Woven Squares – Part 1

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Today I’m going to share a few hints for those of you who were interested in sewing along with me to make the pattern Woven Squares.

 

Tip #1 – Fabric Selection

The easiest thing you can do when it comes to picking our fabric, is to start with a Moda Mini Charm Pack like this:

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A Mini Charm Pack contains 42 – 2 1/2″ squares.  You don’t have to spend an hour taking 40 different fabrics from your stash, cutting off one square, then folding them all up and putting them all away again.  You are ready to start sewing right away!

Secondly, take some of those squares and audition them on the background fabric to make sure all of the prints set off.  I even cut a skinny strip of white to make sure everything was looking good before I cut out the rest of the strips.

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#2 – Accuracy.

Accuracy is very important when it comes to working with small pieces.  I talked about this in my last sew along, so click here to review some of those tips.

 

One additional tip on accuracy – This particular design has blocks that have several seam allowances going one direction only.  That means that if your seam allowance is off, your block will not be square.   For example, if you are making a 9-patch block and your seam allowance is off, the block will still be square (though it may not be the size it is supposed to be).  If your blocks only have seams going one direction, your block may turn out a bit rectangular and when you sew them all together they may not fit together quite as well as they should.  In the photo below, my seam allowance was a little small, therefore the block turned out a little bit wider than the block next to it.  That means you have to trim a bit, or fudge.  It’s much easier to start out with the right size and avoid that problem!

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#3 Pressing

Pressing is also very important for accuracy.  Make sure that there isn’t extra fabric hiding in the fold next to your seam like this:

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There is probably 3-4 threads hiding in there – per side of the seam allowance.  That could add up to 1/8″ on this seam alone, not to mention all the other seams in the quilt.

 

Notice how I am just using the edge of the iron (see photo below) to press the seam toward the cream?  I am not taking the entire iron and resting it on top of my seam allowances, but I am using the edge of the iron to gently push the seam to the side and make sure there is no extra fabric hiding there.

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You may also choose to press this seam open.  If you are going to iron the seams open, I suggest using a smaller stitch length and matching color thread.  The stitches are more exposed when you iron the seams open and this will help with strength and durability.

When I press my seams open, I start from the back side like this –

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After the seam is pressed, I flip it over and go over it quickly with the iron again to make sure that the seam is laying flat.

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#4 – Save Some Time when cutting up the strip units.

If you have this Shape Cut ruler or Gudrun’s Stripology ruler.  The ruler has slits that you stick the rotary blade through and it allows you to make 4 cuts without having to move your ruler (on this particular pattern).

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When doing the strip units, watch out for what is called “The Rainbow Effect”.  Notice how my strip set curves up and to the right?  Every 4-5 cuts I square up the left side of the strip unit to make sure that I am staying square.

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In the photo below, you can see where I had to trim up a little bit to stay square.  Anytime you are doing strip units, it is a great habit to get into and will help improve your accuracy.  (This is also a good habit if you are doing angles – such as diamonds, because when the angle gets off, it multiplies in a hurry!)

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Lastly, follow the pressing arrows in the pattern, that way the intersection in the blocks in Step 3 will “nest”.  If you don’t know how to nest, click here and scroll down to Step 5.

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That’s all for today.  Feel free to share your fabric selection or progress at #ankastreasures on Instagram.

Posted in Pattern of the Week, Quilt Along | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Woven Squares

It’s crunch time here right now, as I need to have everything wrapped up for the new book in the next couple weeks.  On top of that, I have had sick kids so there has been way more snuggling than sewing, and no exposing the babysitter.  And though I enjoyed all the snuggling, the timing could have been better!

During all the snuggling, my sample yardage of my fall fabric line arrived.  It’s always fun when that package arrives – It’s been about 9 months since I painted up the ideas, so it feels like I have been waiting for a while for it to arrive ;-)

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In case you missed my previous blog posts on this line, it’s called Home for Harvest.  (You can view the entire line here).  It will arrive in stores sometime in May – in time for you to get your fall quilts finished in time for the season!

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I have several larger quilts that I have started with the line, but while I was waiting for this yardage to arrive, I whipped up a little runner made out of my strike-offs (meaning I had about a 10″ square of each and used a couple of pieces from my stash for the background).

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Since I don’t have any of the other quilts with this fabric done to share with you, and I can’t share any of my book projects yet, I thought I would have another Sew Along to give me something to blog about while I wait.

