Friday, April 17, 2015

Birds in the Loft border plan

I've sketched the first part of the border design for my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt but before we take a look at it I'll share my latest rosettes that will be the background for the centre medallion (you can see it here). All were made in pairs and I'm adding the path to them as I go so that the assembly of the background will be much faster!






Now for the border design. The first component a toasty oatmeal fabric that will frame the inside edge of the quilt once all of the rosettes are added. The toasty oatmeal fabric will create a visual stop between the centre of the quilt and the final borders. You've already seen this section of the top border with the toasty oatmeal added. I just had to stitch some of it together to get a feel for how the quilt would look and I am pleased with it!


This section will be the top and bottom edges of the quilt. This is my diagram of the upper left. My design sheets were not large enough to sketch the entire quilt so I'm working on it in quarters.

Upper left corner of Birds in the Loft

Upper right corner of Birds in the Loft

The sides will have these units stitched in the even rows. You can see that there are four toasty oatmeal hexagons around the bee but there are five in the diagram above. The fifth hexagon will be inserted between the pieced hexagons in the next border. There will also be a fifth hexagon at the top and bottom. These will also be stitched to the pieced border.


You can see the fifth toasty, oatmeal hexagons circled in red in the upper right corner and in the lower left corner of the following diagram.


So what will the quilt look like with these following two pieced hexagons added?



This where I am headed!


I know what I want to do next and you can see some of it in my sketch. I'm going to start my test hexagons for the final border this weekend and when I am satisfied with what I see you just know I will share them with you!

Tomorrow I'll be attending a "quilted rug" workshop with Al Cote. I'm really looking forward to this workshop! You can see some of his students' work here.

Just a reminder that if you leave a comment and don't receive a personal reply from me that means that you are a no reply blogger and I have no way to contact you unless you update your profile or you include your email address in your comment! I've had a few no reply comments lately and I feel bad that I wasn't able to thank you!

I'm linking up with Angie at A Quilting Reader's Garden. If you have a moment click on over for a visit!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Persian Tiles, star tutorial and more!

Since my last post was about churn dash blocks I thought I would share a picture of the first miniature quilt that I made because it was made with churn dash blocks. I call it Persian Tiles and it was made in 1998. The six larger churn dash blocks measure 3" and the two small blocks are 1 1/2". All were pieced on the sewing machine - these blocks were not foundation paper pieced!

Persian Tiles by Karen H 1998

I used the method I described here to make the blocks. The pieces for the smaller blocks started a little larger. I made the HSTs and I trimmed them down to size. I just love these little churn dash blocks because they are a terrific way to use small scraps. One thing I've learned over the years is that even the ugliest of fabrics become beautiful if you cut them small!

Time to get back to my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt. I've selected seven red fabrics that I will use to make 34 stars for the border of the quilt and I've made seven sample hexagon star rosettes.


I've done other tutorials on making them but thought I would do a refresher today.

I start with a sheet of hexagons. I draw a line from the upper left corner of a hexagon and extend it to the lower right corner of the hexagon below. I repeat by drawing a line from the upper right corner of a hexagon and extend it to the lower left corner of the hexagon below. I cut the hexagons out.


I trace around a triangle star point and add a 1/4" seam allowance all around. I cut out the paper template. From my fabric I cut a 2 1/2" strip of fabric. I lay the paper template on the strip of fabric and start cutting the star points. I use my rotary cutter to do this - it is a short cut so I don't use a ruler. If I accidentally cut the paper template I just make myself a new one! I need six star points for each rosette.



Place a tiny dab of glue on the wrong side of the hexagon in the area that will form the star point. I place the hexagon on the star point (Fig. 1). The lines of the star points are the sewing lines; I make sure that there is a narrow seam allowance (slightly less than 1/4") beyond the sewing lines. If I place the hexagon closer to the bottom the seam allowance will be larger and if I move it to the top it will be narrower. I clip the point of the star fabric so that it is 1/4" beyond the paper  (Fig. 2).


I shorten the stitch length on my sewing machine. I place my hexagon with the star point fabric on the background fabric as indicated in Fig. 3 and I sew from the top to the bottom. It is important that the first seam start at the star point because it will make sewing the next piece of fabric easier. In Fig. 4 I've folded back the paper and I'll trim the seam allowance with scissors to tidy it up. I then fold the paper back, the background fabric is pressed away from the star point  (Fig. 5) and I trim the excess fabric away  (Fig. 6) leaving a generous seam allowance of about 3/8". This will make the basting much easier. I repeat these steps with the fabric on the other side of the star point.


