Monday, June 30, 2014

The Changing of the Quilts -- SUMMER!!

The arrival of summer means it's time to change the quilts again.  They are a cheery lot.  I need to pull the rolls of wall hangings out of the living room cupboard.
And go through the pile of larger pieces that live "flatly" on the guest bed to find everything.
This spring "poster" quilt has been hanging in my office.
It has been replaced with this farm inspired one from Country Threads first book way back in the late 80's. 
The Village Sampler (made with a little help from my friends) in the dining room now gets a chance to rest on the guest bed. 
And my first "blue ribbon" quilt comes back out of hibernation.  It's a pattern that ran back in 1996 in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine -- it was hard!!
Redbud spring has cheered up the living room all spring.
And now my English version of my pattern Houses of Hope (you buy this one for the easy picket fence pattern which can be adapted to use with any quilt) is the quilt for the summer.  I made it to remember my walking adventures in the English countryside of Dorset County. 
The large wall in the living room is reserved for the "masterpieces" -- this winter it was the applique quilt I made for my oldest daughter -- nice to be able to display it since we live together.
For the summer, it will be my overzealous, intimidating teaching sample for my workshop using Marti Michell's Double Wedding Ring templates.  I got carried away and have since had to make a less intimidating sample -- I do show this to my students but not until the very end of the workshop!! 
It was a cool spring here in Northeast Ohio so the quilt on the back of the sofa was used!
I hope I don't need to use this one during the summer but it's one of my favorites and it was made to match my living room curtains (with the help of my friends, again). 
Last but not least, there needs to be a quilt on the porch swing out front!  This is a rescued top that I've grown quite fond of since getting it quilted!
Now I suppose I better put all the quilts away that have been traveling with me to lectures and workshops this spring. 
The cats will be disappointed -- they enjoy sleeping on top of this pile!
Do you display some of your quilts around your home? 
Have a good day!!
Mary Huey

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

QCQAL #8 -- Catching Up!?!

After two weeks vacationing in the West (Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks plus a quick visit with my youngest sister in Victoria, B.C.), I'm steadily working towards catching up with myself at home.  One of the first tasks is to make the eighth block for Little Bunny Quilts QCQAL (follow the link to her instructions) -- Kansas Troubles.  When it began to rain last evening, my plan to spend the evening weeding the front flower beds changed into studio time. 
A few minutes with the calculator and I discovered I can use Marti Michell's Set A for cutting most of the pieces for this 12" block. 
The numbers in the lower right quadrant of the worksheet are all FINISHED sizes for the individual pieces.  Since the templates are identified by "finished" sizes, it makes it easier to find the correct template. 
I love that the small square (A #5)and the triangles (A #6) can be cut from the same strip!
When I cut the triangles, I layered up 4 strips -- paired with right sides together so they will be ready to stitch when I get to the machine. 
I don't have a template for the largest triangle, so I used Alison's measurement (6 7/8") to cut two squares.  Rather than cut a strip, I doubled the fabric and used a 9 1/2" square ruler to cut two slightly larger squares.
Then I rotated the ruler 180 degrees and matched the 6 7/8" lines on the first cuts.  I find this gives me more consistent and perfect squares -- cut on two sides, rotate, and cut the remaining two sides. 
To trim the corners, I used one of the triangle templates as a trimmer.  Remember, trimming eliminates bulk and it's easier to do now.
To the machine and the triangle sets were together quickly.  Time to audition for the final layout!  Do I want each group of triangles to match?  Wait a minute -- where's the center triangle?  Guess I didn't cut it -- back to the cutting table.
Mmmmm -- not sure I like this. 
How about the light? 
Maybe?  And what if I scramble up the colors of the triangles sets?  Yes, I think I like that.
But I'm not sure I like the big black triangle.  What if I reverse the two prints?
Since I couldn't decide quickly, I went to bed.  Hopefully, today when I get to the studio, it will all fall into place?!?!  And I'll take another look at whether I want to do this block in the 6" size -- those triangle sets need to be 3/4" finished -- that's small!!
Still raining here, so I'll be in the studio sooner today -- just a couple hours of office work to do.
I need to get back into the working groove this week and love all the inspiration I get with the WIP Wednesday "link-up" over at Freshly Pieced.
Enjoy your day!
Mary Huey
Thursday -- Addendum, addendum, addendum -- the block is finished!!  I changed the medium size triangle fabric and used the white background for the large triangle.
I love it when all the pieces fit perfectly!!  So good to have my 1/4" nailed after all these years!! 
And I'm happy with the finished results!  Only 4 more blocks to go!! 
I was right -- when I went back to it, everything fell into place . . . . . again!


Monday, June 16, 2014

My Favorite Summer Teaching Gig!!

