Friday, January 16, 2015

Sickness and health

Hi all! I missed you Tuesday! My fault--I picked up a horrendous bug at my conference in Chicago that had me coughing my lungs out. I went to the doctor and she gave me some prescription cough syrup that took care of the cough but absolutely knocked me to the ground. I mean, I really couldn't do anything but sleep. Which was the best thing for me, after all, but it meant that absolutely nothing got done all week. So now that I can think coherently again, I'm behind on everything!

Once I was able to, I did do a little tiny bit of sewing and finished up these two beauties:

These are the last blocks for the Odd Fellow's quilt. When I laid it out I came up three blocks short. One was the reversed-values block and then these two. I think I was counting on having 12 months of colors and thus 24 blocks, but there were only 11 months. Doesn't matter because they're done now! I'm almost going to miss making these every month.

The other thing I did was make some string blocks, which will be one of my other projects for RSC15:

Yep, some of those strings are tiny! I've got to rethink what I save. These were inspired by Quiltdiva Julie and by the overflowing string bin. (Connie also makes a lot of great projects with strings.) If I can make a few a month I can clean out that bin and make some kind of quilt. No pattern or idea yet--we'll see what comes along. These are 6 1/2 inches right now and still have the paper on the back. (By the way, did you know that you can buy newsprint for paper piecing and strings by the ream for about $6? It's true. I bought some and it's just as great as the expensive stuff!)

The last thing I accomplished was to pull out these pieces for the last row of the winter quilt!

These will be a fun row of mugs with steam coming off them. Next week I will be a part of the blog hop for the finished version of this quilt, so I'd better get to putting those rows together!

Hope everyone stays really healthy this weekend. Wash your hands and drink lots of orange juice. I will be continuing to answer all the email that piled up. (I think I have 56 left to go.) And if you're not feeling great, I highly recommend the cough syrup. And lots of sleep!

Happy sewing!

Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Amanda Jean at crazy mom quilts and also the awesome Angela at soscrappy.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Surrounded by snow

Hi all! Wow, is it cold! Even for Wisconsin, it's really cold. I thought we were supposed to be thawing out by now, but we're not! We're getting a lot of sunshine, though, and I'm loving that after virtually all of December was gray.

So, this week I have a fun finish to show you. I finally, finally put the binding on Burgoyne Surrounded! It's now a finished, snuggly quilt!

This quilt turned out beautiful, but it was so hard to photograph! I don't know what possessed me to try to photograph a white quilt in the snow on a sunny day.

It was really, really hard to get a good picture! It didn't help that it was 4 below zero (-20 C), either. No fussing with placements when it's that cold out! At least it shows off the quilty texture. And it amused some dog-walkers who were out when I was trying to photograph this.


 I love all my quilts (okay, most of my quilts), but I really, really love this one. I think I love it so much because it percolated for so many years. Plus, it used up a ton of solid scraps and 1 1/2 inch squares. Those bins are almost empty for the first time in a long time. And have a look at the binding--orange! I'm surprised too. I was going to use a stripe, but believe me when I tell you that it looked pretty bad. The only solids that I had with enough yardage for binding were orange, blue, or pink. At first I was disappointed that I only had those colors, but now I really love the orange. I think it sets things off perfectly.

About a week ago Bernie at Needle and Foot had a small giveaway to celebrate 51 posts and 51 followers (you go, Bernie!) and I won! Look at the beautiful package I got:

 Tea, candy, and sparkly tissue paper! Thanks Bernie! And congratulations again on your success!

Everyone have a great weekend. I am spending my weekend at a conference in Chicago, right on Lake Michigan. (I am obviously not on the site selection committee. I might have gone with Miami or Phoenix in January, not Chicago.) It's sure to be very educational, and I suspect there will be a stop at a quilt shop on the way home!

Hope you get a few stitches in this weekend. Stay warm!

