Friday, August 31, 2018

FREE Pattern Friday: September Basket for the 2018 Tea Party BOM

September already? Yes, it is! Kids are back in school and I've seen a few red leaves (I live in the Northern Hemisphere).

Today we have the 9th block in my 2018 Tea Party Block of the Month. I had to scramble this week because I realized I didn't have the block made! I had the pattern but not the actual fabric block. I had a blue background square cut and quickly transferred the templates to freezer paper.

The Basket has two pieces: basket and handle. There is a little "tuck under" allowance on the handle, as you can see (and is more evident on the pattern.)

Traced template markings onto freezer paper

Let's see how I lined up the handle using the markings on the basket template:

Aligning the handle with the basket using the marked notches on template

I do intend on adding some flowers or fruit to this in order to give it some personality, but for now, this is as far as I got!

September Basket Block
You may find you want to make it larger. Simply print the templates at 125% or so.

Don't forget there is a Facebook page dedicated to the Tea Party blocks (and it's NOT political, tho it shares the same name). We have 386+ members so far and it's a great place to see what others have been stitching and a place for YOU to share your blocks. Check it out!

You can find the FREE pattern for this Basket Block on my Craftsy page: Basket Block. It is free for the month of September only. After that, it goes in the hopper with the others for a small fee.

You can find the links to my blog posts for ALL the blocks here: 2018 Tea Party Blocks

I think it's getting time for me to start putting these together. But, I'm unsure of my assembly. How are you doing?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Free Motion Fantasy, Part Two

Such a fun time last week sharing these glorious fabrics by Amanda Murphy. Do you remember my project? Of course, you do! I forgot to add that I offer this as a pattern on my Craftsy site. How could I forget? I've made this 6 different times!

Circle of Geese pattern using Free Motion Fantasy fabrics
And I had a winner of the bundle of Free Motion Fantasy fat quarters: Cathy K. from Utah. Congratulations, Cathy!

Free Motion Fantasy fabrics
I decided that I didn't want to stop with only a 30" x 30" quilt. I have WAY too many wall quilts as it is. My philosophy is to sew until I run out of fabric, which is what happened this past weekend. I was able to squeeze out enough Flying Geese for a 6" border all around. Let me show you how.

First I cut ten 7-1/4" squares for the geese. Remember, I had a bundle of 10" squares. Recut these into quarter square triangles:

7-1/4" squares cut into four equal sized triangles
Lotsa geese!

Then I cut the background 3-7/8" squares in half. I cut a total of 40 of these!

3-7/8" squares cut in half for the background
Then I started piecing:

Sew background triangles to geese triangle, one at a time
Press well.
Flying Geese unit measures 3-1/2" x 6-1/2" unfinished
And a bunch of geese getting their second "sky" piece stitched on:

Love these colors!

I cut four 4-3/4" squares for my quilt corners. I had run out of the light gray, so I had to use a little darker grey to set these on point. You use what you have, right?! These I cut into 3-7/8" squares for triangles. Here is how they look:

Make four corner blocks (finish to 6" x 6")
Sewed two borders on and auditioned top and bottom borders. I like how the geese fly around in a circle, don't you?
Geese flying around my center, sort of chasing each other.
And here it is with those borders stitched! Now she measures 42" x 42".

Circle of Geese with more geese in the borders!
At this point, I've run out of any significant yardage for outside borders. But what do you think? You can find my Circle of Geese pattern with four other completed quilts at Craftsy. The directions for making my extra Flying Geese border are here, just in case you want to challenge yourself to this.

It is important that you sew with an accurate 1/4". There are a LOT of seams here, but as you can see, what a fun and colorful quilt. I'll keep you posted on what border fabric I choose for the outside. The bigger, the better!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Sneak Peek: Michael Miller Mondays

Isn't it convenient that there is a day of the week that starts with an "M" so I can feature Michael Miller fabrics? I was sent 3 collections and the first one I plan on playing with is Marble.

