Circles Block #11–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circle Block #11_OPQuilt

Circle #11: Vintage Test Pattern

This is the eleventh block in a series of twelve circle blocks, conceived and created when I needed another hand-sewing project, and wanted something beyond hexagons.  I had several sources of inspiration for this one:

Vintage TV Test Pattern

TP-WABCcolor

2012-Ma-June-044

1960s-Color-TP-v1As a child, I remember these “television test patterns” on the tube when I’d get up too early, before the station had signed on.  And I liked the Greek Cross reference, too, since many of these circles were designs taken from a Greek Orthodox Church in Ljubljana, Slovenia (from our vacation last year).  So I give credit to both sources of inspiration.

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 you are too tired to do anything but watch a good movie, and do some stitching.  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 #11_OPQuilt_Circles.  Print off four copies and cut out, but you only need one circle.

Printer Settings block 11

Please make sure your printer settings are set to a 100% scaling, as shown above.

Circles Block Eleven

Here’s the circle drawn up in my quilt software.  I’ve taken to printing out this little color drawing and putting it in a small bag with all the glued-up pieces.  I like referring to the drawing as I work.

Circles 11_1Choosing Fabric

Picking fabrics–I always lay them out.  I jumped the gun and cut the cross-bars early, as I have another circle with that fabric and while I wanted these circles to be different from one another, I still wanted them to be able to have a conversation, so I repeat fabrics here and there.  When you cut out your circle, I’d make it about 1/4″ bigger than it is. See Circles #10 for some tips on the circles.

Circles 11_2points layout

Once I got all the little points around the top of the circle printed out, I noticed that it would be hard to figure out where the “curve” of the triangle was, so I drew little arrows on every one of them.  As it turned out, I was okay about figuring out how they went, but if you think you might need the extra assist, do it now.

Circles 11_3glued points and raysKind of looks like a tomato with leaves.

Circles 11_4 pieces laid out

As is my habit, I lay out all the glued pieces for one final check before I start sewing them together.

IMG_4762

Then I loaded them all up in my little bag with the drawing and went outside to the patio to stitch, while listening to my audio book.

the-last-chinese-chef-cover

This time it was The Last Chinese Chef, and I was craving Chinese food by the time I finished listening to this.  But not Americanized Chinese food; I wanted the food in the book.

Circles 11_5 first units stitched

Stitch the upper row sections together, then the lower, then join them, keeping those seams aligned if at all possible.  Notice that I have not glued down the lower edges of the lower section to their papers (the innermost part of the circle), as I want to appliqué the center circle onto the piece, and it’s a lot harder if I’ve folded the edges and glued them down.

Circles 11_6 more bits laid out

Then, line up four green triangles with their curved edges at the bottom, and the points that go in-between them (three pieces). Lastly, lay the half-triangle on each side.  NOW sew them together.  You don’t want to be sewing on a full-triangle on those outer edges, like someone else I might just know.

Circles 11_7 crown stitched

When sewn together, it should look like this.  It’s now after dinner and I’m inside, still listening, but sewing by lamplight, instead of by sunlight.  I couldn’t stop listening, nor stop sewing.  These get addicting.

Circles 11_8 crown onto first unit

Join a checkerboard unit to the triangles unit.

Circles 11_9 rays to first units

Then stitch one of those ray-sections to the checkboard units, making sure you are attaching it to the same side on all four units. In this photo you can clearly see the raw fabric edges of the lower checkerboard pieces.  Sew together two of these units, then sew those two units together to create a full circle.  At this point, you can remove all the papers, except any that are at that outer edge.  If the papers are hard to slip out because they are glued, use the tip of your small scissors or a stiletto to loosen the fabric (so you won’t have to tug and pull).

Cut a 14 1/2″ square of backing fabric.  Yes, it is bigger than the circle, but I want to make sure I have enough to work with when I figure out how I’m setting all these together.  (I have no clue at this point!)  Now it’s decision time.  This version, with the red rays arranged North-South-East-West, or. . .

Circles 11_10 OPQuilt

Circles 11_ 10aAlternate Circle. . . this version, with the rays arranged like a flower?  I marked the centers of my large backing square, and set down the circle, pinning it for appliqué.  I went with the traditional version (North-South-East-West).

Circles 11_11 OPQuilt

Cut away the backing fabric, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance. I love these little Karen Kay Buckley scissors, as the tips have little teeth that grip the fabric, holding it while trimming even the smallest bit of fabric.

Circles 11_12 OPQuilt

Pin on, then appliqué the center circle.  See Block #10 for some appliqué tips.  I should have placed that “weave” pattern aligned straight up and down, but instead I just slapped it on.  As a result, I always want to tip my head to the side when looking at the center circle.  I’m sure no one else will notice (well, now you will) so I’m not redoing it.  Keeps it real, keeps it interesting.

Circles 11_13 OPQuilt

Remove all the papers, and admire your work.

Circles 11_14 OPQuilt

Circles  All Eleven by Ironing BoardHere are they all are, lined up on an ironing board that is obviously used for other things than ironing.  (Anyone else have to clear off their ironing board in order to iron something?) I think they do play well together!  I’ll post the last circle at the beginning of June, and then hopefully, the quilt setting on July 1st.  I’m posting this circle block a wee bit early as we have our Quarterly Four-in-Art Reveal in two days, on May 1st.

4-in-art_3

I hope you’ll join me then for our little gallery of art quilts!

