Monday, April 30, 2012

Month End Review

This month I decided to challenge myself to blog every day. I managed to keep on track (I have two blogs, but my other one is a 365 day picture blog and just takes minutes every day). This blog took a bit more work, but it was still lots of fun.
Blogging every day forced me to have "some thing to blog about", so I was productive.

April's Mini Quilts
I finished 8 mini quilts this month, they are shown here (one - not pictured - is a surprise starting later in the week).

Also made 24 Dear Jane blocks,

did some piecing on a winding ways quilt,

 machine quilted this month's Free Motion Quilting Challenge block,

and made this month's Hop to It block,

plus all the hourglass blocks for the sashing, so I would be ready when all the blocks are completed.

Knitting, tatting
and different types of embroidery.
I kept my hands busy with other hand work too.

April was a nice month to work outside in the garden (the picture was taken today and things are really growing).

I kept up with my other hobby too - cleaning my house (I admit it - I love to clean!). I did find time for cooking - not my favourite, but my family seems to think it is a necessity.

This month I also decided to exercise every weekday - I kept that up too, and am pleased with the results. I set the treadmill for 25 minutes, and at the beginning of the month I was walking about 1 mile,  now I am mainly running for 2 miles. I have also been lifting weights or doing Pilates (my favourite one is on You Tube - shown here).

I'll happily go back to blogging a few times a week! Since I try to limit my computer time every day, blogging every day left little time for other computer stuff (like commenting on other blogs or replying to comments - sorry), although I did try to keep up with my favourite blogs (the dashboard is helpful for that - thanks Blogger).
I will keep up with the exercising though - I see a "six-pack" in my future ;-)  -good to have goals!

Thank-you to every one who took the time to leave kind words, and encouragement during this past month.
I will be back tomorrow to announce the winner of my Hardanger patterns - still time left if you would like a chance.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More DJ Blocks

I made 6 more Dear Jane blocks today.

Now there are 24 - don't know how many to go (definitely won't be making the whole quilt).

That Quilt blog was very helpful for this block - B-2.

She suggested making 2 pinwheel blocks and turning one into a circle appliqué - it worked very well. I am so pleased there is a resource on the web for these blocks.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dear Jane Weekend

It seems to be coming a pattern for me to make Dear Jane blocks while Skypeing with friends on the weekend - very enjoyable.

These are the six Dear Jane blocks I made today. I am trying to make a hard one, an easy one and a few appliqué ones every week (that's the plan this week!).
There is a wonderful blog - That Quilt - that has instruction for how she made the blocks. I read on the blog - "When in doubt - appliqué", and that is exactly what I am doing, if the blocks seem too complicated, I have been appliquéing them (invisible machine appliqué with the seam allowance turned under) -just because I love appliqué.

18 (4+1/2") blocks so far, and I have a few ready for sewing tomorrow.
The blocks sure can be a challenge, but I love the look of them, and I am really pleased with how they are coming.

Someone likes to fly their remote control helicopter in to mess up the blocks!

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fast Flying Geese

This tutorial is my preferred method for making 4 flying geese blocks.

For this you will need one large square and four small squares of a different fabric. The large square makes the large triangle and the smaller squares make the two little triangles.
There is a graph for common finished block sizes here, but the math is pretty simple to determine the size of squares you need to cut.
Flying geese blocks are always rectangles - the length is twice the width. The large square is cut the finished length of block (the long side) plus 1+1/4" (just like the hourglass blocks), and the 4 small squares are cut the finished width of the block (the short side) plus 7/8" (just like the half square triangle blocks).

Lay two small squares as shown above on the large square. Draw a diagonal line.

Stitch scant 1/4" seams on both sides of the line. Cut on the line and press towards the small triangles.

Lay the other 2 small squares on the units and draw a diagonal line. Stitch scant 1/4" seams on both sides of the line.

Cut on the line and press the flying geese blocks open.

Trim the blocks to the finished size plus 1/2" for seam allowance. It is handy to use a square ruler and line the diagonal line up with the edge of the large triangle making sure there is 1/4" seam allowance above the point (click on the picture to make it bigger).

This method makes 4 blocks at a time.

"Plan C" from 2010

For variable star blocks the print fabric would be the small squares and the large square would be from the background fabric.

So many different, classic quilt blocks are made with combinations of half square triangles, hourglass blocks and flying geese blocks, and the quilt blocks can be made any size with the easy math for them. I am also finding the simple math for the blocks handy when making the Dear Jane blocks I am currently working on.

I am planning on posting a little quilt pattern in May using these tutorials. I will post one block a day, plus layout and quilting ideas at the end. I loved making the recent Temecula Quilt Co little quilts and thought I would do the same.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Easy Hourglass Blocks

To make 2 hourglass blocks you need to start with two squares, each from different fabrics. The size of the squares is the finished size, plus 1+1/4" of the needed hourglass block.

Draw a diagonal line on the back of the lighter fabric. Line up the squares.

Stitch 1/4" seams on both sides of the line, and cut the square on the line. Press the seams to the dark fabric.

Place the two new squares together (they are half square triangles now), with opposite colours right sides together. Because the seams are pressed in opposite directions they will "lock" together.

Draw a diagonal line on the back of the fabric.

Stitch 1/4" seams on both sides of the line, and cut the square on the line.

Press the hourglass blocks open.

I spiral the centre seams to reduce the bulk.

Trim the hourglass blocks to the correct size - the finished size plus 1/2" seam allowance.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Easy Half Square Triangles

For the next few days I will be posting little tutorials I want to have on my blog as reference for some future projects I have planned.

An easy way I like to make half square triangles is to start with two squares of different fabrics.

The size of the squares is the finished size of the half square triangle needed plus 7/8". Since the blocks will be trimmed you can just add 1" to the finished size.
Draw a diagonal line on the back of the lighter fabric and lay it on the darker fabric, right sides together - all the sides should be even. Stitch the two squares together, by sewing 1/4" away from the line, on both sides of the line.

Cut on the drawn line and press the seams to the dark fabric. The two squares results in two half square triangles (HST).

Trim the half square triangles to the needed size plus 1/2" for seam allowance. A square ruler is handy because you can line up the diagonal line to get even triangles when trimming.

I am working on some little blocks again.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hardanger Embroidery

 I thought I would show a quick (but picture heavy) overview on Hardanger embroidery.

I taught myself Hardanger about 10 years ago (like all my work - I am no expert, this is just how I do it).
It is a very simple form of counted embroidery that requires few supplies.

This is the Hardanger project I am currently working on.
It needs an even weave fabric (for this one I am using 22 count Hardanger fabric, but there are many different ones available, with different thread counts, but not Aida cloth - you can't pull the threads out), pearl cotton (I am using #5 and #8 for this count of fabric), tapestry needle, very fine, small, sharp scissors, and I like to use an embroidery hoop. All the supplies should be available at the local box craft store (they are here), but better supplies can be found at a good embroidery store (my favourite is Nordic Needle).

Here is a little taste - the links are to the free guide at Nordic Needle (they specialize in Hardanger). Here is their Hardanger 101 link.

The embroidery starts by stitching Kloster Blocks (satin stitch) - 5 stitches over 4 threads (Hardanger fabric has two threads together that count as one).

I start the embroidery off by leaving a long tail,

this is the back

and catching it under the Kloster blocks on the back of the piece.

The groups of stitches are at right angles to one another or separated by 4 threads, and all the blocks line up across from each other. This is very important when you cut the fabric threads. To end the thread just weave the end under the Kloster blocks in the back.

Cutting the fabric is the hardest (scariest) part of Hardanger. I use really sharp, fine, embroidery scissors (I only use them for this). I make sure that the tip of the scissors is poking out at the last fabric thread I need to cut, and that the scissors are close to the stitches before I cut the threads. If you accidentally cut the wrong thread, a new thread can be removed from the edge of the fabric and woven back into the fabric to replace the cut one.

Once all the fabric is cut beside the Kloster blocks,

the fabric threads are taken out,

and the needle weaving starts.

I used picots and dove's eyes. Here is a video for the dove's eye. This piece can't be cut out because it doesn't have the tailored button hole stitch around the edge to finish it off.

This little piece could be made into a little ornament/scissor fob like this one. If you add the tailored button hole stitch around, it makes a nice Christmas ornament (I have a few, but they are put away now).

Here is the pattern for the above piece, from a workshop I taught a few years ago.

There are all kinds of free patterns on the Nordic Needle website (there is even a Romanian Point Lace one).
The Victoria Sampler has some wonderful free patterns too - lots with cross stitch and other types of embroidery.

Next are some pieces that I have made.

My first piece from an old Anna Magazine.
The magazine is the top one here (the same one my first piece of Romanian Point Lace comes from).

My second piece.
This one is a free pattern at Nordic Needle. 
This one is 22" square.
I tried variegated thread for the first time.
These are the same pattern with different counts of fabric.
Another free pattern at Nordic Needle.
This one is 37" long.
This is the first one I designed.
The second one I designed.
I designed the cross stitch to match my dishes.
This is the one I am working on.
It will be 30"x19".
I just have the filling stitches to add.

There are some really good Hardager books - I can recommend the Janice Love ones.

The next two pieces aren't Hardanger,

This is a little bag made with linen.
The back.
The needle weaving section reminded me of a garden fence,
so I added a rabbit button - like Peter Rabbit.
but other types of drawn/pulled thread work (I am not sure of the real name),

This is on 28 count linen
 this one is Schwalm embroidery (from an old EAC correspondence course).

A close-up.
 The same design is on both ends of the piece.

Whew! Maybe not so quick!
Now, if any one is interested in learning more about Hardanger, I have a few beginner Hardanger books and patterns I don't need - if you are interested leave me a comment on this post. If more than one person asks I will draw a name on Tuesday May 1st, 2012.

I'll include a pattern and kit from the workshop I taught too, to get you started. I'll ship any where in the world.

 Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

The draw has been made and Fiesta was the winner. Thanks to everyone who entered!
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