I Have A Tool For That!

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People who know me well are used to hearing this from me on a frequent basis. And as it turns out I usually do have a tool for almost anything I want to do.  My favorite thing to do is to visit the vendors at any quilt shows I go to in order to see what these clever people have come up with to make my quilting easier and more productive.  Another thing that anyone who knows me well will tell you is that I detest paper piecing and will do almost anything to avoid it.  I absolutely love the Mariner’s Compass pattern, and have always longed to make one, but alas, it is paper pieced.  But wait…in the August edition of American Quilter, I saw an ad for a Mariner’s Compass tool that avoids paper piecing.  Of course, I immediately went to the website of the inventor and watched her tutorial to find out if it was for real.  Then I purchased the tool, the companion booklet, and another tool that looks very handy for cutting angles.  Here is a photo of the package I promptly received.

compass labeled

The tool was developed by Robin Ruth Design, found at robinruthdesign.com.  I have been chomping at the bit to try it out, but have been sewing my fingers to the bone trying to get ready for our local quilt show at the Hall where I quilt with a great bunch of ladies on a bi-monthly basis.  We also just finished our summer quilting class for the local young people.  But I will address those things in another post.  There is a lot of blogging that hasn’t been getting done.  I will let you know once I have a chance to try out the tool how it all come out.

Speaking of tools, I also found a handy tool to make it easy to change out the needle on my longarm machine, which has been a dreaded task for the last three years since I got my longarm.  For those of you unfamiliar with longarms, the needles don’t have a flat spot on the shaft like regular machine needles do, and of course it is critical to get it inserted properly, which is very difficult when you really are using the Braille method.  So I avoid changing my needle very often, which has caused problems when it gets dull or slightly bent from deflection caused by the speed of the machine.  Here is a photo of the tool.

needle inserter labeled

As you can see, you just insert the needle into the hole going in the direction that you want it inserted into the machine.  The needle stops at the bottom of the shaft, then you can just push it up into the hole in the machine, and it pushes the shaft all the way up so that it is fully inserted.  Then tightened the set screw on the machine.  There is also a slot in the opposite end of the tool that can be used to make adjustments to the needle so that it is in straight if you aren’t happy with the position once it’s inserted.  What used to take me at least 20 or 30 frustrating minutes took me about 2 minutes yesterday the first time I used it.  Since it is recommended by many expert longarmers that you change out the needle after every one or two projects, this is going to be a tremendous time saver.  I also discovered it works for regular machine needles.  It is manufactured by Creative Notions and I found it at Nancy’s Notions.

Since we are on the subject of tools, I am going to share a few more of my favorite “I have a tool for that” tools.  The first one, or two, are the Tucker Trimmer and Tucker Trimmer II by Deb Tucker at studio180design.net.

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These tools make squaring up half-square triangles and quarter-square triangles especially a breeze.  Just slap your tool on top of the component you want to square up with the tool’s diagonal line lined up on the diagonal on the component, making sure you have room to trim to size all the way around, trim, turn component 180 degrees and line up the bottom left corner of the size you want to trim to along the corner of the component and trim.  The Tucker Trimmer shown on the half-square triangle is even inch and half inch increments and the Tucker Trimmer II is in quarter and three-quarter inch increments.  These two tools allow me to trim up piles of components without really having to think about it.  They are also great for cutting out squares of fabric from corners of yardage or fat quarters.

These next two are also from Deb Tucker.  This first one is the V-Block Trimmer (also known as a triangle in a square), which is the first of Deb’s tools that I purchased.  Many people feel they need to paper piece these components, but not using Deb’s method.

V block labled

The tool and the instruction book are very easy to use, with all the measurements you will need written right on the tool.  Everything is cut from strips and is slightly oversized so that there is room to trim down with the markings on the tool.  I made this queen sized quilt with dozens of these components in nothing flat using this tool.

The last tool I’m going to talk about is the Corner Beam tool.

corner beam labled

Just like all the other Deb Tucker specialty rulers, the booklet and ruler are easy to use, with everything made from basic strips and squares.  I’ve found these components are great to use in the corners of borders to make a nice transition around the corner.

I want to make it clear that I have no interest, financial or otherwise, in any of these tools or companies.  Just wanted to share some of the things that make life easier for me and hope you find them helpful as well.

Happy Stitching!