Circles Block #10–EPP Sew-A-Long

 

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block Ten_OPQuiltDresden Plate, Rainbow Style — Circles Block #10

Here we are again, with block ten of the dozen or so blocks I have planned for this series, and I have to say it’s one of my favorites.

On Kitchen Cupboard

In fact I liked it so well, I taped it to my kitchen cupboard, where I can enjoy it.  My husband says it looks like a winking smiley face.  I just see a rainbow.

Circles Block Ten _Dresden

As I mentioned before, unlike earlier patterns, there are now no hand-drawn designs since I am able to work in a new version of quilt software.  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 #10_OPQuilt_Dresden Plate

Print Settings Ten

Print off four copies and cut out the blades, but cut out only one circle.  Make sure your printer settings are set to 100% scale.

Cut Pieces Laid out

Here’s the blade papers pinned to fabrics and cut out.  I used pins initially as I was checking for a smooth gradation of colors for my rainbow.  Yes, I realized later I’d done the rainbow the reverse of what is normally shown.

Glued pieces laid out

After I liked the arrangement, I used a glue stick and glued them to the papers.  I talk about gluing vs. basting in an earlier circle post, so read back through those to learn about that technique.

Perfect Circles1

The one new thing for this circle is confessing my undying love for Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circle templates.

Perfect Circles2

I have them in two sizes: smaller, and bigger.  It’s what I use for my circles, instead of cutting out the paper pattern.  I choose a circle a little bit bigger than the paper pattern, then lay it down on the wrong side of the fabric, and trace around it.  I then cut about 1/2″ away from the line.  I did talk about the construction of them *here;*  just scroll down to where you see me taking a gathering stitch and pulling it up around the circle, then read on.

Starting at Point

To construct this block, line up the “shoulders” of the upper edges, as shown.  Take a stitch, then loop through it to make it more secure, as shown in the next photo, pulling it snug.

Make an extra loop

EPP Stitching

Then keep going, taking tiny “bites” of fabric of each blade, whip-stitching them together.  It goes really quickly.

Pieces of Dresden

I did mine in sections, depending on which thread matched, then sewed the sections together.

Stitched to backing

Cut a 14 1/2″ square for the background, and crease in the centers on all four sides; if you are not near an iron, just finger-press it.  Now it’s Decision Time: Point up, or valley up?  I went with the valley between the two points, but my friend Lisa, who was sitting beside me at quilt guild, preferred the point up.  I tell you this story to say that there is no right or wrong–just what you like. Applique this to the background using a neutral thread.  There’s a trick to good appliqué, and that’s to not have the thread come all the way to the top of what you are appliquéing, but instead kind of split the fold.  Then don’t pull the thread too tightly.  You want it to float on your background, not be nailed to it.  I have a photo below, when I appliqué the center, showing what I mean about “splitting the fold.” (At least I hope it does.)

Cut away backing

After you appliqué the rainbow Dresden Plate onto the back, trim away the underneath, about 1/4″ away from your stitches.

Loosen papers

Using either a pair of small, sharp scissors or the business end of a stiletto, loosen the glued edges, and pop out the papers.

Backing Cut Away

Like this.

Applique split the fold

Arrange your circle on your Dresden, pin.  Now appliqué on.  I need to start making my circles a wee bit bigger, because it was a close call on some parts, so I sewed with teensy little stitches in a neutral thread (here: a grey-green).  See how the needle is kind of splitting the fold on that left-hand part of the photo?  You want to try to get a good bite of fabric, but not so the needle comes out on the top.  You want it at the “side” of the piece, if you can think about it that way, like if you were looking at a really flat layer cake–you’d want the needle to come out about where the filling is, not on top where the decorations are.  Don’t pull the thread too tightly. . . just snugly.

Circle on back view

Whew.  Some of those seam allowances are barely a quarter-inch, but my stitches are tiny and the center will hold. (Quick! which poem is that from?***)

Circles Block Ten_OPQuilt

Here’s your completed block?  Why a Dresden block?  Doesn’t every circle quilt need one?  I’d been making them for my bee groups.  We used *this tutorial* and sewed them on the sewing machine (although I used my version of the centers, and machine appliquéd them on), but truthfully, sewing them by hand didn’t take that much longer.

dresden plate_Opquilt

First, Rene’ had us make one in blues and greens.

2015 MCM March w0 label

And then Cindy had us make one in bright colors, so how I could I resist?

Ten Circles

And then there were ten!

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

***  The poem is from Yeats, and he actually said the “centre cannot hold,” but your lovely hand-stitched center will.  Here’s the first part of his poem, and although I analyzed it to death when teaching it to my students, I still barely get the whole meaning, but it does have to do with the horrors of our twentieth century.  It’s pretty scary out there.  Too bad Yeats didn’t do English Paper Piecing.  He might have felt better about things.

THE SECOND COMING, by William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. . . . .

New Hexagon Millefiore– Rosette #2 Started

Rosette #2 Starts

Well, I’ve started Rosette #2 of The New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt-A-Long, originated by Katja Marek.  We even have our own Facebook Group (link is also on Katja’s page), and now I’ve found something I can post there, having stopped putting anything personal on Facebook once one of my very scary students found me (getting past all the privacy controls, because we all know how Facebook loves to play with our privacy controls!).  Now there are nearly 3,000 people on this group, and I think a lot of them are actually doing this, not just Looky-Loos.

Plitvice2b_view up the valley

Plitvice3_two toned again

I’m basing the colors in this quilt on our trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, where we traveled last year.  The colors range from the greens and yellow-greens to the blues and indigos.

