Busy Bee and New Quilting Gadget Discovery

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Since I last posted, the fire that I posted photos of spread, well, like wildfire, causing our neighbors in the two communities immediately south of us to be evacuated.  Fortunately there were no homes lost in those two areas, but the fire burned right up to many of the homes.  The community even further south, on the other side of Lake Nacimiento where the fire started, lost 49 homes.  My prayers go out to those poor people.  My pastor, who is a volunteer firefighter with our local department, his wife and 15 year old daughter opted to not evacuate their home, but brought their youngest daughter and horses to my community to stay at a friend’s ranch.  The friend, Delani, was looking for ways to entertain her daughter, Cheyene, on the left, and the pastor’s daughter, Abigail, on the right, so I invited them all over to make a project at my house.  The pillows the girls are holding are the results of the day’s efforts.  It goes to show, when the going get’s tough, the quilters get quilting.  Both girls picked out their own fabric, and you can probably tell that they are both horse crazed.  Cheyene even competes in local rodeos.

I had been messing around with Jodi Barrows Square-in-a-Square system, which I recently purchased since I am the Queen of Quilting Gadgets, and I stumbled across Jodi’s easy way to basically make a frame around a feature fabric.  I did all the cutting, but the girls did the rest.  I think they came out really cute.  Definitely a great project to do for a gift.

I am really loving Jodi’s ruler system.  It is incredibly versatile.  I wish I had looked into it more previously.  I could have saved a lot of money on buying specialty rulers that only do one quilting component like triangle in a square, diamond in a square, flying geese and of course square in a square.  I have separate rulers for each of these, plus more!

Following my three- month adventure with my doggie art quilt which I posted about previously, I decided I wanted to do something simple.  So I made this baby quilt totally out of leftovers in my stash.

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Once again, I used the Square-in-a-Square ruler to make the pinwheels which come out already trimmed and squared up when you finish sewing them.  Love it!

I also completed this snail trail quilt using the system.  It’s been on my UFO list since I got my new ruler back in May. It was the first project I started using my new ruler for, so I was ready to be done with it.

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The four patches are made from a fall themed strip exchange that we did at last November’s quilt guild retreat.  I really wanted to make it bigger, but I ran out of the brown fabric.  I thought I had found some more of it on line and ordered it, but when it came, it was 4 shades darker than the original, so I just gave up and made the border with the green that was in my stash.  It now awaits quilting and binding.  The quilt guild meeting where it is due as my UFO for this month isn’t until Monday night, so no sweat.  Hahaha.

This coming Friday is our local quilt show at the 120 year old Hall in one of the communities that was evacuated.  It too survived the fire unscathed.  The quilt show is just a showcase for local quilters and vintage quilts made by people associated with this area.

As an ending note, the wildfire I spoke of is over and the evacuees went home last weekend.  It’s wonderful to be able to breathe smoke free air again and not have ash covering every outdoor surface.  The firefighters are heros for saving so many homes!

This and That

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Maybe I should spend a little less time quilting and a little more time making sure summer squash harvesting is getting done….Nahhh.  These guys really were hidden and totally escaped both my husband’s and my notice.  They are too heavy to wear as bracelets, but will go really well in zucchini bread.  A friend of mine also just gave me a recipe using shredded zucchini in lieu of flour for a pizza crust.  It sounded intriguing and will be worth a try.

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This is the first day of the “Chimney” fire just a few miles from our house.  It’s called the Chimney fire because it started near a landmark called Chimney Rock.  Many homes have been lost.  The fire has been burning for a week now and as of this morning has consumed 15,439 acres and is only 35% contained.  Cal Fire says that they are concerned that Hearst Castle is now threatened.  We have a lot of friends who live in the path of the fire to the north, but the fire remains on the southwest side of Lake Nacimiento at this point and hopefully won’t cross the narrows of the Nacimiento River, which is what it was threatening to do yesterday.  It seems it is moving more in a westerly direction, which is good news for most.

