Quilt Block Roundup

puppyblockIt’s been a while since I shared the blocks I’ve been making for the Hive swap and various charity projects, so here are some that have come across my sewing table.

That adorable puppy block is one I made for a Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild member who is making a quilt to be auctioned off by a local pet rescue. The pattern is Dog Gone Cute by Sew Fresh Quilts, and the pattern creator generously gave her permission to copy the pattern so Guild members could all pitch. Each dog is just a bit different, and the quilt turned out pretty darn cute.

Erin_dogcharityquilt.jpg

I’m still in a Bee Hive swap with CMQG members, and one recent block was fun and scrappy. Elizabeth asked us to cut a 12.5-inch square of a solid fabric (or one that reads as a solid) and to make a 12.5-inch square with narrow strips of fabric.

HST Bee block 1

Then she asked that we use those two squares to make make two half-square triangle blocks. Super easy!

HST Bee block 2

Next up is a little paper-pieced block I made for Tara. She provided the Tea and Coffee Cups pattern (a free one) from Piece By Number and a swatch of a teal color that she wanted each block to include.

teacupblock_sm

A person on Instagram with the handle Crafty Cop is a police officer who is making quilts for families of police officers killed in the line of duty. She put out a call for 12.5-inch Raspberry Kiss blocks, and so members of CMQG made some to send. She asked that all the backgrounds be low volume and the Xs be blue. The tutorial we followed was from Heritage Threads.

CraftyCop_blockssm

Finally, this past month, Susan from the Hive swap asked each of us to make four Polaroid blocks. The centers of each are 2.5-inch fussy-cut images. Then narrow white strips of fabric are added to look kind of like the frame around Polaroid photos. These were so fun to make. So fun that I couldn’t stop making them and have started my own Polaroid quilt. I ended up making five blocks for Susan just in case the shark block wasn’t her style—but it was.

Polaroid_blocks_sm

I love that participating in swaps and charity projects means I get to try so many different blocks. Some I know I won’t try again (that puppy was a bear!), but know that you’ll see some of these again in future quilts.

 

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February Hive Doings

myhiveblocks4At the February meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, the members of my Hive gave me the blocks they made. (Read all about the Hive Swap and my quilt blocks here.) It was so fun to see how everyone’s blocks turned out! Christy did some major fussy cutting on the blocks above.myhiveblocks3As did Abby, who managed to work in some book fabric in the left-hand block and the word “Wisconsin.” Pretty cool.

myhiveblocks2

myhiveblocks1All of the blocks turned out great. And the good news is there’s more to come. Three people weren’t able to get their blocks to me in February, so I’ll have Scrappy Improv blocks coming for the next few months. Once I get them all, the quilt should come together very quickly (one would think, anyway).

At the meeting, my Hive received our instructions for the February block. Yo is the February Hive Queen, and she designed her block. She provided instructions for it and asked that the wider fabric be a large print and the narrower fabric be a solid.

febhiveblock

I tried to use colors that I thought were in Yo’s typical palette, which isn’t really my typical palette. So that’s always a gamble. But hopefully she likes it!

Scrappy Improv Blocks Tutorial

improv10As 2017 begins, so does the next Bee Hive Swap at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. The hive has eleven members, and each month one member presents a block. The other members of the hive make the block and give it to the member who presented it at the next meeting. I learned so much last time, making blocks that I wouldn’t think to make for myself, so I signed up again this year. And I was selected to lead it off by presenting my blocks at the January meeting!

I struggled to come up with a block that I liked, so I kind of came up with two of my own. These blocks are scrappy and improv-y, and the common fabric that I supplied will help to give the quilt a cohesive look. Below are instructions if you’d like to make these blocks yourself.

Materials for two 12½˝ blocks

  • Fabric scraps at least 4˝ long
  • 1 square 6½˝ × 6½˝ neutral fabric for Block A
  • 2 strips 3½˝ × 6½˝ neutral fabric for Block B
  • 2 strips 3½˝ × 12½˝ neutral fabric for Block B

improv11. Cut scrap fabric into pieces about 4˝ long and various widths between ¾˝ and 2˝. Feel free to cut these without a ruler for a more improv look. Sew pieces long edges together. Again, feel free to sew in an improv fashion, following the lines of the cut edges. Press the seams to the side, but either side is fine.

improv2a2. Continue to sew strips together. After you have 4 or 5 pieces together, spray with starch or a product like Flatter to keep the sewn strip flat.

improv33. You’ll need a total of 51˝ of sewn strips to make both blocks, but I recommend making multiple strips, rather than one really long one. See strip lengths below. Trim the sewn strips to 3½˝ wide.

