February 27, 2011

Bliss-ful union

As we all knew it would, the flickr bee eventually came around to paper piecing, with these Union Jack blocks. I'm not sure I had enough red fabric to feature those white flowers in each strip, but I can't say I thought about it very hard before cutting either.  Dang.

The pattern was made available to our group as a favor from Lynne at Lily's Quilts, but it's not available online. Even though paper piecing is painfully slow and wastes a bunch of paper, the process all makes sense to me. I got a little giddy seeing how super duper flat everything turns out too! Now I'm rarin' to have a go at the "colorwheel geese" pattern at Piece By Number. That's my plan for the PMQG April swap of 12 inch solids-only blocks. Now to choose my colors!

February 22, 2011


I'm doing it. About 30 minutes at a time. I estimate it will take about 5 hours total of hand stitching and I'm about 1.5 hours into it. Stitching through those seam allowances is not my favorite!

February 21, 2011

Goose in the Corner block tutorial

Even though one of these blocks alone is kind of ugly, I was surprised that I've never seen the block before. It's very simple, so it seems like it should have been done before, you know? But failing to find any evidence of that, I'm going ahead and naming it the Goose in the Corner block. If you do know about an established name for this block, please please please let me know!

I made my original Golden Goose quilt with wonky blocks, but I buckled down and engineered a proper goose for this tutorial. This goose should meet up nice and pretty at the points. If you don't like precision piecing, you could do wonky geese, and I'll talk about those at the end. But I have to admit, the method I found for proper geese is so easy, the wonky geese seem slow and wasteful by comparison.

So: the proper goose. You make this block with two squares. In this example I use a 9.5 inch foundation square and a 5 inch square for the goose. This makes a 9 inch finished square, as well as a bonus half square triangle block from the leftover fabric that would otherwise be cut away. I'll describe the process and then show you how to calculate the size of your squares to make any size block you'd like.

You're going to draw two lines on the backside of the smaller (goose) square. I used a pencil. The first line goes diagonally from corner to corner.

Then, draw another line 1/2" away from that line, using your see through ruler as a guide.

Arrange the squares right sides together as shown. Pin to keep them in place if you'd like, then sew along the drawn lines.

After both lines are sewn, cut between them using your rotary cutter.

Press open your blocks. Ta da!

Sewn together these geese met up almost perfectly at the corners without any pinning or fretting from me. You can see maybe 1/16" space between mine.  That's close enough for me.

If you'd like to calculate your own Goose in the Corner, do this:
Desired finished block size: x
Size to cut foundation blocks: x + 1/2"
Size to cut goose squares: (half x) + 1/2"
My graph paper assures me this works for all size blocks. EQ7 was absolutely no help in the matter, in case you were wondering.

Are there other ways to measure and cut this block? Yes, but they didn't give as consistent results as this method, the math was trickier, and the measuring and cutting were complicated. Furthermore, I love that the above method takes care of the leftover foundation square triangle right from the outset, and you get a premade HST block for whatever you want to use them for in the future.

Gwen Marston and Freddie Moran refer to this as having a "parts department" and I love that concept. If the extra HST blocks sound like a bad thing to you, you could draw and sew only the corner to corner diagonal line, then trim 1/4" from the seam and discard the leftovers. Or you could even develop your own approach to the block!

And how about that wonky goose?
Desired finished block size: x
Size to cut foundation blocks: x + 1/2"
Size to cut squares for goose triangles: (half x) + 1 to 1.5 inches. Precision is not important. Go ahead and cut it out with scissors if you want.  Cut this square in half along the diagonal for two triangles to make two separate blocks.

I start by laying my triangle on the foundation block, angling it the way I want and making sure it extends beyond the foundation block by 1/4" or more on each edge. (oops! Fabric change!)

Then I move it about 1/2" outward, toward the corner, to allow for a seam allowance. Or, I should have moved it 1/2" outward. Looks like I only moved it 1/4" here though.

At this point I gently flip the triangle back, so the fabrics are right side together and the goose is pointing away from the corner.  I sew along the edge of the triangle with a 1/4" seam allowance.

I press the block and trim the excess goose fabric using the foundation square as my guide. Then I flip the goose back again and trim away the excess foundation fabric 1/4" away from the stitching.

Sometimes, despite taking those above steps to avoid this, I find that I just barely didn't cover the entire corner with my goose triangle. If it is just a bit off and the gap won't extend beyond the seam allowance, I usually go with it instead of redoing it. And, instead of cutting away the corner of the foundation block from underneath I leave it there, to act as my true edge when piecing.

Wonky geese may overlap or not touch each other at all. I enjoy that kind of variation.

So that's it; simple instructions for a simple block! Of course, try a practice block or two before you dive in with yards of fabric. Please feel free to ask any questions about this tutorial, I'm happy to help you enjoy this versatile block! Need ideas for using this block? See this post.