Marble by Michael Miller
I remember creating REAL marbled fabric in my daughter Hilary's art class in elementary school! That was almost 30 years ago. I kept that little piece of fabric for years, thinking I was going to stitch something with it. It somehow got lost in one of our moves. Now I can play with these yummy colors.

All my favorite colors! How did they know?
Go check out their Look Book. Here's the first page. Holy Cow! I want to make this quilt (but without y-seams).
Marble Look Book
I will be playing with this set of fat quarters this week. I may use some Fairy Frost (I was sent some of that, too) and hope to have a post by next Monday. I think I'll give Hilary a call and ask her about that fabric marbling event in elementary school. (She turned out to be an artist, btw)

What concept spins through my head? "I've lost my marbles." "I've found my marbles." "Where are my marbles?" I'll let you know next Monday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Technique Tuesday and Fabric GIVEAWAY!

I love bright colors and these new fabrics by Amanda Murphy, Free Motion Fantasy, are right up my alley! I asked for a selection of some of the skus along with a Layer Cake. Here are a few of these lovely prints:

Free Motion Fantasy fabrics
I had a few ideas swirling in my head and began with one concept using a 10" square and some supporting fabric. I ditched that and came up with a tried-and-true pattern from my quilt vault. I cut some fabrics from 2 skus and selected a dozen or so of the 10" squares.

Getting ready!
So, what was I making? First, more of the parts:

Pattern and Patches
I was remaking my Circle of Geese pattern from my third book, Paper Piecing Perfect Points (Martingale, 2013). It's been a workshop for several years and I have a variety of samples using various collections. Why not one more?

My Circles of Geese uses 8 of those foundation patterns (four per 1/4 circle). I began stitching using orange on the inside and gray on the outside. I wanted a scrappy look to the geese.

Four units getting ready for second "goose" color
Why didn't I choose a single color for both sides of the geese? Well, I wanted the outside of the ring to touch this fabric:

Orange main print
Here is one of the 8 units that I foundation pieced. Yes, orange on one side of the Geese and gray on the other.
Paper pieced unit before trimming
 And how does it look on the wrong side?

Foundation unit before trimming
Now for the trimming along the outside line:

Trimmed foundation unit
Paper removed. Notice that because I trim BEFORE I add the next patch, there is no guessing. This creates a  clean look on the wrong side, as though I used templates with 1/4" seams!

Paper removed
And from the front. Can you see those lovely 1/4" seams and the sharp points? Only possible (for me) via paper piecing. I made 8 of these units with a variety of Geese colors.

One of 8 units trimmed
Then I added that orange main print for the background. I cut four pieces using a freezer paper template. Each of the four units will finish to 12", so I was able to get all four from a 12-1/2" x wof piece of fabric (because I flip-flopped the template).

Cut four background patches
I stitched sets of two Flying Geese units together and then set them into the background piece. Now it's time to audition two different colors for the 1/4 circle base. Do I want pink or yellow?

Pink or yellow 1/4 circle base?
Yellow won out! Now it was time to audition my sashings. What? Do you think I plan all this stuff ahead of time? Never, ever - honest. I basically wing it as I go along. I am a visual person and the fabric never lets me read the last chapter of the book early!

I finally settled on the pink (as you can see above). Let's see it all together, shall we? The sashings are 2" finished, so this little sample is 30" x 30". I think I'm going to add another Flying Geese border around all four sides since I have plenty of that light gray fabric left.

I'm not sure about that orange on the inside track of the Flying Geese, but guess what? It's too late!

Circle of Geese using Free Motion Fantasy

If you're still with me, would you like to be entered in my GIVEAWAY for a fat quarter bundle of these fabrics? Of course, you do.

Simply leave me a message here telling me what you think about anything I shared. Make sure I have your email address (many of you come through as "no reply" commenters, so I can't even send you an email when you reply at other times).

