Jun 27, 2014

Addie's Quilt takes shape

Hello again!!  Addie is about to make her sounding arrival, so I'd better go back to sharing the story of her quilt!  :)

Here is where we left of in the previous post:

A little stack of scrappy units ready to be turned into diamond blocks.

After putting the diamonds together, I had thirteen pieces - which basically meant I had an "empty square" on the batting. I don't have a design wall -YET- and I generally use the floor to work with composition.  

I was trying to decide how to organize the units, but the corner of my eye caught those fabulous treasures called scraps... Perfect for making some kind of improv block in that empty space.  However, I was not satisfied.  I wanted some kind of balance.  Away goes the thirteenth block and in comes a second improv area!  It worked pretty well, and my quilty bug was happier with this option.

Here is a close-up. You know my crafty bone and quilting preferences... If edges don't match, that's all right!  So I was really took my time with different arrangements, always aiming for an uneven edge...

Here is another option:

At one point, I just had to get over those corners and started adding sashing to the sides of the diamonds.

After all the sides were done, I had four long rows; I put them together just by sewing long strips between each row.  

Now, see the two corners with the "floating" strips?  Those are a matter of a future post!  :)

To be continued...  :)

Jun 19, 2014

Cheery Mellow: In the Garden

When Blogger automatically comes up with a picture like the one above, it makes choosing words difficult...  It is a really cool effect!  I really don't know how it is done - or maybe I just haven't been aware that I can actually turn the feature on and off... Who knows!  But it gives a little je-ne-sais-quoi to this beautiful block.  

Simple and interesting, it is a perfect composition to showcase different fabrics.  I almost feel like making a whole quilt out of this block; can you picture a tile effect?  Maybe - and just maybe - there's an "I spy" quilt looming...  :)

Cheery Mellow is slowly taking shape, and I am enjoying all the new techniques. This block was also inspired by a block in Shape Workshop for Quilters, a book by Fat Quarterly.  Its name is "Courtyard Garden" and it was designed by John Adams.  

Here is the fabric, already cut and waiting to be sewn together!  This time, I followed the instructions to the T - which is unusual for me; not the "Yiya" style, you know...  Anyway, I did not make any major modifications to the information in the book, so I decided to share only the process.  I mean, how would you feel if you were the designer and someone else shared your work?


Place one of the smaller, white squares on top of one of the print square, like so:

Note that I drew a line from corner to corner, just to indicate the seam line. 

You may wonder why I pin, even though we are working with small units; well, it is really frustrating when things do not end up the size they should, just because the fabric shifts. I'm not that big fan of pinning, but if it makes the final block precise - hey, I'm game for it!

Repeat with the other four print squares and sew right on top of the diagonal line. And this is where my personal touch comes in...

I went the extra step and Cut Corners to get extra Half Square Triangles, the ones on the top right corner of each square. If you are wondering what I mean by this, click on this link to see a tutorial so that you can find out what all this is about!  :)

You will have something that looks like this:

Instead of "discard the extra fabric," just put the extra half-square triangles aside and use them in a future block!  :) 

Now, sew two shorter rectangles to each side (either left and right OR up and down - it doesn't matter how you start off) of the new print squares, like this...

Then, sew two longer rectangles to each of the remaining sides.  You will have four squares with a "frame."

The next step is placing the smaller, print square on top of each block, right on the corner with background fabric.

I also Cut Corners to get extra Half Square Triangles from this step. Remember, this is optional, but you will get a bunch of extra pieces to use in a future block or project... How cool is that!  :)

Again, I like pinning to keep the fabric from shifting and messing up the final measures; but that's just me!  Feel free to use the method that you like best!

After Cutting Corners, you will have four more Extra Half Square Triangles from this last step, if you sewed the two seams - the optional step described in this tutorial.

At this point, you only need to decide on the layout and where you like the prints best.

Once you've decided about placement, sew the squares in rows, making sure that the tips of the inner diamond match.

Then, sew the two rows, or columns - however you decide to call them; again, make sure that the points of the inner diamond match.

And here you have it, In the Garden, ready for Cheery Mellow!

I hope you give it a try and have as much fun making it as I did. 

Stay blessed!

Jun 13, 2014

Easy Strip Diamond Quilt Block


Addie Grace's quilt is about to be delivered, so I can now share how it took shape - without spoiling the surprise for Grammie!!  :)

These will be the blocks for the top:

Isn't that just cute? Going from strips to...

