Sunday, February 24, 2013

Twisting The Afternoon Away!

Moda Little Black Dress

This coming Friday, March 1st, I will be teaching a mini-class on how to use the Twister Tool.  We will be making a table runner and there are a couple things you can do at home to prepare for this class!

To make the table runner you will need either 1 charm pack (about $10.00) with 36-42  precut 5 x 5 inch pieces or you will need to cut yourself some 5 x 5 inch squares out of the fabric of your choice.  The advantage to a charm pack is you will have a color coordinated packet of precut fabrics normally containing the entire run for that designer.  No thinking like the colors and the fabrics in the packet, they WILL play nice together.   If you are cutting your own fabrics, I will suggest that you pick lights and darks and alternate them as you sew the blocks together.  Your end result will be a table runner that has pop and appeal.  Any scrap fabrics that you can cut 5 x 5 inches will work, so don't stress over this.  Just have fun with it!

You will need enough fabric for a border and backing along with some thin batting.  

BEFORE YOU COME TO CLASS:  Sew your blocks together.  Here is how I do mine, you can do yours any way you want, just get them together.

First I sort, light and dark from the packet.  Then I randomly sew the lights and darks together, one after another, I feed them into the machine without breaking the thread in between. Clip them apart, press to set the seams and then press them open.

 You will make two rows of equal length this way and then you will sew those two rows together.  Remember our trick of pressing the seams in opposite directions so they nest together when you are matching them up?  This would be a good time to use that trick.  DON'T stress if they are not perfect, it doesn't matter for this project, you will never see it.

When all the rows are sewn together it should look something like this.   Well, hey, that is pretty all on it's own...just wait till we are done with it!  Oh Boy!  Now we are ready to cut.  

If you are coming to class Friday...stop here and bring your blocks with you all sewn together.  If you are at home, or can't wait...well then, continue below.

This is the Twister Tool.  Kind of hard to see, it's clear.  But you will notice it's a square with an offset line in the center.  The tool is by Country Schoolhouse Designs and you can get it here:  Twister Tool  Now there are two sizes, get them both, you're gonna want them!  For this tutorial, we are using the Lil' Twister.  Below is a little video I created to show you how to place the tool on your fabric, once placed you will use your rotary cutter and carefully cut around the block.  You don't want to cut beyond the square tool.

Using your rotary cutter, carefully cut around the Twister Tool.  When finished remove your square of fabric and set it in a place where you can add your next piece to it without having to move your squares.  


Once you have cut about six pieces you will start to see your design coming together.  Sew in rows, careful not to move things around.  Check your design.  Add a border if you wish, batting and backing.  Quilt and have a lovely table runner.  Don't want to bother binding, add your batting and some muslin for the backing, quilt your top and then put a piece over it with the right side of your quilted piece and the right side of your backing together, stitch around all the edges leaving a 6 inch opening to turn and flip it right side out, stitch up your turning hole and you have a lovely table runner.

Borders - you can put them on before you trim your blocks or after, your choice, it will give you a different effect either way, both are lovely.  Save your extra bits that are left over, they can be used in other projects.  

Your finished piece for your table runner will be about 27" long.  You can decide how big you want your borders from there.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Triangular Bits of Fabric Fun! UPDATED

In the Spring 2013 issue of Fons and Porter's Easy Quilts, there is a pattern by Alison Tudor, Cascarone.  I kept going back to this page in the magazine and dreaming about making this quilt in a different color way.  I have been wanting to do a gray and aqua quilt for sometime now and this is going to be it!  

Up early this morning, about 4am and started pulling fabrics.  18 fat quarters of fun...all containing that magic aqua color that I wanted to feature in this quilt.  

Several breaks later...with a pause for a chick flick movie on my tablet and some hot tub time with my dear husband...I have completed all 18 of the large blocks and I am onto the 36 small ones.  I will need to cut out 72 of the Kona Cotton background fabric first, so it will be a bit before I start sewing again, but I was having fun this morning fussy cutting all my triangles!  And I love the Aqua with the Gray!  Makes me happy.  I'm always in my happy place when I am sewing.  

If you want to make a quilt like this, the pattern is on the Fons and Porter website at this link:
And it is also available in their Spring 2013 issue of Easy Quilts.  

The quilt in the magazine has a confetti feel to it as you can see above.  And I love it in the white, but not real practical in the forest.  I think the gray with the aqua will look very modern.  We'll see.  I'll post some more pics when I get further along!

Got some more done on my blocks tonight, all the triangles are finished now and I have cut all the solid squares that I can get out of my remaining fabric.  I still need 13 more solid blocks to assemble my quilt top.  I'll have to dig tomorrow, I'm done for today.  I'm excited to get this one put together tomorrow!  More to be revealed!

