Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guest Blocker Sharon ---Playing With Whirly Gigs

Thank you Madame Samm for inviting me back to Sew We Quilt for the November Block Party . I am Sharon of VroomansQuilts and excited to be here to share how to turn the basic Whirlygig block into something special.


Cut one of each background fabric and focus fabric strips - 2" x 15"

With right sides together (RST), sew a 1/4" seam down one long side.

Press open toward the focus fabric. You now have a 3.5" x 15" strip.

Sub cut four 3.5" units - you have a little bit left - wiggle room.

Lay out your four units. Sew your top units together and then your bottom units together.

Press seams to the long focus fabric strip.

Using your middle seams, match you top and bottom sections right sides together, pin and sew. Press this seam open due to seam bulk. Easy Peasy - these are your basic steps.


Again we need our two beginning strips - one focus fabric and one background fabric - 2" x 15" AND cut four 2" squares of background fabric. Draw a line from corner to corner on your squares.

TIP - to be sure you have all your 'triangles' going the same correct way, fold your square and pin to each unit. Then open and pin in place. Tip - to prevent your machine 'eating' your units, start on the long side and sew to the point - and chain piece them through your machine. Trim to 1/4" and press to background (will help with seam bulk when putting entire block together).

Again, layout your sub units. Sew your sections together, then the top and then your bottom - just like your basic Whirlygig. Pressing the same.

This is your new Whirlygig variation.

Now if you stitched your squares on the opposite sides, you get this block. Also known as a Whirlygig variation, frienship star variation, and spinning star variation.


Again we need our two basic strips. And we are adding the four 2" squares of background with four 2" squares of contrasting fabric.

Remember that TIP of folding your squares (line drawn from corner to corner) and placing on your units to be sure they are all going the correct direction. Yes, these are flying geese units. Stitch all your background first (start on that long side), trim to 1'4" and press out. Then stitch your contrasting squares (starting on that long side), trim to 1.4" and press. They should be 2" x 3.5" if you need to trim up. Don't let geese units scare you - breath and take your time.

Just like our other blocks, lay out your units, stitch your sub units and then your top, then your bottom. Then the two together - pressing as in previous steps.

Your finished block - called a Double Whirlygig, a Pinwheel Whirlygig, a Folded Star, and a Folded Flower block. Confused? Did I scare you with the triangles and geese? OK breath because.....


Ok, all of those still breathing in a paper bag - relax. I am going to show you how to make that last block using just squares. You will need 4 background and 4 focus fabric - 3.5" squares (charms would work nicely with this and the largest I would go).

Take your focus fabric squares and press in one corner to opposite corner - you now have a triangle. Working from the FOLDED side, take the lower corner and match to open triangle corner - press and pin. Place these new units on your background squares as shown in the photo and pin in place.

Just like in your prior blocks, lay out your units. DO NOT BASTE - it only adds more bulk in your seams - just pin.

TIP - after sewing your sub units together, open up the seam and trim the inner most bulk out. Then stitch your top and bottom units together,

Your finished 3-D Folded Whirlygig, Folded Star, Folded Flower - what ever name. TIP - fabrics with multi-color, bold prints, or Batiks work best with this block so the 3-D really stands out.

Here's a display of all the Whirlygig blocks. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Don't be afraid to try a 'step-up' with a simple change in a block. Most importantly - have fun.

Sewingly Yours,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Guest Blocker with Deonn and her Stack, Slash, Switch & Stitch~Craziness!

Good Morning!! It's time for another Block Party!!  Thanks to Madame Samm for the invitation to share a favorite block with you!  I've really enjoyed these daily tutorials, learning new techniques and blocks to try, and I've been dreaming about quilting possibilities, as usual!  Here we go...

I ♥ Crazy Quilts!   
During the Victorian era, Crazy Quilts were traditionally made with bits and pieces of fancy fabrics; velvet, satin, silk, lace, with lots of lavish embroidery along the seamlines of each section.   You can read more about Crazy Quilt history by Betty Pillsbury HERE and HERE

And... what does a Crazy Quilt have to do with today's block? 
  • Have you ever tried to make a block but didn't have quite enough fabric in your stash?
  • Do you like the look of a pieced background for applique'?   I've especially been inspired by Connie and Cheryl 's block parties earlier this month, with their fun pieced backgrounds...
I thought I'd share my favorite simplified crazy quilt technique to "MAKE" some background fabric in preparation for applique'.