February 20, 2011

The Snack Mat Swap

 At this week's PMQG meeting we swapped mug rugs/snack mats. I've been a little suspicious of this trend, but I was happy to try it out, in the spirit of playing along. I made this one from my orange scrap bin, it's about 8x7 inches. Loved how skinny and perfect that single fold binding turned out!

And I received this one!

Now would you believe that out of 40 or so people, we each happened to draw each other's? Cosmic! I believe my swap partner was Beth, but as PMQG members can tell you, all my brain cells aren't necessarily firing at the meetings, so I could have just totally screwed that up. Anyway, I love the organic leafy echo stitching!

This thing came just in time because lately our kiddie table has been getting caked in Play Doh. Now I have something pretty to look at and the kid isn't ingesting her craft supplies at snack time!

February 17, 2011

The Goose in the Corner

I designed my Golden Goose quilt on paper, with a fair amount of grumbling.

And I decided to put EQ7 on my wishlist, which I know Santa checks. And he did!

One of the first things I did was to put my design for the Golden Goose into the program. And it only kind of worked, because the program doesn't think anyone would ever want a seam in the corner on one end of the quilt and triangles in the corner on the other. I felt both irked at EQ and pleased that my brain-and-paper technology was so capable.

Anyway, I drew my block and made the quilt:

And then I made the logical variations (again with the corner issue):

And then I just couldn't stop:

And I imagine there's even more variations to be tried. Anyway, once I saw how very versatile that simple little block could be I wanted to show you all about it!  So I'm planning to share a little "goose in the corner" block tutorial soon.

February 15, 2011

Time to give...

Thanks for all the book recommendations! I knew you all would have some great ideas. I can't wait to choose some to add to our collection of books, hopefully this weekend!

It's only fair that I share my recommendations too. My little one has a serious love for the following books (and I like them too):
I Like it When
Little Pea, and its brother, Little Hoot
B is for Bear and any other book with stuff to feel or flaps to lift
Doggies and Opposites, both of which she knows the words to now
No No Yes Yes and Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli
How are you Peeling and its out of print cousin, Baby Food

Oh.... and congratulations to the winners:
For the GO! and one die: #49 Colleen
For the two dies: #129 Robin (RsIslandCrafts)

Hope everyone is having a LOVEly week!

February 10, 2011

Go around again!

Three years ago I felt very lonely as a quilter. I wasn't having much luck connecting with like minded experimental quilters through my LQS. In a fit of hope I started this little blog. Fun fact: my very first commenter was Tonya of Lazy Gal Quilting. That just totally warms my heart.

First slowly, and then quickly, I found myself connected, online and face to face, with impassioned, inspiring quilt artists. You make me look normal instead of obsessive. You give me goals and ideas and challenges.  I'm looking forward to going around again with you this coming year.

To celebrate, how about we give away that Accuquilt GO! cutter I've been talking about forever?

I'd like to draw two winners: One gets an Accuquilt GO! and one die of their choice. The other gets two dies of their choice. That way if you've already got a GO! cutter you can play too. And yes, international entries are welcome. Thank you so much Accuquilt for this great giveaway!

To enter the drawing, leave a comment below telling me whether you're entering for the GO! or the two dies and ALSO tell me about a book you'd recommend for little ones 2 and up. I'm trying to get out of this Go, dog. Go! rut we're in and learn about some obscure books we might not find on our own. 

Entries welcome through February 14th. I'll pick the winners by random number generator. If I don't have your email address I can't contact you about winning though, so if you're one of those no-reply commenters (or if you're not sure) you should leave your email in your comment.

February 07, 2011

A room of her own

At two years old, our kid finally has a room. Blame it on the cosleeping and the ever-constant home renovation, but her mattress has laid in the nook outside our bedroom door for the past year. No longer, my friends. Witness:

Everything cute that you see here was my husband's concept, design, and work. Except that tree. I dreamt it and painted it, with guidance from our daughter about leaf placement. I had almost forgotten how fun painting is. That sweet little houses quilt is from my grandma. Shown in full here.

My handyman-by-night husband turned the closet into a little private nook/pillow playhouse. He also made a cubbyhole over the drawers.

He even found an old window, secured it in plexiglass, and trimmed the whole house out to look cuter than anything I've ever seen. I mean, real doorknobs for goodness sakes!

The attic access door was turned into a chalkboard, a decision that we regretted immediately. Only first time parents make these kinds of mistakes. Most days I keep the chalk out of reach in the cubbyhole.

The kid loves it. It took three times longer than we thought (doesn't everything?), but, for a while at least, we've shed our "slacker parents" vibe. Yee haw! We just had our first weekend not working on this project, and it meant more sewing time for me! A wonderful surprise was that the kid now sleeps through the night, waking at 5 or 6 instead of 1 or 2. Uninterrupted sleep...how I've missed you.

February 05, 2011

Just keep pinning

Here's where I am with the wedding quilt. I've got the arcs together, seam allowances pressed under, and pinned to the whole cloth top. This thing is ginormous. 105" wide. Honk!