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During the Sew Along, I will just share a few tips on this runner, but nothing as involved as my last sew along.  I know many of you got the pattern last time or followed along, but were short on time when it came to getting it finished.  This one is a quicker and smaller, so maybe that will make it easier for those that want to join along.  Or you can just follow along, and pick up a few tips.

The runner doesn’t involve any triangles or applique, so whatever you level of quilting skills, you could handle this.  In fact, our niece came over a couple of weekends ago and made this runner.  It was her first quilt, and she had very little experience with a sewing machine.  She sent me a few pictures to share –

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If you want to join in, you can find the pattern – Mini Charmers 1 – on sale here.  (To view more photos of the runners, click here)

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To start with, all you need to do is figure out your fabrics.  You will need:

1 Mini Charm Pack (or 38 – 2 1/2″ squares)

1/8 yard cream

3/8 yard grey

1/4 yard binding

The runner measures 11 1/2″ x 34″

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I will share a few cutting and piecing tips next time we meet. Hope to see you back here then!

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PS – The other fabrics shown are Persimmon and PB and J, both by Basic Grey for Moda Fabrics.

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Maxwell’s 6 Month Pics

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It’s always fun to share some pictures of my boys – but it is especially fun to look back at my posts of the boys.  A little walk down memory lane . . . In fact, I just looked back at Carter’s 6 and 7 month pictures, just to refresh my memory.  Max is starting to develop his own look a little more.   He is quite similar in head size and length, but Max is almost 2 lbs heavier at this age – and I thought Carter was heavy.  Max got his bottom two teeth a few weeks sooner and slept through the night the last two nights.  Carter was still getting up once a night at this age.  They both get to me with those eyes.  They both sit and rub their eyes when they get(got) tired.  They both were big droolers at this age, so much so that I have to keep a lined bib on them all the time.  Max just started in the jumper and loves it.  Should have had it out sooner.  We have also started putting him in the high chair for meal times.   Mas adores his big brother and laughs most easily for him.  He watches everything he does and you can tell that he wants to be able to play with him.  It’s so cute.   How interesting (to me anyways) to see their similarities and differences.

 

I’ll be back soon with something quilt related.

Posted in Family | Tagged | 23 Comments

Tips for Cutting Diamonds

This is a post I have been meaning to do for a while now.  Over the years I have gotten lots of questions on my patterns that use diamonds – usually via email and it is so hard to communicate certain things via email.  I thought it would be so much easier if I just took the time to take a few pictures and do a photo tutorial.   A photo tutorial with big pictures always says it better than the small diagrams that patterns usually have ;-)

 

For my demonstration, I am going to cut a 4″ 60-degree diamond.

You start with a 4″ strip.  Cut the end at a 60-degree angle.  This can be done many ways, depending on what ruler you have.

The first photo shows how I have aligned the 60-degree line along the bottom of the 4″ strip.  I have made a small blue arch denoting where the 60-degree angle is.  Now just cut along the left side of the strip as shown

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This photo shows that same step, this time using a different brand of ruler.

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And the easiest way to do the angle – Just use a 60-degree Triangle ruler to establish the angle.  Any angle on the ruler is 60-degrees, so you can’t mess it up!  (The Creative Grids 8″ tall 60-degree ruler is my favorite).

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Now measure over from the left cut edge of the strip 4″ as shown.  Notice how the ruler is tipped to match the angle that you just cut and then you measure over 4″ from the cut edge.

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Now cut along the right side of the ruler.  That’s how easy it is to cut a diamond.

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The part that I think causes the most problems is that some people use the lines of their mat to measure and cut, rather than the lines of the ruler.  (I was taught that this is the wrong way to do your cutting, for various reason.)

Just to demonstrate – if you use the mat to measure 4″ over from the left edge and make your cut, as shown in the two photos below

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You end up getting a diamond that is a totally different size.  In the photo below, the one on the left was cut correctly and the one on the right was cut as shown in the two photos above.

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Where you will see a really big difference in the two, is when you tip them the other direction – Again the one of the left was cut correctly and the one of the right was cut incorrectly.  In fact, the one of the right isn’t even really a diamond.

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If you were to draw a line from corner to corner on these two diamonds, you will see that the right and left tips don’t even line up.  If you were to try to sew the diamond on the right together with another diamond, they would never line up!

