Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Windham Wednesdays & Giveaway

Gazebo Collection by Windham Fabrics
OK, I know it's still the dead of winter (we had ice earlier in the week), but there's nothing to cheer me up faster than happy, warm-weather fabrics with garden motifs and sunflowers! I had no idea what to make with these fabrics so I asked them (my usual method): "Hey. What do you want to be when you grow up?" They huddled around each other and then noticed a new book on my sewing table. They grabbed it (I'm NOT making this up) and flipped through it and then pointed to the cover. "WE WANT TO BE THIS; AND WE DON'T WANT TO WAIT UNTIL WE GROW UP." What did they see?
Paper Piecing Perfect Points - February 2013
(You can see ALL the quilts from the book HERE.)

Yes, they insisted they wanted to be like the center block. I had no choice - I selected fabrics, did some cutting, printed my foundations and set to work.

I chose the 3 solid reading fabrics and a Windham white
To get really, really sharp points, paper piecing is the way to go. Pre-cutting strips for the patches takes all the guesswork out of the process. I use a postcard to fold along the lines, trim with the Add-a-Quarter ruler to get an accurate result.

Yes, you can chain sew foundation units. See, they're all attached with the thread!
The process:
1. Pin
2. Fold back on seam line
3. Trim, leaving 1/4" seam
4. Sew on line
5. Press
6. Repeat from step 2 above

OK. What does it look like from the back?
All patches are covered; time to trim along the outside lines
And from the front?

One of four units BEFORE trimming
See how you trim away everything using the outside lines?
 So, what does my block look like? Here's a quarter block. Love those sunflowers!

1/4 block. Love, love those sunflowers. Can you see the little ladybugs?
Four units with a circle center. Set on point.
Yes, I have not forgotten that I promised to share a tutorial about how to make your setting triangles look like the center square is "intruding." It's coming! I just found the digital notes with art.

Would you like to win a FAT QUARTER BUNDLE of these Gazebo fabrics? Well, you can. Go visit the Windham Facebook page and let them know you like these fabrics. (You may have to wait until after 9 am EST US time when they update their site).

 Then let me know with a comment and I will enter your name in my contest. I WILL PICK THE WINNER! And if you get a minute, go look at the pictures of the quilts in my book and tell me if you have a favorite. I will be posting more pictures throughout February.

I will select a winner and Windham will send you the fabrics. Now, that's easy, right?

Please, please make sure I can see your email when you leave a comment. Check your settings in your blog software or Google account and select "show email" in the dashboard. If I can't reach you, you don't have a chance to win.

Deadline: Monday evening, February 4 at midnight (USA Eastern Standard Time).

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Does Debby's Studio Look Like? UFOs?

Faithful Bernina 1230 and a cleaned up work surface
 I foolishly volunteered to show my sewing space and UFOs a few weeks ago and now I have to fess up. It's not always neat (really?!!) and certainly not organized (did I tell you I'm an adult with ADHD?)

30 year old kitchen bar, a perfect height for cutting fabric
Yes, this is where I slave most days. A converted bedroom (10' x 15', but no kids living at home). One wall has my stash, very "matchey-matchey". I keep collections together, colors together and try to keep blenders/solids near each other. It gets so messy after about a month or two that I have to stop everything and re-organize it. And, guess what? I discover some long-lost, forgotten piece that renews my creativity!

Now, what was I doing this weekend? Audrey (oldest daughter, 32, a high school English teacher who is very interested in crafts for herself and home) called and asked to come over to sew. She decided to snap a photo and make an Instagram out of it. At my sewing machine:

Debby sewing. Notice the two design walls crowded with unfinished projects!
Those are just pieces of batting on the wall. One has a foam board behind it (the one on the left); the other with the Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks is just batting pinned to the wall. You can see two projects right behind my hair that will be revealed in the February Hugs and Kisses Blog Hop (my day is Valentine's Day).
This is really how that cutting table looks MOST of the time! Working on my Nancy Drew project.
OK. Now to some UFOs (not all; I don't want to go down to the basement).

