Thursday, July 31, 2014

1 + 1 = 4?

Yes it can.  I'm not talking about common core here, I'm talking about quilt math.  It does work.

One of the hottest quilt designs this year is using half square triangles to create any number of patterns.  HSTs are very simple to create, but the myraid number of methods can be confusing.  My favorite is by Jenny Doan of Missouri Star.

The method is very simple.  Take two squares of matching size, sew a 1/4 inch seam all the way around, and cut an x.  But to give it to you in pictures:
Take two squares of matching size.

Lay them right sides together.  This next part is optional: take a 1/4 inch ruler, and make a mark on each corner, both ways.  

This is what each corner will look like once marked.  This helps you know where to stop sewing.

Start sewing on one side, and go all the way to the mark.  Pivot, and continue sewing, making sure not to go past the mark at each corner.

When you have finished sewing, lay your ruler corner to corner and cut.  Then cut the opposite angle to get an X.

Press open, and be amazed - four perfect 3.125" half square triangles, without cutting an actual triangle.

These are being used in a Frozen inspired quilt, Fractured Snowflakes.  Full tutorial on that quilt to come, but this is the bulk of that tutorial.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tool Tip Tuesday #1

In my attempt to be a better blog for all of you, I have decided to share a new tool or tip every Tuesday.

Today, I have nephew #2 spending a few days of his summer vacation with me, and he has asked for a chevron quilt for his bed.  I gave him colored pencils and a pad of paper, but soon realized his thin lines wouldn't translate to color choices well.  I looked around, and spotted this package of precut Kona hexagons from Robert Kaufman in the classic colorstory.  Perfect!

I gave the stack to my nephew and asked him to pick seven colors:  one background, which is the center below, and six colors.  I explained that the final colors I buy will be similar but may not be exact.  He loved the idea, and we worked together on a final design scheme.

Basically, this is a great tool for previewing color choices without buying yardage that you may not like!  And since its only around $8, its the perfect price too!

Even better, a few weeks ago I picked up a flannel backing with hexagons on it - to me they look like nuts from a workshop.  The shape of these precuts mirrors the flannel print perfectly - so while the colors are all wrong, I am able to put together a schematic of how to piece a new quilt top for a baby boy!  

Robert Kaufman Precut Hexies in the Classic colorstory can be previewed here and purchased via Missouri Star Quilt Company.

What tools have you found that aren't being used for their original purpose?  What's your favorite hack?

(Note:  I do not represent, nor am I compensated by, Robert Kaufman or Missouri Star Quilt Company.  All opinions are my own.  But if anyone from one of those companies is reading this - here I am, arm raised and hand waving "Pick Me"!)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Time and Numbers

Oh, how many negative feelings those two words can bring up.

Time - I haven't posted since March.  It hasn't been my intent to not post, I just didn't.  So I'm making a resolution to myself (it's never to late for a New Years resolution, right?) to post once a week for the rest of the year.  That's not such a big deal.  I can do that.  And that's alot easier than cutting out sugar.

Numbers - I'm a numbers person.  Majorly.  As in I majored in numbers for three degrees in college.  So when I add up something, I am somehow still flabbergasted by the results.  Such as how many UFO's, or unfinished objects, I have.  My current count is at least 19.  To me that is a huge number.  Erat, my second resolution of the year.  For every new project, one UFO must get finished.  Some are cut, some are pieced, some need ripping, some just need binding.  But one for one - that's not so bad.

I'm not in college anymore, nor do I have a full time job or a house or kids.  Sometimes I wonder, how do those of you who work, are married, have kids and a house, do it all?  I am amazed!!!

One thing I have done lately is take tons of pics of my quilts and fabrics and projects to share.  Unfortunately, they are on my cell and I am typing on my laptop.  But I promise - lots of pics to come!

Cheers to all of you - and don't forget to have a nice icy beverage in this heat.  Sangria is iced so it counts :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Shopping, and classes, and inspiration, OH MY!

Ask any quilter what her favorite way to buy fabric is, and she will likely tell you that shopping days are the best!  But what's even better is going on a shopping spree, and topping it off with a world class quilt convention and classes!  That's where I'm headed to in a week or so - the American Quilters Society Lancaster Show.