Start with this little math formula: 
FS + 1-1/2" = SIZE 
Size of blocks to cut is equal to the desired finished size (FS),
plus one and a half inches.
I want to make a 12" block, but the pieces in my stash range from 7-1/2" to 9" pieces.  OK, this works.   Using the formula, I'll need four squares with a finished size (FS) of 6", plus 1-1/2 inches for a few cuts and seams, so the minimum size squares to cut is 7-1/2".

And here's our next little formula:
(are your eyes glazing over yet?  This will be fun, I promise!)
C4pQB = 4(S)2
Crazy Four-Patch Quilt Block is equal to four
Stacked, Slashed, Switched & Stitched blocks, squared.
(I am making this up as I go... heehee)

*Remember - a crazy quilt has NOTHING to do with one's mental state...*

OK, let's have some
  • WARNING: I tend to give a somewhat rudimentary instructions (I teach a lot of 4-H kids and beginning quilters, and even post a monthly quilting basics column HERE), so if you're an experienced quilter, just scan through the pictures!

1)  STACK 
Layer all four of your blocks together in a stack.
Try for a little contrast in value, tone, texture or pattern.
I'm going for all neutrals for my background.


CUT your stack of squares into fourths
using a rotary cutter and ruler.
Cuts should be a bit off-set.
Modern translation:  Cut in a wonky X

Rotate fabrics in each pile/section
so that no two fabrics will be in the same block.

To avoid mixing up the pieces,
PIN in place, right side over left, one block at a time.

Note:  try to match center seams at the 1/4" line,
 but don't worry about the outer edges yet,
they'll get trimmed later.

 Make a STACK from the bottom up so you can...

CHAIN PIECE (Saves time, thread, and sanity...
stitch one block, take a few stitches [chain],
slide the next unit under the foot and continue.)
Use a 1/4" seam allowance.

PRESS seams open; remember, we're piecing a background block.
CLIP between pairs to keep blocks together.

STITCH last seam together.
This time, DO NOT match center seam!!
The more off-set, the better it looks!  CRAZY, huh?

p.s. Isn't that ↑ a pretty new "Baby"?!? I ♥ her!

PRESS seams open to reduce bulk.  It's also helpful
if you were to add EMBROIDERY to the seamlines :)
(My new "BabyLock" has 189 built-in stitch patterns...) 
TRIM each completed block to 6-1/2" square.

YIELD:  4 units

PIECE together.  This time DO MATCH center seam
(I know, crazy!); PRESS seams open.

All ready to add some wonderful applique:

And... voila!

This method works great for any size squares, layer cakes, even charm squares (mug rug?)!  OR you could make a bunch of these blocks for a small quilt: (though, I think I made crazy 6-patches instead) 12 @ 12" blocks, 10" finished size, using 2 stacks of 6 each  ~ just cut them in a wonky H
(Or maybe it was a crazy 9-patch - cut in a wonky #)   
Add a border or two and look at the smiles!

OK, if you actually made it to the bottom of this tutorial, here's PART II of the story...

Has this ever happened to you?  Someone learns that you are a quilter/seamstress etc. and BRINGS you FABRIC from a relative, or something?  A friend of a friend learned that I had a sewing room, and began bringing me upholstery/tapestry samples that the interior design store where she worked had held on to for 20 years or so, and they were cleaning them out.  Would I like them??  (Oh, sure, I can figure out something to do with these...)  Well, she brought me about 40 giant black garbage bags full of these little bits and pieces of fancy fabrics, most of which are NOT cotton, and NOT much bigger than 10" to 15", and not really usable in quilts because of odd fabric content.  There were even a bunch of leather samples, which I had my local fabric store cut out in flower shapes with their AccuQuilt industrial cutter. 