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In one of those good news/bad news situations, My friend and I have been making the above signature quilt for a 16 year-old girl from our church who was shot in the head twice two weeks ago.  It was a gang shooting and she was riding in a car with someone whom she shouldn’t have been with.  One of the bullets went in her eye and the other shattered her cheekbone.  Everyone in the church immediately started praying for her.  The family was told that she wouldn’t survive the first night, and if she did, she would be a vegetable.  Two days later they removed the bullets from her head and did their best to save her eyeball.  There are several bone fragments buried deep in her brain that they can’t remove without doing more damage.  The good news is the next day after the surgery, she was texting her friends and up walking around.  Because she knew sign language, the doctors tried testing her cognitive capacity by asking her to sign the alphabet.  When she did that perfectly, they asked her to sign the alphabet backwards, which she was also able to do.  It’s really a miracle.

Instead of making the traditional signature quilt, I dug out my old X-block ruler from Patricia Pepe, which I hadn’t used in several years and made the tweaked blocks seen above.   I dug through my scrap bins and stash to find the happiest fabrics we could.  We are now gathering signatures and words of encouragement for her.  Even though things are going well, it will still be a long road both physically and emotionally for her.  We wanted her to have something tangible that she could hang on to to reminder her that there are a lot of people who love her and are praying for her.

 

Creating a Dog From Scratch Can Be Ruff

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I have not forgotten about blogging over the last few months, but boy, have I been busy.  In May, I flew back to Delaware to visit my east coast partner in quilting crime, my sister-in-law, Mary of stitchinggrandma fame.  We had the opportunity to go on a four day retreat with Cheryl Lynch, www.cheryllynchquilts.blogspot.com,  at her lake house in the Poconos to learn how to take a photograph of our pet and turn it into a quilt.  I don’t normally do art type quilts mainly because I like to stick with bed sized quilts and I simply don’t have any wall space to hang an art quilt.  But I am game to try anything once, and besides, I wanted to have a quilting adventure with Mary.  In addition I figured that I could make a pillow top out of the completed project.  So I sent off the above photo of our dear Rottweiler, Fannie Mae von Nubbinwagger who passed on at the ripe old age of 12 around 2003.   My first clue that this was too large for a pillow top should have been the fact that we were requested to bring a 56 inch square design wall!   Indeed, the project ended up being 56 or so inches square without borders. Cheryl had us overlay our photo with a grid overlay, and following the grid, make 2 inch squares of fabric.  Sounds easy enough; right?  Well, not quite.  On top of many of those 2 inch squares, other little pieces of fabric needed to be added to make up the details of that particular grid square.  Some of the pieces I used ended up having up to 8 additional fabrics on the little square.

Here is a photo of the end product, minus the binding which I’m still working on.
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I just love the way it came out, but was it ever a lot of work.  I have literally worked on nothing else, except for longarm quilting a quilt for a friend, since I got home just before Memorial Day.  I dreamed about this project.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how I was going to achieve a particular effect that I wanted.  I emailed Cheryl and whined when things weren’t turning out the way I expected. (By the way, Cheryl is a wonderful and patient teacher.  I recommend her Pet Mosaic class if you ever have the opportunity.  We were treated like queens at her home.)  I continually asked my dear husband’s (Quilter’s Support Staff) opinion.  I remade the nose three times.  I totally redid the eyes four times.  I remade the eyebrows once.  I was worried I would make a mess of the actual quilting. I agonized over some of the fabric choices.  It was like being in labor for three months.  It was worth it, but I suspect that making art quilts will go the way of paper piecing in my mind.  Never again.  I saw, I learned, I did, I redid.  I’m done!  I am glad I did it though.  It was a real challenge and helped me develop some skills that will come in handy in other quilting projects.

Here are a couple of closeups of the quilting that wasn’t nearly as challenging as I made it out to be in my mind.  The hardest part was remembering which direction the fur on Rottweilers lays because we lost our last one 5 years or so ago so I didn’t have one to pet.

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When I quilted the nose, I couldn’t see the thread on the fabric so I ended up going over the same spot several times trying to make a pebble effect.  The pebbles came out really well on the mustache area that you can see in the last photo, though, maybe because I got so much practice on the nose?

Now that this project is done, I can go sweep the cobwebs off the walls all over the house that have been ignored for so long, and maybe I can blog a little more often.

