Monday, January 20, 2020

The Quilting Rules I Like to Break

Rules. Rules. Rules. Holy cow - enough already. I was with my quilting church group the other day and a few of the ladies asked some honest questions:

1. Do you use steam when pressing your patches?
2. Why don't you pre-wash your fabric?
3. How come you fold your fabric into fourths when you cut strips?
4. Do you have your fabric torn or cut at quilt shops?
5. How about pressing seams - open or to the side?

I realized that I was the Queen of Shortcuts long ago and break many of those pesky RULES that some anonymous quilter made up and scared the you-know-what out of the newbies. It's not that these rules are wrong; it's just that they're not always right.

Here's my most recent quilt finish made with a specialty ruler (I have VERY few; many are redundant or unnecessary). The 6" Curvy Log Cabin ruler was designed for Creative Grids by my former editor Jean Ann Wright.
Chasing Pac Man
Because there are SO many seams coming together, I pressed the seams OPEN when joining the blocks. Here are one of each color (the quilt uses three of each color).

Four curvy log cabin blocks
And when they're joined:
Curvy blocks joined; seams pressed open
The answer to QUESTION #1 above about whether to use steam in my iron is a resounding YES! But I am careful to not twist or otherwise distort the bias. I think that was the reason for the "rule" in the first place. Right now I'm taking a 5 minute break from sewing another quilt with a LOT of seams and in order for them to lie flat, I have to use steam! I'll share that quilt in an upcoming post.

Question #2 about pre-washing my fabric is just me, but because the project my church friends and I were working on had pre-washed fabric, I realized WHY I don't like it in the first place. I DO NOT like the feel of the fabric after it's been washed and dried. It's too puffy, too flimsy and floppy. I like CRISP fabric in my hands. I know the stories about the chemicals on the fabric; if I didn't die last January when I printed 3,000 pages for patterns for upcoming workshops (death by printer toner), then I'm good to go.

Also, because I've been sewing for the camera for 27 years and get a LOT OF FABRIC from various fabric companies, I just don't have the time to prewash, dry, iron all the yardage. And, if some of it is prewashed and others are not, then I could have a shrinkage disaster on my hands.

Here's the block we are making using green and cream fabric. It is my 10" paper pieced Palm block.

10" paper pieced Palm block before trimming
Question #3 about how I double-fold my fabric: When I cut fabric from yardage that is 42/44" wide, I always first straighten it. That's what the lines on my ruler are for. I DO NOT use the lines on my mats for this. I look at the fold at the top and bottom and then check them against the lines on my ruler. Here is a cut I made from the TORN fabric. Now it's straight. Why do I have pins there? Because I'm not ready to cut my strips and I can hang this on a hanger and not worry about lining things up again. Pretty clever, huh?

Straightening my fabric
AND, every few cuts I open the fabric to check to be sure there are NO curves. Yesterday, one of the ladies was cutting with a single fold (ie, the fabric was 22" high). She didn't stop and check every few cuts and there were some serious curves on several of the strips. I feel I have more control over the fabric when it's folded twice. Just me.

Question #4: We ran out of that cream fabric and so I got into my car and went to the quilt shop for more. This is one of my VERY BIGGEST bugaboos! I asked for 3/4 yard. The lovely clerk measured and then, before I could say anything, SHE TORE IT! Yes, she did. SHE TORE IT! I gasped. She freaked. I told her I do not like tearing, but I tried to be kind. This was not a mortal sin; just a little blip on the radar screen in light of quilting eternity, right?

This is what tearing fabric does to it. This is some fabric from another vendor and the quilt shop TORE IT. Can you see the runs? Some of them are up to 1" wide. This is why I like my fabric CUT.

Torn fabric
OK. I think there are probably several more rules I like to break. I'll let you know with another post sometime.

Here's a lovely quilt I made with that TORN fabric above. It uses one of my Peacock Garden blocks from my last book. I can see edges of those tears in this quilt (not in the photo, but in real life).

Peacock Garden
Now I'll get down off my throne and get back to quilting. I'm pressing a LOT of seams open this afternoon (Friday) as I write this. And there are no Quilt Police lurking in my closet. I think sometime I will share some of my over 2 dozen quilt magazine cover quilts and point out the "flaws" in each one. I think you will be surprised - and somewhat relieved. For now, get back to having fun with your fabric!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Free Pattern Friday: Sonnet

How's your Friday going? We are waiting for the Snow Apocalypse to happen tomorrow here in Virginia, so how about taking our minds off of that with a Spring type pattern?

This is Sonnet which I designed for P and B Textiles almost 2 years ago. My favorite color is pink and it looks so lovely with these grays. What do you think?

Sonnet: 34" x 42"
Sonnet is composed of two sizes of blocks. The smaller blocks finish to 7-1/2" and the larger blocks finish to 15". I wanted the fabric to do all the work. I do not like to chop beautiful fabric into little, tiny pieces. This is a very quick quilt to stitch and makes a lovely size for a small child or even a lap quilt for a wheel chair.

Any combination of colors will do. Make it in fabrics you love.

Click the link and it will take you directly to the pdf of the pattern for easy download.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Windham Wednesdays with Fantasy and Uncorked

FIRST: I have my two winners: Aby B. of North Dakota won a hard copy CD of my book. Bonnie B. of Canada won the digital version. Congratulations! And thanks to all of you for your kind words about these quilts!

Now let's talk about some beautiful AND current fabrics. You saw a few of these images before, but I was able to quilt this a few weeks ago and plan on using the finishing steps (binding, rod pocket and label tricks) in an upcoming blog post.

I saw Fantasy back in the Fall of 2019. They were new at Quilt Market and a local shop owner brought some to my guild meeting here in Virginia. I immediately asked Windham (for whom I design and sew on occasion) for some. And this is the fat quarter bundle that came!

Fantasy fabrics by Windham
I already had the blenders called Uncorked by Another Point of View for Windham. (Doesn't that sound like a party theme?)

Uncorked fabrics and my trusty dresden ruler
I began playing with these two collections together in August (click the link to see what I mean). I used an assembly idea from a previous quilt for inspiration. Well, I should say that the assembly idea helped me out of my dilemma of not having enough fabric to make a "normal" quilt setting. I rather like the new look. I call this Disappearing Dresdens.

Disappearing Dresdens
The blocks are 20", but as you can see, I have one whole block and one block that cascades into the whole block. Just imagine the quilt center as three 10" squares by three 10" squares. Two of those squares using the Uncorked fabric are PLAIN with no dresden wedges. That's why I call this approach "descending." The blues and grays are from Uncorked.

Whole, typical Dresden Plate block (20" x 20"
Now, what if I twist one of the 10" units 180 degrees?

Rearranged Dresden Block
I used several Fantasy prints to finish with borders. How can you do this with only fat quarters?

Look again at the quilt:
Uncorked and Fantasy playing very nicely in my summer backyard
I split up the two borders in segments that I could cut from fat quarters. Review: a fat quarter is not what I have around my midriff. It's a cut of fabric that measures 18" x 21"!

I hope you have been inspired today by thinking outside the box when it comes to arranging your quilt blocks. Many of them can be "split" and then turned and twisted to create this descending arrangement. Just add some filler plain squares and even a little triangle in the corner of one unit (which, by the way, was not meant to be on that spot but I didn't notice until the quilt was done. Oh, well!)

Friday, January 10, 2020

Anatomy of a Quilt: Day 3 and GIVEAWAY!

I thought I would finish up the examples of my Anatomy of a Quilt terms by sharing the 16 quilts in my first book and referring to the parts in them.

I have my two winners: Aby B. of North Dakota won a hard copy CD of my book. Bonnie B. of Canada won the digital version. Congratulations! And thanks to all of you for your kind words about these quilts!

Bold, Black and Beautiful is the title of my first book (AQS, 2004). The common "thread" was the use of black in my quilts. I still own a few of these (most of the others were part of that theft in 2005). But, in this post, I just want to share ALL of them and inspire you to consider the use of black in your quilts.

1. The Cover Girl is Royal Star. She appeared on the cover of Quilt Magazine and also on this book. She glows full of Benartex Fossil Ferns! This is an updated version of a vintage block.

Royal Star
Here is my book cover:

The SASHINGS between the blocks are composed of 3 strips: black/color/black. Now that you know that trick, I think you can see that my blocks appear to float with those 9 Patch CORNERSTONES. The black of the blocks comes up against the black in the SASHINGS and so it creates an illusion!

2. Grandmother's Night Garden. Block Size: 14" x 20". Quilt Size: 49" x 61". I still have this one! This is NOT English Paper Pieced; I stitched those hexagons with y-seams! And then I appliquéd the large hexagon units to a black rectangle.

Grandmother's Night Garden
I have two different SASHING strips separating the rectangular blocks (see? a block doesn't have to be square). This is a very scrappy treatment with solid strips playing nice with the strips of squares. Notice also in the borders I have two different fabrics and in each corner is a Four Patch.

3. Jeweled Keepsake Hearts. Block Size: 8" x 8". Quilt Size: 32" x 42"
Floral sashing strips with black cornerstones. Technically, NO BORDER! I just carried the sashing strips to the outside edges. How do you like that pumpkin orange block background?