 

 

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Self-imposed Challenge

I have been MIA from my blog for several months now, not because I have lost interest in quilting or blogging, but because I’ve been too busy quilting and living life.  I had a serious bout of illness in late November where I was laid low for about three weeks, and the illness included some sort of horrible virus that morphed into a bacterial infection, the double whammy of pink eye in both eyes, and a torn retina that needed to be repaired by laser surgery during the peak of my illness including a horrible cough that I had to try to control during the laser surgery so that I didn’t move my eye the wrong way.  I describe the procedure as “spot welding” my retina. It was one of those “Lord, just take me home now” periods of life.   In early November, I also took off for 5 days to my quilt guild’s annual retreat, which was a wonderful time.  I have also had three root canal procedures done in the last six weeks, one of which resulted in a pulled tooth, so now I “get” to go for an implant. In the meantime, I soldier on making quilts.

I have challenged myself to use up as much as my stash as I can in order to make room for some new fabrics.  Some of the fabrics in my stash cupboard are ten years old.  With that in mind, for the retreat, I decided to embark on a complicated bargello style quilt.  I had taken a class in how to make a bargello several years ago and ended up with a lovely, but simple quilt with all the columns being a uniform size.  I have always wanted to make a more complicated one, so I dug through my stash and cut 180 strips of fabric.  I used the book by Ruth Ann Berry, Bargello Quilts In Motion.  She includes in her book easy to use charts on how to make each column.  Here is the quilt that I made.

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I wish I had a little larger sewing room so that I could take complete photos of floor to ceiling quilts like this one is.  I only got about half of the columns assembled during the retreat and then I sewed them into pairs to make it easier to cart home.  This was a mistake.  When I got the next few columns up on the design wall at home, I noticed that I had put a couple of columns together with some sections inserted upside down, so the design didn’t flow like it was supposed to and had to get out my trusty seam ripper.  So if you embark on a project like this, be sure to have all your columns complete and up on the design wall before you start attaching them to one another.  Because this quilt has columns ranging from 1 inch cut size to 2 3/4 inch cut size, another thing that I learned is that it is essential that you iron meticulously before you try to quilt on a longarm machine.  The quilt just kind of folded up on itself like an accordian when I pinned the bottom to the longarm leader and I had to remove it, iron and start all over.  I also liberally used Best Press to get everything to lay down properly.  I prefer Best Press to starch because it doesn’t make the quilt stiff and I don’t like to wash my quilts unless absolutely necessary. My friend who longarms professionally belatedly suggested that you can stay stitch the top and bottom of the quilt if you don’t have a border.  This is the only quilt I have ever made without a border.

The last lesson is when you are ironing your seams, start in the middle and iron the left side to the left and the right side to the right so that when you smooth the top while rolling it on the frame, you don’t have flipped seams all over the place.  One of the great tips that Ruth Ann includes in her book is to pencil in the column number on the top piece of the column to help keep everything in order.  This worked better than pinning a number on, which tends to fall off at the most inopportune times.

Well, it’s done now and I am thrilled with the result.  It was just what I wanted and I only bought a yard each of two different fabrics to get the color gradient that I was looking for.  I even used a  couple of large yardage pieces out of my stash to make the back!  Someone at the quilt retreat thought the beginnings of the quilt looked like the Richter scale that measures earthquakes (you can tell we are in California) so I named it 7.2.

During the last few months, there has also been a flurry of grandbabies born and to be born in my circle of friends, so I have been working on baby quilts.  Both of these two were made entirely from my stash once again.  I utilized a couple of adorable panels that I had purchased some time ago because I just can’t resist a cute piece of fabric.

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I called this one Fairy Sweet.

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This one is called How Much is That Doggie In The Window.  Here is a close up.021

The grandparents are crazy about dogs just as I am.

Ten days or so before Christmas, I received a frantic phone call from a friend who wanted to know if I had a quilt I was willing to sell her for a gift for her mother-in-law.  I told her I didn’t, but that I could make her a really simple one in time for Christmas and emailed her photos of a couple of others I had made in the lasanga or noodle method, which goes really fast.  She loved them, picked out her colors, and in about 5 days, I had this one completed, also using nothing but stash fabrics.  Fortunately, she wanted florals which I always have tons of because I love flowers. 009

This one is named Rows Garden. The only reason I was able to get it bound in that time frame is I used the binding technique that my sister-in-law, stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com turned me onto.  It’s totally done by machine, and you end up with a little flange of accent color on the front of the quilt.  If you look closely at the close-up of Doggie In The Window, you can see the beige accent separating the wood grain binding from the edge of the quilt.   This quilt has a yellow accent separating the border from the same color binding. Here is a link where you can find a tutorial on how it is done. http://www.freequiltpatterns.info/free-tutorial—susies-magic-binding.htm  .  I have started using this method for all my quilts because arthritis in my fingers makes it difficult to do handwork.  Besides the accent just brightens up the whole quilt and makes it a much quicker process.

