Friday, November 20, 2009

College Professor

My ceramics professor, Gil, in college recently moved to rural Boone county near Louisville, Kentucky. He and his wife, Yuki, have lots of animals. You know dogs, ginea pig and...chickens. Gil recently wrote an article about his chickens and the circle of life. Check it out. It is a great read.

We had such great times at the ceramic building during college. Gil introduced me to humus and lots of other interesting foods. He was such a calming influence on all his students. Patient, helpful and always there when you had questions about art as well as life in general. I will always remember the small amount of time I spent sharing a studio with Gil and Yuki.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beatnik Bee

One last bee getting started. But this one is a themed bee. We are still looking for two more members. So send me an email if you would like to join. [Edited: We are all filled up now, thanks!]


An online quilting bee is where 12 members work over a year to make quilting blocks for one another. For the Beatnik Bee, we wanted to stretch our design skills a little by taking traditional blocks and changing them to a little more modern in flavor. For example,
  • stretching traditional blocks to make them rectangles instead of perfectly square
  • or making them a bit larger, like a single block for the whole quilt.
  • or taking a modern painter and thinking up a way to design a block that is inspired by one of their paintings, like Franz_Kline.
  • or using modern fabrics for a traditional block.
Like I said, stretching our design hats. The Beatnik Bee is an off shoot of the Block Party Quilt Along group.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Charity Quilt

A while back I asked for block donations for a charity quilt. You all responded with such enthusiasm to help out the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund, the JWC's charity recipient for the next two years. The quilters in the blogsphere are so generous.

Well, I finally got around to sewing the top together. I was pleasantly surprised to find out you all had sent me enough blocks to make not one, but TWO, tops. Here is a picture of the first one. I hope to sew together the other one tonight.

Thanks again!

Charity quilt top 1

Sunday, November 15, 2009

ORB Round 4: Cutting and Piecing Your Snowball Blocks

You will need five squares to complete one snowball block.
  • (1) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" squares (main square)
  • (4) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares (corner squares)
The amount of squares you will need for each size of top for Option 2:
  • 6x7
    • (42) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" (main squares)
    • (168) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" (corner squares)
  • 5x6
    • (30) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" (main squares)
    • (120) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" (corner squares)
  • 4x5
    • (20) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" (main squares)
    • (80) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" (corner squares)
Your corner squares will be a different fabric from your main squares, so make sure you mix and match your fabrics to accomidate this. Here are some completed squares.
2 Finished


Cutting your fat quarters

You should have the following number of fat quarters for the top specified:
  • (47) for the 6x7 top
  • (31) for the 5x6 top
  • (22) for the 4x5 top
Cutting one fat quarter will produce all the pieces you need to complete a single snowball block:
  • (1) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" squares (main square)
  • (4) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares (corner squares)
Cut the following number of fat quarters using the directions below:
  • For the 6x7 top, you will need to cut 42 fat quarters.
  • For the 5x6 top, you will need to cut 30 fat quarters.
  • For the 4x5 top, you will need to cut 20 fat quarters.

Square up fat quarter
1) Square up your fat quarter

Cut 12 3/4" from bottom
2) Cut 12 3/4" from the bottom

Cut 12 3/4" from left
3) Cut 12 3/4" from left side

Cut top strip down to 4 1/2" wide
4) Take top strip (22" X 5") and cut it down to 4 1/2"

Cut (4) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" blocks from strip
5) Cut (4) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" blocks from strip


Cutting your 1/2 yard cuts

You should have the following number of 1/2 yards for the top specified:
  • (17) for the 6x7 top
  • (13) for the 5x6 top
  • (8) for the 4x5 top
Cutting one 1/2 yard cut will produce:
  • (3) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" squares (main square)
  • (9) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares (corner squares)
As you can see, you will only produce enough corner pieces to complete (2)  of the (3) main squares you get from cutting 1/2 yard. This leaves us about (3) corner squares short of completing the third main square. I have included instructions on how to get the remaining corner squares in a seperate set of instructions labled Cutting a 1/2 Yard To Get More Corner Squares.