On July 20th this summer, I will return to the Chautauqua Institution for Week 5 of the summer program.  This will be my third year of teaching there and I'm creating a workshop entitled Women and Quilts Moving Westward (course #1231) to parallel the week's theme of The American West.   
A visit to Chautauqua is part intellectual stimulation with dozens of courses and lectures available each day as well as entertaining with evening concerts and lots of opportunity for porch sitting.
The morning lectures are a key piece of the week and that week will focus on American expansionism.  The week’s lecturers will examine the history of the country's frontier and reflect on what our nation gained — artistically, culturally, politically, economically — from westward expansion? 
(What you can't see from this point of view is the dozens of women stitching and knitting along the benches.)
Gathering for the morning lecture
Who wouldn't like to spend a week sheltered away from the cares of the world, walking peacefully from place to place down lovely lanes bordered by beautiful flower beds (though I understand the gardeners are pretty competitive), and enjoying the unique cottage architecture of the early 1900's.
Porch sitting is a required activity and the beauty of many of the porches rivals the gardens they overlook.
Here are three of my favorite railings!

And who can resist hollyhocks?
There are more expansive views along the lakeshore with tranquil sunrises to begin the day! 
I'll be teaching a late afternoon hand-piecing workshop to make 1/2 dozen Album blocks and sharing what I'm learning about "going west" into the wilderness in the mid-1800's from women's points of view based on their diaries. 
It's more of a working vacation -- I'll meet enjoyable people from all over the United States and Canada, worship every morning, attend stimulating lectures and exciting concerts punctuated with quiet moments gazing at the lake and wandering the beautiful grounds. 
Check it out if you are looking for a unique retreat from your world --
Mary Huey

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Hooray!!!  It's finished and ready to recruit students!!  First it's going to the preview for the February, 2015 NEORQC Getaway Weekend (I hope it wins over at least 10 students) and then off to The Sew'n Place in Chambersburg, PA where I'll be teaching Machine Piecing Hexagons in November. 
You watched me layer it up a couple weeks ago and I thought you might enjoy a few close-ups of the quilting decisions.  The majority of the center is quilted in a grid based on bisecting each hexie from corner to corner.  I jazzed up the center of the flower motifs with a pumpkin seed flower -- there is still a stray thread to be tied off.  I thought it helped focus the eye on the "center" of each motif.
The center went quickly and was done in three days.  The design for the border slowed me down -- fortunately I also had to leave town for a few days at the same time.  When I got back, I decided to loosely base the quilting on the design of the border print which has lots of swirls.  A spasm of boredom with "swirling" resulted in the straight line section in this photo.  I liked it so much that I repeated it randomly the rest of the way around the quilt.
It's doesn't show up much even on the back but it was fun to work into the swirls and gave me a break here and there from thinking so hard.
This morning I bound it -- no simple task in my studio because first I have to convince Gordon that it's my turn to use the chair!  (Once I get him off, I'm always grateful for the warm seat he has left behind!)
As I was joining the ends of the binding, I was reflecting on how nice it is to be able to do this join without searching for the instructions -- I've done it so many times, it's easy now.  It wasn't always!!
And here we are at the end!!  Wahoo!!  Another one finished!!
The quilt top was constructed using Marti Michell's 2" hexagon template from Set G and the instructions from my DVD, Set-In Piecing Simplified.  The reviews I getting from the DVD are good -- students understand the demos and are able to learn the technique.  Do you have a copy of it yet?
Mary Huey

Friday, June 6, 2014

Diamond Star Playtime Sew-Along -- Step 8 -- Honeycomb Setting

Are you still piecing stars?  I could hardly stop when making this collection which became my Pieceful Constellations.  The honeycomb setting seems endlessly versatile to me because it handles such a variety of blocks that finish as a hexagon. If you focus on the 6-pointed stars first, you begin to see all the other variations.

My quilt was inspired by Candied Hexagons made by Australian, Kerry Dear, in 2007.  Her quilt was inspired by an antique quilt made by Frederica Josephson.  It is included in Dr. Annette Gero’s book, The Fabric of Society – Australian Quilt Heritage from the Convict Times to 1960.  I have a Pinterest board, 60 degree diamonds that is chocked full of inspiration. 

If you decide to visit the board, you might want to have sketching paper handy to trace out ideas. 
I use an equilateral graph paper that I print out from     This gives me the greatest flexibility in being able to draw the shapes used in various blocks.  Two triangles make a diamond, three make a half hexagon, six make a hexagon.

Here's a close-up of one of my filler blocks -- there are two fussy cut hexagons with a traditional tumbling block sitting on top.  To complete the hexagonal block, I added three 60-degree diamonds -- a medium value one on the right, a dark(ish) one on the left, and a light one on the bottom.  Can you see the hexagonal block?  Being able to detect the hexagonal blocks will help you glean ideas from other quilts.
Here's the block during the construction phase to clarify it for you
Here's another close-up of a simple block that makes a great filler in a honeycomb setting.   Can you find it in the center of the quilt in the first photo?
Here's a variation of that arrangement.

Here's a row of the "filler" tumbling block clusters I used in the upper right corner of the quilt.

So time for you to get back to the work wall and make a decision about the basic setting arrangement of your Diamond Playtime Sampler -- straight or honeycomb?  Take the time to study other quilts using this hexagonal block style.  Step 9 will be a few more blocks to play with and Step 10 will address the fillers for the outer edges of your quilt. 

I hope you are enjoying the challenge of making these blocks and creating your own design layout for the overall quilt.  It may feel a bit uncomfortable at this point, but be patient and observant -- the ideas will coalesce into a solution if you stay involved with piecing the blocks on a regular basis.

Leave us some comments below to share your progress!! 

Mary Huey