Yes, I eat a lot of Greek yogurt. These boxes are PERFECT for storing UFOs
 This is the floor of the closet in my sewing room. I also have a giant laser printer in there. Some of these are parts for my workshops and all contain UFOs which call to me from time to time.

Top shelf in the closet (only partly revealing projects)
Mostly unquilted quilts, samples and a few pieces of fabric
What can I say? The picture says it all. Except for the other side of the closet . . .

More unquilted quilts, class samples, quilt parts
What else is in this crowded room? Two more printers (what? am I nuts?), a giant iMac on a desk, a TV, another sewing machine on the floor under the Bernina and various bolts of fabric next to the bookcase with my stash. There is a loveseat along one  wall because we had NO OTHER place to put it when we moved here 3 years ago. It's just another convenient surface to put stuff! The top of the bookcase has dozens and dozens of quilt magazines. My daughters have referred to this as my version of Kinko's!

It's a happy place for me with windows that look out on my backyard (a jungle, believe me). Quiet, peaceful, and after 25 years sewing in parts of the basement (mostly good light, but still downstairs), it's great to be at the top of the house.

I hope I didn't shock you with all my piles and messy ways. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Your Very Own Vortex Quilt

Remember my puny Vortex quilt? Here is one on a grand scale (72" x 72")
My fellow quilting teacher, Erin Underwood, wowed me last summer where we taught together at the MAQ retreat. (Mid Appalachian Quilters, Emmitsburg, Maryland in July) She had this AWESOME quilt on display and I immediately rushed over to her table and after gasping and stuttering, asked her how she did this. Remember, I have fallen in love with the red and white Vortex quilt, ca 1900, as you can see below:

Vortex Quilt, ca 1900, maker unknown
Erin developed her own ruler in partnership with Creative Grids (so you know it is accurate) and a pattern to recreate this historic - and mind blowing - quilt. It is all straight seam sewing - honest. I saw the seams "up close and personal."
Erin Underwood's 15° ruler, 24-1/2" long for fans - and the VORTEX
This companion ruler allows you to create all the wonderful patterns in the Fan-Tastic Fan series. Perfect for all sorts of Fans, Dresdens, large trapezoids and triangles. Creative Grids calls it the "15-Degree Triangle Ruler" and with a 24-1/2" length, the possibilities for creativity are endless.

Why am I sharing this? Do you know how many emails I got Thursday about my own little red and white vortex quilt? I absolutely NEVER even imagined it would garner that much response!!! And, and, and - so many people wanted to know how to make it. Mine was made with a regular, 20 wedge Dresden Plate ruler with an 8" height. Just a little taste of Vortex. But, YOU can have a BIG taste using her ruler.

My simple vortex quilt
Take a visit to Erin's web site: Erin Underwood Quilts
Make sure you see ALL of the patterns she designed to use with the ruler: Fan-Tastic Fan series
Check out that ruler: Creative Grids 15-Degree Triangle Ruler
See her other patterns: Erin's Patterns
And check out her Trunk Shows and Workshops (she lives in MARYLAND, just about on the Delaware border - so bring her to your guild!)

And, Jinny Beyer has kitted her fabrics for making this quilt using Erin's ruler:

Jinny Beyer has kitted this pattern in 3 colorways
Visit Jinny Beyer's site to check out the kits: Optical Illusions Kit

Well, I hope you have been inspired. Now you have a source for your own Vortex quilt if you want to go beyond the small one I created with my 8" high ruler (which I sell, btw).

I am writing up the pattern for my own little Vortex quilt using my small Dresden Tool. It will be included in my pattern that features the other two quilts that were shown in my Dare to Dresden posting on Thursday. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Daring Dresden Adventure

The contest is closed and we have a winner: Wendy from Alabama. Congratulations!

