Be Free Bees: addition for Ann

Oh my goodness! I found this in the depths and wanted to share it. It has been YEARS since I have done this project. Really, years. It was a “free form” quilt bee called Around the Bend and Across the Pond and started through the Old Red Barn Co. group on Flickr.

It works like this: each person in the group send out a starter piece to the next person in the group. Since this is a free form bee, we were to add whatever we wanted to and then pass it on to the next person. Ann’s quilt looked like this when it came to me:

I added a section to the bottom with an assortment of wonky stars in various sizes and colors.

I felt there was already a lot of color saturation in the quilt, so I kept a good portion of the background white, but switched it up with a couple of the stars to break up the white.

At this particular time, I actually ended up with three of the quilts at my house. Ann’s was ready to mail out, as was the one in the bottom of this photo. One of our members had to leave for personal reasons, so I kept the previous quilt and did a second addition. The third one is the one I had just received and would add to next. Fun to see the three of them together like this!

Caramel mug rug

I continue to be amazed by the kindness and friendship I find in the online quilting community.

This winter, a friend posted a photo on Instagram of some caramels she was making. I left a comment about sharing with me, and then she messaged me and asked for my address. A few days later, I got a package in the mail filled with homemade caramels. They were delicious!

In return, I made this caramel candy mug rug. It was a quick little project, and a good chance for me to practice a little bit of free motion quilting as well. I did a little lava flow quilting in the background (my 3-year-old saw it and said “worms!”) with some pebbles in the candy.

Caramel candy mug rug

The back is just a bright bit of happy flower fabric. I like that you can see the candy shape from the quilting.

Caramel candy mug rug

I did a quick machine sewn binding with the edge plate on my walking foot.

Caramel candy mug rug

And then it was off in the mail. I really should make a mug rug for myself. I’ve sent plenty to others, but they are a great little project to have a fun bit of handmade goodness in your life everyday.

Caramel candy mug rug

St. Louis MQG Cares

Another I-actually-finished-this-awhile-ago-but-haven’t-posted-it finish.

My local Modern Quilt Guild participated in a charity sewing project at the end of last year and the beginning of this. We made pillow covers and gave them away to people receiving treatment at the Siteman Cancer Center sites here in the St. Louis area. You can read more about the project on the STLMQG Cares page.

We wanted to use high quality, beautiful fabrics and finish them in a way that would make the covers last.

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The envelope backs are double layer on each side and the pillow covers are finished with French seams.

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Members of our guild gave the first round of pillows away on Valentine’s Day and another round a little later.

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Check out more great finishes!

Crazy Mom Quilts

Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday

Modern Quilt Guild Riley Blake Challenge

This has been finished for some time, actually (as you might have guessed based on the SNOW on the ground in the photos!), but I’m just now getting around to posting about it.

This quilt, which I’m calling “Twisted Triangles” was my entry into the Modern Quilt Guild‘s Riley Blake Challenge. Seriously, I don’t know how it didn’t win the prize, as it is clearly awesome!

In all honesty, there were innumerable stand-out entries. I was blown away by all the talent displayed and it was really fascinating to see how the same fabrics inspired such a wide array of projects.

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I was amused by the process of making this quilt in particular:

1. Whip out rotary cutter and slice up pretty fabric.

2. Sew fabric back together in a triangle.

3. Slice through the fabric I just finished sewing.

4. Insert white strip and sew back together again.

5. Repeat.

It just seemed completely counterintuitive to cut up something I had just sewed together!

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The back is a Riley Blake print I had purchased for another project and ended up not using, along with some coordinating solids.

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I attempted to repeat the twisting triangles in the quilting.

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Even though though this isn’t a recent finish, I’m sharing at Crazy Mom Quilts. Lots of great projects linked; go check them out!

A big thank you and a sad farewell

Several weeks ago, I told you that my dad had cancer and that I wanted to make him a quilt for his birthday. I had less than 6 weeks to have it completely finished, and I asked for your help because I didn’t think that I could complete the project on that timeline by myself.

