Friday, January 19, 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Charming Ideas, Part 1

Sometimes what's old is new again. This is part of an article I published in Quilt Magazine in 1995 when I was the Special Projects Editor. I gave several patterns for making scrap quilts using charm squares. I will address one of those ideas today. Come back for Parts 2, 3 and 4 in the coming weeks.

Taken from Quilt Magazine, 1995

"Some days I just want to cut and sew. I want to play with a lot of pattern and color and a scrap quilt is just what I need. Several years ago I swapped 5” charm squares with other quilters and now I have a large plastic bin full of hundreds of these squares and it’s fun to find new ways to make small quilts with them. If you don’t have any, you can cut 5” strips from a variety of fabrics and get your 5” squares from those. We will cut these into rectangles for  three quick quilts variations."

You may be working with a set that is all one color family:

Red/pink colored charms
 Or just a lot of various color and pattern:

Various colors
Back to Quilt Magazine:

"The Criss Cross block and quilt is created using one constant fabric as a neutral. This could be muslin, black or any other color that you happen to like and have on hand. Let’s use muslin for our example here. Cut several 5” strips of muslin. R andomly select 8 charm squares and align them end to end along the muslin strip."

Now, you may be working with fat quarters for your background fabric. Then you are only able to get 4 charms along one length (5" x 22").

Charms pinned end to end, right sides together with my light gray 5" strip
"Stitch them to the muslin strip along both long sides of the muslin. Recut each long strip into 5” wedges so that you now have a muslin square sewn to a charm square along two opposing sides.

Charm stitched to neutral fabric along two opposing ends and cut apart into 5" units

Trim these units to 4-1/2” wide as shown. This is because you have taken up 1/4" seam on those two ends. Discard the little 1/2" strip.
Trim 1/2" from one end as shown
Now cut these wedges in half down the middle, making your cut parallel with the two rows of stitching.
Cut the 4-1/2" x 5" two-fabric unit in half

Open these out and press the seams toward the darker fabric. Repeat for all remaining units. You now have two-fabric units that measure 2-1/2" x 4-1/2”.

Criss Cross Units

"Sew these together, keeping the matching fabrics separated as shown. Arrange into the quilt blocks as shown."

8-1/2" x 8-1/2" Criss Cross Block (finishes to 8")
And two blocks together show how the charm fabrics never touch.

Two Criss Cross Blocks
 Here is my digital rendition from 1995. First, in two colors.

25 Block quilt center = 40" x 40"
Then truly scrappy:
Same quilt using a variety of colors and prints
And my leftover charms await another project!
Here are more charms waiting patiently in a little plastic page protector.
So, grab one of those charm packs you have in your stash and some 5" strips of a neutral (I used a very light gray) and you will have 8" blocks in no time.

Come back next week for Part 2.  I will be talking about Chinese Coins, Staggered Bricks and Stacked Bricks - all using 5" charm squares. Oh, and even Thousand Pyramids. One technique at a time.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Layer Cake Pattern: Stained Glass Pickup Sticks

I designed and sewed this quilt more than 10 years ago, right when those 10" stack of squares began hitting the quilt store shelves. It is part of my Magic Stack series and I thought I would feature some of these now and then on my blog.

This first quilt (54" x 64") is a bit larger than the pattern size. The quilt in my Craftsy pattern is 52" x 62".

Stained Glass Pickup Sticks
I made this using 10-1/2" squares cut from batiks, but my pattern has been rewritten for 10" squares. This is so easy! I taught this as a workshop for a few years; let me show you a few of my other quilts.

This 8 block table runner was our project for a half-day workshop. Students could expand their quilts with more squares.
8 Block Table Runner
 Then, I took a stack of some Asian inspired prints from Blank Quilting, and created this 16 block quilt. Don't you just love those thin black strips - looks like stained glass, doesn't it?

16 Block quilt center
 Then I created this using slightly wider strip inserts. I used a Timeless Treasures collection from about 7 years ago. It was beautifully quilted by Kathy Gray and was auctioned at my guild's fund raiser a few years ago.
Pickup Sticks using happy Spring colors
You can get your copy of Stained Glass Pickup Sticks at my Craftsy store. Stay tuned for more of these to show up here. And come back tomorrow for a tutorial on what to do with those 5" charms you've been hoarding.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Is it Pickle Dish or Double Wedding Ring? You Decide!

I'm revisiting this topic in order to set the record straight. I have made several Double Wedding Ring (DWR) quilts over the past 25 years and I've shared many of them here on my blog. Just check out the links listed on the right side bar or do a SEARCH.

Pickle Dish gets its name from the cut glass dish used to serve, well, pickles! This was a popular 1930s pattern that was only for those who could stitch accurately and weren't afraid of templates and curved seams. You don't believe me? Ha!
Pickle Dish pattern in Kansas City Star October 28, 1931
Here is my first Pickle Dish quilt using a collection by Windham Fabrics.

