Posts Tagged ‘zen 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. 

 

How-To Blog #1 -Tennessee Circles Quilt Block

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

It is time to tackle the Tennessee Circles How-To Blogs!

I am going to skip the detailed marking your fabric instructions as I will be covering that in the first Facebook Live segment. And I have covered it many times in the past with the last being for Carolina Favorite block blogs that you can find just by scrolling back to the August blogs. I am working on a general “how to mark” your fabric video that is going to be on the Hand Piecing page that this being created for the website as I type. This page is going to host links to all How-to blogs for each individual design and a host of other info. But as a “one woman” operation here I can only create so fast. It will happen soon. I have the holiday season into January off and I have quite a list I am determined to see thru to finished.

So here are my fabric pieces and here is the general template identification graphic that is included in your instructions in your template package. Just remember when tracing your templates, both inside and outside lines, on the backside of your chosen fabric you want to be as precise as you can on the “inside” line. Tilt your marking pencil or pen, at an angle so that the tip is as close to the template edge as possible. I pretty much use a #2 pencil about 90% of the time for marking. I keep my lines fairly faint, but have stepped up the pressure on them for the blogs so you can see them. I also use a Sakura White Gel Pen for making fabrics with a dark color. Always test your marking tool on a small corner of your fabric to make sure it does not bleed thru to the front.

I usually spend a day tracing and then have a cutting fest in the evening with a good movie on Netflix. Individual block pieces are then stored away in sandwich bags at the ready for piecing at a moments notice. Prep work makes hand piecing happen frequently and thus blocks truly get done faster then you imagined.

 

 

Let’s start with the piecing of the corners on this block. The D-E-D unit.

 

 

 

Using two pins (white in my picture) you are going to line up your drawn sewing guideline corner. In hand piecing we never line up pieces by using the fabric edge as we do in machine piecing. This is because we are human and cutting on a hand drawn line with scissors. Sometimes we wobble. So we use the inside line that we traced from the template. The line that we took the most care to trace and did not cut. By doing things this way our accuracy improves greatly.

After lining up my corners with the white headed pins I then pin on the drawn line. I use Karen Kay Buckley Perfect Pins for hand piecing, they come in two lengths, 1” (seen here) and 1.5”. They truly have changed my hand piecing for the better. So lightweight and easy to sew around which will make more sense in a moment.

Check the back of your pinning to make sure everything is indeed lined up.

Now it is time to sew. I used a Hemming Milliners needle size 11 and Aurifil thread. You can use any needle you like, sharp, applique, milliners, even straw, just make sure it has a sharp point. Hand needles can dull out just like machine needles. And they bend. I have never found one that doesn’t. So if you needle is pointing in the opposite direction as your needle eye it is time for a new needle.

Back to sewing. A simple running stitch with a back stitch every 3 stitches is what I use.

And this is IMPORTANT>>>

I DO NOT SEW ON THE DRAWN LINE.

I hover a thread or two above it into the seam allowance. Think hand sewing a scant quarter of an inch. Because my templates are ¼ seams and windowed (so you can mark both outside and inside edge in one setting) we need to reclaim the bit of space that is lost by the width of whatever marking tool you use. You are also going to want to start and stop your seams a thread or two also into the seam allowance.

Now it is time to add the second triangle to the D-E-D unit. Again pin the corners to align them. Make sure your right hand pin is only going thru the new triangle and piece E. The first triangle should be pulled out of the way. Now it is time to tackle the Roundabout Technique for making lovely tight intersections of fabric in hand piecing. Since you don’t sew out the edge of your pieces as we would do in machine piecing you need to make a Roundabout every time three or more fabrics come together to interlock the fabric and not have pin holes at your intersections.

You do have written instructions for this in your template box and I will be demoing this technique on Facebook LIVE this week. Look at the three fabrics coming together from the top and envision that intersection as a circle and you are going to go around it -TWO fabrics at a time. That is the key, you only move your needle thru TWO fabrics at a time.