Only cut the following number of 1/2 yard using directions in this section:
  • For the 6x7 top, you will need to cut (14) 1/2 yard cuts producing:
    • (42) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" squares (main square)
    • (126) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares
    • Leaving us (42) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" corner squares to cut from the three remaining 1/2 yard cuts.
  • For the 5x6 top, you will need to cut (10) 1/2 yard cuts producing:
    • (30) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" squares (main square)
    • (90) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares
    • Leaving us (30) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" corner squares to cut from the three remaining 1/2 yard cuts.
  • For the 4x5 top, you will need to cut (6) 1/2 yard cuts producing:
    • (18) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" squares (main square)
    • (54) 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares
    • Leaving us (26) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" corner squares and (2) 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" main squares to cut from the two remaining 1/2 yard cuts.
1/2 yard cut snowball
1) This is still folded in half. Place your fold to the right and the selvages to the left. Square up the top and the bottom of the folded 1/2 yard cut. Do not cut off the selvage yet.

Cut 12 3/4" from the bottom
2) Cut 12 3/4" from the bottom. Move the top strip off to the side for the moment.

Cut selvage off the left side
3) Cut selvage off the left side of the bottom piece. Get as close as you can to the end of the selvage for the cut.

Cut 12 3/4" from left
4) Cut 12 3/4" from left.

Makes (2) 12 3/4" x 12 3/4" squares
5) Makes (2) 12 3/4" x 12 3/4" squares.

Unfold the fabric leftover from the last cut
6) Unfold the fabric leftover from the last cut (about 7" X 12.75")

Cut 12 3/4" from the left again
7) Cut 12 3/4" from the left again. Keep the 12 3/4" x 12 3/4" square. Place the ~3" X 12 3/4" strip to the side.

Cut strip to 4 1/2" wide
8) Cut strip to 4 1/2". This is the strip from the first cut. It should be approximately 5" x WOF (width of fabric). This still has the selvage on it.

Open the strip; Cut off the selvage
9) Open the strip; Cut off the selvage. Get as close as you can to the end of the selvage. You are cutting a single layer. Make sure you unfold the piece of fabric before cutting.

Cut 4 1/2" from the left
10) Cut 4 1/2" from the left. You can use your ruler horizontal lines to align with the top and bottom of the strip. This will make your ruler squared to the fabric. Then cut 4 1/2" from the left edge. Continue to cut 4 1/2" from the new left edge until you cannot get anymore 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares from the strip.

(9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" Squares
11) (9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" squares are produced from your 4 1/2 X WOF strip

Cutting a 1/2 Yard To Get More Corner Squares

For the 6x7 top, we still need (42) corner squares:
1) Cut (4) 4.5" x width of fabric from the 1/2 yard.

Open the strip; Cut off the selvage
2) Open a strip; Cut off the selvage. Get as close as you can to the end of the selvage. You are cutting a single layer. Make sure you unfold the piece of fabric before cutting.

Cut 4 1/2" from the left
3) Cut 4 1/2" from the left. You can use your ruler horizontal lines to align with the top and bottom of the strip. This will make your ruler squared to the fabric. Then cut 4 1/2" from the left edge. Continue to cut 4 1/2" from the new left edge until you cannot get anymore 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares from the strip.

(9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" Squares
4) (9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" squares are produced from your 4 1/2 X WOF strip

5) Repeat Steps 2 - 4 on the remaining (3) strips.

6) You will still need (6) more corner blocks. Take another 1/2 yard and open it so that you have a single layer of fabric on your cutting board.

7) Cut a 13 1/2" from the left of the opened half yard.

8) Take the 13 1/2" x 18" square and cut (2) 4 1/2" strips from it.

9) Cut (3) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" squares from each strip.

For the 5x6 top, we still need (30) corner squares:
1) Cut (4) 4.5" x width of fabric from the 1/2 yard.

Open the strip; Cut off the selvage
2) Open a strip; Cut off the selvage. Get as close as you can to the end of the selvage. You are cutting a single layer. Make sure you unfold the piece of fabric before cutting.

Cut 4 1/2" from the left
3) Cut 4 1/2" from the left. You can use your ruler horizontal lines to align with the top and bottom of the strip. This will make your ruler squared to the fabric. Then cut 4 1/2" from the left edge. Continue to cut 4 1/2" from the new left edge until you cannot get anymore 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares from the strip.

(9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" Squares
4) (9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" squares are produced from your 4 1/2 X WOF strip

5) Repeat Steps 2 - 4 for the remaining (3) strips

For the 4x5 top, you still need (26) corner squares and (2) main squares. Take one of your two remaining 1/2 yards and:

1/2 yard cut snowball
1) This is still folded in half. Place your fold to the right and the selvages to the left. Square up the top and the bottom of the folded 1/2 yard cut. Do not cut off the selvage yet.

