Trying something of a different sort (and you can try too)

I just signed up for a “hoopie swap,” which is totally outside my comfort zone, and that’s one of the main reasons I’m doing it.  Challenging myself creatively keeps me fresh, I think.

I am a member of Bee a {modern} swapper on Flickr, and every other month, we make quilt blocks chosen by that month’s “queen bee.”  (That’s where I received my tree blocks!) In the off months, there is a swap of another sort, open to anyone who wants to play (that means YOU!).  This month, it’s an embroidery hoop swap.  I have done exactly zero (zip, zilch, nada) embroidery in my life. My bee members assure me that not only is embroidery not too difficult, and I can learn the basic stitches on YouTube, but that the hoop doesn’t even have to contain any embroidery.  Hmmm ….

Sounds like a fun challenge, right?  It’s a secret swap, so each participant creates a mosaic of some things she might like for inspiration, and then her partner can draw on that when creating the embroidery hoop.

Here’s my mosaic:

1. the atomic flower hoop, 2. lindas circles, 3. bird a month: may, 4. photo (19), 5. susans flowers, 6. Sampler Tree Embroidery, 7. Hoop for embellishment class, 8. Birdy, 9. scrappy hoop swap, 10. doodlestitch sampler for corinne, 11. Where ever the ride takes me, 12. monarch butterfly, 13. Hoop Up Embroidery for Solidia – Lady Peacock pattern by ReviDevi

You know you want some of this fun to hang in your space!  So, come on over and sign up!  Here’s the discussion thread with the link to the sign-up form.  But hurry, sign ups close at the end of TODAY!  Eeep!  No worries, you’ve got all month to make something, but seriously, go now and sign up!  I hope to see you there.

Sunday Stash: fabric fun for the fabric lover

I was catching up on my blog reads from the “Let’s Get Acquainted Blog Hop” I participated in at Plum and June.

I happened across Fiona’s blog at Finding Fifth and discovered she hosts a “Sunday Stash” link up party.

Ah-ha!  A place to show and tell pretty fabric with people who want to see pretty fabric.  Sounds like just the thing for a Sunday afternoon while the little one naps and the big one is at the pool with Daddy!

This is Terrain by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics.  I had seen pictures of this line on the web, but it wasn’t until I saw it in person at Main Street Quilting Company in Bozeman, Montana that I decided some of it needed to come home with me.  I purchased a couple of prints in that shop in Bozeman and ordered the rest from Fabrics You Love on Etsy.

Aren’t they pretty?  The prints from left to right in the photo below are: Dahlia in berry, Seapod in stream, Forest Floor in stream, Lichen in stream, Forest Floor in foliage, Lichen in foliage, Leaves in foliage and Forest Floor in bloom.

I loved the Forest Floor print so much I bought it in three color ways.

With unlimited disposable income, I probably would have purchased even more of these fabrics.  There are several pink and orange prints that are really lovely and an aster print that is a lot of fun as well.  For now, though, I will have to find something wonderful to make with these.

Be Free Bees: Addition #2 for Fiona

Because we had a member drop out of the free form quilt robin, I volunteered to pick up the slack and work on 2 quilts/month for the remainder of our quilt bee.  The next quilts I have will be my last!

So, this month, I kept Fiona’s quilt, which I added to last month as well.  Last month, I added a row of 3-part equilateral triangles to one side of the quilt.

When I went back to this project, I tried to approach it as if I were seeing the quilt for the first time.  I wanted to be inspired by the project in its current state.  I liked how the triangles I added last month made a secondary chevron or zig zag pattern, so that is the direction I decided to go.  Since I used only solids last time, I decided to incorporate some prints this round.  When I started working on this quilt, we were still in Bozeman, so I visited a local quilt shop and picked up a couple geometric prints that had the same feel as the pixel print used in the starter piece of the quilt.  I surrounded them with the solids I already had and made 3 rows of chevrons.