Old Time Fun & Quilting Too

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Last Saturday, our little rural community held it’s 11th annual Dutch Oven Dinner where everything from chili verde to cinnamon rolls is cooked in dutch ovens.  Well, the one exception is the homemade ice cream.  This year there were over 100 different dutch ovens going.  The cooks start preparing around noon and dinner is served around 4.  It is a fascinating process to watch.  The photo above shows some of the guys getting the charcoal ready to go.  Once the charcoal is ready, it is transferred to a metal bucket, and taken around to the cooking stations, where a few coals are placed under the dutch ovens and a few are placed on top.  The tops have a little lip all the way around that keeps the charcoal in place.  There are specialized tools to lift the lids to stir or check on the food cooking inside.  The piece of metal under each oven is a part of an old plow.dutch oven 3

This is a photo of a few of the ovens cooking away.  When the coals start disintegrating into ash, more is brought around to keep things going. It’s amazing that a half dozen pieces of charcoal is enough to thoroughly cook a dish.

The great entertainment doesn’t stop at watching the cooks at work at this event.  There are also all sorts of old time craft demonstrations.  This year there was several blacksmiths manning their forge, a couple of Native American drummers doing traditional drum chants, gold panning, and there were even two restored chuck wagons that had been set up as if they were an actual campsite.  The one in the photo below was actually used in the ’50s TV series Rawhide and belongs to one of the founding families in the area.

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Last, but in my mind, not least, for the first time, I was asked to do a quilting demonstration.  Below is a photo of my area while we were setting up.  I am in the red shirt, and the incredibly handsome gentleman in front is my wonderful husband, or as he called himself, the Quilter’s Support Staff.

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The other lady is a quilting student of mine who agreed to help out, and later in the day another lady from our local quilting group came and demonstrated hand quilting and sold raffle tickets for the hand quilted scholarship quilt that our group made.  My intention was to demonstrate the versatility of half-square triangles.  The blocks hung on the design wall all have HSTs in them and look totally different from one another.  In reality, I ended up demonstrating how to make 4-patches and 9-patches to beginning quilters and wannabe quilters.  I was pleased to be able to encourage several people to hang in there or to look into actually taking a class.  More advanced quilters also stopped by the booth, and we had a great time discussing our passion for quilting.  My husband amazed and amused me because when I was busy with other people, he was actually using the pieces I had made to demonstrate the 4-patch to show other interested people how to make them.  He truly is the best Quilter’s Support Staff that I could have.

All the money raised at this event goes to build a rural life museum featuring the history and founding of this area. A good time had by all, and I can’t wait until next year.

Stitching Outside the Lines

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At my local quilt guild retreat last fall, we had a strip exchange of 2 1/2 inch strips in fall colors.  I have been working on a quilt utilizing those strips that is a simple four-patch and half-square triangle design.  The above photo is some of the paired strips I had  left over after making all the four patches.  Originally, I just tossed them in my little bin that holds all 2 1/2 inch pieces to be used in future projects….then I got to thinking…what if????

What if I cut the paired strips so that they formed 4 1/2 inch squares and then stack two squares on top of each other right sides together and make a half-square triangle out of them.  Since I evidently can never have enough half square triangles in my quilting life, I decided to try it.  Here is the result:

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Very interesting.  Then I squared them up to 3 1/2 inches and started cutting up more paired strips and making HSTs out of them.  I tried putting them together in a few directions, but really liked this one the best.
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If you look carefully, you can see the outer pieces  give a mitered corner effect.

Here is what happens when I put another set of four next to the original set:

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I can imagine if you used fewer patterns with maybe a little more contrast that this might make an interesting quilt top.  In the above photo, if I had used a different fabric in the middle, then the tiny HSTs would have formed a more distinct windmill look.  Food for thought for future messing around with this technique.

As a disclaimer, I’m sure someone else must have tried this before, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  It’s a great way to use up leftovers or even to try a more planned look.  Have fun playing.

 

More projects finished and unfinished

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A continuation of my “Back In The Saddle” post from the other day, here are a couple of other projects that I’ve finished in the last few months.  The one above really should have gone at the head of “Back In The Saddle” since it is a cowboy themed quilt.  I only had to purchase the border and binding fabric to make this one….so that made it free!  Hahaha.  It is going to be donated to be raffled in a scholarship fundraiser for some of the local kids.  I named it “Happy Trails”.  The back fabric is a print of cattle.

