Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Stash -- the Newest Fabrics!

I'm at a quilt retreat this weekend in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Details to follow in a few days! But just to give you something to look at, here are some new fabrics that came in the mail this week.

First, "Citrus," by Another Point of View for Windham Fabrics.

 I'm thinking this will be perfect for the August Jelly Roll Party quilt, "Kissing Booth."

I picked up a few half-yard cuts of Denyse Schmidt's "Bakersfield and Union Station" at JoAnn's. 'cuz you know, a large bin of DS fabric just isn't enough!

Lori Holt is going to be at my hometown quilt shop, Quilt Barn Idaho, in May. I thought I would run up for her retreat, but then realized that is Jelly Roll Party day! So to make myself feel better, I ordered a FQ bundle of her new line, "Vintage Happy" from their Etsy shop. Yes. I feel better.

My abso-posi-lutely favorite solid fabric is Michael Miller's "Cotton Couture." Chrystal, who owns Cotton Candy Sewing Shop in Loveland, Colorado, just happened to be attending my Guild's retreat last month. So she hand-delivered this sweet bundle. (Hey, it's a gift! It doesn't count!)

My "big" score this week is the kit for Tula Pink's April Mystery QAL on Craftsy. "Fox Field" is so great, I may have to buy more to stash!

You know I've routed my trip to Cheyenne to take advantage of as many quilt shops as possible! Come back next Saturday for the full report!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Quilt Journey: Then and Now

At Front Range Modern Quilt Guild last Saturday, members shared their "first" and "most recent" quilts. I forgot mine in the back of the Tardis (that's another story) when it got a flat tire on the way to Guild. So here is my story!

My very first quilt was started the summer I was 8 years old. We had just moved from the family farm into town, and I didn't have any friends or any way to make friends with school out for the summer. So my mother set me to cutting out squares of calico fabric to piece a 9-patch quilt. Each square was the width of the cardboard that held bias tape -- about 3" square. She patiently taught me to use her Singer 401 Slant Needle machine (which I inherited when she died). After a few days of having to change the thread back to the color she wanted following my use of the machine, we went downtown to Hendrickson's Sewing Shop. She bought me an old Singer portable that only did straight stitch, but a beautiful straight stitch! I finished piecing that quilt only a few years ago, but I don't know what I've done with it -- I don't think I gave it away, but I can't find it!

My next foray into quilting was in January of 1976. I had graduated High School in December, and was waiting for my fiance' to return from Air Force technical training school so we could get married. Mother helped me tear  strips and piece a log cabin quilt a la "the Eleanor Burns method." It was blue and mauve, very popular colors in the 70s! I gave that quilt to the Goodwill when we moved to Virginia in the 90s. It never occurred to me I would want a photo of "my first quilt!"

The earliest quilts I still have were made for my two boys when we lived in Virginia from 1992-1996. The patterns were in a book by Sharon Hultgren, the inventor of the EZ Angle. I have to admit, her directions were a little "spare" for a beginner!

Here is the "Jacob's Ladder" I pieced for My Little Sailor, Jacob:

The dark blue is faded, and the single-fold binding is worn through. But I still love this quilt!

I (foolishly) allowed Elder Brother to choose his own fabrics for his quilt. This is what you get when a 4-year old chooses fabrics:

For several years when I substitute taught Art classes in Hampton, I used this quilt as an example of "Complementary Colors." Complementary Colors are opposite each other on the color wheel, and when placed next to each other, appear to vibrate. I'll say!

When we evacuated for Hurricane  Emily, I took this quilt and my sewing machine. It was half-pieced. I knew from meeting people who had evacuated for Hurricane Andrew the year before that there might be nothing left when we returned to Langley AFB. And I wasn't going to piece those spinning spools again! Luckily, Emily dodged the Tidewater Region and we had an enjoyable evacuation at a "hotel with an indoor pool!"

You've seen my most recent finish, "Main Street." I still like bright colors and precision piecing! And I still use the EZ Angle to make half-square triangles.

From 9-patch calicos to batik flying geese -- I'd say my journey of nearly 50 years' quilting has been a good one!

I hope you've started your "Block a Day." Go here to see the turorial on the Bethlehem Star block we're making for the Spring challenge.