And now, after hours and hours (and days and weeks and nearly 5 years) sorting, petting, cutting, designing, stitching, making bags, making kits, selling, sharing, teaching, upcycling (I have a personal relationship with each and every one of these pieces of fabric...), I am down to one bin of samples, a handful of ugly kits, all the colorful stuff is gone and I'm left with only 8 bags of BEIGEs.  So I've sorted through those neutrals, and I have thought of a couple more projects I want to make.  1) I'll put together enough crazy 4-patch blocks to create a large piece of fabric for a jacket, and 2) A crazy 4-patch Throw using as many 100% cotton samples as I can find, then I'll add some pretty embroidery stitches along the seams.

Those have gone from a WHIMM (Work Hidden In My Mind) to a PIG (Project In a Garbage bag).  Haven't started them yet, so they're not UFOs (UnFinished Objects, or UnFulfilled Opportunities?).  Today's tutorial has gotten me fired up again.  And maybe after Christmas, I'll get serious about it :).  Then I'll probably "throw" the rest away to make room for the other car in the garage, haha!  Unless, of course, YOU drop by for a visit!

So, for your entertainment, and to see how this block can be used, here's a little "Carpetbag" slideshow, just for you!  (8 @ 10" squares, 8-1/2" finished size, 2 stacks of 4 - use a generous 1/4" seam allowance, press seams open.  Add a couple of 4" to 5" side panels, box the bottom, add handles, line it, add a snap, topstitch, embellish, then throw in a quilt (up to queen size).  Perfect for all your sewing stuff... Just look at those happy quilters!

Slide not working?  See Flikr slideshow → HERE

Hope you found something useful today!   Thanks for reading along, for putting up with my run-on sentences (and afterthought parentheses), and you're always welcome to stop by for a visit, online or otherwise, at Quiltscapes.

Happy Sewing!

Guest Blocker with Flowers no less....here is Reeze from Kansas ( 2 guests today- Deonn too)

Thanks for the invite Madame Samm! You totally rock!!

This tut is a little different from the blocks that have been featured so far. I am going to show you how to DRAW a block using EQ7 rather than showing you how to construct a block. If you have never seen EQ7 before, it is a computer drawing program for designing quilts and quilt blocks. I use it all the time in my designs business.

Oops, I forgot to introduce myself (blush). I am Reeze Hanson, from IMGP2251Ottawa, Kansas, and I have a pattern business called Morning Glory Designs. I design what I call “Busy Women Quilt Patterns,” that is, patterns that *look* difficult but are really easy. Yea right, you say. I know what you mean, I was afraid of complicated piecing and applique too. But then I started teaching beginning quilt classes and realized that most quilt blocks are not difficult to make. But the patterns are difficult to figure out.

So I started writing patterns that are easy to follow and use shortcuts, fast piecing techniques and machine applique all written for beginners. Anyone can make my patterns with a little bit of motivation and patience. The Poinsettia quilt in my picture is an example of a one of my patterns.

I have another reason for designing for busy women. I am one. I am a college professor by day and a quilt designer by night. Trying to work a full time job and run a business on the side is quite a challenge, so finding a computer program that allowed me to cut my design time in half really appealed to me. EQ7 draws blocks and quilts, colors them in with real fabric, and then adjusts the size to fit your requirements, and then prints out templates, foundation patterns, rotary cutting charts and fabric yardage! WOW.

So lets get started with this block. I found a picture of an old vintage quilt that I wanted to reproduce. It was difficult to see all the blocks in the blurry photo, but I thought I could use them as a guide. I started with this picture that only shows part of a block.  I thought I would be able to fill in the rest on EQ7.
I loved this purple flower with its big leaf and smaller bud. And a special salute to Rebecca Stover, who made this old block as part of a vintage 1930’s Friendship Quilt, and lovingly embroidered her name on the block.

