Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Carpenter's Square Block Tutorial - BMQG May BOM

If you follow my Instagram feed, you've seen my as-yet-unblogged carpenter's square quilt, made for my niece Emma's upcoming bat mitzvah.  (Details soon!)

The carpenter's square block is very old and very traditional.  But weirdly, when I went looking for patterns or tutorials, I found nothing I could easily use.  I ended up drafting Emma's quilt on my own, with graph paper.

For the May BMQG block of the month, I reworked this same block into a smaller-form example, with 2 'woven' colors.  This tutorial creates a 9" (finished) block.

One warning:  PAY ATTENTION to the direction of the sub-units as you piece!   I have made over 20 of these blocks in the past 6 months and still had to rip out several of these seams, after I got distracted!

Cutting directions:

From the white (background) fabric, cut the following pieces:
     A - 1.5" x 1.5" (cut 7)
     B - 1.5" x 2.5" (cut 4)
     C - 1.5" x 3" (cut 2)
     D - 1.5" x 3.5" (cut 2)
     E - 3" x 3.5" (cut 2)

From the navy fabric, cut the following:
     A - 1.5" x 1.5" (cut 2)
     B - 1.5" x 2.5" (cut 2)
     C - 1.5" x 3" (cut 1)
     D - 1.5" x 3.5" (cut 3)
     F - 1.5" x 5.5" (cut 1)

From the red fabric, cut the following:
     A - 1.5" x 1.5" (cut 2)
     B - 1.5" x 2.5" (cut 2)
     C - 1.5" x 3" (cut 1)
     D - 1.5" x 3.5" (cut 3)
     F - 1.5" x 5.5" (cut 1)

Assembly steps:

1)  First, attach one red A and one navy A to opposing sides of a white A:

2)  Keeping red A to the left, add a red D to the top and a navy D to the bottom of the unit from Step 1.  Set aside.

3)  Now attach one white B to either side of a red B.  Repeat with a navy B, giving you the following two units:

4)  Attach a red D to the navy unit from step 3.  Attach a navy D to the red unit from step 3.  You'll have the following:

5)   Attach the units from step 4 to the top and bottom of the central unit from step 2, as illustrated below.  Take care to double-check the direction of the units before you piece!  Set aside.

6)   Attach one white A to a red B.   Do the same for a navy B.

7)  Attach a white D to each of the units from step 6.   Take care to do this as shown, as the direction does matter:

At this point, we have the following:

8)  Attach two white As to opposite sides of a navy A.  Do the same for a red A.   Then attach a D of the opposite color to each unit.   You'll have two units that look like the following image.  Set aside.

9)  Assemble the two units pictured below by first sandwiching the navy C between a white C and white E.  Do the same for the red C:

10)  cut the two units from step 9 in half lengthwise, to give you the following:

11)  Between each of the pairs from step 10, attach an F of the opposite color.  When you're done, you'll have the following:

12)  Attach one unit from step 7, step 8, and step 11.  Be careful you arrange as shown here:

13)   Carefully attach the remaining units from step 7, step 8, and step 11, exactly as shown here:

14)  Attach the finished strips from steps 5, 12, and 13 to complete the block:

Enjoy, and let me know how you do.  (Members: please be sure to post any blocks you make to the BMQG BOM flickr page!)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Olivia's Burgoyne Surrounded (long overdue)

Subtitle:  my Sarah Fielke obsession continues, unabated.

I have previously documented my quiltcrush on Sarah Fielke, but we can officially add another quilt to the evidence pile.

The quilt below was my primary project for the better part of 6 months last year.  It is possibly my favorite project ever, and was a present for my niece Olivia, for her bat mitzvah this past November.

I mean, come on, how cute is she?

The quilt is pretty faithfully based on the quilt gracing the cover of Sarah Fielke and Kathy Doughty's Material Obsession 2.   The book contains historically inspired quilts, reinterpreted by Kathy and Sarah.

image from Sarah's website

Do I look relieved to be done?  I was!

