Thursday, May 30, 2019

Blocking your quilt - a Tutorial

Why block?  I've blocked several quilts - primarily because I was entering the quilts into a show and needed them to hang nice and flat.   I also blocked a quilt which had been hand-quilted because I felt it needed a little extra love 💓 after being handled so much.

My friend Paige (Quilted Blooms) talked me through the process for my first quilt - my Briar Rose entry for QuiltCon.   I admit that I was bit nervous for my first attempt and it took me 2 hours for the whole process.  I've gotten much better at it after that first one!

You want to block your quilt after you have finished the quilting but before you square it up and add the binding.

Measure your quilt and write down the measurements.

Gather supplies your supplies. (Note affiliate links.)  You will need:

  • Every quilting ruler you have - you'll find them all put to good use!
  • A laser level helps greatly in keeping your line straight.  You can pay a lot of money for this tool but I found the one I bought at Amazon was reasonable and got the job done!

You can pin your quilt to a carpet or to insulation boards.  I purchased the insulation boards at Home Depot.  Pin together boards as needed for larger quilts.  (Insulation boards work great as design boards covered in batting or flannel.)

Your quilt will need to stay pinned to the board for 1-2 days until it is fully dry so consider your location carefully!

Let's get started!

Fill a large plastic tub with water and place the plastic tub inside a bathtub.   I used distilled water instead of tab water - something to consider if you have hard water.

(You can also use a large sink or your bathtub but I wanted to avoid both any chance of leftover cleaning chemical residue as well as having to scrub the tub in the first place.)

Leave your quilt in the water for about 5 minutes so that it has enough time to get saturated.  Gently swish it around once or twice.

Remove and place on clean towels and roll to gently squeeze out excess moisture.  Place the quilt and a small dry clean towel in your dyer on the AIR DRY setting for 3-5 minutes.

Lay your quilt onto the prepared surface.

You will be using the seam lines and edges of blocks to ensure your quilt is nice and square.

Starting in the center of your quilt, place a large ruler on top and gently tug or shift the quilt so that it aligns with measurements on the ruler and is square.  Push pins straight down through quilt into insulation board to hold the center in place.   You will remove these pins in a later step.

Slowly work your way towards the outer edge of the quilt from the center.  The laser level will give you a line of light that you can use to align seams lines from borders or sashing.

As you go, check your original measurements, gently stretching the quilt back to where it was supposed to be.

Pin generously along the outer edge - at least a pin every 2 inches.  Once the outer edge is secure, remove any of the pins from the remainder of the quilt.

Turn on the ceiling fan or consider using a small rotating fan.  Shut the door to prevent pets and family members from stepping on your nicely blocked quilt.

Depending on the temperature of your home and the overall humidity, the quilt will take 1-2 days to dry.    Generally, the quilt is dry is the top is dry but remove just enough pins to slide your hand underneath to check.

Once dry, square up your quilt and bind as you would normally.   Your quilt will hang nice and flat!

Have any tips for blocking a quilt?  Leave them in the comments!

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Coloring with Fabric

Aren't these fun?

I made 3 other blocks first where I was going to a more controlled color scheme but, frankly, it wasn't very much fun.  Sure these blocks look good, but I want to play with color!

I chose to make my blocks using all the glorious colors from Zen Chic Spotted.   I precut a whole bunch of fabric in the sizes needed and have it all kitted up in one box.

Then, as I get ready to sew a block, I pull the 12 fabric strips I need, careful to avoid a duplicate fabric in the same block.

These blocks go together quickly using these Pineapple papers for paper piecing from Fat Quarter Shop!   They have them in two different sizes -  6'' blocks and 12" blocks!

I'm not yet certain of my block setting but am aiming for about 30 of these blocks before I start figuring it out!  I do like the secondary patterns that develop when the blocks are set next to each other without sashing.

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Saturday, May 25, 2019

One Monthly Goal May Finish link-up

Ready to link up your May finishes?
Don't panic - this link-up is open until May 31 at 11:55 pm ET.

My goal for May was to finish my quilt Her Favorite Things complete with this fun Converse block!  Read more here.

There will be three winners this month - Fat Quarter Shop is offering a $25 gift certificate, Put a Quilt on It is offering a Barn Board to a lucky participant and Angie from Gnome Angel has a wonderful prize package for a lucky participant which includes her Kinship: 100 Block Fusion Sampler pattern!

Visit the One Monthly Goal event page for the specific requirements for links and social tags. 

And remember, to be eligible for the prize(s) by random drawing you must linkup at both the goal setting and the accomplishment linkup in a given month. (
May Goal Setting Link-up.)

