The UFO Problem

I don’t mean unidentified flying objects, I mean UnFinished Objects. And I have a lot. A LOT….the rule of thumb is no more than 3. Lately my brain has been in quilting overtime. I have so many ideas floating around and they are all coming out in different ways. The chaos of my sewing room is overwhelming to everyone but me.

Organized chaos is the key here……

I do love my sewing room. There is a special spot for baby H, a wonderful peg board installed by my father, a ton of space to stuff bins of fabric ( there are 10) and my Precious. A Janome 1600P Professional semi industrial sewing machine. It is a straight stitch only machine with 3 speeds: Fast, faster, and holy cow.

At the moment I have 5 projects going (that I can remember O.o;)

1. A reproduction of Claudia Clark Myers and Marylin Badger’s quilt Sparkle Plenty

2. Listen With Your Eyes by Jacqueline de Jonge

3. A wholecloth quilt design

4. A modern quilt for Quilt Con

5. 3×6 Bee blocks, Stars and Pinwheels

I also have the fabric collected for another Jacqueline de Jonge project, Circle of Life, and I have sketches for a quilt series (more on that to come!)

I am excited about the modern quilt. I have recently discovered a love of hexagons. I have ordered the Hexa-Go-Go book, written by the very talented Tacha Bruecher. She is a founding member of Fat Quarterly ezine (I highly recommend subscribing), and you can find her blog here. My block idea combines hexagons with my love of paper-pieced stars. There will be a sneak peak at the end of the month!

I also received a call from the Georgia Quilt Show. They received my entry. Fingers crossed that it gets juried in! I finally named the quilt Sapphire Star.

My patient husband acting as a display rack

Quilted by Julie House of Sculptured Threads Quilting

Until next time!

Happy Quilting!

Stardust Pinwheel Tutorial


This is the block I chose for my Pinwheel Block Swap on Flickr. There have been a lot positive comments and requests for the block, so I am posting the pattern here for everyone to enjoy. You will need to print 2 copies of each page to create the pinwheel. The templates are numbered in the order to piece them. They are also lettered but you can ignore the letters

You only need a basic knowledge of paper piecing to complete this block, which is why it is such a good one to start with. You get stunning visual results with any color combination! You can piece it anyway you like, or you can follow the tutorial below.

Instructions


Cut out your templates and place them into two piles as shown. 4 blocks will have corners, 4 will not. Pick out the fabrics you want for each part of the pinwheel.


I like to pre-cut my fabric strips. This way I know I have enough to cover the block, and I can chain piece my block. The templates with corners are numbered 1-6, the templates without corners are numbered 1-5. For the sake of the tutorial I will refer to the numbering for the blocks without corners. The templates are identical once the corner is sewn.

The numbers in the brackets indicate the position numbering for the templates without corners.

Cut your fabrics as below:

1 = 2 squares 4 ¼”x 4 ¼”” cut into Half Square Triangles ( yields 4 HST)

2 (1) = 8 strips 6″x 2″

3 (2) = 8 strips 3 ¼” x 2″

4 (3) = 8 strips 5 ¼” x 1 ½”

5 (4) = 8 strips 5″ x 2″

6 (5) = 8 strips 4 ½” x 3″

Start with the 4 templates with corners. Place the HST right side up on the unprinted side. Take strip #1 and place it Right Sides Together on the HST, as shown below. Hold the block up to the light, printed side facing you, so you can line up the seam allowance. Sew on the first line. Repeat for the remaining 3 templates.


Press the blocks ( no steam). Place a straight edge along the next sewing line, fold the paper back along that line (tearing paper from the previous stitched line as needed), and trim the seam allowance to ¼” using an Add-a-Quarter Ruler (or whatever your preferred method is). Set these pieces aside for now.


Take your 4 Templates without Corners and place strip #1 Right Side Up on the unprinted side of the template. Use the light trick to make sure the entire section is covered. Baste the strip in place on the dotted cutting line or in the extra paper outside the template. This will hold your fabric in place. Place your straight edge along the sewing line, turn the paper back, and trim the seam allowance. (It is the same line as shown above)

Light trick

From here on you can piece all 8 templates at the same time. It goes together quickly from here!

