Sunday, October 19, 2014

arrowhead times two. 

I first posted about this block back in July, and made the solid version shortly thereafter, but dragged my feet on the tutorial and sewing up the scrappy option until now.  It's not that it's a particularly difficult block, but there is some fussiness and tutorials take a long time to put together!  For me at least.  It's the photos and graphics mostly.  I can never decide which work / look best, and in this case, ended up using both!

I'm feeling pretty "meh" about the solid version.  I think it has a lot to do with my color choice.  
But the graphic of multiple blocks together is rather striking, with the secondary pattern emerging so strongly. And then the ideas of playing with color start flooding in...  this is one that might get made up as a blank coloring sheet.
 The scrappy version is just the opposite.  I love everything about the single block.  It's dynamic and engaging and I love how the squares of the middle "triangle" units are distinct.   
It was a little more time-consuming to make, but not by much.  No strip-piecing for the nine-patches and if you're not paying close attention (like me) this can happen:  
oops.
Several blocks together?  I'm not so sure.  Granted, this is the same block copy-pasted.

Scrappy blocks of different colors? Scrappy colors but single-colored background?  Multiple colors within a single block? Would the secondary pattern emerge?  Would it just be chaos?  Hmm.  More coloring pages perhaps.

For now, the scrappy aqua block is looking more and more like pillow material.  Although I'm not ruling out a single-block quilt yet with large borders.  The red block will be retired to the "dead block files".  For now.


Find the tutorial for a single block here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014



october bee blocks.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


on the wall.

I've had to put my rainbow cards top on hold while I finish up my August bee blocks.  A few aqua units made a break for it while I was distracted (I think the cat might have helped with their escape), but I'm hoping they can be rounded up without too much trouble.

My bee mate requested Arkansas Traveler blocks in yellow/grey.  This block combines traditional piecing  for the central diamonds with paper-piecing for the grey border.  There's a great tutorial and downloadable template at Freshly Pieced.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Making progress. 

Based on the Play a Card pattern by Zen Chic, but a tad smaller.  There are 112 different fabrics, all from stash (scraps mostly), save six of the pale violets and a few Botanics prints.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I relocated operations to the deck temporarily so I could join in with Rachel over at Stitched in Color with my own Purge of sorts.  Only I'm not limiting myself to just those "meh" prints.   Most everything in my scrap bins was fair game, including my beloved scottie dogs, some original FMF, favorite Mingle prints and more.  I think the only fabric spared the blade was some prize Tula Pink scraps that have their own fate in store.

I cut rough charms from all of my scraps, joined them to white strips, and cut them in half.  The plan is to pair them up with a second half from the leftover pile and assemble into two baby quilts.

But in the meantime, I've been enjoying my rainbow piles.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

It's been too hot lately to do much of anything except lounge around pathetically and complain - let alone hang out next to an even hotter iron - so I thought I'd share a small summer sewing project from cooler days - a little bling for the machine.  Well maybe not bling exactly, but add a few glass-head pins and things could get sparkly.

You see, Finn the Cat, bless his heart, seems to think that every small stuffed object is a cat toy.   Including the pin cushion.  And I'm sure it's not hard to imagine that cat + pins = a very bad thing.

Doesn't he look guilty?

This took very little time to make:
Make a piece of patchwork, measuring the width of the machine neck + 1/2" x roughly 4 1/2".  Cut a second piece of solid cotton or muslin the same size for a lining to keep the filling from sneaking out the seams.
Cut a piece of 1/2" - 3/4" wide elastic a few inches shorter than the two sides and back of the machine body combined.
Layer the fabrics with the solid to the wrong side of the patchwork and fold in half RST the long way.  Finger crease the fold.  Place the elastic in the middle (on right side of patchwork) and align the ends with the short ends of the fabric sandwich.   Pin in place at each end.  (The elastic will be longer than the patchwok and bunch up in the center. Just take care to keep it away from the long edge.)
Starting at the folded edge, stitch across the end, making a few passes to secure the elastic Turn the corner and stitch about 1/3 of the way across, leave a 2" gap for turning, and then stitch to the opposite corner, turn and stitch the other short end with elastic, again reversing over the elastic a few times.

Turn right side out and stuff with your favorite pin-cushion filling.
I used crushed walnut shells, adding a little bit of fiber-fill at the end to pack it in well.
Stitch the opening closed by hand.

That's it!  The elastic should stretch enough to get the cusion up and around the machine arm, but hold it snug in place.

I'm not a big pinner, but I have to say, it sure is handy always having a few close by without having to fear them being absconded by the cat!

If you happen to make a little machine pin cushion, please share a photo on the lark cottons flickr group!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

This post is part of the "Anatomy of a Block" series where we deconstruct and reconstruct a traditional quilt block to figure out what it's all about.