Plitvice2_green lake

There was also aqua, and turquoise.  It was a beautiful place, and we loved hiking throughout all the lakes and waterfalls one afternoon.

Plitvice ESE

Oh, and white and sound and green and water and trees and browns and rocks and everything.  What a place!  I had a hard time with that second round, trying out multiple bits of cloth where the yellow with dots ended up.  It just needed a lift, a happy spot that wasn’t too ornate or over-done with pattern.  Sometimes the eye needs a rest.  Even if I am making a quilt based on Plitvice.

Plitvice13c_lakeview

Rosette 1 on fence

So this was Rosette #1, where I went for the blues.

Rosette #2 Starts

Okay, one more time for the beginning of this green/yellow-green rosette.  I’m thinking violets/blue-violet/indigo for the next.  It took me a while to get going on this again, as I actually had to do some housework, and some cooking, and some grading.

Circles EPP Button

Then there was finishing up the circle block for the April 1st post–it’s our tenth! and I loved making it.  I moaned mentioned to my sister that I hadn’t been very productive lately in the quilt department as I wanted to be, and yet I realize that these hand-pieced quilt blocks do take some time in the designing, and making.  So I guess I haven’t been a total slacker, but there are days that I would like to clone myself, and knew which part of my life I’d be doing, while the poor clone would be stuck with a mop or a grading pen.  Oh, and I’d also be reading blogs, to see what you are all up to!

Flower Spring 2015

It’s been a lovely week of Spring Break here, and the weather is a bit too warm for March but the wonderful side effect is loads of flowers on all our bushes and trees, so that made me want to work in rosettes again, too.  School starts again Monday, then a stack of papers comes in a week later.  Where’s that clone, now I need it?

Circles Block #9–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

EPP Circles Block 9_OPQuilt

Sunflower, Circles Block #9

This is the ninth circle in a series of free English Paper Piecing (EPP) patterns available here, on OPQuilt.com.  I began the series because I needed another hand-piecing project and was tired from all the geometric shapes in the recently finished quilt, Kaleidoscope.

EPP Circles Block #9

Because I was recently given an updated quilt software, unlike earlier patterns, there are now no hand-drawn designs.  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 #9_OPQuilt Circles Block

Print Settings-Nine

Print four copies of this page at 100% scale, then cut them out, but cutting out only one circle.  Sometimes I’ll staple them together and then cut them out, but they do shift slightly, if that bothers you.  Now that the business is out of the way, this was the easiest circle yet. . . and the hardest.  Easiest because there are fewer pieces, and they go together quickly.  Hardest because of that dumb center circle, which I tried to ease in a la EPP-style.  Mistake.  But remember that I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.

Circles9_Fabric Choices

Picking out fabrics.  Yes, these do change as you go, but since there are fewer moving parts to this circle, it was easier.  I always wait until the last minute to choose the center circle.

Circles9_layout

I print out on 24 lb. paper, which is slightly heavier than regular computer paper, so I have good luck with just gluing my fabric seam allowances to my pieces.  I explained this on Circle Block #8 if you want to take a look.  There’s something new on every circle block so far.  What’s new on this one?  Keep reading.

Circles9_piecing

I’d say this is the faster circle yet.  All these pieces went together lickety-split.

Circles9_center star

Circles9_piecing2

Adding the outer blue wedges was easy, too.

Circles9_stitching on inner circle

Now I’m starting to add the center circle.

Circles9_stitching on inner circle2

Circles9_inner circle FAIL1

Whoops. What a mess.  Now I’m taking out the center circle.

Circles9_inner circle basted down

Now I’m starting again to add the center circle, this time basting the circle into place.

Circles9_inner circle FAIL2

Now I’m taking OUT the center circle and doing what I should have done in the first place: appliqué the center circle onto the sunflower.  That’s the something new.  Don’t try and force your EPP.  If it’s not working, move to a different technique.  I had no problem with the Christmas Star block, but this one looks hacked-up, messy, bleh bleh bleh.  Sigh.  It looks much better now that I’ve appliquéd it on.

Circles9_Background markers

For the background, cut a 14 1/2″ square, then fold in half and half again to find the centers; lightly press the marks (shown above).  I love this fabric!

Circles9_AlignmentA Circles9_AlignmentB

Decision time: Point UP? (top photo) or Wedge UP?

Circles9_loosening seam allow

Before attaching the circle, make sure you’ve popped out all your interior papers.  I leave in the outer wedges as it’s easier to appliqué the circle onto the backing with those outer papers in.  I take them out one by one, or you can just leave them all in until you cut away the backing, then pop them out.

Circles9_star pinned on

I decided Point UP.  I’ve pinned down the circle, and after hand appliquéing it on, I’ll cut 1/4″ away from the appliqué line, and cut off the backing to be used for another project.

EPP Circles Block 9_OPQuiltAnd there it is!  Another fabulous circle.

Nine Circles

And then there were nine.  I guess you could stop here, but I do have three more . . . see you next month?

New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt Along

That title is a mouthful.  Did I get it all?

New Hexagon Book

Katja Marek, who wrote this book, is hosting Mother Hen to all of us as we work our way towards having a new version of a millefiore quilt, based on the blocks in her book.  Laurel and Rhonda and Cindy and about 1500 of my other closest friends are doing this.  It’s fun to see the rosettes pop up on Instagram and in my Google Images when I search for them for inspiration.

Millefiore Quilt Alonginspiration

I’d pulled these pages of a Morocan town out of the travel magazine, with all their aquas and moody blues, yellow-greens and dark blues as inspiration, then pulled a bunch of fabrics.