Block A

improv44. Sew two 3½˝ wide scrappy strips to the top and bottom of the neutral 6½˝ square. Trim ends. Press seams to the center.

improv5As you can see, the back is tidy, but the strip seams aren’t all going in the same direction. That’s just fine.

imrpov65. Sew two trimmed scrappy strips at least 12½˝ long to the sides of the 6½˝ square. Press seams to center. Trim to 12½˝ square.

Here’s what one of my longer strips looked like before I trimmed it to 3½˝. It’s getting a little crooked already, making trimming to 3½˝ wide tricky. That’s why I don’t recommend trying to sew one strip the full 51˝ long.

 

improv7Block A is complete.

Block B

improv86. Cut two trimmed scrappy strips 6½˝ long. Sew these long edges together for the center of Block B.
7. Sew one neutral 3½˝ × 6½˝ strip to the top of the pieced center and one to the bottom. Press seams toward the neutral fabric.
8. Sew one neutral 3½˝ × 12½˝ strip to each side of the center. Press seams toward neutral fabric.

improv9Block B is complete.

Once I get all the blocks from my hive members, I plan to alternate the A and B blocks for the finished top. I can’t wait to see how the blocks turn out!

Hexie Swap Block

Hexie step 5

Here we are at another month, and that means I’ve worked on another swap block for the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild! I really do like this hive structure for the swap (read more about it here) because I’m getting to try blocks and techniques I truly would not have tried on my own. This month that block is Grandmother’s Flower Garden and the technique is English paper piecing.

Tara was the Queen Bee for June and she provided everything we needed to make her block: instructions, the paper-piecing templates, and even the fabric! I just needed to add thread and stir.

Hexie step 1

The thing is I had never done English paper piecing before. I knew in theory what to do—fold the fabric around the template shape and then hand stitch the fabric hexagons together. So I did what I always do when I have to try something new: I put it off . . . and complained to Greg about how much work it was going to be. Then Greg said, “Well, what can you do to make the process easier?” And since I hadn’t started it yet, I didn’t really have an answer. So I had to stop complaining—at least to Greg.

I finally cut the jelly roll strips I received into 2.5-inch squares and thread-basted the fabric to the templates. To do this, I folded the fabric over one side, took two small stitches to hold the fold, then made running stitches to get to the next side. There I folded the fabric, took two small stitches, made my way over to the next side, and kept going. The basting took longer than I thought, and I was really having a tough time seeing why people liked this technique.

Hexie step 2

With all my pieces basted, I started to arrange the block, but the large dotted fabric I received was throwing me for a loop. Some pieces were primarily gray and others primarily light green, so they didn’t look very cohesive when I placed them randomly.

Hexie step 3

So I made the bold decision to arrange them like a pansy face. I preferred them that way—I hope Tara does, too.

Hexie step 4

Once I started piecing the hexagons together, I did understand the appeal of the technique. The methodical hand sewing was quite fun, and it went quickly, too.

Hexie step 5

Tara asked that we leave all the templates in the fabric so that she can remove them when she’s ready.

I feel a little bad that Tara is receiving this piece with all my beginner’s mistakes. My corners don’t all meet, and it’s not exactly flat either (as you can see by the giant shadow on the left). But I am glad I gave this technique a try, and I may buy my own set of templates to have around for when I need something to work on by hand.

Homeward Bound Quilt Top

Way back in January I posted about some blocks I made for the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild Bee Hive Swap and how they inspired me to start a new quilt. After that, I got busy making the individual blocks for the quilt.

Homeward block 1

And I loosely grouped them together.

Homeward blocks

After a few months, I had made 42 blocks and considered that enough for a quilt. So I laid out the blocks on the dining room floor.

HomewardBound1

And the first bits of doubt started to creep into my mind. Hmmm. That wasn’t how I thought it would look. It’s hard to explain, but I thought the patterns made by the white and gray fabrics and the green fabrics would be stronger. It just didn’t look very cohesive.

But I went ahead and sewed it together. Then I draped it over the upstairs railing and let it sit. For about a month I looked at it and tried to figure out what to do next. Add a border? Maybe two? Leave it as is?

As luck would have it, we were asked to bring projects we were stuck on to the April meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. The plan was to break into small groups and brainstorm ways to help each person along with her project.