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Blocks Away

Tomorrow we start our "Block a Day" challenge. The tutorial for the Spring block is on Monday's post. I can't wait to see what fabric you choose for your blocks!

I had so much fun fooling around with blocks for the Block a Day challenge, I've already been looking ahead to Summer. This is the Sister's Choice block, made in two sizes.

Here is the "Big Sister's" block:

And here is the "Little Sister's" block:

Just so you can see that they are really two different sizes, here they are side by side. The large on finishes at 10", the small one at 5" -- I don't know if this will be the one for Summer, but I had fun making them!

I also made the March Marti Michell BOM block. Once again, I ran out of fabric and had to substitute a black from the 2011 Patchwork Party quilt in the outer corners. But I think it looks OK!

Have fun making your first Bethlehem Star block tomorrow! By the way, if you were curious about the reference to 720 squares cut to 2.5", that comes from 90 blocks with 8 squares in each block! Only one a day, though!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Monday, March 17, 2014

Quilt Block A Day: A Tutorial

Here it is! My very first Block a Day tute. In case you're worried, NO, it's not a different block each day! If you choose to play along, we'll be making one block each day from March 20 through June 20., that's 90 blocks in all.

What block? This one:

Notice there are three blocks in the photo? Yes, you get to choose which style of "Star of Bethlehem" block you make. I made up the block in two "scrappy" variations and one "controlled" version.

This is a very old block pattern. The earliest reference I could find was from the Kansas City Star newspaper, c. 1937. The tutorial begins with the scrappy variation on the far right. It's made with 30s reproduction fabrics in honor of Karen Snyder, founder of the Quilt Block a Day. I visited her shop in Washington in 1997 and was so taken with all the 30s prints, I bought . . . well, a lot.

This is a good version to start with, because it has a built-in quarter-inch seam check.


For each block, cut:

  • (8) background squares, each 3.5" square
  • (8) star points, each 2.5" square
  • (1) center square, 2" square
  • (2) center background rectangles, 1.25" X 2"
  • (2) center background rectangles, 1.25" X 3.5"

Sew the Center square

Begin by sewing the center piece. 

Sew a 1.25" X 2" piece of background fabric to either side of the center 2" square. Measure to ensure it is now 2" X 3.5".

Then add a 1.25" X 3.5" background rectangle to the top and bottom of the center square. Measure again -- it's OK if it is one or two threads too big, just square it up to a perfect 3.5" square. But if it's too small, adjust your seam allowance.


Star Points

Next, make four "star point" squares. You will need four 3.5" background squares and eight 2.5" "star point" squares.

Draw a line diagonally across the wrong side of each "star point" square.

Place the star point square on top of the background square, aligning two sides so it is exactly in the corner. Stitch along the drawn line.

Repeat for the second "star point."

Notice that I have sewn one thread-width to the outside of the drawn line. This allows for the "roll" of the fabric over the seam, so that the print reaches exactly to the cut edge of the background square.

If you don't want to draw a diagonal line on 720 2.5" squares, get yourself an Angler 2. This handy tool allows you to sew corner to corner without marking the print square:

See how the point of the print square is just barely to the left of the center line on the Angler? Same as stitching one thread-width to the outside of the drawn line.

Repeat to make four "star point" squares for each block.

Block Construction

Then lay out your block and sew the pieces together:

If you finger-press the seams in opposite directions, the inside corners of your star points will align perfectly!


Press the horizontal seams toward the outside of the block, the vertical seams to the inside. This will make it a lot easier when you sew all your blocks together -- the seams will "nestle" and align much more easily.


My favorite thing about my version of the Bethlehem Star block is the "floating" points. The colored points don't extend to the very edge of the block, so no worries about cutting off the points!

If you want a simpler block, use a single piece of fabric cut to 3.5" square for the center. 

Or, if you like really scrappy, make the backgrounds all different!

This version is inspired by a quilt in a new book from the Kansas City Star, "Classic Modern Quilts." If you like this block, you'll love the book! Get your own copy from the Pickledish Store.

The block finishes at 9.5", raw edge to raw edge. Ninety blocks will make a quilt just right for a full-size bed.

Check out the Quilt Block a Day page on Facebook. Sometime this summer, I'll host a "B-a-D" quilt parade!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature