Tuesday, May 27, 2014
The book is called The 3 1/2, 4 1/2, and 5 1/2 Block System, or just The Scrap Template System for short. The author is Judy Gauthier, and she came to our group and showed us her system for using scraps. Unlike Bonnie Hunter's Scrap Users System, Judy's is based on squares instead of strips. As the book title would indicate, she uses 3 sizes: 3.5 in., 4.5 in., and 5.5 in., to make a variety of quilt blocks.
Her presentation was so much fun. Judy is down to earth, and has a great sense of humor. Plus her quilts were terrific! And this is just the kind of thing I like, neat ways to use up the scraps and make quilts.
Judy is a local quilt shop owner. Below is a link to her store, Bungalow Quilting and Yarn. There are pictures there of her quilts made from this system.
Bungalow Quilting and Yarn
So I bought the book and the templates (they come with the book), and when I got home I thought I might try a block or two. I ended up trying them all! Just a warning, these are addictive.
There are 9 patterns in the book, which is more like a booklet or a workbook. This little thing is packed with ideas.
1. House Block
2. Sunshine and Shadows
3. Square in a Square
4. Autograph Block
5. Broken Dishes
6. Cross Roads
7. Treasure Box
8. Dutchman's Puzzle
9. Crown Block
Isn't this cute? I didn't cut this perfectly, but I was able to trim it and fix it. It seems to be fool proof.
I guess you can tell I am enjoying this book. It works especially well for me because I have boxes of 3.5 and 4.5 in. squares and strips, and some 5.5 in. strips too.
Judy explained that she is often cutting from scraps that are irregularly shaped, since she makes garments and other things like umbrellas. (Really! She has a class.) That's why she would rather use the templates than any other rotary cutting ruler. You can also see through the templates, so fussy cutting is simple.
You will still need a ruler, however, in addition to the templates, because several of the directions include cutting the squares in halves or in quarters. And naturally you would want a larger square for squaring up most of the blocks.
A couple of minor problems with the book--Judy often forgets to tell us what the block will measure when finished (or even unfinished). I wrote those measurements down after I made the blocks, but they should probably be included. Also, some of the really critical directions are written in a very small font.
Four of the quilts are pictured on the front cover. There are no color pictures in the book, but there are lots of them on the web site. This holds down costs of printing, and allows Judy to put up more photos as time goes on.
When I buy or borrow a quilt book, I'm always hoping I can get at least one good idea from it. If I do, I consider the cost and the use of my time worth it. This little book is more than worth it. I am excited about using these ideas with my scraps.
Just call me a satisfied customer.
Here's hoping all your ideas work out for you today.
Friday, May 16, 2014
I find I never get tired of piecing, probably because I'm always trying something new. It may not always work out the way I want it to or expect it to, but that's just part of the challenge.
Lately I've been getting many of my challenges/ideas from the internet. (Aren't we lucky to live now?) A few posts ago I mentioned the Jane Austen block of the week, with blocks and background information by quilt historian Barbara Brackman. What I didn't know then was that Ms. Brackman was running another blog with a block of the month, called Threads of Memory, based on real people and events on the Underground Railroad before and during the Civil War.
Threads of Memory started in January, so I've got some catching up to do, but the new block is posted at the END of the month instead of the beginning. As of now there are 4 blocks. Each has a wonderful TRUE story about people who escaped from slavery, and the people who helped them. The articles are well researched and illustrated. The blocks are new, designed by Ms. Brackman, but based on familiar shapes and stars. These are all 12 in. finished blocks.
Here's my first block, named Portsmouth Star, for Ona Judge Staines. (I must admit, I changed it a tiny bit.) Ona was a slave who "belonged" to George and Martha Washington. She ran away to New Hampshire and managed to keep her freedom, in spite of efforts to kidnap her and return her to the south. I made the square in the center from plain muslin, so I could write a little bit of the information on it. It reads:
In Memory of Ona Judge Staines. A free woman of color, and "perfect mistress of her needle".
For some reason I'm having trouble with these blocks, and not making them as nicely as I would like. Maybe I'm in too much of a hurry. Time to slow down.
Here's the link to Ona's block, the first in the Threads of Memory block of the month:
Threads of Memory #1: Portsmouth Star
The rest of the blocks can be kind of hard to get to through the blog. The best way I've found is to go to the Flickr page where there is a current list of links to each block.
Threads of Memory Block Index
These blocks are made with 2.5 in. squares. The outer white triangles start out as squares, that are trimmed away when the block is finished. They end up measuring about 9 in. unfinished (8.5 in. finished). Cute, right?
This trend seems to have been started at the Blue Elephant Stitches blog, which has a tutorial made up in modern fabrics. The link is below.
Granny Square Quilt Block Tutorial
The above tutorial is made with squares. She did an updated tutorial for the Moda Bakeshop with some limited strip piecing. Here's the link to it:
Granny Square Quilt at Moda Bakeshop
So what am I going to do with all these blocks? I guess I'll have 12 of the Threads of Memory blocks at the end of the year, which if properly set will make a twin sized quilt, so I'm not worried about those.
The Granny Squares could end up being a big quilt, as long as I don't get tired of making them. I have enough 2.5 in. strips to cut for a long, long time.
