have started to leave the basic quilting skills and are moving into skills that we might not have practiced before.  Kind of scary and uncomfortable.

Coming up in November we will continue to work on paper piecing, in December we will practice applique and in January we will start the year off with curves.  Now would be a great time for quilters who feel comfortable with the basics, but who want to stretch their skills to jump in.

If you have fallen behind, no fear, catch up as you can.  These tutorials will be there when you need them.  But...the half way mark of the We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler is at the end of November and there will be a larger than normal giveaway for everyone who has completed all of the blocks.  Enough fabric to make a lap sized quilt!

But for now, if you have completed Blocks 13-15 leave a comment below and you might win a "mini layer cake" of Echino fabric.  There are nine 9 inch squares of various prints from the Nico Spring 2011 collection.  I didn't see why everyone gushed about these cotton/linen blends until I got some in a swap.  I love the feel of the heavier linen and the prints are really fun.  If you don't win and want to buy a package click here.

Giveaway Closed

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I Have Been Up To...

I received the last of the 4x5 Modern Bee Blocks last week.  I love how they all look together and I can't wait until they announce the new groups!

I worked on the next paper piecing block today.  I have to say that it was harder than I thought it would be - I had to recut a bunch of pieces and unpick some stitching, but it came out looking good!

I used the Green Mountain tutorial to make the large block for my neglected Stars and Pinwheel quilt last week.  I love how it turned out!  The yellow and pink one - not so much.  I didn't want to do pink/brown or yellow/green again, but I should have.  :)

 Last week I also finished up the "ugly fabric" challenge for the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild.  I was given the multicolored oval-ish fabric.  I think it is actually pretty cute, but it wasn't saying "quilt" to me.  It kept saying, "I would make great kid skirt."

 So that is what it became.  Perfect for the girl who dresses herself.  It will go with anything!  And could double as a clown costume.  ;)

Thankfully, I have not been sewing Halloween costumes.  The girls all chose to be things we already have costumes for.  !!!  :)  !!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

15 - Diamond Dash

 We are moving on to paper piecing and I am proud to say, "I DID IT!  I am a paper piecer!  I paper pieced!  Is this a break though?!?"  I had been tempted in the last few months to try it out, but decided to save my first try for this sampler so I could say for real, "Hey, that wasn't so bad!" or "Wow, tricky!  Watch out for..." I am pleased to report that it wasn't bad at all.

If you are looking at the block and thinking, "Um...where's the paper piecing?  I can totally make that without paper piecing," you are correct.  You can make this block without paper piecing, but everyone suggests making some paper pieced squares in a square before starting more complex paper piecing patterns.  I thought this week we could practice paper piecing by making four squares in a square and then use them to make our block.

Marcia from the Quilter's Cache website has very detailed instructions about how to paper piece a square within a square.  Follow her instructions.  However, do not print the template at the top of the instructions.  Print this one - it is sized to finish at 4 inches and has a 1 inch test square printed in it.  Print one of the templates.  Measure the 1 inch test square to make sure it is actually 1 inch.  If it is not, when you print again click "Properties" and make sure that it is not "Scaled to Fit."  You want it to print at 100%.  Hopefully, it will all work.  Print five templates total.  

 Why five?  Because you can cut one apart and use it as a guide when you are cutting out your fabric.  One thing that everyone complains about is how paper piecing uses up a bunch of fabric.  I think if you print out an extra template and use it as a basic pattern, cutting a rough 1/2 inch away from the edge on each side, that much of the fabric waste can be done away with.  Sweet!

The trickiest thing for me was remembering to put my middle plaid fabric face up on the backside of the paper.  After I got the first two pieces sewn on it was smooth sailing.

 The rough 1/2 inch cut around the "pattern pieces" gave me more than enough wiggle room.  One thing Marcia doesn't mention at the end is that you will need to trim around the edges of your pattern.  Simply flip the square over so the paper is facing up, and using your ruler and rotary cutter, trim to the edge of the pattern.  Perfect!
 I had also heard horror stories about how hard it was to tear off the paper backing - but it wasn't.  I lowered my stitch length to about 1.7 as directed and when I was done sewing and trimming, I folded the paper up and down a few times along the perforations and carefully tore it off.  Not a big deal.

Although there is a lot of mess.  Sorry trees.  Maybe I'll start saving all of my girls' pictures that they color on printer paper - there are tons - and print my templates on the back of them.

 After I took the paper off, I lifted up the seam allowances and trimmed them with scissors to something closer to 1/4 inch - they were pretty bulky.

But enough of my rambling thoughts on paper piecing, let's make this block...

Step 1:  Following Marcia's instructions and using this template make 4 square in a square units.  Use a print in the center and your background fabric for the edges.

For the rest of the block:

2 - 5 inch squares out of background fabric
2 - 5 inch squares out of printed fabric
1 - 4.5 inch square out of printed fabric

 Cut the 5 inch squares in half along the diagonal.


Place a background and print triangle right sides together and sew 1/4 inch seam along the diagonal cut.  Press open with seam towards the darker fabric.   Trim to 4.5 inches square.  Repeat for all 4 half square triangles.