Traditional Pickle Dish
Then I made one using some Kaffe Fassett fabrics. (This pattern is coming via Craftsy soon)

My second Pickle Dish quilt
But, let's get back to the Double Wedding Ring version of Pickle Dish. Here is my first block based on my own pattern from several years ago. I have 6 elongated "spokes", a center melon, 4 corner squares and then the curved backgrounds. The SIMILARITIES with the Pickle Dish: corner squares, curved pieced units and a center melon.
Single block that mimics the traditional Pickle Dish, but is closer to the DWR
Here is the 16 Block quilt I finished (just the top) last week. It is 58" x 58" and I love these colors. All of the fabrics are various collections from Windham Fabrics.

58" x 58" Pickle Dish Quilt. 16 blocks!
I have taught this as a workshop for the past several years. I made one using some red, black and white prints and made a four block quilt for my class sample.

Four block quilt. Blocks are 11-1/4" square for a 22-1/2" center (before borders)
Now, to be fair (and nice), I'm not debating the names here. I love all patterns and have designed well over 1,000 of them in the past 25 years. I decided to show the steps for making this DWR pattern using some Kaffe Fassett prints. The 15 page pattern can be found in my Craftsy store with full size templates and the foundations to print as many blocks as you desire! I have several pages of these process shots to help with adding all these parts for a perfect finish!

The Pickle Dish pattern in my Craftsy store has directions for both the four block red and black quilt and for the 16 block quilt, which is a bit more scrappy.

Here is the first arc foundation pieced. Messy looking, but not trimmed yet. Those little pieces of fabric are what I trimmed from each patch before adding the next one.

Foundation pieced arc
Removing papers after trimming along the outside edge. You MUST remove the papers before adding the curved melon and background fabrics. Garment sewing teaches us this with needing the "ease" to work WITH you for setting in sleeves, etc.

Remove the papers to reveal nice, neat seams
Here are all the parts. Don't sweat bullets. These WILL go together very, very nicely. Nothing is too small or too large. We are working with curved pieces. Stay with me!

End squares, paper pieced arcs, center melon and curved background pieces
Adding the curved (concave) background piece. Notice my trick for keeping those straight ends, well, STRAIGHT. An extra pin to make them behave! I pin in the center first, then the two ends. Everything else fits with ease. Don't fight the bias here!

Keep the straight ends STRAIGHT using TWO pins
Then you attach the melon shape to one set of paper pieced arcs. If you mark the tip of the melon at the 1/4", and pin with two pins (as we did above) and sew SLOWLY, this will work like a dream. My Craftsy pattern shows a few more pictures of this process.

Adding the melon shape
Once all the parts are joined, then it's time to trim! While other patterns only give you a scant 1/4" on the outside background pieces, I include another 1/4" so you have something to hold onto when joining the arc to the BG piece.

My blocks finish to 11-1/4", so I check my block and trim to 11-3/4"
This is NOT a pattern for a beginner. You MUST be confident of your 1/4" seam. When in doubt, make a sample block before cutting out your entire quilt!

Here's my final block. Make 3 more and you have the red and black quilt assembly. Make 15 more and you have the 58" x 58" quilt! This is not a fast project, but very satisfying.

Pickle Dish (or Fat Double Wedding Ring) block: 11-3/4" unfinished.
Pickle Dish is a fun way to use up your scraps! Next week I hope to share with you more about my traditional Pickle Dish (with all those points in the arcs). Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Lakeland 2018 Sewing Expo Classes

Year # 11 for teaching with the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo! I love being able to create new workshops annually; it really animates me to do new things with new fabric for old and new students.

What's happening in Lakeland, FL March 15-17, 2018? Well, here are the classes I'm offering.

Big Block Lone Star: Thursday, March 15, 8:30 - 11:30 am


Big Block Lone Star. Block: 29" x 29". Quilt with borders: 40" x 40"
Make a Lone Star Quilt in a day! No need to tediously cut out templates when you can simply rotary cut and strip piece for accuracy with NO y-seams. This is a wonderful BIG block (29”) and makes a great wall or child’s quilt (40” with borders). Bring your own fabric, see supply list for details.

And just to show you that this is one of my "go-to" patterns, a few other quilts made with this VERY easy technique. No y-seams, btw!

Big Block Lone Star appeared in my Supersize 'Em Quilts book (2009)
And, of course, the Four Patch Star can have a different look based on the way you piece the units together! This 9 Block quilt (Farmhouse West Stars) shows the possibilities. Your choice!

Farmhouse West Stars
And a few smaller ones (same technique) made into large table mats.
Single Lone Star blocks



Waterwheels Quilt: Thursday, March 15, 1-4 pm

Black and Red Waterwheels Quilt. 36 blocks
 And just 16 blocks demonstrate my "When Four Becomes Five Blocks" assembly.

