Thursday, March 24, 2016

Making the Crystal Facets Block

For any VCQ members making the block lotto block, here's a tutorial Sue put together. It's specific to this particular block, but there might be some tips that help with paper piecing in general.  Hope you find it helpful!

Start by cutting your pieces; a quarter yard of each fabric is needed.  The background was cut as a long quarter (9 x 44); the jewel tone can be either a long quarter or a fat quarter.  From each fabric cut 4 pieces of these three sizes:  6 x 9, 6 x 2 1/2, 4 x 2 1/2.  (The 6 x 9 is actually larger than needed, 5 1/2 x 8 would be big enough to cover section 3.)  When you have everything cut, separate into 2 piles along with the corresponding paper pattern.  The pattern piece with the 1" test square gets the large & small jewel tone pieces and the 6" background strip.  The remaining pieces go with the other half of the square. (Step 1 below)  I found it helpful to make all 4 of the same section before moving to the second group.
Some basic rules of paper piecing:
  • fabric is place on the wrong side of the paper, wrong side of fabric against the paper (this will be the right side of the finished piece)
  • always sew on the lines on the printed side of the paper
  • hold the paper & fabric up to the light to check placement
  • when placing the first piece of fabric, use a glue stick to put a small amount of glue on the paper to hold the fabric in place until the first seam is sewn
  • use a smaller than normal stitch, about 1.5 cm, to make paper removal easier
In step 2 above, piece #1, the background is placed against the back of the paper with a bit of glue to hold it in place.
With piece 1 in place, fold and crease the paper along the stitching lines.  Then, fold the back along the crease to expose the fabric.  The add-a quarter ruler is a big help here.  Use it to trim a 1/4" beyond the folder paper.  If you don't have this ruler, any ruler will do if it is held securely in place. Flip the piece around and trim the other edge the same way.  Now you have 1/4" seam allowances for both stitching lines.
Step 5 shows placing the 4 x 2.5" piece right sides together on piece #1.  Notice how much it is offset so that after it is sewn, it will flip over and cover the point of the triangle.  Step 6 shows stitching it on the lined side of the paper.
After stitching, flip piece 2 over the seam allowance and press with a wooden iron.  Note that I have labeled the bottom edge of the paper as the straight grain.  This will be an outside edge of the square when 2 triangles are sewn together.
Step 8 is placing the large rectangle over section 3, right side up.  The challenge here was to establish the angle for the stitching line.  Also, there is a lot of waste with this piece, but it does make it easier to start with a rectangle that completely covers that section.
After placing the fabric on the back side of the paper, flip it over so the printed side is on top.  Then fold the paper and fabric pieces 1 & 2 back along the 1-to-3 stitching line.  The white background fabric already has the 1/4" seam allowance added, so trimming the dark fabric along this edge gives you the angle and seam allowance you need.
Trim along the white background edge.  Then unfold the corner of  the paper and carefully flip the whole thing to the back (fabric) side.
On the fabric side, flip the dark (purple) right sides together against the white matching the edges.  Turn it back to the paper side and stitch on the line.
Flip back to the fabric side again and finger press the purple piece.  Then its time to trim along the outside lines of the triangle.
Here's a completed triangle.  You will have 4 triangles like this, and 4 with the opposite color placement.
Sew 2 opposite halves together on the diagonal edge to form a square.   A few pins can help keep the seams matched while stitching.
Here's the front and back of the pressed block.  Press the seam open on the back and trim the dog ears that stick out on the corners.
After making the 4 squares that make up a 1/4 of the block, sew 2 together in the center.  Sew the other 2 for the bottom half of the block.
Finally, sew the 2 halves of the block together in the center.  Again, pins help keep your seams lined up.  If you have to un-stitch a seam, the paper will start to tear off the seam allowance (ask me how I know that?).  Press all the seams open on the back.
One thing Sue did when sewing the seams at the center of the block was to pull some of the paper seam allowance out before sewing.  That is the hardest part to get to when removing the paper, especially if its been stitched over a couple of times.  But the rest of the paper should stay in place; the lucky winner of the blocks will have the pleasure of removing the paper!

Hope you found this tutorial helpful!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Block Lotto Blocks

At our Virginia Consortium of Quilters (VCQ) biannual retreat we call Celebration coming up at the end of April, we have a "block lotto".  Whoever is in charge of this activity has selected a block design and fabric and created kits that participants can purchase for a nominal fee to make blocks.  Upon arrival at Celebration, blocks are turned in and for each block you have made, you get a chance to win a set of blocks.  If you make one block, you have one chance; if you make 5 blocks, you have 5 chances.  The number of blocks in a set will be determined by the total number turned in, but will be enough for at least a lap size quilt.

