Sonja Koch from NWA Modern Quilt Guild brings us exchange blocks to make at least once a year. Most of us make one or more blocks, putting our names in the hat for each block we make. Last year we made wonky stars (using green, orange, and grey), made one quilt for charity and then there were enough blocks for three lucky winners to make their own quilts. Here they are, as shown at our first ever quilt show, held last month. (Top left) NWA MQG Wonky Star Galaxy, Hazel McFall; (Top right) Wonky Starry Night, Leeanna Walker and members of NWA MQG (quilted by Brenda Bell); (bottom)Wonky Stars, Debbie Wheeler (quilted by Sonja Koch).
This is Wonky Churndash by Sonja Koch; the guild also did this as a block exchange using these colors.
This time, our block uses a pieced-curve technique and is also a great block for using up scrap strips. For the center of the block, sew together strips (approximately 5-1/2 inches long, any width) to make a strip set that’s about 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches. Make sure the strips on the ends are wider than the other strips so that you don’t end up with a tiny strip near the seam allowance. Then cut two sides with gentle curves. I placed my ruler on top of the strip set to hold it in place and to keep my fingers away from the rotary cutter. Keep the curve gentle, or it will be difficult to sew. Strips do not necessarily have to be trimmed (see below).
Next, place a black strip (approximately 3-inches wide) underneath the curve and cut the black fabric, following your original curve. Note that the black fabric is even with a line on the mat and both pieces should be even at the top. I switched to my smaller rotary cutter, which made cutting the curves a little easier.
Match the points of the two fabrics and sew the two pieces together with an 1/8-in seam. Sew slowly and keep matching the edges as you go, turning in order to follow the curves. Press to the black. (I used a letter block instead of a strip set here.)
Square up to 8 x 8-inches. I marked the 8-inch marks on my ruler.
There were all kinds of leftovers in my scrap box. This was a 23-inch strip set that was supposed to be water in another project. I cut it up and sewed it back together. I was patient today–it took me several tries to get this to 8-1/4 inches.
Here, I used a directional fabric left over from donation quilts. The fabric came from a program in Minnesota for at-risk babies and children.
I made a total of 11 blocks and alternated the direction, since some of the pieces were directional just to see how it looked. Elvis has entered the building (block 3). By the way, I did not make an appreciable dent in my scrap box, but I have an idea. That extra strip set? I had made a wide strip set and cut it in half. Each half was 4-7/8 inches wide–I was barely able to make a 8×8 block, which is why I suggest starting with 5-1/2 inch long strips.
Yo, Sonja. I said this would be addictive–I used up my black fabric, so I’m moving on now. See you in June! Thanks for the 10-minute tip and video.
LAST OF THE DOGWOODS. My dogwood is finally blooming. The leaves look curly and wilted, as do the ones at Crystal Bridges (last photo). Dogwoods make me happy.
Day One: Machine acting up with 7-1/2 presents left on border of Christmas table runner #1 and both outside borders on #2. Start cleaning house; find out vacuum and floor steamer still work.
Day Two: Take machine to shop; finish cleaning house, including bathrooms. Clean deck window; search for suction cups; no luck.
Day Three: Find suction cups; hang bird sun catcher brought back from Colorado by daughter. Maketh me happy.
Think about doing some Itajime (folded/clamped resist shibori) with pre-reduced indigo. Nah.
Trim up my free-motion practice sandwiches; tomorrow I can zigzag the edges and then donate them as Ugly Snugglies (cage mats) for the local animal shelter. (Stay tuned for Day Four.) Go to DMV with daughter; stop by Bentonville Convention Center and photograph Bentonville Square, a prize-winning slice quilt made by the Van Go-Go Girls, appraised for $3000.00. FOR SALE.
Stop by grocery store for dinner. No word on machine yet. Stop by Birdsong Garden and Landscaping to get picture of blue gnome I’ve been watching from highway. Find more chainsaw art. These guys have personality and attitude. Proprietor is away getting new flowers. Will go back for ornamental cabbage and a look inside.
