Circles Block #13–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block 13 EPP_OPQuilt.com

Tiny Swirly Gig
Circles Block #13 of the Circles EPP Sew-A-Long

Since I so rationally decided that I needed SIXTEEN blocks to make up my quilt, all I can chalk it up to is summer heat (coupled with our drought, we are going to have so.much.fun), regular old garden variety stress (having cloth in your fingers lowers blood pressure so I heard), or a blissful existence of sitting on sofas eating bonbons while watching videos and stitching.  Choose one.

But here I am again on the Final Four of the Circles Blocks, created because I wanted something more than straight lines to English Paper Piece.

I have been giving away these patterns for free, as I want to share my designs for anyone else who wants an interesting pattern to sew up on those days.  But Please: do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt  (or OPQuilt.com) and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends.  Please direct them here to get their free copies.  Many thanks.  Here’s the pattern in a PDF file for you to download: EPP Circles Block 13 from OPQuilt Printing for block 13

I print out my papers on 24-lb. weight copy paper, a bit heavier than the usual stuff, and make sure my printer scaling is at 100%.  Print off four copies of the pattern, and cut them out around all the lines. You only need one circle, though.

EQ7 Block 13I also print off a color picture of the block (this one made in EQ7) and keep it in my little baggie full of pieces.  It helps when my brain fades, or too much is going on around me, or I’m trying to remember what the heck all those little pieces are for.Circles 13_1fabric selection

Fabric selection is usually based on what falls out first of my stack, as I glance over at all my blocks up on my pin wall and try to find fabrics that I’ve used before, so the quilt will blend.

The other day I put a photo up on IG and someone asked me what my fabrics were.  If you’ve been following me for any length of time, while I am totally impressed that a designer can make up a line of 14 fabrics that all go together, and I love love love them, doesn’t mean I’m going to use them all in a quilt at the same time (although I have done it once.  Or twice.)  And I’m a selvage cutter-offer, so the chances of me knowing what they are might probably be very slim.  I’ll probably know the designer, but the name of the fabric?  I have a thing for using a LOT of different fabrics in a quilt.  I mean, it’s a great big fabric universe out there.  Why not have fun?

Color and Value Wheels

The other tip to picking good fabrics is to know your color wheel–how it works, as well as your value scale (light-to-dark).  (Illustration above from *here* which has a quick primer on color and value.) More quilts have been ruined by the inclusion of medium-value fabrics only, especially by the use of medium gray (ACK! ACK!).  Try to get a range of hues (colors) in light (tints) to dark (shades).

Circles 13_2Which direction do you want your swirls to go?  If you want it to look like the pattern, place the printing face down on the wrong side of the pattern.  Which ever way you do it, be consistent on both colors of swirls.  I pin the pieces, slice around them with my rotary cutter (no, I am not exact), then use the glue method of getting the fabrics on the papers.

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Ta Da!

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I like to lay out all the pieces to see how they play together.  I like this bunch.  Often this is where I’ll switch out fabrics, trying to catch it before I get everything sewed together and then hate it.  If haters gonna hate, let it be at this stage.Circles 13_5Sew a light swirl to a dark swirl, being consistent as to which color is on the left or the right.
Circles 13_6Sew the sets of two into sets of four.Circles 13_7Add the points to the sets of four, attaching the rounded edge of the pointy piece to the swirls.Circles 13_8Stitch the background points in between those.  I make sure that the “extra” background point always ends up on the same side, in this case, the right.Circles 13_9Don’t they look great?Circles 13_10Now join two sets of four to make a set of eight. Circles 13_11Beauty shot.  I stitch at night while watching movies with my husband and this dark leather foot rest makes a good backdrop.  I am NOT eating bonbons because a) my hands are busy, and b) it would get chocolate on the fabrics.Circles 13_12Now join the last two seams.  Yes, it’s okay to switch thread colors if you want to along one seam.  In this case I used yellow on the swirls and white on the points.Circles 13_14Another beauty shot.  Cut a 14 1/2″ square of background fabric, fold in fourths and lightly iron in the creases so they will serve as registration marks for aligning your circle.  Remove all but the outer-edge papers.  If you see some wild seam allowances, trim them now (you’ll do it again at the end).Circles 13_15You know the point-up or point-down drill by now. [If you don’t know what I mean, I have lots of tips and tricks in the other twelve circle patterns.  Click on the tab, above, to see the other circles.]  Take time to try yours out on your background.  Obviously I went with point up.  Now I am not liking the center circle I had planned.Circles 13_16I have a bag of Rejected Center Circles, and I’m trying more out now.  Circles Block 13 EPP_OPQuilt.comBut in the end, I went with this one, because often you just need a dark center to anchor the circle.  And sometimes you just need some dark chocolate to anchor a life.  But hold off, you are not done yet.  Applique the large circle to the background, then cut off the back, as shown in earlier circle posts (you can access them all by the tab up above).  Again, trim any wild-looking seam allowances.  Now appliqué on your middle circle, using tiny stitches.  Press face down on a well-padded ironing board (or a folded towel, if your board isn’t padded).

