Sunday, December 23, 2012

Easy Street Part 2

Purple Flying Geese!


Step #2 of the Easy Street Mystery Quilt is to make flying geese with the purple and black-and-white fabric. 
Usually I use the No-Waste method to make flying geese (shown at the end of this post).  But since I had already cut [lots of! too many?]  2" strips of the black-and-white, I decided to follow Bonnie Hunter's recommendation and use a pair of specialty rulers to cut the pieces for these units.  I already had one of the rulers, so I went flying (ha, ha) to opening day at the new Pieceful Quilting store to get the other one.  If I used the No-Waste method, I'd have needed odd-sized squares to achieve the same size flying geese units.  Plus, I wouldn't have had an excuse to go to PQ (as if I needed one).

Cut Those Geese!

The first step is to cut the quarter-square triangle "geese" pieces using the Companion Angle ruler.   It creates equilateral triangles, the same as if you quartered a square.  The top of the ruler is flat, so you end up with a nice, even line across the top of the flying geese unit (no dog ears).

Sorry for the glare in these photos.  Too gray and rainy to avoid using the flash!

Line up the ruler along your strip (see that the bottom line is at the 2" mark and the top is even with the top of the fabric).  Line up the left edge so that you cut off the selvage.  I'm saving the little triangle pieces -- you never know!

By the way, you might notice that there is some extra fabric peeking out on the left in this photo.  This wasn't a first cut, and my cutting had gotten a bit off, as it usually does after half a dozen cuts or so.  It was time to even up that edge for a more accurate cut.

Next, turn the ruler to the right.  Don't flip it, just rotate it 180 degrees.  Now you're ready to cut the next piece.

Just keep rotating, cutting, rotating, cutting, with the occasional correction every couple of pieces.

 You can layer your strips to cut up to 4 strips at once.  I only did two at a time.  Even with a fresh blade (which this was not), the bottom layers seem to get a little weird.  This is one quilt I don't want to mess up!



Wing It!

Next up, use the black-and-white (or whatever you're using) 2" strips to cut half-square triangles.  There are plenty of rulers you can use, or you can just cut 2" squares in half corner-to-corner.  As with its, um, companion ruler, the advantage of the Companion Angle ruler is that it is marked so that you can cut the triangles flat on top, without dog ears. 

I started with the ruler wrong-side up.  No matter.  The technique is the same as with the Easy Angle ruler -- cut, rotate, cut, rotate, correct...

Here's the key difference:  With the quarter-square triangles, you can layer your fabric for cutting any way you want -- right sides together, right sides up. 

But with the wings, you need to be sure to keep the right sides of the fabric together.  This is because you want to cut pairs of right and left wings for each flying goose.

Stitch the wings to the geese.  I chain-stitched the left wings first.  Press them open, seam toward the purple goose, then chain-stitch the right-side wings.

 Voila!  Purple flying geese with nice, even tops.  Just clip the dog-ears off the bottom and even up to size (2" x 3.5") if necessary.

To see master teacher Bonnie demonstrate the technique, she has a nice tutorial on her blog.

As with the 9-patches in Step 1, I didn't try to make all of these units at once.  I made units out of one strip of each purple fabric I had on hand.  When the mystery is revealed, I'll put the blocks together with the units I've made.  Then I'll decide how big I want my quilt to be.

Stay tuned for Step 3, which brings in the blues!  Mmmm.

The No-Waste Alternative Method

 As I worked through these units, I came to prefer this method with the Easy-Angle and Companion Angle rulers over the "No-Waste" method that I'd been using.   Even though there is some waste (those little triangles at the ends of each strip), it's easy to see that things are aligned with those flat tops on the triangles.

With the No-Waste method, you're sewing squares rather than triangles.  Even though you're still sewing along the bias, and you have to take time to draw lines on the wing pieces, I have somehow felt more confident with this method.  (Not to mention that the projects I've worked on with flying geese have specified measurements to use this method).

