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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fun with a challenge

Hi everyone,
who loves quilting challenges? You know, when your guild, or small group gives you few fabrics, or a theme or something like that and then you have fun creating within the parameters (restrictions?) of that challenge.  I do love these.
Not sure if I told you this, but I belong to a wonderful, new chapter of Modern Quilt Guild here in western NY - WNY MQG, so much fun and inspiration!! We participated in latest challenge by MQG, Riley Blake Challenge and prints on the left were our set of fabrics:
Rules were that you can add either any solids or any other RB prints, so I choose to add white and gradation of gray solids (on the right). We could make ANYTHING, as long as it is quilted.

WELL... lets first admit that challenge fabrics did not speak to me, as a group, at all in the beginning. There, I said it. The only thing I was thinking while looking at them is how they all have different SHAPES in it - squares, circles, rectangles (stripe)...but...nothing else!
Then one day I was in our regular lab meeting and while listening to some chemistry talk (not very interesting to me, I must say) someone said "shape-shifting"..Hmmm, you know how word gets stuck in your brain - yeah, that. So shape-shifting was in my brain and doodling happened:
OK!! Now we got something!!
Shapes in those fabrics and word stuck in my head - weird combination, but it worked! Decided that doodle above will be my Riley Blake challenge - let the fun begin!!
I will have SHAPES, different shapes, like triangles (read: Flying Geese), squares, rectangles (hmm..piano-key type border?) and some circles too?
So cut some strips of grays and white and first I did a whole lotta strip-piecing:
Basically, I added a white strip to BOTH short sides of each gray strip and once laid out, this is where I was going:
Staggering them up and down, sewing them together:
And - VOILA!!
So with "rectangles" done, time for some triangles!
Made Flying Geese in 3D (remember my tutorial? it's HERE) from all the challenge fabrics, only they needed to have longer "sides" - background square wasn't a square but rectangle, like this:

Stitch, stitch, stitch... (don't you just LOVE strip-piecing? I so do...)

And here they are:
I was having sooooo much fun!!
OK - now is the time to do something with all this...
Started by cutting the gray piano-key looking thing in half - yeah, I did THAT! Scary! Then some Flying Geese going up, up, up...
Then some going down...
Placed some squares in the middle:
Hmm... looked a bit...not flow-y? At loss for words here, but do you see what I mean? So decided to add some squares:
HA! Better... but now it just looked a bit too big? Too much? Too...something. Maybe symmetry wasn't working here? Took my camera and took few pictures of different parts.
Without the left piano-key part:
 Without the left Flying Geese?
But I really liked geese going BOTH up and back to this one and sewn together:
Time for some circles!!!
I had just enough of all the challenge fabrics left for a few of each color. By the way - this little Olfa circle cutter is an awesome thing - love it!!
The idea was to quilt the piece first and THEN add circles - just sew them on, with 1/4" raw edge that would fray a bit in time. So, basted my creation and tried to start quilting...

Oh, but this is where this lovely story ends...for now.

You see - all this was happening THIS WEEKEND - as much fun as I had, this was 48h before the challenge deadline. Yeah - crazy me.
So, when I started quilting it was Sunday evening just didn't work. Not to my  liking anyway...
See what I mean? UGH. Lines not smooth, stitches wonky...I was just tired.
OK - so I will miss the challenge deadline to post my finished project - bleh. Just started too late.

HOWEVER!!! I really, really, REALLY had fun doing this!! From a doodle to some improvisational work, to using a lot of WHITE in my quilt (that's a first for me) - all this with a lot of great music in my sewing room, my darling hubby making delicious dinner while I had fun, my Marley occasionally coming to "talk" to me or hide his treat in my stash (yes, he actually does that!).
Don't know about you, but in my book - this is still a success. :) I was challenged and I had so much fun! Next time, I will try to also make the darn deadline, ha ha!
So this morning, got up early and yes, I did think -oh, I wish I made the deadline - but then I just went into my sewing room and played with circles...

