Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mystery solved

It's time for the big reveal. So here is how all the pieces go together, Well, my pieces.

I do recall that I had you cut some extra half square triangles of the light background fabric.  No you don't need to correct me.  I recall that I had you cut too many.  Again sorry about that.  BUT if you would like, and  if you happen to have more coordinating scraps, (and who doesn't?) you could use them for an additional piece border like I did here.   If you would like to add the extra pieced border, you will need a total of 56 half-square triangle units from 3 7/8 inch triangles, and 4 dark squares 3 1/2" for the corners.
My original plans were to simply add another plain border and be done with it like I've shown here.

 Of course the center of your stars may be different and you may alternate centers if you've done both options. And because I am all about options, instead of Thirtysomething units in the corners you could just use 4 light background squares like I've shown here.

Now I just need to decide if I like it best with another plain border or not. And do I have the courage to use some jazzy thread on that white background?

Well, I had fun, I hope you did, too.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A clue with an option

Do you ever feel like you are being bombarded with ideas for quilts? It happens to me all the time and I just have to share. That's what I do.  I call this quilt “It’s Getting Late”.  It’s from my book Thirtysomething, too!  I really like these stars and always thought that I would make another quilt with these stars, but rather than arranging the stars the way I did, I thought I would alternate light stars and dark stars and use a completely different style of fabric.  That quilt has been on my to do list for probably 10 years now.

The stars in this quilt were made using some of the same units that we’ve made for the mystery quilt.  I was reminded of this quilt when I played a little with my pieces for the mystery quilt.  I have to admit I never thought to color the stars scrappy like this.

Have you tried different arrangement of the pieces to see what designs you might come up with? I’ll give you a clue.  I thought that I could follow the directions for the quilt I planned without presenting any options.  I find that very difficult to do, so here are your options. You need to join 4 Thirtysomething units to make the centers for 9 stars. 

Option 1 is the easiest and that is to make four-pointed stars.
Option 2 is to sew the units together with the points in the center. 
Option 3 is to make 4 of Option 1 and 5 of Option 2.

I have no preference when it comes to pressing the seam allowances.  My general rule is to press in the direction of least resistance, and sometimes I press the seams open.  That’s what I’ve done here.

Here’s one more quick step.  Sew together pairs of a half square triangles units to make flying geese units with the light background as the geese.
That's it for now. Boy, keeping you in suspense like this has been fun. Next week will be the big reveal with one more option!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wrinkles impossible to iron out

We had a fabulous time in Pennsylvania visiting my sister and her husband and seeing the quilt shows. And I finally got Carol’s quilt back to her.  Our luggage was delayed, so she didn’t get to see it till the morning after we arrived. I’m pretty sure she was happy with it. I got it quilted in January, and finally put the binding on it last week.  Rather than ship it out ahead, I packed it in our suitcase.  That left lots of room for my purchases on our return flight.

The show was at the new convention Center in downtown Lancaster.  What a beautiful building.  And yes the quilts were beautiful too, of course.  Most of the quilts were not in a style that I would do yet I found plenty of inspiration in all of them. I'm glad I wasn't the judge. The show was spread out over 3 floors.  That was fine, but I didn’t care for the arrangement of the quilts and vendor booths.  Very scattered, in fact, I think I missed a short row.  Halfway through the day we went down the street 2 blocks to the quilt and textile Museum.  (The photo below shows the ceiling in one of the rooms, a former bank and 2 favorite quilts from the show.)  I thought it should have been called the quilt and Christmas museum.  The only textiles I saw there were quilts, but I loved the Christmas display.  I thought it would be a display of Christmas quilts but it was really rooms set up decorated for Christmas over the last century ...
The show at the Host by Quilter's Rule was small, but nice - couldn't get lost. The quilt exhibit by Mary Kerr was great. She challenged quilters to use an antique block in a 24" quilt. 6 different times. 80 of the quilts were there. I loved it, so I got her book, A Quilt Block Challenge, Vintage Revisited.  Parts of the exhibit are traveling, so if you get the chance, try to see it.  We never made it across the street to the other hotel to see the vendors or the Quilts of Valor exhibit. She decided a visit to the doctor was more important.