While planning this project, I found out that the main block is actually called a "Burgoyne Surrounded" block, which was a popular pattern with American quilters just after the Revolutionary War.

via the MSU archives (which are amazing!)

The block was traditionally worked with blue squares encircling a red center, symbolizing (blue) American troops surrounding (red) British general John Burgoyne, who surrendered to American forces on October 17,1777.

I did most of the piecing of the 12 blocks in March 2014 at our annual Boston Modern Quilt Guild retreat in Kennebunk, Maine.

The grey fabric was bought last minute, in a pre-retreat panic.  I couldn't find any quilting cotton that was the medium-dark tone I wanted, so I ended up going with a striped garment linen.

I love the way the linen's striping adds interest to the top, but piecing it was a bit tricky, due to the stretch.  Lots of little pieces.  Stretchy little pieces in lots of numbered piles.  With liquor on the side.

awful gymnasium lighting, but you get the idea.

Once the 12 blocks were sashed, the borders went on, and then I used freezer paper and a ton of Best Press to make the dots.  

I figured out dot placement, then positioned dots a handful at a time with spray baste, prior to appliqué.   There are about 60 dots but this still went rather quickly.  

I took it in for BMQG show-and-tell at this point:

Normally I only show-and-tell finished quilts, but I'd been working on this so long that I hadn't shown anything in months!   Didn't want folks to think I'd stopped quilting!

Sarah's pattern calls for tree shapes on the border, but I went another direction and did an appliquéd vine - a choice that added months of effort.  The vine was hand appliquéd, and due to the curvy-ness and the fact that I had to stitch down both sides, this was essentially the equivalent effort of binding the quilt 4 times.

I included shirt fabric from my Dad, Olivia's grandpa, in the leaves.  The  black and white striped fabric below was from one of his shirts.

The body of the quilt was free motioned with a freehand Baptist fan concept.  I did more of a leafy/vineyard pattern on the border.

For the binding and backing, I went with purple prints.   Olivia loves purple!  I wish I had a brighter image of the print on the back, but it's a Tina Givens floral I picked up at the awesome Marden's store in Sanford, Maine.

My niece LOVED the quilt, and had the exact reaction we all long for when we give one away.

I thought, midway through, that I may have been overly ambitious picking such a complicated project.   But I loved it so much when it was done that I'm convinced there are more Fielke projects in my future.   The woman is a genius!  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Kelly's tree skirt

Behold my very first Christmas tree skirt.

This one is a gift, as we are Jewish and this is WAY too big for the menorah.

We help our friend Kelly put up her tree every year, and for the past few I've been wanting to upgrade her skirt. I got the idea to do a "mega Dresden" from Red Pepper Quilts, who did something similar on a large appliqué quilt.

My trusty Dresden ruler wasn't long enough for the 24" blades I wanted, so I used it and some blue masking tape to fashion a cutting guide on my mat.   The blades were made up of 12 2.5" strips of bright scrap fabric, ranging in length from about 2" to 14" wide.

The bottom edge of the tape guide was later used to cut additional fake blade end points, which I fit behind the 16 main Dresden blades junctions to add more interest.

For assembly, I first cut a circle of leftover zigzag upholstery fabric.  Then, I basted the circle to scrap batting.  

Once trimmed, I pre-bound this "half sandwich" circle in a bright acid green.  Then, I flipped the batting up and layered on the dresden, with the additional points spaced in between.

It's quilted in an all-over swirl.  

After much debate amongst a group of my Christmas-tree-having guild friends, I cut a circle about 9" in diameter in the center for the tree trunk, and sliced open the Dresden along one side to create the skirt opening.   

The exposed raw edges were bound in zippy red dots.

Recently, Caro Sheridan presented at our guild meeting.   Caro is an exceptional photographer, who gave us a boatload of funny tips for staging our work for photos.   When I finished the skirt, I tried her "pose it with a couch" concept.  Um, maybe I'll keep trying.

PS - did you know tree skirts double as kick-ass ponchos?  Here, my daughter works the look, Noodlehead style, ie, eyes away from the photographer.  (I love you, Noodlehead, but why so coy?)