Since the quilt top was technically done, I held it up for show-and-tell and tried to explain my misgivings. It was kind of hard to be down on the quilt given the enthusiastic response of the guild members. People seemed to genuinely like it. Maybe it was just me.

Later we broke up into our small groups and talked about the quilt again. It was there that a couple of ladies held the quilt up for me to see from a distance. It was the first time I could really stand far back and look at it.

HomewardBoundquilttop

OK, maybe I could see the patterns better than I thought. During show-and-tell, one woman described it as “sun-dappled,” and I agree. The patterns are there, but they are getting broken up a bit with lights, like it would be on a sunny day.

Then, we happened to notice that the quilt was being reflected in the window of our meeting space. From that point of view, the patterns were crystal clear! I guess it all just depends on your perspective.

So, I’m going to go ahead and finish the quilt as is. Right now, I’m thinking I’ll use orange thread for the center areas and then maybe gray for the rest of it. But I could also see myself taking it a step further and using green thread in the green areas. We’ll see.

Several of the women in guild suggested adding an orange binding, but I’ll make that decision once I get that far.

For the most part, I’m a solitary crafter. I’ll ask Greg’s opinion on things, but I don’t usually go out and solicit feedback. In this case, though, I really needed outside points of view. I was too close to it, both literally and figuratively, to see it clearly. So a huge thank you to the women of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild for their support, ideas, and encouragement! This one might actually get finished because of you!

 

Hand-Quilted Mug Rug

hand quilted mug rugAt the February meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, Dana presented an education segment on hand quilting. I have hand quilted before, but it was good to get her take on hoops (which I’ve never used but got to try at the meeting), thread (including pearl cotton, which I’ve always wanted to try), and needles. Our challenge was to try hand quilting and bring our work to the March meeting.

I didn’t get on it until just a few days before the March meeting. So I went through my pile of orphan blocks and found this one that I had made at the Heather Jones workshop last year. It’s small (about 8″ x 8″) so quilting would go quickly, and I really like the colors and wanted to finish it somehow anyway. Perfect!

Less perfect was the fact that I didn’t have any pearl cotton or a quilting hoop. So I just quilted it like I’d done in the past: in hand, with my regular sewing thread. It turns out that holding it in hand while quilting causes the piece to bunch up a bit more (a hoop keeps it flatter), but for my purposes, the bunchiness was fine.

My stitches are nowhere near the “ideal” of ten stitches per inch. Mine are about five per inch, occasionally six. But I certainly didn’t see a need to go smaller for a mug rug. And I’m not entirely sure I could go much smaller anyway. Ten stitches per inch is a lot!

hand quilted backOn the back, I just used a piece of pin fabric that I’d had for a while. It was surprisingly confusing—a couple of time I actually thought they were pins as I was working on it.

I have to admit I didn’t get the sense of relaxation that many people do when they hand quilt. Maybe it’s because I wanted to finish it by the meeting date. But I do still want to try pearl cotton sometime—maybe even tackle a whole quilt with it. We’ll see . . .

Shark Wall Hanging

Shark front quilted

My first Christmas gift for the year is done! This shark wall hanging is going to my shark-loving little niece Stella. As you may recall, I gave her a shark skirt a few years ago. And since she’s still into sharks, the shark-themed sewn gifts will continue to come her way.

This wall hanging is a result of the traveling quilt/round robin exchange I participated in last year for the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. I started my traveling quilt with this shark block.

Shark blockThen each member of my group made a block or blocks to go with it.

Shark top Ellen made the fish, and Teresa made the Shark Teeth blocks at the bottom. On the back I used Kim’s Saltwater Taffy blocks and some more fish.

Shark top back

I had originally planned to make a boy’s charity quilt with my blocks, but that was going to take a lot more paper-piecing on my part. So instead, I reworked my block (taking off the borders) and some of the other blocks I received (some of the fish were sewn together), added some solid ocean-colored fabrics, and pulled it together for this 18 x 21-inch piece.

With the top and back pieced, it was time for quilting. I quilted around the shark and his features to make him stand out as much as possible.

Shark detail quilting 2

Then I just quilted wavy ocean lines over the rest of it, including over the fish.

Shark detail quilting

I used the same light blue thread for the quilting on the front and back, so the back looks a little weird. But I like that you can see a ghost shark coming in from the right side.