 

 

 

 

So here we go – stab your needle thru the matched corners (you can remove the white head pin while holding your pieces in place) Triangle 2 to Square. Pull thread thru

 

 

 

Now Square to Triangle 1.

 

 

 

And finally Triangle 1 to Triangle 2. Make a back stitch and sew across to the opposite end of your seam line. Remember to HOVER over the line! Knot off and clip your thread.

 

Finger press (I rarely press any block until it is completely sewn) and viola your first D-E-D unit is done! Repeat 3 more times.

 

 

On to the B-C units. These are easy-peasy. One straight seam each! Make 4.

 

 

 

 

Here is where you should be.

The first Facebook LIVE segment is going to happen tomorrow at 9am. Yes it is early but remember you don’t have to be there at the LIVE time. It will remain on my Facebook Page so you can search it out whenever you can get to it or need it. I will cover marking your fabric and the Roundabout Technique.

The second half of the How-to Blog will post on Friday, Oct 26th with another Facebook Live happening on the following Saturday!

 

If you haven’t ordered your Tennessee Circles templates yet you can do so here or ask your local shop to contact me for wholesale pricing! And Tennessee Circles is also available in the English Paper Piecing format!

Have a wonderful day! 

Tennessee Circles Quilt Block – Coloring Ideas & Quilts

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Just the name of this block makes me smile from ear to ear.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you know that Tennessee is where we wish to retire. Someday the dream is to find us at the foot of the Smoky Mountains. It all began when I visited the area a few years back to teach at the Pigeon Forge Quilt Show.  I  came home and told Paul that he must visit this area with me. I knew he would love it as much as I did. We went back less than a year later and both were smitten. Every year we count the days to our next visit. We move around in our cabin choices so we can experience different views, proximity to town(s) etc. We are even beginning to move the timing of our trips around the calendar to experience different seasons. Some day soon we will buy that house and begin the big move.


When I chose this quilt for #2 in my Mic’s Attic Pics series I didn’t know the name yet of the block. I just new I loved this top when I purchased it years ago and I wanted to play more with the secondary patterns it could make. When I researched the name of the block and found it to be Tennessee Circles it was kismet.

I was originally drawn to the quilt top makers placement of the bubble gum pink in the blocks and the pattern it made while also holding together the scrappy blocks of her quilt.

By using the technology available to use today I am able to easily play with color placement and secondary pattern of this block.
Here would be what I would deem the traditional coloring of this block.

 

And here is it set side by side with no sashing. Can you see the secondary pattern. The gentle round circles even with no play in coloring. I love it.

 

Now let’s play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional block.

And what if we colored it this way?

 

Look what happens with 4 blocks are set side by side with a twist of each block so that the unique corner meets in the center. Oh yeah…this would be very fun!

 

 

And then I play some more, this time setting the block on point and playing with accenting the circles to determine the quilt center and border without piecing any other blocks but Tennessee Circles. You know I love my one block quilts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But then again what if we mixed Tennessee Circles with Carolina Favorite? 

Yes this would make a beautiful quilt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I have only made a few blocks, changing up coloring and playing with many different fabric genres I can envision them in the settings I just shared. Especially that combo of Tennessee Circles and Carolina Favorite…that one may have to happen.

If you would like to give a Tennessee Circles Quilt Block a try you can find BOTH Hand Piecing Acrylic Templates and English Paper Piecing materials in my webstore under the NEW category. You can click here for an immediate link. There is special pricing good until October 10, 2018 with shipping of product to begin on October 12th.

Note items will be shipped in the order received so it may take a few days after the 12th to see “shipped” on your status the longer you wait.

 

If you would rather support your local quilt shop, and I am all for that! Please let them know about the templates and ask them to contact me and I will provide them with the links to make a wholesale order. I am really hoping to get more shops interested in carrying hand piecing items. There are MANY quilters who love the zen of piecing by hand along with sewing on their machines, all we have to do is ask out shops and they will discover this too.

I am also writing the “how-to” blogs this week for this block and they are going to begin the week of Oct 22nd.

Have a great day,