Sunday, January 24, 2010

There's more than one way to piece a block

Confession time: I am a lazy quilter. I don't like to piece more seams than necessary. I also want to rotary cut everything I can. So when I decided Kansas Dugout blocks were the right choice for my William Morris fabric, I needed to figure out a way to piece them that would work with pre-cut strips and a minimum of seams.
The above diagram shows the way I was familiar with piecing the block. All that cutting and piecing to end up with a square? Just cut a square.
Please excuse the drawing. I was experimenting with Google Docs.
Obviously need more practice.

I found the above piecing method too. And this neat quilt made with that construction method. But, ew, templates.

If you look at the quilt as a whole and not at a single block, then you can see how alternating rows of squares and "other pieces" can be put together to form the Dugout block. Of course, this requires planning ahead and arranging the entire quilt before sewing. This is what floors are for.

The "other pieces" can easily be cut without a template too. Yeah, rotary cutter! I figured the sizes for the shapes by drawing out the block on graph paper, assuming a 2-inch finished center square, which is what I could cut from the jelly roll strips.

To cut the "other pieces," trim a 45-degree angle from one end of one strip.

Leaving the 45-degree line on the top edge of the strip, slide the ruler so that the cut edge aligns along the 5 1/8-inch mark and cut.
Flip the ruler, align the 45-degree line along the bottom edge and make sure the ruler is 5 1/8 inches from lower right corner to cut edge. Cut.

I was able to cut four "other pieces" and four squares from each strip. Enough for two dugouts.

Piecing was easy too. Every other row is all squares. Hardest part is keeping them in the right order. The other rows are the "other pieces."

Overlap them slightly so that the quarter-inch seam line intersects the two pieces where they meet.

I pressed the seams open and trimmed the dog ears. Much easier to do now then later. I may be lazy, but I'm also rather anal. Those dog ears will just plague you later when you're quilting the top. It's worth the effort to get rid of them now. Same with thread ends. Laziness has its limits.

Once the rows are all sewn, sew the rows together and you're done except for borders.

I'm I the only one who finds block construction so interesting?

Monday, January 18, 2010

I love you, William Morris!

Don't tell my husband.

I tried to get a decent picture of my William Morris quilt, and this seems to be the best I can do. It's not been very sunny here the last few weeks so the light isn't great. And, there's no good place in the house to put the quilt to take a picture of the whole thing. I spread it out on the floor by the dining room table and then balanced on the staircase so that the railing wasn't in the way. How do you get a good picture of a large quilt?

Hope you get the idea from these two pictures. I bought a jelly roll of Barbara Brackman's Morris Workshop fabric at my local quilt shop last fall. It was my first jelly roll. I bought it so I could have a little bit of every fabric in the line. I wanted more than a little, but couldn't justify it.

Got the fabric home and started the hunt for the right project. Something that could be cut from 2 1/2-inch wide strips. Something where I wouldn't have to add any other fabric to the main part of the quilt. I wanted it to be nothing but beautiful William Morris fabric! Pauline Smith's Blooms Quilt from Kaffe Fassett's "Country Garden Quilts" was the answer with a little redrafting of the Kansas Dugout block.

I bought another jelly roll a couple weeks ago. French General's Rouenneries. It's screaming, "Stars!" to me. Rather loudly for such an elegant, refined collection. I think maybe the cover quilt from the same Kaffe Fassett book. I need more than just one jelly roll for that pattern so I'll be forced -- yes, forced -- to buy some yardage too.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Close but no cigar

Some of this is pieced and some of it is stuck on the design wall. Either way, it looks like I'll have to redraft the connector blocks. They're too big for easing in unless I want to add textural quality to my quilt. But then I'd have to repeat it elsewhere in the top to make it look purposeful instead of being an indication of horrible sewing ability, and I'm too far along for that. So instead I'll draft two new connector blocks.

I'm really liking the way this is coming along. I'm using the floral four-patches with the most lilac in them in the outer most row to try to pull that color all the way through the top. I wish I had some lilac in the center star though. Too bad none of my lime sherbert fabrics have lilac in them. There is one olive green print with white flowers that I've thought of coloring lilac with fabric crayons or maybe adding some lilac stitching in the center star. What do you think?

I picked up a little more of the Phillip Jacobs' print to make sure I had enough for the final border. Hadn't planned on it, but I was at the shop to check whether they'd gotten in their order of a blue solid I need to set the Transformer blocks. They hadn't. I bought a blue, green, red and yellow striped fabric to use instead. How? I don't know. If I haven't thought of a new setting before the order comes in, then I won't need a Plan B!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Measuring up

The half-diamond border didn't quite work out the way the instructions said. I checked my quarter-inch by sewing together two 2-inch wide strips, pressing and checking the sewn strip is 3.5 inches wide. It was accurate, so maybe I cut wrong. I didn't use as many half-diamonds as the pattern called for and ended up trimming the strip to equal the width of the star block. Also had to trim the width of the strip a tad too to make it 2.5 inches.

I've pieced the half-square triangles and four-patches and laid them out. They look a little too large in scale, but once sewn I think they'll be OK. I'm debating swapping the pale green and lavendar four-patches, but I'm not sure I have enough fabric to do that.

I also still need to cut the lavendar triangles to go along the floral border. I'm trying to use some of these odd rulers I've collected over the years like the directions call for, but I think there's a mistake in the instructions for this part. If you don't have the ruler, you're supposed to cut a 5.25-inch square and then cut it along the diagonal twice to get four quarter-square triangles, but that makes too small a triangle to fit against the 4.5-inch half-square triangle blocks. I think I've figured out the correct size now so I'll be able to figure out whether I'm cutting them correctly with the triangle ruler. That's next for today and finishing up the four-patches, etc. for the other sides.

If you are making the Girlfriends Galore pattern, I found a couple other minor mistakes. For example, you are supposed to cut 20 strips of the starburst fabric, but I needed only 10 strips to get the 158 squares called for. Of course, if you are fussy cutting, you will need more, but probably not twice as many strips.

I find it's always a good idea to double check the instructions before cutting and to check the size of your blocks against the size the pattern says you should have! Voice of experience.

See those quarter-inch blue strips around each sashing square? They are there because I cut the sashing as instructed, which was about a half inch too short for my blocks. I really wanted to use that fabric and so had to figure out a way to add a half inch to the length. And, what a pain to keep the same blue around each square. I learned my lesson: Calculate twice, cut once.

Wild Goose Variation quilt by Mabeth Oxenreider is a free pattern available on P&B Textiles website. I made this around 2002, I think. Resolution for 2010: Label the finished quilts!