Sunday, May 14, 2017

Tutorial for May Believe Circle Blocks

May is my month to choose the design of our quilt for the Believe Circle of do. Good Stitches. While I did get my idea out there at the first of the month, the instructions were very general and I had not even made my own blocks to share. There was some feedback that maybe my instructions were a bit too general so hopefully this tutorial will help.

The strip pieced portion of the block is created using a foundation behind the strips. Since the strips may be from scraps that are not on grain, the foundation stabilizes the piece and keeps it from getting stretched or distorted. The strip piecing should somewhat grade from light to dark and there should be two bold color strips added in the darker side of the strip set. I went through my stash and cut a lot of strips, then laid them out in the order I preferred in the block. There is no set width for the strips but mine ranged from 1 1/2" to 3" wide.

The strip pieced portion of the block will be cut down to 10 1/2" square so make sure your foundation square is at least that size. A little bigger is better.  The foundation fabric should be thin and light. Batiste works great. I have a good bit of older fabric in my stash and some of it is less expensive lighter weight fabric that I keep just for this purpose. Lay the center strip right side up on top of the foundation fabric. Lay the fabric that will go next to it right side down on top of the center strip. Stitch a 1/4" seam. Flip the second strip right side up and press. Continue this way until your foundation piece is covered by strips.

This is what it will look like from the back before you cut it to size.

And here is the strip pieced square once it is trimmed to a 10 1/2" square.

Next you will need two 2 1/2" x 10 1/2" strips in a very light color. You will also need a 3" square from the very light fabric and a 3" square of one of the bright colors from the block.

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the wrong side of the very light 3" square. Put the 3" squares right sides together and stitch a scant quarter inch seam on either side of the drawn line. Cut along the drawn line. Press open the two units and square them up to 2 1/2".

Lay the block out as pictured. Stitch one strip to the side of the block and one half square triangle to the end of the second strip. Be sure to position the bright triangle corner to the upper right.

Now stitch the bottom strip to the top block and strip and your block will be complete.

What about the extra half square triangle? For Believe Circle members, please send the extra in with your blocks. It will be used in the outer border of the quilt.

Believe Circle members should make two blocks. I made one using warm colors.

And the other block is with cool colors. You don't have to do that with yours. The most important thing is to use bold, bright colors.

The inspiration for these blocks comes from a quilt I saw on Pinterest.

Thanks for your patience, Believe Circle. I am looking forward to making a beautiful quilt from your May blocks.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Five Small Memory Quilts

More than two years ago, I made my very first memory quilt from the clothing of a loving father. The daughter gifted it to her mother and I understand it has been displayed on her mother's bed every day since then.

Late last year she asked me if I would take the scraps from that project and make five small quilts so that each of her siblings could also have a memory quilt to remember their father by. That is the primary project I have been working on in 2017. She wanted to gift them for Father's Day this year and I will be delivering them to her this week.

I wanted to make these versatile so that they could be used as a pillow, a table topper, or a wall quilt. Each one has an envelope backing so that a pillow form can be easily inserted.

Here it is as a table topper. Each small quilt is 23" to 24" square. The backings are made from clothing as well. They are just as unique as the quilt fronts.

It was a sunny and breezy day when I was taking photos. There were very few big pieces left by the time these backs were made. The center one uses a shirt that was a bit too thick for patchwork but made a great pillow back. The pillow form fits in that one by unbuttoning the shirt front.

Here is a closer look at each of the quilt fronts.

I was constantly reminding myself that the focus of these quilts is the clothing. Not the patchwork. Not the quilting. There were a couple of tops I made and set aside because the clothing was not the focus. While I love them all, this simple square in a square is one of my favorites, mostly because in the beginning, I thought it would be boring. It is anything but boring.

You can't see it in the picture, but this is the most heavily quilted of the set. I was so nervous with this one because about half way through, I thought it was going to be overdone, but once it was finished, it turned out to be the one with the most old fashioned feel to it. Most of the clothing fabric is shirts. Some is pajamas, and some, like this solid red, is from boxer shorts. In this case, red Santa boxer shorts. It's the perfect accent fabric and I just love the fun behind the history of it.

I wanted each one of these quilts to be special. There was one point when I was struggling to come up with patchwork designs for them. This was a last minute addition to replace one that I was feeling ho hum about. When these were in the completed top stage with no quilting on them, this was my favorite.

What I like most about this quilt, is that every piece of fabric is from clothing. All of the others have a Moda Bella solid for the background. There weren't enough really light clothing items to do that throughout, but I'm happy that this one is all clothing.

This is the only one where part of the quilting is in a darker thread. There is a flower quilted in the center of the larger squares in a dark blue thread, and that same thread is used to stitch lines diagonally through the darker fabrics. There is also a layout mistake with the patchwork on this one. I did not see it until it was far too late to correct, and I think it adds an element of quirkiness. Can you find it?

I am really excited to finish and deliver these small quilts. Making memories is a very special part of quilt making for which I am thankful to be a part.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Camera Quilt - A New Project For An Almost New Year

There was a plan. I was going to finish up my holiday sewing and then slow down with the quilt making for the first couple of months of the year. My sewing room is in an upstairs bonus room so I am away from the core activity of the household. I planned to sit by the fire and read and cross stitch and crochet and just relax and be more visible and available.

While this plan was being made other conversations happened and I found myself committed to five quilting projects for the upcoming year. I did not over commit at all. The first is not even on the horizon until late spring. But the seeds had been planted and I could not stop thinking about these new quilts just waiting to be born. The design for one had been set in my brain so why not pull some fabric for it?