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This one has been on the back burner for about 4 years, every since I purchased the pattern.  I searched high and low for just the right bird fabric to go into the bird houses since I wanted a realistic feel to it rather than whimsical that the pattern called for.  I finally found it when I was blessed to be able to go to the Houston Quilt Show nearly 3 years ago.  All of the birds were in one panel, the perfect size and just what I was looking for.  I tried to use prints of actual “building” materials, although the basketweaves are only good for building bird houses or bee skeeps, and I don’t know many people that actually use bricks to build bird houses, but realism does have its limits.  When I went searching for the background fabric, I was aiming for cloudy skies, then ran across this cloudy sky fabric with mallards flying around…perfect!  Not sure how visible it is in this photo.  I never realized how difficult it was to find fabric that resemble flowers climbing on a trellis.  I did the best I could with what I could find.  I particularly like the brown, bare branches that reminded me of a princess under a spell sleeping in her castle and thorn bushes growing up the walls to keep the handsome prince from rescuing her.  Okay, so I had to have some whimsy.

The last project is as yet unfinished.  Every year I raffle off a custom made to order quilt to benefit one of the ministries that our church is involved in.  This year’s winner was…wait for it… the PASTOR’S MOTHER!  Really, the drawing wasn’t fixed, and she being a magnificent quilter in her own right, gave the prize to the pastor’s wife, who truly deserves this special treat for all that she does for everyone else.  She picked out the center panel, and I purchased the other fabrics and then got her approval on the colors.  I’m not going to let her see it any further than that until it is presented to her.  Here is a photo of the progress so far.

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She really wanted me to include some sort of a trellis pattern in the quilt, so the interwoven border is what I came up with.  It took me two weeks to assemble it.  What a royal pain!  I only had a drawing from the internet that showed little squares representing the placement of the pieces, so had to figure it out from that.  I am really proud of myself for being able to pull this off since math is a struggle for me, even with a calculator.  Each piece of the puzzle was only two inches squared up, an inch and a half finished and included dozens of the dreaded Half-Square Triangles that I keep swearing I will never make again.  If anything was out of order, it had to be torn out and redone, so I placed each itsy-bitsy piece in order on my design wall, and pieced each tiny row one row at a time, placing them back in position on the wall when finished.  When it came to turning the corners and making it all come out perfectly, I was tearing my hair out.  It took me two days to figure it out.  Fortunately, I didn’t sew any rows together until I had them all assembled.  The sides came out to be the perfect length, but I just couldn’t make the top and bottom work until I figured out to put a tiny strip of the yellow on either side of the panel to make it come out just right.  What a challenge.

The blue strip on the left will be the next plain border, then I’m considering putting in a ribbon border made with the yellow, green and brown since it needs more brown.  Once again, I only have a drawing to go by, so we’ll see.  I intend to also make a square-in-a-square border with the leftover flowered stripe that is in the third border out and a diamond-in-a-square border with the diamonds pointing to the top and bottom.  Then the last border will be a companion stripe that matches the panel with the flowers and bluebirds.  The quilt will be a large queen when finished…if I survive the math.

This last photo is of the glorious Lady Banks roses that are giving their all in spite of the fact that my darling hubby butchered them in early January after I asked him not to.  Just because they were bending the wire fence they are growing on to the ground was no excuse for pruning them at the wrong time of year.  I thought there would be hardly any blossoms at all since they bloom on the previous year’s growth and only one time a year at that.  What a pleasant surprise and now I suppose I can let him move back in from the doghouse…for now.002

 

Back In The Saddle again

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Spring is here in the Central Coast of California.  We were blessed so far with near normal rainfall this rainy season after years of severe drought.  This photo of the wisteria over our patio is the best bloom we’ve had in years.  The honey bees are having a heyday buzzing about the gorgeous blossoms.

Spring is one of the reasons why my poor blog has been ignored for the last few months.  I’ve been busy with getting the garden cleaned up, including pruning around 60 rosebushes and 24 fruit trees.  Also we have trays of tomato seedlings that will be ready to go in the garden in another 6 weeks or so.  I still have to get the other vegetables ready to go in.  Time is running out.  It always seems time is running out.  Since I’m the volunteer bookkeeper for the little country church that we belong to, I’ve also been busy getting the end of the year/tax season chores dealt with as well as our personal tax information.  But that is all finished and I can return to the “normal” chaos.

Don’t think I have ignored my quilting though!  I have started and finished several projects in the last few months.  This is a photo of the table topper and the back of it that I made for my quilting buddy’s birthday.  She loves her “girls” as she’s named her chickens.

