When my husband and I fly from Oregon to Georgia for our annual two-week Thanksgiving visit with my twin sister and her husband, I almost always make something for their home. It’s a small way to thank Diane and Ed for the generous hospitality they show Charlie and me on these visits, and it satisfies my urge to make something when I’m away from my sewing room for an extended time. You know how it is: a maker’s gotta make.
I knew ages ago what this year’s project would be. That’s because Frugal Fabrics, a home dec fabric store in the Atlanta suburb where my sister lives, announced at the beginning of the year that it was closing. Diane and I have found beautiful fabrics there in past years that have made their way into home dec projects in her house.
Before the shop closed its doors for the last time, Diane bought a gorgeous piece of fabric called “Brandywine Paisley” by Duralee Fabrics. She bought what was left on the bolt – about 6½ yards – without any idea what she would do with it. (At $2 a yard, I would have done the same thing. I have a thing for paisley prints.) We consulted via text messaging and concluded the fabric would be perfect as new pillow shams in her master bedroom.
Fast forward to my arrival in November. After Thanksgiving was over, Diane and I designed the shams, starting with the notion of a simple envelope with braided trim on the “flap” of the envelope on the front. She likes her shams up against the headboard with sleeping pillows arranged in front so it was important that the flaps be short enough for the braided trim to show.
If Diane were a quilter, she would have freezer paper in her house. She’s not and she doesn’t, so I made a pattern for the flap out of two sheets of parchment paper:
I had to pin the two sheets together because scotch tape doesn’t stick to parchment paper!
Being somewhat obsessive-compulsive, I wanted the design on the fabric to match where the flap meets the sham. That meant the flap needed to be a separate piece that could be attached to the back of the sham in just the right place for the design to match up on front after the pillow form was inserted. All of this called for some careful fussy cutting – in triplicate, because there are three shams. It took me the better part of one afternoon just to cut the fabric.
What you see below is one sham in two pieces. The body of the sham is essentially a square with rounded edges and a lapped opening on the back where the pillow form is inserted:
This is what the sham looks like flat:
While I was working on the shams, Diane was auditioning pillowcases I’ve made for her over the years (all made from this tutorial). She found three pair that looked especially good against the shams:
She decided to use the pair in the middle first because the reds and greens in the fabrics are right in keeping with the Christmas decorations that started coming out that week.
Here’s a look at the shams in place in the master bedroom:
Don’t they look nice? I love the addition of the Christmas pillow. Here’s a view from across the room:
I’m back home in Portland now, ready to get back to work on a couple of projects I want to finish before the end of the year. And the end of the year is only 27 days away!
The pattern for the tool caddy is Travel Case by Pearl Pereira of p3designs.com. I’ve made it several times, modifying it the last few times by adding an extra pocket. I keep my tool caddy in an acrylic brochure holder one of my students gave me:
With the flap turned back, all of my smaller tools are right at my fingertips. At the end of a sewing session the tools go back in the caddy. It really does help me keep my sewing room organized.
I finished a UFO at Quilt Camp last week. It was the table runner I started as an experiment when I was teaching at the Pine Needle‘s quilt retreat in June. Remember this?
It’s a bit difficult to see from the photo but the outer edges of the runner were cut to match the curves inside. I wanted the binding on the quilt to echo the design, which you may recognize as Mini Mod Tiles, that marvelous free pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful that has been the subject of several posts over the last few months.
I had just enough of the dark green batik fabric for the binding:
Didn’t that turn out nicely? I machine quilted it very simply with my walking foot, stitching in the ditch and adding a simple starburst in the center of the curved shapes featuring the focus fabric:
There wasn’t enough of the wintry blue print to cover the entire back so I inserted a strip of the blue polka dot:
I used light blue thread on the back to blend in so the runner is essentially reversible. The label can go in the very center, to be covered by a candle or bowl.
Binding the curved edges presented quite a challenge, as the angle is greater than 90 degrees plus you have the curve to deal with. Fortunately, Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures has a wonderful tutorial on her website that shows how to bind an outside edge greater than 90 degrees. Following her excellent instructions, I was able to bind those corners. Here’s a look at the pinning technique:
I don’t think I would ever have figured that out on my own. Thanks, Heather!