Last weekend (National Quilting Day), Sue set about making her blocks.  She completed two.  The block pattern for this year's event is paper pieced and is from the Quilters Cache website.  They call it Night and Day; we are calling it Crystal Facets, since our theme for the retreat is "Its Crystal Clear We Are Quilters".  Participants are to choose gemstone color fabrics to use along with the provided background fabric.  These are her two completed blocks, which ended up not being as difficult as she anticipated. (Figuring out a method to keep the largest piece on straight grain was a big help.)

She has one more block kit left to make, so plans to tackle that this afternoon.  Who knows, maybe a tutorial will follow?  Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Giveaway Winnings!

Last week Vicki Welsh of Field Trips in Fiber had a spring giveaway on her blog.  Vicki is a fabric dyer and sells her hand dyes in her Etsy shop.  Periodically she cleans out the studio and gives away some of her excess fabric.  For 6 days she posted groupings of fabrics (warm, cool, gradients, etc.) for that day's giveaway, which also included a product from Misty Fuse - either Misty Fuse itself or a goddess sheet (pressing sheet).  Commenting on each post got you entered into the drawing.  Sue was the lucky winner of the Tuesday giveaway of "cool" fabrics and a goddess sheet.  Look at the array of fabrics she received in the mail!
The blue piece at the top is a half yard gradient (folded to show the variation).  The green & blue pieces to the right are all about fat quarter size.  The others are of varying dimension.  Easily 3 yards of fabric!  Thank you, Vicki!  These will surely come in handy, and will be great for screen printing!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

VCQ Quarterly Meeting

We had our first VCQ meeting of 2016 last weekend in Charlottesville with a good time had by all!
We met at the Double Tree Hotel (where we also had overnight accommodations), and enjoyed extended shopping hours at Cottonwood Quilt Shop with refreshments Friday evening.  Our thanks go to Mary Humphrey, owner, for providing that treat.  Attendees chose among 4 workshops or Come Quilt with Me sit and sew when they registered.  Elizabeth is now the Programs coordinator, and chose well on the class selections for her first meeting.

Karen DuMont of Richmond (Karrie Patch Designs) taught  One Easy Block...Sew Many Quilts to show how one block can be cut in different ways to create at least 6 different layout options.  There was such variety going on in this class.  Here's a picture from show and tell at the end of the day.
Karin McElvein of Norfolk taught a Small Scrappy Purse class.  A number of her students finished (or almost finished) by the end of the day.
JoLee Tarbell of Charlottesville taught Confetti Landscape Impressionist Quilting.  Her students used kits of Cherrywood hand dyed fabrics to create their impressionist landscapes.
Elizabeth and Sue were both in Cathy Tyler's class on creating a Quilt from a Photo.  Cathy is from Richmond and teaches and sells her cloth dolls through her business, Dan Springs Collection.  We used a photo that Cathy provided and a technique she adapted from Annette Kennedy to interpret the photo in fabric.  Working in a small size to learn the process, the technique can then be adapted to larger and more detailed photos. Cathy is on the right with her completed quilt.
Below is a close up of 3 of the students' quilts so you can see the variation even though we all worked from the same photo.
Three of the 4 teachers are members of VCQ, so is was great to draw on the talents of our members.  Our next event is our biannual retreat called Celebration which will be held April 28 - May 1 at Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Center.  This retreat replaces the May quarterly meeting.  This year we still have room for participants, so if you might be interested in attending, check out the complete information on our website.  We still have openings in classes with Rayna Gillman and Victoria Findlay Wolfe!  If you are a quilter in Virginia who is not a member of VCQ, come check us out.  You don't have to be a member to attend a meeting or the retreat.  Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Quilts By Marisela

A student in one of the first screen printing classes we taught a few years ago was a quilting teacher named Marisela Rumberg of Quilts By Marisela.  She teaches free motion machine quilting "brain training" at various venues in the the Northern Virginia area and recently became part of the Studio Fiber Arts group at the Workhouse Arts Center.  In addition, her quilts have been exhibited around the world.  Last night Sue had the pleasure of hearing her presentation "Legends, Traditions and Quilts" at her local guild meeting.  A native of Mexico, Marisela talked about Mayan and Aztec legends and how she has incorporated the inspiring stories of her country's heritage in her quilts.
With her permission to share, I took a few pictures of the quilts she brought to display.
In her presentation, she explained the significance of the "Day of the Dead" celebration in Mexican culture, which corresponds to All Saints Day in Christian traditions.  It is a day of happiness in honor of those who have passed.
The quilt above represents a saying that " a bird in hand is worth a hundred flying", similar to "a bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush".  There are a 100 birds in the quilt, some applique, many quilted into the background, and others in the form of buttons.  Click on the picture for a closer look at her beautiful quilting.
The cardinal quilt is a representation of a visitor that frequented a tree outside her window.
Another example of her work is this quilt which represents the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Below is a close-up of the roses and a better look at her free-motion work.  
Marisela does all her free motion work on a domestic machine without marking.  She teaches at several venues in Northern Virginia as well as offering private and semi-private sessions for a group of 3.  Her workshops and lectures are also available in Spanish.  Check out her website and Facebook page for more info and pictures of her work.  She is an excellent, enthusiastic presenter and teacher!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring is Coming!