And why not make a test block to see if the mind and the quilt were in alignment? After looking at this block for a day or two, I decided that more lens and less camera would look better, and I lengthened the rectangle on the top left just a little. I also narrowed the side and bottom borders to match the top border.

After all of that, I just had to make a few more blocks to get a better idea of how these blocks were going to look all together. The color of this quilt is supposed to come across as teal and in the beginning I was staying very true to that. It made for a boring quilt. There needed to be pops of other colors throughout to keep it interesting.

The camera lens is what brings life to these blocks. They are quite boring to me without it. At some point, I am going to have to do something about securing the lenses. They are fused on for now. I will probably zigzag or blanket stitch around them by machine. Still thinking about that.

I went back through my stash again to pull a wider range of colors. Then I grouped them. Each camera needs a body, lens, and background. I think I have about 50 fabric sets ready to go.

I am cutting them in groups, then piecing them three at a time. I can stitch together three blocks each morning before leaving for work.

As of this morning, I have 20 blocks pieced. The original plan was to do eight blocks across and ten blocks down, but I did not like eight across. Six seems better, so we will go with that for a while. Each block will finish at 10 inches x 7 1/2 inches.

What I thought was going to be a project for the spring, and one that was going to be worked on over time with a few blocks here and a few blocks there, seems to have taken on a life of its own. I'm okay with that. The new year isn't even here yet. There will be lots of time for fires and reading and relaxation, just as soon as I stitch up a few more camera blocks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Believe Circle December Block - Big Log Cabin Block

This month for our Believe Circle quilt, Tiffany asked for a log cabin block with a five inch center that finished at a minimum of 18 inches. I realized after finishing this that I used a cut five inches for the center, which finishes at 4 1/2 inches. She did not specify cut or finished in her instructions so I hope this will work out for what she has in mind.

This fleece print (bad picture is courtesy of me taking a picture of my computer screen) will go on the back of the quilt and is our color inspiration for the front of the quilt. I had fun going through my stash for this project.

And the sporty backing is in need of some superhero encouragement on the front, right? I was picky about centering the red boom, then I remembered that Tiffany said she was probably going to be cutting our blocks into quarter log cabins and mixing them up. There are plenty of other words that will remain intact when she does. We need fabric like this with sewing words on it. CUT! STITCH! PRESS! FINISH! Oh, I would definitely make something with fabric like that.

This block isn't quite square. It is 18 1/2" x 19 1/2". I thought about squaring it but decided to leave it to Tiffany to decide which of those outer pieces would be better to see a little less of. I'm happy to get this month's block finished so I can get back to some of my secret holiday sewing projects.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Modern Pheasant Pillow

Back in October I visited my daughter and her family for a few days. While I was there I noticed a pheasant themed calendar on the wall. I asked about it and learned that my son-in-law is a fan of pheasants. I had been hoping for some gift giving inspiration while I was there, so that was exactly the kind of thing I needed to know.

When I went looking for pheasant quilty things, I primarly found panels and hunting motifs. That is not what I wanted. I wanted a modern pheasant. There was one picture that worked nicely. I blew it up and traced all the parts.

This is not my usual kind of project but I enjoyed searching for the right colors and fabrics.

I was really nervous about fusing all these tiny parts so I laid him out carefully on top of the traced image to make sure I was happy with the shapes and placement. I also realized that I did not have a suitable background fabric. A quick online fabric order took care of that.

I ordered two different colors of Grunge fabric, a lighter and a darker. I settled on the darker fabric. If this pillow ends up on their sofa, it is a dark gray, and this choice should work better with their other decor.

I matched thread as best I could to each section of the pheasant and free motion stitched around all the parts to make sure they would stay securely on the pillow.

Then it was time for quilting. I used a layer of batting and a thin white batiste on the back. I wanted the pheasant to look like he is standing on the ground so I chose a horizon line and stitched horizontal lines for the ground. A large meander (which always makes me think of clouds) is quilted above the horizon line.

The backing is envelope style with an extra fabric added for interest. I like quilting the back of pillows, too, to give them more body. I layered all the pieces together and then bound it like a regular quilt. It was a little bit challenging to get through the thickness where the backing top and bottom overlap, but it worked out just fine.

I don't make enough pillows to be confident with the pillow form size and the pillow. I don't like them overstuffed but I don't want them too floppy either. The pillow itself is 18 inches when laid flat. I used a 16 inch pillow form to fill it. I think it works. Oh, how I have wanted to share progress with this project on Instagram, but they frequently look at Instagram, so it will have to stay right here in blog land for now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Orange Converse Finished Mini Quilt

An orange Converse shoe quilt. That is not something I would have expected to see on my finished quilt list. But when your teenage son has a friend who owns every color of Converse shoes, it seems like a very fitting and appropriate gift.

This is the second time I have used this pattern. It is fun to make.

When paper piecing, one of the most important things to do is to make sure that the pattern is printed at actual size. I forgot to do that this time, which meant that the finished width of the block is about an inch smaller than it should be. It's not an issue since this isn't part of a bigger project, but it was a good reminder to me to be more careful about that.

The sweet girl receiving this mini quilt plans to study music therapy in college so we had to throw in some music fabric on the back.

Oh, that teeny tiny star. Such a nail biter putting that together. As reference, those lines of quilting are a quarter inch apart.

This quilt was fun to make and will be fun to give. My sewing room has been tidied up as this was the last of my holiday obligation sewing. I am sure I will stitch up a few more gifts to give, but those will be spontaneous projects.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts
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