The contest is open until midnight Friday August 24. USA residents only (Benartex makes the rules; I just follow them).

For International visitors I will select one winner also; let me know what country you are from and I will have a second giveaway for you: any of my 100 patterns on Craftsy. If you are chosen, I will send you your choice from those!

Thanks for stopping by. And don't forget to check out the blog hop happening at the Sew in Love with Fabric blog this week. There's a winner every day!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Free Motion Fantasy with Amanda Murphy

Check out the blog posts today - and all week - at the Sew in Love with Fabric blog

You'll see some fantastic fabric and have a chance to win fabric prizes. That's all I'm saying.

See you tomorrow for my blog post about these fabrics.

Free Motion Fantasy fabrics

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Paper Piecing Tutorial with Waterwheels

I came early to paper piecing only because I worked on the editorial staff of Quilt Magazine and was asked to design patterns to share with our readers. 

My Cloissoné Diamonds quilt on cover
I was not impressed because it was SLOW and I didn’t want to spend all that time on little, bitty, tiny blocks with a zillion pieces! I saw the process that popular teachers used and I just didn’t get the appeal - hold your pattern up to the light? Cut large fabric pieces (aka as mega-wads) and hope they cover the patch intended? Leave the paper on when you join units? No thanks!

I jumped in and tried out a few of the blocks I designed. First, I super-sized them from 3” and 4” to 8” and 10”!  Just like these paper pieced Palm Blocks in 10" size!

Sixteen paper pieced Palm Blocks in 10" size
I streamlined the process realizing that you can pre-cut squares, rectangles and triangles to correspond with the patches so you can sew with confidence that you won’t have to “un-sew” an inadequate unit. None of this “hold it up to the light and pray to the fabric gods for special dispensation.” It was “trim, then sew” and not “sew, then trim.” I saw that using a ruler to trim a patch to 1/4” BEFORE adding the next patch assures a perfect alignment. I actually began to enjoy this!

My inspiration comes from traditional quilts. 

Traditional, vintage Palm Block in today's fabric!

I love quilts from an era where the maker did not have computers. Only a pencil, paper and a clever brain! Antique quilts give me the most pleasure and I stand in awe of what these (mostly) women have done with minimal tools. This next quilt was inspired by a vintage quilt from the 1930s. I call it "That Spiky Thing."

Vintage quilt from early 1930 
I used large scale floral print for the centers and paper pieced those sharp, sharp points! These are 21" blocks (with the paper pieced units being 7".)
My updated version of that vintage quilt: Metropolitan Home Star
Because I tend to sew for the camera, I let the fabrics do most of the work. If you look at most of my hundreds of patterns, they really are yesterday’s blocks with today’s fabrics. I also love to take a difficult block and streamline it so ANY quilter can make it using today’s tools.

Here are some more samples of the Metropolitan Home Star (and then I'll get into the Waterwheels, I promise)

Single 21" Metropolitan Home Star block with added borders
Four blocks set in a staggered assembly using the Butterfly Dance collection. You can see my post and steps to paper piecing this block here: Butterfly Dance

Four stars using Butterfly Dance
I have taught hundreds of students in the classroom and thousands more via my patterns. I learned many things along the way and because my students give me some good feedback, here are some of the best tips!

1. Always cut and sew a sample block before cutting out an entire quilt! You may not like the one block; do you think you would like 16 of them even more?

2. Paper really does matter. Computer bond is too heavy. Consider tracing paper or any of the specialty papers on the market (my favorite is that put out by Martingale – fancy newsprint).

My favorite paper for foundation piecing
B . . U. . T! Listen up! You can buy cheap tablets of newsprint in the Dollar Store. Or the stationery aisle of the grocery store or Target or Walmart. Very cheap. Did I say cheap?

