Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christmas Table Runner - Santas!

Hi everyone!  A couple of posts ago I showed you one of the "UFO"s (unfinished objects) that I'm working on - a Christmas table runner.  How about a closer look?

IMG_4862 quilting my Christmas table runner

I quilted my twisting ribbon/rope/whatever that I like to do in the interlocking black rectangles. In the Santa squares, I did 1/4-inch in, twice, for two boxes.  It's not super creative, but that print is so wonderfully busy that it doesn't need much.

I marked a general arch to twist through in the black rectangles using white chalk - mostly so I'd remember where I was going.  I have a super great tool to remove the chalk marks:

IMG_4874 how to get chalk marks off a quilt top

Oh, sure. It might look like an old toothbrush I ran through the dishwasher a time or two ... but ... well, OK. That's exactly what it is - and I haven't found anything that works any better. (It's an extra-soft, in case anyone is wondering.) Just a light brushing - no floss required. ☺

Here it is, all quilted and ready for the binding:

IMG_4875 Christmas table runner - ready for binding

As you can see, my Guide Dog for the Color Blind was extremely helpful in the process.

I would have loved to use the green for the binding, but alas, I only have a few small scraps of it left.  I went with black - which I also used for the back.

IMG_4894 Christmas table runner - binding

Once I get it hand-sewed to the back, I'll be spending some quality time with a tape roller, removing errant husky hairs.  (Black?!?  What was I thinking?!?)

Love how the runner is coming out - it's a "Magic Nine-Patch" block (or Disappearing Nine-Patch) ... with a little special lay-out employed.  Very fun and easy!!!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Half-Square Triangle and Flippy Squares Tutorial!

There are all kinds of great tutorials out there about quick-piecing half-square triangles (HSTs).  Most involve sandwiching two squares of fabric, drawing a ling down one diagonal, sewing 1/4" on either side, then cutting the two HSTs apart on that drawn line.  That's how I normally do mine - or did.  Now I'll be doing it my friend Pam's way!!!  Here's what she's got for us!

Actually, let me back up a little.  Just to be clear ... there are TONS of quilt blocks and borders that use HSTs - they make up the block or part of the block. Look at this part of a Bear's Paw block on one of my quilts:

DSCN2530 part of Bear's Paw block

See how the "points" are actually little squares made up of two triangles? Like this:

DSCN2532 Half Square Triangles

In the center of the block above, you should see that it's really a square... made of HSTs.  That's what we're after!  I made that years ago, when I was in my "miniature quilts phase".  Those "squares" are just shy of an inch across.  Yes.  I may well have been crazy, thanks for asking.  Oh, how I wish I'd known Pam's technique for making those babies!  Let's get to it!

(Pam's photos used with permission!)

First, take two fabric squares and line them up, right sides together.  Now get some masking tape!

Cut two small pieces and tape to your sewing machine bed.  (Take care not to tape over the feed dogs.)  Have them meet exactly where your needle comes down!  Measure and mark exactly 1/4" to either side of where the tape meets.

In her example, Pam used 4" squares of fabric.  No need to mark that diagonal line!  All you have to do is line one corner of your fabric squares up with the line you drew down the left-hand piece of masking tape.  The other corner corresponds with "the last nick in the quilting foot".  (Pam sews on a Bernina and is using a #37 foot.)

How long have I been sewing HSTs and never thought of this?!?  And never noticed that the corner would line up with that little notch?!?!   Ha!  OK... moving right along...

Pam said to "just trust your judgement for a few mm's [millimeters - Pam's from South Africa ] until the corner is in line with the marked line. On smaller squares you do not have this problem." Keep going ...

... and see how they line up? Love it!

Now Pam says, "Turn your square around and do it again or carry on chain piecing with a new square."

All that's left is to cut apart on the diagonal (just line your ruler up with the corners!) and you have two perfect HSTs!

I use flippy squares a lot. They are such an integral part of my quilting repertoire that they are second nature to me. I used them a lot during construction of the Gettysburg Battle Flag Quilt -- check the Cotton Boll block at this link. It's basically marking a small square of fabric on the diagonal and sewing it to the corner of a larger square or rectangle so you get a triangle. (Scroll down in this post in the Quiltville blog until you see "Flippy Corners" - same-oh, same-oh.) Pam has a way for us to tackle flippy squares without marking the center diagonal, too!!!

Here's another of my minis; this one was made using flippy squares:

DSCN2529 Flippy Squares

Those dark triangles were actually squares (flippy squares) in the construction phase.

DSCN2528 Flippy Squares

I love using this method - it's so easy ... and now Pam makes it even faster and easier!  Here's how she does it!

"Line your corner up with the centre mark on the tape," says Pam --

Keep sewing ...

"Now doesn't that beat having to draw lots of lines????" YES!!!

I can't wait to try this out.  Love the idea - especially when you're doing a lot of HSTs and/or flippy squares, all that marking can really be a drag.

Pam, thank you so much!  Your photos and descriptions make the process so very clear!  Easy, quick and accurate - just perfect!

Thanks to Pam - and thank you for reading!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lots To Cover!

Hi everyone!  Yes, I know ... I need to get better about updating this blog!  Things have been sort of busy here - but I have managed to get some sewing done!

Before I get to my latest projects, I am THRILLED to announce that one of my friends has entered the sewing/quilting blog world!  Please check out her blog One Little Birdie.  She's an amazingly talented artist and I know you'll just love seeing her latest creations.  Would it be too corny for me to say that a Little Birdie told me she'll also be selling some of her items?  (Go ahead and groan...)  Very exciting!!!  Good luck, my friend, and welcome to the quilty blogosphere!

I finished all of the bags I was making for the Beads of Courage program that I told you about in my last post!

IMG_4722 Bags for Beads of Courage

They're in the mail, heading out to Tucson. It was really fun making them, playing with fabrics I don't normally work with. If one bag or one fabric brings a smile to the face of one child in the Beads of Courage program, then I'm a happy camper.

After I finished the bags, I decided to grab some of the webbing I ordered a while ago and make my boys some new collars and leashes!

IMG_4813 Zim's new collar/leash
Zim in his new collar and leash!

IMG_4854 Dave's new collar/leash
Dave's new collar and leash

I think these are my favorites so far. Maybe. They're cool!  Dave's doesn't photograph well from a distance.  Guess it's good camouflage.  LOL!

I was thinking of putting up a tutorial for the limited slip collars. Would you all be interested in that? I always love reading and following other people's tutes and think I should try doing one. Any interest? Please leave a comment or email me! (Or FB me!)

Speaking of tutorials! My friend Pam in South Africa has put together a great one - how to do half-square triangles quickly, easily, and accurately - and flippy squares, too! I'll be sharing that with you tomorrow or so. She makes it all so clear!

As per right now, I'm quilting a Christmas table runner that I pieced a long time ago. I'm trying VERY hard to wrap up some "UFO"s, and this one was first up!

IMG_4864 Christmas table runner

I really like it! I hope a family member agrees... hmm...

The boys also helped me reorganize the Studio a bit. I'll post pix eventually, either here or on their blog. We did some moving around in the living room, and I "inherited" a tall, glass-shelved unit. It's perfect for stacking projects, finished and "un".   :)

Thanks for reading!