Lancaster County has a great number of quilt shops, enough that you can pretty much find a selection of your favorite fabrics at least once.  Plus, the pricing can be amazing.  Paula over at Sassy Quilter has even found fabric for just $.98 a yard!

Here is my list of 17 stores to visit this year:

1.  The Sassy Tassel - I love the name!  Located within BUiLDiNG CHARACTER in downtown Lancaster - I've never been, but you can bet I'm going!

2.  The Quilt Ledger - located in Christiana, not too far off of Lincoln Highway - this is another new store to me.

3.  Log Cabin Quilt Shop & Fabrics - Last year, I was here on a beautiful sunny day.  The 1950s pickup truck out front had bolts of fabric in the bed - how cute!

4.  Burkholders Fabric - a little out of the way in Denver, but well worth the drive if you have the time!  Rows upon rows of fabric.  There was also a very large selection of precuts.

5.  Sylvia Petersheims - Just down the road from the Log Cabin - We drove in, and beautiful quilts were hanging all over the hard.  Inside the basement store, everything is precut yardage, such as fat quarters, half yards, and larger pieces, at amazing prices.

6 and 7.  Sauders Fabrics and Zooks Fabrics - these two stores are owned together and share a website and inventory.  Sauders is in Denver just off of 222, and Zooks is in downtown Intercourse.  The online store can pull fabric from both retail locations.  And what a selection there is - just look at this one aisle!

8.  Stitch & Craft - Located in Manheim, this store is the farthest west.  Another new one for me to visit so I'll report soon!

9.  Gail Kesslers Ladyfingers Sewing Studio - this is the farthest north and east, and I'm really excited to visit.  Gail Kessler, of Craftsy fame and designer of Dimples for Andover, is the owner!  This is my first stop as I'm heading in on Wednesday!

10.  Family Farm Fabrics - this store is just down the road from a don't miss eatery, the Shady Maple, so there's no excuse not to go!  Last year, I had found the perfect Moda collection to make a baby quilt out of, but couldn't find yardage anywhere.  Family Farm had it!  I got a few pieces, and then realized I needed more once I got home.  I was able to send my Dad to pick up the rest of it, and the ladies were amazing in how they helped him.

11.  Martins Fabric & Craft Barn - up in the northwest corner of the shopping trip, this store is unique in that among thousands of bolts of fabric, you can also commission a custom dining room table!  Talk about multitasking!

12.  Obie's Country Store - from what I've read, this store doesn't look like it can hold much, but fabric bolts are piled from the floor to the ceiling!  This is on the list mainly because of the name - it is coincidence that my mom's maiden name is also Obie, and we need a picture.

13.  Goods Store - Goods has locations in Ephrata, Schaefferstown, Quarryville, and East Earl.  This is somewhat of a combination Ace Hardware and fabric store, but they also have odds and ends - great when the closest big box store is miles away.  The selection wasn't all quilt store fabric, but there were alot of lace and other notions, and prices were great.

14.  The Quilt and Fabric Shack - Great clearance room, in the back, and a huge clearance room downstairs to boot!  

15 and 16.  Dutchland Quilt Patch - 2 locations in Gordonville (almost Intercourse) and Ronks.  If you love primitive decorating for your house along with quilt fabrics, or if you're looking for a premade quilt, this is an all in one stop for you!

17.  Weavers Dry Goods - in Lititz, directly north of Lancaster - I am fairly confident this is the same company as Dutchland Quilt Patch as that is what their Facebook page has pictures of

Are there more stores?  I am positive that there are!  Just let me know and I'll add them to the list.  Please note that the Lancaster County area seems to follow blue laws, and most if not all of these stores are closed on Sundays.  Have fun shopping!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Finding just the right fabric

Quilters these days have all kinds of options when it comes to fabric choices.  No longer are we relegated to what the current stores have, along with what is in the scrap bin at home.  We can now use the internet to put together creations as unique as we are!  Also, companies now produce precut fabric lines for ease of sewing.  Charm packs, layer cakes, jelly rolls, dessert rolls, turnovers, honey buns and candy (anyone getting hungry yet) are all different cuts that are used.  And patterns have been made specifically for these precuts - what a way to save time and money on an easy quilt!!!

