Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Between Projects?

To make the statement that I'm "between projects" is probably misleading as I always have two or three actively going at any one time so to say that implies that I finish one project and then (rationally) chose a new project.

When I finished the #100days100blocks2019 quilt top and it's backing, I decided I better finish the Rose Star quilt top next as the two quilts will need to be presented to my granddaughters at the same time.  So up on the design wall it went.  
The row of blocks on the right are the start of a quilt for their brother.  The blocks are from the #littlemisssawtoothquiltqal on Instagram with @southerncharmquilts.  It's a slow pace with two new blocks every other week so over the weekend I pieced the next two blocks and worked on the Rose Star borders.

The fabrics I set aside (a couple years ago) with the Rose Star to use for borders isn't quite enough so I'm going to make four small stars to use as cornerstones.  Since my y-seam piecing technique is based on chain-piecing, I can bounce back and forth between the corner stars and the quilt along blocks.  You may think working on two different sets of blocks is confusing but it is possible because I don't have to think very hard at this point about the y-seam piecing.  It's like making 4-patch blocks for me.  But I will have to pay attention, think, about the other blocks.
 There were a few of these stitch and flip corners to do and as I was stitching them I was thinking about my long time mentor, Mary Ellen Hopkins who first taught me this technique.  Actually, I think she was the first to teach this -- her series of books from the 1990's used this "connector corner" idea in all the patterns that are so common today -- hearts, stars, bowties.  She had dozens and dozens of teacher/students who quickly embraced the idea and it has filtered throughout the quilting community over the past 25 plus years and very few of you today even know about this inspiring teacher and author.  The one thing that quilters have changed is most of you have been taught to trim off both layers of fabric under the finished triangle.  Mary Ellen taught us to leave the bottom layer in place as you see here.
Her reason?  If you don't stitch a perfect diagonal (which I almost never do), you still have a perfect square corner when the triangle is pressed over as you can see here.  This makes the assembly of the units into a block easier and more accurate.  
(I don't trim HST's either!?!)
I apparently got so caught up in my memories that I lost my focus because this block isn't right!
Wrong star points for this center!! 
Needless to say, it got "edited"!!  My "non-fussy" cuts of the animal prints remind me of pictures I've seen from trail-cams with curious animals doing funny things as they examine the camera and pass through it's field of vision -- a skunk's tail, a bear playing "peak-a-boo".
The star blocks went together much better!
I used these templates from Marti Michell's Set G to construct four starflowers to square up to 
10 1/2" blocks.  I used templates 46 and 50 for the star and 47 and 48 to make the pieced "background" diamonds.  The finished unit is 4" on each side and will sit nicely inside a 10" finished square.
To blend the starflowers with the Rose Star blocks, I pieced the surrounding "background" diamonds to create a "shadow" using a small diamond and two half hexagons.
I like to press seams away from star points to eliminate bulk in the points so I needed to set in every other diamond first. 
If you've worked with my Set-In Piecing Simplified teaching guide, you know I suggest that you don't press until a section is completely pieced.  This keeps seam allowances from getting caught in the wrong position while stitching adjacent y-seams.  
Here's the block before pressing.
Now I press just those sections pushing the seam allowances towards the diamond units and away from the star points.
I left the seams where the remaining three diamonds need to be inserted unpressed. 
Once the star blocks were pieced, I completed the pressing and centered it on top of a square ruler to figure out how to enlarge the blocks.  It was sketched out on paper but the "math" wasn't figured.
After some head scratching and experimenting, I settled on half-hexagons to maintain the angular seams of the stars.
I would need to cut them 4" deep for the right and left sides 
and 2 1/2" deep for the top and bottom. 
Happily, Marti Michell has a multi-size hexagon ruler that made it simple to cut these from strips.  Here I've moved the template over so you can see the left end of the strip which I've trimmed to start.
My stars have 4" finished sides, so that tells me what size to cut and I match those lines on the tool to the trimmed end and one edge of the strip.  Now I can cut the correct size without any fuss. 
There isn't any cutting waste either -- just flip the tool over (the text on the tool is now reversed) and match the correct lines up and cut.
All of Marti's tools include excellent instructions with illustrations so even though I don't use this tool very often, it's easy to use (as long as I'm willing to read). 

All ready to stitch.
In no time, I was pressing the finished units and ready for trimming them into squares.
Look how well all the seams play together nicely and the blocks lay flat! 
My points are crisp because there is no bulk in them.
Look over my shoulder while I trim the blocks to 10 1/2" squares
To keep the star centered, I lined up the 5 1/4" line on the horizontal center seam. 
Then I centered the top and bottom star points on the vertical 5 1/4" lines 
Trim two sides (right and top), rotate the block, line up the ruler on the 10 1/2" lines (left and bottom), trim again! 
Now the stars and the border fabrics are living together on the design wall for a day or two so I'm sure I like it.  I'm also thinking about how I'm going to quilt it.  At this point, I know I can handle it more easily by doing it in two sections and then adding the borders using ideas from Marti Michell's book, Machine Quilting in Sections.  That means undoing one of the center horizontal seams - when I figure out my strategy, I'll show you.
The quilting will happen after Christmas -- there's no rush as the kids are a couple years off from their first "big" beds.  Just trying to be ahead of the game!
Once I get these decisions made, does that mean I'm "between projects" again???



  1. Mary, I love the dotty backgrounds! It just pulls everything together. I love to hear you discuss your decision-making process & techniques, but I don’t understand it all. You’re light-years beyond me! But I enjoy the process, so that’s the important thing, right?

  2. Yes! The dotty background is fabulous!