Posts Tagged ‘zen sewing’

Michigan Beauty Block – How To Blog #2

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Let’s jump right in where we left off on the last blog. This is where your block quarter units should be. All diamonds and the lower half square triangle sewn together. Now we are ready for the multi piece complex length of sewing.

This length of sewing will attach three units to the diamonds and will complete the quarter square of the block. It will also involved several roundabouts that may test you but once you get into a rhythm you will see it looks much harder than it truly is. And the results are crisp points and beautiful set in squares.

Start with one edge of the first triangle. Use pins to line up the start and stop points. Place a pin on the guideline to assure that is matched up between the triangle and diamond. Sew you seam.

Now it is time to make a roundabout in the concave corner where the top point of the triangle meets the two diamonds. Once this move has been completed it is time to line up the next length to sew. I have taken to using my needle in place of the first pin in this exercise at this point.

Don’t forget to sew one or two threads above your drawn seam guideline. You are hand sewing a scant quarter of an inch.

The quarter unit of your block is done! Now make 3 more and let’s get to finishing this block.

This is where the remaining sewing takes on the sequence of making a 4 patch. Pin and sew (with roundabouts) the two shorter vertical lengths of the units

NOTE: I did press the units at this time to make for prettier pictures for the blog. I usually do not press any hand pieced block until the very end as it is a portable project and an iron is not always available.

Here is the backside of the block. You will note that I allowed the seams to fall where they did so naturally for pressing. But I did press the center triangles in a manner that would allow them to snuggle nicely when sewn.

And now for the final long center seam.

Pinned and ready to sew!

Michigan Beauty is done!

Hand Piecing gives you so much control that sharp points, y seams and complex piecing are a breeze.

You can purchase a set of hand piecing templates for the Michigan Beauty block in my webstore (see tab at the top of this page). Please note that this block and all the other blocks released are also available in English Paper Piecing products. Just click on that category in my webstore to see the list.

Later today, on my MDQuilts facebook page I will be doing a LIVE segment for all the new handpiecers who have found my page this month. The How-To sew-a-long LIVE segments will start next week. Be sure to watch the facebook page for event announcements.

Enjoy your day,

Michigan Beauty Block – How To Blog #1

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Let’s jump right in to the hand piecing this amazingly simple yet stunning block. If you are new to hand piecing and need some guidance regarding tools and marking your fabric please check out this blog for that basic info. Or tune in on Sunday (or check later for the saved video under the video tab on the page) to the MDQuilts Facebook page for a LIVE segment regarding the tools of hand piecing.

My pieces are cut and I am ready to sew.

Let’s look closely at this block. As I stated before it is basically a Fancy Four Patch as I call these styles of blocks. So in today’s blog we will be just addressing the sewing sequence of one quarter of the block. You will need to repeat these instructions 3 times to make all four quarters.

The first two lengths to sew is joining the diamonds into units of 2 diamonds. I strongly urge you to lay out the quarter block design in front of you to help in orientation of the diamond edges to sew.

Here I have placed anchor pins in the corners of the sewing line and a small Karen Kay Buckley pin right on the drawn guide line.

Notice how off my seam allowance is on the lighter diamond vs the darker diamond below it. This is why we always line up our seams for sewing by anchor pins (just push thru vertically lining up points) in the corners and placing a pin on the drawn line. DO NOT line up by matching your edges. As you can see if you are off on your cutting of a piece this will interfere with correct positioning. Here I squeezed in a diamond on a piece of fabric knowing the seam allowance would be a bit scant but would still be enough.

Time to begin so sew. You will be sewing a thread or two ABOVE the drawn line. This line is a guide line and not a sewing line. Think of this as hand piecing a scant quarter of an inch. This method reclaims the width of what ever marking tool you used to make the guideline and thus keeps your block on pace for a correct finished size.

Use a rocking motion to make a running stitch. After every 3rd-4th stitch make take a backstitch to lock your stitches. As you can see the KKBuckley pins are so fine you can sew right above them – thus they make a great reminder to hover above the line and not sew on it.

Finish with a knot that is just outside the insecting line forming the corner. Remember scant quarter of a inch sewing!

With this next line of sewing the 4 diamonds will become one unit.

NOTE: for those who have done some hand piecing with me prior you may question why a “roundabout technique” is not called for at the end of the seam where all 4 diamonds meet. I will explain in the next step. Just sew the straight line forming the unit for now .

We are on to the final seam we will tackle in the blog today. This seam contains the Roundabout Technique that is going to make your hand piecing blocks just sing!

