Monday, July 27, 2015

Aztec Quilt Top Finished!


Okay. Last - but certainly not least - I finished a quilt top this weekend! 

It was 3 months in the making - about 2 months longer than I expected - but it's done!!! **Happy dance time!**

It was a bit of a rough go trying to photograph it. Funny how a light, thin quilt top can make a slight breeze feel like a hurricane-force wind!  

This was about the moment I got frustrated and made the hubby hold the quilt. Nothing like capturing and memorializing these wonderful moments. Ha...

All in all - I'm pretty happy with it. These photos don't do the colors justice - but then, I find that quilts almost never photograph well. They are always SO much better in person! 

Now to decide whether I want to try quilting this myself on my tiny machine - or pay someone else to do it... I'm leaning toward the latter. 

Cotton and Steel Mini Quilt Swap

I joined another Instagram swap a few months ago. On IG I mostly follow other quilters and crafters - which make up a large, very interactive and social group that have lots of fun activities. The Sew Together Bag Swap I did previously, was similar in design. Everyone signs up for the swap on IG. The organizer of then pairs everyone up, and you make a project and/or gift for the other person. Sometimes it's a secret swap, and sometimes it isn't. 

This particular swap was secret. We were to make a mini quilt (generally considered to be 24" square or less) for our partner using fabrics by the Cotton and Steel designers. Since these are lately some of my absolute favorite fabrics - I couldn't resist signing up! 

Again - I'm playing catch-up with this post, because this project was finished and delivered around a month ago. 

My partner turned out to be Holly - the owner of PineNeedles - which is one of my absolute favorite local quilt shops! Can we talk about pressure?!! How do you make something for someone who has access to whatever they want in the fabric world?? 

She said she liked the colors pink, mustard, mint, and navy - so I used that as a guide. The center star is a free foundation paper-pieced pattern called Ice Star. You can download it here, if interested. I sized it down from 24" square to 18" square for this project. 

The border is also paper pieced. It's called Hummingbird - found here - and is originally 5" square. I sized the blocks down to 3" square (so itty-bitty!) and used a bunch of different fabrics to make it look sort of "sparkly." I also played up the "sparkly" theme by using some of the C+S metallic fabrics in the border and binding. 

Overall, I think it turned out pretty great. 

The other fun thing about my partner being local, was that I was able to deliver it in person. I packed it all up with a few extras, drove down to the shop (after calling to make sure she was there), and surprised her! ...And then I did a little shopping... ;) It's a good thing the shop is ~45 mins away, or I'd be there much too often!! 

If you are interested in seeing any of the in-progress shots of this, or any of my other projects - or to see the amazing mini quilt I received in return (which made top 13 of the swap and is currently in Atlanta being judged by the C+S designers!!) - check out my Instagram feed. I tend to post there much more often than here - it's just so much faster and more convenient. 

May and June Bee Blocks - Playing Catch-Up

I've been sewing some, working a lot (90 hours last week!!), and blogging very little. When time runs short, documenting projects online is last on the list. 

But, I thought you might like to see what I've been working on! 

**Fair warning - for those who follow on Instagram and Flickr - you've probably seen the projects that will occupy the next few posts before.**

This post will focus on Bee (group quilting) blocks.

May - Beejeebers - Scrappy Rainbow Star 

The tutorial can be found on Melissa's blog - here. This was a super fun, scrap-eating block. I hope to see progress of the quilt made from these blocks soon, because I think it is going to look awesome! 

May - dGS Aspire Circle - Granny Squares 

Karri asked for sherbet-colored granny square blocks. This is the second time I've made these blocks this year, and I absolutely adore them!!! They are quick and always look fantastic. I think I need to make an entire quilt one of these days. We used this tutorial - which is great for using up scraps (we did size the block up by cutting squares at 3"). I've also seen a tutorial for using jelly roll strips, which looks like it would come together a little quicker. 

June - Beejeebers - X and Plus 

This block is fast and fun! We used this tutorial. I've seen quilts and projects made from these blocks since I started quilting - and they always look amazing. I was surprised how small the blocks turn out - only 8" unfinished. Cute and little. :) 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Aztec Quilt Block Tutorial

I posted a progress pic of my Aztec quilt on IG and Flickr recently, and had a couple requests for a tutorial of the block. I hope to post some great pictures of the finished quilt soon, but it's not quite there yet.

For now, here is the tutorial (sorry for the terrible was a tad dark when I threw this this together). 

This block is really amazingly fast and easy! I whipped up 16 of them in just a few hours one weekend...though I didn't manage to accomplish much else. Ha! 

These instructions are for one 15" x 18" finished block (15.5" x 18.5" unfinished). 

- 2 - 10" squares center fabric
- 2 - 10" squares background fabric

This would be perfect for layer cake squares - which is actually why I went with these beginning measurements. 