On Saturday, the guys took us at our request to the Train Museum in Strasburg. Then we went to Weaver's Dry Goods and Eldreth Pottery. I think we should start there next time. Maybe even next year.
Before we left, I was determined to get a good shot of our wrinkles. So we spent Sunday morning before our flight with our cameras hitting the delete button. Now, if only we could delete those wrinkles. I guess the cheapest option to minimize mine is to add a little weight to fill out my face and smooth them out a bit.

 All the hassles at the airport both going and returning were nearly enough to discourage me from flying there again.  Our flight from Milwaukee to Detroit was canceled so the airline sent us in a limousine to catch a flight out of Chicago on a different airline.  We arrived on schedule but the luggage didn't show up till 3 am.  Our return flight departed on time, but our flight out of Chicago was delayed because of thunderstorms.  The flight was changed 4 times and the gates was changed 4 times.  Even then we sat on the runway in the plane for half an hour . We arrived home about 2 ½ hours late. I guess it could’ve been worse. It could have been a business trip where I needed my luggage for a program.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New to you?

Is the Thirtysomething unit new to you? It may look like a common patchwork unit based on a four-patch, but it uses 30 degree angles instead. If you are working on the mystery, you have already cut the pieces.   The three pieces in a Thirtysomething unit I have labeled A, B, and C.  The kite-shaped piece in the center (patch C) is trimmed square after it is sewn. I hope after you cut the A and B triangles you took the time to stack the A triangles and B triangles in separate piles. Trust me, it can be confusing if you don’t.
Before sewing the Thirtysomething units, check that you are stitching a scant 1/4" seam allowance. Test it by stitching three 1 ½" x 5" scraps together on the long edges. The middle piece should then measure 1" exactly. Adjust your seam allowance till it is!

Place an A triangle and C triangle right sides together,  matching tips precisely. Start stitching at the broad end of the C triangle rather than at the point.  This will place the smaller A triangle underneath. Don't be concerned that you will be sewing through a single layer of fabric (patch C) for an inch or so. You will notice that the C triangle points in both directions. That means sometimes you will start stitching the patch at a 90degree corner and sometimes that corner is a 60 degree angle. Remember, this is the corner that will be trimmed square after sewing the three triangles together.

  The seam allowance must be pressed toward the A triangle for proper alignment of the B triangle.  Hold the point straight while pressing to avoid curving the seams.  Press carefully to avoid tucks, particularly at the point.  Remember, do not trim the point until after the B triangle is sewn on. The point is needed to align the B triangle.

 Add a B triangle, carefully matching the raw edges of all three layers at the narrow points. Start stitching at the broad end of the C triangle. The small B triangle will now be on top. Press the seam towards the B triangle. Hold the point straight while pressing.

Most likely you will want to try a few before you set up any chain piecing. After you get the idea, you will end up making 40 Thirtysomething units and get pretty good at it.

A few suggestions:
Pair all the A and C triangles right sides together, offsetting them ½". This will allow you to check that pieces are indeed  RST and that you are using the correct piece. If you are not you will see the square corner of the small triangle instead of the  60degree corner.

Flip and stitch broad end in first. A lot of times in classes the gals will somehow spin the pieces so the broad end is in first with the small triangle on top and then by mistake they sew on the wrong edge of the small triangle.  So, as you pick up each pair and flip them to sew with the small triangle on the bottom, check that you always stitch the long bias edge of the small triangle to the C triangle.

Squaring Up
    Use an ordinary square quilter's ruler and position it on the unit so the edges of the A and B triangles are aligned with the 3 ½ " lines of the ruler. The inner point of the C triangle should be at 3 1/4".  Center the broad end of the C triangle in the opposite corner of the square. (The 1 3/8" mark on the ruler should meet the seams at the edges of the 3" unit.)  Trim the C triangle and any excess fabric adjacent to it. Finally trim the points.

