* This is clearly a spoof on The Julie/Julia Project. All the quilts below, however, are the real deal.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Few Thoughts

Okay we are now coming to where life gets challenging..... starting next month (next block) we will mess with the pattern to simplify things.

It is here that I took my long pause in working on this project back in May. We have a small farm and the vegebeds took me away from focusing like a laser (ha!) on this endeavour. I had made the one back in February and thought at the time... "hey, you better make that huge center square before you use up all the big chunks of fabric you have to work with!"

That was a wise decision. And I made all 6 of them before I picked up the Courthouse again in early May and finished another one, the RedWhiteandBlues. I thought, as long as I have the fabric out, let me just focus on finishing the whole quilt. So I did BUT that was not how I intended to work though the "project". The idea was to make a series, the same block many time over to learn the intricacies of each well.

The thing is, with me, as time goes by, I tend to forget things. I mean to write them down and am so easily distracted, I forget....oh LOOK ! a PONY!

That was when I saw the film Julie/Julia and the brain-storm of this blog came to me and I took pictures as I worked through the third one. I thought, if I write it as a blog, I will have the whole thing to print out for my file. That was pretty smart.

The block is fun to make because you have to think..... When you make it, try to block out a good chunk of time to devote to it. You don't want to cut it out and have to stop to fix dinner or drop the car off at the shop.

For one thing, it has lots of pieces and Y-seams to deal with. You will need space as well as time to lay it all out before you start sewing. If you mess up and sew something in the wrong place, you will have to unsew and you don't want to go there!

Try to get good contrast when you choose your fabrics and watch out for directional fabrics...(you'll see in the next post) because that will mess up the look badly. (again, you can be a good example or a terrible warning for others. I tend to be both in this case)

As I have only made 3 out of 6, I will join you now and complete the second half. This is true as well to the remaining 6 blocks in the BOMb. All of the RedWhiteandBlues, the Oriental and the Christmas blocks are complete.

So I will wait a few more days before I post those shots. Hopefully I will have the other 3 completed by then.

Block 5 - Bear's Paws

Bear's Paws.... pretty straight-forward. No Y-Seams to deal with.

You can click the image to get a closer view for cutting instructions.

There is little for me to say about this block....You can make both the paws and claws the same fabric or mix it up a little to add texture/interest. Or make the center "cornerstone" a different fabric altogether. It's up to your design needs.

Here are my six blocks.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Block Four - Rolling Crosses - UpDated

Block Four is the third on the top row. I skipped it the last time because looking at it is enough to give you headache.

But sewing it is not bad, IF you break it down to 4 square units.

To guide you through it, I have cut my pieces exactly as the pattern depicts. Later, when you scroll down you will see how I chose fabrics for my six quilts and change them I did, with varying degrees of success. Or failure, depends how you want to look at it.

I suggested you print out the Pattern Pieces and use them as templates. UPDATE _ however, I can't seem to scan these as a PDF without the scanning device changing the dimensions. This is significant as if they are not correct and accurate, your block will not work out. SO ... Please click on the image and use the layout you see to either cut the fabric or make a template from which you will cut your fabrics.

As you cut them out, be sure to mark the corresponding Letters. "F" and "C" are very similar and you don't want to get confused. Like I did. (twice)(grrr)

You see the whole block laid out in the correct positions. Now is the time to make any changes you think will improve you final block.

Here is the first square. I like to make one by itself to make sure the pieces all fit together as they should. This saves a lot of time if in fact a mistake as been made.

Place the Dark "E" on top of the "F" and the light "E" on top of the "D". Sew the lines and press to the dark side. NOW if you have chosen to change the color sequences, just remember to press accordingly. You want, when these pieces join together later, that the seams are going in the opposite direction. This minimizes the bulk.

Place the "C" on top of the "F-E" unit and the "B" on top of the "D-E" unit. It is critical that you carefully align the pieces as centered as possible and sew the lines. (please note there is a slim portion of the "F-E" unit visible... this is as it should be).

Fingerpress to the dark side..

Align these two pieces right-sides together using the 45 degree intersecting seams as your point of reference. This intersection should match perfectly.
Sew these units together. Your "point" should look like this: (don't cut the "ear" yet!)
Press the seams to minimize bulk and your unite should look like this:

Now lay this final unit on top the "A" piece and pin. I like sewing with this unit face up so I can "hit" that center intersection exactly as I sew the final seam.

Again press to the dark side and you have one corner completed. The back should look like this:

Resist the urge to "square up" this unit.

Okay, if you are feeling pretty smug, go do the other 3 corners. If you had issues, either unsew all those seams and start over or do ONE corner again before you move on to doing all three simultaneously.

When you have 4 corners completed, it's time to assemble the block and here is where bias works in your favor. Place the upper right on top of the upper left and pin carefully, making certain the 1/4" seam meets perfectly at the center first and then to the top and the bottom of the sewline.

Please note that I placed a pin at the center and folded back the top and bottom corners so you can see the precision with which I pinned the layers.
You can gently pull the fabric to make them meet if they don't happen to hit it bang on, but obviously NOT if they are more than a smidge off. Bias can make you crazy but it can so be your friend.

As I sew these 4 units together, I press the seam allowance OPEN, like a butterfly's wings. At this point, there is no great way to minimize all that bulk so I press them open.
Yours should measure 16" square.

Take a look at the sample below and you will see that while the points are pretty darned good and perfect in some places, the outer joins are sometimes a tad skimpy. As long as I have at least 1/8" for a seam allowance along the perimeter, I call it good-to-go. If it is less, I pull the stitches out and figure out where I went wrong.

Here are the 6 for my Fabric Project:

So if you think you can take on this challenge, give me a day to figure out how to post the PDFs for the patterns you'll need.
Thank you for reading this far!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Block Three: Excursions In The Night

It occurs to me I should preface the next block with random thoughts.

If you look at the master diagram to the upper left you will notice we have completed Blocks One and Two.

I told you I was going to mix things up a bit now and then. We did the second in row 1 first because it was a way to test the waters. We dd the first one in row 1 next to kick it up a notch,

I am making the fourth block our third because... well LOOK at the third one in the row and YOU TELL ME if you want to tackle it just yet!

Our NEW Block No. Three (the fourth in that row) is made exactly the same as No. One (HSTs) and to be honest I wondered at that time, "Why would Leslie do this?"

I didn't even like the layout of the squares but I made one as shown. But me being me, I went with a 3 color design, instead of the two you see on the master.

Still didn't like it. (note to self: place that block FAR away from the Block One!)

So, with 5 more of them to go, I thought I'd turn them around and see what all I could do with 16 HSTs.

Here is the Blue and Gold.

Okay that's better, to me.

First Brights:

Oohhhh I LIKE that spin! Too bad the multicolored on is so sketchy

And the 2nd Brights:

mmmmm not a big fan of this.
Orientals: let;s go back to that spinning....

Red.White and Blues: (And back to the same layout as Blue/Gold.)

The more I thought beyond what was placed in front of me, the more fun it has become for me. I suppose this, too, is or should be a part of our daily "challenge" in life itself. If we face something we don't like, why not "turn" it into a positive?

I have never been one to take a pattern and say to myself, "right, I like everything about this pattern SO MUCH that I MUST make it like the one I see." I dink around with borders usually. I don't enjoy slapping the same ol' same ol' inner border/outer border on every quilt.

With this turtle quilt I had so much of the batik fabric left over I cut them into squares for a second splashier border. (I also had my turtles flying to the right, not the left like the pattern sample)

The one below is called Hopscotch Two and when I started to cut the block pieces, I saw straight away I had to mess around with changes. To begin with, the pattern calls for fat quarters cut into 2- 9 1/2" squares. But that left me with a huge chunk of fabric and one smallish quilt. If I cut the squares 9", I could get 4 instead of 2. (not to mention one heck of a lot larger throw quilt)

That STILL left me with a 2-3 1/2" strip from each color and that leftover is what I used to make a more interesting, edgier border. I had to buy one more fat quarter and the dark blue fabric but still, I would much rather buy a little more than end up with a bag of scraps. After all, it was all this "trash stash" that lead me to this current challenge.

So to answer my question as to why would Leslie do this? I'm gonna go with.....she added another level of challenge. See what you see and look again, why dontcha?

So using the HST way of piecing, off you go!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Block Two

So this is going to be your first little challenge at the dreaded Y-seams. But it is not difficult at all if you DO AS I SAY!

Begin by cutting the simple squares: to follow this design EXACTLY .....

......You will need 4 yellows and 1 greenish square cut 3 5/8". Those are the "C"s.
You will need 4 "B"s . PLEASE Click on that layout above to read those dimensions for yourself! They are 10 1/2" long by 3 5/8" and then you trim away the 45 degree angles.

Again I stress the importance of accurate cutting. Don't think "well that's close enough!" Horseshoes and hand-grenades, people! Not sewing!

Now, observe if you will the design above shows all those lovely blue "A"s and the words read "patches". This is an irksome feature in EQ5 and it seems a little confusing to me. You SEE the square and that looks like a single unit but that diagonal line means to cut it in half so to EQ5 that makes it 2 pieces. 2 pieces= 2 "patches". I do like that the colors are readily understood.

(Notice please that the outer corner triangles are 2 different shades of blue in the opposite corners. YOU may want to make those all four the same. I know I did. Do as you prefer.)

Please cut the 4" squares as shown but DON'T cut them corner to corner just yet. (I'm going to explain why when we start to actually sew.) So, 1 light blue, 1 darkish blue (or 2 the same) , 2 medium blues and 2 green SQUARES.

Okay you've got your A, B and Cs all cut.. now let's address the "D" and "E" of it all.

I am going at this rather laboriously NOW because this one is the EASY one and I don't want to have to type all this "instruction" for every block. It would be as tedious to READ it as it would to write it. SO if in the future I ask you to pay attention at some point, that means, slow down... understand what you are about to cut and you should have no problems......

You will notice that you are cutting 2 "D"s and 2 "E"s and that the angle goes off in different directions. SO cut 4 7 1/8" x 3 5/8" rectangles and trim away IN THE APPROPRIATE directions 2 of each.
You now have all the "patches", or pieces as I prefer to call them, to complete this block.

Let's break it down to 3 separate sections. Sew your "center" column (yellow-green-yellow) (In my example it is yellow-blue-yellow)

Now lay out your "left" and "right" columns like this.

1. We'll sew the blue "D" and "E" to either side of 2 yellow squares, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance at the 45 degree edge. Do this for the other "column". Finger-press the seam allowance AWAY from the center.

I use this tool by Jinny Beyers to mark an accurate 1/4" Start/Stop points

2. Mark those 1'4" Start/Stop points on the back of the"B" pieces (see above) and align the points at the intersection.

Begin at one "point" and BE CAREFUL not to sew that seam allowance you pressed (above). Sew to the stop point. If you turn it over, it should look like this!

If it DOES, do the other "column". If it doesn't, go back and read the instructions again to see what went wrong. Do it until it is correct.

NOTICE: I am sewing with red thread to make it easier for you to see where I stop and start. I usually use neutral color threads when I sew.

3. "flip" the fabric so the right-sides are facing and align the 2 points, as shown below.
AS YOU DO THIS, be very careful to not pull along that diagonal edge. This is the BIAS edge and you will find that it stretches VERY easily out of shape. You certainly don't want that! Also, I find it easier to pull the center square out, so it looks like a triangle. This helps keep the starting point accurate. I have pulled the blue over so you can see how well-aligned the fabrics are. Start at your marked point at the center intersection and sew toward the pointy end.

See how nice it looks on the right-side. Sew the opposite Y-Seam.
Now to the other side and check it out. Pretty sweet, huh?

Tips!; When sewing on the bias, let the machine do the work. The thing you pay attention to is keeping the alignment straight and not losing the 1/4" seam allowance, especially as you reach the point at the end of the line. The feed dogs have a tendency to let the fabric shift, so if you use a stilletto as you sew, you will find this to be no problem. I simply use my fingertip.

Everybody has their own ways of pressing (ironing) the seam allowances. I do it however it best minimizes the bulk.

Now that you mastered that column, go finish the other one!

Okay you should now have these 3 "units":

Let's work on the HST (half square triangles) When you originally cut these "A" pieces, I asked you not to cut the diagonal lines. Here is why: Cutting the diagonal leaves you with a lot of bias edges. These are notoriously diffy to sew. Not impossible, but why make it more so than necessary? is my philosophy.

Take the 2 -"A" squares of the same material you used for the "D" AND "E" pieces and set that aside for later (trust me) .............and with the 4 - "A" squares you have remaining, make two sandwiches: one the darker single square and one greenish square and the other sandwich with the lighter blue and second greenish, right-sides facing each other. On the back of the green or lightest fabric, draw a line from corner to corner. I like to press the sandwich with the iron to magnetize the unit. It helps to keep them from shifting. Or pin them.... it's up to you.

Take the first sandwich and sew this unit a 1/4" away from and on both sides of the drawn line. When you cut now on the drawn line you will end up with 2 HSTs! Do the same with the second sandwich.

Take the remaining 2 squares and cut them diagonally in half. Align the triangles up with the remaining "B" pieces. Pin and sew 1/4" seam allowance, end to end, on all four sides. Finger-press to the corner.

You now have all the units you need to sew together.

Before you start sewing the units together, take a look how different the blocks appear when I switch the corner units around: The pattern's way:

The other way.
I think I'll go with that way. Your block should measure 16" square. That means, class? Correct! 15 1/2" FINISHED. From here on out, if I don't remember to mention it, all the blocks should measure this except the Large Center Block.

Now here is a gallery of other color schemes I made for your viewing pleasure

Please notice again how it changes with the corners being placed differently.

As you can see, I have made quite a few of these now and I think I have a pretty good handle on Y-seams. You get better with practice. Like just about everything in life.

Now you might be thinking... such a lot of words.... It really isn't. I would be SAYING all this if we were side by side. You might also be thinking.... why is she being so elementary? Well, remember back to the days when all this seemed so foreign to you. There may well in the distant future be people reading this without lots of experience in this type of sewing, bias and 45 degree angles. I am writing this for anyone who wants to sew quilt blocks.

To the Beginner who may read this: hang in there. Try it. It is NOT difficult. My first few were sloppy and I missed the points, or I cut the pieces poorly. It's all in the practice.

I have confidence and that is not something that just shows up to say hello.

Next Block is EASY!!! There is however another challenge involved.