Congratulations to Helen, Pat & Karen - our lucky winners for May!  (updated 6/4)

Make sure you add a link to this OMG post so others can follow where you are linking.   Let's make that easy -  just paste this into your post:  

Sign up to receive email notifications when the One Monthly Goal linkup is open.  Think of it as a helpful reminder!  Joining the link-up from Instagram -see the tutorial.

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Modern Traditionalism

I've been quilting for at least 20 years and I love making blocks.  I've made many quilts with blocks set in a traditional grid layout usually with sashing and borders.

But I also have made a bunch of block based quilts where I set the blocks in a non-traditional grid.  Traditional blocks or modern blocks set in fun ways.

My quilts: Playful, Oh My Darling, Hand Pieced Rainbow & Special
A few Sunday's ago, I had an opportunity to speak to my local modern quilt guild about the concept of Modern Traditionalism.  While we have some incredibly talented award winning modern quilters in the guild, we also have a bunch of quilters who started out making traditional quilts, have fallen in love with the modern aesthetic but were struggling on how to make modern quilts.

I got excited when they got excited by thinking about how to set their blocks differently!

So what is Modern Traditionalism?  Think of it as a classic quilt or block design using modern techniques like adding negative space, alternate grid work, scale, asymmetry, cropping, disintegration, as well as using modern fabrics and/or solids.

Besides my own quilts, I shared photos of QuiltCon award winners in the Modern Traditionalism category for amazing inspiration.   ( If you've never looked at these, check them out! )

I also shared a couple of my quilts that went even further in embracing Modern Traditionalism.

Still my favorite quilt of all time is Perfectly Imperfect - it hangs in my studio and I look at it every day.  This quilt is my interpretation of the Double Wedding Ring quilt.

For Briar Rose, I started with the Crown of Thorns block and re-imagined it - one rose with many thorns!

Finally, Slipping through my Fingers is a re-imagined log cabin.  When I was searching through my pile of finished quilts for ones to bring in to support my talk, I found this one which I made in 2016.  The design of the quilt represents the growing up of my daughter - wrapped close to the family for many years, many twists and turns and then she becomes an adult and goes off to college, ready and excited to make memories of her very own.  There is actually text FMQed into the spiral - things like first smile to high school graduation and many things in between.  (See more about this quilt here.)

Sharing the concept of Modern Traditionalism and some of my quilts was a bit of work to prepare but a lot of fun to actual share.   I challenged the guild to take a pass at updating a traditional quilt or block and bring it to our June meeting.  I've got one of my own in the works and can't wait to share!

Have you made a quilt that updates a traditional block or quilt?

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Hand piecing Curves


Want to take some of the stress out of curved piecing?  Try hand piecing them!   (And, yes, I really do understand that for some quilters, hand piecing is in itself stressful but I'd encourage you to give it a try!)

To get started, mark your stitching line on the wrong side of the concave piece - in my example it is the background fabric.   (Updated to add) You can get a pdf file of the curve templates I used including one to mark stitching lines here.

Fold the convex piece in half, right sides together, and mark center of curve.  Fold the concave piece in half, wrong sides together to mark its center.

Align the marked centers and place a pin.  I like to use short pins designed for applique.  Then align the edge of the concave unit to the edge of the convex unit, right sides together.  Use a pin (or pins) to make sure that right edge stays aligned.  Only align the edge on the right.

Begin your stitching 1/4'' from the edge (see running stitch tutorial).  Once you've made several stitches remove the pins on the right edge.

Curves have stretch and your goal as you stitch is to hold the seams aligned - I hold the fabric between my thumb and pointer finger.  Keep stitching to the center pin and back-stitch as you reach it.

Align the left edge of the concave unit, securing with a least one pin.  Remove center pin and stitch towards the edge, stopping 1/4'' away and securing your thread.

Open your curved block, laying right sides down to finger press towards the concave unit.

Enjoy your beautiful block and make another and another....   I hope you'll give hand piecing curves a try!

Read more about my favorite tools for hand piecing here.

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Friday, May 17, 2019

A Finish - Her Favorite Things

My daughter has a friend she met in Middle School with Cerebral Palsy.  This lovely young lady is in a wheelchair and communicates with an keyboard and a large, contagious smile.  The girls Skype every month or so and spend quite a lot of the time smiling and waving at each other while the mom and I fill each other in on what the girls have been up to!

This young woman is turning 25 this year and I wanted to make her a special quilt - one sized for a wheelchair.  She is an avid collector of Converse sneakers so the Converse block pattern is from Kristy @ Quiet Play was absolutely a perfect choice.

I love paper piecing and really had to force myself to stop making blocks once I had 6 of them.  I kept finding fabric in my stash thinking that it would make such a great color for a sneaker.