One of the first quilting books I purchased was Maggie Malone's 5,500 Quilt Block Designs.  The title says it all.  There are no quilts, no instructions, just block after block.  I love flipping through the pages, studying the block designs and thinking of all the possibilities.   Some of the attraction is figuring out all the parts and pieces of these blocks and how they fit together. 

For this series of blog posts, I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at a few of my favorites.
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Many traditional blocks are based upon an underlying square grid.  Identifying this grid is often the key to constructing a block that doesn't come with cutting and piecing instructions. 

Quilt math works best when the finished block size is easily divisible by the defining grid!  

The grid size relates to a finished square within the block.  It is determined by dividing the finished block size by the number in the grid.   For example, a 12" block based on a four x four grid has a grid size of three.  Knowing the grid size becomes important when calculating fabric to cut.   For the basic square, it's grid size + (seam allowance x 2).  Now, this square might comprise of several individual fabric pieces or a single fabric might encompass more than square, but this basic square is the foundation behind many of the traditional blocks I'll be featuring.
Arrowhead.
First things first.
The underlying grid to this block is 8 x 8.  I found it by starting with the smallest square and projecting its size equally across the entire block.   The result is 64 squares, each measuring the finished block size / 8.
This is what I'll refer to as the grid size (GS).
Next, divide and conquer.
Like many traditional blocks, Arrowhead consists of repetitive "sub-blocks".  These can typically be found by locating the main seams that track full width of the block and divide the block into distinct sections.  There are two in each direction, creating nine sections and three sub-block types.
The center block (C) is a simple square,  taking up two grids square. This unfinished fabric piece will measure  [(2 x GS) + 1/2"] per side (assuming a standard 1/4" seam allowance).
Block A is pretty simple too.  A nine-patch.  3 squares x 3 squares.
Or three rows of three squares each.
In a two-color scheme, strip piecing is the most efficient.  For each nine-patch there are two rows with the color scheme a-a-b and one row of a-b-a.    Multiply these by the four A-blocks for 8 rows of a-a-b and four rows of a-b-a.  To size each strip:
Width = [GS + 1/2"] and Length = [(GS + 1/2") x (# rows)]
For a scrappy version, four A-blocks need 24 squares (6x4) of background fabric(s), and 12 squares (3x4) of contrasting fabrics.   Since these pieces are the basic square of the block, fabric for each square measures [GS + 1/2"].
That just leaves block B.  Not so simple.  Pulling it apart on the original lines in the diagram yields a whole mess of triangles and a square on point.  Yikes.  If working with a solid or small-scale fabric, I could most likely get away with breaking this block into a few classic patchwork units:
Option 1:  quarter square triangle / flying geese (goose?)
Option 2:  flying goose / square in a square
Option 3:  three flying geese (or a rectangle sandwiched by two geese)

Each of these classic units have specific sizing rules for their fabric pieces, which I won't go into here - but once assembled each unit still needs to fit within the underlying grid.   Looking back at the original gridded block, the unfinished geese, for example, would be [(2 x GS) + 1/2"] wide by [GS+ 1/2"] tall.

But what's purist to do?  How would block B be constructed with seam lines exactly as shown on the diagram?  Here's one way mapped out:
1.  Create a partial square in a square block, using just two corner squares.
2.  Attach a rectangle to a top corner using a similar method and trim the top half of the block at a 45 degree angle starting at the top of the small bottom left triangle.
3.  Since adding the last two triangles one at a time would mean grappling with a Y-seam, attach the remaining two triangles as a single unit instead.

Sizing these fabric pieces can get a little tricky, but returning to the basic square will help.  Using the original grid again as a guide, the large starting square in step 1 is [(2 x grid size) + 1/2"] per side.  The small triangles are a square with [GS + 1/2"] per side.  This works because the stitch line divides the square in half equally.  It follows that the rectangle is  [(2 x GS) + 1/2"] wide by [GS+ 1/2"] tall.
And the last two triangles?  They get into the realm of half-square triangles and quarter-square triangles, with the math harkening back to high school geometry and the good 'ol pythagorean theorem.
As a rule of thumb, add 3/8" to the unfinished starting square for a HST (7/8" to finished size) and 3/4" for a QST (1 1/4" to finished size).  Because these units are half of a half square triangle (making them akin to quarter-square triangles) unfinished squares need to be [(2 x grid size) + 1/2" + 3/4"] per side.

Two contrasting squares will make four of these half blocks - which is exactly what we need for four B-blocks. There's a catch though - two will be mirrored, which means that two of the B-blocks will need the rectangle in step 2 sewn onto the other side!

Of course, with all those points to line up, the fail-safe method may be to paper-piece!

Now that that I've pulled this block apart, I'm off to see if I can stitch this baby back together and will hopefully be back soon with the full tutorial!