Friday, March 28, 2014

Diamond Stars Playtime Sew-Along -- Step 3 -- Working with Stripes

So how many stars have you made this week?  And are you feeling more comfortable with chain-piecing through the set-in seams?  If you haven't tried it yet, you need to!!  Don't have a copy of my DVD workshop, Set-In Piecing Simplified?  Order it HERE!

If you are just joining the fun, you can find Step 1 here and Step 2 here.

I keep a UFO handy so the chain-piecing never ends.  If you have more than one project going at a time, just keep a stack of pieces handy and use those for your "leaders and enders" (ala Bonnie Hunter).  I am currently piecing some hexagons into flower motifs for another project and that's what fills the chain-piecing gaps between the steps of the stars.

I found a stripe that works nicely with the colors in this assortment and so here are some tips for cutting stripes for your 60 degree diamonds!

You get to use those mysterious lines that criss-cross many of your rotary rulers.  Quilters use the 45 degree lines off and on, but using the 60 degree lines may be new for you.
The first step is to determine how you want to align the stripes with the shape you are cutting.  I'm going to cut a few where the stripe goes up and down the length of the diamond.  My stripe is an uneven one so the stripes won't repeat or mirror image as the eye moves across the diamonds.
With the template laying on the fabric centered lengthwise on a stripe, push the rotary ruler up against the edge of the template.   Notice that the 30 degree line is lined up with the selvedge of the fabric.  Use that to assure accuracy of the cut.
Pull the template away and cut along the edge of the rotary ruler to create an angle across your fabric.
Then use the template to set up your rotary ruler (as shown in Step 1).
Once you are sure the rotary ruler is positioned correctly, cut a strip.
Now use the template to cut the number of diamonds needed for the block you are making.

 Each diamond will have a different cluster of my stripe, but the stripes will all be oriented the same way.

Here are my stripped diamonds with a set of 3 floral diamonds from my "stack and whack" cutting last week -- this set of florals didn't make a very pretty star together, but I like the way they look with the stripe in this star.
I did an experiment to see if I could get a chevron by cutting diamonds with identical placement on the stripe.  I cut a strip wider than my diamond and folded it in half lengthwise with the wrong sides facing (so there are two layers of fabric under the template in this photo).
Then when I opened the pairs of diamonds out, I got chevrons!  I photographed this star at both angles (points north and south was the other one) but like this orientation better.  Seems a little unbalanced going north and south.  Tilt your head and see what you think.

I also flipped every other one around so the yellow stripe is on the right edge of each diamond -- not too bad. 
Here's another stripe that matches the blue/green star I fussy cut in Step 2.  It's a consistent repeat, but very wide and it's doesn't mirror itself.
Another experiment -- I cut a repeat of the stripe down the length of my yardage.  Once again, I folded it in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.
Before cutting, I laid the template in several different positions on the stripe.  I'm paying attention to where the dashed line (indicating the stitching line) is hitting.  I don't want it in the white because that would melt into the background fabric.  I finally settled on the orientation in the photo -- study it for a minute.
One, two, three cuts, trim the points and I have enough diamonds for a star.
First option for stitching?
Second option?
Third option?  I'm leaning towards the first option but will let it simmer for a couple days before finally stitching it.
I didn't cut the option below because I'm saving it for the next step which will focus on splitting the diamonds.  If I were going to cut it though, I would begin with a strip a bit wider than my template cut across the stripe and then use the flat tip of my template to align the color stripe that I want at the center.
So do you have a stripe in your fabric assortment?  If you do, experiment with it this week and make at least one star.  If you don't, you might want to pull a stripe out of your stash and play with it a bit just for the experience.  And remember if you don't like it at the audition stage -- don't stitch it up.  Set the diamonds aside and you may be able to repurpose them at another stage of our quilt.

As always, if you have questions, post them in the comments below so everyone can see the answers.  Now that we've addressed all the cutting options, we can begin to play more with the diamonds and their relatives to create interesting six-pointed stars.

Mary Huey

All material Copyrighted by Mary Huey Quilts!

If you are having trouble finding the templates locally, you can order them directly from Marti!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Few More Finished Quilts!

Here are a few more winners from the Lake Metroparks Quilt Show -- today (3/26) is the final day!! 

 I found the first place quilt that I missed last week.
Gail Koraith (with Carol Preston)
General Mixed Techniques -- All Sizes

 Best Hand Quilting
Carole Mooney
Applique -- All Sizes
Best Machine Quilting
Linda Henderson
Individual Mixed Techniques -- All Sizes

 People's Choice
Virginia Nekic (with Kathy McCarty)
People's Choice
Louise Mayer
People's Choice
Roberta McAlistar
(lovely quilt, poor photo on my part!)
And the last three are entries from my students!!
 Shaila Sundaresh made this from my 2003 mystery pattern celebrating Ohio's Bicentennial -- always fun to see another one of those finished.  If you'd like the pattern, I think I still have a few copies of it -- just e-mail me at
  Dianne Young started this in my first Hexagons and Allies Seminar -- used Set-In Piecing Simplified technique and "stack and whack" to create a great quilt.  There are four workshops listed on my website that are derived from the original seminar -- I love to teach this technique so check it out and perhaps I can visit your area and teach one of them!
And Mary Paulin made this Double Wedding Ring wall hanging using Marti Michell's templates and that wonderful floral from my shop, Erie Street Quilts.  It reminds me that I have a hunk of that floral in my stash and I need to use it so it doesn't end up on the garage sale table in the future!!

