Monday, July 31, 2017


Welcome to my stop on Emily Breclaw's blog tour for her new book,
Adventures in Hexagons! 
The book was released in June and I got a copy of it as soon as I could. 
Here's a QUICK LINK to order your own copy (just in case you don't win it)!
For those of you who already follow my blog, you know how I love a y-seam!!
 I was delight to be invited to participate in this introduction to Emily's book.
If you've been following the blog tour over the past few days, you already know that Emily connected with one of my piecing mentors, Marti Michell early in her planning for the book and suggests template Sets G and H plus the Kite and Crown sets for cutting most of the shapes in her designs.

And if you are a regular reader here at my blog, you know I'm mostly all about machine piecing and that several years ago, I stumbled onto an awesome approach to stitching y-seams by machine!!

This is Emily's design, Meteor Shower.
I pieced my own version to give the book a test drive.
I began by labeling all the template diagrams at the end of the book with Marti's template numbers to make it easier to pick up the right template. 
Then I created a "cheat sheet" marker for the pattern page I used to make it even easier. 
To make things interesting, I used Set G (the 2" set) rather than Set H (the 3" set) for this design.  My finished piece will be smaller than Emily's but there was NO MATH INVOLVED -- that's one of the beauties of Marti's hexagon template families -- resizing is simple!
As a teacher and former shop owner, I typically make samples in a different color way than the book/pattern to help students see more possibilities and teach them to consider the merits of a design rather than just the color palette or fabrics used.
This pile of rejects from my Maker's Tote project was still laying on the floor
in my studio, so why not? 
That was easy!!
The large floral will be my background.
I appreciate Emily's clear diagrams which break her designs down into working units and made for a quick start on organizing my stitching!  This is the center unit (after a few fabric auditioning sessions) ready to stitch!  The most important aspect of using a different color palette while maintaining the original designer's concept is to mimic the contrast of values -- I simply reversed it -- lights for the background, darks for the sparkly bits.
Happily it worked quite nicely as you'll see!
I've dubbed the exciting y-seam piecing technique I teach
In my view, that says it all. 
I'll always be grateful that a student (Mary O'Keefe) shared her discovery with me during a workshop in April 2012. It started me on a journey that has produced a dozen amazing quilts and a half dozen workshops I love to teach!

If you've tried machine or hand piecing y-seams, you know that you have to "stop on the dot" to keep the end of the seam open so you can "set-in" a third piece.
It's fiddly work and not conducive to chain-piecing on the machine with all the stopping and starting.
Or so I thought.
Mary's idea changed all that as she discovered how to chain-piece through y-seams!
You just need to pivot at the dot!
So with the combination of Marti Michell's templates which make "dotting" easy and Mary's idea, I've been going to town ever since!
Here's the first phase -- stopping here would be a nice table-topper!
The book has quite a few interesting blocks and I'm looking forward to trying some of the others.
While working on this piece, I was able to keep the chain going easily as I built the units that Emily laid out in the book, working on six of them simultaneously.  Here I'm working through the units that fit around the center star.
Three "dot-to-dot" seams are needed to attach these two sections together and there are six sets, so using Mary's idea, I can chain-piece through all 18 seams efficiently in about 45 minutes.
Once those were built, I began to add them to the center star and build the corner units as my "leaders and enders" to keep the chain going. Those units were ready to add by the time the center of the piece was assembled. 
I find that leaving most of the pressing go until near the end makes the process easier.  It makes the final pressing a bit tedious but it's so easy to push an unpressed seam allowance to the side during the stitching process!
When I ran out of pieces to use as "leaders and enders" from the design, I worked on a mug rug for my studio -- the pattern is available from Emily for signing up for her newsletter!  I could have picked up one of the piecing UFO's laying around my studio for this purpose but it's always more fun to start a new project!!
I think I need something to replace the tissue that resides on the corner of my sewing table anyway!?!
All pieced, ready to finish later today! 
So back to Meteor Shower!
As is often the case when working out of my stash for projects, I ran out of fabric.
One yard of the background fabric wasn't quite enough and so you'll see in the finished piece, there are two extra little stars in the corners -- short just two hexagons -- but I think it works!
And since I was out of background fabric, I needed to chose a border fabric.
After much auditioning, I went with a teal as it really made the swirling center design pop!
The quilt is layered and there is a quilting idea in my head.
Maybe there will be a finished quilt in a few days.
My version made with Set G is about 36" square.
The design in Emily's book made with Set H is 54" square. 
I began cutting my version on July 12 so the time frame is good especially since it's summer here and I spend a good deal of everyday outside -- love that machine-piecing!!
So are you curious about this technique?
There are three ways to learn all the ins and outs of Set-In Piecing Simplified.
My favorite is taking one of my workshops but that's not practical for most of you.
The next best option is the DVD I produced a couple years -- it's a collection of all the workshop demonstrations.  It's 30 minutes long, divided into two parts, and available for $15.95 HERE.  That price includes shipping in the US.
Finally, I have just released a downloadable PDF with step by step instructions and photos to walk you through the process. It's available in my Etsy shop HERE!  The introductory price of $8 will be available through Saturday, August 12 after which time the price will be $10.

