Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Finishes!!

Just in the nick of time to share them at A Lovely Year of Finishes 2014!!  I didn't post any goals at the beginning of the month but thought trying to meet the goal of having some finishes this month would be good for me just the same!!

It feels like I've been doing more starting than finishing lately, but in fact, when I went back through my daily log, I've actually only started 8 projects since the beginning of the year and 4 of those are part of my YTD tally of 14 finishes.  So when I fiddle around with some math, I think I've made a dent of -6 in the UFQ column.

As usual it was deadlines that got me moving and I quilted two pieces over the past couple weeks to meet those.  Then while visiting my younger daughter and her family in Pennsylvania this weekend, I finished the bindings!

This is a lap robe for a young friend graduating from high school this spring.  He's an outdoor fellow so I think the fabrics and colors will suit him.  Do you recognize the blocks?  I made them from a "sacred" stack of fat quarters this winter and wrote about them here.
 I kept the quilting very simple -- wavy lines criss-crossing the quilt with a double line randomly.  Fancy stitching would have taken longer and not shown up much on such a busy assortment of fabrics.
This is the second quilt -- a crib size that I made from repurposed pieces of a very old UFQ -- wrote about that adventure here.  I intended it for a charity donation, but my grand daughter took a shine to it and asked for it, so . . . . . .
I love the pattern that evolved around the yellow "border" as I was quilting it.  Need to document it for future use!! 
And my third finish was a dress for my granddaughter.  It met with her approval and had already been worn twice by the time I left for home.  I must say, for someone who majored in clothing in college and has done some pretty elaborate sewing, pattern instructions sometimes baffle me these days.
And this is my BIG start for April, but it's a "caught up".  It's the first block from Karen at Faeries and Fibres for her new EPP hexie QAL which she is calling a Value Proposition.  I started putting the background row of hexies around it last evening.  One down, seventeen to go!
Now the challenge is on to maintain the finishing momentum through May!! 
Mary Huey

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cutting Setting Triangles for On-point Quilt Blocks

With the end of the month looming, I'm organizing my head to set a few goals for next month and one of the finishes I'd like to accomplish is this basket sampler.  I made the 12" blocks a few years ago for a workshop with Marti Michell's Set M which can be used to make 12" 5-patch blocks.  Then when her Long Skinny Sashing Set came out early last year, I set the blocks together using that tool to make the sashed stars.  And since then, I've been hauling it around as a teaching sample for workshops based on her book, Machine Quilting in Sections.  But now it's time to finish it!
 Since I have it back out, I thought it would be a good time to talk about cutting the setting triangles for on-point settings.  I use two different approaches and I'll review each one for you.

In the first which I learned while taking teacher seminars with Mary Ellen Hopkins based on her classic book, It's Okay if You Sit on My Quilt, you need two measurements and plenty of fabric so you can cut big squares of the setting fabric to begin. 

For the edge triangles -- top, bottom, and sides -- you need to know the diagonal measurement.   A 12" square has a diagonal measurement of 17".