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I hope that helps eliminate any confusion.  The patterns of mine that use this technique are:

 

Diamond Diva

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A Bling Thing

 

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Awesome Blossom

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Good Night Owl

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Happy Dance

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Happy Dance Topper

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Starlit Evening

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Vintage Diamonds

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February 2015

Life is pretty busy here – as I’m sure it is for many of you.   I haven’t had time to prepare a formal blog post on anything, so I just thought I’d share a few pictures of what is going on over here.

 

I have been busy quilting and binding projects for my book that will come out at spring market.  Here are two of my favorites –

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This fabric line is Aloha Girl by Fig Tree Quilts.  I said it on Instragram and I’ll say it again – the blue border fabric is beautiful!

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This quilt is made using one of Basic Grey’s new lines – Fresh Cut.

 

This little guy turned 6 months.   I haven’t had time to take his official pictures, but here are a few iphone pics.

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We just had his 6 month check-up last week and his head is the same size as Carter’s was at this age (huge), but he is shorter and about 10% heavier.

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Max also got his first two teeth last week and figured out what a spoon was for.  He loves peas and is a bit indifferent to the rest.  I hope there is a little break before he gets more teeth.  He practically didn’t nap for the entire week, but he (and I) are doing much better this week.

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Is there anything cuter than a baby having a bath in the kitchen sink?

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Or maybe this?

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And we are trying our hand at potty training for the first time – Carter is doing pretty well with it, but there has been a little bit of bribery involved.   Last night I traded a puppy puzzle for . . . ?  I’m sure you can guess it without me having to say it.  It was so cute to hear him yelling “I did it Mom!!!”, over and over.  He also said he was stinky like a dinosaur, which made me laugh too.  The things I never thought I would be doing or celebrating over . . .

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Lastly, we are very sick of winter.  Carter keeps asking where his beach went and why the lake is frozen.  That’s about as exciting as it gets around here.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in Fabric Trends, Family, Machine Quilting | 16 Comments

Pretty In Pink Quilt Along – Part 5

Today will be the last post on the Pretty In Pink quilt along.

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My quilt is finished and there are just one or two things left that I can talk about.  I am just going to go over a couple of things about the binding.

 

First of all, the seam allowance when it comes to binding.  There are a few people out there that do a 1/4″ seam allowance for everything related to quilting.  When it comes to binding, this is one of the times when you get to break that rule.  Your seam allowance actually depends on a few things – what width you cut the binding and things like the thickness of your batting.

I cut my binding for this quilt 2 1/4″.  Your seam allowance for attaching the binding to the quilt will be roughly 1/6th of the cut size (because the binding is folded in half, then it’s folded three times).  One sixth of 2 1/4″ = 3/8th of an inch, so that is my starting point for the width of my seam allowance.  This does not account for the thickness of the batting, etc. so it’s best to sew a little bit and then test it.

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To test it, I fold the binding to the back side and make sure that the folded edge just meets the sewing line on the back side.  If it folds way past, then I make the seam allowance a bit wider.  If it doesn’t quite meet the seam line, then I make the seam allowance a little narrower.  My pet peeve is an empty binding – which is what happens when you take too small of a seam allowance.  I like full bindings – in fact,  I sometimes call them voluptuous binding to really get my point across.

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I will also show how to miter the corners, though I’m sure many of you know how to do that.  The first trick is knowing where to stop by the corner – and you guessed it – It may not be 1/4″.  It’s actually the width of your seam allowance.  So If you seam allowance was 3/8″, then you need to stop 3/8 of an inch from the corner and back stitch.

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Take the quilt away from the machine and turn it so that the next side to be bound is ready to go.

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Fold the binding tail straight up.  Pull it all the way up until your back stitching stops you.

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Now fold it down, so that the fold is even with the top edge of the quilt, and continue sewing.  Repeat on the remaining 3 corners.

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Lastly, let’s talk about what to do when you get all the way around the quilt and what to do with those tails.

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There are lots of methods for what to do – but I like a no math, no cutting angles, no lump method.

 

First of all, leave an 8-10″ tail when you start and at the end.  Cut off a scrap piece of binding and lay it next to the beginning binding tail like this –

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Now overlap the other tail and cut it, using your scrap of binding as a “pattern” as shown below.  So – the overlap is always equal to the width of your binding (in this case, 2 1/4″).  I just use a scrap of the binding so I don’t have to go get a ruler and measure it.    It’s that easy – no measuring, no math, cutting at angles, or adding seam allowances.  Just cut the overlap of the tails to the width you cut the binding.

