Arkansas Traveller Quilt

This week I managed to get another quilt off my WIP list….

arkansas traveller quilt

This quilt is a Do Good Stitches quilt from a long time ago.  I actually finished piecing the top in October 2014 and first posted the block pattern in July 2014… actually feeling very guilty about how long this one has been sitting unfinished…

quilt detail

The block is a paper pieced pattern by Lee at Freshly Pieced called Arkansas Traveller.  In setting a paper pieced block for your Bee, you are usually helping your odds of getting block the right size,…. unless some of your fellow Bee members, who are new to paper piecing, print the pattern out a little too small…

sashed blocks

This usually happens when you either print the PDF of the pattern straight from the computer, without saving it to the desktop or if you print the pattern with “scale to fit” box ticked on in the Print dialogue box.

quilt detail 2

When I first got the Bee blocks in and realised some of them were a little small I thought I might have to remake them… but my darling husband suggested sashing and it worked a treat.

arkansas traveller quilt detail

I fully embraced the scrappy feel of this quilt by adding a wonderfully scrappy binding, that used 8 different coloured fabrics…. I ended up attaching the binding, by hand,  with the same variegated yellow thread that I quilted with.

scrappy binding

So another old Work in Progress is done… I was feeling so virtuous about my finishes that I decided to start a new project but more about that next week.

Wonky Circles tutorial

February is my month again to set the block for my Do Good Stitches Circle.  After setting some more precision based blocks for my last two times out, I decided to go the wonky route this month…

finished wonky circle block

Yep I am asking my fellow Bee mates to make some wonky circles using a low volume palette.  To help out I am taking them (and you) step by step through the process to make two 12 inch blocks, starting with fabric selection.

For each block segment you will need two fabrics that have a small amount of contrast in them.   My colour scheme for this quilt is warm so I am using yellow, apricot, pink and a touch of grey.  For my fabric pull I went with predominantly cream and white background fabrics…

low volume background fabrics

and for the contrasting fabric I choose more solid low volume fabrics…

darker lv fabric pull

For each block you need 8 different fabric – four light and four darker (note: you actually get two different finished blocks from this process).  I selected my eight fabrics in pairs, making sure that there was a contrast between each pair.  If you are not sure how the fabrics are reading against each other you can always use the black and white setting on your camera or phone to see how things look…

bw block

Now for the fun part…making the blocks.

Step 1.  Cut out eight 7 1/2 inch squares from each selected fabric…  Take two of your contrasting fabric squares and align them on top of each other.

align two squares

Step 2.  Using your rotary cutter, cut a curve shape out of your squares… making sure that you leave at least an inch or so between your curve and the edge of your block.

wonky curve cut

Step 3.  Because you cut the two pieces of fabric together your background and center curve pieces should match exactly, no matter how wonky the curve you cut is.

Put together one of your fabrics as the background and the other as the center curve, making sure that they are as closely aligned on your cutting mat as you can get them.

Take a ruler and place it corner to corner across your block pieces.

find center of block

Step 4.  Using a chalk pencil or Frixon marker, mark the center of the block, making sure your mark across both pieces of fabric.

mark center of block

Step 5.  Place your pieces of fabric face together, using the center mark to align the pieces…

center mark

Step 6.  Pin your two pieces of fabric together at this center point… your fabrics should still be face together and the bottom corners of the block should be roughly aligned.

pin center of block

Step 7.  To sew the pieces together, begin at the center part of the block… where you have pinned.  I put my machine foot down on pin, remove the pin, lower my needle manually and I am ready to sew.

start of curved piecing

Step 8.  Slowly sew from the center point out to one edge of the circle block, nudging fabric into alignment as you go.  The fabric may not want to lay flat and that is okay… just try to avoid sewing creases into the block.

Note:  I always sew with my machine in the needle down position, as it allows me to stop and adjust the block pieces as needed, without the risk of anything slipping or moving.

 

sew curve

Step 9.  As you are sewing you will notice the block ends do not align, this is okay…do not panic.

finishing the curve

Step 10.  When you have come to the end of the block, lift your needle, cut your thread and re-position your block back in the center, this time sewing the half of the block you have not done.

center of curve

Step 11.  Your block segment is now ready for pressing… an important step because it will not be laying flat at all and you will have to iron it into submission…

sewn block piece

Step 12.    When pressing my block I press my seams first from the back side of the block…… and then press the front side of the block, making sure that my curve is sitting as flat as I can get it.

Note:  When pressing the block I always use starch as it helps persuade the fabric to do what I need it to do.

press block piece

Step 13.  The block piece is now ready to trim down 6 1/2 inches… you should have a bit of wiggle room with this block to trim a little off kilter, or with more background or more circle, depending on what you want to do.

trim block

Step 14.  Repeat the process until you have all segments of your blocks done.  For each colour pairing you make you will end up with two blocks….

block pieces

For my Bee blocks I am asking for two (2) 12 1/2 inch unfinished blocks…. laid out with alternating light and dark circle pieces.

blocks layout

What I love about this colour palette is that it compliments the wonky so well… the mismatch, strange curves are subtle, there are no stark contrasts drawing your attention to the off kilter shapes.   I think this is going to be a charming quilt when done.

Finish Along 2016

A week or so ago I signed up for the first quarter of the 2016 Finish Along.  This is a online project that is run every 3 months… basically you sign up at the beginning of a quarter and say what you want to finish over the next couple of months.  I am using the program to keep myself on track to finish up things before I start anything new.

If you are interested you can check out what people are doing there is an Instagram account – @finishalong and She Can Quilt is hosting the link up at http://www.shecanquilt.ca.