 Lay out your pieces as shown.  Sew the pieces together in columns.  Press towards the half square triangles and solid center block.

Then sew the columns together.  Pin where the seams intersect to help ensure matching points.  You did it!

I think I looked at almost every paper pieced pattern in the Quilter's Cache trying to find a 4 inch square in square template and let me tell you, there are so many great paper pieced blocks.  I can't wait to get piecing!!! We are going to have a great time!  Why didn't I do this earlier?  Tell me, am I the only one out there who was too scared to try it?  I know it is going to get trickier, but boy, will it be fun!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Des Moines AQS Quilt Show

Almost three weeks ago I went to the Des Moines AQS Quilt Show with my friend Julie - yes, I had someone to go with!  :)  We had a good time and saw lots of great quilts and fabric.  I thought I would finally share some with you.

 I really liked the vibrant colors and black background of this quilt.

 I loved this scrappy hexagon quilt with the black "sashing."

Almost better than the quilt was the name of the quilt, "Why Do People Think I'm Crazy?"  Who in their right mind would think she was crazy for piecing together thousands of tiny hexagons?  :)

 I loved the colors and all the different blocks in this quilt.  The funny thing was that just a few quilts down was the same quilt done in a different colorway.

 I love simple red and white applique.  Something like this is on my quilt life list.

 Julie pointed out the cool scalloped border made by the bat wings in this quilt, and as I stopped to take a closer look...

 I noticed that it was made by Becky Larson from Huxley, IA!  My little town of 3,000 had a quilt in the ASQ section of the show!  I have no idea who she is, but I thought it was pretty cool.

 This is a closeup of a Hawaiian style applique quilt.  At first I thought that the shiny red buds were made from fabric, but they are made up of very close lines of stitching with metallic thread.

 Love these applique poppies!

 After checking out the quilts and vendors in the main show area, we went into the arena where the local Des Moines Area Quilt Guild was having their show.

 I thought this idea of using bandannas for a quilt was brilliant - although I think I would chose ones not so Americana.

A postage stamp quilt.   This is also on my list of things to make.

 I really liked the simplicity of this green and blue quilt.

 Loved the simple tiny blocks in multiple frames in this small quilt.

There was a section of the show with various WWII quilts.  This was one had appliqued badges from Navy uniforms on the front.  The woman who made it would trade the sailors a pack of cigarettes for a badge.  ?!?

When I looked closer, I could see that the badges had many different symbols on them - different Navy duties/jobs?  Pretty cool.

I had a good time, although I am pretty sure that the show has gotten smaller over the last three years.  I was hoping to find some specific vendors I had seen the previous two years and they weren't there.  Humm...  I mentioned to another quiltly friend that I was disappointed that I hadn't been able to find some of the fabric I had been hoping to see and she said, "You go to a quilt show to see vendors?"  Umm...yeah?  In case you were wondering, I totally scored some out of print American Jane prints and a Fairy Tale Friends charm pack.  :)

I am already trying to figure out a way to go to the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati in April or Spring Quilt Market in Kansas City (only a 3 hour drive!) in May.  I don't qualify as a vendor or a buyer, but maybe I could help at someone's booth?  A girl can dream, right?

Friday, October 14, 2011

14 - Crazy Quilt Block

Today we will be making a Crazy Quilt Block with a fabric foundation.  Since crazy quilt blocks are normally made with many different types and weights of fabric (silks, knits, cotton, polyester and wools) having a sturdy and unstretchable base to attach them to is a must.  The base also allows odd shaped pieces to be added fairly easily.
I saw this beautiful Crazy Quilt at the Des Moines AQS Quilt Show.
Notice how the "crazy" blocks are really traditionally pieced.
 I have a soft spot for Crazy Quilts.  One of my Life Quilting Goals is to make a "real" crazy quilt out of wools and silks with tons of embroidery.  Don't hold your breath, it won't be in the next 5 years, but someday.  :)  I have, however, made a Crazy Quilt out of my girl's worn/stained clothing and I love it!  It was really fun to make and I plan on making more as the girls wear out more of their clothes.  I even wrote up a series of tutorials for making a Crazy Quilt this spring - it seams like ages ago...  Well, enough talk, let's get started.

Crazy Quilt made from my girls' clothing.
1.  If you are going to use any non-quilting cottons in this block, be sure to prewash them in the same manner you will be washing your finished quilt.

2.  Cut your foundation fabric approx. 13.5 inches square.  You can use any type of woven cotton for this.  In fact, I would suggest using a piece of why-did-I-buy-this-and-what-in-the-world-am-I-going-to-do-with-it? fabric.  Just be sure the foundation fabric will not show through the crazy quilt fabric that will go on top of it.  If it helps, you can sew on the backside of the foundation fabric over so the pattern is less intense.

3.  Collect your fabric.  I would suggest rounding up all of the scraps and odd sized pieces you have leftover from your other blocks and starting with those.