However, I cut my squares from a bundle of (much loved and hoarded) fat quarters. If using FQs - you will need 2 per block (one center fabric and one background - cut into the above measurements). 

Sewing (all seam allowances are 1/4" except where noted): 

Layer 2 squares - one background, one center fabric. Draw a line from corner to corner on the lighter fabric. Sew on either side of the line with a scant 1/4" seam allowance (you will need this to be slightly scant to allow for trimming). Cut apart along drawn line. 

Press to the dark to create one HST unit. 

Repeat above to create 4 total HST units. 

Trim all 4 HST units to 9.5" square - using the diagonal seam as a guide. 

Layer 2 HST right sides together, matching opposing colors and nesting diagonal seams. 

Cut in half at 4-3/4".

Hint: I think these cut most accurately when placed with the seam allowance facing you - so you are cutting against the seam, forcing them to nest together. 

Cut each half in half again at 2-3/8". 

Rearrange strips to create the layout of first half of the Aztec block. 

Repeat the above steps with another 2 HST to create the other half. 

Sew strips together, into 4 quadrants. Press seams open. 

Sew quadrants together into 2 rows, carefully matching points at the end (I like to do this by holding my fabrics together with my fingers right at the seam allowance, pulling the seam allowance apart, taking a look to see that the diagonal matches up, then pinning at that point...sorry I didn't take a pic of this). Press open. 

Only one seam left!

Begin pinning together - matching and pinning all intersecting seams. Also be sure to match the points that meet on the first and last strips. 

I stick a pin through the top fabric at the point of the diagonal in the seam allowance: 

Then stick the pin through the front of the point in the fabric behind: 

Wiggle the pin until it stands straight, then pin it back through both fabrics. 

Sew with a 1/4" seam, being sure to sew right at the point of the pinned diagonal. 

This is one of those points where I would leave the pin, and sew over it slowly and carefully. I know this is traditionally wrong...scold me if you like...but this has helped me achieve more accurate points on all of my projects. 

Press open from the back and the front - and stand back to admire your work! ( favorite part!!

This block is one of my favorites from my Tule Aztec quilt. Doesn't it remind you of summertime and strawberry lemonade! So refreshing!! 

P.S. I have also seen this block referred to as "Delectable Mountains" or "Mountain Majesties" in case you are doing some Google searching for inspiration or other methods/tutorials for different sized blocks. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sew Together Bag Swap

Oh! I thought I posted this a while ago, but I guess I didn't. Ha! 

I finished a Sew Together Bag - and it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I honestly didn't think I could do it, but I did! 

The Quilt Barn tutorial was SUPER helpful!! 

It wasn't absolutely perfect - but fully functional and looked quite good, if I say so myself. I'm hoping to make another soon, it was super fun! 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Modern Dog Quilt Block Tutorial

This block is a touch more involved than the last - but not much. I know you can do it! 

These blocks will be 12.5" unfinished - perfect for pairing with the sixteen-patch block tutorial I posted here

For my Quilting Bee friends - here's the color inspiration again: 

We will be using the bottom row - low-volume fabrics - as background. The middle row - black and dark gray fabrics - for the dog body. And the top row - colors - for the bow. 

Let's get started! 

Here's a quick sketch of the block layout, so you can see which fabrics end up where: 

I know, kind of a bunch of scribbles. Sorry - I'm not one for drafting/computerized images. Maybe someday I'll enlist the help of my tech-y husband to teach me...

Cutting Directions

  • A - 1 - 3.5" square
  • C - 1 - 3.5" x 9.5" rectangle
  • D - 2 - 3.5" squares
  • I - 1 - 4.5" square
  • H - 2 - 3.5" x 6.5" rectangles
Dog Body: 
  • B - 2 - 3.5" squares
  • E - 1 - 3.5" x 6.5" rectangle (careful with directional fabrics, see tips below)
  • F - 1 - 4.5" square
  • K - 1 - 6.5" square
  • G - 1 - 3.5" square
  • J - 1 - 4" square

With careful cutting, I was able to get the background for one sixteen-patch block and one dog block from a single fat quarter. You are welcome to do the same, or use different fabrics for each block. 

Again - contrast is key! If using gray for the dog body, be sure it has enough contrast from your background to stand out well. If using a darker blue or navy for the bow, be sure it is bright enough to contrast with your black/gray fabrics for the dog. It should be a pop of color! 

WARNING - this tutorial is VERY picture heavy. You may or may not need to continue reading from here, depending on your experience level. I'm gearing this tutorial toward beginning quilters, just in case there is a newbie out there who wants to make some cute Modern Dog blocks. :) 

Lets get started. I chose to make a block using directional fabric, so I could show you some tips about how I check to make sure things are positioned correctly. 

Grab a 3.5" dog square, and your 3.5" x 9.5" background rectangle. 

Lay the square, right sides together, on top of your rectangle. Draw a sewing line from corner to corner and pin. 