Now you can hit the chocolate bonbons!

Ready, Set, Begin: Summer Fun 2015

Lake Fire June 25 Map

To truly begin summer off correctly in Southern California, you need a fire, and we have a doozy of one going on right now, only a few miles from my house.  The above map, from today, shows 21% containment, and I could see clouds of billowing smoke yesterday when I went to the grocery store.  Usually we like to END our summers with a fire, but not this year, the fourth year of the drought.

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So my friend and I decided to hit the road this morning, in order to recover from the ardor of Registering for QuiltCon 2016 (no, I didn’t get the Gwen Marston class), and visit the newest shop not too far from our town in the neighboring city of Temecula: Needle in a  Fabric Stash.

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Our only other dedicated-modern-shop is in Los Angeles, way too far away for a casual stop, so it was nice to find out about this place.

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Sue Stone, the owner, has a well-curated selection of fabrics, from Alison Glass to Cotton and Steele to Dear Stella, and isn’t locked into one line too heavily, but instead displays them to encourage mixing between the designers.

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Some fun displays and stacks of fabrics.

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The displays and patterns are well organized and encourage browsing.

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Here Sue is helping a young customer choose fabrics for a quilt.

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A nice selection of solids, plus more lines.

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Needle in a Fabric Stash is owned and managed by Sue (above).

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She’s been in operation about 7 months, and has already set up some great classes.

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We grabbed some lunch and kept going. . . over to Primitive Gatherings Quilt Shop, not located in Wisconsin (that would have been QUITE a road trip) but in the next town up, in Murrieta.

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This friendly fellow, an import from Wisconsin, helped us get signed up in their store system, and showed us around.  Since I used to live in Wisconsin, we traded that old joke about there being two seasons in Wisconsin: Construction and Winter.  I knew the one about three seasons: June, July and Winter.  He admitted that he would like to be back there during summer, but come winter. . . he was happy to be in California, where the car doors didn’t freeze shut.

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As the name of the shop implies, the bulk of their fabrics are Civil War era prints, and they have lots of very cool displays.

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The Modern Section.

IMG_5073 IMG_5074I was amazed by the teensy tumblers quilt they had on display–along with teensy precuts to go with it.

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We both liked their mini tote designs–they had several.

IMG_5076 IMG_5077All in all, a good outing on a hot summer’s day!

My Small World, June 2015 edition

Small WorldMagScreenShot

I don’t often jump on the Latest and Greatest Thing in QuiltLand, but this one called my name.  It’s Jen Kingwell’s My Small World and was printed in the oh-so-elusive QuiltMania Spring issue 2015 (picture above is from the QuiltMania website).  I don’t know why you are making it (there is a My Small World QAL on Instagram and other places), but I know why I am making it.