Black and Red Waterwheels center
Red, black and white is a timeless color combination for quilts, as we can see in this updated Waterwheels quilt – we first saw the original in 2001. Learn to create those awesome, sharp points (which spin in two directions) using paper piecing techniques. You’ll also learn about accurate 1/4” seams and working with curved units. Of course, you can make this quilt in any color combination you desire! All patches can be pre-cut ahead of time so you begin sewing right away! Detailed supply list at the OSQE website includes a coloring chart for you to audition your own fabrics!

The Gretchen Quilt: Friday, March 16: 8:30 - 11:30 am
This is such an easy block to sew!

The Gretchen Quilt. Block Size: 9"
It’s hard to believe this traditional block, Gretchen, can be sewn without a single template. Everything is cut from two sizes of simple squares; the magic arrives with a quick rotary cutting trick. Debby chose a bright collection of florals and deep hued blenders for this quilt, but you can choose any of your own colors with good contrast to show off the lines of the block. As always, Debby’s classes provide all the hints and helpful tips that make them so much better than a simple pattern or kit. And they’re fun, too! Bring your own fabric; Detailed pdf supply list at the OSQE web site.

And a few other color ways to get your ideas swirling.


My first Gretchen quilt made 10+ years ago
Some indigo blues I bought when I lived in Africa 40+ years ago!

Four Gretchen blocks in blue and white 
And these reds are also from Africa!

Four Gretchen blocks in red and white
And one in very girlie colors of pink and green - my favorite!
Pinks and greens
Double Hexie Star: Friday, March 16: 1-4 pm

There are NO y-seams; everything is rotary cut. You can fussy cut your center hexagon (info given in supply list on what to consider).

Hexagons branch out into double stars with this easy-to-piece block with NO y-seams! No kidding! You’ll create a block with the illusion of intricate piecing and the bonus of a large space in the center to showcase an awesome motif. All patches are cut with a 60 degree ruler, assembly is a dream! Bring your own fabric, 2 page pdf supply list has a planning sheet for you to audition your fabrics!

Double Hexie Star Block: 16" x 18"
 My two block Double Hexie Star quilt:

28" x 42"
 And one more block to show how the center can feature a lush, large floral motif.

Fussy cut the center motif
Machine Quilting: Basics and Beyond: Saturday, March 17: 8:30 - 11:30 am

Using Debby's KISS Method (Keep It Small & Simple), discover how liberating free-motion machine quilting can be. Discuss appropriate threads, various batting choices and basting your layers, then use your time for lots of PRACTICE. Play with doodles, swirls, curves and other simple shapes, as you are coached and gently guided into this exciting world. A perennial favorite at the Expo, this workshop is perfect for both beginning and intermediate level free-motion quilters.

We cover a variety of free motion "doodles"
 I include my Love Dove for you to doodle inside

Love Dove to outline, then doodle inside
 And, of course, Fat Cat! What's not to love?

Fat Cat
I have so many samples to inspire you.



So many ways to fill in your space

Friday, January 12, 2018

Happy Friday Finish!

Do you remember this block? I made it last year using The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar by Katja Marek (published by Martingale).  This is the January 13 block:

January 13 block from the calendar using Kaffe Fassett fabrics
Wow. That's a lot of funky angles. How did I sew it? For my years working on the editorial staff of Quilt Magazine, we were advised to always "look for the long seams." Allow me to show you.

Step 1: Sew the center two triangles together
Sew two triangles together
 Step 2: Sew one half-hexagon to the bottom triangle
Adding one half-hexagon to the bottom triangle
 Step 3: Sew one half-hexagon to the other side of the bottom triangle
Second half-hexagon sewn to bottom triangle
 Step 4: Sew a diamond to a half-hexagon twice and then join to the top triangle.
Adding the last half-hexagons and diamonds
See?! No y-seams. All straight seam sewing. And each of those patches were cut using a rotary cutter and my 60 degree ruler!

Then, in a show of how much of a renegade I am (because these are NOT EPP - English Paper Pieced), I chose to add setting triangles to each of the six blocks instead of appliqueing each block to a huge background triangle. Saves a lot of fabric, btw.

Simple triangles added to 3 sides of the hexagon block
And my version of the January project:
January wreath of six January 13 blocks. Mine is a bit larger at 18" tall.
And the FINISHED table topper is perfectly bordered using a Brandon Mably print called Brandon's Brocade. I added a blue inner border (which picks up the bits of blue in some of the patches and the blue in the border print). I quilted it on my HandiQuilter Sweet 16.

Happy Hexie Table Topper
And, yes, I did put a label on the back using my method of NO hand sewing. I folded a square in half and then trimmed it to 120 degrees and tucked it into the binding (before it was stitched on). And, also yes: I stitch my binding on from the back and then sew it down from the front (reverse of what is "traditional." Didn't I tell you I was a renegade?  What do you think about that?



Thanks for stopping by. I love to finish my quilts. That Brandon's Brocade was a perfect finish for that Hexie Wreath I made one year ago. Have a great weekend!