Sunday, April 28, 2019

Tiny Star Tutorial

I love, love, love making small quilt blocks. One of my newest designs… not ready to be revealed… is tons of 3'' stars. While I love the look of small blocks, sometimes they're a challenge to make. I devised an easy method for making them oversized and trimming later. Working on a doll quilt for a swap seemed like a good time to share my method. I have a confession, though, I'm all about the tools. Having the right tools on hand makes my life much easier, particularly when I use those tools over and over. Mind you, I've also bought tools that I haven't used, but these are three that I use a lot.

1.  Companion Angle ruler.

2.  Quilt in a Day mini Flying Geese tool (comes in a set of three rulers) – or any flying geese tool that will make 3/4'' x 1-1/2'' finished size of flying geese.

3. Marsha McCloskey Precision Trimmer 3. 

To make one star block, you'll need five 2'' squares for the star center and points (my red). You'll also need a strip of 1-1/2'' wide background fabric that is at least 16'' long. Cut four – 1-1/2'' squares for the corners, and use the Companion ruler to cut four triangles.

Step 1. Cut four star point squares in half once on the diagonal. Leave one whole for the star center.   

Step 2. Stitch one star point to a background triangle, lining up the bottom. Press away from the background triangle. (I've also been pressing these seams open and am very happy with the results.) 

Step 3. Stitch one star point to a background triangle, lining up the bottom. Press away from the background triangle.  Make 4.

Step 4. Use the Quilt in a Day ruler to trim the sides and top of the flying geese.  Then turn the unit upside down and trim again using the instructions from the ruler to line up the 1/4'' seam allowance.

Step 5. Lay out all the parts of the star.  Don't worry if some of the units are a bit oversized… just line everything up along these two lines… letting the outside edges be uneven. You'll trim later. Sew into rows. Press seams open. Sew the rows together. Press seams open.

A note here on pressing. I never use steam in my iron when constructing blocks. I only use it when pressing pieces of fabric before cutting. I know there are many people who use steam successfully, but I'm not one of them. I can distort a block like nobody's business!
Step 6. This is where the 3'' Precision Trimmer tool really pays off. Line up the dashed seam allowance on your star points. Make sure the diagonal and horizontal dashed lines go through the center and corners of your block. Trim off all excess fabric.

 Step 7. Voila! You have a perfect star that will finish at 3'' once it's sewn into the quilt. 

 I hope this little tutorial helps you get comfortable with making lots of tiny stars. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Pat Sloan - "The Voice of Quilting"™

Okay, so this just happened:

Yes, I was interviewed by Pat Sloan for her podcast! 

Funny story – I got this Instagram message from a Pat Sloan to check my email and I thought I was being punked. 😊  We kept trying to email back and forth, but my provider had issues with her email. I finally sent a message to a public email address for Pat and found that, indeed, she wanted me on her podcast. I can't tell you how exciting that was – I may have squealed just a little. I'm happy to report that the swelling in my head has gone done and I can fit through doorways again. 😊 

Of course, I had to go back and listen to a bunch of podcasts to know exactly what to expect. These podcasts are now my favorite thing to listen to while I'm quilting. I love finding out about designers and their inspiration.

Please, please, please listen on April 29 and let me know what you think. I'm not sure how I did, but I'm sure I had a good time. While you're at it, check out some of the other interviews as well! You'll be glad you did. Follow these links: Pat Sloan's Website and American Patchwork and Quilting

Friday, November 30, 2018

A New Pattern, A New Day

First, let me thank everyone for their support after the death of my brother Larry in May. Losing four brothers in five years absolutely gutted me. Their deaths have made me very reflective of what is important in life, and one of the things I re-discovered is that designing, making, teaching, and talking about quilts and quilt designs IS very important to me. On to my big news!

Let me introduce Go For a Spin, one of my latest designs now appearing in the February 2019 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. It's due to hit newsstands December 4, but I received an email today from a fellow guild member that they already received their copy in the mail!

All photos used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting®.

How fun are these? I just got the quilt back and was reminded all over again how much I love it. 

I loved this pattern so much that I made a smaller, alternate version in bright Christmas colors. It looks even better now that it's quilted. The magazine shows an alternate colorway as well. You'll have to get a copy to see how it looks in purples and blues.  :)  

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Finishes

Hooray! A couple of quilt finishes. First up is a quilt for my daughter's partner. He had a big birthday this year and I thought this design would be perfect for him. I bought a kit a few years ago at a local shop then set it aside. It was intended as a 60'' square wall hanging and I knew the perfect place in their home for it. Unfortunately, they put an equally beautiful piece of art there recently. So, with a little manipulation of the pattern and fussy cutting, the quilt became 60'' x 80''! The pattern is Cadence by Pink Hippo Quilts.


I think I'm as in love with the back as I am the front! I used all leftover large pieces.

The quilting was a big hit as well. I used the Dominos pantograph by Patricia E. Ritter:

Next up is a quilt for a family friend. She inherited the top from her grandmother and didn't know how to go about getting it quilted. I volunteered, then later recognized my folly. I had no idea what to do! I asked experienced longarmers about loading a quilt with curved edges, any pitfalls I may encounter, etc. Mind you, I have a longarm but only do pantograph quilting. I am not good at free-hand and custom quilting. Ugh.

I finally sucked up the courage to start and am very happy with the results. I did a bit of "needle sculpting" as I went along to tame a few bubbles that popped up. Just tucked the fullness under another piece and stitched down with silk thread and a fine needle right before quilting that row. It worked out great and now I'm ready to tackle another vintage quilt that a friend gave me.