Her favorite color is green so this print is just perfect for the back!   I quilted it with organic wavy lines and a lovely shade of light gray Aurifil thread.

My favorite way of attaching a label is to fold a square in half and secure down 2 of the 3 sides before the binding is sewn on.  My daughter helped with the label.  I use the Pentel Gen Roller for Fabric (affiliate link)for my labels.  If you heat set, it is washable.  (I tested these pens a few years ago when making a signature quilt for my mom.)

Don't you want a pair in every color?

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Pineapple Blocks

Have you ever made a Pineapple block before?

I've only made a few pineapple blocks.  I didn't have a specialty ruler so I figured out a process with my regular rulers to square up the block each round.  (See that post.)   It worked just fine but was a bit tedious.

This might be why I was so excited to discover Fat Quartershop has Pineapple papers for paper piecing all ready to go for two different sizes -  6'' blocks and 12" blocks!

I love paper piecing so this product is just perfect. 

I've made a few blocks so far and when done, this quilt is going to someone special!

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Monday, May 13, 2019

Charity Quilts

Sarah  is hosting a Hands2Help Comfort Quilt Challenge and I am very excited to say I've 5 quilts to donate!

The first are baby quilts for  Jack's Basket - an organization that delivers baskets to families who are celebrating the birth of a new baby with Down syndrome.  As a mom of a now 23 year old with Down syndrome, this organization really touched my heart.

I'd won a large bundle of kid fabric a year or so ago and finally put it to good use making two baby quilts.

I still have plenty of fabric left and will gift it to a friend to make her own charity quilts.

My next 3 quilts - I'm a bit embarrassed to say - sat for far too long in an almost but not yet complete state.   They all needed bindings and I had to hunt through my stash to find fabric that would work.  Fresh from the dryer and all nicely crinkly, I am happy to say they are done!

These are large quilts and I'll be donating them to the Carolina Hurricane Project.  (My LQG Cary Quilting Company is a drop off point.)   I'm happy now that they are going to be going to their forever home and hope they will bring comfort.

I'll be joining the link-up here.

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

37 Days of 100

Have you heard about the 100 Day Project?  (While it officially kicked off on April 2, you can certainly start your own 100 days of creativity anytime you want.)

I decided to hand piece a quilt starting with a whole bunch of drunkard's path blocks.  

This is not going to be my actual layout but it is fun to color match!  My daughter isn't yet home from college and her floor is a convenient place to lay out the blocks!  I've got a few more with color to do and then I'm switching to some made from low volume fabric.

Piecing curves by hands is MUCH easier (for me!) than by machine.

So far, I have stuck to the schedule and pieced one every day.  Fingers crossed I can keep this up!

Fabric is Alison Glass and various low volume for the background.

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Monday, May 6, 2019

April Temperatures

Summer like temperatures have arrived in North Carolina although, thankfully, the humidity hasn't quite moved in.

The first column is January 1 - 15 and the last column on the right is April 16-30.   It only takes a minute to add each square so I've been able to keep current.

Always Interesting to compare to 2018 - I've circled April from last year - clearly many more days of 80s this year. 

Here is a mapping of the colors.

There are so many temperature quilts popping up and I love them.  I wrote up a tutorial on a temperature quilt if you are interested.  In addition, Anina is running a 2019 QAL!

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Friday, May 3, 2019

Top Ten Notions for Hand Piecing

I enjoyed every moment of our Hand Pieced QAL and finished up my quilt with this week.   The quilt was entirely hand pieced and hand quilted (with the exception of adding the facing to the front).

Given this is my second such finish, I thought I would share a bit about my favorite tools for  hand piecing.  The good news is you've likely got many of these notions already in your sewing space.

  1. Your choice of a needle is really a personal one - I like a size 9 quilting needle which is a short needle.  Other quilters like to use longer needles. Needles are inexpensive - experiment until you find one that feels comfortable in your hand and you can thread without issue..   
  2. Regular 50 wt quality quilting thread works well. I love piecing with a cream or light gray. 
  3. Snips (or scissors) are also key - you want something smaller to trim any dog-ears and snip the thread.  The curved tips on these scissors make it easy to trim thread without clipping the fabric when you are burying thread tails when hand quilting.
  4. Thread conditioner keeps your thread tangle free - I just love the conditioner from Robot Mom Sews - it does the job and smells so nice!
  5. Basic rulers are important for marking the 1/4'' sewing lines.  This specialty ruler - The Perfect Piecer -  makes marking sewing lines on triangles a breeze!
  6. I really love this smaller sized 28 mm rotary cutter for trimming up smaller blocks
  7. I wear a thimble on the middle finger of my right hand while sewing.  I've tried all different thimbles and this leather needle is my favorite.  It stays on my finger without being too tight.
  8. Pinning seams is important.  The type of pin you use is one of personal preference but I love using short pins designed for applique because they don't get in my way while I am sewing.
  9. Binding clips are very helpful to keep pieces organized. 
  10. I like to sit and stitch at a table where I can mark seams, finger press and sew with ease.  Great lighting and a quality lamp is critical.  I love, love my Daylight lamp.