Top is finished!  It was a bit overcast when I took this photo so the bits are not popping like they do in "real life".  So happy with how this turned out, quick and fun.  She does not put a border around her quilt, but I'm thinking I may order up some more Kona cotton and put a border on this.  Each fabric is different and fun.  You could make this quilt up in so many fun color ways.  I'm going to back this will a silvery gray minkie and then quilt it very simply with straight lines, I think this one calls for a "modern" quilting approach.  Should be lovely to snuggle under.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Paper Piecing Perfection 2013 Links To All Patterns and Instructions

This page will have all the links to all the blocks, general directions and tips!  Make Sure you are printing actual size and not fit to page.
The little square in each block should equal 1 inch.

Block 1 - Constellation and General Directions

Block 1 - Constellation PDF pattern

Block 2 - Double Autograph PDF pattern

Block #3 - New Star PDF pattern

Block 4 -Star of Spring PDF pattern

Block 5 - Tiny Bud PDF pattern

Block 6 - Louisiana Block PDF pattern

Block 7 - Pin Wheel Block PDF pattern
   Block 8 - Hexi Lotus Block PDF pattern Templates A, B and C

If you will be using a lot of directional fabrics, a light box comes in very handy.

PPP Block 2 and 3

Block #2 - The Autograph.  Finished size 12.5"

PDF Link for Pattern

Fabrics:  You can have up to 6 different fabrics in this block if you wish.  You don't have to have that many, you can have any number from 2-6.  If you have 6 fat quarters you will have plenty for this block and a few more.

Some notes and reminders:  

1.  You will need 4 copies of the pattern for your block.  When you print them out, make sure you print actual size, not fit to page.  The little square needs to be one inch.

2.  Before you start to sew, stack 4 of the copies and removing all thread from your machine (including the bobbin) stitch through all the copies on the solid lines.  If you can't hold your paper together and stitch at the same time, use a little tape wrapped over the edges in a couple places to keep things lined up.  You can cut it apart after.  This "pre-stitching" makes it easy to remove the paper when the time comes, it also makes it easy to see where to fold the paper as we move through the process.

3.  No back stitching necessary, stitching beyond the lines is okay and desirable, just stay on the lines with your stitching.

4.  Finger press well before you go to the iron.

5.  Go to the iron before you trim off your excess.  Always making sure you have opened that next piece completely before you do any trimming.

6.  Do not remove your paper until you have assembled your entire quilt top or project.  This will keep your edges from rippling if they are not exactly on grain.

7.  Your glue stick is your friend, use it only on piece #1 of each block.  Use sparingly and only on the center of the #1 area, do not get glue in the seam lines.

8.  If you don't think you can keep your fabric aligned while you sew, you can use a piece of tape along the seam edge, outside of the area where you are stitching.  Remove before ironing.

9.  REMEMBER, we are stitching on the side of the paper that has the lines, we are placing our fabric on the opposite side.  It will take a little thought the first few times, after that you will get it.

10.  You can shorten your stitch length which will make it easier to remove the paper later, but be aware that if you make a mistake, it will be a bit of a challenge to get your stitches removed.  (that's why I like to perforate the paper before hand.)

11.  If you are new to paper piecing, I will suggest that you select fabric with an all over pattern rather than a directional fabric.  It makes it easier to just stitch along without a care and have beautiful results.

12.  If you are advanced and want to try some directional fabrics, refer to block #1 for a brief explanation how to successfully use directional fabrics.  

Refer to the directions for paper piecing block #1...all blocks will have the same general instructions.  Always start with #1 and work your way from there.  

Link for general directions and tips:  General Directions for Paper Piecing and Tips

Block 3  - New Star

Here are some blocks created by the gals in our class

You can change up the block by simply turning the quarter blocks 

Have fun, experiment with color, you can see the variety that color and contrast can provide.  Valerie fussy cut her fabrics for her New Star Block with a beautiful effect!  Here is a mock up for a quilt using all the same block.  Pretty!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Paper Piecing - Things That Make You Go Ahhh!

Holly and Brenda were over last weekend.  Holly is joining our Perfect Paper Piecing group and wanted to get caught up with the rest of the gals.  This is her first block and she did a great job!

In the process of teaching her, there are a few things that I think will be very helpful to discuss about paper piecing for the group in general.

Normally, your goal is to cut your fabric on the straight of the grain, this means that you are keeping the warps and wefts squared to your pattern.  This is not always possible in quilting, but there are methods designed to assist you in that process.  Well in paper piecing it doesn't can put that fabric on your block any way that suits you!  Glorious!!!

When you cut a piece of fabric against the grain or diagonal to the grain, it will become stretchy, you see this in Bias Tape and it serves an important purpose in garment construction.  It does not serve you well in quilting.   It becomes very difficult to work with a stretchy piece on the outside of a block or your quilt.  That is when you will see rippling occur and the frustration will set in.  Paper Piecing helps to eliminate that by securing the fabric to an unyielding backing.

Paper piecing let's you use fabrics that are perhaps, not on the straight of grain.  You may be fussy cutting a design as Holly did around her center pieces.  If you tried to sew these in a traditional piecing method, you would in all likelihood  have rippled seams and your piece would not lay flat.  Paper piecing gives you that freedom to use those off grain bits and still have an amazing outcome.

