The top is done!

November 5, 2011 § 9 Comments

I finished sewing the last Y-seam on the Carpenter’s Wheel.  Yay!  How are you doing?

A couple of extra tips in case you are having trouble:

~ If you feel like you are wrestling with the squares to get them to match up with the diamonds, try rotating the square and using the next corner.  The lengthwise grain of fabric has the least amount of stretch and sometimes matching a lengthwise grain edge to a bias edge feels impossible.  But the other direction is the crosswise grain of fabric and it does stretch a little. Not as much as the bias, but it might be enough to make the process a little easier.

~ Another thing you can do if it feels impossible to get the bias edge of the diamonds to match the squares…   sew the seam with the bias edge fabric on the bottom and the non-bias edge on top.  The sewing machine foot can sometimes push the fabric along and make the top layer stretch out more.  Also, reducing the pressure on the presser foot a wee bit may help.

Maybe next week I will get around to posting the  measurements for the non-Y-seam method.  Hope you are having a great weekend!

The secret to Y-seams

October 30, 2011 § 10 Comments

Earlier in the week I dug out an old UFO to continue quilting and I busted the sewing machine needle. When I sat down to start sewing the pieces together on the Carpenter’s Wheel I discovered a huge burr in the needle hole!  And, after running around town, I couldn’t find a file small enough to file out the burr. So I dug out my Featherweight to continue sewing while I wait for a new needle plate to arrive.  Luckily, my needle plate is not as expensive as some!

So… are you ready for the Y-seams?  Once you know the secret to Y-seams you won’t think they are as hard as they look. At the least I hope you won’t.  At the very least, I hope that the fear of  Y-seams is substantially less.

The SECRET to sewing Y-seams is to know where the seams of each piece intersect at the corners. 

Once you know where the 1/4″ seam allowances intersect, all you have to do is pin them in place and sew.  99 percent of the time they will turn out perfectly.  Once in awhile,  you’ll find an unruly seam.  Especially with all these bias seams.  Just bully the seam into submission with some spray starch before you sew so that it doesn’t stretch out of shape as easily and you should be good to go. Anything else can be quilted out when you sandwich, quilt and finish the quilt top.

With a pencil, mark where the 1/4″ seam allowance at every point. Do you see the black dots I put in the corners? This is were the 1/4″ seams intersect.  Mark the narrow points here and the wide points in the middle. Also mark the corners of the background squares.  If you skip this step and guess, this is where most of the trouble begins. It’s easier to estimate the seam allowances on the squares. But it’s really, really hard to guess on these sharp points.  There are also rulers that can be used to mark the point corners.  Jinny Beyer makes one.

Use a pin to pin through the dot at each end before you sew.  Start sewing right at that point (remove the pin first) and backstitch. When you come to the other end, stop right at the dot and backstitch again. In case you can’t really see what is going on in the photo above, I drew a picture as well.  Does this make sense?  Click on the image if you want to see it larger.

Start by sewing the 8 diamonds in the middle. Sew 2 together as shown above and don’t press. Then sew the next diamond to the last diamond until you have all 8 diamonds sewn together. It gets a little unruly the more diamonds you have sewn together, so pin carefully and just sew slowly.

When all of the 8 diamonds in the middle are sewn, go back and press all the seams going in one direction.  Because you haven’t sewn through the points, you can press the center so that it fans out and spreads out the bulk.

I know it feels awkward at first, but it will get easier and make more sense with each Y-seam you sew.

Here are the sections as we will sew them together.  Next, make the 4 smaller sections at the top, bottom and each side. Then you can sew them to the star center. Don’t forget to continue marking the corners and pinning them in place before you sew.

Sew 2 diamonds together in the same way you did the center diamonds.  Then sew a “B” background square to make the top, bottom and side units.

Pin and sew one side of the background square to one side of the diamond unit.

Then, pin and sew the other side of the background square to the diamond unit.

Now, you can go back and press the seams. I like to press these diamond seams open and the squares towards the diamonds. It just feels like less bulk to me if I press this way.  You can decide if this works for you or not.

Next, you can sew the corner units. Start in the same way as you did with the side, top & bottom units.  Then add on the next 2 diamonds to each side.  Next, sew in the single “A”  background square (green). The corner printed fabric square and the other “A” background square can be sewn together normally from top to bottom, no y-seams, no backstitching.  But when you sew those next to the other diamond… one more y-seam.

Now you can sew the corner units to the center star unit.  Be sure to continue starting and stopping where the 1/4″ seams intersect. We still have the eight “C” triangles to sew into the block. Those will be the very last Y-seams.