Cut 12 3/4" from the bottom
2) Cut 12 3/4" from the bottom. Move the top strip off to the side for the moment.

Cut selvage off the left side
3) Cut selvage off the left side of the bottom piece. Get as close as you can to the end of the selvage for the cut.

Cut 12 3/4" from left
4) Cut 12 3/4" from left.

Makes (2) 12 3/4" x 12 3/4" squares
5) Makes (2) 12 3/4" x 12 3/4" squares.

Unfold the fabric leftover from the last cut
6) Unfold the fabric leftover from the last cut (about 7" X 12.75")

7) Cut (2) 4 1/2" strips.

8) Cut (3) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" squares from each strip.

Cut strip to 4 1/2" wide
9) Cut strip from the top to 4 1/2". This is the strip from the first cut. It should be approximately 5" x WOF (width of fabric). This still has the selvage on it.

Open the strip; Cut off the selvage
10) Open the strip; Cut off the selvage. Get as close as you can to the end of the selvage. You are cutting a single layer. Make sure you unfold the piece of fabric before cutting.

Cut 4 1/2" from the left
11) Cut 4 1/2" from the left. You can use your ruler horizontal lines to align with the top and bottom of the strip. This will make your ruler squared to the fabric. Then cut 4 1/2" from the left edge. Continue to cut 4 1/2" from the new left edge until you cannot get anymore 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares from the strip.

(9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" Squares
12) (9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" squares are produced from your 4 1/2 X WOF strip

You should now have all (20) main squares and (69) corner squares. We still need (11) corner squares.

Take your last 1/2 yard cut and:
1) Cut (2) 4.5" x width of fabric from the 1/2 yard.

Open the strip; Cut off the selvage
2) Open a strip; Cut off the selvage. Get as close as you can to the end of the selvage. You are cutting a single layer. Make sure you unfold the piece of fabric before cutting.

Cut 4 1/2" from the left
3) Cut 4 1/2" from the left. You can use your ruler horizontal lines to align with the top and bottom of the strip. This will make your ruler squared to the fabric. Then cut 4 1/2" from the left edge. Continue to cut 4 1/2" from the new left edge until you cannot get anymore 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares from the strip.

(9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" Squares
4) (9) 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" squares are produced from your 4 1/2 X WOF strip

5) Repeat Steps 2 - 4 to the remaining strip.

Assembling your block

1) Take one 12 3/4" X 12 3/4" square and lay it right side facing you. This is your main square.

Piecing Snowball Step 1
2) Place one 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" square in each corner of the main square. You need to use a different fabric for the 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" squares than what your bigger main square is. In my example, I have a large flower print as the main square and the light blue and white fabric as the 4 corner squares.

Step 2
3) Make a sewing line across the diagonal of each of the four squares.

Step 2 Finished
You can see all my sewing lines on the four corner squares. Yes, its a different square. Forgot to take a picture of this step finished with the original block :)

Step 3
4) Pin all four corner fabrics to the main square.

Step 3 - Sew on the line
5) You are going to sew on your line. Not to the right or left of it like we did in the zig-zag quilt. Sew all four corners like this.

Step 4 - Cut off extra fabric
6) You need to cut off the extra fabric at your corners. Place you 1/4" line of your ruler on your seam

Step 4 - Cut along ruler
Remove the extra fabric and place it in a pile. You can sew these scraps together later if you like.

Step 4 Finished
Here is what the block looks like after cutting all four of your corners.

Step 5 - Iron
7) Iron your seams open.

Finished Snowball Block
Finished snowball

Here are my two finished snowball blocks. As you can see, you will have a secondary set of squares created in the quilt from the corners of four of these blocks coming together.

2 Finished

Happy Sewing!

Friday, November 13, 2009

ORB Round 4: Crazy 9-Patch Piecing

Piecing Crazy 9-patch Blocks
I am a big believer in not recreating something that already has a great tutorial available on the web. I also don't like to take credit for something that I had no hand in inventing. So to give credit where credit is due, go over to AllSorts (Jenny B) to learn how to piece the Crazy 9-patch together.