I use a knitting needle, crochet hook or orange stick and slide it between the paper and the star fabric to break the glue bond.


The final step is to baste the star point. I find it easier to fold fabric over the paper so that I don't have bulky corners. Notice in the hexagon on the left that the bottom edge of the star is folded up and the sides are folder over. This makes for nice flat corner with minimal bulk.


I like to use Elmer's School Glue to tack the paper to my fabric because it is washable, fabric safe and does not create a strong bond (that makes breaking the bond between the fabric and paper very easy). I only need to tack the fabric temporarily to hold it in place.



Once I've made six star points I'll stitch them together to make an open donut and then I'll set in the centre hexagon. Once the star is completely surrounded by other hexagons I can remove the papers. I may need a pair of tweezers to grab the smaller pieces on the sides however they tend to come out very easily provided that I shorten my stitch length on the sewing machine.


I've also made some more hexagon rosettes for the quilt.




Don't forget to drop by The Needle and Thread Network for WIP Wednesday.  It's where Canadian quilters share what they are working on!

Time for me to get sewing. Sure hope you enjoyed what I shared with you today. Until I post again happy sewing!
Karen H

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reader questions about 3" nine patch blocks and variations thereof


Thank you for all the lovely comments about my Cherry Blossom quilt! There were a some questions in the comments so I thought I would take a few minutes to respond. Before doing so I just want to clarify that my quilt and pattern will be in the Quilter's Connection  newsletter, not the magazine! You can subscribe to the free monthly newsletter; you will see a box on the sidebar where you can enter your email address. You can also subscribe to the magazine which features Canadian quilters and their quilts!

The first question came from Angie and she asked why I use a 6" flannel square to lay out my 1 1/2" scraps that I turn into nine patches; wouldn't a 4 1/2" square be better?


Good question and it made me smile and realize that what goes on in my brain is not immediately obvious to others! I had a pile of 6" squares of flannel that were left over from a foundation pieced pineapple log cabin quilt and I had a box that was about 6" square so the flannels fit in it nicely! There was no other reason. I can cut scraps, arrange them on the flannel and then put it in the box. When my pile of flannels beside the machine gets low I top it up with some flannels from the box!


Kath asked me how press seams when I make these small blocks. If I am making a traditional nine patch I generally press the seams to one side. I stitch each row and press toward the dark fabric. When I sew the top and bottom rows to the middle row I press toward the row with the most dark patches. In this example those seams would be pressed outward.


If I am making a nine patch variation I press a little differently. In this block I sewed two 1" strips together to make the pink and white squares.


To reduce bulk I pressed the seams open before I cut the 1 1/2" squares from the strip set.


Nothing goes to waste! When I mitered the corners on Cherry Blossom I had some scraps which I turned into another nine patch block. In the top of the picture you can see some squares with a pin through them. If I have four lights I'll pin them together because I can alternate them with five darks to make a nine patch!


If I am making a shoo-fly block with half square triangles in the corners I press the seam allowances open because it reduces the bulk at the corners.


I love the tiny churn dash blocks. They look great straight set but.....


I think they look even better set on point! I think it looks like a lantern!


If you would like to make your own 3" churn dash block I published a tutorial which you will find here. There's a secret weapon to making them perfect.....spray starch!

That's it for me today. We've got company coming so I had better get cracking! Until I post again, happy sewing.
Karen H

Friday, April 10, 2015

Excitement lives here!

I was contacted by the Editor and Publisher of Quilter's Connection, Canada's only magazine for quilters. In addition to the magazine there is a free monthly newsletterEach month, they  feature a pattern, usually created by one of their staff members. However sometimes they like to feature a quilt designer or blogger that they have come across with interest. (insert drum roll here) Apparently they came across my blog and have requested permission to feature my pattern for Cherry Blossom! How exciting is that? Very exciting! I had been looking my quilt and 15 minutes later there was the email from Quilter's Connection! Such a coincidence!