The Thirtysomething Square Up tool was designed to trim Thirtysomething units that finish either 3" or 4" including seam allowances. IF you are using this nifty tool, simply align the angled lines marked 3" with the seam lines of the Thirtysomething unit and trim everything extending beyond the edges. Then, rotate the Thirtysomething unit and tool to square up the unit to 3 ½", trimming the points and any excess fabric.

I've only made about a million of these things, so I think I have ironed out all the kinks. Literally, I have made over 70 quilts with these units. I occasionally hear from teachers that want to make the pieces bigger somehow to allow for the gals with wider seam allowances.  They invariably change the angle and things don't line up as well then.  I think this is a great opportunity to learn the importance of a scant 1/4" seam allowance. I hope you agree. Happy quilting.


Monday, March 14, 2011

A pleasant valley Sunday or Monday

Just another pleasant day down here in the valley known where I live as Skunks Misery. It's spring. I've heard the robins all week and I finally saw one this morning. The red-wing blackbirds are back to the marsh across the street and the geese have been heading north for 2 weeks. That's my definition of spring anyways.

I forgot. Last week between trips to the hospital for my neighbor I made this little top. The little ones sure go together quickly.  No wonder they are so popular. I have a spot on my sewing room wall that needs a few little quilts. This is number 2. The Whig's Rose was number 1. We have been in this house 18 years and they finally got to the top of the list. I have space for 4 and I haven't planned the next 2 yet.

This is my busy season. Now and Fall.  I have to get ready for classes coming up, especially Quilt Festival in Cincinnati in April. Also I am off to Pennsylvania on Wed. for the quilt shows in Lancaster. One by AQS and the other by Quilter's Rule. I'm really looking forward to those, cause I am not working.  It's going to be great. Or at least it better be. I need the break.

Tomorrow is comfort quilting at church. Any photos from that will have to wait till I get back from Lancaster.
Look for the next step in our mystery on Thursday as usual.  I understand I should be able to schedule the post to appear as desired. Like magic. Aren't computers fun?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The next step

I haven’t been able to sew much this week as I’ve spent a lot of time at the hospital with my elderly neighbor.  She’s home now and I hope things get back to normal soon. So I’ll get right to the next step in our Thirtysomething mystery.

Before we do any more sewing, we need to finish cutting our 2 ½ inch medium and dark strips.  Keep the strips folded or paired wrong sides together.  Sub cut the strips into  4 1/4" rectangles then cut the pairs of rectangles in half diagonally just like you cut the C triangles.  Keeping the fabric wrong sides together when the rectangles are cut diagonally will automatically produce triangles and mirror image triangles.  Separate them into stacks with 60 of each.
To help mix up the scraps take about half of the triangles off the top of one pile and move it to the bottom of that same pile.

Using the triangles from the right side of the pile shown in the photo and the light rectangles that we trimmed last week, sew together one of each as shown.  To align the pieces for sewing, offset the half triangle so that it’s 60̊ corner creates a quarter inch wide triangle extending past the light background piece.  Press the seam allowance towards the dark triangle.  Repeat with all 24 light background pieces.

Take a triangle from the other pile and sew it to the opposite side of the light background rectangle.  Offset the half-triangle in the same way so that the 60̊ corner is sticking out 1/4".   I’m showing a pair of these flipped over because you want to sew them with the 60̊ corner going into the machine 1st.  So this is how they will look to you.
Repeat with all 24 light background pieces.  Again press the seam allowances toward the dark triangle.
After pressing, each of these units need to be trimmed to 3.5" x 6.5".  I usually just measure the width, because they were already cut 6 ½" and it was the width that was altered when the triangles were added.  You can measure and trim one unit at a time if you like or stack them up like I do.  I stack about 4 on top of each other lining up the long edge of the rectangle and offsetting them each perhaps by an inch.  Then I measure over 3 ½ inches from the long edge of the rectangle and trim the excess from the small triangles.

