Friday, May 20, 2011

Mug Rug Swap 2011

I decided I needed a bit of a break from quilt blocks--so, I decided to add a swap to the mix.  Just in time, the Scrappy Mug Rug Swap started a new round.

I chose an applique from a Piece O' Cake book.  I used Kona in Bahama Blue for the background and a mix of prints for the flowers.  The design was machine appliqued after fusing with some Steam A Seam.  Here it is prior to quilting.

I chose to quilt the mug rug with some lovely white metallic Sulky thread that I've had for awhile now (paid an outrageous $14 for the spool, but it is so gorgeous!) and just been waiting to try out.  Sadly, you can't really see the sparkle of the thread in the photo.  I used some navy bias tape to bind the whole thing.  You'll probably notice the lack of mitered corners.  I started off to do a traditional mitered style binding, but the corners just looked weird--perhaps due to all the different angles already in the design.  So, I tried a frame style binding and that just looked right.  I guess, sometimes you just have to go with it, even if it doesn't make sense.

To complete this cheerful little mug rug, I used some bright floral fabric for the back.  I like how it is vibrant and visually interesting without hiding the quilting too much.

I included two pin toppers for my partner to enjoy--a little owl and a bluebird.  These were made by my very talented sister.

I can't tell you who my partner is, but I can say she's an international partner.  That made it tough to pick out extra goodies, because I had to watch the weight of the package.  I ended up cutting out the yummies and stuck with just the essentials--the mug rug, two pin toppers and the newest Quiltmaker's 100 blocks magazine (Volume 3).  I hope everything makes it through customs and shipping alright.

So there it is--my first swap after being sick.  I hope my partner likes it.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pay It Forward

Ever seen this icon before?  Well about a year ago, I did on another crafter's blog.  The idea behind it is that you receive a handmade item and in exchange, you commit to creating and sending three handmade items out within one year.  It can be whatever you want to make and send.  Spreadin' the crafty love.  Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?

Well, I'd just about forgotten that I had signed up to be a receiver--that's a long time ago!  Then the other day a white envelope from Norway arrives.  Marit, owner of the Quilt It blog, had sent her round of the Pay It Forward.  Such a fun unexpected surprise!  Here is the lovely handmade item she created and sent to me--a wonky star mug rug!  How lovely--such beautiful craftsmanship and fabrics!

So now it is my turn--I've got 365 days to make and send out some crafty goodness to three people somewhere in the world.  If you would like to be one of the Pay It Forward receivers, just leave a comment.  I'll choose three.  Be sure and leave me an email to contact you with so that I can get your address!  Remember, if chosen, you are committing to send out three handmade items to three people once you receive mine sometime in the next year.  If you know anyone else who might be interested, please feel free to let them know.

Hmm, now what to make...
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Tea Towels

Just a quick look at some appliqued towels I made for the raffle at our local historical society Spring tea (now completed its 11th year!) which I also attended--very delicious food.  The decor this year was in tulips and butterflies, so I went with it.  The designs were machine appliqued onto flour sack towels.

Butterfly designs were from clip art and EQ6.  Antenna were hand embroidered.

Tulip design from some clip art.  Circles were cut out of the fabric design.

You can see the additional circles in the opposite corner.
These were fun to make---I think I may have to make a few more sometime. 
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Squished Nine Patch

I'm calling this block the Squished Nine Patch.  I'm sure it has an official name--maybe two or three like many traditional blocks--but, I don't know any of them, so you get this one.  :)  My quilt will end up being queen sized with a border, which will require 72 squares, but you don't need to make one that big.  I hope you like this block--I do.  It's quick, easy and not something you have to think over--you can just sew away!

Original vintage block on the left.  My version on the right.

This block was created off of a set of vintage/antique hand sewn blocks I mentioned earlier in the blog.  Those blocks measured 9 3/4 inches--not exactly an easy number to start figuring piecing from.  So my version measures 10 inches finished.  Way easier!  You can piece each part individually, but I chose to strip piece for a quicker version.  I'll give you measurements for individual pieces though, just in case you're working with smaller scraps.  Warning:  This tutorial might seem long and involved, but's just a lot of photos taking up space.  But, I like to make sure you can see exactly what I'm explaining, so no worries--it really, really is quick to put together!

For this block you only need two different fabrics.  I chose dark navy and indigo blues contrasted with a salmon pink.

Each block starts with these pieces.

Strip piecing measurements:
2 blue strips 4.25 x 9 inches
1 blue square 3 inches
2 pink strips 3 x 9 inches

Individual piecing measurements:
4 blue squares 4.25 inches
1 blue square 3 inches
4 pink rectangles 3 x 4.25 inches

All seams are a scant 1/4 inch.  I used a navy thread, but any neutral or matching thread will work fine.

Step One:

Take one of the pink strips, lay it horizontally and cut in half.  You should now have two 3 x 4.5 inch rectangles.

Step Two:  Match the blue square to one pink rectangle, right sides together, aligning them on the 3 inch side of the rectangle.  Take the other pink strip and one blue strip, right sides together, aligned along one of the long sides.

Step Three:  Sew along the short side of the rectangle/square combo and along the long side of the strip combo.  You can see my dark thread line below.