Today begins the "Dare to Dresden" Blog Hop and many thanks to Madame Samm and Christine of Quilt Monster Closet. As soon as I saw the theme, I jumped right in because I love, love, love Dresden Plate blocks and quilts. I have made about a dozen in various sizes, published most of them and taught classes using my simple template. Well, enough of words; let's see quilts!

Authentic 1930s feedsacks for the butterfly wings
This butterfly block was made over ten years ago as a result of a math mistake (did I ever tell you I used to be a high school math teacher? Go figure!) I had divided up a full circle of Dresden wedges and thought I was creating 4 equal groups, instead divided wrong and came up with THREE! What can you do with THREE sets of 4 blades? I threw them down on my table and they landed just like a pair of butterfly wings. Hence, my new design! I made another quilt using black background and bright prints for the butterflies for my first book (Bold, Black & Beautiful, 2004), but it was stolen (long story; no time today)
Butterflies at Night, 2004
I'm going to get right to my design today. It is based on an historic quilt from the USA, early 1900s. The maker is unknown and it has been named The Vortex Quilt. Can you see why?

The Vortex Quilt, circa 1900. Maker unknown. Private collection
Now, you ask: what does this have to do with Dresden Plates? Well, a little math here (please don't roll your eyes! It's unbecoming!) The Vortex and the Dresden Plate designs are both based on a circle being divided with equally spaced lines. I simplified the above design (VERY simplified), used my Dresden Plate ruler (that has an 8" height), strip-pieced strata of white and red fabrics from Windham (their Spin Collection by Whistler Studios), and got these . . . .

Vortex #1, awaiting borders and quilting
Modern  Vortex #2 with some amazing dots to set it on point!
Strata made with 1-3/4" strips. 6 strips with seams = 8" height
Love, love, love these dots from Windham (used with Vortex #2). More with these later!
The white tips of the pieced wedges disappear into the white background fabric, giving this block the illusion of something more difficult. Everything was machine stitched, even the circle at the center. Notice how my white block appears to intrude on the outside red borders. That's because it's NOT intruding - the red strips are part of the red/white dot setting triangles. Another day, another tutorial.

I have a GIVEAWAY for you should you have come this far. My template and pattern for two quilts
with instructions on designing with various settings. What do you have to do to win?
Leave a comment letting me know which of my two Vortex variations you like. There are no wrong answers! The deadline is midnight Sunday, January 27 (USA Eastern Time.)

Pattern includes instructions for these two quilts, plus other setting options:
Daisies Runner - 29" x 49" (yes, that is a triangle, not a circle center)
12 Block Quilt - 39" x 39"
Now, go see all the other inspiration for today with the other blog participants.

January 24th, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Block a Day, Part 3

This is the next to the last posting of the remaining 31 blocks in my crazy personal challenge from 2002 when I set out to sew a block a day for a year. Read my first posting and my second posting here.) I only got through March, but I had a great time. Remember, you can vote on these as to your favorite and I will select a winner on the last day. What? You mean I can win all of these blocks and the rest of the fabrics? You got it! They've been sitting in a box for 11 years and I think I've seen the writing on the wall - they need to go to a good, loving home! Vote for your favorite in the comments.

January 16: 3" Nine Patch Block
January 17: Southern Belle Block

January 18: 8" Whirligig Block
January 19: 5-1/4" Log Cabin Block
January 20: 4" x 8" Trees Block
January 21: 10" Irish Chain Block
January 22: 9" Hourglass Block
January 23: 12" Monday's Child Block
Don't forget to vote for your favorite block. I will show the remaining 8 blocks next week.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Double Wedding Ring Blocks

I can't even remember who I gave this to!
I pulled out a box of paper pieced Double Wedding Ring wedges that I began almost 5 years ago. I seemed to remember that I had made other DWR quilts in the past (some I remember, like the one in my first book). But the yellow and blue one in the picture above I honestly completely forgot about it. It was a flannel rag quilt and was gifted eons ago. Not even sure when it was published, but it really had to be over 10 years ago.