Roundabouts are indicated by the RED CIRCLE in the directions packaged with your templates. There are also written and visual directions specifically covering this technique included.
This is the Roundabout area on the actual unit.

Sew the seam line as you have done prior to just before you reach the intersection of all four diamonds and the half square triangle.

Now you want to work your way around this intersection by drawing the needle/thread thru two pieces of fabric at a time. You will work in a general area right at the point where all pieces intersect but not in the same “hole” as that would just pull the thread out without grabbing anything. So with each push of the need thru just move either to the left or right on thread. You will be working around this “intersection” much like you drive around a roundabout until you reach the jumping off point. In this case we need to get back to where we started so you can continue and finish the seam attaching the triangle to the bottom edge of the 4 diamonds.

pulling needle and thread thru one set of diamonds

Last two pieces to push thru and you are back to the triangle, take a back stitch and finish the seam

Look at the nice crisp set of points where the diamonds meet the triangle! This is the magic of the roundabout technique!

The finishing how to blog will post on Sunday morning. And at 1pm on Sunday central time I will be LIVE on facebook with a review and question/answer session of hand sewing tools that will I feel are worth their weight in gold. Then the Facebook LIVE sessions of actually sewing a block together will begin on Tuesday, May 21st. Watch for a time announcement on Facebook. I am hoping to do an evening session.

If you would like to purchase the templates to the Michigan Beauty block please click below to go right to the item in my webstore.

You may also wish to check out the other blocks already released and available in the Hand Piecing category.

Enjoy the day,

How-To Blog #1 – Little Boy Britches Quilt Block

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Let’s start to handpiece a Little Boy Britches block today.

These are the ¼” windowed acrylic templates for the block.   I am going to link the first how-to blog for the Carolina Favorite (August 2018 release) here.   The instructions given in this blog will cover using the templates to mark your fabrics, filled with tips regarding marking tools used, etc.

I am going to make a scrappy blue block.   Note: the templates shown in the picture are in a hard plastic case.  Those cases were no longer available to my manufacturer at the time of release of these template sets.  

A supplier of hard cases was located and an order of them are on their way as I type.  Problem is they are coming from overseas.  And that takes time.  

This household is learning that given Paul Jr’s boxes of personal items was a at his overseas shipping company on January 23rd and as of this posting he still has not received his items in Sweden.  Last he heard the boxes were in Germany and would be there soon….two weeks ago.  Define soon.   Not two weeks. 

As soon as the new hard cases are in stock I will be selling them in units of three (not absolute on the number right now) for anyone interested in obtaining them for past block sets.

Onward!

As you can see by this diagram, taken from the instructions included in each set of templates.  The A template is used in reverse in this design. 

Be sure to note that the two shorter sides of the A templates are NOT the same length.  There is definitely a correct orientation to the shape. The shorter side, marked with MDQuilts.com, is the center seam of the britches.  The longer side, marked with Unit A/Ar,  is the side that matches up to the corner square, piece B.   

Make sure you remember to flip the template over when marking for the Ar pieces!

I always cut and lay out all my block pieces to make sure I am happy with my choices and orientation before I begin to sew.

The first seam sewn is the center seam that joins piece A/Ar.  I am again linking a previous blog here that covers all the tips and tricks for lining up your pieces and sewing them together.

Let’s Sew!

Repeat this for the remaining 3 sets of A/Ar pieces and join me on Friday for sewing the rest of the block together in a how-to blog.

Tomorrow I will go LIVE on Facebook at 11am central time.  This LIVE will cover marking your fabric pieces, cutting them out, and sewing your first seams.  

The LIVE segments for each and every block released under the Mic’s Attic Picks series are hosted on the MDQuilts Facebook page and easily found by clicking the videos tab there.

If you have any questions please feel free to post them here and I can cover them in tomorrow’s LIVE segment and reply here if they are posted after that event.

Happy Sewing,

Nothin’ can be finer then a quarter Carolina

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Earlier this month while making workshop set outs for the Carolina Favorite block I had a light bulb moment.

First let me say that I will NEVER be able to make all the quilts I dream up using my hand piecing templates…but I can make the illustrations and share them with you in blog posts such as this.

There is no formal pattern. It is pretty straight forward in regards to construction.

My thought was….what if you treated the 6″ quarter section of the traditional block as a block itself. And set it on point. Hmmmmm.

Here is what I saw in my head.

I can see this layout done “scrappy style” too.

I truly wish there were 48 hours in each day at times, but I know that wouldn’t even be enough time to get it all done. So I hope you don’t mind the digital quilt shares.

Off to piece….