The BINDING is black. Works well with those black CORNERSTONES.
Jeweled Keepsake Hearts
4. The Talking Quilt (you saw this on Wednesday). Block Size: 7-1/2". Quilt Size: 45" x 52"
The squares are set on point for the BLOCKS.

Kids' Talking Quilt
5. Fair Play uses 10" blocks and finishes to 37" x 37". This is a modern rendition of a vintage block from the early 1900s. There is NO sashing. They are set block to block. Simple black print border. Green binding.

Fair Play
This is raw edge appliqué. This was a workshop for a few years. Here is my Asian inspired Fair Play. I spread those rings a little more freely in this one!

Asymmetrical Fair Play
6. 98 Bright Dancing Squares is also hanging on the Giant Quilt Rack in the Sky. She has sent me secret messages from time to time telling me to recreate her. And I did. These are raw edge appliqué blocks of 5", set block to block (no sashing) and two thin borders with the binding repeating the first border.

98 Bright Dancing Squares: 40" x 40"
I just discovered I made so many others with this pattern that I'm going to do a blog post about them soon! I thought I only had two others. Can you say 4?

7. Next is Velvet Stars. Also hanging in the Sky. Sigh. I really loved this quilt. I had a bundle of solid Kona type fabrics in the late 1990s and used them to make this very scrappy quilt. The inspiration came from a tattered velveteen pillow I found in a yard sale. Simple pieced blocks (12" x 12"). Simple sashing and corner stones. Simple borders and binding. The stars are the stars!

Velvet Stars: 48" x 62"
8. Autumn Tessellating Stars also has 12" blocks. It finishes to 58" x 58". The key to this is to use only two colors in the block, then when you place them block to block, you will see the tessellating (interlocking) stars!

Autumn Tessellating Stars
Here is what a single block looks like (in different fabrics). This is from my Block a Day calendar. Patricia Bryant of Australia made this!

Single Tessellating Star
9. Shotgun Wedding Ring (don't you just love that title!) is a cheater's shortcut approach to the traditional Double Wedding Ring. Appliquéd curved wedges on background squares. I've made this multiple times and I even did a blog post for Benartex with this (do a search on the right sidebar here and I'm sure you will find it).

Shotgun Wedding Ring
This is NOT A DIGITAL image! The background fabric is black. The rings are green and pink. The blocks are set with no sashing. Let me demonstrate:

These are the wedges with fusible webbing on the back, ready to be stitched down
And with FOUR blocks (black with tiny leaves), scattered my green wedges

Four 12" blocks
Some quilts are made from a single block. This is true in this Golden Mariner's Compass. Can you believe that I drafted this compass on a large coffee filter (a convenient circle) and then paper pieced it. Two borders (one inner, one outer) and it's done!

Autumn Mariner's Compass: 23" x 23"
Are you still with me? Just a few more!

11. Mini Grandma's Garden uses English Paper Pieced blocks. Brights with blacks. There are a few alternate blocks and squares. Very irregular assembly, but eye-catching.

Mini Grandma's Garden: 31" x 31"
The blocks are the Grandmother's Flower Garden hexie blocks (6" square). Then I arranged them in an irregular assembly (yes, I already said that) and filled in with squares and a few blocks. Simple borders. Done!

12. Butterflies at Night is a Dresden Plate block morphing into butterflies. These are 30 degree wedges. Machine appliquéd to the black background squares. Very similar colors to the one above, but I used sashing and corner stones. 10" blocks.

Butterflies at Night: 35" x 47"
13. Pink and Black Irish Chain was made to incorporate some machine embroidery. Can you see those butterflies? The alternating blocks are a 25 Patch (and finish to 4-1/2", if you can believe it?!)
Double Irish Chain
Two blocks, set block to block. NO sashing. The placement of the pink and black squares in the corners of the blocks give this the appearance of weaving. No inner border. Outer border and binding are the SAME fabric.

14. Diamond Bar, was made by an Atlanta friend Susie Gilroy. It looks a bit like the Double Irish Chain above. 6" blocks.
Diamond Bar: 66" x 66"

There are two blocks: 9 Patch and Rail Fence. They are set to block to block - no sashing. AND - they are set ON POINT with side and corner triangles. That extra set of triple sashing with the corner blocks (squares on point) take our eyes out even further. Love this quilt!

15. Colossal Chrysanthemums  is another Dresden Plate quilt. No sashing. Just blocks. And, after agonizing for at least a month on what to do about a border, my very savvy high school daughter said, "It doesn't need any, mom. It's done."Added that print binding that reflects the bright colors in those dresden wedges.