I originally planned to make the zig zag pattern span the length of the quilt, but I ran out of solid.  Since the pieces was about as long as the center piece of the quilt, I decided I would add to each end, and use the Kona bone and coal that were already in the quilt as background.  I went back to the quilt shop, this time picking a couple of flowers that I thought would work well with the flowers that were in the original piece and one of the additional borders that was added.  I ordered the Kona solids and they were waiting for me when I arrived home Thursday.

I fussy cut a couple of flowers for each side and started out with them as the center of a log cabin block.  From there, I just had fun with some improvisational piecing to fill in the background on each side.

Though it wasn’t even in my original plan, I really like how those side portions turned out.  I perhaps got a little over-ambitious on this addition, as it’s pretty large relative to the size of the quilt when I started.  It is interesting how sometimes a project can go in a direction you didn’t anticipate and still turn out great.  I hope Fiona likes it!

Since I finished this yesterday, I’m going to head over and show it at Sew And Tell Friday with Amy Lou Who.

Road Trip Quilt Along: South Dakota

South Dakota.  I really have mixed feelings about South Dakota, both the state and the quilt block.  We actually spent quite a bit of time in South Dakota on our trip west, and it was lovely:  Badlandlands National Park, Custer State Park, Wind Cave, Mount Rushmore.  But the heavy sustained winds all night long finally broke our tent pole, which was a pain to deal with.

The quilt block is a little complicated because of the on-point center 9-patch portion.  I posted about my difficulties figuring it out, and my mom linked to the directions on bellaonline, which is where I found the block originally.  Those directions do make it seem a little more simple than it is.  Or maybe I’m just a little bit of a perfectionist, but I did the math: Pythagorean theorum, square roots, seam allowances and all.  I did the math, though, so that means you don’t have to!  Hooray!

I actually made this block twice (Grrrr).  That center square finishes at 8.5 inches and I trimmed it to 8.5 inches and didn’t leave room for seam allowances.  Then I didn’t realize it until the block was all put together and too small!  Note: trim center 9-patch to 9 INCHES!!

 Cutting directions for South Dakota quilt block:

Center 9-patch
Pinwheels: (5) 3.25-inch squares [fabric 1: background]
(5) 3.25-inch squares [fabric 2: yellow + gray]
9-patch spacers: (4) 3-3/8 inch squares [fabric 3: gray houndstooth]

Corner triangles
Corner HSTs: (2) 3-inch squares [fabric 1: background]
(2) 3-inch squares [fabric 2]
(8) 2.5-inch squares [fabric 1: background]
Edge triangles: (6) 3-inch squares [fabric 3], cut on diagonal to make 12 triangles

Construct the center 9-patch block.

We are going to try a new method of half square triangles, which we will use to make the pinwheels.

Place 1, 3.25-inch square of background fabric, right sides together with 1, 3.25-inch square of fabric 2.  Sew a line all the way around, a scant 1/4 inch from the edge.

Cut 2 diagonal lines across the piece you just sewed together, splitting it into 4 triangles.

Iron the triangles open into 4 half square triangle squares!  Trim each piece to 1-15/16 inches.  (Sorry about the small fraction, but this will prevent you from having to trim off a lot of excess in the end and will preserve the shapt of your pinwheels.)

Sew the 4 squares together into a pinwheel.

Repeat with the remaining 3.25-inch squares to make 5 pinwheels in total.  Because of how you trimmed the half square triangle pieces, your finished pinwheels should be 3-3/8 inches, square.

Alternate your pinwheels with the 3-3/8 inch squares of fabric 3 to create a 9-patch block.  Trim the entire 9-patch to 9 inches, square.

Construct the triangle portions for the 4 corners

Each of the 4 corners is constructed in the same.  We will start by making some more half square triangles for the corners, this time using the more traditional method.  Place a 3-inch square of background fabric and a 3-inch square of fabric 2 right sides together.  Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.  Sew a line of stitches 1/4 inch to each side of the line.  Cut the squares apart on the line you drew.

Iron the pieces open.  Trim to 2.5 inches.

Lay out your corner sections as shown below.

Sew the pieces into rows.  Then sew the rows together to make a large triangle.

Trim the longest edge of the corner piece so that it is 1/4 inch beyond the points of the squares.  This will help you line up the pieces when you sew them to the center.