In the meantime, I'm using up scraps and staying out of trouble.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Flash forward a couple of months. You're working on a quilt, and it suddenly occurs to you to use the beloved fabric. You dig it out, and guess what? You didn't buy enough. And sadly, when you go back to the quilt shop, they're out, and they can't even order it.
Can you tell this has happened to me more than once? Articles in quilt magazines used to encourage us to buy 3 yards if we loved the fabric, so we could use it for sashing or borders. I hate to admit it, but I actually did that for a while. I ended up with tons of 1990s yardage that I mostly gave away. With fabric running at least $10.00 per yard now, buying so much is really unrealistic.
This time, I lucked out. When I went back to the quilt shop, not only did they still have the fabric, it was now on sale for $6.00 a yard! So I bought 2 more yards. I had more than enough to put this quilt together.
My inspiration for the pattern came from having seen an antique quilt like this somewhere. This exact coloration is hard to find in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, but the main number is 1687. One of the names is Road to California. The name I like best is Double Hour Glass.
When I was first deciding on which block to make, I looked the pattern up in the Quilt Index online, and here's what I found:
Isn't this a gorgeous quilt? Lots of those wonderful madder browns I love. It turns out this is a signature quilt., made in North Carolina, probably between 1890 and 1901.
The antique quilt has 30 blocks, which finish 9.5 in. x 9.5 in. Its sashing measures 3.5 in. and the outside border is 4.5 in. wide.
Here's a link to the Quilt Index, in case you'd like to look up an antique quilt for yourself:
The Quilt Index
This is a really easy pattern, and would look good in almost any color scheme, not just the reproduction fabrics I love.
These blocks are 9 in. finished (9.5 in. unfinished).
For each block, cut:
2 squares, 3.5 in. x 3.5 in., of the dark fabric
2 squares, 3.5 in. x 3.5 in, of the light fabric (I used plain tan muslin for all of my blocks.)
Make 4 half square triangle units that measure 3.5 in. unfinished from the light and dark fabrics. I do this by cutting triangles from 3.5 in. strips with the Easy Angle ruler, and then sewing the triangles together, light to dark.
Once you have the half square triangle units made, just assemble the squares like a nine patch.
I made 42 blocks, each with a different fabric. I laid them out on the floor as I worked and looked for the colors I needed to balance the quilt. The sashing is cut 3.5 in. x 9.5 in, the cornerstones are 3.5 in. square, and the outside border is cut 5.5 in. wide.
As you can see, this quilt is bigger than my usual twin size, measuring approximately 79 in. x 91 in.
Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to quilt it!
Stay in stitches!
Friday, May 9, 2014
Most quilt groups make quilts for others in need. Some groups focus on particular causes or charities, like Quilts for Kids or Quilts of Valor.
Our group, called Ties that Bind, gives back to the local community. We make baby quilts for local hospitals, lap sized quilts for nursing homes, larger quilts for a hospice, and all sizes for a homeless shelter. We are always keeping our eyes open for others who need the comfort of a quilt.
Today on the blog I'm going to show you some of the quilts we've made so far this year. At the end, I'll show you my new charity quilt top, and give the pattern for it.
We finished a couple of tops on our workday, and put our heads together to solve some problems with some of our UFOs. Ann W. was a big help with design and sewing.
I am so proud of our little quilt group. There are only about 35 or so members, but we get a lot done. Joan and Colleen ask for blocks to be made each month, and members donate their time and fabric to make them. Then the committee (or sometimes mostly Joan and Colleen!) make the blocks up into quilts, and quilt them on their long arm machines. They also buy the batting and backing (with guild funds) and any other fabrics or notions we happen to need. Many of our members also make tops or quilts on their own.
We know that no matter what a quilt looks like, it will serve the purpose of warming someone. But we take the extra effort to make our quilts as nice looking as we can. Some of that might just be because we can't stand to spend our time making ugly quilts, and we naturally take pride in our work.
It's more than just that, though. The gift of a really nice quilt is more than just the gift of a blanket. It says to the recipient, we care about you. Your enjoyment of this quilt matters to us.
Here's a link to a tutorial: Twin Sisters Quilt Blocks Tutorial
It was fun to make the piano keys border from my scraps. I used up most of my 1.5 in. strips, and actually had to cut more. The strips for the piano keys are cut 1.5 in. x 6.5 in.
The quilt finishes at 71 in. long x 65 in. wide, about twin size.
I think it would work for a Quilt of Valor, if you used red, white, and blue fabrics. Wouldn't that be fun?
May God bless all the quilt makers who stitch for others, even for people they'll never meet.
Monday, May 5, 2014
Each week, Barbara writes a short article about something in Jane's life, and accompanies that with an appropriately named quilt block. The posts appear on Sunday mornings.
Because of this wonderful block of the week, I've been reading Jane Austen's novels. I had sort of read Pride and Prejudice in high school, but I really didn't have the background knowledge to know what was going on, or to appreciate it. I'm saving it for last, as I read the others. The library has all the books, and I'm finding I really enjoy them, even to the point of reading when I "should" be sewing.
It's not too late to get in on the fun. All the instructions are still up. There will be a total of 36 blocks, and only 5 have been presented so far, so there's plenty of time to catch up. You can post pictures of your blocks, and see the ones everyone else has done. Quite a few are being done in modern fabrics, even some really wild and fun stuff.
All of this is totally free!
Here's the link:
Austen Family Album
This will take you to the most recent posts. To start at the beginning, just click Older Posts at the bottom right of the page.