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I also finished the Half Square Triangle Hell quilt that I was complaining about earlier.  Here is a photo of the ho-hum original block, and the blockbuster secondary pattern that one gets in the finished product (the pattern is called Joanne’s Quilt).002002

One of the other projects that I worked on was making an eight foot by 4 foot banner at the request of the local Episcopal church’s vicar.  I forgot to take a photo of it after it was finished, but here is a photo of it partially done pinned horizontally on the design wall.  There are 3 of the Celtic crosses evenly spaced over the 8 foot length and it is bordered all the way around in black.005

There are several more projects that I have done, but now I’ve got to get back to getting chores done so I can spend the rest of the day working on another medallion quilt that has me stumped as to which pieced border to add next.

Learning new skills

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Well, I now have my first medallion quilt under my belt and am loving the way it has turned out.  I bought the peacock fabric and companion stripes that appear in the 6th and 9th border four years ago on a trip to Pennsylvania’s Amish country.  I also got the peacock feathers and the teal and gold fabrics at the same time, and I’ve been waiting for just the right pattern to come along to inspire me to cut into the peacock, which was a print rather than a panel.  I finally found the pattern that you see above that is by Marie Bostwick and Deb Tucker (the designer of the set of specialty rulers that I’m always touting because they make my life so much simpler and productive).

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go on my local quilt guild’s 4-day retreat, and I was excited to get the peacock quilt done.  My first problem with it was the peacock and accompanying flower design was much larger than the fabric used in the original pattern, so the oval template provided simply wouldn’t work with my print.  The Monday before the retreat was our monthly guild meeting, and as things worked out, our speaker showcased several of her award winning quilts with ovals included in them, so I asked her if she had a formula for figuring out how to cut a perfect oval.  She did not have an answer for me.  Evidently she does hers by the seat of her pants and is much more skilled than I am.  Next I asked the person that I was convinced knows absolutely everything about quilting, but alas, for the first time since I’ve known her, she couldn’t tell me the answer.  So Super-Hubby to the rescue.  I was explaining my issue to him, and he went to the computer and  found two how-to videos on how to make a perfect oval that both used the same easy technique!  What a wonderful quilter’s husband I have.  I’m attaching the links to both videos.  The first one I thought was a little easier to understand, but the second one has a better visual, so if you’re interested you might want to watch both of them.  The second one, I just moved the bar past the goofiness until they actually started showing the technique.  They are both about a minute or so long.

So on Tuesday, we went outside and I made my oval on freezer paper, which I ironed to the back of the peacock design I wanted to use, and then used my usual applique technique to finish the edges, and by the time I left for retreat on Thursday, I had a little over a third of it hand stitched onto the gold background.  I figured, how long could it possibly take to throw a few borders on it, so I packed 4 other projects that I wanted to try to get done.  Evidently it takes a long time to put 9 borders on when 3 of them are pieced borders and two of them are mitered, because I finally finished getting border number 7 on just in time to pack up and head home on Sunday afternoon.  I never even touched my other projects.  And I wasn’t goofing off, but hardly left my work area to check in with what others were doing.  But when you think about it, with 3 pieced borders, I probably made enough pieces to make up a twin sized quilt.  And the pieced borders created another issue.  Since my center medallion was larger than the pattern, when I made the pieces for the borders to the pattern specifications they didn’t fit perfectly.  So my friends Holly and Debby came to the rescue and helped me figure out how to position coping strips to make the borders look good.  I especially love that Debby came up with the idea on the 7th border to use Deb Tucker’s “Corner Beam” ruler to make the corner pieces in that border along with coping strips to make them fit perfectly.  I think it adds an unexpected element, but turns the corners nicely yet doesn’t draw too much attention to themselves.  I also want to thank Holly for the refresher course on how to do the mitered borders.

Saturday night, we had a show & tell.  I had two of the border #7 s on the quilt and it was hanging on the design wall in the main workroom where I was assigned.  There was another small group of quilters in a more remote building who brought their projects down to the dining room next to my workroom for show and tell.  Just as we were finishing up show and tell, the fire alarm went off and we smelled something like toast burning.  Against all rules that you hear about from fire marshals, I ran into the workroom and grabbed my peacock off the wall and the box with the rest of the fabric in it and slept with it in my room that night.  As it turns out a member of the staff was cooking a tortilla over an open flame and it caught fire, so it was much ado about nothing, but I was NOT going to let all my hard work go up in flames.  Don’t try this at home.  Okay, I’m a bad, bad girl.