Step Four:  Set seams by first pressing flat and then press open.  Press seam allowances towards the blue fabric.

See how the seams go towards the blue fabric--this will be important later for accurate alignment.

Step Five:  Now attach the other pink rectangle to the other side of the blue square.  Also sew the other blue strip to the other long side of the pink strip.

Again, see the thread line below--it clearly shows you which side to sew along.

Step Six:  Set seams and press seam allowances towards the blue fabric.

Your seam allowances in each section will be opposite because you've pressed them towards the blue fabric on each one.

Step Seven:  Set the skinny strip aside.  Take the larger section and cut in half vertically.  You will now have two matching fatty strips that are 4.25 inches wide each consisting of two blue squares with a pink rectangle in the middle.

Step Eight:  Space the two fatty strips apart with the skinny strip now in the middle like this.

Step Nine:  You will now place the skinny strip, right side down, on the fatty strip to the left.  Align the strips at the seams (where the white arrows are pointing).  They should just settle right into place because of the seams being in opposite directions.

See how they just line right up and kind of nestle in place.  This will help you get nice, accurate points on your corners.  Very important.  I like to add a couple of pins to the sides of the seam to hold them in place until I sew them.

Step Ten:  Sew down the vertical length of these strips like this.

Step Eleven:  Set seam and press seam allowance towards the fatty strip.

Step Twelve:  You should now have two sections--a big fat one and one of the remaining fatty strips (the one that was on the right of the skinny strip earlier.)  Take this remaining fatty strip and attach it to the big section, aligning it on the right side of what was previously the center skinny strip.  Set seams and press seam allowance towards the fatty strip.

Once pressed open, your block should look like this.  It's almost finished.  Can you see the "squished" squares of the nine patch?

Your block should line up so that the center, where all the corners meet, is all aligned with all corners at ninety degrees and level--no wonkiness or overlapping desired!  (See the white arrows below.)

Look at those perfect corners and center square--that's what you're looking for!  My seams really are straight, despite the photo.  Take your time to get great results.
  Step Thirteen:  Your final step is simply to square up your block to 10.5 inches.  Align from the center of the block in order to assure that your center square is in the actual center of your block and not slightly to one side.

Ta Dah!  Pretty quick wasn't it?  I'll bet you can sew these blocks up faster than you can read this tutorial!

 Have fun making the Squished Nine Patch!
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Reproducing the Civil War--In a Quilt

Awhile back, my mom was sorting through some vintage and antique quilt blocks.  Some to keep, some for an auction and a few she gave to me.  Amongst the ones I received was a set of seven made of the same pattern and fabrics.  All had the same pink crossbar fabrics, but there were three or so different blues used ranging from navy to indigo.  They are all hand sewn and I do not know the exact age of them.

A simple but effective block.  I really liked the combination of the dark blue with the pink.  The pink is not too babyish, not too bright.  I thought wouldn't it be cool to be able to make a quilt that incorporated these seven vintage pieces.  Well, that started it--off I went to research fabrics that would fit the look I wanted.

To be honest, I hadn't even thought of the Civil War reproduction fabrics, but when looking for navy colored blues with white designs that were similar to the seven, that is exactly where I ended up.  It just so happens that the best pinks to fit the design were also from various Civil War reproduction fabrics.  Originally, I'd planned to go with a mix of blues and just one pink, but changed my mind to a mix of blues and a mix of salmon-toned pinks.  The use of the reproduction fabrics allows me to match the pink tones better and gives me the dark blue with white motifs in a large variety.  Mixing allows me to purchase some now and then others later with each paycheck without having to worry about finding the same designs months from now. 

These were my first selection of fabrics:

I still need another yard's worth of blues and about 1.5 yards of pinks, plus border (considering a sage green), backing and binding, but what a start, eh?!  I like the range here of blues--dark navy to indigo.  I'll be using these blocks for both my months in the Moody Blues Bee and the Sew Buzzy Bee.  That should put me on the road to a lovely queen sized quilt (which requires at least 72 blocks) and give my bee groups a quick and easy block.  The original vintage blocks will go on the back of the quilt.  I'll be posting an easy strip piecing tutorial this week.
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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sun Rays Quilt Blocks

Another set of quilt blocks done and sent to their new home--I'm slowly but surely catching up!

These two are from a Twin Fibers tutorial and are called Sun Rays.  These ones were made for Jordan (bjsmurthwaite) over in our Bee Scrappy quilting group.  She requested a scrappy mix of blues, aqua, turquoise, green, and purple with a white center.

These blocks were pretty simple, although I think mine took longer because I kept checking my angle alignment on the borders as I went.  It's pretty easy to get the angle off or to not have the strips lined up so that they cover the entire way, but go slow and follow all the tutorial steps for the first one and the second will be twice as fast.

Fortunately, I have quite the stash of blue fabrics.  I made one with strips slanting right and one with strips slanting left as she plans on alternating them.  I think this quilt will be quite striking when finished.

The first one:

The second (the blue-greens seem to show more blue-ish here):

Overall, despite the time it takes to cut all the strips, align, sew, press and repeat for each strip on each border, I think this block is very attractive and would make a lovely pillow showcasing some applique or embroidery.  An entire quilt would be phenomenal, but definitely would take some dedication!
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