Friday, 25 January 2019

Jelly Rolls into Half Square Triangle (HST) units

I have 2 unfinished quilt tops that I began a few years ago – well, I bought some of the Moda fabric line designed by Sandy Gervais called ‘Merry and Bright’…oops!  Just checked on the web and it was 2008!  Oh well, these things happen!  Anyway, I loved it so much, I bought one of the panels, a jelly roll and a couple of the charm packs, as well as 3 yards of the only yardage they had left – the blue crisscross fabric.    Why did they become UFOs?  For me, as a quilt designer, quilts become UFOs when I have a design decision and can’t make a clear one – so the fabric goes into a box and waits until the answer bubbles up!
Can you see what I mean by deciding?  What would you put in the middle of this panel?  My first decision was that I wanted the quilt to be the same if it was turned around, top to bottom.  So I kept running images through my mind:  4 wreaths around the middle, Christmas gifts, more Christmas balls, trees all around….. many ideas.  But last year, some patterns showing Christmas trees made of paisley shapes appeared on the internet and I decided to appliqué 2 trees on the centre panel.  I went down to my daughter’s place last June to stay with my grandson while she and her husband went on a holiday – only because he didn’t have his full driving license yet and he had several events planned.  So we had a good time during the day – he played his game on the Internet in the rec room and I made paisley shapes in the dining room and sewed them on.

I had already attached the flying geese border and the friendship star border, so I just had to decide what to put on for the last border to make the quilt larger. I absolutely love using Electric Quilt (EQ8) to create quilts - as you can see from the variety of borders I auditioned!!

I had most of one jelly roll left and decided that I needed to repeat the white fabric that I used in the flying geese fabric.  Then one of the members of my quilt club needed someone to give a lesson in yet another way to make half-square triangle units.  I had a reference sheet for making them out of jelly strips (2½″ wide), so I volunteered to show this method.  You end up with 3″ unfinished HSTs and very little waste!   Here’s a good tutorial about this:  I hadn’t see this one, but it is almost what I did.  The two little additions were:
1.    I sewed a scant 1/4 “ seam (so that I could use the cutting method like she calls #1, and
2.    After sewing one side of the tube, I starched and pressed, because in the end, you will have bias edges, so I wanted them to stay straight.

At the top, ruler is set for next cut.  Bottom is square that was not trimmed!

All in all, if you have jelly roll strips, this is definitely the most efficient way to make hundreds of half square triangle units (HST)!
Here's an image of what the border will look like when sewn:

 I think it looks like a 'modern' quilt style (although the rest of the quilt isn't).  What do you think?
Thank you for reading this!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Stockings and Zippered Pouches for Christmas

Life and Electric Quilt went off the list this month, except for fixing my Fall quilt!
We had a great workshop sponsored by our guild in October.  Although I don’t need more UFOs, I always enrol in guild workshops for 2 reasons:  to support the guild and to learn more – I find that I learn from the teacher and also from the other participants!  This one was a workshop by Marilyn Maki of Sault Ste. Marie (no link because she doesn’t have a website, but she does belong to the guild -  Here topic was crazy quilt stockings or pillow tops.  One of my oldest friends had given me lace, tatting and handkerchiefs from women in his family, so I took those to use to make a stocking for him as a family remembrance.
Once I got to the workshop, I found that Melissa McIntosh (our amazing longarmer ) had brought a large bin of fabrics given to us by Connie Wilson before she died).  Then our workshop leader, Marilyn, had also brought a plethora of ribbons, beads, amazing fabric to share!  Yes, to share, not sell!  How generous of her!  She also brought a friend, Susan Bailey, who showed the amazing crazy quilt blocks she is making with her family’s clothing.  One block even contains a piece of the suit her father wore when he married her mother. 

With Marilyn’s guidance, I worked on the stocking that has the navy and pink sections to it.  I had to coffee-dye some of the pink pieces, because I wanted to see a more ‘dusty’ version of the colour.  Although I seldom finish workshop pieces, I went home and finished sewing the stocking and started right away on the other side.   For the back side I decided to use the handkerchiefs Michael had given me and I folded them to fit.  It wasn’t until I completed the back that I realized that it had been so long since I had made a Christmas stocking that I hadn’t checked which side of the foundation to sew on!!!  Well…I had 2 fronts now. 
The backs of the stockings
 What to do?  Should I just use plain backs?  No!  I took a group of plain crocheted doilies and handkerchiefs and layered them on a large piece of gold fabric.  I placed tissue paper on top and then sewed all over it with invisible thread.  After I had secured all the pieces, I tore off the tissue paper and sew more carefully in some places.  I then cut out the backs.  For the black one I took apart 2 crazy quilted vests I didn’t wear anymore.  I used one for the front and one for the back and the lining of the vests for the lining for the stocking.
Now I have 3 stockings for my friends and enough to make another one!