Cherry Blossom by Karen H 2013
Free pattern available under Patterns by Karen H

I love this quilt - it is certainly one of my favourites.  All of the nine patches were made from scraps. I cut them up into 1 1/2" squares and arrange them on a 6" square of flannel. I keep a stack of these flannels beside my sewing machine and I use the nine patch pieces as leaders and enders when I am sewing. As I finish each block I give it a press and toss it in a box of other nine patches. I have literally hundreds of these nine patches and have made at least a dozen quilts with them! To make Cherry Blossom I dipped into my stash of 3" nine patches and pulled all the pink blocks. When there were no more pinks I pulled oranges, then golds and finally reds.

Close up of Cherry Blossom quilt

Here you can see the Zebra Girls and Zebra Fellow on the quilt. I did the quilting on my domestic sewing machine.


Another example of what I've done with the scrap nine patches is my Baskets and Nine Patches quilt which is a reproduction of an antique quilt that was in a Quilt Engagement Agenda from the 1980s. I didn't have to make a single nine patch block for this quilt - they were all taken from the box of completed scrap blocks! This is another quilt for which I've published a free pattern under the tab Patterns by Karen H.

Baskets and Nine Patches by Karen H 2013

This third quilt is also made from scrap nine patches. I call it Piccadilly to the Nines because there is a feature fabric in the quilt and it is called Piccadilly. The quilt is short one border in the first picture; you can see the final border in the second picture. There are loads of little churn dash blocks in this quilt and they are just a variation on the nine patch!

Piccadilly to the Nines by Karen H



This is a fourth quilt made with the scrap nine patch blocks. You will also see some little churn dash and shoo-fly blocks. The half square triangles (HST) were made with 2" squares. I hate to waste fabric so rather than trim larger blocks down to 1 1/2" for nine patches I used them to make the HSTs.  I also used leftover strips - two 1" strips sewn together yield a 1 1/2" strip from which I can cut 1 1/2" squares. There are all sorts of ways to arrange the pieced squares and HSTs. I had a post about them here.

To The Nines by Karen H

So there you have it - I'm not just about hexagons. I also love the humble nine patch! If you use your small scraps as leaders and enders you will soon have a good sized pile of blocks that will be ready to turn into something fabulous! The variety of fabrics will add depth and complexity to a quilt!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sewing some rosettes together

I follow Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus by Carole. Carole does beautiful applique work; one of her current projects is the Antique Wedding Sampler (AWS) quilt and I am enjoying watching her progress. She has also been making my 2014 Hexagon Quilt Along Pattern, Value Proposition.  However my main reason for mentioning Carole's blog is hexagons. If you love hexagons you must see Carole's April 3rd post. She visited the Quilts in the Barn Show and she posted oodles of pictures of hexagon quilts by Marg Sampson-George and her students. The motifs in this quilt have me drooling! While you are at Carole's blog be sure to check out her AWS blocks!


There's more progress on my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt. To start I made a few more hexagon rosettes and these ones are fussy cut!




I've still got more rosettes to stitch but there are enough for me to start thinking about putting them together. The rosettes have been made in pairs and there are 100 pairs. I've already used 10 pairs around the medallion so there will be 90 pairs to stitch together for the background.

The first step is to divide the rosette pairs into two piles. I put one pile in a zip lock bag and label it "Lower Half of Quilt". The remaining rosettes will form the upper half of the quilt. In the following diagram you can see that the rosettes in the upper half are numbered 1 to 100 from left to right. The same numbers are repeated in the bottom half starting in the lower right corner to the lower left corner.


I arranged the hexagons that I've made in rows. There are 13 in the first row, 12 in the second, 13 in the third and so on. When I am happy with the arrangement of hexagons I write the number on the paper on the wrong side of the rosette.

The quilt will be constructed in sections to make it manageable. To do this I'll take the rosettes from the first row and I'll pin together rosettes 1 to 6. Rosettes 7 to 13 will also be pinned together. Each subsequent row will be sorted, numbered and pinned in the same way.


The even numbered rows (the row that starts with rosettes 14, 39, 64, 82, 94 in the upper half and rosettes 97, 87, 73, 50, and 25) will need the filler pieces at the beginning and end of the row. These are the filler pieces I've been stitching.


The top and bottom edges of the quilt will be edged with the beige hexagons. It will create a visual separation between the body of the quilt and the border. I was itching to see how the rosettes will look when the are stitched together with the beige filler pieces and the edging at the top so I sewed together rosettes 1 to 6. The finishing touch was the toasty beige edging of hexagons on top and this is how it looks!


Now it is time for me to get back to stitching rosettes!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H