Wednesday, August 28, 2019

More Grand Illusion Hexagons for English Paper Piecing

Back in May I did a blog post about this awesome collection by Windham Fabrics: Grand Illusion. The motifs were SO perfect for a 2" EPP hexagon. Do you remember these?

I give them the name "Marie" because that's what Katja Marek calls them in her "The New Hexagon" book. This is a traditional block, so you can call it Sally or Martha or even Debby!

Two Marie blocks using 3 hexagons and 3 diamonds
Do you remember how I fussy cut the motifs?

Fussy cutting the medallion motifs using a freezer paper "window"
And the finished motifs (wrapped around the 2" card stock hexagon). Grand Illusion has two color ways: blue and red.

Hexagons for my Marie blocks
This is what the border print looks like before I started chopping.

Grand Illusion border print
And the rest of the fabrics:
Grand Illusion fabrics

And one more Marie block with the red and black print diamonds:

Auditioning my diamonds
I cut the fabric for the 2" diamonds from 2-1/2" strips using the 60 degree line on my ruler to get the correct angle.

Cutting fabric diamonds
As I've taught 3 English Paper Piecing workshops this summer, I decided to use those motifs in the center of two blocks that use the same patches but are arranged differently.

The first one I call Twisted Hexagon. As you can see, the half hexagons can go clock-wise or counter clock-wise. I auditioned them one way, but sewed them another!

Twisted Hexagon
And the finished Twisted Hexagon:

Twisted Hexagon finished
Now for the second vintage block using the same patches. This is called Wagon Wheel.

Wagon Wheel block
I know I finished it. Just can't find it! I cut kits for my one summer class and they got to choose which version of putting those patches together they wanted. Here are the two blocks as they were in the kits:

Twisted Hexagon
Wagon Wheel
As you can see, I'm quite taken with this collection. I have several more blocks to stitch. Not sure how I'll use them in a quilt, but I have a few ideas.

And just in case you're still with me, you can see the Rose Star quilt I made using this collection. Click the link and you can read about it. And you can find my Rose Star pattern in my Etsy shop. It is a hard copy pattern with an acrylic template. Check it out!

Rose Star quilt using Grand Illusion
Thanks for stopping by and seeing some different blocks than your traditional Grandmother's Flower Garden!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Free Patterns Friday: Opus One

Two of my three daughters took years of music lessons. One played the flute (and competed all the way to the state level). The oldest played piano from the time she was in the first grade until college. You can bet I spent a lot of time waiting in my car while they had their 45 minute lessons each week!

Music has always been freely played in my home. We love it!

I designed Opus One for Windham Fabrics in 2018. You may have seen this already. I did a blog post in February 2017 about another quilt like this. But it's worth it to share again, right?

Opus One for Windham Fabrics
I also made a REAL Opus One quilt. I plan on adding borders using fat quarters. Pieced, of course! And I have the perfect young man to gift it to. He is a talented musician who leads the youth music at my church. Shhhh! Don't tell him.

Musical Stars using Type Band fabrics
If you click on that Type Band link, you'll not only see the fabrics but can download another FREE pattern by Casey York. It looks like this:

Blue Note pattern
Can you believe those appliqué instruments? A guitar, sax, trumpet, drumsticks. Big wow!

So, now you have TWO music patterns for your quilting pleasure. And they're FREE! Hope you enjoy making your own quilts for those musical geniuses in your life.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

String Piecing Scrap Buster Quilts

This is a repost from a year ago. I am making MORE of these rectangular string pieced blocks. And I still can't use up my scraps!

I taught a series of classes in Atlanta that used Kaffe Fassett fabrics. As you can imagine, we had leftovers! After about 5 workshops I developed an easy way to use them up. (Who am I kidding? You will NEVER make a dent in your scrap bag!)

This is called "string piecing" and has been a technique in the quilt world for well over 150 years. It was used by frugal quilters who saved every single scrap piece of fabric and then made her own "fabric" by stitching on a foundation.

