December 29, 2011

This and That

Is it me, or has this year passed by at the speed of light?  Although I've never had a panic attic, I thought I might be having my first one a few weeks ago when I heard Christmas music on the radio.  I've been absent here for a little while, but I hope you're all enjoying the holiday season. 

A few weeks ago, I received a sweet little package from Stephanie (Loft Creations).  She made a key leash for me, and an adorable pincushion with kitty fabric.  And polka dots!  She sent me a package of polka dot charm squares from her stash a while back, and now I'm compelled to buy every polka dot fabric on the planet.  Thanks so much, Stephanie, for the pincushion and  key leash, and for sharing the number for the polka dot intervention hotline.  Not that I intend to use it. 

If you'd like to make your own key leash, Stephanie has a great tutorial for it here.  If you're not familiar with Stephanie's work, she's a very talented pattern designer, so stop by and check out all her beautiful designs.  You can find them online in her Etsy store or at Connecting Threads

And then another package came in the mail from Mary at Quilt Hollow.

She made a tiny little quilt using Blessings fabric left over from the "Blessings from the Hollow" quilt she made for my book, Scrap-Basket Sensations.  Blessings from the Hollow lives with Mary now, and every time we chat, I whine about not having it because it was one of my favorite quilts.  She knows I'm just teasing.  Mostly.  :-)   I love the fabric collection, and I recently ordered a fat quarter bundle while I could still find it.  Thank you so much, Mary!  It's such a special gift.  It lives in my office at work now where I can enjoy it all day long. 

I shared pictures earlier of a few batik Courthouse Steps blocks I was working on for the Northwest Florida Paralegal Association's charity auction.  I forgot to share pictures of the finished quilt.  Here is is with its new owner.

She seemed very excited to win the quilt, and I'm very happy the quilt went to a good home. :-) 

Happy New Year to everyone!


November 20, 2011

60-Degree Quilt Tutorial - Part 2

If you missed the first part of this tutorial, you can find it here.  I'll add a button to my sidebar so you'll be able to find all the parts in one place if you decide to try it out later.  I'm figuring it out as I go, and I'm pretty sure there will be at least one more part, maybe two.    

Are you wondering how all of these pieces will fit together?  Me, too.  :-)  I have a lot of triangle units put together, and not a single one is the same size.  These are just a few of my units, and you can tell by looking at the bottom right corners how different they are.  It really doesn't matter, though. 

Separate your triangle units by size.  In the picture below, the two triangles on the left are almost identical.  The one on the right is just a little bigger.  When I'm ready to sew these into rows, I'll sew the triangle units together, then trim off the top of the unit on the right.  Remember that this isn't a "triangle quilt."  The important thing is that you cut everything at a 60-degree angle.  Your triangles will appear throughout the quilt accidentally.  And as you get into it, you'll probably figure out how to make a few triangles on purpose.

Filler Strips

I don't have quite enough triangle units put together to begin sewing them into rows yet.  But I'm thinking ahead (for once in my life), and anticipating that I'll need another large triangle here or there to fill up a row, or maybe an extra couple of inches to make some rows long enough without having to add an entire triangle unit.  So I'm making some "filler strips" as I go.  Here are some examples of a few.  I've highlighted the 60-degree line in yellow again, but you can go to the first part of the tutorial for more complete instructions. 

Example 1

Cut a few short strips the same width.  The length doesn't matter.  You can cut longer or shorter strips, depending on how long you want your filler strip to be.  The width of these strips is 2 1/4".

Stack your strips so that the ends on the right are aligned.  Trim.

Rotate the strips so the trimmed ends are on the left.  Re-stack them so the uncut ends are aligned.  Trim.

Lay out your 60-degree shapes and decide how you'll sew them together.

Place two pieces right sides together, and offset them so that the 1/4" seam allowance begins at the  "valley" where the two pieces meet (see yellow arrows below).

Add the third shape, and you have a filler strip ready to use where you need to enlarge a triangle unit or fill in some space later.

This strip was the perfect size to add to a smaller triangle -- just a tiny bit longer than the triangle unit.