Arrange the triangles around the center 9-patch piece.  Sew two opposite sides to the center square.  Iron them open, then sew on the two remaining sides.  Trim the block o 12.5 inches.

With 9 blocks, the quilt right now would make a nice sized baby quilt.  Just add sashing between the blocks and a border!  Five states to go until our road trip is complete!

Trixie’s Travels: The final stretch

We are now in week seven of our nearly eight weeks away.  Tomorrow morning (early) we begin the final 2-day drive homeward.  It’s bittersweet.  We’ve been away for so very long that it will be nice to finally be home again.  However, the trip has been wonderful, and we’ve seen so many amazing things and beautiful scenery that it really will be sad to leave it all behind us.

Since my last travel post was devoid of photos, I’ll include a few extras to share what we’ve seen.

Great Falls of the Missouri River, Montana

Glacier National Park
Sierra was thrilled she got to throw snow in July!

Wildflowers on a hike to Ptarmigan Falls

St. Mary Lake

Rocky Mountain National Park
Deer outside our tent early in the morning. 

We met up with 4 ladies with whom I ran cross country in college.  All have had their first baby within 18 months of Kaia.

Kansas City
We spent one night with my cousin before heading on to St. Louis

St. Louis
We’ve really enjoyed spending time in Grandma and Grandpa’s pool in this hot, hot heat.  The night we arrived, two of Jason’s aunts and uncles and his grandmother came over to hang out and they brought dinner.  Hooray.  We’ve had some time to see friends, some time to see family, and some time just to lay low. 

And since this is a Trixie’s travels post, I’ll also let you know that she, too, has been enjoying some time relaxing by the pool.  Her mass and electrical components prevent her from swimming, but she likes to look on with a beverage.  She didn’t get much action while we were camping.  I had dreams of plugging into a power source in my parents’ camper and evening or two, but it just didn’t work out that way.  She’s done a great job of helping me keep up with my Road Trip Quilt Along, but I admit, I’ll be happy to get home and work with Tori, my Bernina, again.

Road Trip Quilt Along: Minnesota

Hey Minnesota!  This block was actually familiar to me because I made a Minnesota block with Leila’s Skill Builder Sampler awhile back.  In Leila’s post, she links to the Minnesota paper piecing instructions written by Lee of Freshly Pieced.  So, the link is there, if you’d like to use it.  Lee uses the traditional sew-through-the-paper method of paper piecing, but I will use my preferred fold-the-paper-sew next-to-the-fold method.  There are templates for the paper pieced portions in Lee’s post, if you’d like to print them out.  Just make sure they print to the correct size or your finished block size will be off.  However, I will show you how to draw your own on freezer paper.  It’s super fast and easy.

You will need a template for the diamond parts of the block, both the rectangle diamonds, and the square diamond.

Draw two shaps on freezer paper: (1) a 2-inch square and (2) a 2-inch x 5-inch rectangle.

Find the center points of the sides of your shapes.  Connect the center point of one side to the center point of each adjacent side with a diagonal line.  Add 1/4 inch seam allowances around each shape.  That’s it.  Easy, right?

Cutting directions for Minnesota quilt block

For the quarter square triangle (QST) portions:
(2) 6.25-inch squares [fabric 1]
(2) 6.25-inch squares [fabric 2]

For the paper pieced rectangle diamonds:
(4) 6-inch x 3-inch rectangles [fabric 3]
(8) 4-inch x 2.5-inch rectangles, each cut on the diagonal to make (16) triangles [fabric 4]

For the paper pieced square diamond:
(1) 3 x 3 inch square [fabric 3]
(2) 2 x 2 inch squares, cut on the diagonal to make (4) triangles [fabric 4]

Make the Quarter Square Triangle pieces

We made quarter square triangles for the Maryland block, and I will review here.

Begin as if you were making half square triangles, placing your two fabrics right sides together and drawing a line from one corner to the opposite corner.

Sew a line 1/4 inch to each side of the line you just drew, then cut the squares apart on the drawn line. 