No Waste Flying Geese Quilt Pattern
There are a bazillion tutorials out there; here's one:

Ironically, as I was putting together this post, I recalled that I also have in my ruler-stash a ruler called the Flying Geese x 4 No-Math Ruler.  I got it for my very first quilting class and never used it again.  I went back and reviewed how to use it, and discovered that it is actually the No-Waste method.  The nice thing is that you don't have to stress about cutting on the 2-7/8" line (or whatever).   You just cut your fabric according to the finished size of the unit by following the lines on the ruler.  Here's a tutorial on using the ruler

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Easy Street!


Mommy, where do UFOs come from?

No, this is just part of the pile of UFOs!

Let's see, I have
  • 4 Christmas gifts to finish* (but realized I have another one that's not even started!)
  • 1 completed quilt that just needs a label
  • 1 quilt basted and ready to quilt
  • 1 quilt top finished and waiting for a back
  • 1 quilt top pieced and waiting for borders
  • 3 blocks for my Simple Sampler class not even started (there would be 4 except that Hurricane Sandy flooded out my LQS)
  • 6 Barrister's Blocks cut and ready to sew
  • 5 Barrister's Blocks that I haven't even selected the fabric for (and 3 more coming tomorrow)
  • A large container filled with quilt kits, both purchased and self-made
  • 1 knitted infinity scarf 3/4 completed
  • 1 needlepoint project barely begun
* These were the headrest totes and CD holders that got done in time for my trip to Memphis, but while I was packing, I discovered that I'd completely neglected to make another gift that I'd planned.  Ack!

So where to start?  Of course!  I've decided to make the new Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt!  It's called Easy Street, and I just couldn't resist!  You can follow along by clicking on the link on the sidebar of this blog.

Easy Street Mystery Quilt

I love Bonnie Hunter's blog, her quilts and her attitude.  If you aren't familiar with it, check it out -- free tutorials, quilt patterns, so much cool information and photos!  I've learned so much just from poking around in her website, so I really wanted to take a class from her.  But at this point that doesn't seem possible.  She is totally booked into 2015, and none of her classes are anywhere near me.  So when she announced that this year's Mystery Quilt, I was interested.  She calls it Easy Street because it's less complicated that some of her previous projects.  OK, I'M IN!

A mystery quilt is one that you work on without having any idea what it's going to be when you're done.  This is my first mystery quilt, and it's a little scary.  The fabric requirements only say the total amount of each color that you need, but don't say anything about a minimum width or length.  The more scraps you use, the more uncertain whether you have what you need.  Since I ended up having to buy most the fabric for this quilt, it should be OK.

She's using black, white and gray as background and purple, turquoise and lime green for the color.  I guess I could have used more of my stash if I'd used different colors, but I love these!  Here's what I ended up with:

I can't find the photo I took of these fabrics before I cut them.  Too bad, they were all fat quarters or yardage and some were almost too nice to cut (see the big dogwood flowers?)

I was careful to select fabrics that are mostly white, so the units wouldn't be too dark.





I like these colors so much, but I had very little in my stash, mostly purples.  When I started quilting, I was using mostly baby fabrics, then was drawn to a more muted palate (like the Civil Was fabrics).  And I'm not [yet] into modern quilts.  But this was a chance to use these pretty fabrics.


The Disappearing 4-Patch!

Step #1 was to cut the gray and black-and-white into 2" strips.  Piece of cake with the Shape Cut ruler!  Strip-piece, cut each strip into 2" pieces and stitch up 4-patches.  So why do I call this the Disappearing 4-Patch?  I chain-pieced the patches in groups of about 30 (one strip per B/W fabric pattern). 

So where are they?  They disappeared!

Peek-a-boo!  I see you!  Down on the floor under the sewing table!

This is why I'm climbing the walls waiting for the acrylic insert for my sewing table!  It took two months to come in the first time, and then it was the wrong size.  So I still have the machine extension table in place and that gap behind the machine.

Another question mark in a mystery quilt is just how much to cut for each step.  The directions say you'll need a certain number of each piece or a certain number of units, but when you're using assorted scraps plus yardage and FQs, it can be a bit of a challenge.  Anxious to get started, I didn't methodically figure out how many pieces I'd get from a WOF (width of fabric) strip.  In fact, I got a bit overenthusiastic and cut 2" strips of all the gray and almost all the black-and-white.  If I'll need something wider,  I could be in trouble!  (Or back in the fabric store, LOL!).  Lesson learned: I should have cut just one strip of each color, sewed it up and made the 4-patches, then calculated how many strips I'd need for the first step.