And now for the three giveaways!
C&T Publishing is providing a copy of the book, Adventures in Hexagons for one of my commenters -- they will send a hard copy to a US winner, or an electronic copy to an overseas winner. 
Marti Michell will send another lucky winner their choice of Set G or Set H.
And I'll send a third winner a copy of my DVD, Set-In Piecing Simplified!
Winners will be chosen on Saturday, August 5 at 9 p.m. EST.

Leave a comment below (one per person) and tell me how long you've been following my blog and how you really feel about y-seams!!
Love them? Hate them?
Good luck!!


Here's a complete list of all the participants in the tour in case you missed any of them:
( if links aren't active, copy and paste them)

July 24- C&T Publishing
July 25- Generation Q Magazine
July 27- Marti Michell
July 28-Clothworks Fabrics
July 29- Cathi Godwin,
July 30- Paper Pieces ,
August  1- Mary Huey,
August 2- Linda Franz,
August 3- Patty Murphy,
August 4- Cheryl Sleboda,
August 5- Wendy Sheppard,
August 6- Emily Breclaw,

Friday, July 28, 2017

Long Time Gone -- the Top is Finished!!

All the boxes are checked!
The bits and pieces have been cut up for the final borders!
The background text prints have been folded up and put back on the shelf!
The "project" basket is empty and ready for the next one!!
The piles of strips have become borders.
The borders have been stitched in place.
I found enough of this print for a backing!!
And there it is!! 
Ready to layer and quilt.
I've decided to quilt it with the Baptist fan design and perhaps bind it with black.
These little church dashes are my favorite blocks in the quilt -- so much fun to hide little secrets in the center squares.
Love the plus panel with the star hidden in it -- think I'd like to expand that idea into a larger piece.
The book is on it's way to a new home -- yep, sold it!
And I've started cutting a new project!?!
Be sure to come back on Tuesday, August 1 to see the full reveal of the piece below as part of the Emily Breclaw's Adventures in Hexagons Book Blog Tour going on now! 
I'll have giveaways, too so get you "commenting hat" on and make sure you are NOT a "no-reply" commenter -- you can't win that way!!
Yesterday's stop was at Marti Michell's blog (HERE) and she has a great giveaway so you might want to pop over there for a read and to make a comment!

Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Maker's Tote -- Part Two

It's finished -- my version of Anna Graham of Noodlehead Patterns' Maker's Tote!!
And it's the first project to be crossed off my third quarter list for the 2017 Finish-A-Long!!
Hopefully, it won't be the only one!!
It's the only stitching I did last week so it's fun that it is a FINISH!!
Six of the past seven days have been crowded with people and activities including a visit to my friend's prairie in central Ohio (I shared lots of pictures last year HERE)
as well as a visit to The Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio -- one of our great treasures I think!
This bed was filled with every color of coneflower currently available and it was stunning.
You know I left with two pots for my own garden!
Back to the tote -- the detailed instructions require careful study but every step was completely covered.  I spent a free afternoon cutting out everything needed for the body of the tote and organized it by steps on the studio floor.  While that's not a typical strategy for me, it was a good one and I need to make it a regular habit going forward!
I found a couple episodes of Vera on Hoopla to entertain me while working through all the steps. 
I decided not to learn a new skill and use a button instead of a snap but the search for buttons in my stash was futile.  It was fun to poke through the box and rediscover some little gems -- I need to find a use for more of these to keep them out of the "big yard sale"!! 
In the end, I opted for a Velcro closure on the pieced pocket. 
The thick foam interlining was intimidating to me, but my Bernina wasn't not phased by it.
There are two zipper installations in this tote and one of them uses an application from my tailoring past -- don't think I've done one of these since college?
Instructions were good and so I moved through it well if somewhat hesitant. 
The combination of foam interfacing and my coarse outer fabric made pressing this edge impossible. 
Thank goodness for basting!  
That did the trick allowing me to insert the zipper behind the opening and stitch it in place. 
The inner pockets are applied to the lining and are very roomy!
I adjusted the size of one of the pockets to accommodate the notebook that is always with me so I don't lose track of notes and ideas for the blog!
Once the lining was ready, it was time to layer it with the outside shell and insert the side gussets.
This is definitely the most challenging part of making this tote.  Anna advises going slowly and carefully so I (wisely) did this step at the beginning of one of my work sessions to avoid being impatient because I was tired.  These clips are becoming a favorite notion -- there was no way I could have pinned through all the layers successfully at this point.
I was disappointed when I looked down into the tote after inserting the side gussets -- you can see the excess fabric at the bottom.
Because the Ghana fabric doesn't handle de-stitching well, I fudged a bit and took a pleat in the bottom to remove most of the excess fabric.
I looked at all the photos I could find on Instagram and elsewhere of the inside of others' totes and couldn't tell much -- did I make a mistake?  I went back over all the measurements to see if I made a cutting error.  In the end, I think the pleat is the result of the lining being the same length as the outside of the bag -- because of the thickness of the foam interfacing used to give the tote such a nice shape, I think the lining should be a little shorter so it lays smoothly inside the tote.  
Therefore I've made a note on my pattern to take a 3/4" seam when stitching the two lining pieces together next time I make the tote.  

Time for the main zipper!
  Once again, basting was the easiest way for me to keep it in place.
 Anna's instructions for inserting this zipper are clear so my results are good.
The edges are finished with bias binding and really give the tote a professional look.
I'm so glad I bought one of these Clover bias tape makers years ago and almost as glad that I've learned to put it in the same drawer every time I use it!
It makes the task of preparing the strips so easy!
In no time, I had 2 1/2 yards of bias tape ready to stitch onto the tote! 
Loving these clips!!
Last step was making the handles -- I added extra stitching for texture since it's plain black fabric.
Anna designed it to have four layers of fabric and interfacing so it's quite sturdy.
It's a bit wide for my small hands, so I made a note to cut the piece an inch narrower next time.
Here's a peak inside!
It's very roomy and will be especially nice for my hand stitching or knitting when I'm traveling.
My only other small modification would be to place the front pocket up 1" higher on the front of the bag.  I may still move it but it will have to be hand stitched in place if I do that.
If you are tempted to make this bag, I encourage you to go for it!
It was a good experience and I'm pleased with the results.
This one is definitely for me but it will be a good gift make in the future!!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a project to put inside the tote!!


9/25/2017 -- linking up to 3rd quarter 2017 Finish-A-Long HERE