That being said, the pieces that are toward the outside of your block, may not be on grain.  To preserve the integrity of your block, to keep it from rippling in your finished quilt:  LEAVE YOUR PAPER ON YOUR BLOCK until your quilt top is finished.  I know it's tempting to pull it all apart, but you will thank me later.

The next thing I want to discuss is Pressing your fabric as you are sewing.  First, make sure you are working with a smoothly pressed piece of fabric to begin with.  Then, once you have stitched it to your piece, FINGER PRESS YOUR SEAM OPEN, BEFORE YOU GO TO THE IRON. Make sure you have opened the seam out all the way.  This is critical to getting a perfect block.  DON'T SCRUB YOUR FABRIC WITH THE IRON, that isn't necessary. 

When you are piecing your four blocks together to make the 12.5 inch quilt block, you will be matching up the solid lines.  Carefully cutting, 1/4 inch away from those solid lines will help you line them up accurately.  If you are questioning your cutting skills, then once you have your blocks ready to stitch, put a pin through the corner on the intersection of the solid black lines.  Make sure that pin is perpendicular to your paper pieced block and then take a bit of tap and wrap it over the edge to keep them aligned.  Do this on both corners and then stitch on the solid line.  When you open out your piece, press your seams in ONE direction.  Repeat for the remaining two blocks.  Now when you match these two block segments together your seams should nestle against each other in opposite directions.  Put a pin perpendicular through the intersection to check the line up and tape it as before.  Remember to stitch on the solid line.   As you are stitching, when you come to a place in that solid line where things are intersecting, it's important for you to stitch just on the outside of that solid line.  This will ensure that when you open your piece all intersections will be perfect.

Back to pressing...Okay, now that you have stitched the two block segments together to form the 12.5 inch block, you need to press this seam open, it will help to reduce the bulk.

I hope these tips help you.  Remember to join our Flickr group so we can see your work and you can view and comment on work posted by others in the group.  Please keep your comments positive and encouraging.  There is a section for discussions in which you can post questions or start a discussion about anything you wish.  I will post links to all the patterns in the discussions.
Welcome Home Kaffe Fassett by Fassett, Kaffe [Paperback] (Google Affiliate Ad)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sugar Block Club, North Star and Thoughts On Color

Just finished block #2 in the Sugar Block BOM, North Star.  This was a fun block, quick and easy.  AND it's a paper pieced block!  I love the way this finished up, it has an ethereal feel to me.   I used the Big Huge Lab software to mock up some quilt tops.  It lets you see what the potentials are for using your blocks.  If you haven't tried it yet, give it a shot, it's not difficult.

Here it is simply repeated with the blocks butt up against each other.  I think it's pretty, it would be more interesting with sashing and stones to break up the large expanse of gray.

Here I have mixed it with the first block and I like the "circle" that it creates.  It will be fun to do the next block in the series next month and see what new possibilities arise!  

Some thoughts on color...I went with Brenda and Holly yesterday, up to a quilt shop in Grass Valley.  Holly is picking out her fabrics for our paper piecing class.  Sometimes color schemes can be difficult to pick out.  Especially when you are confronted with a store full of "Eye Candy".   Take your time, stroll around a bit, get the lay of the land and get over your initial excitement and over stimulation.  Look for a fabric that draws you in, it doesn't matter what the pattern or design is... you may not even elect to use it in your quilt, it may just be an "inspiration" piece.  

Love the colors, but this might be a bit much...I can use it as my inspiration piece to pull 

or I can pull from her collection

These are from Anna Griffin's Camilla Collection

Fabric is designed by people that have an artsy fartsy background, I guarantee you, they have done all the work for you!  You can pull fabrics by that same designer in that same color scheme or you can make a note of how they put their colors together in your inspiration piece and pull those colors in other fabrics that you like. 

These fabrics are by Tula Pink, you might not pull these off the shelf on your own, but the designer has created them to coordinate.  This is an easy way to get a co-ordinated effect.

You can look online at different places for inspiration, I like Sky Reve Fabrics  She has a nice selection of quilt fabrics already coordinated for you.  Her fat quarter bundles are very nicely priced!  And she will create custom selections for you, just let her know what you would like.

These fabrics are from the Cold Spring Dream line.
Hawthorne Threads is another online site that I love.  They have a number of ways that you can view their fabric, by designer, by manufacturer, by collections, by color, by theme.  And they will also suggest coordinating fabrics for you.  Great software, good pricing and you can buy small quantities no problem.

Still having a hard time?  Look along the edge of the fabric, the selvage, there are usually color dots...those are the colors that were used in creating that inspiration fabric that you like...go pull fabrics with those colors and you will find that you have the same effect as your inspiration piece.

Still having trouble?  Think about nature.   What are the colors of spring?  

What about winter?

Fall Colors?

Summer Colors?

That should give you a little inspiration for your fabric selection process.  Choose what you love and just enjoy yourself!