The runner measures 13″ x 38½”, a nice size for the center of a table or dresser. I’m giving it to my twin sister in Atlanta this weekend as a birthday/hostess gift; my husband and I are headed there later this week for our annual extended visit over Thanksgiving.
I’m very pleased with this variation on the Mini Mod Tiles design. And, having made two quilts (a mini and a supersized version) from the pattern, I am finally ready to put MMT behind me. Just in time, too! The Sew Kind of Wonderful team has come out with some marvelous new patterns. I have no doubt there is another Quick Curve Ruler quilt in my future.
I just got back from a fun-filled three days at Quilt Camp. Hanging out with a dozen wonderful quilting friends and working on whatever my mood dictated was a terrific way to spend 72 hours. I’ve been going to Quilt Camp for the last 10 years or so and gee, it’s great. No cooking, no cleaning, no laundry. No idling away the hours playing Scrabble online. Okay, I did play my turns in a few ongoing games but for the most part managed to stay away from electronics (except for my sewing machine).
I decided to start with a quick and easy project, this Rising Star quilt designed by Lauren Palmer that appeared in the Sept. 2017 issue of American Quilter magazine, the publication of the American Quilter’s Society:
Lauren’s quilt, made of all solids, finishes at 40″ square. It was constructed of 4″ squares and 4″ Half-Square Triangles (HSTs) plus 4″ strips for the border. I resized the blocks to 5″ to make a slightly larger quilt (50″ square) and chose pink and orange floral prints from the 2014 “Paradise” line from Camelot Cottons to go with a white-on-white background fabric and a navy blender. I switched the placement of pink and orange, using pink for the smaller star in the middle of my quilt and orange for the larger star.
After studying the design and the directions, I decided to incorporate Flying Geese and Split Cat’s Cradle blocks in my quilt to minimize the number of seams. If you’ve never heard of a Split Cat’s Cradle block, this is what it looks like:
This block could have been made of four smaller blocks — one square and three HSTs — but I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the printed fabric with seam lines. I also didn’t want to fuss with cutting and sewing triangles so I turned to the Cat’s Cradle Ruler designed by Deb Heatherly for Creative Grids. With the ruler you start with squares and rectangles and wind up with two blocks at a time. The finished squares range in size from 1½” – 4″ square. My block finished at 10″ square so I had to do some figuring to determine what sizes my squares and rectangles should be.
I doubted one of those calculations, which was a mistake. It led me to sew eight seams using squares of fabric that were a quarter inch too small. I had to take out the stitching, cut new squares, and resew. I think I spent as much time making those Split Cat’s Cradle blocks as I did the rest of the quilt. This was strictly operator error. The ruler and directions are excellent and I will use them many times in the future.
The pink star in the center of my quilt was made with 10″ x 5″ Flying Geese blocks instead of Half Square Triangles, which also involved some quilt math.
After my quilt top was done (before borders) I put it up on the design wall and took a picture:
Oops. Do you see what I see? One of my corner hourglass blocks is turned the wrong way. I didn’t notice it until after I looked at this photo and then it jumped right out at me.
Ah, this is better:
I didn’t have enough white background fabric with me at Camp to add the border strips. I can do that now that I’m home but there are other options. I could make the quilt even bigger by adding an additional pieced border. Or I could it declare it done and move on. Right now it measures 40½” square, a good size for a baby quilt. Any recommendations?
In my next post I’ll show you what else I worked on at Quilt Camp.
I was instantly enchanted. I downloaded the directions from Sew Kind of Wonderful’s website and made my own version using just three fabrics:
I knew this was the design I wanted to teach at a quilt retreat in June. But I wanted to give my students the option of making a larger quilt. Sure, they could have added more blocks to increase the size of their quilt — but I was thinking of a bigger block. Thus was the “supersized” version of Mini Mod Tiles born:
The supersized version was made with the original Quick Curve Ruler whereas the original Mini Mod Tiles was made with the QCR Mini. Here are both quilts to give you an idea of the relative sizes:
The SKW sisters graciously gave me permission to show how I supersized their pattern, hence this tutorial. My directions will be easier to follow if you have already made a quilt using the original Mini Mod Tiles pattern.
This tutorial has two parts. Part 1 is a two-page handout showing fabric requirements and advance cutting for both a scrappy version using multiple prints like the original SKW version and the more controlled version I made with just four fabrics. Download Part 1: Fabric Requirements and Advance Cutting.