Basket of fabrics

For a long time they were pinned into my design wall, but then I needed the wall, so they now live in this basket.

Millefiore Quilt Along1

The very middle six triangles are the center, and here you see round one, of Rosette One.

Millefiore Quilt Along1a

Katja sends us an email every month, telling us about the next rosette.  I act like we’ve done this for years, but really we all started in January.  Well, people who weren’t trying to get a college English class up and going started January first, but the others of us began like, last week or so.  Here I’m plotting Round Two.

Millefiore Quilt Along2

Still plotting.  I ordered the templates from Paper Pieces, as suggested, mainly because my brain just couldn’t handle one more decision.  A good choice for me, but I know others are tracing them off.  Definitely do the glue stick thing when you attach your fabric to the paper pieces.  It’s brilliant.

Millefiore Rosette2

Tonight, as I watched The Muppet Movie (the most recent one with Tina Fey, who made me laugh), I finished off the third round of Rosette One.  I have one more round to go.  This thing is getting really big, so I decided to pop out the interior papers.

sliding out papers

I loosen the edges by sliding underneath them with my stiletto, and they pop right out.

Rosette Closeup2

Fun to be at this point.  Tomorrow, after I grade six more essays (I had a batch come in on Wednesday and I’m doing six-a-day until they are done), I’ll pull all those fabrics out of my basket and make a bigger mess in here (see photos below).

Goals 1stQtr2015

I also wrote up my goals for the quarter, conveniently skipping January because we all know what that month was like.  I can already see some holes in the quarter, like where are the Circle Blocks?  One a month?

Papers on ironing board

My horoscope, which I read faithfully and believe about 10% of the time, said I was spending too much time on things that would not matter in the long run.  This is one of those 10% times it actually coincided with what was going on in my real life.  Like lining up the readings for the next unit on the ironing board.  I sent eight more readings off to the printers today.  I have to get this unit ready because I’m headed to QuiltCon in about (wait, let me get my phone out of my pocket because QuiltCon has its own app that tells me how many days. . .)

QuiltCon App

Okay, this was a couple of days ago, but you get my drift.  They have thought of everything to make us freaked out, excited quilters.  It’s like it’s more than a Quilt Show…it’s a Life Changing Event.  I think of it as a way to party with quilters, and certainly these young’uns will be a different bunch than the usual staid quilters.  I knew this because one of the items in their scavenger hunt is to find someone whose tattoo I love.  Right.

Messy RoomOkay, so between the prepping, grading, planning and working on everything else, here is a Truthy Moment: the mess at my sewing desk.  I expect it will be clean, say, about July.

4-in-art_3button

I loved reading all your comments about our recent Four-in-Art quilts, and am slowly working my way through them.  Somehow the internet swallowed a few comments, so I have to go and find them.  I can see them on the website, but not in my email, where I usually answer them.  Thank you all for the lovely things you wrote.  I think we were energized by new members, the new yearly theme and the added bonus of choosing our own quarterly theme.  Now you know why I ordered my papers for my hexagon.  Way too many decisions!

Magnolias

P.S.  I think Spring is trying to happen out here!

Circles Block #8, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block 8_OPQuilt1

This is Circles Block #8 of my EPP Circles Block Sew-A-Long.

CirclesIt all started way up there on the really tall archway in the church in Ljubljana, Slovenia where I first spotted this lovely circle.

Circles Block_Ljubljana I just had to have it.  And my sweet husband helped me out by giving me Electric Quilt 7 for Christmas–the version that works on a Macinstosh.

Circle 8 block_EQ drawn

I got to work and failed miserably.  Then I got back to work and learned a few more things, and a few more things after that and above is the result. Since I have a lot of experience on QuiltPro (which I still use) I didn’t find it hard to figure things out, Googling for specific instructions when I became stuck.  I went on to design all the rest of the circles, completing the set of twelve, but you’ll have to wait for them, as I haven’t stitched them up and I like to do that before giving you the patterns.

You’ll notice a difference in this pattern: no hand-drawn designs.  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 #8_OPQuilt  Print three copies of this page, then cut them out.  Sometimes I’ll staple them together and then cut them out, but they do shift slightly, if that bothers you.

Printer Settings #8

Remember to set your printer to 100% scale; everyone’s is different — I can only show you mine.

Circles Block 8_pattern fits onto circle

I must admit to being a bit nervous about this new process, so I drew up a circle and then tried to fit the pieces into it, making sure that they were all the same size as the other circles.

Circle Blockk 8_New EQ patternAnd then I didn’t like how the pattern looked, so I went and redrew it (you have the latest version).

Color Variation 2_OPQuilt

Remembering the nightmare of trying to get all those points to fit into the center on a previous block, I added a small circle, and changed the pattern to the one you have now:

Circle Block 8_cutting out pattern

For this project, I use 24 lb. paper, a bit heavier than the usual copy paper, which can either be 18-lb. or 20-lb.  Yes, I am a stationary/paper nerd, too.

Circle Block 8_layout of fabric

Laying out the fabrics. This was the easiest one yet.

Circle Block 8_small points trick

I also used the technique of seaming together my two fabrics, then cutting out the pattern piece, lining up the center lines.  I’m not a purist–I don’t need everything to be hand-sewn and doing this step this way will make your circle more accurate and save you a lot of headache.

Circle Block 8_trimming sa

Trim out the seam allowances at the tip.

