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California Thomas Fire Quilts

As members of NWA Modern Quilt Guild, we are occasionally asked to make blocks for donation quilts at Quilt Con or for quilts being made for disaster victims. This month we are making blocks for victims of the fires in California. Go here for all the details. California Thomas Fire Quilts

The Fabrics: I wanted to use green fabrics (signifying hope and new growth) but didn’t have sufficient contrast and greens that played well together. Leave your medium fabrics in the bin as you really need the light and dark contrast for maximum impact. I went to my purple bin and found a couple commercial fabrics and then found more from my hand dyeds, including one rather crappy sun-printed fabric that didn’t turn out so well. It’s been hanging around since we moved here (2006) but the color was just right. HINT: If you water down your Setacolor paint, it loses the ability to do a decent sun print.


Next I cut one 4-1/2 strip and one 5-inch strip from each fabric and subcut the squares. The 5-inch squares make a slightly oversized half-square triangle so if your sewing is not quite perfect, you’ll still be able to trim to 4-1/2 inches. You know what to do.


After I laid out four blocks, I photographed them on the design wall. This can be very handy if you mix up your units at the ironing board. (photo of blocks) HINT: When chain piecing blocks together, leave the units attached; you can also do this when you make rows. This prevents mixing everything up.


Here are the finished blocks.


If you make multiple blocks, here are two settings you can try. BONUS: I did not have to trim my blocks for once. Whaaaaat?


I had some blocks left over so I turned the hsts into hour glass units. Take two hst units and lay them right sides together with the light side on top of the dark side. Nest the diagonal seam, pin, and draw a straight line as shown (perpendicular to the seam). Sew ¼-inch of either side of the drawn line and then cut on that line. Voila, two hour-glass units. If you want to make the block lie flat at the center, undo the two or three stitches in the seamline, press on the little four-square on the reverse, press the seams in opposing directions, and press again on the right side.


I have saved all these fabrics, scraps and hour-glass units into a bag and will use them for an improv tote bag workshop in July.

FREE-MOTION QUILTING. I was practicing free-motion quilting and could not get the tension right. I tried adjusting my bobbin case to no avail so I sent for a new bobbin case for my Janome and noticed they also had a bobbin case especially for free-motion quilting. I cannot see the difference between the two bobbin cases (except for the blue and red arrows) but I saw a difference in the quilting–mo loops on the reverse.


Sewing machine companies like you to order parts from authorized dealers but try sewing machine parts and ask for items specific to your machine.

FREE-MOTION COUCHING. I also got a special hopping foot for couching yarn, etc. My results were not stellar but I’ll keep working on this.  Stay tuned.


You can thank Jackie Wolven (uber motivator) Jackie Wolven from Eureka Springs for kicking my butt enough to end my procrastination about posting to my blog again. It’s called #doonething. If you are overwhelmed with all the things you want to do and need to do, then pick one project and work on it during the week with the end goal of finishing by midnight on Sunday. Last week I did not post by midnight, but I did post first thing the next morning.  A little side benefit I have noticed for me is that I’m also getting a lot of other things done. Could procrastination be a thing of the past for me? (Probably not) But go here for a great TED talk mentioned in the To Well With You blog Suzy Oakley by Suzy Oakley. TED talk

I’ll most likely finish quilting the borders on this baby quilt this week, maybe even today since we are iced in. I’m finishing all my UFOs this year because it’s time and I want to do more improvisation—it maketh me happy. So do one thing, finish a UFO or give it away, and stay warm and healthy.