But as a treat if you have read this entire block post and are thinking of piecing your weekend away during snow or sunshine ….well guess what…the coupon code on this sale will work now. One day before I announce it to the world.

I am waiting for someone to make a Snowy version of Sweetwater Tiles.

It is on my someday list…again when I have a few spare minutes…lol.

Enjoy your day,

Stars of Twilight Quilt Block – Facebook LIVE schedule

Monday, January 7th, 2019
Stars of Twilight Quilt Block

Hello Everyone!

Just a quick run down of the schedule for the Facebook LIVE segments on the docket for this week.

These will cover the Stars of Twilight block.

Please note if you can’t make the actual LIVE presentation at 11am CST each day you can always watch the segment later. You will find them on the page front (the latest will be pinned to the top of the page) or under the Video category on the MDQuilts Facebook page.

Wednesday January 9th – Coloring options for the block, general template info, marking/cutting your fabric pieces

Thursday January 10th – general handpiecing instructions and using the roundabout technique to obtain a beautiful intersection/point in your piecing. I will be demoing the technique live.

Friday January 11th – another round of piecing tips and tricks

Saturday January 12th – final piecing and block pressing

I can’t wait to get started on all of this….see you Wednesday!

Enjoy the day,

How-To Blog #3 – Stars of Twilight Quilt Block

Friday, December 21st, 2018

Yay! Final How-To Part for the Stars of Twilight Quilt Block. This means you can kit up some blocks hopefully for yourself to retreat to and enjoy piecing after the fun and festivities of the upcoming holidays!

Let’s get started. We are on step #6 if you are following along with the instructions included in your Stars of Twilight Acrylic Template set.

It’s time to sew in Piece C (center) to one of the previous multi-piece units made in the last step. Now there are going to be a lot of roundabouts in this step. Don’t bypass any of them as they are important.

It’s time to sew in Piece C (center) to one of the previous multi-piece units made in the last step. Now there are going to be a lot of roundabouts in this step. Don’t bypass any of them as they are important.

Step #7 is a slightly longer seam that will bring both halves together as one unit.

Step #8 has you sewing in the final two four patches in the spaces created for them. Be sure to have them oriented correctly to match your other four patches. Trust me on this one…double check. Ask me how I know to make sure.

Ok we are in the homestretch now but it is very important not to loose focus. Make sure to read all the way thru this blog to avoid one easy “trip” as I call it.

First you need to piece 4 A/A units as shown in this picture.

Now here is where the tricky part comes in.

I have placed a pin in my center unit to help you see the orientation situation in each picture. Honestly either format is right for the block, it doesn’t change the end size. But it does change the look and lining up of pieces so if you choose to make your blocks using one center format (stay with me this will make sense in two more pictures) I would keep it the same for the entire quilt……or not…this certainly opens up some more design options.

Look at where

Look at where the pin is, the 12 o’clock position and the A/A units are place on each corner. The center C piece, brown square, is presenting itself SQUARE in the middle of the block.

Now look at the pin, located at the 2 o’clock postion. Just one twist of a four patch unit to the right…and the center piece C, the brown square, is now presenting itself as ON POINT.

So choose your orientation and be sure to be layout the corner A/A “brackets” in front you before piecing your first one to the block center. You can piece all four A/A brackets continuous around the block center. You should not be able to do it with one strand of thread (if so your thread is way to long and should be shortened in your needle to approx. 18-22 inches).

Pressing on this block can be individually decided but I tend to press one set of the B or Br pieces (which ever is lighter in color) flat. Meaning their seams fall into the other pieces. With the exception of the edge around the center square. The center square unit is also pressed flat with no seams towards it. The piece is to small and to many seams behind it will make it bulky and puffy in your quilt. Then let the block dictate what needs to go were in regards to seams from that point on, whether this is determined by how things naturally lay down or color shadowing behind the block.

Viola! A finished Stars of Twilight Quilt Block. And at 16″ it covers a lot of ground quickly in quilt making. Just 16 blocks, set 4 x 4 with some simple sashing (2″) and an 8″ border will make a 88″ square quilt.

I can’t wait to see the Stars of Twilight blocks start to appear online. Please be sure to share them either with me on the MDQuilts facebook page or the Piece & Hexiness facebook page. The later page is my “open quilt guild” type of page where you can share any and all your quilting projects or questions with one another. You are asked to join, this has kept that group troll free for years online, but you are not limited to just discussing my patterns, blocks etc. It’s your group….enjoy and share all you want.

If you would like to purchase a set of Stars of Twilight Acrylic Templates for hand piecing you can do so by clicking here and heading to the NEW category in my store or by searching Stars of Twilight I the store search engine. You will also find all the other blocks in the Mic’s Attic Picks series and several others.