Anyway the goals I set myself for the next four months are…

IMG_4533

Now I understand I may have over committed but I thought I might as well shot for the stars.  But so far I have one of my Do Good Stitches quilts done…

finished DG star quilt

This was such a fun quilt to finish up… I originally set this block for the Hope Circle of Do Good Stitches to do back in June last year.  The block pattern is from Clover and Violet and you can find the directions here scrappy christmas star.

scrappy star block

I was a little nervous about setting a Bee block that needed to be pretty accurately pieced to align, but it all worked out fabulously.  I was able to coerce all the seams into alignment without too much effort…

quilt detail 3

One of the things I love about doing these scrappy blocks is seeing everyone’s fabric choices and extra love the wonderful selection of low volume novelty prints that were used…

low volume novelty fabrics

There is so much happening in the quilt as far as print variation but the overall quilt is so quiet and gentle.

quilt detail 2

For the quilting I went of course with straight lines, which was perfect for this pattern.  I used a cream Aurifil for the quilting (No 2309), which blended nicely between the teal, yellow and white/cream background.

quilt backing

For the backing I found the perfect Suzy Ultman for Robert Kaufman piece in my stash – and I had enough to do the whole back!

quilt binding

For the binding I used two different teal Kona Solids I had in my stash and of course hand bound it while watching the Australian Open Tennis.  I am going to make the most of the last couple of matches to get another Do Good finish bound…..

So one finish down… at least 5 more to go….

 

Rethinking Brown

My slight disdain for the colour brown began when I was a kid in art class…when mixing paints it was all to easy to mix too many colours and end up with a dirty brown colour….  and it happened to me all to frequently.

You do not have the same problem when making quilts, but I was still resistant to using brown at all.  In traditional quilting brown has long been considered a neutral colour, but Modern Quilters on the whole tend to be wary of it.

Strangely though I have quite a bit of brown in my stash…not as much as I have pink or navy blue, but more than I should have.  I have also had a few brown scraps given to me over the years and at the end of last year my brown scraps hit critical mass… there was only one thing to do…

Brown Improv quilt

Yep I made a scrappy improv quilt using my brown scraps and a touch of orange… and it was an interesting experience.

Heather Ross fabric

I forgot how many fabulous fabrics Heather Ross has done in brown… I used her seahorses, butterflies, octopus and plants in this quilt.

quilt detail

On of my other favorite designers, Lizzy House, also has done some lovely browns… with mice and cats and of course my all time fav – Pearl Bracelets.

quilt detail 2

And in between all that novelty goodness is a eclectic collection of prints including a handful of batiks.

modern brown improv quilt

It was kind of fun to challenge myself to work mainly in brown… it made me rethink the colour.    The result was I came up with a few more brown colour combinations I want to play with including…

brown and teal

A red based brown with teal….

brown yellow pink

Brown, yellow and pink…

brown and blue

And the classic brown and baby blue (not dissimilar to one of this years Pantone colours).

So you have been warned that there may be more brown appearing in this feed.  So is there a colour you have in your stash that you avoid?

Quilt Details:

Quilt block:  Modern Improv
Fabric:  Various scraps
Quilt Size:  48 x 48 inches

The Hodge Podge continues

So this week I am taking a break from Hodge Podge star blocks for a nice simple Octagon…

octagon block

This blocks would be fabulous for a fussy cut mini quilt… and it is on my “To Do” list with my Heather Ross stash.  You can download the free PDF pattern here…octagon pattern.

And just in case you were wondering how it was all looking…. this is my Hodge Podge collection so far…

hodge podge wip

Not to shabby…. and since this photo was taken I have added a few more blocks!

Everybody loves a wonky star…right….

My final finishes for 2015 and first finish of 2016 has been putting the binding on a couple of wonky star quilts.  If you follow this blog you know how much I love a wonky star, and I found during my recent health issues that I could make wonky stars without too much effort or thought (I seem to have good muscle memory for this quilt block!)….

white star quilt

What made these quilts so easy for me to make was that I used some of my huge stash of 5 inch squares and lots of scraps.  For this first quilt I grabbed a pile of blue squares and my bag of white/cream scraps and got to work.

star detail

What you can not see too well in the photos is that each center of the star is made up of improv scraps.  This is my favorite bit of the process… sewing all the little scraps together to make my own fabric.

white star detail

For all my wonky star quilts I did simple straight line quilting, but with this quilt I used a variegated thread I found in my thread box.  I kind of love how it turned out…

For my next two wonky star quilts I took some scraps of Hoffman batiks that I had been given and had some fun…

pink quilt

This is my favorite of the quilts… I love how the soft pink and blue play together….

pink quilt detail

Plus I got to play with novelty prints which makes me so happy.  The background  for the stars uses 4 different Batiks and with all these quilts the colour variation  in the background adds a nice texture to the overall quilt I think.

pink backing fabric

I got to back my pink stars with some of my favorite fabric from Michael Miller.  I love the mermaids so much…and this fabric was so perfect for the quilt it had to be used.

finished aqua baby quilt copy

For the background of this quilt I used creams/beige batiks from a Hoffman layer cake or two.  I do not use batiks much in my quilting but I love how they work as a support to the modern quilting fabrics.   For this quilt I played with batting loft and used a wool batting.

wonky star detail

The batting gives the quilt a lovely warmth and softness… it is nicely puffy.  I can see why long arm quilters would choose to use a higher loft batting, as it really does make the quilting stand out.

So there are my last and first finishes.  Very simple, very easy and kind of fun.  Each quilt finishes at 41 inches square, a perfect size for our local Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.