Shark back quilted

Since the back is almost as designed as the front, I didn’t add a hanging sleeve yet. But if my sister would like one, I’ll sew one on after I give it to Miss Stella.

Shark front quiltedIt was fun to manipulate the different elements to make a cohesive piece. Thanks to all the CMQG ladies who contributed blocks!

To check out the original shark paper-pieced pattern, click here.

Completed Pirate Quilt

PirateQuilt_FinishedOne more quilt done! This weekend I finished my pirate charity quilt, which the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild will donate to the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky. The quilt is twin size, so it’s big for me (and for my quilt holder, who has requested smaller quilts going forward).

According to my blog records, I’ve had the top of this quilt done since July. I started quilting it in September and finished up in November. Not too bad. The quilting is very simple and definitely not dense, but it should hold the quilt together.

PirateQuilt_Detail

The back is a little more plain, in case the boy who receives it gets tired of the front.

PirateQuilt_Back

Here’s hoping the quilt brings someone a bit of comfort.

PirateQuilt_Finished2

Mug Rug Re-Do

Circle mug rug

Recently I had to take a break from my two big quilting projects and actually make something. And there’s no project as quick and satisfying as a mug rug.

The one I made was really a mug rug re-do. I made this blue and gray circle block back in March as a Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild challenge to try pieced curves. I brought the block out again a few months ago when our challenge was to try the magic binding technique. With this technique, you sew a two-pieced binding that leaves a narrow strip (or flange) of the second fabric on the front of the piece.

Circle mug rug with flange

The technique has you sew the binding to the back first, then fold it over to the front and machine sew in the ditch between the two parts of the front binding. I tried it first with an orange flange, but I decided that took away from my goal of it being a blue and gray piece.

So I made the binding again, this time in gray.

Circle mug rug gray flange

The finished mug rug sat in my office/craft room for a few months. Then I realized I really didn’t like it. I loved the block. But I didn’t like the quilting. It was too linear for my first piece with curves. And I didn’t like the binding. I think the orange in the blue binding fabric was still too much orange. And I didn’t like that that the binding wasn’t as taut as I have it when I bind in my usual way.

So I took off the binding and took out the quilting. Which was probably a little nuts in hindsight. But I really wanted to like this piece.

I re-quilted it with gray thread instead of blue, and I echo quilted around the circles to help show them off. The quilted circles are by no means perfect, but I think that just adds to the fun of the curves.

Circle mug rug detail

And I bound it in my usual way with a muted medium blue. The result is a more subdued piece. But I like that it’s more about the circles now, which was why I made the block in the first place.

Circle mug rug

I’ll use the magic binding technique again, I’m sure. One woman at Guild reversed it so the flange was on the back of the quilt. I liked that because it would allow me to keep the binding on front taut and add interest to the back, which is usually a little boring anyway.

Pirate Quilt Top

pirate quilt 1

When the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild selected the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky (CHNK) as one of our charities this year, the gears in my mind started turning. The home is for boys ages 7 to 17 who have been removed from their homes and are awaiting placement in foster care. When they arrive, they select their bedding, and then they can take that bedding with them when they leave. CHNK asked that the quilts we make be twin size, to fit on their beds.

In thinking of a quilt to make, I immediately remembered some pirate fabric I purchased at a Herrschners sale a few years back. The fabric is a pirate map, all in greens and blues. After examining the repeat, I cut the fabric into 8-inch squares, to get a nice variety of sections throughout the quilt. Next, I hit my too-large stash of blues and greens to see what would go with it. I don’t know if I have made a quilt without a polka dot fabric in it, but I don’t usually use stripes, so I was glad to use this one here.

pirate quilt detail

I cut the non-pirate fabrics into 4 x 8-inch pieces and included the solid blue I wanted to use as a border and some more pirate fabric. For the sashing between all the fabric pieces and rows, I cut 2.5-inch strips of Kona Snow.

pirate quilt detail 2

The design of this quilt was inspired by one that I saw that looked a lot more random. For my design, I decided to establish a pattern for the pieces: one 8-inch square followed by two 4-inch rectangles. The second row starts with one 4-inch rectangle, and the third row starts with two 4-inch rectangles. The quilt measures about 70 x 90-inches—pretty huge for me (even my quilt holder was struggling with it).

For the backing, I think I’ll use a blue feather print and a solid tan; when the pirate side gets to be too childish, maybe the feather side will be more to the boy’s liking. Still a lot to do on this one, but I’m liking it so far!

 

pirate quilt 2

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