Well, I am happy to report that we succeeded! I was overwhelmed by the response from my quilting friends. I received blocks or fabric from members of my local St. Louis Modern Quilt guild, from around the country, and even from around the world. I am blown away by the kindness of this community. I had three long arm quilters volunteer to do the quilting for only the cost of shipping, and another offered just recently when she learned about the project.

I picked up the last of the blocks at the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild meeting on April 12th. I actually ended up with more blocks than I needed for this quilt, so if you sent me blocks and you don’t see them here, fear not. I’ve decided that I will make the remaining blocks needed for a second quilt and pay your kindness forward by donating that quilt to Quilts of Valor.

After the April guild meeting, I put the blocks together and made the back of the quilt. I mailed it to Melissa of Melia Mae Quilting the day after Easter. She did the beautiful long arm quilting with stars and mailed the quilt to my parents’ house to make sure that it was there when I arrived May 1st. I used my mom’s sewing machine to finish the binding and the surprise was almost spoiled when my dad peeked in to see what I was doing. Luckily, I had shoved the quilt under the sewing table and pretended I was fixing my daughter’s pants.

My girls presented the quilt to their Grandpa for his birthday, and he was so pleased. My dad is not the type to show a lot of emotion, so I consider it a big deal that he brought it up and thanked me more than once. My mom even said that when she was heading out to her own guild meeting on Monday evening after we left, my dad said, “Well, you’d better take this one to show.”

It brings tears to my eyes that I had so many of you offer to help me with this. If not for you, my dad would never have received this gift. I would not have finished it on my own before he died. I wish he would have been able to enjoy his quilt for years to come, but I’m happy it was finished in time for him to have this gift for a week. My dad passed away on Sunday, May 11th, 2014.

His obituary can be seen here if you’d like to know more about him. He was an active member of his community, a loving dad and husband, a good friend, and he was just awesome as Grandpa. The fact that my girls will not have more years with Grandpa Bob is what crushes me with sadness. He will be missed by many.

 

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The two oldest grandkids hold up Grandpa Bob’s quilt

 

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Close up of the quilting, some blocks, and the flag stripe binding

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I like how the chain blocks create diagonal lines across the quilt

 

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The back of the quilt

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This boot print fabric was perfect for this quilt

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Cancer sucks and I need your help

My dad has cancer.

It’s not a secret, I just don’t talk about it because it makes me sad and angry and frustrated and a whole host of other emotions that don’t even have names. There aren’t words to describe how unsettled and out of sorts it makes me feel to know my dad has this disease which he maybe, someday could recover from. Or it could take his life. We don’t know. I can’t begin to imagine how it makes him feel.

Here’s the short version: My dad was diagnosed as having a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). He was on chemotherapy medication for almost a year and then, in September, he had surgery to remove a very large tumor and a dozen or so smaller tumors from his abdomen. About a month ago, a scan revealed the cancer had spread: stomach, liver, kidneys. His case was transferred to another hospital and he started some different chemotherapy drugs. There are a lot of unknowns ahead.

I just returned home from visiting my parents for a few days. My dad gets around, but the disease and its treatment wipe him out quickly, so he spends a lot of time in his recliner. Apparently, my mom was watching a show that featured Quilts of Valor. My dad made some comment along the lines of “Those guys get a quilt and their wife isn’t even a quilter.” At least cancer hasn’t made him soft!

I could apply for a quilt from Quilts of Valor for my dad. He’s a Vietnam veteran. On top of that, it’s possible (probable?) that exposure to agent orange during that war caused the cancer. But, I told my that I wanted to make him a quilt, and drew up three color schemes using Ohio Star blocks and 4-patch chain blocks (modified Irish Chain? Does this block have a name?)

He picked this one. It’s made of a 5×6 grid of 12-inch blocks to finish at a large throw size of 60×72 inches.

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I would love to have this finished by his birthday May 5th. That’s exactly 6 weeks from now. I don’t think I can complete this quilt on that timeline by myself, but I was hoping you would help?