... Well, I guess I'd better start the tutorial; otherwise, I'll just go on babbling and babbling about all of the cuteness instead of getting things done!

But before we start, let's give credit to whom credit is due... The very first time I saw this technique was with Jenny Doan, in her video Amazing Jelly Roll Quilt Pattern by 3 Dudes.  After that, I've seen it pop up in several sites and even on the cover of a quilting magazine one day in the craft aisle... I really like the way this block is built, and I had been waiting for the chance to work on it.

How-e-ver... I didn't want it "even." Jenny's video and all of the other pictures I've seen are of blocks made with strips of the same width - but not me!  As usual, I had to do something different!

So, here is my version of a strippy diamond.  Of course, you can use scraps. They just have to be long enough to have a strip. The step where width and length matter is making squares.  Just keep reading and you'll see what I'm talking about!  :)

Keep sewing strips together until you have enough to...

...get squares.  There really isn't a fix measurement here. Some people use jelly rolls, which are sets of 2.5" wide fabric strips.  If you sew five of those together, you'll have a total width of 10.5" - as long as you are sewing 1/4" seams!  

Remember when I mentioned that there is a step when length/width matter? Well, this is it!

In Addie's quilt, I used strips of different widths, so I kept sewing strips together until I got 9".  I then went ahead and cut 9" squares, like so:

After a while, I had a bunch of squares and some leftover fabric.  Don't worry, I managed to use these in the quilt - you know I don't like to ignore precious scraps!!  :)

Of course, I had a bunch of trimmed fabric as well!  Isn't this cute?  Well, I decided to tease Addie's grandma and put it on her desk on Monday morning... It was there to welcome her to another work week!  I had this second of thinking that I was being mean by teasing her with the trimmings, but she just loved it!  She actually kept the little bundle in her desk drawer! Isn't she a sweet grammie?

Going back to the strip diamonds...

The next step is to put one square on top of the other, right sides together. Take a look at the next picture for a good idea on how to do it...  One square has strips going up and down, while the other one has strips going left to right, or right to left; i.e. horizontal strips in one square and vertical in the other.  Capisci?

Make sure that both pieces are very well aligned; go ahead and sew a 1/4" seam ALL AROUND the square. I know it's sort of difficult to see in the following picture, but...

... here is a blue line to make it all easier to see!  Yep, the blue line is right on top of the seam.

Get ready for some super fun in the next step...  You need to make two diagonal cuts, from corner to corner.

Cut Number 1:

Cut Number 2:

You'll have something that looks like this:

... and you'll have a cute, little mountain of striped triangular bundles that will transform after pressing into something just awesome!

See?!  Isn't that just amazing!  By the way (and just in case you really need some motivation to go on with your day...) this is one of the things I love the most about quilting... Change, transformation and unveiling are just too exciting not to talk about them!

These babies are ready to go into Addie's quilt!

And this is how diamonds will look.  Because I used strips with different widths, the seams won't match exactly - that's part of the look I was going for!

If you'd like the seams to match, just use strips that are the same width.  :)

The only thing I was going for is avoiding something like the following picture. There are two pinks together, and there are three chunky strips in the center of the diamond (and their seams actually match).  I wanted a scrappy look, so I tried to combine the units in such a way it didn't happen. Because of the number of units and the size of the quilt, I ended up focusing more on seams that didn't match rather than on repetitive colors.  

This is the point where you can play with arrangement.  For example, I thought of the following by matching the orientation...  It does look like a patch or steps...  

Another arrangement is an "X".  I will sash Addie's quilt, so it will only have diamonds.  However, if you decide to go ahead without sashing, you will have a series of diamond - X - diamond - X...  It is also really cute and fun to make!

Addie's quilt is finally taking shape and I can't wait to finish it!  The more I work with it, the more I want to keep adding and working with it, hehe... I guess this is that quilt bug that fuzzies up ideas in my head!  :)

Here is a little preview... Not too bad, huh?

Have a wonderful day and stay blessed!

Jun 4, 2014

Easy-piecey Braided Swarovski Bracelet

Bracelets!?!?!  Yep! That's right... A little break from quilting is here, and reminiscing of my beading experiments some years ago, The Hill has today a beginner tutorial for a simple braided bracelet. Besides, some variety to our Crafty Bone Activities never hurts, right?   

