Metro Hoops

I’ve been working on a project since last summer that I finally finished.  I rarely get a chance to work other designer’s patterns, but this was a quilt that I knew I wanted to make time for.  The pattern is called Metro Hoops by Sew Kind of Wonderful.  (images from their website)

Metro Hoops (Paper Pattern)

I’m always interested in learning or working with interesting techniques.   I have worked with curves before, but that was probably 15 years ago.   My experience with doing curves was making a traditional Wedding Ring quilt.  I thought the Metro Hoops patterns was a way to use that technique to make a more modern looking quilt, using a simplified technique.

1. Quick Curve Ruler ©

The technique uses the “Quick Curve Ruler”.  I’m not generally a huge fan of rulers –  Unless they can do multiple techniques, create many quilts that look different, or save you a lot of time.  This ruler fits the bill and Sew Kind of Wonderful has lots of patterns to support it.

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I don’t have many photos of the process, but you start out with strip units and cut them using the ruler.  You also use the ruler to cut the background fabric used for the blocks (see above photo).    I really enjoyed the process and I am loving the finished quilt.

 

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I went a little out of my comfort zone with the machine quilting.  The gals at Sew Kind of Wonderful do a beautiful job of machine quilting and I wanted to try some of the straight line quilting and pebbles that they do a lot of.

 

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I did lots of straight lines in the border.  It’s far from perfect, but that’s okay.  The overall effect from a little ways away is more important.

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The fabrics are all from my stash.  The background fabrics is Robert Kauffman’s Yarn Dyed Essex Linen in Graphite.  I am now on my second bolt of this fabrics and have developed an addiction to the colorway Steel as well.

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I did do a one modification to the pattern.  It is originally laid out like this:

Metro Hoops (Paper Pattern)

 

This is a poor photos, but you can see that I laid my blocks out on point.  I was all ready to sew the rows together and happened to walk at the quilt from an angle, when I noticed how interesting the quilt was from that direction.  I quickly started making the setting triangles so I could put it together that way.

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This was definitely a technique that I will be doing again.  In fact, I have already started on their Metro Rings pattern.  I enjoyed the process of making this quilt and machine quilting it – but then again, you are always hearing that from me.  When it comes down to it, I have rarely met a quilting technique that I didn’t like.  Okay – except for paper piecing, but other than that, it’s all fun!

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All for now – Have a good Tuesday!

Heather

 

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The Final Post in the Let It Snow QAL

It’s the final wrap up for the Let It Snow QAL!

I finished up the quilting with the use of a few simple designs.

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I chose to meander the background and a free-hand design in the trees.  I did loops in the border, but with the busy print, you can only see them from the back.  If you want to see how I quilted the other Let It Snow quilts, you can hop over to this post.

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For the binding, I decided to do it all by machine.  I prefer doing it by hand using this method, but machine works in a pinch.  If you need some pointers on doing the initial application by machine, you can see this tutorial and this tutorial.   I talk about things like how to determine the seam allowance, how to miter the corners, and a simple way to turn your binding into one continuous piece.  I use the French double fold method and I cut my binding 2 1/2″.

To set up your machine, you will need your top thread to match the border fabric and your bobbin thread to match the binding fabric.  I also recommend using an open toe foot.  The photo below shows you what an open toe foot looks like.  As you can see, it makes seeing where you are going so much easier!

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To begin sewing, pull the folded edge of the binding to the back side of the runner.  I align it so the folded edge is about 1/16th of an inch past the stitching line on the back side of the runner.  From the front side of the runner, I stitch in the ditch between the binding (see photo above) and the border so that the stitching catches the edge of the binding on the back side like this:

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This takes a little bit of practice and I do it mostly by feel.  I can tell by running my finger along the ditch that I referred to earlier, that the edge of the binding is sticking just past where the stitching line will be.  If you can’t do it by feel, you can pin it in place from the front and pull the pins out as you come to them.