Sew the filler strip to any side of the triangle unit.

Trim the extra fabric from the filler strip.

Rotate, then trim the other side of the filler strip.

Example 2
This filler strip is a little fussier, but I like all the triangles in a row.  I'll probably use this to fill in space between two triangle units when I sew the rows together.  Start with two scraps of fabric.  Looks like these are between 2 1/4" and 2 1/2", but you can use any size.  I'm working with small scraps, but you can make your filler strip wider if you use larger scraps.

Trim the top strip at a 60-degree angle.

Rotate, then trim the other side of the top strip.

Now trim the bottom strip.

Rotate, then trim the remaining side of the bottom strip.  You should have a 60-degree diamond shape. 

Sew a strip to the diamond shape.  The yellow strip below is wide enough to end up with a triangle after trimming.

If you'd like to make sure you maintain the triangle points in your filler strip, trim the extra strip so that the quarter-inch line of the ruler intersects with the seam line a quarter of an inch from the bottom of the filler strip (see yellow star in the below picture).     

Trim the yellow strip.

Rotate, then trim again.

Sew another strip to continue making the filler strip.  The green strip below isn't wide enough to make a full triangle, but it doesn't matter.  Just keep sewing different sizes of strips and see what happens.

Trim the strip.

Rotate, then trim the other end of the strip.

Sew another strip of fabric to continue making the filler strip.  Trim. 

This time, I trimmed to make a diamond shap instead of a triangle.  Doesn't matter -- just maintain the 60-degree angle throughout the filler strip.

Just keep sewing and trimming until your filler strip is the length you need.

Example 3

In this example, I sewed a few long strips together, then cut triangles and a few filler strips.  I'll probably use these filler strips for building triangle units.  Sew together a few strips, then trim at a 60-degree angle on the right side. 

Cut to make a triangle.

Cut again to make another triangle.

To cut filler strips, place a line of the ruler along the trimmed edge of the strip set. 

Continue cutting strips.  Save the leftover piece on the end -- you may be able to use it for edge blocks later.

Be back later to show you what I'm doing with edge blocks.  To all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend.  


November 10, 2011

60-Degree Quilt Tutorial - Part 1

Stuff to Know

This quilt is super easy to make. The difficult part is explaining how to put it together. I'm using lots of scraps, anywhere from (and this is a guess) 1" strips to 5" strips, or chunks of leftover fabric. All the units are different, and I haven't made two the same size yet.  There isn't a pattern -- it's one of those make-it-up-as-you-go quilts.  I'll show you how I piece a block, then show you some different ways to fill in areas. Once you know how it works, you can just sew like crazy. I'll show you how to put the quilt together in a later post. (Mine is still in pieces on the wall.)  The important thing to remember is that every seam is a 60-degree angle. Another important thing to remember is that, when you use a strip of fabric, it should be a consistent width, i.e., if your strip is 2" wide on one end, and 3" wide on the other end, you won't maintain the 60-degree angle throughout the quilt.  You can sew with a wonky strip, but you'll need to trim it afterwards.

You'll need a ruler with a 60-degree line marking.  My ruler has two markings that go in opposite directions.  I'm using a 12" x 6" ruler, and sometimes a 24" x 6" ruler.  A 60-degree triangle ruler comes in handy for cutting triangles, but it isn't necessary. 

Even though you can use triangles to build your blocks, this isn't really a triangle quilt.  I sew random pieces together, then trim, and most of the triangles just appear accidentally.  I don't worry about it, but if you want to know how to get a point, look for the * below.

I press my scraps before sewing so that I don't have to do a lot of pressing after I sew.  Because a lot of the edges are on the bias, I don't want to press any more than necessary.  If you ever thought about using starch before you sew, now might be a good time to try it. 

The picture follows the instruction above it.  I made the pictures a little smaller so the page won't take forever to load if you don't have a fast connection, but you can click on each picture to enlarge.

