Apr 14, 2014

Cheery Mellow: Double Star

More Cheery Mellow with this bright fabric - a double star made with a bunch of flying geese.  

I actually didn't follow a pattern.  When I first saw it, I thought it was made just of Half Square Triangles, but then I noticed that the geese units didn't have a seam in the middle...  That certainly caught my eye, and I just had to try it!

Something you need to double check is fabric combination. If there is not enough contrast between the three fabrics that make up the star, the shape could be lost. I initially thought of using the following fabric...

... but ended up with the following combination. There is certainly more contrast with the yellow background than with the smaller yellow flowers. Although I was going for a more significant contrast, I am not quite sure that I really like the final block; the white background blends a tad too much for my taste. I guess there is a second double star in the horizon (big sigh); but hey - that's the idea, right? Practice and learn!

So here is the beginning of the star...

Nice little squares and rectangles all ready to get transformed!


And here they are!  Nice flying geese units ready to turn into a star! This is one of the things that mesmerize me about quilting... all the different patterns and possibilities that may be formed using the same basic figure. I actually experimented a bit with them, and ended up with optional, extra HST (half square triangles) by sewing a second seam in the corner, rather than just cutting off what is not part of the flying goose. I ended up putting the cart before the horse and posting Cutting Corners: Tips on Extra Half Square Triangles before the Double Star...  I guess I can blame it all on a bit of quilty excitement!  :)

You can see how it all comes together. The MAJOR issue with this block is the sewing order...  Yep!  Even the order in which itty bitty pieces are sewn make a huge difference in how it all turns out.

And here it is! A double star ready to make it (eventually) into a sampler quilt.  I am really not planning anything in particular, I just want to practice shapes and techniques by making a bunch of 12.5" unfinished blocks.

Making something new to me, although it is a traditional quilting technique, is always interesting. Moreover, finding the extra surprises by adding optional seams sure is a major plus!

How about you? How do you stay on top of things and practice skills?  

Thanks for stopping by, and stay blessed!  :)

Apr 12, 2014

Craftsy Spring Flash Sale

Craftsy Spring Sale
Who doesn't like suprises?  Well, Craftsy has prepared a wonderful one for the weekend - there are a bunch of classes 50% off!! Don't miss this chance and find all the wonderful online classes that never expire and that can be watched as many times as you want!

Spring Flash Sale This Weekend Only on Select Craftsy Classes!
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links

Surprise! Craftsy has just announced a Spring Flash Sale for this weekend only! Discover huge savings on select online Craftsy classes, but for a very limited time.Visit Craftsy to reveal what classes are on sale, but hurry, this offer expires at 11:59 MT on Sunday, April 13, 2014!


Apr 7, 2014

Cutting corners: Tips for extra Half Square Triangles

How many times have you finished putting a block together and ended up with scraps?  Well, it's not uncommon to cut off 90 degree corners and discard the extra pieces of fabric.

Somehow, this didn't feel right, so I decided to start experimenting with corners...  The result is tiny Half-square triangles, or HST, that can be used for another project.

For example, in making the flying geese to the left, I ended up with the HST to the right...

This is possible ANY time you are joining two pieces of fabric with a 90 degree corner and sew a 45 degree seam. Sounds weird, huh?  Just bear with me and let me show you what I'm talking about with pictures.

In the one below, you can see the joining of strips of fabric to form a quilt binding. Notice how the two ends of the strips are on top of each other, forming a corner.

The instructions for binding call for a diagonal seam from the inner to the outer corner. Pay close attention to the pic above; you will see a pencil line marking a diagonal line (which would be the 45 degree seam line).  

Just sew right on top of this line. This is the first step.

If this post was about making binding, instructions would call for cutting the corners to the right of the seam, leaving 1/4 inch of fabric.

But if you want an extra HST, don't cut the fabric off! Instead, sew a second seam about a 1/2 inch from the original seam on the area that would have been cut off in the first place.