To make this process easier, I usually make my seam allowance a tad narrower so that it is easier to fold the binding past the stitching line.  If you are having trouble with being able to catch that edge of the binding on the back side, you can adjust the overlap to be 1/8th of an inch, rather than the 1/16th that I aim for.  I also pin the corners so that I get a nice miter because it’s a little harder to keep everything in position while going around the corner.  When I’m done, I usually give the binding a good shot of steam.  I find that when I do all the stitching by machine, I sometimes get a slight ripple along the edge and the binding doesn’t lay totally flat.  The steam will usually fix that for me.

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I’m happy that I did the blue background, for something a little different.  My favorite part is the black print on the outer border.  When this fabric comes out, I will be ordering more of that one for sure. (BTW – The fabric line is Juniper Berry by Basic Grey for Moda fabrics).

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Here’s the finished runner in my dining room.  This will be its home during the winter months when I have this runner out.DSC_1870

 

Thanks to all of you for sewing along.  I hope you gained some new confidence in working with angles.  I hope the project provided a good reason to spend some time back in the sewing room after the holidays.   If there is anything else that you would like to have a sewing along on or a technique that you would like to learn more about, you can leave it in the comments.  I’m always looking for feedback on what quilters are interested in.  What are you doing next?  I’ve got a couple of projects almost finished to share, so I am exited to move onto something new to share with you.

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Slow Stitching

I have a hand-made top to share with your today.

I’m sure many of you get sick of the “I made this” blog post that I do all the time.  I know I do . . . But honestly, besides showing you pictures of my kids or the laundry that I did today, there isn’t anything else interesting going on around here.  I’m not much of a writer either, so I share pictures instead.  I also like to share the techniques that I am exploring and having fun with, in hopes that someone else will want to give them a try.  This is one of those techniques –

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A while back I posted the first shirt that I made using these techniques. (You can read about it here).  If you had asked me a few years back if I would be sewing clothes again, I would have said no – much less hand stitching them.  I don’t know why hand stitching has become so appealing to me, but I sure am having fun with it.  It is so relaxing and therapeutic.  Maybe it is having a 1 and 3-year-old that makes me crave something quiet and relaxing?  Ya think?

 

This shirt was completed so fast that I was sorry to see it finished – Like a really good book that abruptly comes to an end before you are ready for it.

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And once again can I sing the praises of the raglan sleeve?  I LOVE not having to set in a sleeve.  So. Much. Easier.

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The techniques used to make this top are fairy easy.  The couching was a little more challenging than the rest, but overall, it is much easier to do than it looks.  I did have a little trouble with puckering around the beads, so next time I will try not to pull my thread so tight.  The main point that I want to get across is how easy it is to do this kind of work.  I think it looks so intricate, that most people think it will be hard.  This book outlines how to do everything.  If you are a quilter, you will find that you already know how to do many of these techniques.

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As I was working on this top, I was thinking about how people used to make all their own clothing.  A hundred years ago, I would guess that most people knew how to sew clothing.  Now it has become such a lost art and people grow up without sewing machines in their homes.  Clothing items like this are now only accessible to certain people because of the price (click here for an example).  What everyone used to do for necessity has now switched to being accessible for a few.  What an odd turn of events.  But, for about $15 and some beautifullt spent slow stitching time, I can have that time in history back.  I was listening to Alabama Chanin talk about this on a podcast and it was part of the reason that she decided to write books and literally give away her secrets as a designer.  She wanted this joy to be accessible to more people. What a wonderful thing to share.

 

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Let it Snow Show and Tell

I’m sorry to have been away so long.  I haven’t forgotten about the giveaway, but I was going to do my post last Tuesday when the kids got sick.  Tuesday is the only day I daycare for both, so that means no blog post until next Tuesday!  Hopefully they are over it, but tis the season. . .

 

Before I move on to today’s post, here is the randomly selected winner of the giveaway from my last post:

Anke Dudas, who commented on February 17th that she had just finished piecing the runner.  Yay!  Please email your shipping info to hmulder@wecnet.com.  I will have your fabric, books and patterns shipped out asap.

 

I have just a few things to share for the next step in the QAL, and then I will share some show and tell.

If you have all your trees pieced, the next step is to add the fillers to the top of the small and medium trees.

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Next, just sew them together as shown in the diagram.  You can also add borders if you want.  I added 2 borders to mine.   (You may remember that the original runner has one scrappy border)

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If you want to do your like this, it will take 4 strips of each color.  I cut the red 1 1/4″ and the black floral 2 1/2″.