Cut A Few "Starter Pieces"

Begin by cutting a few 60-degree shapes from your strips.  Not necessary, but it gives you a place to start.  The size of the strips doesn't matter.  Use an assortment so you'll have a variety of shapes.  Place the 60-degree line of the ruler along the bottom edge of the strip, and the right edge of the ruler on the bottom corner of the strip.  (I've highlighted the 60-degree line in yellow so you won't have to look for it.)  Trim.

Place the 60-degree line of the ruler along the bottom edge of the strip, then trim the other side.  I used the whole piece of fabric for this one, but you could make two shapes if you like, or even make a diamond shape. 

Now make a few triangles.  Again, the size doesn't matter.  You'll end up chopping off a lot of the points anyway.  I just find it easier sometimes to use triangles rather than bigger chunks of fabric.  Make lots of sizes.  And don't worry if you chop off some points -- the 60-degree angle is what matters.  Place the 60-degree line of the ruler along the bottom edge of the strip.  Trim. 

Rotate the strip so the trimmed edge is on the left.  Place the 60-degree line of the ruler along the top of the strip, and the edge of the ruler at the bottom of the strip.  Cut to make a triangle.

To continue cutting triangles, place the 60-degree line of the ruler along the bottom edge of the strip and the edge of the ruler at the top of the strip.  Cut to make another triangle.  You can continue cutting triangles, or you can save the leftover piece for later -- it already has a 60-degree angle, and you'll find something to attach it to later.

Here's an example of some 60-degree shapes and triangles.

Let's Put Some Segments Together!

Below is an example of how I might construct a unit. Since you'll be working with different sizes of strips, don't worry if yours doesn't look like this one.   Start with one of your 60-degree shapes or a triangle, and sew a strip of fabric to it.  Press in either direction.  Place the 60-degree line of the ruler along the bottom of the triangle or shape.  * Now I'm going for a point at the bottom of the green fabric.  Make sure the quarter-inch line on the ruler intersects with the seam about a quarter of an inch from the bottom of the triangle.  (Hope that makes sense.)  I've marked a yellow X below where the ruler marking and seam should intersect. 

Leave the 60-degree line along the bottom of the triangle, but slide the ruler over so that the left edge is even with the left side of the triangle.  Trim off the green strip.  (If you have trouble cutting at this angle, rotate so that the piece you're trimming is on the right.)

Sew a triangle or chunk of fabric to the bottom right corner.  60-degree line on the bottom; trim on the right.

Rotate so the yellow triangle is on top.  60-degree line on the bottom; trim on the right.  And now you have a little segement.  I like to make lots of segements to combine in different ways. 

Let's do another one!  Sew a couple of rectangles together.  Place the 60-degree line of the ruler on the seam line, and the edge of the ruler at the bottom corner.  Trim.

Now trim the other side.  (I'll stop telling you now where to place the 60-degree line -- just make sure's it's on an edge or on a seam.)

Add a strip (green here). Trim the right.

Rotate so the strip is on the bottom.  Trim the other end of the strip. 

Sew a strip to the left side of the unit.  Trim.

Rotate so the strip is on the bottom. Trim.

How we have two segments.  But they're not quite the same size.  No worries.  Just decide which of the points on the largest triangle unit you'd like to sacrifice.  I decided to sacrifice the green on the left since the strip is wider. 

Sew the triangle units together, maching the bottom corners.  You'll have excess fabric on the top.    Trim off the excess. 

Now sew something big (a large strip or a large triangle) to the right side of the unit.  Trim.

Rotate so the bottom of the unit is on the right. Trim

To finish out the point, add a little piece of fabric.  Trim.

Rotate so the bottom of the unit is on the right.  Trim.

I had a 60-degree shape already cut, so I added it to the top.  Trim the right side.

Rotate, and trim the other side. 

To finish out the point, add a small chunk of fabric.  Trim on the right.

Rotate, and trim on the left.

Now you have a finished triangle unit.  Just keep making triangles and don't worry about the size.  I'll be back later to show you some filler units and how to make it all fit together.

 To keep from having to post another hundred pictures, I made a collage showing the progression of a different block.  Maybe it will help to see it put together step by step.  Pictures are shown before trimming and after trimming.   

Hope you'll give it a try.  It's so much fun!  I'll be back later with more.