I string pieced a few dozen 45 degree diamonds, too! My Lone Star quilt (top) is finished. More on that later. But I thought I would tease you with these.

Paper pieced (string pieced) 60 degree diamonds
Here is the first quilt I made. Notice that the blocks are rectangles. And they are foundation pieced using newsprint! You can buy what I call "Doodle Pads" at Target, school supply aisles in grocery stores, and don't forget the Dollar Store. I have even used tablets that measure 9" x 12". No problem. They fit together when you use the same size!

Scrap Buster blocks make an awesome quilt: 49" x 59"
Any size scraps will do. Let me show you! Draw a diagonal from one corner to another as shown. There are TWO blocks with strips going in opposite directions as shown below.

Rectangles of paper (I'm using 9" x 12" paper for these samples)
Now let's see some of the steps:

1. Select a strip that is longer than that center line.

First strip
2. Select a second strip and place it right sides with the first strip. Pin in place. Make sure edges extend beyond paper.

Audition strip

2nd strip aligned and pinned.

3. Now it's time to sew. 1/4", but you don't have to agonize about this. This will be close to an improvisational quilt.
4. Press open and keep adding strips until the surface of the paper is covered. You stitch and flip, going from one side to the other. Finish those corners with a rough cut triangle.

Entire paper is stitched
5. Now to trim
Trim away excess beyond paper on all 4 sides.
And how does this look from the front? Lovely, huh? I pieced these this week using 9" x 12" paper.
First block trimmed
And the second block? Notice that the diagonal in the first block goes from top left to bottom right; the diagonal in second block goes from top right to bottom left.
Two blocks side by side
And four blocks together:

Four Blocks (9" x 12")
Now it's time to remove the paper. I'm going to do that while watching Dancing with the Quilt Stars on TV! Take care to support the stitches at the edge of paper. You don't want to open the seams.

Got one done.
Paper removed from string pieced block
And how do 8 blocks look? I love these!

8 String pieced rectangular blocks: 9" x 12"
I no longer have the quilt shown at the top. It was gifted to a family member who was recovering from surgery. I may keep going with these blocks to make another one quilt. Here is a picture of a quilt one of my students made. She took it even further to make a bed sized quilt.

Bed sized quilt by Anne Forman of Atlanta, GA
If you feel you need a real pattern with supplies and more diagrams, you can find it here: String Pieced Scrap Buster Quilt at my Etsy store.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Helpful Tool for Machine Quilting

I teach Beginning Free Motion Quilting classes for the Sewing Expo. I have for 11 years. Probably at least 5-6 dozen times! I like to introduce a variety of tools and helps. For a few years I offered some printed panels developed by Holis Turnbow for Benartex Fabrics. The panels are no longer in print, so I began looking for other inspiration. As you can see in the next photo, a lot of free motion quilting was generated to transform this hand embroidered crib sheet into a sweet little blanket for my granddaughter! I just wanted to fill in all that white space.

Hand embroidered, machine quilted crib sheet
Here is one 15" square of that pre-printed panel by Holis. You just follow the lines. The lines will wash off after you're finished. But you have to ignore the folds - no ironing or you will make those blue lines permanent!

I had a few of those fabrics leftover from my classes and I joined them with some blue strips and quilted them this way:

Printed panel strips quilted, but not soaked to remove blue lines
I finished the quilting, soaked away the blue lines and trimmed up the sides for binding. What do you think?

Scraps of Holis Turnbow's machine quilting panels
Another panel I discovered is by Jane Hauprich. She is a master quilter and an educator for Handi Quilter. She has developed several panels for practice and she sent me one in white and one in black. I decided to test-drive the white one.

Jane Hauprich's panel with blue lines to follow
There are a lot of different designs there! It took me awhile to work through this one. I wasn't very good. I'm better without any lines or stencils or markings. When I have to follow lines, I can't follow the lines (does that make sense?)