The color scheme is “red, white and blue”: think deep blue and bright red, like the American flag.

These are the blocks I need:

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I will post a quick tutorial for these in the next day or so, but here are the quick fabric requirements:

Chain Block:
white: (2) strips, 2.5 x 10 inches; (4) squares, 4.5 inches
blue: (1) 2.5 x 10 inches; (1) 2.5 x 5 inches
red: (1) 2.5 x 10 inches; (1) 2.5 x 5 inches

Step 1: Sew one long white strip to the long blue strip along the long edge. Sew the other long white strip to the long red strip.
Step 2: Cut the strips apart every 2.5 inches (You will have pairs of red or blue + white that are 2.5 x 4.5 inches)
Step 3: Sew the short red and blue strips together along the 5-inch edge.
Step 4: Cut the red and blue piece in the middle to make two pairs of red + blue for the center of the block.
Step 5: Use pairs and white squares to assemble the block as seen above.

Star Block: 
For the center: 3.25 inch square, white or low volume with red or blue print
For the corners around the center: (2) 3-inch squares (red or blue, depending on the block), cut on the diagonal to make (4) triangles
–Sew the long edge of each triangle to a side of the center square. Trim the unit to 4.5 inches.
Quarter square triangles: (2) 5.25 inch squares, white; (1) 5.25 inch square, red; (1) 5.25 inch square, blue
Block corners: (4) 4.5 inch squares, red or blue, depending on the block

If you’d like to help, I would be forever grateful. Here’s how:

1. Make a block or two and send it my way. Leave a message, or email me at em@sewingbymoonlight.com and I will send you my address. I’d like all blocks in hand by April 16th at the very latest (3.5 weeks from now).

2. Send me some fabrics in “American flag” colors of deep blue and bright red. Both of these colors are severely under-represented in my stash. A 2.5 x 15 inch strip or a 9-inch square in these colors would go a long way! Again, send me an email if you can help out with this and I’ll send you my address.

3. This is a long shot, but if you are a longarmer, or know of one would would do this project on the cheap the week after Easter, let me know. I can certainly manage a quilt of this size on my Bernina, but a long arm would be quicker!

Bill’s Star

My friend Bill wanted a handmade quilt for his bed. I can’t argue with that. If you are lucky enough to know a quilter who will make you a quilt for your bed (or you ARE a quilter), just know that you own a treasure because there are a LOT of hours that go into making a quilt that large. (I think that you should read this post on the value of a quilt.)

Bill is a dear friend, and when his Facebook status asked if anyone knew a quilter, I was more than happy to volunteer my own skills.

Bill sent me this photo as an example of the colors he wanted. Rather than go with all solids, I found the Michael Miller Krystal prints at The Fat Quarter Shop. Ivory, burgundy, and teal (which is really more “spruce”, I think) were perfect!

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I found this pattern for a Single Star Wreath on Serendipity Patchwork. The pattern was for 6-inch blocks and a finished quilt of 42 inches. I modified the idea to make 14-inch blocks and a quilt that finishes at 98 inches on a side!

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I love how the angles of the blocks give the illusion of a star in a circle.

Bill's circle star quilt

I made some huge templates to get the isosceles triangle blocks and worked with oversized half square triangles. It was a fun challenge to make blocks of this large scale.

Bill's circle star quilt

The next photo shows the color a little more accurately and you can see the quilting, which was done by Pat Cole on her long arm machine. The size of this quilt was more than I was comfortable attempting on my little domestic Bernina!

Bill's circle star quilt

I kept is simple with the back and used a single length of 108″ backing fabric with a subtle tone on tone ivory print.

Bill's circle star quilt

Bill, I hope this keeps you cozy and happy. It was joy making this for you, friend.

 

Table Top Turkey Trot

I’ve been so wrapped up in three additional days off school for the kids (yes, we are now on our THIRD snow day in a row; they are climbing the walls!) that I totally missed my dresden turkey table runner tutorial (isn’t that a mouthful) being posted over at Moda Bakeshop!