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My only tip here is to look more closely at the diagram when sewing the trees together than I did.  See the circled part below?  I need to rip that section out and turn it around.  Somehow I didn’t even notice it until I was editing these photos😉

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Lastly, I want to share just a couple of show and tell photos from a few people who have shared their work on Instagram.  (Screen shots used with permission)

 

This one is so cheerful and happy.  She made it larger by adding one extra row of trees to the bottom.

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I love the addition of the extra cabin and trees on this one, along with the stripe border.  I always love a good stripe!

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Isn’t this cabin beautiful?  I makes me want to add some of this fabric to my stash.  It’s Winterberry from Kate and Birdie.

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Lastly, check out this version!  I love the beautiful prints and bold colors – don’t they just pop?

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That’s all for today.  I have a new Alabama Chanin style shirt and a finished quilt top to share next.

 

 

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Let It Snow QAL (Part 4) and a Giveaway

Today we are going to talk about doing the angles on the trees.  This technique is a great skill to have.

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The technique works with lots of angles, so it isn’t something that you will just use to make these trees.  With the teaching that I have done on this technique, I have found that many people don’t know how to align the angles when they sew.  This results in their points being off and their blocks aren’t the correct size.  This will be a long post, but I really want to show in detail how this is done so you can avoid these problems.

 

I have already done a tutorial on this technique, so you might have seen some of these pictures before.  Here is an excerpt taken from that tutorial to get us started:

My experience with teaching has been that once the angle is changed from the standard 45 or 90 degrees, many people have no idea what to do, so they just kinda wing it.  Sometimes it works, but most of the time the points are chopped off, don’t meet, or they end up with A, B, or C cups.  Sound familiar?  And in this case, a C cup is not better than an A cup.  In fact, totally flat is best.  Case in point?  A cup to the left, flat on the right.

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But – getting back to what I started talking about – How to align angles.  The technique that I’m going to explain works for many different angles.  For example,  all of the rulers shown below cut different angles, but you would align them all using the same technique.

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The samples that I have prepared to show the technique all use my Triangler ruler.  First up, just sewing two triangles together.

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Nothing complicated here – just lay them right sides together, align them evenly at the top and bottom, and sew.  This is the easiest of the angles to line up and sew.

The main thing to watch out for here is that you sew with a perfect 1/4″ seam allowance and that you have cut the top point accurately.   If you don’t have the little flat top of the ruler aligned perfectly with the top of the strip when you cut, it will throw you off in two ways.  If there is excess fabric to the top of the flat point, your point will not be 1/4″ from the raw edge of the block after you have sewn the triangles together.  Then, if you alter your seam allowance to make sure that the points meet in the center of the block, that will cause your block not to lay flat.  You also want to be careful when working with the bias edges because if the bias gets stretched out, that can also cause your block to be wavy and not lay flat.

 

If you take that same ruler and cut up a skinnier strip, you get pieces that look like this.  I am going to sew them together as laid out below.

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Lay them right sides together and align as shown.

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The trick to knowing exactly how to align them is to make sure that your 1/4″ seam allowance aligns perfectly with the valley at the top and bottom of the pieces.  Do you see the valley?  It’s very important that you know what I mean by a “valley”.  See the little yellow dash in the photo below?  It is aligned in the bottom of the valley.  That is where your 1/4″ seam allowance needs to be – right in the middle of the valley.

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I think the easiest way to see this is to draw a 1/4″ seam allowance on the block.  Then slide the piece up and down until it lines up perfectly with the valley, as shown below.

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In this sample you can see that the 1/4″ seam allowance isn’t lined up with the valley because the red piece is way too high

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In this sample you can see that the 1/4″ seam allowance isn’t lined up with the valley because the red piece is way too low.

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You won’t need to draw the seam allowance on every piece that you line up – it just helps as a guide until you get the hang of the technique.   Another thing that helps is to set your sewing machine so that the needle is always down.  Then you can see right away if your valley is going to line up with the 1/4″ seam allowance.  See the sample below – I have made the needle bright yellow so you are sure to see it.  I also put a yellow dash in the valley so you can see how they line up.  See how much easier that makes it?  If your needle is left up, you have no reference point and keeping the needle down gives you something to watch for.