With a high of 80 degrees forecast for today amid several warm days this week, it is hard not to have spring fever!
Along with the warmer temps, flowers are starting to pop and the cherry blossom peak bloom time for Washington DC has been forecast.  In fact, the initial prediction of March 31 has now been moved up to a range of days from March 18 to 23.  Here's a scene from a previous year.
We enjoy the cherry blossoms even if we don't always get downtown to stroll the Tidal Basin. But in years past we have taken lots of photos.  In fact, these are the photos we've used to create our PGFiber2Art cherry blossom screens that are available in our Etsy shop.

Above is the large blossom screen which measures 7 x 9 inches.

And we have this branch which is part of the cherry blossom collection.  We also have screens of apple blossoms and dogwood.  So if spring fever has got you itching to print some spring blossoms, be sure to check out the screens in our shop!  Happy spring!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

More Mandalas Revealed

With last Friday's dusting of snow, Sue scraped enough snow together for 2 mandala attempts which she posted about here.  After 2 days of batching and soaking, she did the final wash yesterday and can now reveal the results.  She would say they are not as spectacular as other dyer's results, but not bad for an amateur either!  Here are the results and folding process for the 2 pieces.
The piece above was done with 3 colors - watermelon, turquoise and elephant grey.  A 22" square was folded in half, then quarters, then a triangle that was accordion folded, and finally rolled and placed in a plastic cup.  She was a little nervous about letting it sit in the melted snow/dye muck for 2 days, but it did not turn into a muddy colored mess as she feared!

The second piece below was done with baby blue, coral and indigo colored dyes.
This one was folded in a wedge shape (about 60 degree angles), again folded to alternating sides like an accordion, and rubber banded and placed on top of a screen for the dyeing process (see previous post).  Even though the snow on this one was melted in a day's time, she refrained from rinsing and washing to allow the dye time to set.

It's fun to experiment!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Folding a Mandala

As Elizabeth mentioned in a previous blog, she has received a lot of inspiration from a Facebook group on tie dyeingThat group has an extensive list of videos, photos, and descriptions of everything to do with tie dyeing from the dyes themselves to the folding techniques.  It was here that she followed a photo tutorial on folding mandalas to get the basics.

The first step was to soda ash soak the fabric.  Many tie dyers dye with damp fabrics and just as many dye with dry fabric.  The main difference seems to be in saturation with dry fabric giving you less areas of white (undyed spaces) because the water in the moist fabric takes up some of the space where the dye could go.  Tightness of the fold, roll, scrunch, pleat, etc also may give you areas of white space.  There are a lot of variables if one wants a planned product.  Luckily, Elizabeth is fond of serendipity and leans towards being happy with whatever turns out.

First she folds her fabric in half and then if folding something with 8 or multiples of 8 she would fold the fabric in fourths before starting to fold her “wedges” from the quarter squares.  She varies the folds from front to back also, like an accordion fold.  If folding something with 6 or multiples she needs to angle the wedges differently.  It is fun to experiment and play with different ways to fold.  You can practice with paper or on small bandanna sized squares of fabric or even inexpensive cotton tea towels which are sold in bundles at big box stores and on-line. 

After completing her wedge she then rolls it into a log; again it could be varied by folding the wedge end in toward the middle if desired and rolling the log from the short pointed in at the center or the fabric edges as the center would also give you a different look. 

Loosely adding some rubber bands around the log and/or at the end of the log to create a pie look will help place dye in different segments but if you don’t need them, you can eliminate them.  Tight rubber bands could be used if you want the rubber band to create a resist and have a space without dye.

She props her log up in a vertical container large enough to hold the log and also be able to pack snow around the top and sides.  Choose your dye colors and place them in the desired spots.  Use a respirator for maximum protection from loose dye powders which are harmful to your lungs.  Then, place your snow (or crushed ice if you live where you can’t get snow) around the log and let it sit for several days so the dye can truly set.

Rinse out all excess dye powder using cold water so the color will not back stain on your fabric.  When your rinse water runs clear, then you can rinse and wash in hot water using synthropol.