Even the leftover piece got some circles:
Next? I will have some, relaxed fun quilting this one, so stay tuned! :)
And, of course - the name will be Shape shifting.
Do you like challenges? Did you do any? Please share your experiences! :)
Have a lovely Tuesday,

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love ya, my quilty friends - in 3D!! Yes, it is a tutorial too... :)

Hello my quilty friends,
happy Valentine's Day!
I really really love meeting with you all here, sharing my life, inspirations and some quilty stuff. So what better to celebrate all that but - to share some more! Yes, a tutorial is in order...

Did you ever make a good old classic - a Bow Tie block?
It is such a cute, classic block that gives many design possibilities, BUT...look at the shapes! A pentagon shape, clearly set-in (or "Y") seams required...not so easy! Well, of course we quilters will find the easier way, right?
 I just LOVE how clever quilters find ways of making things some other way and then share, share, share...
What if I tell you that you can make this blocks from SQUARES only and all straight seams! Really!
Look at this one:

Oh and yes, you see that right - the middle part of that bow is 3D, raised - giving this classic block a bit of a make-over to look even better!
I learned this method many, many years ago and I really love it, love to teach it and so far every one of my students loved it too, so time to share with all of you!
First I will show you how to make the block and then we will make this cute and quick table runner - festive and LOVEly in red, white and some green! :)
 Let's get started!
For this 3D Bow Tie block you will need 5 squares of fabric, all the same size.
You will need two in background color (white) and either all 3 in Bow Tie color (red) or 2 in Bow Tie color and one, different for the bow tie middle - like the green one here. This time, my squares are all cut 2 1/2" and that will give me 4" finished block. 

So, for 1 block I have:

- 2 white squares (2 1/2")
- 2 red squares (2 1/2")
- 1 green square (2 1/2")

Step 1:

- take one green square and fold it WRONG sides together - just finger-press lightly the fold, so that it stays folded (you do not want iron-pressed, permanent crease here)

- place one white (background) square right side up, and place the folded, green square on top, so that raw edges are aligned as shown on the photo (longer raw edges of the green square are aligned with TOP raw edge of the white square)

- take one red square and place it, right side down on top of the white and green set, as shown (all raw edges of the white and red squares are aligned and green, folded square is "in the sandwich", between them).

- stitch a 1/4" seam on this side, from top to bottom (you will be catching the SHORT side of the folded, green square in this seam!)

- stitched 1/4 seam

When you open your seam, you will have this, quite strange looking creation. But it will be a block at the end, trust me! :)

- take the folded (green) part and place it so it is "sticking out" to the left, like shown here. Basically, fold-away red and white square to the right.

- take another white square, place it right side up on the table and now place the folded green piece (one that is sticking out, from above), on top, the same way as in step 1

- place another red square, right side down, on top of those, so that right raw edge is aligned.

You are really just repeating the first few steps, only on the other, short edge of the folded, green square!

-Stitch again on the right side (as before), with 1/4" seam allowance

If you thought that first one was strange-looking, look at this!

yeah - really funny looking thing!
Stand it up, so that you can see a "pocket" that folded, green square is making:

The easiest way to do the next step is to now put your finger into this pocket, just like this:

and then bring two seam allowances together, as shown here:

As you bring them together, also push the seam allowances to opposite sides, so that you have that lovely, opposing, nested seam.
Now you want to pin that in place and stitch with 1/4" seam again.
Note that, as you brought those edges together and nested seams, the green piece folded so that you actually have a 1/4"  straight side - my stiletto is pointing at it here:

 As you stitch 1/4" seam, it will go right by that straight part, to make this all work...
 Stitching, stitching....

Once you are done, take it out and when you open the block....VOILA!!
Isn't that just super-cool!! I know these photos and explanation must seem a bit complicated, but thrust me - try it once and you will see that it is not hard and it works! :)
The center part of the Bow is 3D, making it look even more like the real one:
If you used 2 1/2" squares for this, your block should be very close to 4 1/2" now, but of course you should check it and maybe square it up to 4 1/2" if necessary:
Of course, you can make this block in any size - start from the desired finished size of the block, divide it by 2 and add 1/2" - that is the size of the squares to cut. 
So, if you want 6" finished block, squares to cut are 3 1/2" (6/2=3, 3+1/2=3 1/2"). For 8" finished block, squares would be 4 1/2"...etc.