Sharing over at WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced today -- always inspiring to see what other quilters are doing!
Have a good day!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bear Paw with templates

Good morning, Sunshine -- we have that at this moment along with 19 degrees -- gotta love spring in Northeast Ohio -- just glad I'm not in more northerly climes!!  But I've taken advantage of the last couple frozen morning to rake all the sticks off the back lawn before it thaws into a mire of springtime mud!! 
Time to sew!!!  I'm piecing the BEAR PAW that is the second QCQAL block over at Little Bunny Quilts!  The first step to determine what set of Marti Michell's templates to use is to know the size of the block (12" for this project) and determine the "grid" of the block.  This version is a six patch grid -- there are six equal increments across each side of the block.  Can you see that?  Dividing the "grid" into the size of the finished block gives me the finished measurement of one square of the grid -- 2" in this case.  So the small squares and the HST's will be 2" finished and the large squares will be 4" finished.  The templates are labeled by their finished size and seam allowances are included so we don't need to do any more math!
I have left over strips from the first block, so I trimmed them down to 2 1/2" for the HST and small squares.  Layering a polka dot and the background fabric right sides together enables me to cut the HST pairs together.  I cut the four small background squares from the same strip.
Soon they are stacked and ready for the sewing machine.
In no time, I have them stitched up (chain pieced of course!) and stacked in an orderly fashion to be pressed.
Be sure to press the seam flat to set the stitching before opening it and pressing the seam to the dark.  Use the side of the iron rather than the point.  Once the iron is completely covering the HST, I give it a little burst of steam before lifting up the iron.  I like the way steam flattens my work but I don't move the iron around on the piece after releasing the steam -- that prevents stretching.
I decided to introduce a whimsical note to my fabric assortment and found this in my "bright" drawer.  More polka dots and lots of space between motifs! 
 A quick audition before I cut -- think I like all the toes being different. 
I fussy cut 4 motifs with template #8 and laid out all the pieces -- want to be sure to have 4 different color toes on each section.  I appreciated Alison's photographs to remind me to lay out the HST's before sewing so they are pointing in the right direction!
That didn't take long!  And it looks good with the first block and it's the same size!!  No trimming necessary -- wahoo!!  I hate to trim blocks. 
 I'm not sure I'll be able to do a 6" block with every block chosen during this QAL, but I was able to use two of the templates in SET N (#79 and #80) with a template from SET B (#12) for a 6" version of this one.  Another advantage of Marti's templates is their versatility and interchangeability.  Set N is a set of Mini-Geometrics that can stand alone or work with other sets as in this case. 
Here are the results!  I left the whimsical print out and made each paw the same print -- I like that look, too!  Cutting and piecing both blocks took about 1 hour and 15 minutes plus I also made a little progress on a machine pieced hexagon project -- I can add hexies as my leaders and enders, (ala Bonnie Hunter) by applying the set-in piecing simplified technique!!  Love those BONUSES!!!
And here's the two 6" blocks together! 
I'm looking forward to learning what the next member of this family will be and whether I can use some more of Marti's rotary cutting templates to cut the pieces.
Job done!!  Time to pull a pile of quilts together for my How I Learned To Color program at a local guild meeting tomorrow evening! 
Have a good day!
Mary Huey

Monday, March 24, 2014

Diamond Star :Playtime Sew-Along -- Troubleshooting Step 2 and some other tidbits!!

Good morning all you followers!!  I hope you've had time to make a fussy cut 6-pointed star or two! 

The piecing should have been easier for this step if you did a few stars from Step 1.  The only pitfall I've experienced with a fussy cut block is when I don't like the fussy cut after I lay it out.  But never fear, don't discard those diamonds!!  Just use 3 of them with another print for a two fabric star like I did here. 

You'll see the other 3 diamonds later this week in the "cutting with stripes" post.

On this set, I flipped every other diamond 180 degrees -- don't think it works this time but someday it might so I often try it just in case!

Or hold onto the diamonds and perhaps trimming them for a "star flower" or "hexagons" for future steps will redeem them?

And if all else fails, they might be useful for trimming at the end of the Sew-Along for edge fill-ins. 

Be sure to take time to identify what specific aspect of the cut didn't work for you so you can learn from it and avoid repeating the same misstep in the future.

If you encountered any other pitfalls with the fussy cut 6-pointed stars, let me know in the comments section below and I'll respond so everyone can learn from it, too!

Mary Huey

All material Copyrighted by Mary Huey Quilts!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

EPP Progress

Such a busy week -- seems like I barely made it to my sewing machine.  But every evening, I sat down with my box of hexies and added some more to the wreath!  Last evening I began to add the soft floral hexies to square it up. 

 I have drafted a more elaborate plan in EQ5 (no, I haven't upgraded) but decided it would take away from the central medallion which was the whole point of this piece.  So I'll file the plan for another project and keep this one simple. 
The soft floral is a leftover from the border of a quilt we made at my shop to celebrate the 25th anniversary -- I'm wondering where that quilt is?  Did I sell it?  Did I give it away?  Or is it hiding in a pile of quilts here in the house?  Hmmmm?
I also made two more little hexie flowers to match my Soupcon QAL piece -- still not sure I'll use them -- I move them around every time I got near the work wall.  No hurry -- I'll just let it ferment for a bit. 

Linking up at Hexie Weekend again -- looking forward to seeing what others have been doing in hexie way!!

Mary Huey