Part 2: Sewing Directions for Mini Mod Tiles “Supersized”
Required: free pattern Mini Mod Tiles, downloaded from the SKW website.
Download the three-page pattern by going to the Free Patterns link on SKW’s website and double clicking on the photo of Mini Mod Tiles — the same photo you see at the top of this tutorial. Click on the print icon on the upper right side. Print in color:
Study the directions carefully. The cutting, sewing, and squaring up instructions are almost the same as for the mini. The main differences are the cut sizes of fabric and the fact that you are using the original Quick Curve Ruler.
Here are my cut pieces, neatly stacked and ready for sewing:
Cutting with the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR) (Page 1) Refer to the illustrations on the pattern marked Sample 1, Sample 2, etc.
“A” shapes, cut from 8″ focus fabric squares: Referring to Sample 1, measure and make registration marks at the midpoints of the outside edges (4″ from the corners) of all four sides of a square (Sample 1).
Refer to Sample 2 illustration showing the position of the QCR on the fabric square. The red dashed line indicates the curve cut-out you follow with your rotary cutter. You can see that the cut-out curve is right over the registration marks on the left and bottom sides of the square.
First Light Designs tip: Note that the curve cut-out in the QCR is about ⅛” wide. Rather than centering that ⅛”-wide channel over your registration marks, position the ruler so that the inside edge of the channel is right over your registration marks. When you make your cut, follow the inside edge of the channel with your rotary cutter just as you would when making a cut with a straight-edged ruler. Your cut curves will be more uniform in size.
After making the first cut, rotate square 180º and repeat on other side. Repeat with remaining squares. Total: 36 A shapes.
First Light Designs tip: Instead of marking every square four times, arrange the square on a rotary cutting mat with all four sides aligned with the inch lines printed on the mat. (It doesn’t matter where on the mat as long as it’s several inches from outer edges.) Count over 4″ from the corners of the square and position the inside channel of the cutout curve over those points at the edge of the fabric:
By the way, don’t discard the leftover curved pieces! They are a great size for appliqué or paper piecing projects or can be cut into 2¼” or smaller squares for another quilt.
“B” shapes, cut from 5″ x 8″ rectangles: Measure and make registration marks 3″ in from the top left edge and 3″ in from the bottom right edge. Refer to Sample 3 illustration. Note that the ruler is positioned so that the dotted red line showing the cutting channel goes from the upper left corner of the fabric to the registration mark on the bottom right side. After making the cut, rotate the block 180° and repeat. Discard the slivers of leftover fabric.
First Light Designs tip: Instead of marking the fabric rectangle, arrange it on a rotary cutting mat with all four sides aligned with the inch lines printed on the mat. Position the QCR so that inside channel of the cutout curve is over the upper left corner of the rectangle and the 3″ mark from the bottom right edge:
Did you know? You can stack your squares and rectangles and cut multiple units at one time if your rotary blade is very sharp. Try cutting two layers first. If that works, try up to four.
Piecing the Curves (Page 1) Referring to Sample 4 and Sample 5 illustrations on page 1 of the pattern: See the arrow pointing toward the 1/4″ that Piece B extends beyond Shape A? Change that measurement to 3/8″. When you position Shape B on top of Shape A, right sides together, be sure the tip of B extends 3/8″ beyond the tip of A. Press seam toward A. Note in Sample 4 how the edges of Shape B extend beyond Shape A at the curved seam. This is what you want, as the excess fabric is trimmed when the block is squared up.
Squaring up AB Units (Page 2)
With two B shapes sewn to a shape A, the unit is now called AB.
Referring to Sample 6 on page 2 of the pattern: Square up AB unit to 8″ square. Using an 8½” or larger square ruler, position the ruler so that the straight edges of AB (upper left and lower right corners of the block) measure 8″ square. Trim right side and top. Rotate block 180º, reposition ruler so that bottom and left side of block are on the 8″ lines of the ruler, and trim right side and top. Repeat with remaining squares.
First Light Designs tip: On your squaring up ruler, use an Ultra Fine-Point Sharpie marker to make two small dots — the first one 4¼” to the left of the upper right corner and the second one 4¼” down from the upper right corner, right at the edge of the ruler. When you square up your block, the curved seam that joins Shapes A and B should be right under those dots:
If you find your curved seam falls a bit on either side of the 4¼” measurement, that’s okay. The important thing is that your blocks are hitting the same mark consistently. (The Sharpie marks come off the ruler easily with a drop of nail polish remover, by the way.)