However, even with the precuts, you still need to find fabric that will work for the borders, binding and backing of your quilt.  I recently finished one quilt top that has been patiently waiting to be sandwiched, since I couldn't find the perfect backing.  Remember this quilt?  It's the Modern Baby Hexagon Quilt made with a Moda Citrus Brights charm pack.
It took me a long time to decide on the backing.  I wanted to make this a unisex baby quilt, since it has pink and purple, but also red blue and green, in it.  But finding something that would work was taking too long!  Rainbow stripes were too bright.  I found a great hexagonal print from Stonehenge by Northcott, but couldn't actually find it for sale anywhere!  Dots were all too boyish or girlish.  Zigzags were, in my opinion, too out there.  Finally, I went back to the basics - the fabric used was Moda Marbles.  Did that come in anything else?  Yes it did!  I have my choice of swirls or dots.

I'm leaning to the blue dot, as I have a great green in my scrap bin for binding.

And now to the second piece of joy for the day:  I was at JoAnns last week for a quick stock up, and ran across this wonderful elephant fabric in the juvenile section.  It is brand new, and I knew that I had to try making a baby boy quilt out of it.  
Isn't that just the most adorable fabric?  The argyle on the left is the backing, and the offset chevron and large elephants are for piecing the top.  I decided to play off of the argyle backing, and make a plaid style top, making stripes out of solids for the plaid portion, and using the chevron and fussy cut elephants and the blocks. That required choosing solids, but the selection at JoAnns was pretty slim.  I was playing around online yesterday, and stumbled onto Pink Chalk Fabrics.  They have preselected fat quarter "stacks", and one was designed for QuiltCon 2013.  And what do you know, the colors are perfect!  Its on its way to me now.
So remember, quilting is meant to be fun.  Don't stress about the right fabric.  It'll come along.  Just spend the time waiting finding more inspiration!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cyber Quilts

For many quilters, inspiration comes from all over.  Some like to follow patterns in magazines, others choose to purchase patterns.  Some quilters can see a picture of another quilt and replicate it, while some create their own quilts.  Just as in every other artistic branch, design can come from nature, from house and home, or from a dream.  The great thing about the internet is the amount of inspiration allowed to quilters.  Ever hear of pinterest?  You can get lost there.  Seriously, the 10th Mountain Division might be needed to find you at some point.  LOL.

Another great way to have quilty fun online is to join a block of the month or quilt along group.  Over at Sew Fresh Quilts, a quilt group is starting a great project called an Oblongagonalong.  Hexagons can be one of the hardest quilt patterns to sew, because of the inset Y seam, but this great project looks like it will bring me past my fear of anything but straight seams!  Want to join in?  Just click on the Oblongagonalong gadget over on the right sidebar.

Pictures to come.......

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Modern Hexagon Baby Quilt, Part 1

For Christmas, I was in a Secret Santa swap, and received this beautiful Citrus Marbles charm pack by Moda.  

I knew as soon as I saw the charm pack exactly what I wanted to make.  I had in my stash a half hexagon template from Missouri Star Quilt Company, and was itching to use it.  I took off to Pinterest to find some inspiration, and spotted an unusual layout on hexagon floor tile.  That’s it!  I started to cut the charms into half hexagons.  The easy way is to line up the smaller edges of the template with the charm square, and cut down the center of the charm.  Then cut off the small triangles on each side.

Once you’ve cut all the charms, start laying out your design.  I have a design wall by Fons & Porter, which is a great tool.  After a few tries, I settled on this pattern.  I love how it flows from light to dark, and light to heavy. 

Turning to my white stash, I realized I only had enough yardage in a thin muslin – off to my local quilt shop!  Thankfully KC Framing and Fabrics had white Kona in stock.  For this design, I needed 9 2.5 by WOF strips.  A jelly roll would have been easier, if I had one on hand.  I cut 90 half hexagons out of the strips, then cut 17 of those in half to form the edges.   

If you're right handed, the easy way to cut a template out of strips is to lay your template on the right hand side of the strip (I always lay the selvage on the right) and cut off the right hand side.

Once you have the right side cut off, flip the entire strip of fabric around so the cut side is on your left.  Now cut each section, flipping the template as you go.

Once everything was cut (finally!!!), I laid out the white half hexagons on the design wall, and stepped back.  For now, I love it.  If I feel the same tomorrow, it's off to the sewing machine!!

Part 2:  Sewing all those hexagons together, the easy way!