You will end with corners that have two seams, like so:

In the following picture, the two seams are highlighted in BLUE.

The next step is cutting on the YELLOW line...

... so you will have the original unit (in this picture, the fabric to the left) and an extra HST that would have been discarded. Press open.

The result is an extra bunch of little half square triangles that would have made it right to the trash can to never be seen again! 

Now, we need to make sure they form a nice square. Remember that these are extra pieces that result from a completely optional step; they generally tend to be tiny.

I chose to cut these units to form a 1 3/4 square to be on the safe side; the size of the square will vary depending on the original corners you had.

Just make sure that the 45 degree line in your ruler is right on top of the seam - this is VERY important; this step will guarantee that the points line up when you sew all the pieces together.

Here is the same step, just with a different color of fabric; I thought this would make it easier to see in a picture.

Now that all your HST are squared up, you're ready to let your crafty bone loose and play with the arrangements!

How about a little diamond?

Or random placement with the seams facing the same direction?

If you have more, you can even get 4 little diamonds, so cute!

 Or even chevrons; just make sure you have enough HSTs...  :)

I am really developing a weak spot for this arrangement, more uniform, but so crisp and modern!

There are many other units that you can obtain extra HST from. They don't even have to be completely even, because of the squaring up...

How about you? Can you think of any blocks that can yield an extra unit from a rescued "almost scrap?" Please add your comments and share pictures!  Sharing is the best way for everyone to learn and explore more crafty ideas.

Thanks for stopping by and stay blessed!  :)

Mar 30, 2014

9-Patch Pizzazz

Woohoo!! It's done! With March almost gone, I can finally add to my list a design of my own, and I'm so excited with the results!

With sunny days finally around, I was hoping to get a good picture outside, but it was really windy, and I decided to lay the quilt on the lawn...  I'm not sure that's the kind of effect I wanted!  Poor grass, it needs some TLC and lots of sun and rain!! 

I also like the soft effect of the quilting, particularly with all the sharp angles in the piecing.  While putting it together, I kept wondering about the quilting; I knew I wanted a wavy effect, so I thought of big swirls and even feathers, but I thought this would take away from the composition.  Today, I'm still wondering about FMQ possibilities. Who knows!  I may end up making another quilt with lots and lots of negative space, just to experiment - learning is always justified, right?  :)

Here are some close-ups; some of them are right after finishing the quilting. I used a low-loft 100% cotton batting, and I was amazed at how puffy the waves looked.  Finally! Something I made looks close enough to what I had in my mind!


Going back outside, I ended up pinning the quilt to the fence. I only got two sort of decent pictures...  I felt frustrated at the time, but when I blew them up in the computer, there was something kind of romantic about the blurry quilt...  Ha! Maybe the improv techniques just oozed to the pics... 

From the first draft to the finished product...  What do you think?


Now to the next quilt adventure!  Stay blessed  :)

P.S. If you are interested in knowing more about these improvisational techniques, try these Craftsy classes - I'm certain they'll be a source of inspiration for you too!  :)

Mar 18, 2014

9-patch Pizzazz: Almost there...

I'm jumping with excitement!  One of my biggest challenges is taking a ticklish idea and making it happen... 

This time, my crafty bone started thinking of quilts and after an almost failed math session, it's finally coming together!

This is supposed to be a 9-patch quilt, but I did not want it to be anything close to traditional. From the off-center arrangement to the improvisational techniques, this quilt was quite a challenge!

And here it is, getting ready for the quilting...

I knew I wanted some simple quilting that would "soften" all the angles of the composition, without distracting from it... Something like simple wavy lines would suffice...

Using scrap pieces, I started playing with the width and length of some utility stitches, as you can see in the next picture. I found the wavy stitch in the machine (something tells me it has a good, formal, official, stitchy name) and then compared the variations and chose a stitch size I wanted to use in this quilt.

