Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Windham Wednesdays with Fiesta - Olé!

I never would have thought of sewing with fabric that celebrates the Mexican holiday "Day of the Dead." You know - sugar skulls and other spooky images. I was raised in California and knew about this. I had a lot of Mexican friends whose families observed it. Fine with me. I got the Easter Bunny and chocolate eggs and some candy canes at Christmas. Plenty of sugar for me!

My middle daughter fell in love with some beautiful sugar skull flower pots from Trader Joe's. Windham has the Fiesta line and sent me some fabrics! Big WOW! And they aren't scary, either.

Fiesta Collection by Windham Fabrics
There are two other fabrics (guitars and sugar skulls) that have the black background, but I didn't get any of that. But I was ready to stitch up some fun things. I looked around on Pinterest and saw a large quilt with a sugar skull in the center of a Dresden Plate. That was good enough for me. I had no idea what size the blocks were, if they used an 18 degree wedge ruler, etc. I just started cutting.

I grabbed my cottage cheese lid and drew a circle on freezer paper, cut out the center and cut out this happy looking face. I interfaced it and it was ready to be the center!

Fussy cutting a Sugar Skull motif
I cut 8" high Dresden Wedges using my own ruler. I added that yellow/gold from Windham's Bedrock collection because I needed a 5th color.

Smiling Sugar Skull with 4 sets of 5 blades.
Here's a pic of my multi-sized Dresden Ruler (8" height). You probably have something similar to this. If you have my Modern Vortex pattern, it's the same size. Each of my wedges for the Sugar Skull was cut from a single (not stripped) fabric.

My Dresden/Vortex ruler
Here's my Bedrock (what I have left from sewing various projects). It's an awesome blender. I've included it several times here in blogville. I was able to get 4 golden wedges from my scraps.

Bedrock blenders by Windham Fabrics
Now, back to those wedges. I stitched them, but Little Miss Sugar Skull wanted to be in the picture (again).

Little Miss Sugar Skull and my 20 dresden wedges.
Stitched 5 wedges together and then appliquéd to a background square. And 3 more times. Trimmed away background fabric BEFORE joining the 4 squares together.

 Appliquéd the interfaced Sugar Skull to the center and trimmed away excess.
Back of Dresden ring
And here she is, right where she wanted to be: center stage, smiling at us!
20-1/2" Dresden with Sugar Skull center
Little Miss Sugar Skull wanted some company, so I gave her two friends disguised as mug rugs. This uses my Coffee Cups paper pieced pattern.

Two Sugar Skull mug rugs (aka, Coffee Cups)
I've made this many times before using several other collections. One was with Mimosa.

Paper pieced Coffee Cups using the 2015 Mimosa Collection by Windham

Here are 10 of them I still haven't finished. Not sure if I want to put them into a quilt.
10 more Coffee Cups!
So, if you're interested, you can find the patterns for:

Monday, August 24, 2020

Cutting 60 Degree Diamonds for EPP

I use a lot of diamonds in my English Paper Piecing. I love to use them alone as in my Seven Sisters Quilt. Each of the 7 star blocks uses 12 diamonds (2") and they are set together with orange triangles. You can see this and over 100 of my EPP blocks and quilts on my EPP Pinterest Board!

Seven Sisters made using 2" diamonds
*****Diamonds can be cut from fabric  based on the finished size of the diamond PLUS 3/4” (3/8“ seams on each end). Use your rotary cutter to slice off a 60 degree angle on one end. Measure X” from that edge and cut a fabric diamond. Continue cutting to get the needed number of diamonds for your block. In the example below, I am cutting for a much larger quilt unit, but you get the idea.

Here is a simple chart for 2" diamonds.

Cutting and using diamonds in English Paper Piecing
Measure the paper diamond from flat side to flat side. Add 3/4" for seams (3/8" twice) and cut a strip to that width. Use your standard acrylic ruler with the 60 degree diagonal line and slice every 2-1/2" along the diagonal.