Iron the squares open, then cut them in half again on the diagonal, in the opposite direction of the split between the two fabrics.

Rearrange the halfs so that the two fabrics alternate, and sew the squares back together.  Trim to 5.5 inches.  Make 4 QST pieces.

Make the paper pieced portions

Maryland was also the first block we used paper piecing for this quilt along.

Begin with your template for the rectangle diamond.  Iron the wrong side of one of the rectangles [fabric 3] to the template (right side away from the paper).

Fold the paper back along one of the diagonal lines for the diamond so that the line is just barely to the top side of the fold.  Trim off excess fabric 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Place the long edge of one of your half-rectangle triangles [fabric 4] so that it is even with the edge you just trimmed.

Sew the two pieces of fabric together as close to the fold line as possible without piercing the paper with your needle.

Open the paper.  Iron the fabric open.  Flip the piece over and repeat the fold-trim-sew-iron open sequence with the remanining 3 sides.

Trim the finished rectangle to 2.5 x 5.5 inches.  Make 3 more diamonds within rectangles.  Complete the same steps using your square template.  Trim the finished square to 2.5 inches.

Arrange the portions of your block as shown below.  Sew the pieces in to rows; sew the rows together.

Trim the finished block to 12.5 inches.  MINNESOTA!!

And hey!  We’re 1/2 way finished with the quilt along.  I have decided that I will have a small fabric giveaway at the end for anyone who has complete any 8 blocks.  So you can win if you’ve completed them all so far, or if you’re just beginning.  I hope to decide on the prize by next week.

Speaking of next week, the block is South Dakota, and it is really giving me a load of trouble with quilt math + how to best construct it.  South Dakota was lovely when we visited: Badlands, Custer State Park, Wind Cave, Mount Rushmore; but the winds in the Badlands also snapped one of our tent poles, so I have mixed feelings about South Dakota.  This quilt block doesn’t help!  You’re up for the challenge, though, aren’t you?

Be Free Bees: Triangles for Fiona

As I mentioned in my last post, some extended time in the woods has pushed back the Road Trip Quilt Along tutorial for this week back a little bit.  I owe you Minnesota, and I will try to get that up by tomorrow afternoon.  We are traveling again today, but I hope to have some time this afternoon/evening to sew, take pictures, and write a tutorial.

Meanwhile, I thought I would share the first addition I made to Fiona’s quilt in our free form robin (we had a member drop out, so I am adding second addition to this same quilt this month).

This is what her quilt looked like when I received it:

The first element that inspired me in this quilt was the star that made up the center and was Fiona’s starter piece at the beginning of this quilt’s journey.  The points are composed of a 3-part equilateral triangle, and I decided to mimic that shape in my addition.

I also decided to stick with the theme of bright solids when I selected my fabrics.  Actually, I received this quilt when I was in the first part of our road trip, at my mom’s house.  Since I didn’t have all my fabric available to pull from, it meant a trip to the fabric store was in order.  Oh, darn. 

I drew an equilateral triangle on freezer paper that was larger than the originals, at 6-inches per side.  I divided it by drawing a line from each corner to the middle of the opposite side, and used those lines to create a template for the pieces I would be sewing together.  When I had completed a bunch of the 3-part triangles, I alternated their orientation to create a row that would be even with the current size of the quilt.

While I didn’t use exactly the same solids that were already present, the colors do coordinate nicely with the prints and solids that have been used so far.  And the white in my triangles is the same Kona bone that was used as the background on one of the side additions.

Here, you can see the comparison of the original triangles that inspired me and those made from the template I created.

Since I have this quilt for another round, I’ve tried to look at it with “fresh eyes” for my next addition and think about what I would have done, and what would have inspired me if I were seeing it for the first time.



Trixie’s Travels: Digitally Disconnected

aka: The last leg of the journey

aka: The one without any pictures

I am so sorry to inform you that there will not be any photos associated with this post.  They are currently all trapped in my camera, which is locked in the car, and it’s late and dark and I would have to go retrieve the camera and then convince my husband to give up his laptop for long enough for me to extract them from the camera and upload them to the internet.

