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!

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.

 

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.

A Well-Deserved Lazy Day

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Yesterday was our little rural quilting group’s annual quilt show.  Sadly, the only photo I got was this one which is a peek into the Hall where we meet to quilt and learn from one another.  I was just so busy the whole day, that I didn’t even think of taking more photos.  The one you can see just inside the front door is the hand-quilted “Railroad Crossing” pattern that we worked on from last December till April.  It will be raffled off next month at the annual Country Faire that will be held at the Hall.  The proceeds go to the scholarship fund set up to benefit the kids in our community who choose to go on to higher education.

The Hall was built in the 1850s and first served as the Shiloh Baptist Church.  The first school in the area used to be across the street but is no longer there.  A group in our community have worked hard to preserve this wonderful little building where we have a myriad of community events including professional musicians coming in for concerts, a monthly potluck, art class, and our quilting group.  There used to be line-dancing classes, but sadly the man in charge of that has passed on.

At the show, I was on duty from noon until seven p.m., where I got a chance to partake in the potluck that was part of the show.  My job was to hand out programs at the door along with gloves so that no quilts would be damaged by people wanting to pet them.  I was also available to answer any questions people had.  I found that I had to take people’s potluck dishes and hand them off to someone else to take to the food area when people started wandering around the show with them in their hands.  Yikes!!   In the middle of the busiest time, the 4-H group showed up for their tour as well, which was also part of my assignment.  Boy, that was like herding cats.  Because the Hall is infested with bats, part of that “country charm”, it was necessary to hang the show first thing in the morning, and take it down at 9 in the evening.  No one wants bat guano on their quilts.  Fortunately, others were in charge of hanging it, but my hubby and I stuck around to help take it down.  So we got home at 10 o’clock, absolutely exhausted, but happy.  It was a great show.

Monday, I had spent the entire day at the quilt guild I belong to taking a class on making a Pineapple quilt without paper piecing.  It was absolutely wonderful, and the technique is incredibly easy.  I’ll share more about that in a few days when I have more energy. Tuesday was our day “in town” and Wednesday I was at the Hall cleaning in preparation for the quilt show.  Thursday we had a memorial service for a friend to attend.  What a busy week!  So I decided I deserved a day of quilt therapy today.  I didn’t get all that much done, but I’m going to share a peek at the progress I’ve made on the never-ending half-square triangle quilt.

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I got another 200 HSTs sewn and cut today, but most of them still need to be squared up.  I think I’ve got about 500 more to go.  Better get back to work.

1280 Half square triangles on the mat…

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…put one down, square it up 1279 half square triangles on the mat.  My apologies to those of you who like 199 bottles of beer on the wall, but I think I’m going to need 199 bottles of beer to finish this quilt.  I had promised myself last year when I made another quilt that needed a huge number of HSTs that I was done with HSTs for all time, but then I fell in love with the quilt that I posted about in “After a forced hiatus…”  So here I have been for the last two weeks diligently making half square triangles.  Each block in the quilt calls for 20 HSTs, and I’m making a queen-sized quilt.  So far I have half of them actually made, but half of those are waiting to be squared up…the most tedious part of the whole thing.

But do let me share with you one nifty shortcut that I discovered some time back to make things go faster.  Instead of marking the stitch lines on the HST, I use the Angler 2 guide.  Following the directions for positioning the guide on my machine, which is easy, I tape it down with painter’s tape, and I mark a corner of it with blue painter’s tape because I have to take the guide off every time I change the bobbin.  You just line up the left “shoulder” of your square with the dotted line, the right “shoulder” with the line on the right, and the bottom point with the 1/4 inch line on the bottom and sew away.

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Then you just flip your piece around 180 degrees and do the second line of stitching.  What a timesaver!  I do a lot of multiiple HSTs using larger squares (refer to the March 6 post entitled Lazy Quilter’s Quick Half Square Triangle Method for how to do this), and the squares tend to hang off the end of the machine so that you can’t line the point up with the 1/4 inch line on the guide.  I solved that problem by putting yet another piece of painter’s tape on the appropriate spot, although I’ve found if you have your two “shoulders” lined up properly, the point is going to end up in the right place, but the tape is a helpful guide to make sure you stay on target once you start sewing.

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One caveat regarding the Angler 2 and its availability.  I heard last year that the woman who created it was tragically killed and her children did not wish to continue with the production and sale of the item, so they may be very hard to get ahold of.  So if you think you’d like to try it and you find one available, you should grab it while you can.

I’d like to say this will be my last quilt with so many HSTs in it, but I’m not making any more promises to myself.  These are just such versatile little shapes that I just know I won’t be able to help myself.

Lazy Quilter’s Quick Half Square Triangle Method

This post is inspired by a post by my sister-in-law, https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/ in which she was kvetching about making large numbers of half square triangles. I’m sure a lot of people use this same method, so I’m certainly not claiming any credit for it, but just trying to be helpful. Using this method, you can make 8 identical HST at one time, only having to draw two lines.
Let’s get started. Let’s say you want to make HSTs that are squared up to 2 1/2 inches (2 inch finished piece). Cut a 7 inch piece of each of your two fabrics, marking the lighter of the two on the wrong side as illustrated in this first photo 1/4 inch from each side of the center, corner to corner:
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Stack the two pieces of fabric, right sides together, and sew along the lines. I always like to press at this point to flatten things out after stitching.
Next, I like to place my sewn piece on my spinning mat. Cut the fabric in half from top to bottom as shown in this photo:
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This is where the spinning mat comes in handy because you don’t have to move the fabric. Spin the mat so that the first cut is going side to side and cut the fabric in half again from top to bottom (or side to side if you don’t have a spinning mat). You will end up with pieces that look like this:
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Then spin your mat or move your ruler and cut between two of the lines of the stitching (just like you normally do when making 2 HSTs).
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Spin the mat (or move ruler) one last time and cut between the two lines of stitching that remain uncut.
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Voila! You have 8 HSTs. I like to square up the pieces using Eleanor Burn’s Quilt-in-a-day HST square up ruler. Just place the HST on your mat, before it is ironed open. In this case, because we’re squaring up to 2 1/2 inches, place the 2 1/2 inch line on the stitch line with the point more or less in line with the point on the HST, trim both sides that are beyond the ruler, and they always come out perfectly.
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If you want to make larger HSTs, for each 1/2 inch larger, add 1 inch to the initial size of the square you cut. So for a 3 inch squared up HST, cut your fabric 8 inches square. To make smaller HSTs, subtract 1 inch for every 1/2 inch smaller. So for a 2 inch squared up HST, cut your fabric 6 inches.
Hope this helps at least someone out there. Happy Quilting!