I hope you found that easy.  I guess that’s all until next week.  I have to start thinking about getting my taxes done.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

True Confessions

I have to admit I'm still laughing at something my husband told me the other day.  He said in the middle of the night, he had jumped up to look out the window to see what was making the noise he heard.  It didn't take long until he realized that it was me snoring! I have a hard time imagining that I sounded that bad, but then, he is a bit hard of hearing. Really.

Well, now I guess it's official.  I quilt for hire.  This is a picture of my 1st customer quilt.  Rita is one of the church ladies that I work on the comfort quilts with. She put these blocks together after she won them at a Crazy Quilters meeting. One of the activities of the guild is where everybody that is interested can make the block of the month and when they're turned in, only those who have made a block have a chance at winning all of them.  I don't know any more than that about this pattern, but it sure is cute.  The coordinator plans the colors. I just quilted it.  I would've had it done sooner if I hadn't run out of thread.

The Great Lakes Professional Longarm Machine Quilters Association met this week.  There wasn't much of a program, but I had a good time anyways.  2 of the new members that day were in the 1st quilting class I took 29 years ago.  After the meeting we went for all long lunch. As usual, they were after me to re-join the Crazy Quilters guild.
There was also a quilt club meeting this week at the Ben Franklin quilt shop. I don't participate in the block of the month, but I still enjoy going. Most of the talk was about the upcoming retreat.  I sure wish I could go with them.  Maybe next year.

Now for the mystery quilt.
I have another confession to make.  I made a boo-boo when I listed the cutting instructions. I was trying to decide between two patterns I wanted to offer for the mystery and by mistake I copied the cutting directions from the wrong file.  The 2 patterns were related so  I am able to make the adjustments needed and will make a note in that post that I've edited it.  The only thing that you should notice is that you have a few extra pieces and there might be a few extra seams. Very Sorry. So let's continue with cutting the rest of the light fabric.

From your remaining light fabric cut 4 squares, 6 1/2 inches.

From the 3 1/2 inch light strips, cut just 24 rectangles, 3.5" x 6.5".  2 corners of these rectangles need to be trimmed at a 30-60° angle.  There are 2 ways to accomplish this.  1st is to use the Clearview triangle 60° ruler. Warning: Not all equilateral triangle rulers measure the same way. Position the square corner of the rectangle along the center line of the ruler as shown below. Measure and cut off a 30 - 60 - 90° triangle 3 1/8 inches tall from two adjacent sides.

The other way is for those of you who do not have the ClearView triangle ruler.  You'll need to make a cutting guide to attach to the bottom of any straight edge ruler.  1st mark perpendicular lines on a piece of paper.  From the intersection of those two lines, measure up along one line 3 1/8" and mark a dot. Use the 30-60° line on your triangle ruler to draw a line from the dot back down to the horizontal line.  The length of the short edge of the triangle should be between 1 3/4 and 1 7/8 inches long. Use your scissors to cut out the paper triangle. Next align the long edge of the paper triangle to the edge of an index card. You can use tape to hold it in place while you cut along the other 2 edges of the triangle. Tape the edge of the index card to the edge of your straight edge ruler, as shown. To use this system the corner of the rectangles should fit inside the cardboard edges of the triangle.  Simply butt the fabric against both edges of the cardboard and cut along the rulers edge.

If the corners of these rectangles are cut correctly, you'll notice that you have a blunted tip at the 120° angle.

Also from the 3 1/2 inch strips, cut only 8 rectangles, 3.5" x 6.5".  The corners of these are NOT trimmed.

One more fussy cut from the 3 1/2 inch light background strips: Cut 20 rectangles, only 6" long. Cut these diagonally to make what I call C triangles. These triangles have 30-60-90° angles.

You can check the angle as you cut these rectangles in half by using the Clearview Triangle or the 60° line on your straight edge ruler. It's not a bad idea either. Often when I teach this, the rectangles are cut longer by mistake, and that changes the width of the angle. You'll need a total of 40 C triangles.

It's my guess that it probably took me longer to write this than it will for you to cut the pieces. Many interruptions tonight. Yes, I checked it over.

For those of you playing along, thanks for joining us. We'd all love to hear from you. And, please write if you have questions.