For directional fabric: fold back the top corner before you pin, so you can see if the stripe will go the correct direction after it's pressed open. 

Sew on the drawn line. I begin sewing slowly with these - the triangle points can sometimes get chewed up in the machine if you sew too quickly. 

 Line up a ruler with the 1/4" mark along the sewn seam. Cut the end triangle off, leaving 1/4" seam allowance. 

Press open, and pair with a 3.5" background square. 

Sew with a 1/4" seam and press toward the background square. 

Set this top ear unit to the side. We will begin working on the face of the dog. 

Grab two 3.5" background squares and your 3.5" x 6.5" dog rectangle (the rectangle will be positioned this way in the finished block - so it was cut paying close attention to the direction of the stripes.) 

We are making one flying geese (goose?) unit. Place a square on the rectangle, right sides together, and draw a sewing line from corner to corner.   

Sew on the line, as before. Then cut off the outside triangle 1/4" away from the sewn seam. 

Press open. 

Hint:  Be very gentle when pressing flying geese. They are prone to stretching, and will end up wonky if you move your iron around too much. I have ended up with many a goose with a saggy middle because I was too aggressive when pressing. 

Repeat as above - placing the second square on the bottom of the rectangle and drawing a sewing line. 

Again, sew on the line, cut off the outside triangle 1/4" away from the seam, and press open. 

You have now finished a flying goose (geese??) unit. 

Now, start laying the pieces out as they will go in the block - this allows you to see how things should go and prevents mistakes. 

Add a 3.5" dog square, a 3.5" x 6.5" background rectangle, and a 3.5" bow square. 

Place the bow square on the inside end of the background rectangle, and draw a line from corner to corner.  

Sew on the line, cut off the outside triangle, and press open. 

Now we will begin making the bottom bow unit. We will first make a half-square triangle (HST), and then use that to make a quarter-square triangle (QST). 

Grab your 4.5" dog and background squares. Lay them right sides together, and flip the bottom corner of the dog square up so you can check the direction of the stripes. 

Draw a line from corner to corner in the direction of this diagonal fold. This time we will be sewing on either side of the line, NOT on it. 

Cut the triangles apart from corner to corner, along the drawn line

Be careful NOT to slip and cut through your sewn seams (ahem, not that that's happened to me...) 

You will only need ONE of these HST units (at this point, it doesn't matter which you choose, either should work for the next step). Press the seam open. 

Trim the HST to 4" square, lining up the 45-degree angle on your ruler with your sewn seam. Trim the first two sides. 

Flip it around, line everything up, and trim the last two sides. 

Grab your 4" bow square. 

Place right sides together with your HST unit and draw a line from corner to corner going in the opposite direction of the seam on the HST. 

As before, sew on either side of the drawn line, and cut the units apart along that line.

This time, only one of the units will be correct for the block. It should be the one that looks kinda like this: 

Press the seam open. Now trim the QST to 3.5" square. Be careful, when making the first cut, to line up the 45-degree along the sewn seam AND keep an eye on the seam in the bottom right corner. It should come to a point. 

Okay - now lay everything out for the block - adding in the 3.5" x 6.5" background rectangle for the bottom and the 6.5" square for the dog body. 

You are almost done!! 

Sew the 3.5" square to your QST unit, and press toward the square. 

Match this with the flying geese/goose/geeses...??? unit.

(I'm sorry, but I have NO idea what the proper term is for a single I even close??!) 

Pin at the two edges and in the middle. To preserve your pretty points, look for the spot where the seam line and the yellow bow fabric come to a point. Sew just above that point. 

Also match the points at the final corner. I line them up, hold the seam with my fingers, and take a peek inside the seam allowance to see if the background fabrics line up. This last point is one where I definitely sew over the pin. (This will be the bottom point of the chin. If it doesn't line up, it will end up looking pretty wonky). 

Press the seam open. 

This finished piece should be measuring 6.5" square. Mine was just a touch small (maybe 1/8"), but workable. If it is significantly small, it is probably in your seam allowance. 

Pair with the bottom background rectangle and pin your seams. Sew just above the point of the V to preserve your point. 

Press this seam toward the bottom rectangle. 

Now sew the top bow-rectangle to the dog body. Press toward the large square (dog body). 

 Match up your seams between the head and body units. 

Pin and sew carefully, watching your points and nesting seams at the bow. Press open. 

Now for the final seam!! It's looking so good! 

Match the top ear unit up with the rest of the block - pinning carefully and looking for those points. 

Press seam up toward the ear unit - or open is fine too. Which ever. 

You have finished your Modern Dog block!!! Isn't he cute?! 

He should now be 12.5" square (or mostly my case).   

I love the sort of simple, retro-modern, 50's look these blocks have. 

Thanks for following along and let me know if you have any questions!!

Bee girls - thanks SO much! I am super excited to see this quilt come together. Feel free tag me on Instagram @whitney.leonard86 and/or use #moderndogquilt.