Here are a few more images:

Cut strip based on paper size; slice off selvedge edge at 60 degrees.
You can see the papers and fabrics combined:

EPP diamonds for some very cute blocks
I shared a lot of steps to these and other blocks in my English Paper Piecing Week. You can find the links for those 5 days on the right side bar.
Hearts and  Star Bouquet Block
And some of the diamonds used in my Festive Season Table Topper:
One of the larger 3" diamonds in my 
Do you remember this?

Festive Season Table Topper
And I cut jewels from the diamonds. First, cut the diamonds.

More Diamonds
And I used them in this most recent wreath block (in the center). I used 3" EPP diamond papers.

Festive Season Wreath
Check out my Pinterest Board devoted to English Paper Piecing. I think I need to update it, but there is a lot of inspiration there!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Windham Wednesdays on Thursday

I woke up in the middle of the night (what's new?) and realized that, in my quest for the perfect collection of fabrics for an upcoming Mystery Quilt project with my local guild, I hadn't considered the Norma Rose Collection that's been sitting on my shelves for a few months!! It was sent by Windham Fabrics as they know I like to feature their latest collections here in blog-ville.

Norma Rose by Natalie Barnes for Windham Fabrics (ships in October 2020)
I should have known! I am particularly drawn to all of Natalie Barnes' designs. All the fabrics work well with each other. This collection has 20 different skus and plenty of contrast. Look at those printed grays! Five!!

I have loved:
I still have quite a few fat quarters from Hand Maker and Maker's Home. They will be a perfect blend with what I have. Here is Maker's Home. Can you see the similarities in the colors and personality?

Maker's Home
I was racking my brain to try and remember what I did with most of the Hand Maker fabrics. Well, I finally realized I had combined them with some other Windham fabrics (Lemmikki). Do you remember this quilt?
Winding Ways using a lot of Hand Maker (also by Natalie Barnes)
I also pulled two older Windham Collections. Allow me to show you those, too. Here is the Wisdom Collection. I was actually sent TWO of these bundles of 20 prints. (Those two large pieces on the right are not part of the collection).

Wisdom (from 2018)
I pulled the Gypsy Collection (or what I had left of it). I sewed a quilt using several of the prints.

Gypsy with some lights
Isn't it wonderful to look at all this pretty fabric? I have always enjoyed Windham's offerings and I think you do, too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Cutting Fabric for English Paper Piecing

I have news for you: you probably have the EXACT tool/ruler to cut most fabric patches for English Paper Piecing (EPP). You don't need those specialty templates for each size. You don't need a triangle ruler for each size. You don't need an acrylic template for each size. While they are nice, they aren't necessary. And this will save you a lot of money - and time! (And if you don't have a 60 degree triangle ruler, I have them in my Etsy store).

2" hexagons, 1-3/4" hexagons, 1-1/2" hexagons - and so on.

Stack of various sizes of Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks
My favorite ruler is an Olfa 6" x 12" acrylic ruler. It has those marvelous diagonal lines that you may not have thought much of. And the close second to that ruler is my multi-sized 60 degree triangle ruler in both 6-1/2" and 8-1/2" sizes. You probably have one, too. It could be a Creative Grids one or Fons and Porter. But it MUST have a blunted tip for it to work with my tips. One of the first 60 degree rulers on the market was by Sarah Nephew (and I had one for years), but it didn't have the blunted tip and you had to work with 1/8ths of an inch all the time.

6-1/2" 60 degree ruler (with 1/4" lines)
And my larger ruler is 8-1/2" high.

8-1/2" ruler (you can find it in my Etsy store)
I think my examples will make sense of this. We begin with cutting hexagons. That is the most common size for EPP. We make a LOT of Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks, right?

These little GFG blocks were made with 3/4" hexagons. That's as small as I ever wish to go!
Auditioning my GFG blocks on some background diamonds
 These were made with 1" hexagon papers.
Even more GFG blocks using 1" hexagon papers
Now let's see how to cut ANY size fabric hexagon! I'll start with 1" hexagons (I've shared this before during English Paper Piecing Week). These calculations have NOTHING to do with length of side; they are based on HEIGHT of the paper hexagon.