To this diagonal measurement, add 2 1/2"  to 3" -- so I need to cut mine 20".  Cut one square of the setting fabric for every 4 setting triangles needed.  Cut each of these squares on both diagonals as diagrammed below.  This keeps the straight of grain on the outside edges of the quilt making it more stable when it's time to add borders.  These triangles will be larger than necessary but I like having that extra "float" around the edges when lining up my border strips -- I can trim it down if need be though I seldom do.
The second measurement is the standard size of the block -- 12" in my case.   Add 2" to this measurement.  Again it's more than necessary but good insurance!  I always need two of these squares as each will be cut on just one diagonal to make 4 triangles for the 4 corners of the quilt.
The second approach is based on Marti Michell's tools.  Several years ago, she introduced Diagonal Set Triangle Rulers which allow you to cut setting triangles from strips.  The advantages of these tools is that you don't need to do any calculations and as long as you keep the straight of grain in the right place, you can cut your setting triangles from strips which sometimes is all one has left of the "perfect" fabric.
There are two styles -- this is the large size of the half triangle for cutting setting triangles for blocks that are from 6" to 16" square.  The card has complete instructions on how to cut with the ruler and if you undo the pink gizmo you see sticking out of the top of the card instead of cutting it off, you can re-attach the card to the tool so you'll know exactly where it is the next time you use the tool!!  The small size tool works for 3" to 9" blocks.  The corner triangles are cut with the same tool.  The ruler gets flipped in the cutting process -- once you've done it a couple times, you may not need to even read the instructions (though I always do just to be sure).
For those who don't want to "flip" the tool, there is now a pair of FULL Diagonal Set Rulers -- the large one is for blocks that are 5" to 16" and the small one is for 2 1/2" to 10" blocks.
To use the tools, you just need to know the finished size of the block!  You may not even need a ruler to get that number?  Each of the horizontal lines on the tools are labeled.  Here I'm cutting setting triangles for 7" blocks.  I start by cutting a strip of the setting fabric to match the line labeled 7" (though I usually bump it up a size just because I like that extra float). 
The first cut makes a triangle for one of the corners of the quilt -- no waste here!
This is the cut using the full size tool -- pretty simple!! 
With the half-triangle tool, it's the same approach -- cut the size strip listed on the tool.  Cut off the first corner triangle.  To align for the first side triangle, I flip the tool to this position and align the top corner to the existing diagonal cut and the top edge of the strip.
This is a close-up of that alignment!  Cut off the triangle along the edge of the tool.  And move down the strip cutting the number needed. 
The instructions that come with the tools are well illustrated and clear.  So look for these tools on your next shopping foray.  I have them here in my sales stock even though they aren't on the website so if you want one, contact me at and I'll advise you of the cost and the shipping.

Back to searching for a couple more projects to finish in May!!

Mary Huey


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

QCQAL Block #4 -- Jacob's Ladder with Marti's templates!

Good morning, quilters!!  Thanks for the lovely feedback about my blog last week!!  A Nudge was the lucky winner of my little pattern collection, Quilters Just Wanna' Have Fun!  It's 9 simple patterns I selected to help my students and customers use beautiful fabric!  So on to today's topic!
It's an easy block to make and I used Marti Michell's Template Set B (#9 and #12) to make the 12" version.  For the 6" version, I used #13 from Set B and #79 from Set N.  I love that I can mix and match these templates!  Do you understand how I decided which templates to use?  If not, leave me a comment and I'll explain it.  Or check out this post that goes along with the QCQAL.
 Since I have a limited amount of this funky polka dot fabric and the fussy cutting I've done is leaving some odd size pieces, I decided to just cut the large triangles from this odd piece so there are arms and legs going every which way. 
I decided to make the diagonal stream of squares the same color -- green -- and then make the rest scrappy dots in warm colors for the contrast since green is a cool color.  Using warm and cool colors gives you another way to create contrast.  I laid it out randomly to begin but as you'll see in the  photo of the finished block I felt it looked too disorganized. 
Alison's directions call for a strip set for these 4-patches, but going scrappy as I did made the templates a good choice.  Once I organized the colors to suit myself, I chain pieced the beginning pairs together.  If you go to the ironing board with the chain intact, you don't have to sort the pairs for the next step. 
And if you flip every other one up before pressing, it simplifies keeping the seams going in the correct direction. 
Now I can just flip the top square up or down and press the seams in opposing directions -- saves time and thinking energy! 
Now I clip the thread chain between each set leaving the chain intact between the pairs that will be stitched together for the final seam of the 4-patches. 
Flip one pair on top of the other. 
And then stack them up for the short trip to the sewing machine.   
Notice that the top seam is pointing towards the presser foot -- that is so when I mesh the seams together, as I push the 4-patch through the sewing machine, the top seam will get "stuck" against the bottom seam and the intersection of the seams won't shift!  Can't do it every time, but do as often as I can! 
So here's the 12" block with the organized 4-patches -- like the balance! 
And here's the 6" block -- completely scrappy 4-patches but the warm colors follow one diagonal and the cool colors the other.  Very random is easier with small pieces I think.
Time to vote for Block #5!!  I have a favorite that I hope will win, but I won't campaign here!!
Linking up over at Freshly Pieced -- love all the links that happen there every Wednesday!
Mary Huey

Monday, April 21, 2014

A New Start?