Stop by the gallery, drop off packing for shipping pottery; check to see if trail is open yet; it’s not. Take pictures of haunted house instead.
Decide to go for walk on trail with camera. Go up on mountain bike trail; safely maneuver steep climb up and down. Take a tumble when I step off to get the last trumpet vine–basically just sat down in gravel. The step was twice as deep as I anticipated. Rewarded by both herons.
Last of the Trumpet Vine
Maybe my machine will be ready tomorrow. If not, I’ll have to find something else to do. It’s finally cooler out so maybe it will be Tanyard Nature Trail for me.
Keep reading for directions on making a quilted, round placemat with no hand stitching or binding. Last week, I posted about the Too Precious to Cut (But We Will) challenge with my modern quilt guild. The idea is to take a piece of fabric that you have a hard time cutting into
and do something with it. This is where I left off with the piecing.
I thought this was a boring table runner and decided that I could make more interesting placemats. Since I have a round table, I cut out a 13-inch circle from freezer paper using my Creative Grids Circle Ruler. This ruler must be discontinued–I could not find a link for it so unless you have one, you’ll have to find an alternative way to make a circle template.
After pressing my freezer paper template onto my pieced work, I used a small rotary cutter to cut out three pieced circles, one whole cloth circle from the leftover piece of lily fabric, four batting circles,and four backing circles. I was able to reuse the freezer paper template. This gets a little tricky for the batting–press from the center out in segments.
CAUTION: I was actually able to cut out the circles keeping my free hand on my hip. If you cannot do this, keep your free hand well away from the rotary cutter as you cut and be sure to close your cutter each time you lay it down. I have known of quilters who have needed a trip to the emergency room because they have cut themselves. More often than not, it is their husbands who don’t believe how sharp these blades are. USE CAUTION.
Next, layer the pieces as follows. Good side of batting facing up, right side of front facing up, right side of backing facing down. Read this five times so you get this layered correctly.
Otherwise, you’ll have to do what I did: unstitch, relayer, restitch. It’s a process. I used a half-inch seam allowance, leaving a 4-6-inch opening for turning. Then I trimmed the batting close to the stitching.
Finger press the fabric layers where the opening is; this will make closing easier.
Next trim the fabric layers with pinking shears. I left a little extra where the opening was so I would have enough fabric to easily turn under.
Turn your placemat inside out, smoothing the edge with your fingers. Machine stitch close to the edge. I started at a seam line and then when I got back to the beginning, I stitched in the ditch a few stitches and continued stitching circles, using my presser foot as a guide. This gives you continuous stitching without having to break your threads. As I got toward the center, I had a hard time maintaining the circle shape, ripped out my last two circles and did a free-motion design to finish the center. This is one of my favorite Leah Day designs: Layered Flower, #226.
Here is the finished placemat after steam pressing.
I’m playing with the leftover pieces and will probably make a mat for the center of the table. We have a glass table and it’s irritating when salt and pepper shakers, etc., rattle around while you’re eating. If you decide to make your own set of placemats, send me a link. I would love to see them! As always, leave me a comment if you have questions. Till next time, I’ll be in my happy place stitching.
I have now finished appliqueing The Grandmother’s Flower Garden to the background. I was writing a blog on The Quilt Show when I was putting this miniature together. For all intents and purposes, those blogs are gone forever. I now save my blogs to ensure against loss. Anyway, I’ll back up just a little to show how to put a hexie flower together, no matter what the size. I start by adding three petals to the center.
After this, you can fill in the last three hexies by starting on the outside edge and sewing the three sides without breaking your thread.
After adding two more petals in this manner, you will now have a completed hexie flower. Sweet.
When I started this project, I used cotton thread–don’t ask me why because using silk thread hides the stitches so much better, which is what I used to applique this project to the background. I decided to practice quilting on just one flower. I just stitched around the center hexie using the edge of my open toed applique foot (Janome F2) and 2.2 stitch length. This is what I’ll do to quilt this project, after layering with a thin batting like Thermolam.
