Shine: The Circles Quilt, finished

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Shine: The Circles Quilt
Quilt #170
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This quilt finally finished, I took it out for a photography session with the help of my husband.3shinecirclesquilt

I started sewing the first block in June of 2014, and finished the top a year later.  The quilting was finished at the end of September, but it wasn’t until now that I could get time to take it up to our university’s Botanic Gardens to get some photographs.
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My husband’s favorite block.  As some of you know, many of these blocks were inspired by art in a church in Slovenia, as well as designs from our travels.  Most of the patterns and accompanying tutorials are free on this blog, found *here* as well in a tab labeled Shine: The Circles Quilt.  4shinecirclesquiltl 5ashinecirclesquilt

This shows the quilting.  I was trying out double batting (polyester with wool), and found it was a challenge to move the heavy quilt around on the machine.  It took me nearly 4 months to quilt this thing, as I was hobbled with a shoulder injury.  But I was able to finish it!7shinecirclesquilt_label

As I quilted, I thought a lot about my brother-in-law Tom, who passed away a little over a month ago.  He maintained a beautiful small garden in his backyard, and so in one of the corners I quilted in a flower in his memory (shown below).  Many offered advice and help while I was quilting: thank you, everyone.6shinecirclesquilt shinecirclesquilt_detailback

detail of quilting from the back

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This closes a chapter in my life.  Lovely to see you here, Shine!

tiny nine patches

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Shine: The Circles Quilt

Shine-waving

Shine: The Circles Quilt
66″ square
First block started June 2014 • Top finished June 2015

I’ve finished my quilt top and am happy to release it into the wilds world today.  I started sewing these English Paper Piecing patterns after I’d finished Kaleidoscope and needed a new hand project.  I was also sick of straight lines, and though I’d do some circles.  Those of you who have followed along know that I took a lot of inspiration for the circles from a church my husband and I had visited while traveling in Slovenia, the art which found its way into fabric.

Shine_Quilt Top Final800

I named it Shine because of all those circles, those suns, those compass points, radiating out from the quilt.  I could see this all done up in solids, too.  I’ve seen a few of your starting your project.  Please tag me on IG (occasionalpiecequilt) or drop me an email with a photo so I can see what you’ve begun.

I’ve now completed the instructions for this quilt, and have priced it at six dollars for a PDF download.  For those in non-EU countries, the pattern is in my Craftsy Store, listed as Shine: Circles Quilt Finishing Instructions and is available for purchase, so you too can finish off your quilt.  For those in EU countries with VAT tax, the pattern is in the PayHip shop.

I know I haven’t released the last circles — numbers 13 to 16 — yet (well, you have one of them), but I’ve made up a pattern for the final four, which is also on my Craftsy store if you can’t wait through the end of summer to get them all.  The Final Four Blocks from Shine (I made the pattern earlier) is also priced at six dollars, for a PDF download.  For EU readers, please use PayHip.

I’ve loved creating these and sharing them for free, so I hope you’ve enjoyed grabbing them and making them.  At some point in the future, I’ll start moving the downloads to Craftsy, as I’m trying to gather all my patterns there for ease in locating them.  Sometimes it gets hard to navigate blogs, even with the excellent search engine that my blog software provides.

Shine Sashing inspiration

Where did I get the inspiration for the finishing?  One day when I was walking around San Diego, I looked up and saw the facade of the building and thought, aha! — those crosses with circles would be perfect in between my circles.  I ended up leaving off the circles as my quilt had a lot going on and they were just too much.  Your quilt may be different, so you decide (the option is in the pattern).

Zagreb doorway design churchAnd the border?  I started here, in this archway from the church in Slovenia, with those triangles.  But again, I wanted my circles — and all that handwork — to stand out, so I simplified it with trapezoidal pieces in between the triangles.

Now to quilt this, a good summer project since we’ll be local most of the time.  I’ll find the next Inspector Gamache book (I heard a new one is coming out in August) and sew my brains out.  Can’t think of a better thing to be doing when it’s scorching outside.   The tutorials for the final patterns will post regularly throughout the summer, but feel free to grab those final block patterns early, if you want to get going on them.

Thanks for all your support and EPP love while I’ve been working on this project. Happy Piecing!

Sentimental Journey: Bee Blocks for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, part 1

Cindy, of LiveAColorfulLife, called me up one day and said she had a great idea and a great name for a bee: Mid-Century Modern Bee, and that everyone had to be at least mid-century in age.  Maybe it was the exasperation I felt that all the newbies were claiming invention of tried and true blocks and methods, or that I was ready for another bee, or that Cindy’s charm could not be turned down, but I jumped at the chance to be a part of this new group. We’ve been going strong for three years, so I’m dividing this post into parts, and am grouping them by the participant, rather than going through the calendar years.  We now have a blog, courtesy of Susan and PatchnPlay, so I guess you could say we are all grown up. I wanted a place where all our blocks, quilts, and tutorials could be listed; you’ll find links to many tutorials of these blocks, so have fun browsing. MCM_Timberlake1The first project we did was Carla’s Church Dash quilt, with the tutorial found *here.*  The next year, Carla (Lollyquiltz) had us make another block churn dash block for her, and the beautiful quilt above is the result. MCM_Timberlake2 Carla is still working on this year’s batch of blocks, a birthday cake block using *this* tutorial.  This bee also does signature blocks, which I love, and you can see the array at the top of her pin wall.  My birthday cake block is the blueberry with mint filling, as one of the fun things she had us do was list what “kind” of cake we would make for her.  If you use the tutorial, remember to set your print scaling settings at 100% so your block will be 12″ square. MCM_Wiens Bird in Air Cindy thought for her first turn, she would do the Winged Square Block with the tutorial found *here.*  When I sent around the letter asking for photos of blocks/quilt tops/quilts, she sent me a photo of all the blocks together. MCM Wiens Block Spiderweb For her second round, she fell in love with Rene’s spiderweb block (another member in our bee) and decided she wanted one too.  This became common–we are so well matched that we borrow ideas for each other regularly, tweaking them slightly.  We used *this tutorial* for these blocks. MCM_Wiens2 2015 MCM March w0 label Using *this* tutorial, and again borrowing from Rene’, Cindy went with a rainbow Dresden plate, with a black and white center.  Unlike the Always Bee Learning Bee, we make from our stash, not sending out fabrics to each other.  It is fun to see how many of us have the same fabrics. MCM-Wiens Dresdens Her last request was matched by another bee she is participating in, so her design wall was flooded with circles. MCM_Jeske1Debbie, of A Quilter’s Table, asked for a variation of the Hugs and Kisses Block, but done in soft hues and colors (aka “Low Volume”).  Her stunning completed quilt, above, titled Common Affection, has gone on to be published and to win ribbons.  I love that blue wall, as it really shows off the low volume fabric choices. MCM April 2014_2 Debbie’s next block (in 2014) was a pair of rolling diamond blocks, from *this tutorial.* MCM April 2014_1 Vivid Here’s her completed quilt, Vivid, adding a few more to round out the original collection.MCM_Martinez Spider WebRene’ of Rene Creates, and who inspires many of us with choosing blocks, asked us for a spiderweb block (tutorial link found above), but in scrappy fabrics. She made this cool quilt with the colors moving all around–a real scrappy treat.  She took it with her when the family did Christmas photographs together; I love the setting. dresden plate_OpquiltHer 2014 block was this cool-in-blues-and-greens Dresden block (tutorial listed above). Rene's dresdens She laid them all out on her bed to show us how they look together.  Because of different printing sizes, they range from smaller to larger.  She plans to place them scattered across a solid background for her quilt. MCM_Russell House blocks Deborah, Simply Miss Luella, asked for house blocks, and here are a few.  Mine is in the upper left; link to the blog post about it, with the pattern is *here.*  You can find her on Instagram. MCM January14 Block I made this house for Linda, drawing from my collection of free house patterns that I had worked up for my in-town sewing group. The reason she asked for houses, is that her house burnt to the ground, and she lost everything shortly before Thanksgiving of the year she was with our group.  We all made houses, our hearts going out to her as she worked hard to rebuild her life. (to be continued)