1966brochure_smallworld

It’s because in the 1960s, when wearing white socks with your loafers was considered cool and women always wore pantyhose with their bare legs, I came here.  Our family was on our way home from living for two years in Lima, Peru. It was in the days of Disneyland with tickets, and we seemed to have enough for our family of seven children to go on this ride.  Since I had a broken leg, I went on it more than once.

The ride, first fabricated for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, was installed in California’s Disneyworld in 1966, which will make it fifty years old next year.  I live about an hour from the original Disneyland, so it’s my patriotic duty to honor this institution, right?  Of course we all know THAT song:

“Children of the World” was the working title of the attraction. Its tentative soundtrack, which can be heard on the album, featured the national anthems of each country represented throughout the ride all playing all at once, which resulted in disharmonic cacophony. Walt conducted a walk through of the attraction scale model with his staff songwriters Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, saying, “I need one song that can be easily translated into many languages and be played as a round.” The Sherman Brothers then wrote “It’s a Small World (after all)” in the wake of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which influenced the song’s message of peace and brotherhood. When they first presented it to Walt, they played it as a slow ballad. Walt requested something more cheerful, so they sped up the tempo and sang in counterpoint. Walt was so delighted with the final result that he renamed the attraction “It’s a Small World” after the Sherman Brothers’ song.” (Wikipedia)

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While I have no idea if Jen Kingwell was influenced by the smart geometrics, towers and shapes (Tokyo Disney, above), to me there is a clear connection.

MySmallWorld_1Judging by the photos on Instagram, we all start here: cutting sky pieces.  I did neutrals for a while, then started adding in whispy blues, just to make it more interesting, as I’d seen others do it.  It’s that idea of collaboration, as expressed in my last blog post.
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Section One’s Sky.  I was listening to a book on Audible, that I finally had to turn up to 2x speed just to get through it.  I’m not recommending it.

Beautiful Mystery Gamache

Now I’m back to Inspector Gamache, written by Louise Penny.  I’m going to hate it when I get through reading this series!

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Buildings and some sky.  Now to start on the details.  I found reading Susan’s entries on her PatchworknPlay blog was helpful, too.

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I used some leftover leaves from the Pineapples and Crowns quilt to make this square.

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Susan’s idea to start the tiny pinwheels by cutting two inch squares, then making HSTs, then on to the pinwheel was a good idea.  I threw in some of my New York City fabric, with the words Radio City Hall to liven up this section.

It took me forever to figure out what text thing to put at the top of the building, but I went for this one, since Betsy is a childhood name.  I also had fun fussy cutting a hot air balloon in the Sky Section for Section 2.  You can see the bits of blue sky in the neutrals now.  Here is the progress I’ve made so far:

MySmallWorld1and2Churn Dash Diagram 12And here’s my contribution to the Errata: In section 2, the center square for the churn dash is incorrect.  It should measure 1 1/2″ no 2 1/2″.  Having said that, I have enormous appreciation to Jen Kingwell for this pattern–it has a LOT of moving parts and to even get some sort of pattern down on paper is amazing.

In my real small world, I’ve taken a couple of trips since the semester finished.

David Graduation

The first one was to Phoenix to see my daughter’s husband graduate from Dental School.  I think he had the oldest children of any of his fellow graduates there!  They have happily moved to their new city, and he has started work already.  But this week, they are on a trip to Disneyland to celebrate their achievement.

scan machines

And to start the summer off with a bang, I also took a couple of trips through these two machines as a spot on my lungs showed up in my yearly X-ray.  It is because of *this* that my oncologist checks everything.  Twice.  The diagnosis from these humming machines revealed it was nothing to worry about, although for three weeks I did — a lot. I couldn’t really talk about it at the time, so I’m glad it’s behind me.

Basket Blocks Quilt Top

However going through all that certainly made me feel like a basket case.  No, I didn’t know about this when I started this quilt, but it certainly is appropriate!  Now I should really get to the closets that need cleaning out, the papers that needs tossing.  It’s nice to think about regular life again.