Please read the following before following Jenny B's instructions:
 **Note: We are going with 15" blocks because you will lose an inch off each side during the piecing process. Then we are going to square up the blocks for curved piecing. We will then lose another 1/2" of each side during the curved piecing process. The extra measurement at this step is so that we have enough room to square it up and it still be large enough to account for the loss of the 1/2" in the next step and still have 12 1/2" block when we are finished.
  1. Instead of cutting your blocks into 12" x 12" squares, you should have:
    • 12 stacked 15" X 15" blocks for the 6X7 versions of option 1, 3 & 4
    • 9 stacked 15" X 15" blocks for the 5X6, 4X5 versions of option 1, 3 & 4
  2. For those of you using 12 blocks:
    • If you are using 12 different fabrics, go ahead and stack all of the blocks alternating the fabrics so that no two blocks of the same color or print are touching one another.
    • If you have 9 different prints with 3 of those repeating once like I suggested:
      • Take the 3 squares that are your repeats. They should be 3 different fabrics. Stack these one on top of another. Then follow my instructions below for piecing this stack together.
      • Then take the other 9 squares and stack them so that you do not have two fabrics that are the same color or print next to one another.
  3. For those of you using 9 blocks:
    • Go ahead and stack all of the blocks alternating the fabrics so that no two blocks of the same color, or print are touching one another.

Additional Challenge
For those of you that want to be a little more adventurous, you can also make this block using curved piecing. Jenny B's instructions are for straight piecing. Follow the steps below to add a twist to this block.

Straight Piecing Crazy 9-Patch Example 

Crazy 9-patch Close up


Curved Piecing Crazy 9-Patch Example
Curved Crazy 9-Patch




Yeah! Our first curved piecing. We are only going to do "slight" curves here. Bigger curves will come later I promise. Instead of cutting straight lines in the blocks like Allsorts suggest, make a slightly curved cut to the stack of blocks.

Before we get to actually cutting your fabric. Let me walk through piecing a gently curve.

1) Make your curve only slight. We don't want circles here. Only gentle swoops :)

Second gentle curve cut

2) Take your two pieces and find their centers. Fold them in half and finger press a line for the center.

Fold in half and finger press

Crease at center now

3) Line up the two pieces, right sides facing one another by lining up the two center creases you just made.

Match up te two center creases

4) Pin the centers together; making sure to keep the edges aligned. **Notice I am switching to my muslin example at this point. I did the same process with my final fabric as I did with the muslin. The final fabric will creep its way back into the pictures in a couple more steps. :)

Pinning a Curve

5) Pin the outer edges of the pieces making sure that the seam edges are aligned just like you would for a straight seam.

Pin Sides After Pinning Middle

6) Now pin out from them middle to the sides making sure that the 1/4" closes to the edge where the seam is going to be is flat. Keep negotiating the top pieces fabric until it all lays flat. The top piece will be rumpled. That is okay. Just as long as the area around where we are going to sew our seam is flat your piecing will lay flat during our ironing step later.

It will look funny; all wobbly

Just keep the 1/4" area on the edge flat for your seam

**NOTE: I will show you an alternate, and easier, way to "pin" the pieces together for sewing in a little bit. We just need to finish the pinning example first.

7) Sew your seam like you normally would by gently guiding the fabric through your machine keeping the edge aligned with the 1/4" seam mark on your machine (or the edge of your foot). Remove the pins before sewing over them. Keep the fabric as flat as you can while sewing.
Sew like you would a straight seam

8) Now we need to iron the seams flat on the back of the block. This is what your piece will look like before ironing it out. Don't worry. It will lay flat.

Before Ironing

You need to press the seams out on the back. Otherwise there will be too much bulk later on when you are trying to cut your third and fourth cuts for the 9-patch block. If you need to make small snips along the fabric on the back to get it to lay flat do so. Just make sure you do not cut the seam.

Cutting the back fabric to get a curve to lay flat

9) This is what your finished curved seam should look similar too. All nice an ironed flat.

All nice and flat

Alternative to Pinning

An alternative to pinning a curved piece, is to use... yeah, you guessed it glue! Specifically, Elmer's Washable Glue Stick. I learned this trick from another blogger, but I can't remember her name. She used it for gluing the binding down to the back of the quilt to make it easier to hand sew the binding with no pining involved.
Or you can glue instead of pinning

The glue washed out fine on a quilt that I used it to glue the binding down. Though if you are worried about residue for a quilt intended to be an heirloom, you may want to stick with the pinning. I am okay with gluing. My quilts are going to be used and washed repeatably.