Even though I didn’t get my other projects done, I had a great time with a great bunch of ladies.  If you’ve always been afraid to try an oval, I encourage you to watch the videos and give it a try.  The worse thing that can happen is you mess up a few pieces of paper.  I am simply terrible at math, and had to do the oval twice because the first one I made didn’t turn out big enough.  It’s worth the time and trouble when you get great results.  I’m glad I didn’t cut up the peacock fabric into a one block wonder as I was tempted to do several times over the years.

Happy Quilting.

Scrap Dance Top Done

A few months ago, I signed up to do a mystery quilt Quilt Along at the blog From My Carolina Home.  (https://frommycarolinahome.wordpress.com/)  It was supposed to be finished by September, and I couldn’t figure out why it was taking me so long to complete mine.  I was following the directions to make a twin sized quilt, and it seemed like there were just an endless number of pieces to cut and sew together.  Once I started putting blocks up on the design wall, I figured out why it was taking forever.  The directions actually made a queen sized quilt!

Here is a close up of one of the blocks, showing that I ended up using two different background fabrics because I ran out of the swirly looking one about two-thirds into the project.  Fortunately, I had two fabrics with very similar colors in my stash.  The rest of the quilt was made totally from scraps, and even though there are so many pieces, it didn’t even make a dent in my scrap bins.

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Here is a photo of the completed top:

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I just love how this quilt turned out.  It was worth all the effort put into it, including having to tear out one row of one of the blocks after the top was completed because the HSTs in that row were facing the wrong direction and ruined the pattern in that section.  At least I found it before it was quilted and bound.

Still knocking names for it around in my head.  One is “No Kitchen Sink” and another is “Quiltaholic goes Scrap Happy”, but we’ll see.  Now I have to go back to half square triangle hell (see 1280 HSTs on the wall post previously) that I took a break from a couple of weeks ago in order to complete this top.  So, stand by, I might actually finish that quilt soon.  One can always hope.

Easy Pineapple Block with no Paper Piecing

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As promised, I’m sharing what I learned in a recent class on making Pineapple blocks without the dreaded paper piecing.  The dimensions used in the class make a 14 inch block.

To make the feathered portions, you will need to first make four Triangle-in-a-Square or V-blocks using your favorite method, either the Tri-Recs rulers or Deb Tucker’s V-block Trimmer.  These should be squared up to 6 inches.  After they are squared, place the V towards your left on the cutting mat.

006 Cut this piece in half as shown so that you end up with two 3 inch pieces

 

007 Cut each half into half again so that you end up with four 1 1/2 inch pieces

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To make the feather, flip each of the pieces 180 degrees.  I used pieces that I had already cut from other V-block units because I am going for a scrappy look.  The top of the photo shows the cut pieces before they are flipped and the bottom of the photo shows the pieces after they are flipped.009 Sew the four pieces together, being careful to not make the mistake I made several times of sewing the wrong two edges together.  You will end up with four feather units like in the photo below.010 Next, you will want to make your centers, which are just quarter square triangles.  Make two half-square triangle units using four different fabrics (if you are going for a scrappy look).  Square up the HSTs to 6 1/2 inches, then cut them in half diagonally.004Using one piece from each of the HSTs, sew them together making a 6 inch quarter square triangle. 005 Now all you need is four 4 1/2 inch squares to complete your block.011 If you like you can use a 6 inch square of feature fabric in the center instead of the quarter square triangle or just one piece of coordinating fabric, which makes this block even more simple. 012 Some of the quilters in the class used a limited palette of colors.  For instance, one used teals and grays, and her quilt promised to be stunning.  I hope you have fun trying out this easy method.  If you are intimated by the idea of making a V-block or don’t know how to do it, I recommend you go to Deb Tucker’s website at this link: http://www.studio180design.net/videos/?id=5 and watch her video on the tool that she developed.  I used to be intimated too, but found her tool extremely easy to use, and now I make V-blocks (or triangle-in-a-square) like a pro.  Just so you know, I am in no way affliated with Deb Tucker nor do I receive any compensation of any type for talking about her products.  I just happen to really like them and want to help make challenging units easier for my loyal readers.