I’m still working on sewing mine together. But I wanted to let you get started in case there were any questions along the way. It’s hard to describe exactly what you need to do here on the Internet. A hands-on class would be SO much easier!

For those of you who aren’t up to tackling all of those Y-seams, I’ll give you some new cutting measurements for the background pieces that will avoid as many Y-seams as possible.  Just hang on for a moment while I work on those instructions.

As always… you can add your progress shots to the Flickr group.  And I hope you all don’t hate me by the time you sew your last Y-seam!!

Cutting the Background Fabric

October 22, 2011 § 8 Comments

Are you ready to cut the background pieces for the Carpenter’s Wheel?  The background consists of 3 basic shapes.  Follow the chart below for the block size you are making.  You can click on the chart to see it  bigger. And then right-click on it to save it to your computer.

I am making the 63″ block with 7″ diamonds.   The “A” and “B” pieces are just squares.  But the “C” pieces are quarter-square triangles.  The advantage to cutting the pieces this way is that the straight of grain will be on the outside edge of the block and the bias edges will be inside along the diamond edges.

The corner “A” pieces you can either cut from fabric prints or from the background fabric. I am going to cut them from prints because I am making one giant block. But if you are are making the small blocks and want the outcome to look more like this antique quilt below, you can cut them all out of background fabric.

Next up:  Assembling the block and sewing Y-seams.  If you don’t want to sew Y-seams, then hang on and we will go over the no Y-seam method in another post.  As always, you may share your progress in the BW Quilt-Along group on Flickr.

Quilterly Diamonds

October 20, 2011 § 7 Comments

~ All of the diamonds are cut for the Carpenter’s Wheel QAL.  How are you doing?  Are you ready to cut some background fabric?

~ I noticed in the photo that I have a clump of yellow over there on the right. So I just rearranged those fabrics.

~ And, WordPress is telling me that the last post was my 500th post.  It feels like we should have a party or something. Hmmm…. thinking….  maybe there will be a give-away in the near future….

Rotary Cutting Diamonds

October 14, 2011 § 8 Comments

Have you chosen the fabrics you want to use for the  Carpenter’s Wheel QAL?  If so, then you are ready to start cutting the diamond shapes. Yay!

You will need 32 diamond shapes.  I am making the large 7″ sized diamonds. But the method works the same for whatever size you choose to make.

1.  If you want to know if a scrap of fabric is big enough for the diamond shape, you can make a paper template to lay on top of the fabric.  Tape 2 – 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper together. If you are not in the U.S. then use the standard size copy or notebook paper.

2.  Cut a 7″ strip from the length of the paper.

3. Lay your paper on your cutting mat, matching the paper to the grid lines on the mat.  Place the corner of the paper at the edge of the 45 degree diagonal line. (Note, I left too much space at the corner and had to tape a little piece to the other end to make up the difference)  Be sure to start nearly at the corner of the paper.

4.  The 7″ diamond is pretty big and my ruler is only 6″ wide. So I rotated the piece of paper so that I could use the grid lines on my mat to cut.  Cut 7″ from the 45-degree edge.  This produces a diamond shape that is good for LeMoyne stars, Lone Stars and any other 8 pointed star blocks.

The short-cut method that beginners like to use is to make half-square triangles. This is a great method too, but it produces a short, squatty diamond.  If you want a truly diamond shape, then you can use this rotary cutting method instead of templates.

5. Now you can place your paper template on top of your fabric to see if it is a large enough scrap.

6. Let’s cut our fabric, okay?  Cut a 7″ wide strip from your fabric.

7. Cut a 45-degree angle from the edge of the fabric strip.

8. Cut 7″ from the 45-degree edge to produce a diamond shape.

9.  If you are using  2 1/2″ strips you can just cut them with your ruler. Cut the first 45-degree angle. Then place your ruler 2 1/2″ from the edge of the angled cut and make another cut to create the diamond.

If you are using the 4″ strips, then place your ruler 4″ from the 45-degree edge.  You can use this method to make any size diamond that you would like.

I think I may have cut 4 1/2″ strips for the Lone Star I gave to my niece-in-law and possibly 2″ strips for the Mini Lone Star quilt.  You’ll just need to do your own math if you venture out beyond the 3 sizes for this quilt-along.

These diamonds are the foundation of the Carpenter’s Wheel block and you will need to cut 32.  As always, feel free to share your progress in the BW Quilt-Along Flickr group.

Next up will be the cutting of the background pieces… oh, let’s say in a couple of weeks. How does that sound?

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