4.  Start Sewing!  Follow the directions for the Center Oriented Block.  The only thing that will be different, is that we will trim our block to 12.5 inches square when we are finished.   Don't get too stressed about the process - just keep adding fabric until the foundation fabric is covered.  For more info on adding trims and curved pieces, check out the Corner Start Block post.

 When it come down to it, this is really an improvisational block, so don't stress, just keep on adding pieces of fabric.  You can do it!  :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

13 - String Block

Today we will be making a string block using a paper foundation.  A foundation can be paper or fabric and is a base you build your block on.  A foundation keeps odd shaped and bias cut fabrics in place and steady (ie not stretching every which way) during the piecing process.

To make this block, follow the instructions in Ashley's, from Film in the Fridge, tutorial.  The only change is to cut the pieces of paper 6.5 inches square.  I just used my rotary cutter to cut the paper squares - it is getting dull anyway - easy peasy.

If you have any questions please be sure to ask.

Before I forget the winner of the Block 10-12 Giveaway is..... #18, Kathy!  Congratulations!

Kathy said...  I completed a bonus block using the waverunner design. You can check it out at:
(or looking in the flcker group under Shahann)
Here is her waverunner block!
Thanks for playing along everyone!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bee Blocks

I just put all my bee blocks in the mail.  The first group was the blocks for the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee.  

This is how they looked two months ago...

And here they are in all of their finished glory.  I used the Beacon Light tutorial and gave each block a customized center based on the recipient's  mosaic of favorite blocks.  A whole quilt of this block in rainbow colors would be so fun - but I am totally burned out on trimming quarter square triangles down to size right now.  :)

I always saw people posting their 3x6 Bee Blocks and didn't know what in the world they were talking about, so I'm going to take a minute to explain the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee.  Basically, a bunch of people get together and they are divided into groups of 6.  Each group is called a "hive" and one member of the group is designated as the "caretaker" and is responsible to make sure things run smoothly for the group.    Each member agrees to make a 12 inch finished block for each of the other members - 5 blocks total.  That's where the 5 comes into play.  (I made 6 because I wanted one for myself too.)   All 5 blocks are made with the same pattern.

How do you make sure everyone gets blocks that they like?  First, the group is designated as "Modern" and has specific guidelines as to what types/styles of fabric can be used.  Also, each member of the group specifies up to three colors they would like their blocks in and provides a mosaic of their favorite blocks so their fellow hive members can get a feel for what they would like to receive.  (Here is where I make my mosaics.)
This is the Mosaic I posted.
Timeline?  The year is divided into 4 quarters (there is the 4 in the 4x5) so you have a few months to make the blocks for the members of your hive.  Each quarter there is a new sign up and new hives are formed.  In fact, sign ups for the 4th quarter of the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee are happening right now.  If you are interested, read the rules and guidelines and fill out the online form.  

Edited:  Oops.  It looks like you have to go to the main 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee page and click "Join Group" and then you will be able to go to the discussion section that will have the rules, guidelines and online form.

Whoo!  Hope that wasn't too much information.  :)

 Moving on, here is the block I sent off for Danielle in our Twist on Tradition Bee.  It feels good to be all caught up and ready to go!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tree Quilt

 This quilt is finished and has been sent off to it's new owner.  She loves it and so do I.  I had such a fun time making this.  I loved piecing all the different types of trees.   To keep the record straight, I must admit that the tree in the top left corner and the pieced pines in the bottom left corner are from a bee I was in last year.  The blocks had gotten lost under some fabric for a year - oops! - and I am so glad I had a chance to use them in this quilt at last.

This central tree is the fanciest of the bunch.  I love the improv top and cool trunk.

 My husband said this tree looked like a mushroom.  What!?!?  It's totally suppose to be a willow.  It even has the leafy-going-towards-the-ground fabric!  But his comment turned out to be a good thing.  I quilted the word "willow" along the left edge of the tree so no one else could make the same mistake.  :)  Then I decided to add quilted labels to the other trees I thought looked like specific varieties.


Pines (beneath the small pines - it's hard to see)

Then I was on a writing roll.  In the border, I "wrote" the names of many different trees (oak, redwood, walnut, cherry, ginkgo, elm, maple...) separated by a bit of meandering quilting.  Love, Love, Love It!

 The back turned out well too.  I really like the poison green Civil War reproduction fabric paired with Kate Spain's green leaves from Central Park.  The Kona Espresso stripe on the back gave the backing the length and classiness it needed.   Is is just me or does quilting with white thread on a dark background give anyone else hives?  Thankfully, all went well.

Sometimes it is hard to tell from pictures what a quilt is really like.  Sometimes quilts can look good in the pictures (like the purple Amish Braid) and be horrid in real life.  I just want to let you know:
This. Quilt. Is. AMAZING!  
It is seriously the best work I have ever done.  It feels so good to make something I can really be proud of.  I hope I can keep it up!

Quilt Stats:
Finished Size:  approx. 40 x 52 inches
Fabric:  Kona Unbleached and Espresso and a variety of green and brown scraps

{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge CreationsCelebrate Color