Circle Block 8_layout of pieces

I sometimes get confused whether the pieces should go printed side up, or printed side down, so my usual recommendation is if they are bi-directional — meaning it doesn’t matter — then it doesn’t matter.  But if you need your yellow on one side and your gold on the other and you don’t want to have to figure it out, then put the printed side down, for that’s how you see it.

Circle Block 8_using a glue stick

I tried a new-to-me technique this time: glueing down the seam allowances.  I had purchased the narrow glue stick for the The New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt Along and thought it was time to learn a few new tricks.

Circle Block 8_glue tecnique

I’d read that it was not a good idea to go all the way to the edge of the paper when glueing, that it was better to leave a small bit unglued.  Then I just smoothed the seam allowance up over the glue.  It was easier to keep the pieces centered (sometimes I put a dot of glue on the piece before putting it down, but not always) and I love how they look.  (And it saves time and energy!)

Circle Block 8_pieces all glued laid out

I laid out all the pieces and I liked what I saw.  With the glue stick, I wasn’t too worried about re-doing any pieces as it was so quick and easy.

Circle Block 8_beginning piecing

I first sewed the gold/yellow together, then added the blue diamondish-square (I call it a square, but it is slightly wonky).

Circle Block 8_middle of piecing

Then I added two blue sections to that one, then started joining them all together.

Circle Block 8_interim piecing

Sometimes there is some interesting bends that go on while working.  Every once in a while a seam allowance would work itself loose from the paper but I treated it like an envelope: I licked the paper and stuck back the seam allowance.

Circle Block 8_interim2 piecing

Circle Block 8_interim3 piecing

I was watching Gravity with Sandra Bullock with my husband while I worked on this.  I love having handwork to do an night while we watch movies.  Or Downton Abbey.

Circles Block 8_back with papers

Ah.  The best sight in EPP-land: all the papers on the pieces, from the back.

Circle Block 8_papers popping out

Time for the $64,000 question: can you get the glued papers off the circle block? Yes. Here you can see they are starting to pop off already.

In my new project, I am now working with the card stock versions of the papers for the Millefiore quilt and I’m sure the answer is the same, but they do seem to stick more to the rougher surface of the card stock, with no papers trying to escape, like mine are, above.

Circle Block 8_detail center circle

I like to appliqué on my center circle as I think it is a cleaner business (shown here from the back).  I use really teeny stitches and stitch length, putting way more stitches in there than I do for regular appliqué, as it stabilizes the whole block and anchors the center.

Circle Block 8_detail background

As usual for these blocks, cut a 14 1/2″ square, fold it into fourths and press lightly so the creases can serve as registration marks for centering your circle.  Here’s your choice: point at the 12 o’clock mark. . .

IMG_4418

IMG_4417

. . . or not?  Try them back and forth until you settle on one.  There is no wrong or right — just what is best for your block.

Circles Block 8_EPP_OPQuilt

The block looks more relaxed with all those papers out.  I loved fussy-cutting the X in the aqua, and love-love-love this circle.

EPP 8 Circle Blocks_OPQuilt

So here they all are–aren’t they fine looking?  I’m posting this a bit early because of the February 1st reveal date for our Four-in-Art quilts.  Come back then to see a lovely array of art quilts using the theme of Literature.

4-in-art_3button

Until next month, happy EPP-ing! If you finish any of your circles, send them over and I’ll do a post.

Circles Block 8_OPQuilt1

 

Circles Block #6–another view, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

I told you in the last post that I’d made up another version of Circles #6, and today I’ll show you what I came up with.

Circles Block #6 duo

When I was sewing this up, I kept thinking what a great Christmas pillow it would make.

Christmas Star Pillow_front

So I made one!

EPP #6_auditioning fabrics

As usual, I audition fabrics to see what I like.  You can see which won.

EPP #6_1sewing together arcs

I lined up the Star Point with the lower inner arc and put a pin through the centers.

EPP #6_2sewing together arcs

It’s easier to stitch when you do it three-dimensionally.

EPP #6_3sewing together arcs

Cute little thing, isn’t it?

EPP #6_4sewing together arcs

EPP #6_ring to center

I made this  circle differently.  I think the method I showed you on the first post is much better, but here’s this one:  Stitch the inner ring pieces together, then stitch to the center circle.  There’s no need to ease; it should fit together neatly by taking a stitch or two at a time, then moving along.  Sew the final inner ring seam together.

EPP #6_stitching center to outer ring

Now stitch together the inner arc (red) and the small star point (blue) and add the left star points (more red, on either side of the blue).  After you’ve made six of those little units, start making the larger outer ring by attaching the large star points (white).  Like the first ring onto the center circle, it should “match” easily onto the sign.  You can see how I began here, by dropping the ring down and starting the stitching.  I did take time to figure out how I wanted the white star points to be aligned on the final block.

Circles Block #6 duo

See the two circles side-by-side, above, to see the different alignments.  The Christmas Star has a star point centered, pointing North, but the other circle has it differently.

Like I said, I think the other method is much easier.

EPP #6_center circle

Done!

EPP #6_back with papers

Ah, you know I love this view!

Circles Block Christmas Backgrounds

I had several backgrounds to choose from, but my granddaughter Emilee helped me choose the white one with the stars.

Christmas Star Pillow_front1

Papers out, and here we go a-quilting!