I’ve also been busy sewing up more Circles Blocks as I want to finish that quilt and get it quilted.  I have one more to go, then I’ll have sixteen total.  Block #13 will be up on the blog in a couple of weeks.  Here they are stacked together:

Circles Blocks StacksWhat’s been going on in Your Small World?

Circles EPP Button

Next block is coming on July 1st!

Traveling Threads Bee Block: Peaceful Hours, a Few Thoughts on Collaboration

Traveling Threads_logoThis the second block I made for my recent turn at the Traveling Threads Bee.  This was was found while trolling the web for new bee blocks, but the templates I found had the finished block measuring at 11″ which led to some very strange measurements.  I think it was probably geared for metric users, so my apologies to them for this block, which finishes at 10″ square.

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Here is a PDF of the templates for the block.  I am happy to provide them to you as a free downloadable file, but please don’t distribute these blocks to your mother or your friends.  Send them here to get their own, please.  Thanks.  Click to download: Peaceful Hours 10inch

I always like to simplify my cutting, so I tape together the triangles, then measure them, as shown here:

Peaceful Hours layout

Cut one large 5 1/2″ center square.  I used Lisa’s signature fabric of a bright floral.
Cut four smaller 1 3/4″ blocks to snowball onto the corners.  When you tape these together, remember to cut off that diagonal seam allowance.
Cut two 3 3/8″ squares (orange), and two 3 3/8″ squares (green).  You can either cut them apart diagonally, make them as a two-color half-square triangle (HST), which is what I did.  Trim them to measure 3″ inches square (you won’t have a lot of extra fabric, so be careful).

Cut two 2 1/8″ squares (green), then slice in half diagonally.

Cut the other pieces using the templates, remembering to have all the right sides of the fabric facing UP if you are going to cut them in a layer, as there is a left-orientation and a right-orientation to the F and H templates.  Ditto for the narrow wedge G and I triangles.

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Snowball the corner on your large center square, trim and press, then lay everything out.  This is where you briefly lose your mind on those F and H pieces.  The trick is to find the right angle corner and then let that help you figure out how it goes together.  You’ll always be trying to make those two short sides be that inner corner, but it won’t work.  Look for the right angle: one short side and one long side.

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Stitch on the longer wedgier triangle, press.  Then stitch on the regular triangle.  You’ll have four sets that are mirrors of each other.

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True them up to 3″ square.  That tip should fall right about at the 1 and 1/2″ mark, if possible.  While in my early quilting days, I used to just wait to square up the whole block, now I square up the units as I go, especially on these!

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I stitched together the two mirror-units of each of those angular blocks.  While I am NOT a fan of pressing open these tiny 1/4″ seams, in this case, that is the best way to get them to lay flat.  I pressed the rest of the seams to the side.

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Stitch as shown.

Peaceful Hours Block_7And now here it is!  Give it a good steamy press on a well-padded ironing board, let it cool, then true it up.

Peaceful Hours Quilt 5x5

Look what happens when you put Peaceful Hours into a block set of five by five.  I love the secondary circle-type pattern that forms inside.

Peaceful Hours Quilt2 5x5

Another coloration.  I’m playing around in QuiltPro software, which I love because it runs well on a Macintosh.  I also have Electric Quilt, which is also good (I use it to draw all my circles EPP blocks), but since I’m more familiar with QuiltPro, I tend to turn to it as it is more frequently.  And no, I don’t get it for free.  I bought it, just like you do.  I don’t hear about it as much as EQ7, so I thought I’d mention how much I like it.

Traveling Threads_Lisa June 2015

This is what I sent on to the next member of our Traveling Threads Bee: whatever came to me, plus these two blocks, and a slew of Flying Geese blocks for the last person, who puts together the quilt top.

Eastmond Bubble Log Cabin June 2015MCM

I’ve also finished this block for my bee mate Rene’ for the Mid-Century Modern Bee.  It’s from a pattern by Aylin-Nilya, and this one took some time with the weensy little logs in the center.