Did I mention I already had the perfect backing on hand?

Did I also mention the lesson learned? I decided to buy the binding fabric when the quilt was on the machine and couldn't take it with me. I picked out a blue that I thought would be perfect and made miles of bias binding. Once I stitched the binding on the quilt, though, it looked terrible! It completely took over. 

So, the day before I flew to Iowa to deliver this quilt I went to the store, made only a half-mile of bias binding, and stitched it onto the quilt the morning of my flight.  Much better. It lets the quilt shine instead of screaming, "look at me!" 

The pantograph design is Daisy Border, also by Patricia E. Ritter: 

These Modified 9-Patch blocks measured 17'' so this was a perfect design to complement the quilt.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Scrappy Be Mine Quilt

In December, I challenged quilting friends that attend Drift Creek Camp to make new quilts for their beds -- all of us using the same pattern!  It is the Be Mine quilt in the "free patterns" tab above. It is also affectionately known as the Oops quilt because I cut all of my original strips at 2'' instead of 2-1/2''. Kind of embarrassing for the designer, but that's life!

I've heard from quite a few campers and seen a couple of the finishes already.  This is going to be fun! I decided to make mine super scrappy and explained how to do that in the instructions, but I didn't give the number of squares to cut for each fabric. That was intentional. Many people have changed the design to suit their own purposes and my numbers wouldn't mean anything. However, if you like the black/blue/shirting quilt below, keep reading to the end and I'll give further information.

Here's a picture of the original Oops quilt:

Here's the center of my new quilt so far - minus the borders (you can also see what a formal design wall I have -- binder clips and push pins holding up a piece of batting!):

Here's a close-up of how scrappy it really is:

And here is an example of how I'm making the borders:

I'm pressing toward the right on all the blue strips and to the left (toward the black) on all the strips with black. This is a great project to use as leaders and enders ala Bonnie Hunter at Truly, most of the work is in the cutting... unless you're lucky enough to have a bunch of 2-1/2'' squares lying around!  

Feel free to check out the other pattern on my Free Patterns tab above. I plan to upload more as the year proceeds. All I ask is that you credit me back as the original designer and send people to my site if they'd like to make the pattern as well. Thanks. I'd love to see pictures of your finished quilts and share them on the blog!

So, if you're ready to cut out my scrappy version of the quilt, here's what you'll need:

2-1/2'' squares = 208

2-1/2'' squares = 303 

2-1/2'' shares = 698

You'll also need to make 144 black and shirting half-square triangles that will finish at 2'' in the quilt. I used 3'' squares and made two at a time. If you do this, you'll need 72 black squares and 72 shirting squares. If you use the Easy Angle ruler to make half-square triangles, you truly can cut this quilt out using only 2-1/2'' strips!

Thanks for stopping by today. If you didn't arrive here from Jo's Country Junction, you definitely need to pay a visit to her website. Here's a link to what I did with one of Jo's patterns... of course, I made it scrappy!  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Finishes

Okay, I don't really have a quilt finish per se, but I do have two new, free patterns posted on my blog today! First up is Be Mine. Remember, this was my Oops quilt where I accidentally cut all the strips at 2'' instead of 2-1/2''. I promise the pattern is correct! This one finishes at 66'' x 82''.  I'm cutting up a very scrappy version right now for this year's Drift Creek Quilt retreat. I offered the pattern for free to all the attendees to see how many different versions we could have on our beds at camp this year. I'll post those pictures in late March.

Second up is No so Mysterious, offered in four sizes. Here you see the twin size which finishes at 60'' x 84''.  The four sizes range from 60'' to 108''!

Just click on the Free Patterns tab above, or follow this link:

Please, please, please if you use one of my free (or purchased) patterns, I would appreciate being named as the designer. It is getting harder and harder to fight design theft. I'd also appreciate you directing your friends to this site to download their own copy of my patterns. Thanks for understanding.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

BOM Blues

Does anybody else start a Block of the Month (BOM) then never finish?! Jo Kramer of Jo's Country Junction has invited readers to sew along with her and finish up some quilts that may be languishing in your cupboard.

I have two. One is incredibly detailed and complicated and is not going to be worked on any time soon. :)  The other is from a quilt shop that was in Iowa and I bought it in 2010! I've started on this quilt several times and every time I do, I make major errors or don't love my fabric choices. Well, 2018 is the year for this to be finished. 

Above shows what the pattern will look like when finished. The picture below shows my first three rows. Wouldn't you know it, when I pinned this on the design wall today, I found ANOTHER error! The last time I pinned this up, I had sewn a row on upside down. Today, I found that the block in the lower left corner should have the gold portion of the half-square triangles pointed inward... otherwise the background fabric doesn't flow. How did I miss that? Ugh.

My other issue with the quilt is the fabric in the center of this block... the blue and white.
It occurs in several places in the quilt but just stands out waaay too much for me because there is not a lick of white anywhere else in the quilt!

I'm going to try a couple of experiments before pulling them out of the quilt. The first is tea stain with a small paintbrush. If that doesn't darken them enough, I may try a fabric marker. Worst case scenario is that I remove and replace them with something else.

It's sad to say I'm not nearly in love with this quilt as I was when I signed up for the block of the month, but believe I will fall in love again as I become more successful.

Wish me luck! Head over to Jo's Country Junction to see more.

P.S.: My husband said he find's it encouraging that I've been sewing for 25 years and still make errors. He is fairly new to his woodcarving hobby and now knows that he is going to make errors and not to be beat himself up when he does. I guess for once it's nice to be the good example.  :)