Colossal Chrysanthemums: 40" x 40"
And the last quilt (#16) is my Sweet Slice of Summer. Actually, it belongs to Diane Leighton of California. It's a replica of my earlier one done in white.

My Sweet Slice of Summer from 2002
And the one in the book with 6" blocks and pink sashing.
Sweet Slice of Summer by Diane Leighton
So, now you've seen the main parts of a quilt. Most of these quilts are fairly traditional. But you do have to say that there are a lot of bright colors! I also have a few more tips to share from the book (like my Ten Reasons to Cut and Sew a Sample Block . . .). That will be along soon.

Which is your favorite? I'd love to know. That's how you're entered into my GIVEAWAY: a copy of the CD of this book (USA residents only) or a digital copy for my International visitors. Make sure I have your email. Many visitors who comment come through as "no reply/anonymous" and I can't even send you an email! I will have TWO winners (USA and International)

Contest is over Monday, January 13 at midnight (EST).

The CD reads just like the original book. You can print the patterns as you wish. This is in pdf format.  I sell it for $10 and you can see all of these quilts on one page here: Bold, Black and Beautiful Quilts.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Anatomy of a Quilt: Day Two

More parts explained! Here's my quilt example and a few more defining terms. Once we stitch a block (pieced or appliqué), we can "tilt" it so the points of the four corners are North-South-East-West.

Today I want to talk about BLOCKS ON POINT. Here is a simple, single block that is turned 45 degrees. I call it Four Buds and it's from 2002. I think I paper pieced this.

Four Buds Mini Quilt
Here's what the block looks like before it was turned on point:

Four Buds Block
The addition of four CORNER triangles cut from TWO squares sets this block as shown above. There is a formula for doing this and I've shared it here several times before. You can find it again further down this page.

What about setting a block not quite on a 45 degree turn? I call this my Tilt. These squares use a different angled triangle. If you have a Tri Recs ruler set in your sewing room, the Recs ruler is what I'm referring to. "Rec" refers to half a rectangle. Let's see some of those Tilt quilts.

Cream and Sugar Tilt Quilt
Those block centers are squares. The triangles that surround them are about 56 degrees. Four of them of the same angle tilt left; four that are mirror image triangles tilt right. The resulting blocks become bigger squares.

Here's my first Tilt quilt (from early 2000). As you can see, all the squares tilt in ONE direction.

First Tilt Quilt
And some recent Tilt quilts:
A charity quilt perfect for a critter loving child
How about the panels from a soft book? This also was donated for a local charity which gives out quilts to little children.
The Pokey Little Puppy soft book becomes a talking quilt!

Two mug rugs for an animal rescue fund raiser:

Dog fabrics all the way!
I have more, but I think you get the idea!

Here is an OLD quilt with vintage appliqué flowers and baskets. They were received in the Quilt Magazine office for a block contest and my editor asked me to create a quilt with them. Five blocks set on point with simple side and corner triangles. And, yes, there is sashing separating the blocks.

Five Vintage Blocks on Point
And how about only four basket blocks set on point? The addition of a fifth plain square is needed in the center. No sashing here. This obviously was NOT quilted by me! The longarm quilter worked her magic in those light green triangles and square!

Peach and Green Baskets

In both these peach/green quilts there are TWO sizes of triangles needed to set these blocks on point. The side triangles (which are larger) and the corners (smaller).

Here is my formula sheet. This is a magic sheet! Those mathematical formulas are accurate and work every single time! The parameters of this blog prevents me from putting a pdf here, but I think this is readable!

So, let's look again at my digital Anatomy of a Quilt. The center row shows the two types of blocks set on point. The pieced block is set at a 45 degree angle. The hexagon block uses the Tilt angle.

Anatomy of a Quilt terms

And now for a show of several more quilts with blocks on point. They never get shown anywhere anymore. They have been given away and they would be so pleased to know that you enjoyed seeing them!

Printed panels of Baltimore Album blocks made this quick and easy.

Simple printed Baltimore Album panels set on point
Basic Pinwheel blocks steal the show when the setting fabric is plain.
Pinwheel blocks set with plain black print squares and triangles
Simple appliquéd circles and squares in squares are my Spiroglyphics quilt from mid 2000. It was a popular workshop. Notice that the side and corner triangles are two different colors!

Spiroglyphics quilt
Sunshine Butterflies from early 2000 is a variation of a Drunkard's Path block. This is one of those quilts that's hanging on the Giant Quilt Rack in the Sky. This time I added sashing strips between the blocks. We will be talking about sashing strips and cornerstones in my next post.
Sunshine Butterflies
I hope you got the picture of what I mean when I say a block is on point. My quilts thank you for letting them show off!