On my sample piece, I marked some lines with a Frixion pen (marks will disappear with a hot iron) and then just echo-stitched around the entire piece. After finishing the edges, this can be a mug rug.
This week I will layer this project and start quilting. It’s a great feeling to near the end of another UFO.
Tomorrow I’m going to run away and take some pictures of the Jamie Wyeth exhibit at Crystal Bridges. That and the Andy Warhol Nature Exhibit will be closing October 5. In the meantime, Hwy 71 is Thunder Road for the next day or so with the end of Bikes Blues and BBQ in Fayetteville. The count was 400,000 last I heard — some mighty cool bikes and riders out and about. Safe journeys home, all.
Update on the group quilt (my orange slice). Here is the finished elephant ear leaf. Our long armer will have no problem with the edges not being stitched down.
I have been working on making larger leaves for the bottom area. I sewed some ¾-inch strips together and added 3-inch borders. This way, when I cut out my leaf shape, I will have an easier time turning under the edges, rather than dealing with the pieced section.
Next I pieced a half-log cabin. This turned out to be a neat block that I can use in the future with all my strips and strings. Start with a square (1-3/4 inch) and add matching strips to two sides only (instead of the traditional four). I alternated dark and light strips (1-1/4 inch) and then added 3-inch borders. I used an ombre fabric in both cases, which adds some interest.
For a third leaf, I used Texture Magic, which is a woven fabric that will shrink with steam. This product is from Superior Threads. http://www.superiorthreads.com/shop/category/texture-magic/texture-magic-1/description/
I marked two diagonal lines through the center of my fabric and placed it right side up on the Texture Magic (I did not need to pin this, but you might need to). I stitched on these lines and then once on either side of the diagonal lines using my walking foot as a guide. After that I just stitched out to each corner—after you finish each corner, you can go to the next section without breaking your thread. You can also use free motion quilting to hold the layers together and add batting if you want to. Now to make the magic happen, just steam the entire piece with the Texture Magic right side up. The piece can shrink as much as 30 percent. During the week, I don’t have enough power to make this happen. The product still shrank and has texture so I can still use it as is. I will try again on the weekend during peak electricity hours.
Be sure to read the directions carefully before starting. The product comes folded in a package and you will have the urge to iron those creases out—this has the potential to ruin your day and make you very unhappy. You will be cryin’…
I have put my slice up on the design wall again and am just using a drop of glue to hold things in place while I smooth out edges, finish hand sewing and decide on placement. I’m at the point where I need to step back, clean up my mess and then come back to this next week. Till next time, I hope all of your projects are successful and fun.
P.S. I often give you links for products, but you can try your local quilt shop for products, the big box stores and other online sources–you know where to go.
It finally quit raining and dried up enough for me to safely navigate the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail. The trail was closed for several months this winter to effect some much needed erosion control following major flooding in 2013. You can still smell the lumber on one of the new bridges. We have two resident herons here that frequent Lake Bella Vista and Tanyard Creek where I have tried to capture them with my camera. I had two opportunities on Monday. I was just about to capture Mrs. Heron in flight when Mr. Heron swooped by and they both took off. They saunter along the shore and stand stock still if they sense you are there but when they’re ready to leave, it’s buh-bye right now. Both of these photos were chosen as Pic of the Day on our local KNWA-TV Facebook page and during the news yesterday.
What a beautiful day Monday was. Sunny, not too hot. I took a group photo of a family visiting, whisked a mosquito from another visitor’s cheek and got some wonderful photos, which I’ll share in future posts.
In the meantime, back at the ranch, I finished the binding on my challenge quilt, weaved (wove?) in loose threads and now need to add some embellishments. I am also going to add two more lines of quilting. TIP: Easy-threading needles make weaving in thread ends so easy. There was some major distortion where I quilted on the diagonal but I managed to square the project up. I also got the seams to match when I joined the ends of the two-sided binding. Here is the quilt before binding.
I have also been doing some cleaning and am ready to return to my orange leaves. I’ll post more about that next week.
Here’s one of my other favorite photos:
That’s it for now. May all your photos, and your life, be in focus.