I made the mistake of using blue thread! Then you can really see where I went outside the lines. I changed thread on the outer rows (to cream) and then added my own free motion designs in the very outside border.

Jane's practice panel before soaking in water
I soaked it and pulled the backing around to the front for binding. What do you think?

This is a real treasure of stitches. You can see them even better in the image from Jane's website:

Jane Hauprich's practice machine quilting panel
Here is a short descriptive from her website:

Skill Builder Pre-Printed Whole Cloth available in black or white.
Use this fabulous piece to practice your free motion quilting.  You can use this on a domestic machine, longarm machine or even hand-stitch if you would like.  The lines are water soluble.  There are directions inside so that you can use this over and over again to practice, or use it one time.  This piece measures approx. 20” x 20” and comes in black or white fabric.

$12 each.

Visit her store: Stitch by Stitch Custom Quilting

I'm off to Texas (Dallas area) to teach this weekend. One of my classes is Free Motion Quilting. I am taking these two new samples. I have found that my students seem to breathe a sigh of relief when they can have lines to follow. That's why I bring each of them a stencil. And then they can see if indeed they can follow the lines!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Christmas in August with Benartex

Just to let you know: I am NOT a cat person, but this collection called Cat-i-tude is so gorgeous, I just may have to make an exception. What do you think of the main panel? As you can see, each of the six frisky cats is a good size to become the center of an awesome block. And, from what I know about cats, they ALWAYS like to be center stage, right?
Main Cat-i-tude panel
Now let's look at the fabrics, blocks and final project!

Cat-i-tude Fabrics (minus the panel)
And a small piece of a border print:

Catitude fabrics with border print
I was very drawn to the 6 panels of those frisky cats. I cut them out (they will finish pretty close to 10" square. My plan was to use an ATTIC WINDOW treatment using my Magical Mitering technique.

I pulled two fat quarters for each of the six panels that I thought would work best.

Blue kitty lighting up his life!
 Frisky green kitty batting at an ornament.

Another frisky kitty wanting to taste those ribbons. Yum, yum!

 Purple kitty thinks this package has her name on it.

Another blue kitty who looks bored with the entire frisky business!

Oh. I'm SO bored.
 And one last kitty who is tangled up in those red beads.
Oooooh. Beads!
I cut 3" x 15-1/2" strips from the sets of coordinating fat quarters. Two of one print, two of its companion. I am going to stitch them on in an unorthodox manner and miter the four corners of each panel without using a y-seam from the wrong side. Stay with me here.

I stitched a strip to the top and bottom of each panel, centering them. There will be 3+ inches extending beyond each panel edge.
Notice the pins in the center of the strip and panel
Sew strip as shown, ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGE OF PANEL. Go another 1/2" or so in order to see your stitching. Press seam TOWARD the panel.
Top strip sewn and pressed
Next strips (the black) are sewn BEGINNING AND ENDING where the first strips cross. Notice the + sign on the pic. That is the intersection.
Begin and end stitching of side strips at the 1/4" mark.
Press these side strips OUTWARD. Fold the side strips under as shown in each corner, creating the miter. Pin in place.

Now I'm ready to top stitch with monofilament thread. I put black thread in the bobbin in case any color "beads up" to the top. Here's one other panel with the top stitching. I know it's hard to see; that's the point!

What's that look like on the back? I'm glad you asked. You can see that I used a simple, small, short zigzag stitch. You can see the fabrics folded.

Then I trimmed away the excess. This is done for all four corners of each panel.

Now let's see them all together. I'm not sure about a border. I may just squeeze some 4" x 15" strips out of all the fat quarters used to make it pieced. But for now, here she is.

Go check out the Cat-i-tude fabrics and get ready to be inspired. Oh, and by the way. This is the ONLY time I will allow cats in my back yard. I'm a dog person. But these kitties will certainly make some child smile, won't they?