Sashing Assembly (Page 2)
Follow the directions, keeping in mind that your (60) C units are made with connector pieces measuring 2½” x 3″ and sashing strips measuring 3″ x 6″. Likewise the D units are made with two C units and a 3″ square of background fabric in the middle. Note: it would be more efficient to make these C and D units in strip sets but I decided to match my tutorial as much as possible to the original directions.
Block Assembly and Quilt Layout (Pages 2 and 3) Follow pattern directions, keeping in mind that the center of the block is a 3″ square of accent fabric, not a 2″ x 2″ background piece. Make (9) blocks which measure 18″ square.
Pressing I did deviate from the pressing directions. Instead of pressing seams open where directed, I always pressed toward the focus fabric, even when sewing rows together. Why? I was planning ahead, in case I wanted to stitch in the ditch around my focus fabric. It’s very difficult to do that when a seam has been pressed open. As it happened, I decided to have both quilts custom quilted; the longarmer stitched in the ditch on both quilts at my request and I really like how much extra definition the stitching gave to the focus fabric shapes.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. And if you make a supersized version of Mini Mod Tiles, I would love to see a photo. I know the Sew Kind of Wonderful sisters would, too!
The Junior Billie Bag I am currently working on is slowly taking shape. I’m pacing myself on the construction so I can show my current group of students at the Pine Needle how this quilter’s tote goes together step by step. The bag is a gift for a friend with a November birthday so the timing is perfect.
In the photo below you see most of the individual elements — front and back panels, handles, side panels, inner and outer pockets:
This particular bag is going to have plenty of pockets — 21 to be exact. The pockets have been carefully sized to hold everything a quilter might need, from file folders to acrylic rulers to rotary cutters. The Junior Billie Bag was designed by Billie Mahorney to be customized — makers of the bag decide how many pockets they want and what size they will be.
Now that the second panel on this bag has been quilted and the handles attached, you can see what the bag is going to look like from front and back:
Which is the front and which is the back? It doesn’t matter! The front/back panels are totally interchangeable. The front of the bag is whichever side the owner turns to the outside on any given day.
And you can quilt the panels very simply or be very creative with free motion quilting. I’ve done both on previous bags. On this one I opted to stitch in the ditch in the central part of the panels and to use a serpentine stitch on the strips around the center blocks. I used the same decorative stitch on the handles:
The next step is sewing the front/back panels to the side panels and bottom unit. I’ll demonstrate this in Friday’s class. My students are almost ready for the third dimension!
Recognize the pattern? It’s Mini Mod Tiles from Sew Kind of Wonderful. The aqua and yellow quilt was made with the QCR Mini — the smaller of the two Quick Curve Rulers designed by Sew Kind of Wonderful — and finishes at 34½” square. SKW offers this pattern as a free download on its website.
The bigger quilt? I “supersized” SKW’s design to make a larger block using the original Quick Curve Ruler, resulting in a lap quilt measuring 63″ square. Why two sizes? I had chosen Mini Mod Tiles as the pattern to teach at the Pine Needle’s summer 2017 quilt retreat and wanted to offer my students two options.
Both quilts have been back from the longarm quilter for several weeks but it took me a while to get them bound and then labeled. Now I get to show the finished quilts together.
Let’s start with the larger of the two, named Terrazzo Tiles:
Here it is from the back:
I used every bit of the leftover focus fabric on the back, even piecing scraps to make the ring around the label:
Since the bigger quilt is called Terrazzo Tiles, it made perfect sense to name the mini quilt Piccolo Terrazzo Tiles:
My first inclination was to bind this one with the yellow tone-on-tone fabric you see above, but I had used a different yellow on the back and they just didn’t look good together. The solution was to bind the quilt with the aqua and yellow focus fabric so it provided a frame for the quilt as seen from the back:
The hand-guided quilting (by Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day) is so lovely I hesitated to add a label, loving the look of a whole-cloth quilt. But it needed a label — to identify the designer, the maker, and the quilter. Sometimes all three are the same person but more often than not the result is a combination of efforts, and it’s important in my book to give credit where credit is due:
Next week the Pine Needle is planning a reunion for the retreat participants. It will be fun to see the students’ finished projects — both mini and supersized!