Closer look at quilting

Next gifts:  I’ve been wanting to make more zippered pouches, so when I saw this tutorial: I decided to make 2 for my nieces for Christmas.  I had coloured pencils and pens for them, along with some black leather and zippers.  I embroidered the front with their initials (S and SJ), then sewed them together.  I also had to watch a YouTube video, because I wasn’t sure from the tutorial how to sew it together, but I think they look alright – what do you think?  At one of the local Christmas market, I bought a bit of jewelry to use as zipper pulls.  Then this week I watched Man Sewing with a boxy pouch, so I’m going to make that one now!!  I’m not saying I’m over being afraid of putting in zippers, but I feel a little more comfortable now.

Oh...and a couple of mugrugs for my grandson's study area - Of course I'll have to explain what a 'mugrug' is.  He studied piano for years and I make him a quilt with a piano key design for 2 borders, so I had some sections left over.
a few more reusable gift tags - vinyl pockets on the backs
Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Snowball Blocks for Happy Garden quilt

I wrote before about my Happy Garden Quilt that our quilt club is using as inspiration for table mats, runners and small quilts.  I decided to take autumn, Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en as my inspirations
I have the middle row finished and most of the 9-patch blocks are done.

Since I was going to be doing a lesson at the club about a variety of fun ways to work with snowball blocks, I did some research and came up with some options – a few very difficult ideas that eventually got scrapped, and some that I actually sewed!
The first one was pretty simple.  I had an old crocheted table mat and the elements reminded me of pumpkins, so I cut out a couple of rows and dyed them orange.  I embroidered a ‘redwork’ pumpkin at the top of the snowball block and then added two rows of crocheted pumpkins. 
Now I just have to decide if I want to add some green embroidery floss as vines.  What do you think?
I had already embroidered my favourite fall item from this fall – a truck full of pumpkins, so I appliquéd a strip under the truck to look like a road and now I have to figure out how to put a few trees in the background.
Next I got out my bag of ‘texture magic’ (or fabric magic) and put it on the back of some fall and black fabric.  It’s been a while since I’ve used it, so after reading the instructions, I drew a 1” grid all over the fall fabric.  I wanted to use the black for a witch’s hat, so I drew curvy lines on it.  They both worked out well and after sewing, I steamed both pieces and they are really wrinkly now.  I cut the fall fabric into 4 – 3 ½ “ squares to use as the centre squares of my 9-patch quilt blocks – these blocks will be in the centre blocks around the edge of the quilt.

The witch’s hat pattern was printed right from Electric Quilt so was easy to cut out – the only change I made was to cut the brim away from the top so that I could add a decorative strip and a buckle that I added Jones foil (glued to black fabric) to. I was going to use the hat so that it was right side up, but I need the orange triangle in the top left position, so I think it still works fine, upside down!
The next snowball block I planned was to show the use of 3 shadow techniques – shadow appliqué, shadow trapunto and shadow confetti.  I started with the shadow trapunto, drawing 3 ghosts shapes onto tracing paper and pinning it on top of a piece of white sheer fabric and white polyester batting.  Then I sewed around each ghost with a short stitch and cut out the extra batting.  They don't show up that well in the photo and I'll have to decide how to quilt them to enhance the shapes.
For the shadow appliqué, I cut out bat shapes and placed them on the snowball block.  Then I put the shadow trapunto work on top and sewed around the bat shapes – pretty easy way to appliqué! 
Then I thought about all the landscape confetti quilts I’ve seen and decided to add a fire at the bottom of the block.  I cut out the shape of a bonfi re from Steam a Seam and put it on a piece of parchment paper.  Then I cut small coloured pieces of fabric out and covered my ‘bonfire’ shape.  After ironing it down, I trimmed the ‘fire’ and transferred it from the parchment paper to the block and added some stitching to hold it all down (I’ll do more when I quilt the project).

Great news from the Modern Quilt Guild this week – I have a swap partner!!  Although I’m not really very modern, I’m really going to try to make her a great little quilt!

Friday, 26 October 2018

Happy Gardens Quilt

Designing Happy Gardens
I’ve been working on a design called Happy Gardens – this is to offer ideas to our club members for what they can do with the two blocks the organizing group has chosen for use in a first project of our quilting year  – the 9-patch and the snowball.  The quilt design is ‘Happy Gardens’ because our group is called Happy Quilters and the 9-patch has long been associated with gardens.  Sometimes naming a quilt is that simple!
We decided on a 9½ (unfinished) block. 

Thinking that beginner quilters may be leery of sewing a lot of 3½ (unfinished) blocks, we included a plain 9-patch block that would be just as attractive in a project.  The other design element I put in for beginners was to make sure that the seam in the snowball block did not have to meet the seam in the 9-patch.  Actually, this option is open to the individual quilter – some of us like the challenge of ‘meeting’ seams, and some don’t care!  What kind are you?
I guess anyone who is experienced with Electric Quilt® would think that these are pretty simplistic blocks to show, but I’m doing it anyway because I think it’s an effective design for our goal – a design that 90% of our club would create!
To begin the design, choose ‘design a block from scratch’ or the Block Worktable at the top right of the Home screen.