Step #2 is to make flying geese with the purple.  That will be my next post.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Road Trip!

Time to take a break from all the blocks-of-the-week/fortnight/month!  Time to just stitch up a couple of little projects.

Headrest Totes

My two grandsons, ages 3 and 6, are headed from Memphis to Miami for Christmas (with my daughter and SIL, of course).  Everyone's going to need some distraction!  The other day I pulled some scraps and whipped up a couple of little bags to hang over the headrests in the car to store toys and books during the journey.

I still have to stitch down the "handles" that slip over the headrests, and haven't quite figured out how to enable the 3-year-old to reach his bag.  The strips I used for the handles are actually a bit long, so I think I'll just leave one end flapping in the breeze.  He can reach it with this foot and grab it to get at his stash.  Things were so much easier when we were left to create havoc and risk bodily injury in the back seat.


 CD Holders

So while I was making the headrest totes for the boys, I decided to make some car visor CD holders for the grown-ups.  I found this pattern a while ago at

You can make it almost entirely with scraps.  Cut either 22 4-1/2" by 6" pieces or 11 9" by 6" pieces.  Half will be the back of each CD envelope and won't show.  You'll also need a couple of longer pieces for the backing and some seriously stiff interfacing.

Guy colors
Girl colors
For the "envelopes" I cut the smaller pieces and sewed them together.  In retrospect I think it would be better to use the larger pieces and just fold them over -- no pesky seam along the top of each edge, no ironing the seams.

The pattern calls for a stiff fusible interfacing (I found some at Joann fabrics, not exactly what the pattern called for, though).  Fuse one backing piece to the interfacing.  Then align your "envelope" pieces according to the pattern and stitch them down, one at a time, along the width of the interfacing.  I recommend switching to a sturdy (No. 14 or 16) needle for this.

One problem I found was that the long, stiff interfacing wouldn't fit under my machine when I sewed the first piece on.  I had to turn it around and negotiate the 1/4" seam.  I'm used to using the right side of the foot as a guide, so it was a bit awkward.  After the first piece it was fine.

After you've sewed all the pieces on the front, fuse the backing piece to the other side of the interfacing (talk about using up your scraps; ugly works here!)  The interfacing I found was fusible only on one side, so I dragged out my roll of Stitch-witchery to fuse the back.  Then sew a couple of strips of elastic to the back.

I found that the positioning of the elastic in the pattern instructions wouldn't work for my car, and I have no idea how it would work in my daughter's or son-in-law's cars.  So I just guessed...  (insert crossed fingers here!)

The last step is to bind the edges.  I just used double-fold bias binding that I picked up at my local Ace hardware store!  Shop locally is my motto! 
There's nothing elegant about these, but they were fun to make and I think they will be useful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Civil War Block Swap Quilt!

Just before Superstorm (aka Hurricane) Sandy hit our area, I was madly trying to finish up my Civil War quilt for a big party at my LQS, Pieceful Quilting.  Got all the sashing and cornerstones done before the power went out, but the border was (and remains) unfinished.  Sadly, the party is not to be -- the store was flooded out during the storm and is in the process of relocating.  Good news is that it's reopening next week!

The blocks that I got where just wonderful!  Here they are, waiting to become a quilt.  Aren't they gorgeous?!  The blocks came from PQ's sister store about an hour's drive from here.  They had some fabrics (including the green) that we didn't have.

I decided to make the quilt on-point with sashing and 9-patch cornerstones.  I was a little dubious about my color choices, but I really like it now that it's together.

The border will be the same dark blue as the sashing.  I haven't decided whether to trim off the outside cornerstones and add a straight border, or to cut the border in pieces and keep the cornerstones whole.  I'm thinking the latter.  I also need to think about whether to add an additional border or two.  If the top were just a little bigger, it would fit nicely on a double bed.  Any ideas?  It's a square quilt as-is.  The photos have it laid out across a double bed.  The suggested pattern that I was using would have a 4" border that trimmed off the outer cornerstones:

Another option would be to have a narrower border just to the edge of the outer cornerstones:

Or there could be a full 4" border that includes the cornerstones.  I'm not quite sure how to make this, though...