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After sewing and pressing, the top edge of the unit should be nice and straight (see sample in the top part of the photo below) – not jagged (as shown in the bottom of the photo below).  If your unit looks like the one in the bottom of the photo, you just need more practice aligning the valley with the 1/4″ seam allowance.

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Now let’s practice the angle again – this time by sewing two half triangles to a full triangle.

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The concept is the same – Lay right sides together, and line up the valley with the 1/4″ seam line.  With these pieces, the valley is much harder to see.

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It’s there – you just have to look a littler harder to see it.  It’s a teeny, tiny, baby valley.  But again – the concept is the same.  You need to align the valley with the 1/4″ seam allowance.

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I think one of the things that gets people confused, is that after they press, their point isn’t exactly in the corner of the block.   See how the point is about 1/8″ in from the right bottom corner?

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Depending on the angle you are working with, this distance will vary a bit, but the trick is that after you sew a 1/4″ seam allowance on both sides, then the point will be right in the corner.  On the sample below, I have drawn in the 1/4″ seam allowance and you can see how the point is perfectly in the corner now.  That’s how it’s supposed to work.  (I say supposed to work because I will be the first to admit that my points aren’t perfect.  I know how to align the angles, but they are tiny, bias angles after all, so they don’t always behave every time.)

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Now, let’s move to the other side.  Again, align the piece so that your 1/4″ seam allowance will align with the valley at the top and bottom.

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Press and double-check to make sure that the top point is 1/4″ in from the top edge of the block.

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Now, I want to add a little more to the tutorial, with a few things that are specific to the “Let It Snow” project.  I’ve laid out the pieces for one of the trees below.    It is possible to get the triangle on the wrong way, so I find it helpful to lay out a sample block like this by my machine.

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As you can see below, the long edge of the triangle can fit on either side of the tree, but it’s easy to see that the one in the bottom photo is wrong.  I just point it out because you don’t want to rip out if you don’t have to – especially with those long bias triangles because they can become distorted easily.

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I start by lining up the valley on one end of my tree, then sewing about half way down.

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At this point, I pause and look down to the valley at the bottom of the block.  If it looks like the valley and my 1/4″ seam allowance aren’t going to just line up perfectly on their own, you need to make them line up.  In the photo below, you can see that I lined them up and put a pin to hold the pieces in place.  Because the edges are bias, you can easily make them fit by stretching or easing a bit.

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Lastly, I just want to mention pressing.  When quilting, I think it’s very important to press carefully so you don’t distort your shapes.  As shown in the photo below, I just use the very outside edge of the iron to press the seam allowance toward the blue triangle.  It’s a small, careful movement, rather than a “slide the iron all over to try to flatten this thing”.

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In the photo below, you can see that I wasn’t careful with my pressing and the bottom corner of the tree wings out.

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Now is your chance to go and practice this technique.  You may even want to try it out on a few scraps if you haven’t done this before.  You can also add the tree trunks if you want.

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As a reward for completing the hardest step, don’t you think there should be a little prize?   How about a Layer Cake of Cookie Exchange by Sweetwater, another book to help you use the ruler from the QAL and  couple of patterns?

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Here’s a closer look at the fabrics

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The giveaway is available to anyone doing the Let It Snow QAL.  All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what step you are on and what fabric you are using.  To get a second entry, share a picture of your QAL project on Instagram using the hashtag #letitsnowqal

If you have any questions on this step, be sure to leave that in your comment as well.

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Vintage Afghan KAL

A couple of weeks ago, I started the largest knitting project that I have attempted thus far.  I also joined my first KAL (knit along).  They are related, but I’ll get to that.

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I’ve been thinking about how many of my hand-knit sweaters spend so much time sitting in the closest.  Sometimes they don’t fit right, styles change,  they are too short, or I’m too hot – and I end up not wearing them as much or as long as I would like.  I seem to be stuck in a rut with just knitting sweaters and I’ve been thinking I should knit an afghan or pillow – something that I can use around the house and enjoy every day.  In addition to that, sweaters are also so big and bulky to work on – especially when you are chasing a 1 year old around.  I needed an easier to transport project.