A 1" hexagon paper measures 1-3/4" high. Add 3/4" to allow for seams. Cut a strip 2-1/2" by WOF. Fold it in half as shown, with fold on the bottom and raw edges at top (this is VERY IMPORTANT.) A 2-1/2" strip will finish to 2" high (when stitched into anything quilty). Because the fabric is folded, we now look for the 1" horizontal line on the ruler (see below) - because 1" is half of 2"!

I'm using my 6-1/2" high ruler here. I have since added 1/4" lines for even more accuracy. When in doubt, PRACTICE on construction paper!

Cutting fabric hexagons for 1" papers using a 2-1/2" strip
 Now cut on both sides of the folded strip.

Cut on both sides
 Unfold and - voila - a perfect fabric hexagon with plenty of seam allowance all around.
Perfectly cut fabric hexagon!
Now they are ready to be pinned. I like to paper punch the center for the pin (and it also helps when I remove the paper).

Fabric pinned to paper hexagon
Look at the next photo. The left side shows how I cut and pinned my fabric for at least 15 years! Oversized rectangles. Then I would trim them later. The one on the right shows the fabric hexagon cut using my ruler. I like this method better, don't you?

Old way on the left; new, streamlined way on the right.
Make sure you move the ruler over like this. Do NOT flip flop it
Don't flip flop the ruler or you get this alien.

Don't flip flop the ruler!
I've done the math for you (aren't you glad?) And as I was working this out, you will see that the surprise comes in the relationship between the paper hexagon and the horizontal ruler line you use to make those cuts. See if you can find it.

For cutting fabric hexagons (always round up if within 1/8"):

  • 1" paper hexagon measures 1-3/4" high. Add 3/4" for seams. Cut a 2-1/2" strip. Align 1" ruler line of ruler with raw edges of fabric at top.
  • 1-1/4" hexagon measures 2-1/4" high. Add 3/4" for seams. Cut a 3" strip. Align 1-1/4" ruler line of ruler with raw edges of fabric at top.
  • 1-1/2" hexagon measures 2-1/2" high. Add 3/4" for seams. Cut a 3-1/2" strip. Align 1-1/2" ruler line of ruler with raw edges of fabric at top.
  • 1-3/4" hexagon measures 3" high. Add 3/4" for seams. Cut a 3-3/4" strip. Align 1-3/4" ruler line of ruler with raw edges of fabric at top.
  • 2" hexagon measures 3-3/4" high. Add 3/4" for seams. Cut a 4-1/2" strip. Align 2" ruler line of ruler with raw edges of fabric at top.
Thanks for your interest in this time saving method. Forget the various sizes of templates. Forget the clumsy rough-cutting around a paper hexagon. Next week I'll share some great (and very quick) tips on cutting diamonds and jewels.

And if you need a multi-sized 60 degree ruler, check out my Etsy store. I have a 6-1/2" and 8-1/2" size. They come with directions on how to cut all sorts of hexagons, half-hexagons, triangles and half-triangles for traditional sewing. And I've included the pattern for the Happy Hexie Table Runner as a bonus with each ruler!

Lots of beautiful hexagons
If you'd like to revisit any of my English Paper Piecing posts over the past 8 years, look on the right side bar and you can click on lots and lots of links! So much eye candy (and tutorials there, too!)

Monday, August 17, 2020

Pickle Dish (or FAT 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. This is one of my most recent ones. The center is 22" (actually, those blocks are 11-1/4" finished, so the center is 22-1/2" finished).

Fat Double Wedding Ring, also called Pickle Dish
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. This is NOT for beginners. It is foundation (paper pieced) and I believe doable only because it IS paper pieced!

Traditional Pickle Dish
Then I made one using some Kaffe Fassett fabrics. Lots of points!

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. There are NO "pointy-points"!
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 year. 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. Though it's listed as Pickle Dish, it's just an imposter! Here is a single block that measures 11-3/4" UNFINISHED. Yes, there is curved piecing going on, but I make it a bit easier because the white outside concave pieces get cut oversized to make the joining much easier.

Single block from that 16 block quilt above.
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 Etsy 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 Etsy 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! Unless you don't have any scraps (that's a joke, right?)