Spring has sprung. The vernal equinox arrives to 46 and rain with the possibility of sun and a Super Moon tonight. Last weekend I spent two days in my tiny garden which surrounds our birdbath, digging up the miniature sedum I planted last year. It is too invasive so I’ll be replacing it with more hens and chicks, most of which survived the winter. Hey, I figured if they could survive Minnesota winters, they could survive here. I could not quite finish because there was a nest with critters (mice or squirrels)–there was a SQUEAK when I gently poked at it. Either mom came during the night and took the babies or some other varmint took care of them.
We were really excited last weekend when a male bluebird flew onto the bluebird house. Then I noticed the female was looking into the nest hole. When they flew off, I got my camera and went into stealth mode by the maple tree and waited. and waited. Finally they came back and perched on the fence when suddenly a chickadee flew out. I need to put a sign out–Bluebirds Only. Rats. Bluebirds actually fletch three times so we may yet be able to host them later this summer. Bella Vista is the world capital for bluebirds. Later in the year I’ll have the local count.
I started a new mailing box for upcycling. A couple years ago when I was removing a mailing label from an envelope, it ripped off the top layers revealing the corrugation and I thought that would be a good substrate for a mixed media project. And why not try this on a box! So I just worked at one side at a time and voila. I left the bottom intact to preserve the sturdiness of the box and have not decided how much to remove from the top yet.
Our modern quilt guild met on Tuesday night. Our leaders had attended Quilt Con in Austin and brought back some fabric scraps from a newish fabric company called Cotton+Steel. I really need another project and challenge in my life so I bought a baggie of scraps. The challenge is to make a project – tote, quilt, wallhanging, anything – using the scraps, adding only other Cotton+Steel fabrics and/or solid fabric, and using an alternate grid pattern. One of my fabrics has a jack pictured from the Playful line so my theme is going to be Let’s Play. These are the scraps I get to play with, all from different Cotton+Steel collections.
In the meantime I finally started on my slice for a group quilt. Our design is divided up into nine sections. Each section will be rendered in a bright color, my color being orange in a rainbow spectrum from yellow to blue. We will each be putting in some chartreuse to each slice. After we piece it all together, we will add wrought iron fencing. Yesterday I finalized my drawing and did a couple of practice leaves. Since you can see through the drawing, I turned it over and traced the leaves in mirror image onto paperbacked Wonder Under. Directions are to press the fusible to your applique with a hot iron for 5-8 seconds, let cool, remove paper backing. Then to affix the applique, place on background fabric, cover with a damp press cloth, and iron for 15 seconds. Lift and press with your iron, versus scrubbing back and forth. Finishing pressing till the moisture is removed (I pressed from the back). Be sure to do all this work on a Teflon sheet or parchment to keep your iron and ironing board cover clean. Next I experimented with zigzagging the edges. I placed some Sulky Solvy water-soluble stabilizer underneath. Actually I forgot to do this on the second leaf but because I was sewing slowly, it was okay. I used an 11/75 needle (which still left needle holes), Superior MonoPoly (versus nylon), zigzag at 1.4, straight stitch at 1.3 (Mode 1, Stitch #8 on Janome). If you can, adjust your speed down, use the needle down option, and proceed slowly. Start away from a point, with the needle down at the edge of the fabric, and pivot often if you have angles and curves. When I get to a point, I sew three stitches using the hand wheel so that all three stitches bite in the same hole away from the edge. Now I need to check with the group to see if my oranges are different from the fabrics on either side and if this applique method is sturdy enough for blocking and longarm quilting. Oh and we are all using the same ombre grey background, replacing the bluish portion with green.
I have been knitting small projects at night but soon I will be crocheting some hanger covers. This is what is left of the foam hanger covers. In the old days, drycleaners had hangers with foam that completely cover the hanger top (before that there was a paper cover over the whole hanger). Now they only cover the shoulder area and these won’t stay on any more–they held up pretty well considering I can’t remember the last time I went to the dry cleaners.
Until next time, buh-bye and enjoy the first day of spring and the solar eclipse.