Whatever, the Civil War quilt will be added to my pile of UFOs.  When I got my new sewing table last summer, I ordered the acrylic insert for my machine.  The machine came with a slide-on quilting table, but I wanted to have the perfect fit.  Unfortunately, when the insert finally came (after several months!), it was the wrong size.  I sent it back, but who knows when the new one will finally arrive?  Meanwhile, layering up the quilts and quilting the remains in the future.

So meanwhile, I'm behind two months on the Barrister's Blocks (that would be 12!) and on the blue/while/yellow blocks for the BOM at my LQS.  I also plan to make several small Christmas gifts.  So of course I've jumped into something new!  More about that in the next post.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Heart of the Pines, Part 2

The power came back on Sunday, a week after Superstorm Sandy hit our area, so I'm already back at the sewing machine.

Unfortunately, my LQS, Pieceful Quilting in Riverhead, NY, was terribly flooded during the hurricane (photos on their website).  The store is closed for an indefinite time while Angie and her staff sort out the inventory and clean up the mess.  All of us are very sad, and wish them the best.  Meanwhile, more pics from the Heart of the Pines quilt show.  

Moose butts!

Here's one to cheer us up!   How many quilts (or anything else) have you seen that feature moose butts!  This is a rag quilt, a northern Michigan exclusive!


It's My Very Own Quilt
Shari Bukowski

Cathedral Windows makes a beautiful quilt no matter how it's made.  The simplest version looks like stained glass.  This one mixed solids, color-on-color fabrics and prints with all kinds of fussy-cut pieces.  It was entirely hand-sewn and hand-quilted, the first for this quilter and the first quilt that she's ever made for herself.  It took her 7 months to complete.  I guess she's not a UFO-type girl!

This is the first quilt that Shari made for herself, but it isn't her first quilt.  She has worked on over 800 quilts for an organization called "It's My Very Own -- Bags of Love."  You can read more about this wonderful charity at their website, Bags of Luv 4 Kids.

The detail is just exquisite!

The 90" x 80" quilt took 25 yards of muslin and 360 4.5"squares to create 682 full windows, each with a different piece of fabric from the "Bags of Love" quilt scraps.


Get busy quilting!

Postage-Stamp Quilt

Postage-stamp quilts are so interesting -- tiny scraps of fabric (the size of postage stamps) randomly sewn to create the quilt.  I've been saving every strip that's at least an inch wide to try one of these someday. 

Detail of the border


Log Cabin

The Log Cabin quilt block is such a classic, and easy to sew, as well. 

What I love about this particular quilt is the use of the different color placement of the logs in the blocks in the center and along the border.  They give movement to an otherwise somewhat rigid design.

Linda West

This quilt is the result of a half-square triangle exchange at a local quilt store.  What a fun idea for collecting lots of different fabrics in a quilt.  And what a great quilt!

Dresden Star
Janet Moll

Janet made this when her quilt guild offered a class by Edyta Sidar, who designed this block.

Lady in Red
Rosemarie Gotowicki

Bargello quilts aren't my favorite, but this one is gorgeous.  The pattern is called Ribbon in Motion, designed by Pat Lee.

Forest Floor
Janet Gracyzck

Near the far end of the show floor from where I started I found this.  The name, the colors, the pattern and the ease of construction -- large squares and nine-patches -- all really appealed to me.  The quilter used batiks in her stash.  I am so going to make this quilt for the cabin!

 Detail of Forest Floor

Quilt shows are both inspiring (like Forest Floor) and awesome (like It's My Very Own Quilt).  But every now and then you find something that reminds you that quilts aren't perfect and that what you as a quilter make for someone is as good as the love that goes into it.  This quilter made her quilt "to reflect my love of flowers and to demonstrate my ability to quilt at the craft shows."  It made me smile, because her free-motion quilting looks just like mine!  Thank you, quilter Madeline!