Adventures in the life of a gorram nerd

Posts tagged ‘Technique’

Sewing strips and tricks

I’m making some great progress on the wedding quilt blocks. I started by cutting all of the fabric into 2.5″ strips (which are approximately 40″ long). 2.5″ strips are one of my favorite things to work with since they give you so many possibilities of what you can do. In most (all?) cases, I make strip sets where I sew a certain number of strips together a specific way and then subcut for my pattern. Today, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks for sewing accurate strip sets.

For the wedding quilt, I ended up with 20 inner-beige and 40 outer-color strips. The way that I’m making the block is to sew the strips together and then subcut to get the actual 6.5″ blocks. This is a faster and more accurate way to build the blocks than to cut all of the pieces at 2.5″ x 6.5″ and then sew them together.

Pastel wedding color palette pink brown tan wedding quilt guest book quilt layout Inkscape Rail Fence signature block blocks photo fabric Pacific Fabrics Dots Zig Zag Flowers

When you’re sewing fabric, because of how it feeds into the machine, the top piece gets stretched and pushed back just a little while the bottom is pulled through just a little so things don’t exactly line up the way you had originally had them. This can actually be handy if you have two pieces where one is slightly longer than the other – put the shorter one on top. If they’re more than slightly off, then you may want to recut (do as I say, not as I do…). For my Bernina, I have a walking foot which is great to avoid the stretching problem for sewing on binding but I don’t like using it for piecing. I exclusively use my #37 1/4″ foot for all of my sewing, which is a foot that is 1/4″ wide from the center to the outer edge. Since the goal is to sew a 1/4″ seam, then you try to have the fabric lining up with the edge of the foot and you should get a 1/4″ seam.

Bernina Baby Lock Singer Pfaff Sewing foot 1/4" foot Quarter inch foot #37 37 #57 57 walking foot strip piecing tips and tricks

For strips or any time I’m not sewing over pins, I use my Bernina #57 foot. It’s a 1/4″ foot with a guide to block the fabric when it hits the 1/4″ mark. This makes it so easy to sew long strips since you don’t have to pay quite as much attention to ensure that your seam is 1/4″.

Another trick is to sew the strips from opposite sides. If you’re sewing always from the right, then what ends up happening is you get a bit of stretched out fabric when you get to the left times however many seams you’re doing. So, rather, alternate the direction that you’re sewing from. This mitigates the stretch so it doesn’t all end up on one side.

Pastel wedding color palette pink brown tan wedding quilt guest book quilt layout Inkscape Rail Fence signature block blocks photo fabric Pacific Fabrics Dots Zig Zag Flowers strip set sewing strips 2.5" 2.5 inch strip strips tricks tips

Feel free to share any of your tips and tricks in the comment section!

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Rooster / Pear table runner

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. My family is Jewish so though my parents used to do a huge party on Christmas Eve, for my extended family, Christmas wasn’t a big deal. But Thanksgiving is when everyone got together and all the crazies come out of the woodwork and it’s fun having the whole family together. There’s anywhere between 10 and 20+ of us that show up. We also do a big dinner for Passover in March/April but food is much better for Thanksgiving. My cousin currently hosts. He is obsessed with roosters and pears and requested a table runner of such.

I took a class with Anita Grossman Solomon a few years ago, who is an amazing teacher. She believes in finding ways to only make a few cuts with your rotary cutter and everything magically gets cut. I have 2 of her books and so many of those projects are on my list. For the table runner, I decided to do a Square-in-a-Square block. I followed her technique detailed here for how to quickly cut the pieces with almost no waste. It was so fast and easy to do (though I don’t stack my fabric as high as hers). I decided to make the table runner reversible since I couldn’t decide which fabric to feature in the square and which on the outside. I added the little curtain danglies to give it a little something extra.

Rooster table runner Pears Chickens reversible Square in a square quilt Anita Grossman Solomon Alex Anderson

For my cousin who is obsessed with pears and roosters. It’s reversible

Donated quilt tops

I have a tendency to see a new pattern or technique and “need” to make it, finish the top, see something new and go try that. I end up with a lot of finished quilt tops that I don’t love for one reason or another. When I lived in Tucson, the tops just accumulated in the quilt closet. When I moved to Seattle, I couldn’t take everything with me, so I went through a huge stash purge. I filled up my Beetle twice with quilt stuff, brought it to my Wednesday quilt group, and said “take what you want. I’m not taking anything back”. A lot of the group participants make quilts to donate (hospitals, women and children’s shelters, etc), so it made it easier to part with so many of my investments. Here are a few tops that were given away.

This first one was me testing out a technique where you make 4 at a time HSTs. You put two charm (5″) squares together, sew around the perimeter, then cut on both diagonals. Tada – 4 HSTs. The problem is that all of the edges are bias edges and stretch like crazy. If you do want to do multiple HSTs at a time, I recommend that 8 at a time method that I talked about here. You don’t end up with the bias edges. The quilt’s working name was “Bias Edges From Hell”. It was a pretty quilt, but I was so annoyed with it that I wanted it gone.