3. Shorten your sewing machine stitches slightly. It perforates the paper for ease in removal.

4. You can't use pins with ball heads; they will get in the way when you fold the patterns back to trim and can cause a bad cut. My favorite pins are short, silk pins without heads.

Notice the small, short pin without a head
5. The most confusing part of paper piecing is the paper! It sits between you and your fabrics and some people feel like they're driving blindfolded. I audition my fabric patches, laying them out on the foundation as they will appear when sewn. I sometimes indicate the colors, etc on the unwritten side (that's the side the fabrics show up on). The side with the writing is the side you sew on (sewing on the line.)

Shimmering Waterwheels foundation
6. Remove all paper outside the pattern; you can't paper piece on an 8-1/2" x 11" page when your pattern is only 5" in size. It will cause you to overshoot the placement of your fabrics.

Pattern trimmed to the outside seam allowance
 7. Once you cut out the pattern, fold along every line using a postcard. This will allow you to "see" the lines as you place the fabrics. 

Pattern folded along every line to help in placing fabric patches
8. After each stitched seam, fold the pattern back along the NEXT line and trim the just-added fabric, leaving a 1/4" seam. Now you have the perfect edge to align the next fabric patch. No guessing. Holding a pattern up to the light to hope you can place it correctly is primitive at best – a lot of mistakes happen with this technique.

Fold pattern back and trim fabrics, leaving 1/4" seam allowance
This is what it looks like on the front; no guessing as to where to add the next (red) patch

Easy to add the next patch - right along that nice, straight, trimmed edge

Stitched, folded/pressed and now ready to be trimmed
9. My patterns always give directions on pre-cutting squares, rectangles and triangles to best maximize your time and efficiency. I take the guesswork out of preparation. The precut patches are cut slightly oversized and assure the quilter that he/she will have adequate coverage on each patch when they sew.
Patches pre-cut, according to the size needed for each space on the pattern
 10. Consider using my "Patch of Shame" technique when you need to "unsew."  When I need to unsew, my method is to save the seam and sacrifice the “Patch of Shame.” What? That’s the fabric patch that doesn’t quite cover the space it’s supposed to. You have to assert yourself and sacrifice it for the good of the project.  Grab the Patch of Shame and with a pair of sharp scissors, trim it away as close as you can to the seam. Now grab the remaining seam allowance and it will peel away. Everything’s removed except the seam stitches.

11. Begin and end your seams outside the seam allowance; when possible, begin sewing off the paper. You need stitching in the seam allowances as you do in traditional sewing.

Red circles and arrows show how seams have to criss-cross in seams
12. Many of my paper pieced patterns involve sewing the curved pieced foundation to a curved background. You MUST remove the paper from the foundation before joining in order to have ample "ease" (remember setting in sleeves in garment sewing?) And while you're at it, go ahead and remove all the papers from your finished foundations before you join them to other blocks. Your seams are short and nothing is going to come loose.

Remove paper before joining to the curved background

Trimmed, paper removed and ready to join the curved background piece
 Can you see those awesome sharp, pointy-points?
Yes, these WILL fit together; sew slowly!
My best tip: notice the double pins at the straight ends to keep the ends STRAIGHT.
See those straight sides? My double pins held them in place.

Blocks ready for bottom triangles
Here is a picture of the original quilt made using this pattern. I call it Spinning Waterwheels. It appeared in my 2013 book "Paper Piecing Perfect Points" (Martingale). Now out of print, you can probably find it online somewhere.

Green Spinning Waterwheels
Then I decided to remake it in the black, red and white that you saw above. This is a popular workshop I teach. A lot of sewing, but very rewarding. Here is the center, which is an example of what I call "When 4 Blocks Become 5." These are 16 units that are arranged to make the center block to look like a fifth one!

Center of my Spinning Waterwheels quilt
And I kept going. What do you think? This is a 36 unit quilt.

Black and Red Spinning Waterwheels
This just needs a border. This center is 48" x 48". Yes, a LOT of piecing!