[At the risk of being a complete downer. . .
On a completely different note, I want to add to my friends reading from France:  Je prie pour les victimes de la tragédie à Paris. Et je prie pour qu'elles reposent en paix, et que le Bon Dieu peut consoler tous ceux qui pleurent leurs morts. Vive la France.]

Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Amanda Jean at crazy mom quilts

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Classic Stitches-- Blue

Hello all! Today starts the Classic Stitches block of the month row quilt. I'm very excited about this whole quilt, and I had a good time making this month's blocks. Thanks for coming along!

(For more information on the BOM, see the tab above.)

Broken Dishes!

January's color is blue, which is fitting because we are freezing here! Actually, we're well below freezing. I tried to go out walking today at -1 degree, but my hair and eyelashes froze from my breath, so I gave up after about 20 minutes. I was plenty warm because I dressed for the weather, but frozen at the same time.It was weird. (And don't get me started on people who don't shovel their sidewalks!)

The block for this month is Broken Dishes, a true classic that is simple to construct, giving us an easy start to the BOM. I chose to make my blocks for this quilt in the 6-inch size, so all of the cutting sizes and photos here are of that size. Cutting directions for 8 inch and 12 inch blocks and some other alternatives are at the end of this post.

A basic Broken Dishes block looks like this:

Yes, both fabrics are dragonflies! Serendipity!

I am calling that version 1. Here is version 2:

Both versions are constructed with half-square triangles (hsts). Version 1 uses 4 hsts that finish at 3 inches each, and version 2 uses 16 hsts that finish at 1 1/2 inches each. These hsts are then combined to make the Broken Dishes pattern.

There are a LOT of different ways to sew half-square triangles. One of my favorite ways to make them is triangle paper. Triangle paper is made by several different manufacturers and some are available free online. Choose the size of paper based on the finished size of the hsts you want to make. You can also draw your own triangle paper using this tutorial (or many others) if you are willing to do the math.

Triangle paper hsts.

There is also the Magic 8 method, which is very popular. There are also a number of methods that involve drawing lines on squares and stitching along those lines, or cutting triangles from squares and then stitching them. If you are new at this, try a number of methods and use the one you like best.

Since I am using scraps of all different sizes, some of which are odd shapes, I have been using the EZ Angle ruler to cut triangles from these scraps to use in the Broken Dishes blocks. This method lets me use every scrap and have a lot of variety in my blocks. You don't have to use this method, but I have found that it's easy and useful. I hate to throw out any useable fabric! (A short video showing how to use this ruler for cutting triangles from strips is HERE.)

Here's how it works: first, grab two scraps of a size that will be large enough for the hst you want to make:

The white one here is a piece I cut out of the back of an applique to avoid bulk. The blue is a cutout from the Drunkard's Path blocks I've been making. I got to use all of these pieces up by making hsts with this method.

Find a grainline in each scrap and straighten the scrap. This will be the bottom of the triangle. Put the two scraps right sides together on a cutting mat with the cut edges aligned. (Here it helps to have a smaller mat to lay on top of the larger one so that the piece is easily turned.)

To determine what size to cut the piece, take the finished measurement of the hst and add 1/2 inch. For the 6-inch Broken Dishes block, the triangles need to finish at 1 1/2 inches, so the cut size is 2 inches. Align the 2 inch mark on the ruler with the bottom of the pieces. Using a rotary cutter, cut along the diagonal edge. You can also cut across the top where the blackened triangle is to remove the dog ear before stitching.

Turn the piece (this is where the extra mat is very helpful) and finish the cut along the other side.

Stitch along the diagonal edge and voila--perfect hsts!

This method works for any scrap as long as the scrap is large enough and you are able to begin with a straight edge. I think it's important to find a grainline to straighten the edge, but many quilters do not. Do whatever makes you most comfortable.

For the 6-inch Broken Dishes blocks, there are two options. To make 6-inch version 1 blocks, make 4 half-square triangles that finish at 3 inches each (that means that they should measure 3 1/2 inches unfinished), then assemble as shown in the picture above. Two of the darker triangles should "kiss" in the center, with the other dark corners pointing outward.

Version 1: Basic 6-inch block with hsts that finish at 3 inches each.

To make 6-inch version 2 blocks, make 16 half-square triangles that finish at 1 1/2 inches (2 inches unfinished). Assemble these in 4 sets of 4 hsts, using the same layout as the version 1 blocks--'kissing' centers and outward corners. Join the 4 smaller blocks together to make one 6 inch block. Refer to the block photos to be sure the triangles all are oriented correctly.

Version 2 units before joining. Be sure to orient the triangles properly.
You should see some secondary patterns in the version 2 blocks, and those patterns get really interesting when the blocks are joined into rows. They really do call to mind a pile of broken china!

For a 60-inch row, make 10 6-inch blocks in either version 1 or version 2, or a mixture of both. Join together into a row that measures about 60 1/2 inches unfinished.


Make 1 1/2 inch finished hsts and assemble them as in version 1, but do not join them into larger blocks. These will make 3-inch blocks with the version 1 layout. Make 20 of these for a 60 inch row, or as many as necessary for the length of the row you intend to make.

Make 12-inch blocks using 16 half-square triangles that finish at 3 inches. Alternatively, make 4 of the 6-inch version 2 blocks above and join them together into a 12-inch block. This will require 64 1-1/2-inch finished hsts. Five 12-inch blocks will make a 60-inch row; 3 will make a 36-inch row.

Another alternative is to make 8-inch blocks using hsts that finish at 2 inches (2 1/2 inches unfinished). Use 16 hsts per block. Seven 8-inch blocks will make a 56-inch row. Cut two pieces each 2 1/2 by 8 1/2 and stitch one on each end of the row to complete a 60-inch row.

One last alternative is to use hsts that finish at 2 inches and assemble them as shown in version 1 above. This will yield 4-inch blocks. Make 15 for a 60-inch row.

For my quilt, I chose to make 10 6-inch blocks in version 2 above, mixing the triangles as randomly as I could:

Mix them up and stir!

I also made one 12-inch block:

This was a long post, but I hope it was educational! I hope you enjoy making these blocks and rows. The next block will be posted on February 3.

Happy sewing!

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, and Let's Bee Social.  Be sure to stop by!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Baby grand

Hello 2015! Happy new year everyone! Guess what I did yesterday to welcome in what is sure to be the best year yet?

I finished a very small version of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion mystery quilt! 

This is just four blocks, and the full quilt is 25, but this used up all the pieces I made as the mystery went along. I knew I couldn't do the whole big quilt at this time of year, but I wanted to play along, so I made a few of each unit. I had fun doing it, plus I ended up with an extremely festive baby quilt. This measures about 40 by 40.

I changed a few things in my quilt. The center of the star in each block is supposed to be a 4-patch, but I chose to use a solid square instead. I think it emphasizes the star better and it gives the eye a place to rest in this very busy quilt. Also, Bonnie's border is pieced, but I never made those units, so I just used up the rest of the yellow I had to make the outer border. It's not the same, but I think it works. I have just enough green left to bind the edge.

It was fun and non-stressful to make just enough to play along and I highly recommend it for the next mystery. It was also a very pleasant way to spend a few hours on New Year's Day while there was nothing else to do but watch football. Or clean, but who wants to do that?

This is all I have leftover!

That was it for this week! This weekend we may get some snow, but we will be taking down the tree and packing up the Christmas decorations. The holidays are always fun, but you still have to clean up when the party's over.

Be sure to come back Tuesday for the start of the Classic Stitches row quilt BOM. I'll be putting a new tab at the top with more information later this weekend.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Happy stitching!

Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Amanda Jean at crazy mom quilts.  Bonnie Hunter is also having a linkup for the Grand Illusion projects--stop by and see some seriously amazing quilts!