And as always please feel free to contact me via email, or a message from Facebook or Instagram with any questions you may have. Note if you are looking for a lengthy replay I ask that you email me as it is much easier to answer via that format then the others.

Watch for the Facebook Live sessions for piecing this block to begin after January 1st. A bit delayed from the unusual format but I am sure you understand. If you are stuck and really want to do some piecing over the holidays don’t be afraid to send an email/message. I may not get to it immediately but I will get to it.

Enjoy your day,

How-To Blog #2 – Stars of Twilight Quilt Block

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Time for part #2 of the How-To series of blogs for the Stars of Twilight Quilt Block. 

Let’s start today’s How-To blog with the simple sewing together of a B/Br Unit.   

Place pieces B and Br on top of one another with right sides facing.   I place a pin (white)  at the beginning and end of each seam.  This pin is stuck thru both fabrics perpendicular lining up corners.  Then using Karen Kay Buckley Perfect Pins (which really are perfect for hand piecing) I pin thru both pieces of fabric directly on the drawn line. 


Start your line of sewing a thread or two outside the corner point towards the seam allowance.   In order to get back the thread or two in width lost when tracing (pen/pencil lines add width) you should sew your block together using the drawn lines as guides.  And sew hovering above the drawn lines.  Think of it as hand sewing a scant quarter of an inch.   NOTE: you never sew fabric edge to fabric edge in hand piecing as you would in machine piecing.  

sew your seam hovering above your drawn line

One done – repeat three times! 

Now join a B/Br unit to another B/Br unit as shown in the picture – twice.

The final step in today’s blog is to sew three 4 patch units to each of the B/Br/B/Br units just completed.   This will involve the Roundabout Technique in the convex  AND concave corners.  By doing this you will obtain nice crisp intersections.  

This is where we are ending for today.  You will need two units exactly like this finished before Friday’s blog to follow along.  

If your intrigued and what to join in on the Stars of Twilight fun you can find templates for hand piecing and papers for English Paper Piecing  (and EPP templates) in my store by clicking here.   Or just click the product link below and head to the NEW category in the store for everything mentioned. 

Enjoy the day and see you on Friday for the final part of this “How-to” series, 

How- To Blog #1 – Stars of Twilight Quilt Block

Monday, December 17th, 2018

Yay! The templates are on their way and some have even reported receiving them already! 

Stars of Twilight template set & my fabrics

Paper Pieces/Quilt Exchange which is the manufacturer of my templates did it again with being able to fulfill all orders and get them out the door a day prior to the stated December 14th date.  A round of applause to them! 

 

The format of announcing the block and taking pre-orders gives them the manufacturing cushion to make this happen so it is a format we will keep for the new year.

Yes more blocks will be released in 2019!   I have 6 more designs on the horizon…and maybe a surprise or two. 

But today let’s begin to tackle the Stars of Twilight block and it’s construction.  As before I am not going to tackle tracing instruments (pens, gel and chalk) and the actual tracing guidelines.  Those instructions were covered in depth here in the first how-to blog for Carolina Favorite.  I will touch on them in the Facebook LIVE segments that will begin the first week of January but you can also look back at other Facebook Lives for that info.  I suggest the first how-to’s for Carolina Favorite LIVE segments from August.   You can find them under the videos tab on my MDQuilts Facebook page. 

Ok let’s look at the templates.  Just three shapes in this block.   A square (c), a petal shape (B) and a trapezoid (c).   It’s the trapezoid shape that looks different from trapezoids of the past, ie Castle Wall Quilt block.  This trapezoid is only half it’s size needed with a thicker edge in the center.  It is what I have named a HINGED Template.   And the name says it all.   When picking out blocks, and knowing this would be a larger size at 16″ vs the 12″ of the previous blocks I knew we would have to address the size of the trapezoid template.  It needed to be smaller for several factors, fragility (the larger they are the easier to break in shipping), wanted the templates to fit in the plastic case, and cost, less acrylic used the end price reflects that savings. 

How to use Hinge Templates instructions included with templates

Cut out all your pieces and lay them out in front you checking orientation of the four patch fabrics.   Keep in mind that half your template B pieces will be the reverse of the template (Br) , meaning you will flip the template over and trace with the words that are engraved on template itself touching the backside of the fabric.   And check back in my previous blog on coloring the Stars of Twilight block for some ideas. 

I am going to end today’s blog with making of the EIGHT four patches in the block.   I know some will say why hand piece a four patch?  Well because it is needed in this block and there is nothing wrong with hand piecing a four patch.  They sew up so quickly they are almost instant gratification.   You hand piece them just as you would on a machine with the exception that you don’t sew thru seam allowances to the edge with hand piecing. 