I didn't like my original layout as well once I laid down the actual arcs, so I played with them until I came up with this arrangement, which seemed "right". When I stepped back again after pinning I realized it looks more like a loop-de-loop than two rings. But my compassionate husband said that it looks like two rings to him so I will continue forward on my path.

I have some hand appliqueing ahead of me. Which will give me time to ponder my quilting options. I do enjoy a good ponder.

February 03, 2011

Accuquilt: Bunting Quilt Tutorial

This post is all about how I made my bunting quilt with the Accuquilt GO! Cutter and the Triangles in Square die. Geez, that is a lot of links.

I was only using the triangle (A) part of the die, not the half triangles (B).  The area of fabric needed to cut the triangle part is 4x6".  So for the white fabric, I used three strips 4 inches across the width of the fabric. This seemed like the way to waste the least amount of fabric, as opposed to cutting lengthwise strips as Accuquilt advises. A few of the white triangles did seem a little stretched out compared to the other triangles but it didn't seem to affect my final results.

I layered my die, fabric and cutting mat. It makes me a little crazy to send the die through the cutter without using half of the die, since those blades are cutting into the mat anyway and deteriorating it over time. But I didn't really want any half triangles hanging around so I just cut the whole triangles and sent the die through without any fabric over the half triangles.

There was not much fabric wastage as I cut the white triangles, because the trailing edge of the first cut could be lined up with the leading edge of the next. The only significant waste was at the beginning and end of the strip. Three strips gave me about 54 white triangles.

Of note, my sister called me as I was about to cut the white triangles and I was able to cut all of them while talking with her on speaker phone. I don't think I would have tried that if I was cutting these triangles with a rotary cutter! This is all that was left of my strips after cutting my white triangles.

Then I picked some fabrics for my flags. I made myself a little template and used it to cut 4x6" rectangles from 25 different fabrics. Then I stacked those up and cut them, four layers at a time, for a total of 8 triangles per pass.

Using individual rectangles instead of strips resulted in a little more fabric wastage, but I think you'd have most of that cutting it with a rotary cutter too, simply because the triangle shape leaves odd scraps. 

This kind of gave me chills. They look so beautiful and perfect! They stack up quick.

Piecing triangles does not come intuitively to me. But with these dog eared corners, anyone with a pulse and a sewing machine can get it right.  Why not have a margarita? No, wait. Two margaritas.

I started by piecing 50 units of one white and one colored triangle each. I think this would make a great "leaders and enders" project. That was my original intent but I ended up grabbing it on my way to a guild sewing night at Modern Domestic and doing it all in one sitting. You do need to make sure you piece the units consistently (white on the left, colored fabric on the right, for instance).

After piecing all the two piece units, press seam allowances toward the colored fabric. Then piece the units into four strips of about 12 units each.

You may want a little helper to figure out your preferred arrangement. Lengthen or shorten the strips as needed. Use the remaining white triangles to add to the ends that need them.

Lay out a single piece of white fabric, about 36"x44". Lay your bunting strips where you want them to go. Then slide your fabric ruler 1/2" underneath the top edge of your first strip, then carefully lift the strip up and mark the cutting line on the fabric (I used a regular pencil). Replace the strip and repeat along the bottom edge, marking a line 1/2" above the bottom of the strip. The fabric between these lines will eventually be discarded. Repeat, marking lines for each strip.

Cut and sew these seams one at a time. Do not try to cut them all at once. Even cutting one at a time you will have some crazy bias situation and pins are the answer to that problem. Pin it to death before you even pick it up. This is coming from someone who almost never pins anything, so you know it's serious business. Sew with the pieced strips on top to reduce stretching in the bias edge.

Square it up, congratulate yourself heartily, and finish that sucker.

Whew! I can honestly say I only did this project because I had the Accuquilt GO! cutter. If I'd had to learn how to cut all those triangles on my own I'd still be in the design stage for sure. The GO! cutter made a somewhat challenging design more doable. I'd say it's a pretty handy tool. A handy expensive tool. If mine disappeared and I had to decide whether to buy a new one, I'm honestly not sure what I would do. I might take the middle road and get the GO! Baby because of the big price break between the two. The GO! cutter does seem like a quick way to get scraps cut into usable consistent sizes and that's how I've been using it lately. I keep some squares I've cut handy so we have something to use when my toddler heads to the sewing machine saying "Mama, sewing?".

I really think one of these cutters would be a good thing for a group of quilters to share. Unless you're pumping out a quilt a week, this thing is going to sit in your closet most of the time. I'm hoping to make mine available at guild sewing events, and PMQG members, if you have a project the Accuquilt GO! could help you out with, talk to me about borrowing mine!

If you make a quilt using these directions, I hope you know I'd be tickled pink to see a picture! Now let's see about getting an Accuquilt GO! into the hands of one of you lovely readers... soon, soon, soon!