Take strip #2, place it RST with strip #1. Sew and press. Place your straight edge along the next sewing line and trim the seam allowance as before. Repeat these steps for the remaining fabric strips.

Here is a photo montage of the rest of the piecing process (‘Cuz everything is better with a montage! MONTAGE!) Enjoy!

RST

Sew

Press

Trim

(oops, no picture)

(oops, no picture)

Trim round the templates on the dotted line. Voila! 8 wedges ready to be sewn into your block!


Voila!

Place a no-corner wedge RST on top of a with-corner wedge. Pin together at the top and bottom by placing a pin through the points at the top (black) and bottom (white) so it is loose, as shown. Line up the seam allowances. Hold the bottom firmly so the pieces don’t move and secure by pinning normally.

At the top there is a lot of bulk because you have seams meeting as well as the paper. If you were to pin through all the layers you end up with a humped area that can be bulky and messy to sew through.

Bulk Hump

To avoid this you need to pin through the FABRIC ONLY. This keeps the pieces from humping up.

Through the fabric only

Sew the seam, pull the paper out of the seam allowance, and press your blocks in the same direction (this is important later!). You now have 4 quarters. Sew your quarter together into half blocks using the same process outlines above, making sure that the bottom points are well matched. Sew your seam and press in the same direction as before. Your points should match.

Sew your final seam, pinning at the corners and at the center point. If you want to make sure your points match, use the technique from the Wonky Compass Tutorial, or you can pin and sew just through the center, then open and check your alignment. If you are happy with the alignment sew your final seam. Press the last two seams in the same direction as the rest, and use the technique from the Wonky Compass Tutorial to press your center flat. Tear out your paper and do a final press with steam. Trim and clean up the edges of your block, and your done!

Wonky Compass Tutorial

Alrighty, for all my Modern Quilt Guild friends (and anyone else who enjoys modern/wonky quilting), here it is! The Wonky Compass Tutorial with 2 methods of construction! I did half of my blocks freestyle and half pre-marked. For those of you who are unsure about freestyle paper piecing the pre-marking method is best.

You need scrap fabric (3 colors per wedge), a marker and straight edge ruler , 8 wedge templates to create the circle, and a template for the border to make the block square. If you need one, you can use my  Quarter Compass Wedge and Template. The template finishes 12″square.

FREESTYLE METHOD

Mark out 3 points on your wedges, one on the upper curve, and one on either side

Lay your first main fabric (yellow) RIGHT SIDE UP on the blank side of the paper. Lay your first scrap of background fabric (white) right sides together (RST from here on out) with the main fabric. Sew a straight line from the center mark to the right side mark.


If your line doesn’t cross the mark, that’s ok!


Check to make sure the fabric covers the section from your sewn line to the seam allowance. Fold the paper back on the line you just stitched. Trim the seam allowance to ¼”. Put the paper back in place and press your fabric open. Repeat for the left side mark, making sure that your seams meet somewhere at or slightly below the seam line at the center mark. This way your points will be nice and pointy later!


Check the wedge with your l0cal wedge inspector, and then continue!


With RST, lay a piece of main fabric (green) from your top right corner to somewhere along the opposite side. The bulk of the fabric should be at the curved top of the wedge. Sew a straight line through the right corner to anywhere you like below your mark on the opposite side. Again, make sure the fabric covers the seam allowance at the top corner. Trim your seam allowances and press. Tear the paper along any intersecting stitch lines to make trimming easier. At this point it does not matter if you have gaping spots or your fabrics weren’t long enough to reach the marks or opposite side, as the last step will cover any of that up!



Take your last piece of scrap fabric (blue) and lay it RST from your top left corner to somewhere along the right side, making sure you can see the background fabric and 2 previous main fabrics extending past the edge of this piece. I like to hold my block up to the light so I can see where the straightest edge of the last fabric needs to be in order to cover all the blank spots.


Sew your line, and check to make sure the remainder of the wedge is covered and there are no missed open spots in the middle of your block.


Trim around the outside of your block, leaving a ¼” seam allowance around your block lines. If you are using the template provided the seam allowances are included on the block, just trim around! You get a wedge that looks like this:


Repeat this process for the remaining 7 wedges. Do not remove paper.

PRE-MARKED METHOD

Mark and draw your stitching lines on your wedge as shown in the example below. Lines 1 and 2 must intersect somewhere along the top curve. Lines 3 must enter through the top right corner, cross line one, and end on the opposite side ( above or below line 2, whatever you want) Line 4 must enter through the top left corner and cross both Line 2 and Line 3. If you want, for blocks with a little more consistency and a more compass-like look, have lines 3 /4 meet the opposite sides below the marks for lines 1/2.


Place your first main fabric and background RST along the straightest edge. Hold it up to the light to align with Line 1 as shown below. Sew along your line, trim and press. Repeat for the remaining lines to get your wedge. The fabric placement is the same for this method as the one above. Lines 1/2 the background is sewn to the main fabric, line 3 is your 2nd color, line 4 is your 3rd color. Repeat for remaining 7 wedges. Do not remove paper.


FINISHING-BOTH METHODS

To finish your Wonky Compass block, trace the curved template onto your background fabric. Cut around the curve, on the line if using the above template, or making sure you have proper seam allowance if you aren’t. I like to leave the outer edges jagged, as shown below. This comes in handy for squaring up your finished block.


Fold your curve in half, find the center and pin. Set aside. Repeat for all curved templates.

Make 2 piles, 4 wedges in each pile. Pin one wedge from each pile RST at the top and bottom. Tear the paper from the pinned section that will be FACEDOWN on your machine. This lessens the bulk in your seam and you still have a stitching guide. Sew on the line. Tear paper from lines 3 and 4 on both wedges, leaving the paper on the center diamond shape and the background fabric. This makes 4 quarter wedges.


I use the three pin method as follows to sew my curved seams. You can use whatever method you are comfortable with.

Pin your curve template to your ¼ wedge at the sides and center. With the curve template facing you, sew your curved seam by easing the fabric into place with your finger or a tool. Press your seam away from the curve. Repeat for remaining ¼ wedges.


To trim, take your 6 ½” square ruler and line the 45 degree angle line with the center seam on your ¼ wedge. Trim the block as shown.


Pin 2 quarter compass blocks together, matching at the curved seam and the points. Sew a ¼” seam. Press open. It is critical that your press all your seams in the same direction in order for your block to lay flat! Repeat for remaining blocks. This makes two ½ blocks, which we sew together to make the compass block. Pin your ½ compass blocks together at the center and the curved seams. Sew your ¼” seam. Open the block and check that the seams all match in the center. Adjust if necessary, but do not press yet. A trick to get perfect seams the first time is to pin through the center of each block. With the pin in a vertical position holding your center point together, place 2 more pins, one to either side. Remove the vertical pin and sew. Voila! Practically Perfect Every Time!


We want our block to lay flat, so that means the seams need to all be pressed in the same direction.

In the picture below you can see that my seams rotate in a counter-clockwise direction. This is the direction I will press, but first I need to open the stitching in the center of my block.


Finger Press your seam open. Find the seams shown below by the pins. They are the seams that made your ¼ blocks into half blocks.


With your seam ripper, very carefully pull out a few stitches, making sure not to rip out the seam connecting your ½ compass blocks. It should look something like this.


Now you can finger press the seams so they lay in the same direction, in this case counter-clockwise. It should look like 4 tiny 1/2square blocks in the center of your seam, like shown. Press your seams flat. Turn you block right side up, and press, using steam to set your block.


Trim your block to 12 ½” square by aligning your ruler with the seams as shown. All that extra fabric you has around the outside is now trimmed away, and you have a perfectly square block!


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If anything seems unclear, or you need any help at all, please post below and I will help you as best as I can!

Happy Sewing!