My hand pieced quilt finishes at 32'' square.  I used a Bella solid for the background white and the beautiful collection by Zen Chic Moda Spotted for my rainbow.

The Hand Pieced QAL has ended but all the instructions are still available on mine and Kristin's blog.  You can find the link to everything you need here.

Please note this post contains affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission if you purchase an item.  This does not increase your costs in any way.  The Daylight Company, OLFA, Famore and Clover provided product for my personal use.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

One Monthly Goal May Goal Setting Link-up

Welcome to May!  We had 102 goals linked up for April - lets see what this month brings!  (Did you see the overall announcement for the sponsors and featured designers for 2019?  It will blow you away!)

New to One Monthly Goal?  Welcome!  To join, share a photo of your project, some words about what you want to accomplish in a blog post, an Instagram post (tutorial) or a post on Flickr and add that photo to the link-up.  Return at the end of the month and share your results.  You can read about the event and the rules on the main event page.

We have wonderful sponsors this month - three (3) winners will be randomly chosen from those that link up in both the goal and the finish event.  

Fat Quarter Shop offers a tremendous selection of fabric, notions, books and just about anything you will need for your project. Consider their Sew Sampler box to receive a monthly surprise delivery of fabric and fun.  Fat Quarter Shop is offering a $25 gift certificate to one lucky participant.

Put a Quilt on It, owned by Kristi Coupe, offers eye-catching, all-weather Barn Blocks and created a fun and easy for proud quilters to display their love for the craft.  Put a Quilt on It is offering a Barn Board to one lucky US winner.  Want one for your very own?  Use the coupon code 'elmstreet' for a 10% discount!  For photos of quilt blocks in fun places, check out @putaquiltonit.   

I'm excited to introduce Angie from Gnome Angel as our featured designer for May!  Angie is a quilt designer, author and an amazing QAL hostess.  She shares her passion for being creative and her goal is to inspire people to follow their dream.  Angie's book Fussy Cutter's Club: A Boot Camp for Mastering Fabric Play is a beautiful guide on how to cut up your fabric with intention!

Angie has run countless quilt-alongs and 100 day challenges which have brought quilters from around the world together as they shared their blocks.  For the #100Days100Blocks2019 event, Angie has designed Kinship: 100 Block Fusion Sampler.  Kinship is a blend of 8″ x 8″ and 4″ x 8″ patchwork blocks that borrow from the traditional and reflect the contemporary and is perfect for the beginner looking to solidify their skill set, or the confident sewist who’s looking for a new take of scale and design.  

The Kinship pattern comes in 3 different techniques each offering the quilter a different method of block construction: traditionally pieced (by machine or hand), foundation paper pieced (FPP) or English paper pieced (EPP).  The #100Days100Blocks2019 event starts on Monday, July 1 with the posting of block 1 and finishes on Tuesday, October 8. (Follow #100Days100Blocks2019 for a daily countdown and sneak peak of all the blocks.

Angie is offering one lucky winner (from the US or Australia) a fabulous prize - Kinship: 100 Block Fusion Sampler Pattern, a Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork 6.5” Fussy Cut Ruler and a Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork 8.5” Squaring Up + 8” Fussy Cut Ruler.   

You can visit Angie from Gnome Angel on her blog, on Instagram, on Facebook, and in her shop.

My goal for May is to quilt my Converse shoe quilt - so fun to make in all these colors!

Now it is your turn to link up - what is your goal for this month?  (A goal could be to finish a quilt but it could also be to attach a binding.  Whatever it takes to help you move forward and make progress on your projects!  And as long as the project involves making something with a needle and/or fabric, you can link up!)

Make sure you visit the One Monthly Goal event page for the specific requirements for links and social tags. 
 Your blog post (or Flickr post) must contain a photo of your project, a clearly stated goal and a link back to Elm Street Quilts.  Your Instagram post must include a photo of your project, a clearly stated goal and the tag #onemonthlygoal.  (Entries which don't contain the required information may be disqualified.)

And remember, to be eligible for the prize(s) by random drawing you must linkup at both the goal setting and the accomplishment linkup in a given month.   (The One Monthly Goal accomplishment linkup will be available on May 25.)

Make sure you add a link to this OMG post so others can find the OMG link-up from your blog.  Let's make that easy -  just paste this into your post: 

Have a wonderful day! Patty