OK, now that we did this, how about making the lovely, festive table runner?

As you can see, I used a print in the middle and then pulled colors form that print for my Bow Tie blocks - white as a background, red (with circles) for bow ties and green for the bow tie middle part - although, that can be the same color as your bow tie - your choice! Here are my fabrics:

For this table runner I used 4" finished blocks, so the size of it, as shown above is 16"x32" finished. You can really make it any size you want, but adding more blocks. For this size, here is what you will need:
1. Background fabric (white): 1/3 yard
2. Bow tie fabric (red): 1/4 yard
3. Bow tie accent (green): 1/8 yard
4. Center fabric (print): 1/4 yard (but this one can NOT be fat quarter!)

You will need 3 strips for binding of any one of these fabric, so that is another ~1/4 yard of fabric and about 1/2 yard for backing

Cutting chart:

1. Background fabric (white):
           - 32 (thirty two) 2 1/2" squares
           -  2 (two) 5" squares (for half-square triangles in the corners)
2. Bow tie fabric (red):
           - 32 (thirty two)  2 1/2” squares
3. Bow tie center (green):
           - 16 (sixteen) 2 1/2" squares
4. Table runner center (print):
           - 1 (one) rectangle 8 1/2" x 24 1/2"
           - 2 (two) 5" squares (for half-square triangles in the corners)

Take all your 2 1/2" squares and make total of 16 Bow Tie blocks. Here is my process:

1. I folded all 16 green squares, wrong sides together and "sandwich" them all between one white and one red square - all ready to be sewn now: (chain piecing, of course! :)   )

Stitch, stitch, stitch...
2. Flipped up all red squares and pressed the seam:
3. Now the second round of "sandwiching" - the other end of the folded green square goes between red and white squares (make sure that colors of squares are OPPOSING  - red square is next to white (not red), that is important for your Bow Tie to look as it should!)
Again, stitch, stitch, stitch...
and again, flip the red squares up and press that seam:
Now is the time to stand them all up!
 Bring those seams together, make sure you have the green, folded square all lined-up:

 ...and stitch!
Zip along all 16 seams and - voila, 16 Bow Tie blocks are done!
Now to put them together into a table runner!

1. Take two blocks and orient them as shown, and stitch together with 1/4" seam:

Make total of EIGHT pairs like that.
Leave TWO of the pairs as is, and with the rest - join THREE pairs together in a row, to have two rows of 6 Bow Tie blocks total. This is how they will be laid out around the center fabric:
Now you only need 4 Half-square triangle (HST) blocks for the corners.
Take those 5" squares you cut (2 white and 2 print) and make total of 4 HSTs by using the classic method of pairing squares, right sides together, drawing diagonal lines, stitching and cutting apart - you know what I mean? I normally prefer to use Thangles, but when it is only 4 blocks total, any method will do - so use your favorite method, as long as you end up with four HST that are 4" finished (4 1/2" when you make them).
If I am not using Thangles, I like to use Pam Bono's Angler 2 tool to skip drawing all those lines on the fabric.  It is a piece of plastic that goes on the bed of your machine and it also comes as a clingy foil:

 If you move the points of your squares along the first gray line, you are stitching exactly 1/4" away from the center, just like you need - really neat!

Once you made those 4 HSTs, you are ready to assemble the table runner.
- Join the set of 6 Bow Ties you made to the long sides of the 8 1/2"x 24 1/2" rectangle of print fabric. Press toward the print fabric.
- Take remaining two PAIRS of Bow Tie blocks you made and stitch the HST blocks to both sides of each pair. Stitch those to the short sides of the table runner:

That is IT!! Isn't it cute?
I hope you will have fun trying this and if you do - please share your creations, (either email me your pictures or post on my FB page - see the link on the left!),  ask questions and have a wonderful, wonderful Valentine and weekend ahead!!
Love always,