Last, but not least, I made this little quilt to donate to my quilt guild who provides comfort quilts to social services in our county which gives the quilts to children who have been traumatized in some way.  Once again, this is all fabric strictly from my stash.

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And a close-up photo of the feature fabric and you can see the gold accent separating the brown binding and border.  Just love the look.

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Thank you for taking your time to read my blog ramblings.  I hope you find something in my blog useful or entertaining and I wish you all a wonderfully blessed and prosperous New Year!

 

 

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!

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Learning about color and other random thoughts

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I took a class on Tuesday at my local quilt guild taught by a wonderful fabric/pattern designer named Nancy Rink. She taught us how to use Joen Wolfrom’s 3-in-One Color Tool. Since I am the Queen of Quilting Gadgets, of course I happened to have one in my tool inventory, purchased when I was a brand new quilter, but I had really never even looked at it closely. I was surprised early on that I was blessed with a pretty good sense of color, so it just gathered dust in my cupboard, but I reasoned that we can all learn to improve our skills.  I’m really glad that I decided to take the class, because I learned a lot about color that I only understood in my “gut”, but now understand why things work the way they do together.  We were instructed to bring a black or other neutral background fabric, a focus fabric, and a variety of tone-on-tone or solids, a design wall, and a camera, but not our sewing machines!

Using the tool, Nancy taught us how to use the color wheel, and the individual cards to make different blocks, all of which had the neutral background and at least one piece of the focus fabric.  Here is how mine came out.

The first one is Monochromatic, using our focus fabric, and picking from the card that our focus fabric was found on, pick other fabrics that were on that card.  This was really fun because we all were free to dig through everyone else’s fabric to find just the right thing.  (She had told us to expect to share in advance.)  My focus fabric is the medium green surrounding the center.

003Block 2 is Complementary, which is the focus fabric and the color directly across the color wheel, using lights and darks of either of the two colors.

004Block 3 is Analogous Counter-clockwise, moving counter-clockwise from the focus fabric, using 3-5 of the adjacent colors without skipping any of the colors.

005Block 4, Analogous Clockwise, using the focus fabric, moving clockwise around the color wheel, using the next 3 to 5 colors without skipping any.

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Block 5, Split complementary, starting with the focus fabric, go to the complementary fabric and then add at least two colors next to the complementary fabric.
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Block 6, Triad, starting again with the focus fabric, pick the two other colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel, and make one of the three colors your dominant color.
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Block 7, Tetrad, which is four colors equidistant around the color wheel, one of which is your focus fabric.
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Block 8, Polychromatic, which of course just means many colors, so including my focus fabric, I put in as many of the other colors I had already selected into the block as I found appealing.
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The class was a lot of fun and a great learning experience.  It was interesting how each block looks different, but still plays nicely with the others.  The one I struggled with the most is the Triad because of the orange-red that was called for, but now that I look at the photos, it does work.  I probably will use the pieces in a scrap quilt I’m working on and won’t sew these blocks together into a quilt like was intended.  But when I’m struggling with picking just the right border or sashing or third color to bring into a quilt in the future, I have another great tool to help guide me along the way.
I’ve also been away from blogging for so long because I have a foot injury, and have spent much of my time going from the podiatrist, to getting tests, back to podiatrist, more tests, and on and on.  Keep in mind, the closest town to where we live is 30 miles one way, so every trip in is a least two hours.  Then I came down with the stomach flu and spent two days on the couch with trips only to the bathroom or the bedroom to lay on the bed. This is my second day of not having to lay down most of the day. You know how sick I was because I didn’t even walk into my sewing room from the time I dropped my stuff off from class on Tuesday, until yesterday afternoon when my quilting buddy came to sew. I managed to then sit in a chair all afternoon and ripped out four log cabin blocks that I was unhappy with. That’s absolutely pitiful for me, usually spending a least three hours a day working on a quilting project.  I can hardly wait to get my energy back.

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!