Christmas Star Pillow Back_quilting

One thing I learned from Sandra Eichner’s blog is how to let the batting poof up under a design element by stitching towards it.  First I did the red pieces in between the star points in a meander, trying to quilt toward the star points large and small.  Then I went for the outer margins, having fun and letting the machine roll.  Black thread and a tiny stipple for the inner ring, dodging the berries, and then outline the angel in the center in order to control the fullness of the batting.  Lastly, I outlined everything, using my even-feed straight-stitch foot.

Christmas Star Pillow_detail front

Christmas Star Pillow_front

Yay!  A new piece of Christmas fun.  Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing both of these Circle Blocks.  I’m taking a break during December and will be back in January for the last six circles in this project.  Yes, I’ve decided I’m stopping after twelve EPP circles.  That ought to give you enough to play with!  If you are making these blocks, please shoot me a photo, and I’ll post it up on the blog.  We “Circleers” have to stick together!

Circles Block #6, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block _6final

Circle #6: Star of Wonder
(but stay tuned. . . another variation of Circle #6 is coming in a couple of days)

Welcome to my series of English-Paper Pieced Circles!  I decided some time ago that I needed a new hand-work project for those night when you just want to sit around and stitch and watch TV or a movie.  I liked circles, and hadn’t found any EPP versions, so decided to create my own.  All my patterns are hand drawn, but they are free.  I do test-make them to get rid of any quirks before I present them to you.  I’ve already done five circles and this post gives you the sixth.  Here they all are together:

First Six BlocksSM

This sixth circle, based on a six-pointed star, is all English Paper-Pieced, except that I do appliqué the larger circle onto the background square, having gotten the best results with that.  And since this center circle does not need go over a series of joining seams, it can be paper-pieced right into the circle.  I can’t remember where my inspiration for this one came from, but I do like that secondary star pattern that forms in-between the golden star points.  The center of this star is suited to a medallion-type piece of fabric, so drag out those large prints and see which one works.

EPP #6_pattern drawn

As usual, these blocks start with a hand-drawn circle, and then I trace off the patterns.  And then I realize that it would be better if I had one more of THAT star point and one less of THIS arc.  And then I realize that I don’t have enough of the circle rings, so I cut and paste and cut and tape and finally here is a sheet you can print off and use: EPP #6  (This particular pattern looks pretty cut-and-pasted!  Someday I’ll have some fancy software to help me out.)  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.

Printer Settings 100percent

Please remember to set your printer for 100% scale.  This time I didn’t staple the wad of three sheets together, as I used to in the past, but instead cut more carefully around each piece.  Tedious, but they go together better at the end, I think.

EPP #6A_9trying out the pieces

I’ve pinned the pieces on, cut around them, then I lay them out to check for color/pattern.  I liked it so I moved forward.

EPP #6A_1

I did this circle in three different states at five different houses and a hospital room.  EPP travels very well.  Here I have stitched the ring pieces together, sometimes attaching them to the circle as I go.  Now I’m starting to attach the star points.  I think it looks like a clown hat at this juncture.

EPP #6A_3

I try all the points on, lining up with the seams in the blue-and-green polka-dotted ring.  I stitched them on, one by one and set it aside.

EPP #6A_4

Next is stitching the inner sections together.  First join the upper small star point (red) to the lower wedge (white).  Then attach one (blue) arc to the side, then the other.  The first time I tried this I got all confused, but remember to lay the longer flat side of the arc along the small star point and you should be fine.

EPP #6A_5

Trying this out.

EPP #6A_6

I took this photo to show how I attach those inner wedges: first one side, a stitch at the point, then the other side.  I also take a stitch at the top of the blue arcs, holding one to the next.

EPP #6A_7circle complete

Ta-DONE!

EPP #6A_8

I lay the circle on my 14 1/2″ square of background fabric.  I’m visiting a brother-in-law in the hospital at this point and am doing this on his bedside table while he is sleeping, so instead of being able to iron four neat creases into the background fabric to help guide me for placement (as before), I finger-pressed in what I could and eyeballed the rest.  As you’ve noticed, there is a bit of extra fabric all around the circle, so I’ll be able to correct any missteps later.  It was at this point I realized that my center medallion was not centered on its axis.  It was kind of keeling on its side, pointing a bit to the Northwest.  AAAGH.  I still appliquéd the circle down and checked my suspicion with my husband when I got home from traveling.  Yep.  It’s a re-do.

EPP #6A_10center missing

The circle without its center.  I just snipped loose the stitching (it’s amazing how easy it was) and centered it again.  This time I loosely (about a stitch per seam) basted in the center and checked it often as I did the regular EPP stitch.  I did this step as we drove to see our grandson at his eighth birthday.  It’s incredible how portable this Circles Project can be.

Circles Block _6final

So here it is. . . all done, and ready to go into the quilt.  I made this circle up in a different coloration and will show it to you at the next post.

First Six BlocksSM

But here are the first six, arranged digitally.  I hope you have been able to keep up with our progress, but these patterns will be here for a while if you haven’t.

Now come back for the next post, where I show a completely different look to this circle.

Circles EPP Button

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Also linking up to Live A Colorful Life’s Choose Your Own Block-Along.

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i-voted-sticker

Occasionally my blogging software places ads at the end of my post so I can blog for free.  I do not control the content of these ads.

Circles Block #5, EPP Sew-Along

Circles EPP Button

EPP Circle #5_final block

Circles Block #5 • Capella

This is the fifth in our series of circle blocks, inspired by circles I’ve seen in my travels, as well as found on other quilts.  I think this one was found in Barbara Brackman’s Book, Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and modified slightly.  I chose an eight-pointed star to keep the variety in our English Paper-Pieced blocks.  I assume you have some knowledge of English Paper Piecing, which is the method of printing out a pattern, cutting it out, then wrapping and sewing your fabric over the little pieces before sewing them together.  When I read that last sentence, I know for sure we quilters are a bit insane.