Then, I see this post by Maria.  She stared a KAL using Norah Gaughan’s Vintage Afghan pattern.  (See the Ravelry link to this project here)

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It totally fit the bill for what I had been thinking about doing.

1 – It’s full of cables (which you know I love)

2 -It’s pretty enough to have out around the house

3 –  It’s assembled in blocks.  This makes it very transportable.   I can just throw a block in my purse and take it wherever.

4 – Each block is different, so even though it’s a large project, I won’t get bored.  It’s like making a sampler quilt, with each block being new and different.

 

I happened to have some yarn leftover from a sweater that would work for the project.  I made one test block to see if I liked it.  The yarn is Targhee Worsted by Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

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After doing the test block, I went back and forth about what colors to do.  I was going to do it all grey, and then at the last minute decided to go with some boy colors.  (I have knit my boys some sweaters, but if I make them an afghan, they won’t grow out of it so quickly!).

I went with orange, grey, teal, green and navy.  Only when the navy came, it was purple ( see photo below).  Oops.  Just one of the perils of ordering online . . .

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I over dyed the navy/purple, and now it looks more navy.  I love each of these colors individually – now I just hope I like them knit up.   060

 

My plan is to do 1 block a month.  That means it will take me 20 months to finish the project, but I’m in no hurry.  It’s just fun to have a project with no deadline.

 

If you want to learn more about the KAL, you can also go to the thread that Maria started on Ravelry – click here.  I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone’s blocks that they are working on, so it’s really fun (and helpful) to be part of the group.

 

This new project has me thinking that I need a new knitting bag and I’m looking for suggestions.  Does anyone have any favorites?  Please leave me a comment if you have any ideas for me.  Thanks!

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Let It Snow QAL – Part 3

How is everyone doing today?  Do you have your cutting done for our project?   Today we are going to talk about the strip units.

The first step is making the strip units for the tree trunks.  There are 3 different sizes, each with a skinny brown center strip.  Because the strip is skinny, you will want to be as accurate as you can with your seam allowance.   If you are off a little, it may show as small pieces are always less forgiving.  I would suggest starting with the strip unit in Step 1, and if it measures 8″ from top to bottom, then you are ready to cut into sections and sew the strip units for Step 2 and 3.  If it isn’t 8″, take a closer look at your seam allowance to make sure it is an accurate 1/4″.

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One other thing to watch is to cut each strip unit at the correct width.  As you can see, they are all a little different.

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The next step is to make the strip units for the trees (Step 4 in the book).  This is the fun part – playing with all the cute fabrics and the sewing is very easy.  The main thing you need to pay attention to here, is to get one of each size strip in each strip unit – That way the strip units are all the correct size.  Arrange these strips so that the order is different in each strip unit.  This will really add to the scrappy look of the trees, but requires little work on your part.

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The next step is to cut the tree units.  For this step, I like to use a small cutter.  It’s a 28mm cutter and it’s my favorite size to use for most of my cutting.  It’s very easy to maneuver and it’s easier to see the flat tops of the trees when cutting.  It’s important that this be accurate, or your tree points will be off.  (There are also a few more pictures on how to cut these triangles on page 3 of the book)

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You will end up with 2 different size trees from this step.

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If you have time, you can also do the first part of Step 5 (see the first 3 diagrams in Step 5).  This is how you make the tallest tree.  Just be sure to use a 2 1/2″ wide strip on the bottom of your trees.  Use the ruler to trim as shown.  Your tree should be 9 1/2″ tall.  The only other thing I can think of right now is just to mention that the angled edges of the trees are bias, so just be careful when pressing, etc so you don’t stretch them out.

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That’s it for this week.  If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments.  Then be sure stop back and check the comments to see the answer to your question.   If any of you are on Instagram, please use the hashtag #letitsnowqal, so I can see your project!

 

Next time, we will talk about sewing the background triangles to the trees.  If you have never done this angle before, I will show lots of pictures.  After that, it just takes some practice to get the hang of it.  It’s a great skill to have, so hopefully you will enjoy learning about it.

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