I imported the picture into EQ7 so I could trace it. By tracing each piece of the block I could create applique templates for the block that I could print out any size.
I arranged the partial photograph so that it is centered in the block. This way I can fit the whole flower in the space of the block. I start by drawing the leaf using the drawing tools on the toolbar at the left size of the screen. I trace the basic leaf shape in on the applique layer of the block worktable.
trace the leaf
I can zoom in after I draw the basic shape and fine tune the leaf until I have it just the way I want it. The “dots” in the picture are called NODES and the little handles that extend off of the nodes let me bend and shape the outline of the leaf.
fine_tune_the_leaf add_veins_to_the_leaf
Once I have fine tuned the shape of the leaf, I can add extra lines to create the veins. These will be added with embroidery thread after the block is completed.
Next I draw the stems using a totally “cewl new tewl” called the BRUSH STROKE tool. It allows you to draw stems or wide brush strokes with one line! Then the line can be adjusted and edited using the same nodes and handles you saw on the leaf drawing. Just like any drawing program, you can select each element and move it forward or backward in the drawing so the overlapping parts are “stacked” in the right order. In applique, extra fabric is added to tuck stems underneath the leaf, flower, or other stems.
add_flower_parts embroidery_lines_added
Next the flower parts for the small flower are traced – first the calyx that overlaps the stem, then the purple flower top. The yellow part of the flow is drawn last and is allowed to overlap the calyx and the purple petals.  I "select" it and "send it to the back" so it will be layered behind the calyx and petals.  It will be tucked under those pieces when appliqued. Lines are added to indicate the placement of embroidery.
add the purple flower line drawingg
The next part is a bit creative. Since the photo does not show the top of the main flower I have to improvise and decide how I want it to look. I play with lines around the top of the flower and realize I don’t have enough room for the flower. I draw it anyway and will reduce the size of the flower and center it later. Once I get the basic shape, I use the copy/paste tool to make a duplicate of the flower, and reduce the size just enough to form the inner flower. I add the embroidery lines and circles for the french knots and the block is done.
completed tracing green_added_to_stem_and_leaves
Once the drawing is complete, I "select" all the parts and center it in the block. I can adjust the overall size of the flower to ensure it fits nicely in the block outline and is not too close to the edges.
Then I switch to the COLOR tab and start to color the block using the fabric swatches I downloaded from the MODA website. I am using Moda Bella Solids for the actual blocks so I use the same swatches to color the blocks.
purple_added_to_flower yellow_and_gold_added
Next I add the purple to the two flowers and then the yellow and gold to complete the block. I add a vintage white to the background and I am done.

Now I am ready to print out templates. I will reverse them and print out without any seam allowance so that I can trace the templates onto fusible web. The web then goes on the back of the fabric and gets cut out. Then the shapes are ironed on a square of the background fabric. The last step is to stitch down the edges using a machine blanket stitch and matching thread.


BUT WAIT! what I really want to do is use this flower to create a wreath! And EQ7 has a special tool to do this called a WREATHMAKER.


I select the flower and click on the WreathMaker button. The window allows me adjust the number of clusters (I want 6), the spacing between the clusters, and the size of the clusters. Here are my settings:


When I click the OK button here is what I get:


Because this creates a new block the colors I had selected are missing in this new wreath block and I will need to recolor this new block. I can use the same colors as the original block or I can recolor it in lots of other combinations. I add color to each flower part by clicking in that part on the worktable.

purple_added_and_leaves_lightened zoom_in_to_add_french_knots

After adding the green stems and leaves I add the purple and yellow flower parts. Then I zoom in to color those tiny French knots. Here is the completed block drawing.

Do you see the star shape that forms in the middle of the block? I love those surprises!!


Several of my pattern testers made up this block for me using different fabrics and here is the finished blocks. One is done with fusible web and machine blanket stitch. The other is completed using needle turn applique.



Thanks to Jean and Ellen, my intrepid pattern testers for these wonderful blocks!

Just for fun, here are some differnt colorings of this block:

Once I start drawing these I just can't stop.  they are addicting!  LOL

See what I mean?  I am on block #107!!!

Here is another block from that same old vintage quilt.  It is drawn the same way:

The original photo:


The traced and colored flower block (left) and Charlene’s test block (right):  Notice that I took a bit of license with the shape of the leaf and the bud.  I wanted to make them a bit more interesting.

Yellow Primrose 1 Charlene's block

The wreath block:

Yellow Primrose 3

Ellen’s test block done with machine applique.

Jean's test block done with needle turn applique.

Both of these blocks will be featured in my 2012 FREE Block of the Month on my blog: Morning Glory Designs and my website. Stop by each month, beginning in January, to pick up the free pattern of the single flower. If you subscribe to my newsletter you will get the extra wreath patterns as a bonus.

Thanks Madame Samm for inviting me to be a guest blogger on your amazing site. I sure have had fun. Hope you did too. Bye for now.