Now, back to those DWR paper pieced units. I started and stopped so many times that I thought - "Maybe today is my lucky day!" I took out my two DWR books just to get some inspiration for layout. I think I'm getting close!

I used a variety of 1930s reproduction prints; precut my strips for quick sewing
Paper piecing is sewing through the paper, on the lines, creating accurate patches

Trim along outside paper line; remove paper; add first teardrop wedge

A square on each end of another paper pieced unit; pin, pin, pin!
I made several of these units which will be attached to other units.
Isn't she pretty?! The key is accurate 1/4" seams and slow sewing.
I had abandoned this section, but I did have some awesome piecing going on! I realized that I needed a plan before going on. I have about 25 of the paper pieced wedges sewn. The job now is to join them. Probably enough for a table runner. I'll keep you posted. (BTW - the outside edges will be faced with interfacing and I will machine applique them to a large piece of background fabric!)

I like the paper piecing part. That's easy! But I have created a few other DWR quilts using a simplified template. In my first book (Bold, Black & Beautiful Quilts, AQS 2004) I had one I called "Shotgun Wedding Ring." Yes, I did!
Shotgun  Wedding Ring by Susan Fisher. If you look close you can see the awesome quilting.
Green & Black, but now with batiks and lush florals
Four 12" blocks using the melon center cutaways as a design element
I will keep you posted on my progress with these 1930s paper pieced blocks. Now that I have a plan and actually have figured out how to add the corner squares, I think I can actually finish a table runner. But don't think that finishing is something I feel compelled to do! Maybe next time I should take pictures of the stacks of labeled boxes of my UFOs. There are several dozen (that was not a typo). Would you like to see them? Let me know.

Don't forget to visit on Thursday. It's my day for the Dare to Dresden Blog Hop. My project is very daring, not to be missed!

And I will be posting the last of those 31 blocks that I made 11 years ago so you can vote on them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Windham Wednesdays and Giveaway

Rotary cut 19" Lone Star from Supersize 'Em Quilts
I have been playing with a new reproduction collection by Windham Fabrics, designed by Mary Koval. Rebecca reflects the designs and patterns from 1840-1870. I took several detours in trying out a variety of projects and then decided to include them all. The GIANT Lone Star above appears as a pattern in my book (Supersize 'Em Quilts), which shows the quick and easy path to rotary cutting these blocks that typically use templates. Here's another one:
Same star as above, but 4 of the diamonds are 4 patches.
"Well, can we see the whole collection so we can decide for ourselves?" you ask. Why, sure!
Lovely fabrics with such fascinating prints

Yes, even more fabrics. You can hardly decide where to start!
The first item I made (not the stars, btw) was a table runner using my Spiderweb ruler to cut the hexagons (yes, you can do that and there's none of the crazy lining up of a whole hexagon template. My ruler will cut any size hexagon, half hexagon and 60 degree triangle up to 6-1/2" unfinished.
Do you remember this design from an earlier post?
Don't you just love how the runner ends are a 60 degree angle?
Back to the Spiderweb ruler. You can see that I used it to cut out not only the hexagons and triangles in the table runner, but I used extra hexagons for my special Folded Hexagon flowers.

My folded hexagon flowers (look for the pattern at the Turning 60 page)
My last project is my "go-to" bag (from the Spring 2010 issue of Stitch Magazine, the Eco Shopper bag). I love it to carry around my yarn for when I want to crochet on the go.

Lined fabric bag embellished with my folded hexagon flower
What's the giveaway? Windham Fabric Blog has the giveaway fat quarter bundle of Rebecca. Go visit their Windham Fabric Snipits Blog and leave a comment saying how you would use these beautiful fabrics. The contest goes from January 14 through January 20.

I would love to have you comment here. I don't have any prizes today, but I do prize what you say!