For more information on the worktables, watch this brief video:
Then select the block style ‘pieced’ and the method ‘EasyDraw’.  Always try to anticipate a size for the block before drawing.  This will make the fabric cutting much easier!  Just imagine designing a 5” block that you then draw into a 4 sections by 4 sections.  You might end up with a great block like this one:
But how is your client/group going to react when they read the cutting chart about cutting strips 2” – not impossible, but not fun!
It’s just more practical to design a block with measurements that suit the partitions you plan.  For a 9-patch, you know you will need to use a 3x3 grid, so it will be simpler to start with block that is 9” x 9”.  To make it easier, set the Horizontal and Vertical snaps so that lines will automatically ‘snap’ to each ¼ of an inch.  The ‘snap’ setting refers to another part of the bar that should always be ‘on’ until you, the designer, are very experienced.

The snap settings can be changed in the ‘Drawing Board Setup’ under the ‘Block’ menu and EQ has great explanations at
The ‘grid’ option is a terrific feature of EQ.  It’s only a nuisance if you lose your grip and let go of it before it covers the section where you need a grid – that’s when the ‘back arrow’ on the left side is an even better feature!  If you get the wrong grid, click on this back arrow and restart the grid.  Don’t let go until you have the correct size grid on your block worktable!

Colouring – once you have the 9-patch block designed, save it into your sketchbook (if you haven’t named your project, EQ will give you a ‘prompt’ to name it (Hint:  use descriptive names to help your memory).  Select the COLOR tab at the top (Yes, the designers are American), and then use the ‘paintbrush’ tool and the selection of fabrics to colour (but I’m Canadian) each patch of the block.  Colouring a block – information about this will fill several posts, so for this one, I’m just going to say to click on ‘fabrics’ that approximate the fabrics you plan to use and colour your block.  Scroll on the bottom section to see more fabrics.  Save the colouring into the sketchbook.

Printing or viewing the rotary cutting instructions
When you first see the menu for printing patterns, you may not be able to print the block pattern if you have a quilt on the drawing board.  The way to get the block pattern is to click on the block you want to be able to print and then you'll be able to click on the 'Block' in the menu
In my example, I clicked on the 9 patch that seems to have a green outline.  Once I did that, when I click on 'Block', the program will allow me to see the rotary cutting directions.

NOTE:  Of course, this blog post  clear!  But if you want to see another one, check this one:

What do you think?  Should I add more details?  Thanks for reading this!  If you would like this pattern in a specific size, let me know and I'll email you the fabric requirements,  

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Great Quilt Club Start to 2018-19 Year!

Do you belong to a guild?  I do, but I also belong to a ‘quilt club’ – totally volunteer-run.  Every August, a few of us get together to plan something to get the club off to a good start.  Once that happens, we have a calendar formatted so that at the beginning of each meeting, the meeting’s chair calls for volunteers for the upcoming meetings:  chair, lesson, snacks, clean-up, plus quilters who want to have a quilt bee during the weeks when we don’t have meetings (more about that later). 
Our quilt club is called the Happy Quilters and we meet near Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island.
This year, we aimed to choose a project that all the members could try and enjoy – both beginners and advanced quilters. 
What’s a good block to both teach and enjoy?
Well there are many, but we chose the 9-patch and the snowball block.  Think about it – the 9-patch block can end up several ways.

And the snowball is perfect for personalizing a project – with many kinds of embroidery and appliqué.  The snowball block is fairly easy to sew because the quilter can really choose any size of square to sew on the corners (as long as they are consistent!).  We also decided to take advantage of the great light in our meeting hall (the Community hall for Gordon/Barrie Island) and teach some hand embroidery and appliqué.
Some of the old embroidery pattern books available.
First up…hand embroidery (because one of us had obtained a bunch of little booklets from a garage sale).  I used a dry iron to press about a dozen of the patterns on to scraps of fabric I had (you can press one design several times), and threaded about 40 needles with different colours of thread.    No sooner had we planned this session and talked about it, that we found out just how many of us have embroidery floss sitting in a drawer at home!

I started with a butterfly, but wasn’t happy with the results, so I went on to a teapot (good memories of tea with Mom) which I finished and coloured with Inktense pencils (Derwent Inktense )then clear aloe vera gel to intensify the colours.  I’m using in a small box in my sewing kit to hold needle threaders and other small items.  Then I went on to a dragon and I am pleased with this one – more Inktense and gel and it will either be a cover for a sewing machine booklet or my regular needles.  I’ll show it off later.

Our year is off to a great start, with members showing off table toppers, table runners and small quilts using these patterns.

What would you choose as a project that would suit all your quilting group?  
If you are interested in seeing the calendar we use in our quilt club, let me know and I’ll send you a copy!