Ah! But Yiya had an accomplice for this task... Craftyful! An online store with a variety of fabric, buttons, ribbons, zippers, charms and good ol' crafty goodies, Craftyful is a great place to get supplies from.

For some reason, I got "lost" in their selection of Swarovski crystals and had the inkling to make a bracelet like the one in the following picture, but in a much needed different combination. I gave beading and making bracelets and earrings a shot because mom kept asking for a set, hehe... Of course, I wanted to experiment, and this was one of my favorite looks.  Let me tell you, it was not easy to wait for the beads and start stringing them!  :)

Without much more ado, I present to you my new braided bracelet make with Swarovski crystals from Craftyful:

Wait! On top of everything else, there's an interesting twist for this tutorial - if you keep reading, you'll find TWO versions of a basic, really easy technique to make two varieties of a braided bracelet!!

But just before getting to the instructions, hats off to Craftyful and their shipping!  If you have ever worked with beads, you know those little guys roll over the place in a millisecond!  From a really cute envelope...

... to individual, labeled ziplock baggies inside another sealed bag, this is by far the best method I've ever seen to deal with little cute beads.  Isn't it nifty?

Here is a close-up so that you can see the packing better - those little beads aren't going anywhere without your permission!  

And yes, those first pictures had scrap batting in the background; batting is great for keeping beads from rolling all over the place, but it is not so great for pictures when Swarovski crystals are in it...  

Man! It was a feat getting the pictures and after several backgrounds and even thread colors, I ended up on my faithful, worn out cutting mat, hehe... 

For this tutorial, Craftyful provided biconic Swarovski crystals. I decided to use a complimentary color combination (purple-yellow), to make the final bracelet really pop. 

Also, I decided to use different hues of the same color just to provide variety.
Craftyful makes this process so easy! They have a menu that allows the user to click on the characteristic they want and their system automatically shows beads that match the selection. From kinds of beads to size and color, they have a bunch of choices and a very simple system. 

Whatever the combination you go for, you will need an average of 70 3mm biconic Swarovski beads to complete a bracelet - 7 per section. Also, this tutorial calls for at least 9 dividers, plus the clasp you want.

Ready? Let's start beading!

Two strand bracelet - Version 1

As the title says, this technique is easy-piecy-breezy... Well, almost like the title.

You will need regular beading nylon thread; cut a 25" length and fold it in half.  The beading starts on the two open ends. I like using a regular clothes pin and pinch the fold, just to keep any beads from disappearing and running all the way under the table...

String one divider and one crystal on both ends, like so:


Then string two more beads, one on each end

Continue alternating - one bead on both ends, strings together; two beads, one on each end (separated). String a divider every 7 beads.

You will end up with something that looks like a zigzag beading:

Looks cute, right?

Here is another view:

Now, feel free to add the clasp at this point, but if this just doesn't feel like it's all you can do... keep on reading!  This was just practice for the second version!  :)

Two strand bracelet - Version 2

Go ahead and string one divider and one bead on both ends.

Then two more beads, one on each end.

Here comes the tricky part... String the next bead, on ONE end.

I strung this bead from RIGHT to LEFT, so the next step is to to the same with the other end, but in the opposite direction.

In this case, I took the left string and put it through the bead from LEFT to RIGHT.

Then string two more beads, one on each end. (Please note the super useful clothes pin on the folded edge, keeping it all safe!)

Now string one more bead, on both ends; then, start it all again and repeat until you get the length you want!

Here are the same steps, but with a different color - these gorgeous, sparkly beads are kind of tricky to photograph, so I just want to make sure you can see them.  :)

And here you have it, a simple, elegant and easy-to-make braided bracelet! :)

With eight sections, I was really close to the length I wanted, so I strung two "half sections" at each end of the bracelet just to make sure  I have enough wiggle room to secure it - and keeping it secure while wearing it!  :)

Just for extra blogging fun, here is the bracelet that started it all many years ago:

Of course, this technique can be used with many kinds of beads, but I particularly like the effect that results from the biconic Swaroski crystals.  

Try different colors, shapes, sizes and dividers - can you feel your crafty ideas tickling in your head?  Remember that each new variety will modify the final number of total beads you will need.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and give this a try!

Stay blessed!  :)

P.S.  Here is a little sneak-peak at a future post: