Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Empire Quilt - top and bottom rows

Today I have the top and bottom rows of The Empire Quilt to share with you. As you can see the four applique bird blocks are used in the corners. They were reverse appliqued to a white background to set them off. I chose to use the owl and the kingfishers for the top row because they are my favourite bird blocks.

I used the remaining two bird blocks in the bottom corners. When I have a block that I really like I either place it closer to the centre or at the top of the quilt because I find that these are the places where my eyes are naturally drawn.

These rows will be added to the centre panel. I just love all of these hexagon blocks and can't wait to get started on another quilt that is a variation on this hexagon quilt. It will allow me to use up the leftover solid green and green print.,

The quilt will have a border of the solid green fabric to frame the whole thing and to pull it all together. I had hoped to have the border on it by now but the sewing room is still partially packed up from the kitchen and bathroom renovations.

Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The final three blocks for The Empire Quilt

Today I'm sharing the final three blocks that will make up my hexagon quilt that I call The Empire Quilt. There will of course be some filler bits to fill the gabs but they don't involve much in the way of sewing. Without further ado here is the first block.

The star in the centre is English paper pieced and then simply appliqued to a background. I like to repeat some fabrics in blocks to give a quilt a more unified look. The fabric in the centre of the star was used for the broderie perse in some of the bird blocks.

The leafy fabric was used in the kingfisher block below. I added the leaf at the top, the leaf below the branch and the blue flowers at the left end of the branch. They all come from the same piece of fabric.

They were also used in this bird block. I tried to select background fabrics that were similar to the background in the floral print so that the broderie perse applique would blend in.

Here's a close-up of the broderie perse. For a more detailed explanation of what I did you can read this post.

Right, back to the blocks I am sharing today. I also made this eight point star block. I English paper pieced the eight point star made of diamonds and then appliqued it to the background. The print I used is quite large and I've struggled with what to do with it. It has been in my stash for many years. I finally decided to turn it into what I call a sacrificial yard of fabric. I cut into it to make this star and have decided that the entire yard will be used for fussy cutting. It will eventually look like a slice of Swiss cheese but that's okay because it will be used to make beautiful things. The first cut is always the hardest but now that it has been done it will be much easier to cut it up! I really love the look and feel of this block.

The last block is an applique block that features an owl and again I used my floral print to do some broderie perse applique. I chose a background that worked relatively well with the background on the floral print so that the broderie perse just blends in nicely. The pieces for the owl and branch are relatively large and very easy to applique. The talons were embroidered with a chain stitch. I figure if something is too small for my fingers to applique I'll just embroider it!

This is one of my favourite blocks in the quilt. I like it so much that it is inspiration for another quilt that I plan to make. It will be a variation on The Empire Quilt. I've sketched it up and will eventually start working on it. For now it is just on the drawing board but when I get started you know I will share it with you!

That's it for today. Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Small quilts at the auction

I'm back and thank you to everyone for the lovely emails I received. All is well but with the upheaval of renovations I kind of lost my blogging mojo. The renovations are for the most part complete. There are a few small jobs left but they won't require rearranging or packing up. The big job now is removing all the dust from the renovations. I clean it up and the next day it reappears! Oh well, I have a lovely new kitchen and bathroom.

My Guild has does a fundraiser every two or three years. Members make small quilts which are then auctioned off and the proceeds are donated to a local organization. This time we chose 416 Community Support for Women.  416 is a warm and welcoming place located in downtown Toronto. The staff provide a wide variety of programs and services to women who are dealing with mental health issues, addictions and social isolation. Several years ago I visited the centre; the place radiated warmth, caring and respect for all who entered through the doors. This organization gets no government funding and so relies on events such as our Silent Quilt Auction and donations from the general public to fund activities and services.

My Mom (Anne H) made three pieces for the auction. The first she called "Spring 2016". She dug into her stash of hexagons to make the small quilt. She tells me that the tall stalks are hollyhocks and you can see that she added a variety of embroidery stitches to "jazz them up". I don't know what the hexagon rosettes on the fence are supposed to be other than pretty! The centre of each is embellished with French knots. I machine quilted it for her and then she bound it with a facing.

The second piece was an orphan block made by a guild member in 2005. It was hand appliqued and machine pieced.  It was machine quilted and bound with a facing. Mom called this one "My Little Chickadees".

The third piece is an African themed quilt. Mom called this one "I hope I'm not late!". I love the little baby in the sling. This small quilt is machine quilted and once again finished with a facing. She really likes the effect of a facing because it she thinks it makes the quilt look like a page torn from a magazine.

There are lots of tutorials on finishing quilts with a facing but a really good one is available at Terry Aske Art Quilt Studio. If you are interested you will find it here. It included an updated method of reducing the bulk of the quilt at the corners.

I know you are all itching to see more of The Empire Quilt which will be my next Quilt Along design so I am sharing the middle section with the sides attached. I sure hope you like where I'm going with this quilt! I repeated the green fabrics from the centre panel in the outer borders of the quilt. My plan is to attach an narrow solid green border to the quilt once the other two sides are attached. Although it is a scrap quilt with lots of different colours it reads as a green quilt because I've repeated the fabrics in the centre and the borders.

I'll get back to work on the pattern shortly so that you can start sewing up your own Empire Quilt! Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Friday, April 1, 2016

Hexagon blocks of a different variety for The Empire Quilt

So why the silence? I was to have a bathroom renovation done. The work should have been done in four days but once the walls were opened there were problems with the plumbing. Major, costly problems. The result? Part of my kitchen had to be demolished to do the repairs so in addition to the total renovation of the bathroom, the kitchen must also be done. I had already packed up my bathroom and then had to pack up the kitchen AND worst of all I also had to pack up my sewing/computer room so that the workers could access the attic for the electrical work. The work is still not done. For the next couple of weeks I will be living out of boxes. I can't wait for this to be over with.

I've managed to tunnel my way to my computer in order to do a quick post about The Empire Quilt. I had said that there would be some different hexagon blocks for The Empire Quilt. Today I'll share two of them. Both are made with simple pieced blocks and hexagons. I dug into my stash of basted leftover hexagons. I never throw them out because they might just come in handy one day. The pink and green print in the pieced block is not at all in keeping with the scale and style of other prints used in the quit thus far but it works. Don't be afraid to combine your fabrics. If it doesn't work just do a little reverse sewing and try something different!

I think there are lots of possibilities for creating dimension with colour and value in this one but I decided to keep it simple. For example, I could have swapped out some of the grey fabrics for darker greys to create shading.

You be surprised at how fast and easy it was to make these blocks which combine traditional piecing with English paper piecing. It would be fun to make an entire quilt with blocks like this! Hey, I just gave myself a new idea. Maybe there's another quilt in the making!

There are two more hexagon blocks to share with you and they are bobby-dazzlers for sure! For now I have to work my way out of my sewing room because the contractors will be back shortly. There is white drywall dust and construction mess everywhere. I'm so done with it and eager to be done so life can get back to normal.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cutting stripes for hexagons

Angie in SoCal saw the striped prints I used in the hexagon blocks I showed in this post and she asked "do you cut them in order?".  There are many things in life I don't like and cutting fabric slowly is one of them! I use my rapid fire cutting technique when I need to cut multiple patches from a single fabric. In the following block there are stripes (white and beige) and a directional prints (the beige crosshatch) both of which were cut from a single strip of fabric. I cut all of the hexagons for that block at one time. I have a large sheet of cardboard covered with a scrap of batting so that I can arrange the hexagons on it to get a feel for how they look. Once they are all cut out and I am satisfied with the arrangement I take a picture to help with sewing the hexagons together. The hexagons go in a little bag so that I can baste them at my leisure! 

In the example above the stripes are all running from a straight edge to a straight edge so that made the cutting easy (I just cut them all from a single strip of fabric).  You will notice that the rosette in the middle is also made with a stripe fabric and again the stripes are all running from a straight edge to a straight edge. Let me demonstrate with one of my Road 66 blocks. The centre hexagon is fussy cut and then the first round of hexagons that make the rosette are cut from a directional chevron striped fabric. In this example the stripes all radiate out from the centre.

Notice how the stripe runs from a straight edge to a straight edge. I use regular printer paper to make my hexagons. The beauty of paper is that you can write on it. If you are a beginner draw an arrow on the wrong side of your paper so that once it is basted you can use the arrow to position the stripe.

The second round of hexagons were also cut from a directional fabric. There are twelve hexagons in this round. Notice how the six hexagons that are attached to the straight edge of the previous round have the stripe running from straight edge to straight edge.

The remaining six hexagons that fit in the "V" are cut so that the stripe runs from point to point. Again drawing an arrow on the paper will help orient the hexagons once they are basted.

If the stripes were to circle the central hexagon the placement of the hexagon on the striped fabric will be reversed. Take a look at this Road 66 block.  The fabric that surrounds the central hexagon is a border print.

The hexagons cut from the border print are placed point to point.

The second round is cut from an ombred stripe fabric. The six hexagons whose straight edge connects to the straight edge of the first round will be cut from point to point.

The remaining six hexagons that fit in the "V" are cut so that the stripe runs from straight edge to straight edge.

With each subsequent round the number of hexagons needed will increase by six so the third round would require eighteen hexagons. A fourth round would require twenty-four hexagons. In each round there will be six hexagons cut exactly the same way as those in the first round and any remaining hexagons would be cut the other. Let me demonstratre.

If the stripes were radiating outwards, six hexagons would be cut from straight edge to straight edge.

In round 2 which is made of twelve hexagons, six would be cut from straight edge to straight edge (red arrows) and the remaining six from point to point (green arrows).

In round 3 which is made of eighteen hexagons, six would be cut from straight edge to straight edge (blue arrows) and the remaining twelve from point to point (gold arrows).

A fourth round (not demonstrated here) would be made of twenty four hexagons, six of which would be cut from straight edge to straight edge and eighteen from point to point.

If the stripes were circling the central hexagon, round 2 would be made of six cut from point to point (red arrows) and six cut from straight edge to straight edge(green arrows). In round 3 there would be six hexagons cut from point to point (blue arrows) and twelve cut from straight edge to straight edge (gold arrows).

When I construct my rosettes I make each round an open donut and add it to what I've already stitched. It makes for fast and accurate sewing!

Was this helpful? I sure hope so! Until I post again, happy sewing.

Karen H

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

More blocks for The Empire Quilt

I've got three more blocks from  my next QAL design, The Empire Quilt to share with you today. I've started writing the pattern and once it is done will have to have it scanned commercially so that the patterns are to size. Unfortunately my HP scanner reduces the size of documents and that's no good! I've found a place where I can have them scanned at a more reasonable price. I know this is taking longer than expected but I want to make sure my measurements are accurate and that you see the finished quilt top before I start posting the instructions.

This first block makes good use of stripes/directional prints and some fussy cutting. Stripes create so much visual interest and I just can't resist using them!

This is a fun block. While most of my fabric choices have been older style prints I've combined some modern prints in this one and they work. The dark brown in the border is a Brandon Mably print. I figured that if it didn't work out the basted hexagons would go in the box of leftovers and eventually be used in another project. Fortunately for me they did work!

I had mentioned that I was searching for a blue fabric I have in my stash. I eventually found it and used it in the rosette in the lower left corner. I must have about a zillion blues in my stash but I had my heart set on this one. I also had a couple of small scraps of Japanese fabric with owls so I fussy cut them for the centres of the rosettes at the bottom.

So far you've seen eight hexagon blocks that will form part of the border. There are four more to go and they will be quite different from the other eight. If like me you have leftover hexagons this will be the place to use them!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, March 10, 2016

More Empire hexagon blocks and The Trent Evening Quilters Guild

I had a great time in Peterborough sharing my quilts and teaching. I taught my techniques for English paper piecing at Alice Williams studio in Curve Lake and it was fabulous. She has a huge room with windows on three of the four walls so that the space is flooded with natural light and large work spaces. This is just one section of the workspace.

Here is a part of the other side of the work space.

I think that the students enjoyed themselves and that the came away inspired to create something really beautiful. Alice is a really warm and welcoming individual and her home is fascinating. Everywhere you look there is something to see. She has created little vignettes made up of things she loves and collects.

There were beautiful examples of beadwork on a large display board when you first walk in the door and her studio was filled with displays of apples of all sorts and hearts. Alice told me she loves hearts; must be because she has a big, warm heart! If you have a moment be sure to visit Alice's website Pimaatiswin Quilts. Thank you very much to Alice and the Trent Evening Quilters. I hope that you enjoyed yourselves as much as I enjoyed myself!

Today I thought I would share two more blocks from my upcoming QAL, The Empire Quilt. There will be eight hexagon units it total and then there will be four "partial" hexagon units. The first block is just a simple collection of rosettes in honey colours. I do love the warmth of this grouping.

The shape of the design within the next block reminds me of a flower vase! I've still got some of those lovely honey tones in the block. 

The colours/fabrics I've been using are cut from existing strips and scraps. I think the colours will work well with the greens that I've used in the centre panel If you are new to my blog this is the centre panel. The greens will be repeated in the outside edge of the quilt.

Last night I had the opportunity to see a trunk show by Debra Anger of Patchwork Sanity - A Woman's Piece of Mind. I came home just itching to sew. Debra loves scrap quilts and demonstrated how to make all fabrics work together in a single quilt. She also talked about fabric and block swaps. I was asked to help show the quilts so I didn't get a chance to take many pictures but will share those that I was able to take in a future post. Until then, happy sewing!

Karen H