A word about cutting out the pieces and another couple of words about fabrics.  The patterns are drawn to the best of my ability, and although I long to be a machine, cranking out the patterns, I am not.  So sometimes I might cut the pattern right on the line, sometimes I may fudge and cut it slightly inside the line and sometimes I cut it on the outside of the line, just like it used to happen in those Famous Old Days.

My favorite fabric to use is one that has a soft hand, and is 100% cotton.  Why? Because I need to be able to shrink up — using a hot steam iron — any excess caused by my human imperfections.  All the fabrics above, except for the green print, are those type of fabrics and after working the circle, they lay nice and flat.  The green ones caused many moments of ill will at the ironing board, because it is a sheeting, like what you find in a batik and is very tightly woven.  This fabric generally doesn’t move or shrink or give once it has been stitched.  It is what it is, so if you need to shrink in a bit extra of the ease. . . um, not happening.  I know that when I quilt this thing, I’ll put some extra stitches in those wedges and they will flatten out and be fine, but there were some tense moments earlier this week, but I promise I didn’t cuss.

Here is the pattern for this, in a PDF file: EPP #5

Printer Settings 100percent

Please double-check your printer settings to make sure you are printing it at 100% scale.  I printed three copies and had enough pieces.  Cut only one circle and then two wedges (the circle and one wedge share space).

EPP #5_prepping pattern

Those outer arcs I knew would be confusing once they were covered with fabric, so I prepped up the pattern by drawing arrows pointing to the top center-most point.  This will help when I try to sew them together later.  (I should have drawn them on both sides, as I ended up putting the printed side UP.  Sometimes I am my own worst sewing enemy. . .)

EPP #5_wedge piece v1

I wanted to try to fussy cut some chevron fabric so that the zigzags were going down the middle of the double-wedge piece.  I matched the chevrons, then lay on the pattern.

EPP #5_2wedge piece v1

Circle 5 rejectAnd once I’d sewn a few together, I just didn’t like it.  Call it a gut feeling, but it just didn’t feel like it was made of the Right Stuff.  Back to the cutting board.  I printed out another set of patterns, cut them apart, and started again:

EPP #5_cutting v2

Remember to be aware when you are laying out your pattern.  Mine are laid with all the printing UP.  And yes, I can see where I should have trimmed off those pieces a bit.  So don’t be in a hurry.

EPP #5_cutting v2a

Again, I use my rotary blade to cut the fabric roughly 1/4″ away from the paper.  I can trim it more closely when I am hand-sewing if I want.

EPP #5_cutting v2b

EPP #5_cutting v2c

This is from the BEFORE block, but you can see my general layout.

EPP #5_placing pattern for circle

If you have a motif and you want to make sure your circle is centered, one way is to fold the pattern into fourths, and put the tip of the fold in the center of your motif.  Pin one side, then carefully unfold and pin the rest.

EPP #5_placement for circle pinned

EPP #5_auditioning outer points2

I stitched all my wedges together, then I constructed the star-point ring: I sewed all the star points together, then joined them to the blue outer arcs.

EPP #5_auditioning outer points1

This is my attempt to figure out if I wanted the blue-triangle fabric over the green, or over the yellow.  I try out my combinations as I go.  I’m spending a lot of time sewing this and I want to like it when I’m finished.

EPP #5_back with papers

Blue-triangles over the yellow was the winner.  Here is the back with all the paper in it.  I will never tire of this view.

EPP #5_lumpy bumpy

But boy, does all the paper make it lumpy.  (And that unforgiving green sheeting-type fabric didn’t help either!)

EPP #5_flattened out center

I took out all but the blue outer arc papers and gave it a press.  Much better.  Now I need to audition that center.  The first flower (above) was a definite NO.

EPP #5_making center1

I cut out several more.  I use a running stitch around the outside, then laying it on a piece of fabric to protect my ironing board, I give it a shot of spray starch.

EPP #5_making center2

I slip in my cardboard or plastic circle template, then lightly press it, pulling that thread taut to draw the gathers up around the circle.

EPP #5_making center3I turn it over and give a good press.  Pick the iron up and down so you are NOT sliding it around–you want your circle to be centered, not skewed and moving the iron can throw it off center.  You can moosh it into place with your fingers if it does move off-center, then press it again.  Let it cool, then cut the thread to about 4 inches and slip out your template.  Tighten the thread back up again.

Trying out Centers for EPP Circle#5

Aren’t we having fun?  Yes, I tried seven different circles.  I do keep these little circles though, as they may come in handy further on in our series.

EPP #5_prepping background

You can choose to English Paper Piece your outer edges onto your circle (pattern is here: EPP Corners) but I think this method of appliqué yields a better product.  Prepare a square of 14 1/2″ fabric, then fold it into quarters and give a light press to give you some guidelines for placement.

EPP #5_whichway1

You get to decide how you want your block placed.  This one emphasizes the outer points.

EPP #5_whichway2This one emphasizes both the outer points and that cool inner square thing that is happening around the wedge circle.  I like both placements, but went with this one.