What should I be doing in the evenings these days?  I should be hand quilting this beauty which is destined for my younger daughter.  It's one of my older UFQ's and I layered it this winter -- working on the third block!!
But what am I doing?  Poking through this lovely stash of "blended" fabrics that I rediscovered while working on my hexie wreath and starting Karen H's new QAL over at Faeries and Fibres.
I spent the past two evenings cutting, basting, and auditioning hexies for the first block which she posted on Friday.   Her block map is on the right.
The theme of the exercise is "value" and mine isn't quite where I want it to be get the look of the spokes on Karen's map. 
Rearranging the hexies doesn't quite do it.
Pink is too bright so maybe another pink?
Maybe? Or maybe no pink at all?  I'll play with it more this evening.
Mary Huey

Friday, April 18, 2014

Diamond Star Playtime Sew-Along - Step 5

Welcome back!!  My collection of stars is growing -- how about yours?  While I intended to just make these stars for step photographing purposes, I seem to be building a new quilt.  The PDF for this step is here.  And if you are just discovering the Sew-Along, Step 1 is here, Step 2 is here, Step 3 is here and Step 4 is here.  It's not too late to join the adventure! 
Today, I'm going to share two star variations that bring hexagons into the mix.  This first one is very simple to piece -- no set-in seams again! 
If you are working with Set G, use these two templates. 
If you are working with Set H, use the large hexagon (#51) and the equilateral triangle (#52d)
Here's all the pieces cut and ready to assemble.  This big hexagon is ideal for a fussy cut. 
The piecing is all straight lines and I often make these as "leaders and enders" while piecing stars that require set-in seams.
The second star combines a hexagon for the center and the shape I call a "conehead" -- it's the 60 degree diamond with one point trimmed off.  Use these three templates if working with Set G
If you are working with Set H, all three of the shapes are combined on #52 -- you'll use #52a, the hexagon, #52c, the conehead, and #52 for the background diamonds. 
Study the "STRIP CUTTING CHART" included in the instruction sheet that came with your template set to determine the strip width needed and how to place the template on the strip.  That's a subtle way of forcing you to read some of the useful information that came with the templates so you'll be more comfortable with them in the future as you apply them to other projects.

This is one of my finished blocks -- you'll need one hexagon and six each of the coneheads and the background diamonds.  My coneheads are a set of "stack & whack" cut diamonds that I didn't yield an attractive center, so I trimmed them into coneheads.
You'll want to review the second half of the DVD workshop, Set-In Piecing Simplified to see how I work through dot-to-dot seams which is necessary at this stage.  So you'll need to chain piece into the first dot, pivot, stitch the seam to the second dot, pivot, and stitch off onto an "ender". 
Some instructions suggest you stitch every other conehead to the hexagon and then come back and insert the remaining three.  I prefer to work my way around the hexagon by adding a conehead, then the second adjacent conehead, and then attach the two coneheads together. 
Don't press any seams until the block is completely set together -- this makes it easier to keep seam bulk out of the way -- trust me on this one.
 Either approach is fine and has more to do with what you are comfortable doing.  So perhaps try both.  
The next few pictures will help you set-in the final conehead or if you are doing alternate ones.  I stitch the last conehead on one side first, remember it's DOT TO DOT.
Then I flip everything around and stitch the opposite "side" seam to the other conehead.  I have NOT joined the conehead to the hexagon yet. 
Then I come back and align the third edge of the conehead with the final edge of the hexagon. 

All the bulk shifts out of the way and you have a clear shot at the final seam -- DOT TO DOT!!  This is the same process I demonstrate on the DVD for setting rows of tumbling blocks together.
At this point, it only remains to add the six background diamonds and you have another finished star!!  To press this block, I alternate the swirls -- this is the center -- and press all the outside points towards the background diamonds.
 Here's a close-up of one of the conehead stars in my Pieceful Constellations quilt -- fussy cutting works very well with this design, too!
Time for you to try a couple stars of your own using these ideas! 

We'll take a two week break here and I want you to get the stars you have made so far all together and put them up on a work/design wall.  I'm not done with block ideas, but it's time to evaluate your progress so far and start to plan the setting of your sampler and decide what still needs to be added.  This is one of the sets I've been using as samples.  Putting them up will help me balance out the colors -- need to use more of the big floral and the greens.  And it gives me an idea of the scale of things thus far. 
 So next time, we'll look at setting options and decide on that before we move forward and learn to make a couple more stars and construct any fill-in blocks we might need.

As always if you have questions, post them below in the comments so everyone will learn along with you.  

Have a good day!

Mary Huey

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