One more thing: the talented women of Sew Kind of Wonderful have kindly given me permission to show you how I supersized the mini version. Coming very soon: a new tutorial on my Tutorials page.
Among the many special exhibits at last week’s Northwest Quilting Expo (held in Portland, Oregon) was a small one called “Reach for the Stars” featuring quilts made using Minnesota quilter Terri Krysan’s design of the same name. The quilts were made by Portland quilters who had seen my version on display at the Pine Needle and wanted to make their own.
Here is Maxine’s bold and beautiful quilt in black, white, and blue:
Joie’s quilt is a vision in green and purple, one of my favorite color combinations:
Lana’s lovely quilt was made as a fundraiser for her grandson’s school (it sold for over $2000!):
The owners of the quilt graciously loaned it to Lana so it could be part of the special exhibit.
Andrea’s quilt was made from the same line of fabrics as Lana’s but with a more limited palette of blues and greens:
So serene! Did you notice the different border treatment? Andrea opted not to carry the checkerboard blocks to the outer borders so she put the unused ones on the back:
You can see some of the lovely motifs that longarmer Kazumi Peterson used.
Sharon R.’s scrappy checkerboard border cleverly pulls together all the colors used in her blocks:
Sharon S. used the bright colors in her butterfly focus fabric to great dramatic effect, then calmed it down with her earthy brown and black checkerboard border:
This is my version, also displayed in the exhibit:
Andrea was out of town during the quilt show but the remaining six of us gathered for group shots in front of each quilt. Here we are in front of Maxine’s:
Left to right: Sharon Schaper, Sharon Ripley, Joie Lattz, Maxine Borosund, Dawn White, and Lana Kamerer. With us in spirit: Andrea Hinderhofer.
I found the perfect fabric in my stash to bind this sweet baby quilt:
It’s a random blue on blue polka dot that picks up on the shades of blue on the birdies scattered across the focus fabric. I really like how the blue binding frames the quilt on both front . . .
. . . and back:
One more look:
Now freshly laundered, this quilt is ready to be wrapped up and sent to its new owner, Baby Alira.
Alira’s Quilt measures 44″ square. The pineapple blocks were made using the Four Triangle Method described in Karin Hellaby’s book Pineapple Plus (Quilter’s Haven Publications, 2010). Sherry Wadley quilted it edge-to-edge with a delightful cloud motif.
I have enough fabric left to make another quilt. I’m going to add another round to make the pineapple block bigger and make a quilt for a young mother of three little boys who needs a feminine lap quilt to snuggle up in. Luckily, I have enough left of that wonderful polka dot fabric to bind a second quilt.
The first week of October already! September came and went in a flash. It was a very busy month, just not one devoted to much sewing. I’m finally back at work on that wonderful quilter’s tote designed by Billie Mahorney known as the Junior Billie Bag. I’m teaching an upcoming class at the Pine Needle so I need to get a move on.
Here’s the second of two panels in my JBB-in-progress:
The block you see above was inspired by a block in a quilt called Christmas in July designed by Thelma Childers of Cupcakes’n’Daisies:
Click here to read Thelma’s post about the making of this quilt. In July Carrie Nelson of Moda wrote about Thelma’s quilt on the Moda Cutting Table blog and created a pattern for it called Hometown Stars, available as a free download.
Thelma’s quilt is very scrappy. Working with far fewer fabrics, I simplified the block somewhat and made one change that made a big difference in the outcome. Here is my block as it was first laid out . . .
. . . and here it is ready to be sewn:
Do you see the difference? Turning that center square on point reinforced the angles in the Friendship Star blocks in the four corners. Had I made an entire quilt, I would have followed Thelma’s design to a T because the square in the center of the block is central to her overall design:
To minimize the seam lines I opted to construct the center section like a classic bow-tie block using Y-seams:
Thelma’s original finished block size is 17½” square. Carrie resized it to finish at 14″ square, although she included directions for both sizes in the pattern. I had to resize the block to 12¾” square to get it to fit my panel size. That means the half-square triangles finish at 1¾” square and the center bow-tie block finishes at 5¼” square. Good thing I like the challenge of quilt math!
Here are the front and back panels side by side:
Since this Junior Billie Bag is being made for a friend, incorporating the Friendship Star block is a meaningful addition. Thank you, Thelma and Carrie, for the inspiration!