So, just start quilting! Yes, a walking foot became my best friend...  Something to consider when quilting lines (whether straight or wavy) is to quilt in different directions, so plan on how to move the quilt.  If you keep stitching all the time in the same direction, the batting will start shifting and the quilt won't be straight.

Can't wait to share the finished quilt!  It was another great opportunity to use the Scrappy Improv Blocks.  Have you had the chance to try this technique?  Don't forget to share your pictures in the Flickr pool.

Stay blessed!  :)

Mar 14, 2014

Craftsy's Endless Creativity Sale - classes at up to 50% off

Learning is to acquire knowledge and skill, by study, instruction or experience, to grasp, to become acquainted with, to understand, to gain by experience...  There are so many facets to an activity we may take for granted.  Yet, you most certainly have learned something and are in a constant learning experience.

Honestly, is there ever a moment when we stop learning?  I hope we never do!  I often wonder what I would do without the capacity to understand new things and use them; I have been blessed with the ability to learn and am deeply thankful for it.

We are in this whole new era and place with internet that just open up learning possibilities in an almost endless way... Today, I am thrilled to share a bit of my own learning experience with you - it's called CRAFTSY, and they are having a major sale event this weekend.

If you are still wondering what to do, during Spring Break you may want to consider giving CRAFTSY a try!  It's not only a site to get ideas, it's a crafting learning opportunity at the tips of your fingers!

Craftsy has bunches of online classes, ranging from quilting and sewing to gardening and cooking; the best part is that the access does not expire, so you can watch your favorite class over and over and over again, at any time, wherever you have access to the internet. 

But wait! Why not, instead of me telling you about what you can find, go ahead and try it yourself!  You won't regret it  :)  

On this weekend, you can...

Save Up to 50% on All Craftsy Classes!
Don't miss out on Craftsy's Endless Creativity Sale! Get ALL online classes at up to 50% off for a limited time only. You won't see hundreds of classes with prices this low again soon. Hurry, offer expires March 17 at midnight MT.

If you are not familiar with the platform and would like to get acquainted with Craftsy, you could always try one of their FREE mini-classes first... A great option to see what all the buzz is about!


Mar 12, 2014

A 9-Patch Challenge takes shape...

March is going so fast!  Sometimes I wish the days had more hours (especially after forwarding the clocks), but I must say I've enjoyed every one of them.

The 9-Patch Pizzazz Challenge quilt is taking shape. As the name states, the design had to be based on a  9-patch; however, I wanted a twist in my quilt. That's why I decided to include modern elements and an off-centered design.

The focus fabric is Annalee, a beautiful collection from Andover. It is gorgeous!  I really like the colors and how they come alive together!  

These will be the main blocks for the final composition. Both are improvisational and include six of the fabrics in the collection.  I just love how the different elements complement each other so well. 


So, here is the start of the Improv Block...

... and from strips we go to wonky pieces:

Then the wonky pieces and larger scraps go together to form other units.

I wanted the main "patch" to be formed of a large scrappy block, so I kept joining larger units to make it larger and larger...

In the end, I sliced that other unit because I needed some "wiggle room" for the other "patch" areas... Ah! There is a weird sense of relief when slicing a major unit for a main block is just slices into several parts with weird angles just to keep the creative process going...

I ended up with several units large enough to be part of the disappearing 9 patch areas of the quilt, as well as a larger central area.  I promise this will make more sense once the quilt is finished.  :)

Another area of the quilt will have blocks that are made by sewing scraps to larger pieces of a background fabric. It's actually very similar to the improv blocks, but the difference is that larger pieces of white fabric come into play; also, the focus fabric has larger pieces that those in the improv blocks.

So far, it's looking good for the 9-patch quilt.  I can't wait to see it all together!

And how about you? Are you working in a special project? Share your comments and even pictures in the Flicker pool. It would be great to see what we all are working on with this fun technique.

Stay blessed!  :)