Thursday, February 21, 2013

Variation on Tumbling block

In the previous post, the quilt mentioned was made a couple decades ago.  This one, however, I've just finished for my son.  The pattern was based on a stack and whack concept, but it wasn't made exactly that way.   You cut 1/2 square triangles and squares only.  So, there are no "y" seams.  The pieces are sewn together using the strip piecing method.  This technique allows you to fussy cut the squares so that your theme fabric is not pieced.  I did not fussy cut my squares.   The finished size turned out to be 24"X26".   But, this can change dramatically if your squares and triangles are increased in size by just an inch or more, OR of course, adding more of these same size blocks.
squares = 36 novelty fabric =  3" square
triangles = 36 dark (black), 30 medium dark (grey), 30 medium light (coral), 36 light (red) = 3 1/2" cut squares, then cut in half on diagonal. 
Piece together with the square on point, sew on top left corner one dark triangle.  Bottom right corner sew on one medium dark triangle.  Top right corner sew on one light triangle and finally bottom left corner sew on one medium light triangle.  All the blocks are sewn in the same order, so line them up to strip piece one color at a time.  Cut apart and sew on the next color until all squares are finished.  You will need to square them up before sewing them into rows.  On your design wall, arrange the blocks to your own taste.   Sew blocks into rows and rows together to finish the top.  Add a border if desired. 

I bought a roll of "quilting made easy" paper to try it out.  Instead of safety pinning the sandwich, I had to go the old fashioned way and baste with needle and thread.   Attaching the first strip to the very middle was easy.  I sewed on the lines indicated from edge to edge and peeled off the paper.  The next two strips (one on top and one on the bottom) were placed on one at a time.  There was only a slight fudge factor.  If you've ever paper pieced, you know that tiny specs of paper can be left behind and be irritating to remove, but I like the ease of not having to concentrate on making my pattern exact by freehanding.  The designs used are easy continuous line designs.  The roses design was used on this quilt.  Though this block looks complicated it wasn't and only took me a week total to cut, construct AND quilt. If you know me, that is really fast.  ;o)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One Patch quilts

Innercity pattern taken from Quilter's Newsletter magazine 1985.  Fabric was purchased from a dime store for $1.29 per yard.  The muslin cost $0.79 per yard.   Wow, how times have changed! 
Almost 28 years ago, I made this 3 color wall size quilt called "Innercity".   It was 9 years later when I finally completed it. I cut templates out of gridded plastic and marked hundreds of trapezoids with a pencil and used a 1/4 inch seamer tool.  Then, I sewed each trapezoid by hand with "y" seams, joining 6 together to make one weird shaped block.  It was not an easy quilt to attempt for a beginner quilter.  In the beginner class, we made a 4 block sampler wall quilt, which took me 2 years to complete.  By the time all the blocks were sewn into rows which grew to almost 40 inches, I was getting tired of looking at it.  I started to worry about what to do with the edges. 

The magazine said to finish the edge with binding, not adding a border.  Isn't it funny how some instructions (even in mags printed today) get you so far and then leave you hanging for how to finish the top off.  Being a newbie to quilting I only thought that the sides needed squaring up to have straight edges.  So, I whacked off all 4 edges and added a 4" muslin border.  In those days, it was common to use a lot of muslin in quilts.  Teachers like to use muslin so that the quilting can show and allow them to see how well us students are creating the quilting stitch. Muslin was and still is the cheapest fabric you can buy, so if you mess up in any way it won't be a great loss to toss it away.  We were also required to use polyester batting which was thick stuff.  It's only plus was that for a beginner that is learning the art of hand quilting, the needle goes in and out very smoothly.   But there are many downsides.  One specific downer is that my teacher had us using the smallest quilting needle known to man and you were expected to get at least 10 stitches on that needle before pulling the thread through.  It was near impossible as I recall.   If you didn't quilt a bazillion stitches though, the finished quilt was thick and pillowy.  I was taught to use a hoop, but I always found this akward, so I learned to quilt with and without a hoop. 
I am proud of this quilt, mistakes and all, every quilt I make takes a journey.   I rarely do as I'm told in the instructions however, I seem to work it through one step at a time adding things or deleting somethings in the end I can call my quilts my own and not just a reproduction of something I found in a magazine, in a book or online.