EPP #5_applique circle

I smoothed out my circle onto the large square, then used appliqué pins (you can use regular pins) to attach the circle to the background.  I leave that mess at the edge of the arc to deal with as I come to it, as I am appliquéing around the circle.  When I do get there, I snip out the extra seam allowances from behind to remove bulk, tuck in the raw edges, smooth out the outer line and stitch it down.  (I wrote about it on Circles Block #3.)  Monkey with it until it is a nice and smooth outer line.

I can also pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time too. (I love how the little girl’s eyes blink at the end as she pats her head.)

I know there is a lot going on in this little corner of your sewing, but be patient and work with the cloth, use the pins and the tip of your needle to smooth the fabrics into place, and it will happen.

After this large circle is appliquéd on, I cut away the background fabric from behind the circle, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.  (Again Circles Block #3, shows this step.)  Center your chosen small circle over the hole.  I like to do this on a hard, flat surface, so that there is no distortion.  Pin, then appliqué it on, making sure you have sufficient coverage with no gaps.

EPP Circle #5_final block

And there you have it!

I’m thinking I’d like to do at least twelve circles, but again, feel free to move at your own pace, stopping when you feel like you’ve done enough.  I do want to remind you that Downton Abbey is just a short three months away, so you may want to get a hand-piecing project to do in front of the TV come January.  These circles might work for you.  If you do make a circle, shoot me a photo and I’ll post it up here.

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.

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Circles Block #4, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

EPP #4 front

Circle #4: Pravoslavni Park

Here is the fourth circle in our EPP Sew-A-Long, another circle taken from Ljubljana, Slovenia in an ornately painted church.  I chose not to make the outer arcs in a different color in order to let the star points pop out of this eight-point star.  (If I were doing this one again, I’d make the arcs in a different color.  I just like the look of that circle shape.)

Four Circle Blocks

Here they are all together, all different, but they play nicely together, I think.  I was asked about color selection for my blocks.  I have to admit I just have chosen my favorite fabrics from my stash.  I do keep in mind that they need to coordinate, but I also know that the repetition of this circular shape would also tie the blocks together.  The upper left is not really that dark (see above); I’m just taking the picture with the late afternoon sun and it makes the left side of the photo darker.

Like I said, this Circle Block is an eight-pointed star, and I again used the technique of making the circle by English Paper Piecing (EPP) but appliquéing it onto a 14 – 1/2″ square.  Click here to download the pattern for the pieces:  EPP #4.  I do spend a lot of time on these, so 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.

EPP 4Stapled pages

Pieces for EPP4

As before, print out enough copies so you can make your eight-pointed star, then staple them all together heavily so you can cut them out without them shifting.

EPP 4 cutting pieces

Again, if the pieces have no direction (are the same shape if folded along an axis line), lay them with the printing either up or down. If they are specific, like the point-pieces, lay them out on your fabric with the printed side facing the wrong side of the fabric, and then cut them out.  Sometimes if I whack off too big of a seam allowance, I’ll trim it later as I’m basting around it.  It’s all very forgiving, so don’t stress.  There are more tips and instructions on Circles #3, Ljubljana.

Block Number Four Inspiration

The inspiration for this block came from a combination of the two above blocks.  I wanted fewer points than are shown in the church paintings but I did like the division or the “layers” of points.  Again, these circles are high above floor level, so they are a bit hard to capture in a photograph.

Here’s some “making” shots:

EPP 4 Circle Block making_2

All three sections joined together, the left side and the right side done separately.

EPP 4 Circle Block making_1

I put pins in the joining seams to keep them aligned as I sew.

EPP 4 Circle Block making_0

I located the tip of the paper inside my basted piece and started sewing them together from the bottom, matching that teensy end first.

EPP 4 Circle Block making_3

EPP 4 Circle Block making_4

This is when I had one done.  I laid out all the pieces to see if I liked it.  I didn’t.

Circles Four Gathering Fabrics

I had started in the usual way,with the fabrics like this, trying to lay them out as I think they will work in the design.

Old and New Fabrics

It looked okay as laid out, but after I finished one, I didn’t like it at all.  I brought out more fabrics.

Choosing New Fabrics

I liked this better, but I kept trying.  As usual, I try not to obsess too much about perfection in design and color and pattern and all those other things we quilters worry about.  Scrap quilts can sometimes boggle our minds as they don’t fit together as easily as those ones we make from one line of fabric, that line of fabrics perfectly keyed to work together.  These kinds of quilts can stretch us as quilters, as well as teach us patience and confidence.  But it’s good practice to make up one point of your star to see if you like it, knowing that with a  few snips, you can change it out.  I kept doing this until I was happy with my choices, and again, made one more star point to check.

EPP 4 Circle Block making_5

I liked it a lot better.  Carry on!

EPP #4 outside

This is the photo I took this morning before I starched and ironed it, and you can see  how it looks, all soft from the handwork.

EPP #4 back

Back.

I used the same technique I used in Circles #3, of appliquéing the large pointed circle onto a 14.5″ square of background.  Then I appliqué that smaller center circle on, cut out the underneath, snipping away the yellow points.  Before I’d done that, it was a bit lumpy there, but it all flattened out once I cut away the points.

EPP #4 front

I love that color of blue against that tangeriney orange in the second division.

EPP 4 Pravoslavni Park drawing

And yes, it is the correct size.

A couple of quilters have written to me, showing me their circle projects.  Here are a couple:

Missie Carpenter Circle Blocks

Missie Carpenter of Traditional Primitives

Dittany Matthews Circle

Dittany Matthews of Blue Moth

And I found this post from Quilt Inspiration about another quilter’s journey in circles.

 I’ll post the next circles block sometime around the first part of November.  Have fun sewing!