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Now lay the two tails right sides together as shown (just like how you sew your binding strips together at an angle – I should have taken a picture of this, but I assume that you all know that you sew the binding strips together on the diagonal to reduce bulk).  The pin shows where I will be sewing them together.

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Now sew the seam

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And cut off the corner, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance (again – the same as how you sewing binding strips together and trim them)

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Now, just tuck the binding back in half and it should fit the quilt perfectly!

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Finish sewing the seam.   You will now have a continuous binding and you won’t be able to tell where the last seam was.

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For help with the hand stitching, I have a tutorial already posted here.  If you don’t already use the method and tools that I recommend, it should save you a lot of time!

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I will do a few more quilt alongs throughout the year – Do you have any requests of things that you want to learn more about?  Or can you tell me which tip you found the most helpful?  Your feedback will help me know what to focus on!  Thanks for the feedback and thanks to those of you who joined along.

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Pretty in Pink Quilt Along Part 4

Today I am going to share more tips on how I machine applique.  If you missed my last post on preparing the applique shapes and setting up your machine, click here.  For those of you who have missed a few blog posts, we are talking about how to do the applique on the following quilt – Pretty in Pink Mini.

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Before I go much further, I wanted to mention a hand-out that I use at my classes.  Rather than trying to remember all this info, you can just follow along with this handy little handout.  (To print a PDF copy, click here).  It also shares a little more info than what I can actually cover in these blog posts, as they become so long!

 

Let’s start by stitching down the ric rac.  I used matching color thread and just stitched right down the middle.  See how the open toe foot works so well for seeing exactly where the middle of the ric rac is?

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When you get to the end, just tuck it under and stitch across the bottom so the edges won’t fray.

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Before we start the applique on your project, it is best to test out some sizes for the stitches you are going to do.  The handout has some sizes listed, but play around and find out what size you like.  Write the numbers down on your handout or somewhere you won’t loose them (for example, a 3-16th” wide blanket stitch = a stitch width of 4 on my machine, etc)

 

Next, lets talk about proper alignment of stitches.  The photo below (from the handout) shows how you need to keep the stitching almost entirely on the applique shape and just going over the edge into the ditch where the applique shape and your background fabric meet.

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You also don’t want to see any background (in this case, the green fabric) showing between the stitching and the applique shape – see the bottom of the photo below.  You want your stitching to be nice and tight to the applique shape as shown near the top of the photo.

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For gentle curves, like my monster eyeball below, you need work your way evenly around the shape as shown.  You should be able to do a gentle curve like this without pivoting.  You don’t want to do 5 stitches, then sharply pivot, then do 5 more stitches and pivot again as you won’t get a nice, equally spaced set of stitches as shown below.

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But, if you do need to pivot, make sure that your needle is in the outside position (the right side of your foot.)  If you pivot when your needle is on the left side, you will get little Vs in your stitching like in the photo below (see the pink fabric).

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If you pivot with your needle on the left side when you are using the zig zag stitch, you will get a goofy gap in the stitching, as shown in the circle below.

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I know a lot of people just wing when it comes to stitching around the points, but I have some guidelines for doing the outside and inside points.  Our project today only has a couple outside points – like on the leaves – but I will cover them all anyways.

To maneuver the outside point on the leaves, see the illustrations below (again from the handout).  It’s a very easy point to maneuver.

 

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If you decide to blanket stitch the leaf instead of doing a zig zag, it should look something like this:

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Inside points are handled a little differently.  Please see the two photos below for how to do the inside points with both the zig zag stitch and the blanket stitch.

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One last thing from the handout – when you are starting and stopping, there are several ways to handle the thread tails.  When I am doing the zig zag, I just stitch in place a few times at the beginning and end.  Some machines have a tacking stitch, so now would be the time to use that.

With the blanket stitch, you are using a thicker thread, so that tacking stitch becomes too obvious.  I usually pull my tails to the back side of the block, tie them in a knot, and clip the threads – like so:

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By the way, this photo also shows the proper thread tension – with the top thread pulled just slightly to the back side of the block, thus the little black dots.  (We touched on this briefly in our last session)

 

Applique just takes practice – but the goal is to get the stitches evenly spaced – around all curves and points – so our project for today should look something like this:

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or this:

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That’s all for today!

Anybody have some photos of their project to share with the quilt along group?  Please email them to me at hmulder@wecnet.com.  Thanks!!!  I would love to see them ;-)

 

 

 

 

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