The last travel update I gave you, we were in Bozeman, Montana.  We were very sad to leave; we love that town!

Here’s what we’ve been up to since then:

*Jason successfully defended his Master’s thesis after waiting all week since his presentation time was the second to the last, at 3:00 Saturday afternoon.  We went out for dinner and left early the next morning.
*We visited the Great Falls of the Missouri, which were a site to see.  We had been to the headwaters of the Missouri River two years ago, and Jason is from St. Louis, where the Missouri empties into the Mississippi, so we thought it fitting that we see this other significant part of that river.
*A campground just outside Glacier National Park was our home for most of a week.  We did quite a bit of hiking, including an impressive five miles on her own by my 4-year-old.  We saw elk, mountain goats, glaciers, snow, some amazing waterfalls, and two big horn sheep from very far away.  Kaia lost one of her tiny Keen sandals in the parking lot of a grocery store in Columbia Falls, Montana, but a very nice woman said she will mail it to Virginia for me.
*Next, we had a brief overnight in Billings, MT, followed by two nights in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We could have spent a lot more time in that park.  One day for exploring was just not enough!
*We are now in Denver, and will leave at way-too-early tomorrow morning for one night in Kansas City before moving on to St. Louis.  The first day here, we explored a local regional park, played in the lake, and spent some time in the visitors’ center.  After lunch, we swam in the hotel pool and then spent the evening with a dear friend who moved to Japan, and whom we haven’t seen in 10 years.  Today, we met up with 4 of my former college cross country teammates, all of whom had their first baby within the 18 months following Kaia’s birth.  It was happy and chaotic, and I miss those girls so very, very much.  It was great to see them, but definitely too brief!!

Road Trip Quilt Along Update: I had these grand intentions of sewing in my parents’ camper while were camping in Glacier, but it just didn’t happen.  Guess the intentions were a little too grand.  The Quilt Along portion of the road trip is moving on to Minnesota this week, but I won’t have the tutorial up by Friday.  I hope to have it up by Saturday afternoon, so look for it then!

Road Trip Quilt Along: Iowa

Hey there! I have been basically “off the grid” for most of this week. We left Bozeman Sunday morning, after Jason successfully defended his Master’s thesis on Saturday afternoon. We have spent the week in Glacier National Park and internet access has been sparse at best, and usually non-existent. Of course, this would be the week that something important came up with my daughter’s preschool, of which I am president of the board. Thankfully, a wonderful and highly competent parent is taking care of that for me!

I am presently in a cabin at a KOA campground in Billings, Montana. Tomorrow we have an entirely too long drive to Rocky Mountain National Park, where I will again be completely digitally detached for another couple days. Before that happens, though, let’s make quilt block for Iowa!

I found this block at Block Central. That site has a template, for the block, but it is for an 8-inch block.  Since we are making 12-inch blocks, I will show you how to draw the template yourself (it’s really pretty easy!).  There is a very similar Iowa star at Quilter’s Cache, with a smaller center square and thinner star points, but this one seemed like it would make for an easier template.

We will make a template for 1/4 of the star block, and paper piece four of them to sew together.

1.  Begin by drawing a 6-inch square on the “paper-y” side (as opposed to the waxy side) of some freezer paper.
2.  Draw a center grid through the 6-inch square, from the center point of one side, to the center point of the opposite side, dividing it into 4 equal portions.

3.  Draw a diagonal line across the upper left portion (from the center of one side of your larger 6-inch square to the center of the adjacent side).
4.  Create an isosoles triangle (two sides are equal) by extending lines from each edge of that diagonal line you just drew all the way to the point at the opposite corner of the 6-inch square (clear as mud?  A picture is worth a thousand words here).

5.  The sides of that isosoles triangle you just drew cross the inner grid at one point.  Connect those points from each side of the isosoles triangles with a diagonal line.
6.  From each end point of the line you just drew, extend a line to the center of the diagonal line you drew in Step 3, creating a smaller, inner isosoles triangle.  (To find the center of that diagonal from Step 3, draw a second line in the opposite direction across the upper left portion of the grid, creating an “x”.)