  

Four Patch Unit – make 8

This fact plus using the ROUNDABOUT technique in the center will give you a nice crisp intersection.    Again I will LIVE demo that technique after the holidays on Facebook but you can catch it on previous videos and the written instructions enclosed with your templates.  They actually use a four patch as the general unit in the instructions so very easy to follow along and learn.

Ok that is all for now.   Choose and cut your fabrics and get the four patches done.   On Wednesday  I will tackle steps 3-5 of the Stars of Twilight Quilt Block.  

If you are interested in joining in the fun you can place an order for either the Hand Piecing Templates discussed in the blog or English Paper Piecing packs and EPP specific templates from my webstore here.   Just head to the NEW category and you will find all thing Stars of Twilight there at this time. 

See you Wednesday, 

Stars of Twilight Block – Coloring and Settings Options

Friday, December 7th, 2018

It’s time to play a bit with the Stars of Twilight Block. This 16” block is very simple in it’s design (and construction) but is full of coloring variations.

Let’s take a look at a few. Take note that I kept the center bloom petals as I call them in the same 2 alternating colors in each of the next three blocks and just concentrated on playing with coloring the four-patches and background.

 

 

This first coloring is what I would call the traditional coloring with the four patch blocks composed of 2 colors and the background is all the same color. By positioning the darker color of the four patches as shown a gentle ring happens around the center petals and give a nice soft secondary pattern.

 

 

 

 

This next coloring uses 3 colors in the four-patch units and moves the darkest color into the position closest to the center, a medium color is given 2 spots in the four-patch and the final spot is the lightest color directly across from the darkest color. This coloring plays up the twinkle effect that of the star. And a second color is brought into the background which really give the block some depth.

 

 

 

This final block goes back to using 2 colors for the four-patches, but in 2 different combinations. And the dark color is positioned radiating out from the center in both color combinations. The background also uses two colors but instead of alternating around the block they are grouped together in corners for a unique look.

 

 

 

 

Now let’s look at this block in a quilt setting.

All of a sudden this very traditional block has a modern and unique look when twisted so that the block background has a zig-zag look. I placed thin sashing between the blocks as I felt then needed to be separated a bit or it was looking a bit mushy to me. This quilt would measure 70’’x70’’.

 

This quilt is the first block color discussed and set with no sashing. The background becomes a secondary pattern and really ramps up this setting I feel. The trick is not to let either the block centers or the background dominate. The colors and textures of the chosen fabrics really need to play nicely with each other. This quilt measures 64’’x64’’

 

 

 

 

 

The final quilt pattern steps everything up a bit by placing the blocks on point and using an ombre look for the center petals. This quilt measures 76’’x76’’.

Thanks to everyone for the orders already received and the notes about how much you like/love this block. I am so excited to see your blocks soon!

The pre-order special of free shipping is good until midnight on December 10, 2018. Orders will begin to ship out on December 14th in the order they were received. You can click here to get to the NEW category in my store where you will find both the Hand Piecing and EPP papers/templates for Stars of Twilight.

You can find previous blocks released also in the store under the Hand Piecing and English Paper Piecing categories.

 

How-to blogs will begin posting on Monday, Dec 17th. I know you may not have your templates at that time but of course you can always check back for instruction at an time. This way I will be able to get all the how-to blogs posted before the 22nd for those who wish to make a few blocks during the holidays.

Ok…that’s all for now…off to sew up a storm for a few days in the studio!

Enjoy your day,

Tennessee Circles – The Block Name

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Hi Everyone, 

 

 

 

Just a quick post to clear up some questions I have been getting regarding the name of the latest block released under the Mic’s Attic Pics line. 

Tennessee Circles is the given name of this block in the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman.   I always research the blocks extensively and use a given name if found.  If I can’t find a block in any of the resource materials I have I will let you know when the block is released and on the eventual Mic’s Attic Picks page that is being developed for the website. 

Yes, I do love Tennessee but this block was not renamed by me as a tribute to my admiration of this great state. 

Also, yes there is a similar block by the name of Royal Cross, but it is different as the center square is many times larger in that rendition.  

And yes you can place an order for any templates or EPP papers during my time away from my office and they will be processed and shipped directly from my manufacturer. 

Ok back to watching the leaves turn for me, 

 

 

 

 

p.s. For those new to hand piecing you can find several “how-to” videos on my facebook page MDQuilts.  These videos will also be docked to the Mic’s Attic Picks page in time.