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The  idea for this project came to me around the first of November. I drew up the plans, and it was approved pretty quickly. I had hoped to have it ready to post at Moda Bakeshop by Thanksgiving, but by the time I had the fabric in hand, that only gave me six days. My life, apparently, does not allow for a 6-day turn around time. It was ready before Christmas, but was just posted Monday.

Go check it out. It’s a festive take on a dresden block, and looks great on a fall table. That fabric is Floral Gatherings, and if you want to make some fall decor, I absolutely recommend picking some up. The colors are just perfect and remind me of an autumn walk through the changing leaves.

The tutorial includes a pdf download for the dresden template and the turkey body appliqué. You can download that pdf here as well.

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Half Square Triangles 101

Alternate Title: For Rachel and Colin’s Wedding Quilt

Alternate Title: How to make a quilt block when you’ve never sewn a quilt block before

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IMPORTANT: Your quilt block must finish at exactly 9.5 inches. That’s a 9-inch block with 1/4 inch seam allowance all the way around. If it’s a touch bigger, that’s okay; it can be trimmed. If it’s too small, though, it cannot be easily incorporated into the quilt with the rest of the blocks.

**Tip: To achieve the above finished measurement, be sure to sew your block units together with a “scant 1/4 inch” seam allowance. That’s just a thread-width or two smaller than a 1/4 inch to account for the thread and pressing the block unit open

**Tip: You can make your quilt block with a sharp pair of sewing scissors and a needle and thread. Your kitchen shears or paper craft scissors or the scissors you’ve been using to trim your bangs will not be sharp enough to achieve a clean cut on fabric. For about $15, though, you can purchase a rotary cutter and a small rotary mat, which will make this much easier. (Something like this can be found at JoAnn Fabrics, Michael’s, or other craft stores. Bring a coupon to those big stores if the item is not on sale.)

Okay. Let’s get started.

Materials Needed:

Fabric: one light and one dark fabric was mailed to youcolor_pics
Sewing machine and thread OR sewing needle and thread
Sharp fabric scissors OR rotary cutter and mat
Ruler (see through ruler with a grid to square the block is best)
Iron and Ironing surface
Triangle template (optional. For method A only)

Part 1: Make the half square triangle units

If you’ve never made a quilt block before, a great easy place to start is with a half square triangle. This is just what it sounds like. It is a quilt block unit composed of two triangles of fabric, which, sewn together along the diagonal, make a square. These half square triangles (HSTs) can be arranged in a huge variety of layouts to create different quilt blocks.

For this 9-inch block (9.5 inches, unfinished, before it is sewn into the quilt), we will use a 4×4 grid of half square triangle units. Each of the 16 HSTs will be 2.75 inches, unfinished, and 2.25 inches when they are sewn into the block or quilt.

Did you notice the pattern of the seam allowance? We will always sew our seams together 1/4 inch (very slightly less) from the edge of the fabric. Thus, whatever the finished measurement of the block or block unit will be, you add a 1/2 inch to account for the seam allowance on all sides.

Method A: Triangle template

1. Using the triangle template (it should be 3-1/8 inches on a short side), cut out 16 triangles of light fabric and 16 triangles of dark fabric.

2. Place your triangles into pairs of light and dark. Stack each pair so the right side of the fabric is in the middle and the wrong side is facing out (note: with the type of fabric chosen for this quilt, there may not always be a difference between the right and wrong sides of the fabric. In that case, don’t worry about it. If there is a difference in the two sides, the brighter side goes in the middle).

3. Sew your HST together along the long side of the triangle, a scant 1/4 inch (remember: that’s just a thread width or two shy of 1/4 inch) from the longest edge.

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Method B: Start with Squares

This is the method I prefer for making half square triangles. It goes a little bit faster and doesn’t involve fiddling with templates. Use whichever makes sense to you.

1. Cut out 8 squares of light fabric, and 8 squares of dark fabric, each measuring 3.25 inches (note: you could cut them at 3-1/8 inches, like the template, but I prefer to cut the squares slightly large and then trim the HST when it is complete).