7.  That’s it!  You just made your template.  Add a 1/4 inch seam allowance all the way around the 6-inch square and fill in your “quilt by number” number for the paper piecing.  Number one is the small, center isosles triangle.  Numbers 2 and 3 are the triangles to either side of that center one.  The tip of the large isosoles triangle is Number 4.  The background pieces to the sides of the large isosoles triangle are Numbers 5 and 6.  The pieces that will be the center square of the finished block is Number 7.

Cutting directions

For each quarter of the finished block:

(2) 8 x 4 inch rectangles [background fabric]: (8) total for the block
(1) 4.5 x 3.25 inch rectangle [center triangle of star points]: (4) total for the block
(3) 4.5 x 3.25 inch rectangles [outside triangles of star points]: (12) total for the block
(1) 5.5 x 3.25 inch rectangle [center square of finished block]: (4) total for the block

Place the fabric for the center of the star point right side up on the waxy side of the freezer paper.  Be sure that the fabric covers the portion of the template that represents the center triangle of the star point.

Flip the paper over.  Apply a hot iron to stick the fabric to the freezer paper.  Fold back the paper along the line between Number 1 and Number 2 so that the drawn line is just barely showing on the upper side of the fold.

Trim the fabric to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Line up the fabric for Number 2 with the edge you just trimmed.

Sew the two pieces together, allowing your needled to be as close to the fold as possible without piercing the paper.

Unfold the paper and iron the fabric open with the tip of your iron.

 Flip the paper over, iron the paper over Number 2.  Fold back the paper along the line between Number 1 and Number 3.  Repeat as you did for the first piece.  Trim the fabric to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.  Line up the fabric for Number 3 with the edge you just cut.  Sew the pieces together as close to the fold as possible without piercing the paper.

Unfold the paper.  Iron the piece open with the tip of your iron.  Look!  You can already see the star point taking shape.

Continue paper piecing the rest of the block in number order.  Fold back the paper between Number 1 and Number 4, trim, sew close to the fold.  Fold back the paper along the line between the long edge of the isosles triangle and the background pieces (Number 5 and Number 6).

Finally, create your final fold along the line between the bottom of the large isosoles triangle and the center square of the block (Number 7).

Unfold the paper and iron the entire piece.

Trim to 6.5 inches.  Gently peel off the freezer paper.

Here is one section of the block.

You will need to paper piece 3 additional sections.  If you used this fold-the-paper-back method, you can use the same freezer paper template.  It will continue to stick to fabric with a hot iron for several more uses.

Sew the four sections together.  Trim the block to 12.5 inches.

Hey look!  Seven state blocks!  How are you doing?

Be Free Bees: Paper pieced addition for Bernie

The Be Free Bees are a quilt group of which I’m a part.  There are eight of us, and starting in January, we each sent a starter piece off in the mail.  Each month, we make an addition to the quilt we have for that month and then send it on to the next person to make an addition.  There are no rules for the addition, other than be inspired by what is already there.  At the end of 8 months, the quilt will be returned to the person who started it.

I posted my plan for my addition to this free form quilt some time ago, but I never shared the finished result.  The plan for this one came to me pretty easily and I wanted to echo the feeling of the star that was at the center of the quilt.

My addition is the arched portion at the top of the quilt in the following picture.  It’s construction was a little tricky.  I wanted to keep the angles of the center piece, which is an octagon, but I only wanted three sides of the shape.  As a result, each section of my addition had to be drawn separately, rather than making one template to copy for each portion.

I was going for the feeling of a star with my addition, but love how the mirror image on the right and left makes the addition actually look like an exotic flower.  I wish I could say that was intentional, but it was a happy accident.

Since the fabrics that had been used in previous additions were primarily batiks, I stuck with that theme.  The owner of this quilt included some pieces of the white batik that was her background fabric, but there wasn’t enough left to complete my addition.  A white solid was too harsh with the rest of the quilt, so I used Kona ash, a very light gray.

When I posted the picture of my addition, one of our group members said the quilt reminds her of a banner that should be hanging in a castle.