1) So instead of pinning your two pieces together at the center folds as stated above in step 4, add a little bit of glue along the edge of the bottom piece. Make sure you try to only put the glue on the 1/4" seam area. Otherwise you will have to tug a little on the block to get it to lay flat for ironing later. As you can see in my photo, I was not very careful ;)

I place something behind the fabric while apply glue

2) Start in the middle and work your way out to the side. You should end up with the sides ending at the exact same point. Don't worry about the rest of the upper piece being all rumpled. Just as long as the area next to the edge is flat for your 1/4" seam you will be fine.

Carefully match up the edges

**Same point with my final fabric. See how it is a little wobbly too.
It will look rumpled

3) This is the piece with the glue in place. Next you are going to want to set it with your iron. Not to long; just enough to get it to set (dry) the glue.

All glued

4) You can see that setting the glue also makes the edges lay a little flatter too.
Glued and Set

5) Once again, sew your seam like you normally would by gently guiding the fabric through your machine keeping the edge aligned with the 1/4" seam mark on your machine (or the edge of your foot).
Sew like you would a straight seam

6) Flatten your seams in the back and iron the right-side flat too. You may need to use a tool to get the fabric in the back apart to iron flat. I used a small flat head screwdriver. Just gently pry apart the fabric. The glue is not permanent, but it is very good at its job of keeping the fabric together :)

The following image matches the one above with my final fabrics after ironing my seams and front flat.
Press open seam and iron flat

You will do these steps for each of the seams on your stacks of squares. Now to walk you though piecing your 3 Stack and 9 Stack of squares.

Piecing 3 Stack
**Only for those of you creating Option 1, 3 or 4 with a 6 block by 7 block top.

3 stack

1) Take your stack of 3 squares and make sure they are all aligned in a stack.

All stacked up

2) Make a cut, straight or curved your choice, going from the bottom to the top of the stack. You will be going through all three squares in the stack. So go slowly. My example will be using curves. For straight ones, use your rotary cutter ruler to make sure the cut is straight.

A gentle curve

3) Take the top piece in the stack of pieces you just cut off from the main square and place it at the bottom of the pile.

Take top and move to bottom

4) Follow the curved piecing instructions from above. You will need to follow the instructions for each of the 3 squares in the stack. Make sure while you are sewing your seams and gluing/pinning your pieces together to keep them in order.
Make sure to keep them in order

This is what it should look like after finishing your ironing.
Press seams open

5) Now we will make our second cut. Stack the squares up again so they are all aligned. Cut slowly from the bottom to the top again going through all three squares. My example is using curves. For straight ones, use your rotary cutter ruler to make sure the cut is straight.
Second gentle curve cut

6) Now take the top two from the side stack and move them to the bottom.
Take top 2 and move to bottom

7) Follow the curved piecing instructions from above again; keeping your squares in order while sewing and ironing them. Here is what the top square looks like after the second cut has been sewn and ironed.
Press open seam and iron flat

8) Stack up your three squares again. Turn the stack 90 degrees clockwise. Then make your third cut; once again going from the bottom to top through all three squares. My example is using curves. For straight ones, use your rotary cutter ruler to make sure the cut is straight.

Third gentle curve

9) Move the top piece from the stack you just cut off of the main squares to the bottom of the pile.

10) Follow the curved piecing instructions again. Here is the top square after sewing and ironing.
Press seams open; third curve finished

11) Stack up your squares one last time. Placing the last set of seams you sewed on the right. Then make your fourth cut on the left side of the stack going from bottom to top. My example is using curves. For straight ones, use your rotary cutter ruler to make sure the cut is straight.

Fourth curve cut

11) Move the top two pieces from the side stack to the bottom.
Move two off top to bottom

12) Follow the curved piecing instructions one last time. And iron your blocks flat.

13) Finally, square up your 3 finished blocks to 13" X 13". Here is what my three finished blocks look like.

Square up to 13 x 13

Piecing 9 Stack

Follow JennyB's instructions for cutting up your stack of 9 blocks. If you want to do the curved piecing, just follow my curved piecing instructions above every time Jenny has cut the stack of squares and asks you to sew the pieces together.

Snowball Cutting & Sewing Instructions
I will be posting the snowball block instructions on Monday, November 16th. Until then, happy sewing!

Giveaway This Week
BTW! FlossieBlossoms will be giving away a sewing organizer this week. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled on the ORB Discussion Threads for her post.