2. Place one light square and one dark square with the right sides of the fabric in the middle and the wrong sides of the fabric facing the outside. Draw a diagonal line on the top square going from corner to corner. You can just use a regular pencil or pen for this. It will be hidden in the finished quilt block.

3. Sew two diagonal lines parallel with the line you drew, one a scant 1/4 inch to the left of the drawn line, the other, a scant 1/4 inch to the right of the drawn line.

4. Cut the square into two along the diagonal line you drew.

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 Both Method A + Method B:

Tip: chain piecing

To speed the process of making your block units, try chain piecing. Cut out all your pieces and place your pairs together. Sew one pair. Rather than pulling that pair out of your machine and trimming the threads, leave it there and sew the next pair right behind. Trim when you have finished sewing all pairs.

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Finish the HST: 

Whether you have used template or started with squares that were cut apart, you should now have a stack of 16 triangle pairs that are sewn together along their longest edge.

With the dark side up, nudge your hot iron between the two triangles and press the block unit open. This will press the seam allowance toward the darker fabric.

Trim each HST to 2.75 inches.

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 Part 2: Construct the Quilt Block

Now that you have  your 16 finished HSTs, it’s time to decide on a pattern for your block. There were several included with your fabric. There are several more here. (Fun side story. The man who generated these 72 patterns is a Perl programmer who was dating a quilter. He developed the program to generate rotationally symmetric HST blocks.)

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But these are just the “rotationally symmetric” choices, you are welcome to explore beyond that. I really had a lot of fun playing with my HSTs before I finally settled on the pattern I wanted to use.

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Now you have 16 finished HSTs and you’ve decided on a pattern for your block, let’s finish up!

1. Beginning with the first row, place two adjacent HSTs together with the right sides in the middle, and their common edge aligned. Sew together using a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance. Sew the next pair of HSTs together the same way. Attach these two pairs using a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance to form your first row. Press your seams open.

2. Repeat for the remaining three rows of HSTs.

3. Flip the top row down onto the second row so the right sides are together in the middle. Align each of the seams between HSTs and pin in place. Sew the rows together using a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance.

4. Continue in this manner until you have sewn all four rows together. Press your seam open. Flip the block to the right side and press flat.

5. Trim to 9.5 inches square.

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All done!

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Mail your block off to be include in Rachel and Colin’s wedding quilt.

E-mail me if you have questions. Or call. Or we can Skype and I’ll help (this offer valid for Rachel and Colin quilt makers only)!

 

Planned Improv

Okay, so I know that “improv” stands for improvisational, and I do realize that “planned improv” is therefor an oxymoron, but there isn’t a better way to describe this block.

For the most recent round of the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee, I wanted to do a scattered, “confetti style” quilt block. It has the look of being random, but I still wanted to plan out where the pieced went so they were scattered throughout the block.

planned improv quilt block

I did make the first one in a true improvisational style, but I found myself frustrated.

planned improv quilt block

Because the pieces still needed to fit within the confines of a 12-inch block, I found it necessary to stop and measure after each piece.

planned improv quilt block

So, with every little bit of “confetti”, I would cut, sew, trim, measure for the next piece, and so on …

planned improv quilt block

After that first one, I made a cutting diagram so that I could just cut out all the pieces at once and then put them together.

planned improv quilt block

The beauty of this method is that the sub-units are interchangeable. Thus, each block really is different, even though the pieces used to construct each one are the same size.

planned improv quilt block

It’s fantastic because it allows an improvisational look to be achieved even by more structured minds that get easily frustrated without a plan.

planned improv quilt block

I’m wondering if there might be any interest in me writing up my cutting list and piecing diagrams. I might do it anyway.

You can see, with the blocks all together, how there are no two alike. I placed the longest thin piece horizontally on the left side of each block so you could compare, but the blocks could be rotated for a different look.

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Apparently, I need to work on “letting go” sometimes with my quilting, but for now, I’m going with planned improv!