Quilt On

June 6, 2011 § 7 Comments

Not a bad motto for a Monday

I know some people are tired of the Keep Calm motto but I still like some of the variations floating around on the web.  And I threw in some Kasja birds from the book Scandinavian Stitches.

Wagon Wheel Blocks

January 20, 2011 § 5 Comments

While I’m currently working on the lessons and teaching EQ classes, I just remembered that a LONG time ago I had mentioned making a tutorial on how to draft wagon wheel blocks.  Man, time flies.  The discussion started last summer when I made this doll quilt for the Flickr Doll Quilt Swap.  Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to this!

If you haven’t seen this or tried this in Electric Quilt, there are two ways circles and arcs can be drawn. I find it’s easier to draw a quarter of the circle and then just make four to complete the wagon wheel.  The easiest way to draw an arc in EQ is by using the PatchDraw block worktable.  There are preset grids for circles, arcs, stars, octagons and kaleidoscopes.  Just draw in the shapes in the sizes you want.

Circles and arcs can also be drawn in the EasyDraw block worktable.  This option might be preferable if you want to design a more complicated block where the shapes don’t stay within their respective rings.  It takes a little bit more effort to set it up, but you have more freedom to draw outside the grid lines.

As much as I love EQ, you can also draw arcs on graph paper as well.

1. Decide how big you want your wagon wheel to be.  If you want to make a 12″ block, then draw a 6″ block to make a quarter of the circle.  If your protractor isn’t able to draw as big of an arc as you need, I am using this handy Yardstick Compass that converts an old yardstick into a protractor. My hubby picked this up at a quilt shop a long time ago and I’ve never seen them available anywhere since.

2. Decide how many rings you want to make in your circle.  My doll quilt had two. So, draw two more arcs at the distance you decide. On this one I drew them 2 inches apart which makes a 4″ center circle and 2″ deep rings. You may want the center circle smaller and the rings larger. It’s totally up to you.

3. Now you can draw in the spokes. I found the center first by drawing a line from the lower left-hand corner to the upper right-hand corner.  From there, you can decide if you want to keep dividing the spaces in half, or randomly drawing lines at varying distances.  On my doll quilt, it felt too equal to keep the spaces all the same, so even though there were lines, I randomly stitched different widths of fabrics to make it look a little more uneven.

4. Cut apart your arcs and add the seam allowances. (I haven’t added the seam allowances yet in this picture)  If you want to make a bunch of wagon wheels, then I would recommend tracing these onto Quilter’s Template Plastic with the added seam allowances. Then you can trace around the plastic onto multiple pieces of paper without having to re-draw them each time.

From there, just sew your fabric to the paper pieces using the foundation paper piecing method and tear away the paper when you are finished. Sew the arcs together (not the center circle) in each quarter. Then sew all the quarters together to make an entire Wagon Wheel Circle.

You can hand or machine stitch the wagon wheel to a larger background piece of fabric. And you can hand or machine stitch the center circle on top of all the layers. Just be sure to add the seam allowance for the center circle as well ~ or even a little bit extra for good measure. Sometimes these things stretch out a little and it can be hard to cover all of the raw edges.

Or alternately, if you want the center circle to also be scrappy, you can sew the center quarter circle to the arcs before sewing each of the 4 quarters together.

I hope this all makes sense!  If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll see if I can clarify the cloudy bits.

Oh, and if you are still reading and were still wondering about our star anise oatmeal experiment… I thought it was just okay.  It didn’t really taste like licorice, but it was a little odd.  Gary liked it a better than I did. I think it depends on what other flavors you mix with it. We also added cinnamon, agave nectar, and dried cranberries.   I’ll have to do some more experimenting on how to use this spice.

Foundation Paper-Piecing 101

September 3, 2010 § 9 Comments

I can’t believe another week has flown by at lightening speed!  Where did it go?  Earlier in the week, I did get a chance to use the HQ mid-arm machine that a local quilt shop rents to quilt my Wild Goose Chase quilt.  I’m sewing on the binding at the moment.  Next week I’ll show you the whole enchilada.

But this week:  Liberated Wedding Ring blocks. This is for the novice foundation paper-piecer. These are probably one of the easiest blocks on which to practice this method.

1. Decide what size block you want to make and draw a square on some scrap paper.  Mark the half-way point on each side of the square. I am making 7-inch blocks and half-way would be 3 1/2 inches.  Draw diagonal lines from the top to the right side and from the left-side to the bottom to create that weird kite shape. Then add 1/4-inch seam allowances all the way around.

2. Make several of them so that you can sit down and sew more than one at a time.  (I used EQ to print out several templates at one time.)

3. Set up your scrap baskets near your sewing machine so that you can dig for just the right piece.  I’m not digging too far down; just choosing what seems to be good from the top layer.  I could dump them all over the floor to really dig, but it’s such a mess to clean up if I’m not going to sew for very long. Then the cats think that the scraps on the floor are a comfy cat bed made just for them.

4. Lay the first piece right-side-up on the back side of your template. Lay the second piece right-side-down and stitch along the edge.  I usually shorten my stitch length a little bit so that the paper tears off easier without messing up the stitches.

5.  If necessary, fold back the paper along the seam line and trim away any excess fabric leaving a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Press the fabric open and place another strip right-side-down along the edge of the second piece.

6. Continue sewing strips on each side of the template until it is all filled up.

7.  Flip the template over and trim away the excess paper and fabric with a ruler and rotary cutter.

8.  Keep making blocks until you have the desired quilt size.  When you are ready to assemble the blocks, carefully tear away the paper on the back side of each block.  Now, we have to sew triangles to each side to make the blocks square.  My blocks are 7″ finished, so this is how you would work through the math to calculate your triangle size.

Remember back at the beginning, the half-way mark was at 3 1/2-inches?  Theoretically, I want 3 1/2″ half-square triangles sewn to those corners.  To make half-square triangles we add 7/8′ to the finished size to accommodate cutting the squares in half.  So, my white square needs to be 4 3/8-inches, cut in half diagonally once to complete each block. (3.5 plus .875 equals 4.375)  I just cut up some scrap white fabric so that you can see where these would be sewn.  I’m not yet sure what fabric I’ll use to complete the blocks. Right now I’m concentrating on just using up my scraps.

If you were making a 10-inch block, half would be 5 inches… add 7/8-inch for cutting it in half and you will want to cut a 5 7/8 square to complete each block.  Does this make sense? Let me know if you are having trouble with the math.

I hope you found this beginning foundation paper-piecing tutorial helpful.

And… if you want to sew along with me… I’ve created a Flickr group where you can add your photos and ask questions or chat away about the Liberated Wedding Ring quilt you are making. And since I never did make a Flickr group for the Wild Geese quilt you can add those photos there as well.  Any quilt-along or tutorial from my blog can be shared in this group.

Have a great weekend!

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