4 at a time HST Half Square Triangles Charm Squares

I spent a tax season working at H&R Block. During one of the trainings, I sketched out a quilt. I used a Shoo Fly block with the center also being a HST. With the colors and no sashing, it looks a lot more complicated than it was.

Blue one

I had been wanting to try the “Disappearing” blocks. The idea is you make something, cut it a certain way, turn certain things, and resew, and it looks complicated when it’s pretty simple. I started with the Disappearing 9 Patch. To do the D9P, you sew a 9 patch block (3 x 3 grid of squares) then cut it into quarters. You rotate 2 opposite blocks and have your D9P block.

Disappearing 9 Patch 9-patch D9P Quilt block technique How to Tutorial

I used 2 colors in this one to see how it would look. Usually you see more colors in the blocks.

Disappearing 9 Patch 9-patch D9P Quilt block

Next up, a Disappearing 4 Patch (D4P). With a D4P, you make a 4 patch (2 x 2 grid of squares) then make 2 (equally spaced from the center) cuts on each side to get 9 blocks (so basically the opposite of the D9P). You then rotate every other piece to create the effect. And if you vary the cuts, like I did, you get different looking woven blocks.

Disappearing 4 Patch 4-patch D4P Quilt block technique How to Tutorial

And here’s mine, playing with different shades of the primary and secondary colors.

Disappearing 4 patch D4P primary colors

Last one, I received a charm pack with instructions for making the hour glass block. It was another technique/trick quilt where you sew a few things first, then cut, and your blocks appear. It was so long ago, I don’t even remember exactly what I did.

Charm pack 5" squares Hour glass blocks Bow tie block

Tetris – applique letters (pt 2)

Continuing from Tuesday’s post… at that point, I had cut out all of the letters with the fusible web on the back. Up next is to position them on the quilt and then iron them. And once they are ironed, they can’t be moved, so it’s definitely important to make sure you like where they are. Originally I wasn’t planning on having the “P” offset, but I bumped the quilt, and I liked how it looked, so I left it there.

Tetris applique letters 5

After the letters are ironed, I go around the edges and blanket stitch them. If you don’t do that, they’re more likely to fray and corners might come up and you may not want to machine wash the quilt, so for me it’s worth the time to stitch the edges so that I know the letters will stay on there. And of course the threads get trimmed so the letters look nicer.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible webTetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

From the back:

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

Once I blanket stitched all of the letters, I trim up the piece to size (I do a bigger background piece than I need since the heavy stitching can distort the piece a little). And here it is with the rest of the top section. Below the “ENS”, you can see a little of the distortion (the piece no longer sits perfectly flat) but once it’s sewn to the bottom section, it won’t be an issue.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

Tetris – applique letters (pt 1)

Moving onto the top of the Tetris quilt, it’s going to say “shit happens”. To do this, I’m going to cut out the letters with fusible web and glue/sew them onto the black background.

To start with, I get fusible web (meaning both sides are meltable glue) and section it off into 4″ squares, so my letters will be consistent.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

Each square is cut out and then each letter is drawn into the square. The important thing here is for each letter to be the mirror of itself. The fusible will be on the back of the letter, so it and the sketch, need to be reversed. I also want to keep each leg and such of the letter as uniform as possible.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

Once the 11 letters are made, then I put these onto the white (letter) fabric and lightly iron it to stick the fusible onto the wrong side of the fabric. The layout and orientation of the letters doesn’t matter here, but sorry to any OCD people.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

Once the fabric cools, I cut out each letter and, voila, I have letters ready to fuse. Next, I will lay them out on the black background piece, peel of the backs, and iron, and later stitch, them down.

Tetris quilt shit happens white letters machine applique fusible web

Tetris update – HSTs galore!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an update! My life has been consumed with making HST (half square triangles) for the Tetris quilt. A HST is made up of two 45 degree right triangles:

8 HST - Sm

 A few posts ago, I put up the block design, which is a square with 4 trapezoids. The actual assembly of the block has quite a few more pieces, to make it easy to assemble. So it’s actually 1 square, 4 rectangles, and 4 HSTs. And the quilt has 188 blocks (47 Tetris shapes times 4 blocks per shape) = 752 HSTs. Oh, and the finished block is 4″, so each HST is only 1″.

Tetris quilt pattern block 3D video game Excel Nintendo  is actually made like this  Tetris block segmented

The typical way to make HST is to make them 2 at a time. However, there is a really cool method to make 8 at a time. You start with a large square (“large” being relative in this case, since it was only 4″). Then you sew 1/4″ on either side of both diagonals, like this.

8 HST - 1

Once you do that, you cut the square into quarters, using the line intersections as a guide.

8 HST - 2

Then you cut each piece along the diagonal

8 HST - 3

Lastly, you press them open (this one hasn’t been pressed yet). And since I want all of my seams to nest, which fabric gets pressed which direction is important.

8 HST - Sm

I spent a few afternoons doing the sewing/cutting, then spent the last 2 evenings pressing the HSTs open. It took me five and a half 40 minute television episodes 😀

Tetris HST cut

Tetris HST pressed

Up next… all 752 HSTs need to be squared up to 1.5″………