Being in a bee, or a group is a collaboration of sorts.  While the generally agreed upon conventions for a bee are pretty standard, we are feeling our way with the Traveling Threads Bee.  The biggest obstacle in both seems to be mailing dates, but beyond that, it’s an interesting experience to climb inside someone’s head for a while, use their colors, (and in some cases) their fabrics, their ideas.  Brian Eno noted that “When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness… That’s one of the great feelings – to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.”

And maybe that’s why this digital world of quilting has used bees and groups to engender understanding, which leads to curiosity about our friends’ lives, which leads to friendships that exist beyond the screen and the blog.  I think it is more than just Pen Pals on Steroids.

Amy Poehler, who spent three years in Chicago with The Second City, an improv group (and later famously collaborated with Tina Fey on SNL) had a good insight when she said to “. . . be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

I find that has happened to me more than once, and I notice it also in QuiltLand’s redundancy as I read blogs, watch the latest fad blossom (yes, My Small World is coming along–more later) and bloom.  But when someone has a pop of inspiration, works with it, shares it, that collaboration of sorts changes us all.

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Occasionally my blogging software will place videos and ads at the end of my posts.  It’s a tacit agreement we have: they bootleg onto my posts so I can use their software for free.  I do not control the content, nor the frequency of their ads.

Traveling Threads Bee Block: Woven Star

Traveling Threads_logoI recently made two blocks for the Traveling Threads Bee I’m in, and while we don’t show the completed sections as we go, I thought I’d share the blocks I made here.  The first one is Woven Star, which finishes at 10 inches (trimmed, it will measure 10.5″).

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Lisa loves bright colors and sent along that floral as her signature fabric, including some of the solids.  I added the polka dot for a punch of light in the set of blocks I was sent to work with.

Here is a PDF of the templates for the block.  I am happy to provide them to you as a free downloadable file, but please don’t distribute these blocks to your mother or your friends.  Send them here to get their own, please.  Thanks.  Click to download: Woven Star 10inch

I always like to simplify my cutting, so I tape together the triangles, then measure them, as shown here:

Woven Star layout

I always then tape them back onto the first sheet, as it shows the diagram.  While this is shown in black and white, I also take colored pencils and color in the diagram so I know what goes where.  My quilt software is made by QuiltPro.  It’s a native application for the Apple (they also have PC versions) so it runs very smoothly.

Track which color of what you need.  For me, it was like this:
Cut one 3 3/8″ square of yellow (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 3 3/8″ square of bright pink (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 3 3/8″ square of floral (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 3 3/8″ square of bright green (then cut in half diagonally)

Cut one 2 5/8″ square of yellow (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 2 5/8″ square of bright pink (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 2 5/8″ square of floral (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 2 5/8″ square of bright green (then cut in half diagonally)

Then it was one 2 1/4″ square of each color.

Background:
Cut four 3″ squares of background color, and two large 4 3/8″ squares of background color (cut in half diagonally).
Woven Star Block_1 PIeces

All the parts.  Lay them out, as shown below.

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I started by making the four square in the center.  Stitch two squares together, pressing the seam allowances to the side, then stitch those two units together, making sure the seam allowances are “opposite”–one falls one way and one falls the other, so they nestle together.  To get the nifty little square shown above, pop open the stitching (a little tug will do it), then press those in a swirl around the center, each seam allowance going a different direction.  The block center lays pretty flat if you do it that way.

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Fail.  Make sure when you are stitching those corner triangles together you do it correctly.

Woven Star Block _5Better now (I restitched it, obviously).  Make your flying geese units at the top, bottom and sides.  Stitch your corner triangle units onto your center square, matching seams.

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Stitch the two side 3″ blocks onto the top and bottom flying geese unit.  Stitch the two side flying geese units onto the center block, then stitch the three sections together.  Give it a good steamy press on a well-padded ironing board (if you don’t have a well-padded ironing board, press it face down on a towel, unless you are one of those who believes that the flatter a block is, the better.  In that case, go ahead and press the life out of this thing.)  Let it cool, then true up your block to 10 1/2″ square.

Next post: Peaceful Hours Bee Block