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

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

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

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

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.

*********************************

Occasionally my blogging software places ads below my post.  I do not control the content of those ads.

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!

Circles Block #3, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

This month the block is a tad more difficult, but my primary motto on these things is “I Make The Mistakes So You Don’t Have To.”  Here we go.

Circles Block Three EPP

And where did the inspiration for this block, titled “Ljubljana” come from?

Ljubljana Serbian Church

From the Serbian Orthodox Church in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which is beautifully painted on the inside (see blurry photo below), and has rich colors and lots and lots of circles.  We recently visited that country, and my husband was under strict instructions to photograph any and all circles, so we gathered quite a few ideas.

Circles Block Three Inspiration

This is a detail of a larger picture, so that’s why it’s slightly blurry, but see that circle fifteen feet up there on the left, on the ceiling arch?  That’s where the inspiration for this one came from.  As usual, please read through the entire blog post before you begin.

Here are the two sheets of patterns, in PDF form: EPP #3A_OPQuilt   and EPP #3B_OPQuilt  As usual, you’ll need to print out several copies of each.  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 100 percent

Please make sure your printer is set for 100% and is not scaled down, otherwise the pieces won’t fit together to form the correct diameter of circle.  (How do I know this to be a problem?  Call that my first rookie mistake on this process.)  I print out the number of sheets I need for each, then staple the stack of 3 or 4 or 5 together all over in the spaces.  ALL OVER, staples everywhere in between the pieces.  Then I can cut them out as a group without the paper shifting.

Fabric Selection

Choose your fabrics for your circle by laying them out so you can see the combinations up against each other.

Laying out Inner Diamonds

If the pieces have a certain direction or shape and I want to reproduce the picture above exactly, place the paper with the printing FACE DOWN on the fabric, then pin.

Layout Inner Arcs

If the pieces don’t matter (like the symmetrical small arc, above), you can place the pieces either printing UP or printing DOWN, or a mix.  I don’t care, nor should you. Notice that I just curve around them with my rotary cutter, as you don’t have to be so precise on that quarter-inch seam allowance for English Paper Piecing (EPP).  Just get sort of close to that quarter-inch, but not less than.  I pin through each of my pieces, then I fold over the seam allowances a side at a time and baste them down with that icky thread from the back of my sewing box.  (I’ve got to use it up somehow.)  I make sure the beginning knot and the ending tail are on TOP of the piece, not on the paper side.  This is good stuff to do while you watch Endeavor on television, or something (can you believe the ending on Season 2, Episode #4?  We’re still stunned).

Process 3_EPP

The basic idea of EPP is to sew your basted pieces together.  Begin by matching up a corner.  I slide my needle into the corner between the paper and the fabric seam allowance so my knot is buried inside.

Process 4_EPP

EPP is basically just a teeny overcast stitch.  Take only a thread or two on each side when sewing the sides of your shape together.

EPP3 Assembling

I sewed the first center together half-diamond shape by half-diamond shape.  (More on that first thing, later.)  Then sew all the shapes together.  But let me tell you about a cheater trick that will be helpful.

Take Two Center_EPP3

First seam together on your sewing machine the two fabrics for the diamond, then cut apart into segments (below).

Take TwoA_EPP3

Trimming SeamAllowances_EPP3

Before basting the fabric onto your paper shape, trim down the seams beyond the edge of the paper, where it will fall into the seam allowances of your shape.  I hope that doesn’t sound confusing; see above for illustration.  I’m just trying to get bulk out of the process and this won’t affect the structural integrity any.

EPP3_Basted Piece

It’s okay to let the corners extend.  No need to hammer everything down.

Take Two Center2_EPP3

Use pins as you need to to get control as the pieces get narrower.  I always take a double stitch at the end of my seam, then take the needle through the loop and draw it tight to secure.

Take Two Center3_EPP3

Yes, it will look like a volcano but we’ll be taking care of that later, so no worries.  I then sew the dark smaller arcs onto the circle of diamonds.

EPP3_Outer Ring

I stitch the left and the right sides together into groups of two. I have done this next part two ways.  One way is to sew groups of two onto the inner circle (you see them above in the background), then afterwards stitch the sides of those together.  Another way is to sew all the two-part shapes into a large circle, then attach that.  I use pins to keep the intersections lined up.

BAckside of Large Circles Block#3Everything sewn together, from the back.  I’m sure you noticed that this time I didn’t include the four corner pieces on the pattern.  I decided to try putting this on the backing a different way.  Take out all but the outer arc of papers.  Take out the papers by releasing the basting threads from the front, then popping out the papers from the back. You can see it in the photo below.

EPP3 Cutting Center Bump

Then, cut off your volcano top, or, as we call it around the sewing circle — the training bra effect.

EPP3 Cutting Center Bump2

Then trim out the center a little bit more.  Just not too much. I just want it to lay flat.

EPP 3 Circles Block Center Added

Pin your little circle on for the center.

EPP3 Adding Background

Fold a 14 1/2″  square of background fabric into quarters, then press to leave lines for placement.  Start pinning the circle to the backing, using the pressed lines to get it on straight and even.

EPP3 Trimming on outer circle

As you get to that place where all the seams come together, trim down the seam allowances like you did with the diamonds, getting rid of bulk to help the edge to lay flat. I pop out the arc papers one by one as I go.  Proceed carefully, trimming and pinning, and smoothing out the edge to create a nice circle.

EPP3 All pinned down to background

Using an appliqué stitch, attach the circle to the backing.

EPP3 Trimming out back

After stitching the circle on, trim out the backing, leaving a quarter-inch seam allowance.

EPP3 Center Circle Appliqued

Using a smaller-than-usual stitch, appliqué on the center.

EPP3 Center Circle More Trimming

Then turn it over and carefully cut away more of those volcano-y seam allowances, again leaving a quarter-inch seam allowance.  Press everything lightly, using steam.  There are a lot of pieces and a lot of grain lines to deal with, so you don’t want to kill the fabrics with too much handling, although the block is very sturdy.

Circles Block Three EPP

You’re done! And congratulations, it’s just as beautiful as the one in Slovenia.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And now I’m going to tell about all the mistakes and problems I had, just so you know that I test sew each block before putting up the pattern.  If you have found places that need tweaking, please leave a comment and I’ll work on it.

Backside of First Draft_EPP3

I have actually sewn the block twice.  Here’s how the first one’s center ended–with a definite volcano center.  Actually more like a chrysanthemum, I think.  So I thought it was my pattern, or the way I did things, so I remade the yellow/orange diamonds, as described above, by seaming the fabrics together first.

Still Such a Mess_EPP3

I tried to smooth it out by twirling it with my thumb. Yeah, what a mess.

Oh What a Mess EPP_3Still a mess even though I sewed on the outer arcs.  What was needed was a design change, like adding the center circle to the design.  Even though the fine artists in Slovenia can paint the center of the circle to a distinct point doesn’t mean that fabric will allow us to do that.

So I took off all the outer little dark arcs, and started again.  Here comes the next mistake.  I got it all done, and cut the 14 1/2″ square for the backing and just about died when I saw that the hand-sewn EPP circle was tooooo big for the backing.  AAAGH!

EPP3B Circles Block Drawing

I went back to the pattern and measured, and sure enough, I’d drawn it too large. The yellow lines are the new re-drawn lines. I re-drew the pattern, re-cut all the outer pieces and arcs and started again, but used the first series of yellow/orange center diamonds, as I didn’t want to take apart the completed Ljublana Circle Block.

EPP3_Basted Piece Front

That’s when I hit on the idea of seaming the two colors together first to cut down on bulk.

EPP3B Better Center

But I still had that hump in the middle.  Still have to make a design change with the center circle.

Auditioning Center Decor2_EPP3

Auditioning Center Decor1_EPP3

Here I’m auditioning center circles for the other block that was too big.  I like the top one in person, but the bottom one on camera.  I ended up recutting and sewing the correct size block so still have the large circle to make into a pillow or to put on the back.  You, too, can audition center circles once you are finished to see the different looks they give to your block.

I hope my story of my mistakes and do-overs hasn’t confused you.  The accurate pattern is up there in PDF.  If you are following along, send me a photo of your finished blocks and I’ll throw them up here for everyone to admire.  I know this one has a lot of moving parts, but once I got the quirks out, and used the shortcut for the diamonds, it went quickly.  Have fun!

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

My blogging software runs ads on this blog so I can blog for free.  I do not control the content, nor do I endorse these ads.

Circles Block #2, English Paper Piecing

EPP Circles #2 Block_finished

Circles Block #2

Here we go again, with the second block in our slow sewing, English Paper Piecing, series of circles.  This one is called Kansas Sunflower and Barbara Brackman’s book shows its origin around 1928.  I have created a PDF pattern (roughly drawn, as I am no graphic artist); click to download: EPP Circles #2  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.

This one has a large center circle, which measures a bit under 5 1/2″  but I would cut it 6″ because I think having the extra bit of cloth is better.  To get a smooth template to gather it up over, iron two pieces of freezer paper together, then trace the circle.  It should give you enough stability.  Or do as I did: head to your iron, and using the tip, iron it in small bites around your paper circle, then sew it to the paper.

EPP2 Circles block #1

Here’s the sketch of the block.  On the lower right you’ll notice that I colored in one half-arc green and one half-arc blue.  If you want to split yours up like that, I included just one tracing of that as an option, but you could also just cut the other arcs in half and go at it that way.  I prefer the larger outer arc. As before, in Circles Block #1, there is an assumption that you know a bit about English Paper Piecing, where you take the pattern, lay it out, then fold the seam allowances back over the paper pattern, then baste.  Others have used freezer paper, or glue.  Do a Google search if you are curious about these other ways of securing the paper.

EPP2 Cutting out EPP pieces

I wanted to use a chevron for the “petal” piece, so I fussy cut them so the chevron stripes would meet along the sides.  I pin down my pieces (with the writing up), then just freehand rotary cut around them.

EPP2 Pieces Laid Out

Auditioning everything.

EPP2 Arcs Basted and Stitched

After basting the seam allowances down to every pattern piece, I stitched the petals together in two groups of six.  Then I sewed the arcs in between those, as shown below:

EPP2 Setting in Outer Arc

EPP2 Stitched and Center Circle Pinned

I stitched those two flower halves together, then the last two arcs, then laid on the center.  I don’t know why I chose this orangey-red; it just spoke to me.  I had already basted the seam allowances down so I just arranged it on the petals and pinned it down.  I appliquéd it onto the petals, and that’s when I discovered that maybe a 6″ diameter circle might make you happier as it’s a scant 1/4″ overlap in some places.  Then the fun part: taking out some of the papers.  I released the center circle basting threads and the petal basting threads and took out those papers, but left the papers in the deep blue outer arcs.

EPP Circles #2 Block_finished

I’m putting the photo in again, because now you have a decision to make: do you want those four seams in the outer pieces to line up with a point?  Or to be offset (like mine)?  I went back and forth and decided I didn’t want it so busy–I liked the slightly off-kilter look of not having points dead center at Noon, Three, Six and Nine O’Clock.

EPP2 Sewing Diagram

I don’t think there is any easy way to get those four outside pieces on.  This is how I do it: I stitch the seams between parts #1 and #2 to get two pieces hooked together, then pin it about four places around that the #1 arc of the outside circle.  I begin at the lower center  (XX) and stitch around that 1/4-arc, stopping one inch short of the next seam allowance.  Part #2 is just flapping in the breeze.

Then I go back to where I started stitching (XX), and stitch the other side (#2), using a few pins where needed (not too many, or it’s ouch-ouch-ouch).  I then seam together pieces #3 and #4, and repeat the process.  As I draw near to the #2 piece, I thread a different thread, do the seam between #2 and #3, then tie it off.  I go back to the thread I was stitching with before and then finish it off.  Repeat for 1/4-arc #4.

I just reread this, and if you are confused, I don’t blame you.  It’s just hard to navigate those pieces when they are backed with paper, and I get tired of fighting with them.  I suppose you could just seam all four outside corners together, then pin and appliqué it down like you did the center circle.  I don’t think there is a wrong way or a right way to do this.  Have fun and let me know what works for you.

UPDATE: After doing a couple of circle blocks I found I liked it better using a 14 /12″ square and appliquéing on the circle.  Your choice.

EPP Circles Block 1 and 2

 

Are you worried about the fact that my circles aren’t matchy-matchy?  Sometimes I was worried about that too, but then in the previous post I noticed that there was such a variety of circles and colors in a couple of those quilts, and calmed right down.  Keep going.  Keep stitching.  Have fun.  Next circle block comes up around the first of August, right after our Four-in-Art Reveal of Contrasts.

I’ve started a tab, above, with all the blocks and their posts, for easier reference.  By the way, there is no big deadline for any of this; I think I’d have a heart attack if I had one more deadline.  I just wanted a project to put in a little box and carry with me on car travels, on vacations, and while I collapse in the heat at night on the sofa to watch a good movie. (And given that it will take me several months, I may be curling up under a quilt in the cold, still hand-sewing.) Just know that it’s here if you want to make some circles, or a pillow, or need a hand project that is an alternative to 5,000 hexagon papers or umpteen finished hexies.  If you do decide to make one, or several, send me a photo and I’ll put it up here on the blog.  Have fun sloooow sewing!

Circles EPP Button