Snapshot: Putting the Quilt Top Together

Here’s my Snapshot Quilt, in the requisite rustic pose drooping over a gate with rusty wheelbarrow.  Go yard work for great props.

This is the third and final post in my tutorial of how to make the Snapshot Quilt, constructed from lots of Polaroid blocks.  And at the end, my little giveaway.  I have three sets of 10 blocks each to giveaway, but hey! you must be a serious Polaroid-er to get them.  Leave me a comment telling me what you’ll do with them–have you started your collection?  Do you have a few and want more?  Do you have plans for them?  And for fun, tell me about your favorite vacation photo, since this quilt is, after all, a tribute to vacation photos everywhere.

Here’s a close-up of some of the Polaroids.  I received the truck Polaroid in the swap.  Love it!

And that German-looking couple on the right was cut from my Barbie-doll dress.

Now back to work.  I have made a PDF to help guide you with cutting, and it includes the basic bones of the quilt.  Download it: PolaroidQuilt

Start throwing up blocks onto your pin wall.  This was my first attempt. I knew I wanted a stacked coins effect, but was playing around with inserting blocks into the middle of the stacks.  Meh.

Second try.  I like this one better, but not keen about the four blue blocks across the top, so I switched them around.  Check the previous post for the doctors-office-view of the quilt, which shows how I ended up arranging all my blocks.  I also checked to make sure that there wasn’t a glob of orangey-red blocks, or too many of one type or color.

After getting the blocks the way you like them, sew them together.  My row tags, made from embroidery holders, indicate which row it is, and which is the top. I pinned them all together in a row, then stitched them.

Cutting the white internal strips and borders:
Internal rows are 4 x 52″ (w/o s.a.) so cut three strips that are 4-1/2″ by 52-1/2″.  I’d STRONGLY advise cutting them on grain, that is, cut them parallel to the selvages of your white fabric.  All these double-Polaroid blocks are slightly on the bias, so they need the strong stable edges of an on-grain piece of fabric.

Borders (seam allowance included):
Border #1, top/bottom: cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 40-1/2″; for the sides, cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 56-1/2″” long
Border #2 (print), top/bottom: cut  two pieces 2-1/2″ x 44-1/2″; for the sides: cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 60-1/2″” long
Border #3, top/bottom: cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 48-1/2″; for the sides, cut two pieces 2-1/2″ x 64-1/2″” long
NOTE: I’d cut the border pieces slightly longer, to give allowance here and there for ease needed when sewing on borders.

Matching centers and edges, ease the stacked quilt blocks onto the white on-grain strip of white fabric.  Repeat until four rows of stacked quilt blocks and three strips of white fabric are sewn together.  I sewed the seam with the quilt blocks to the throat plate of my sewing machine, allowing the motion of the feed dogs to help ease in any extra fabric.

Sew on the first top border, then the bottom.  Then, matching centers and edges, sew on the side borders as you did above, keeping the white strip UP and the quilt block stack to the feed dogs.  Press seams toward quilt blocks.

Attach the print borders next in this order: top, bottom, side, side.  I was exacting on the lengths and matching edges and centers, but I should have given a little more ease to the side borders.  It’s a challenge sometimes, as you don’t want to get the borders too small so that the quilt “bows” with a curved edge, but you also don’t want it so loosey-goosey that it ripples.  Pin and check, is my advice.  Then press the seams toward the print fabric.

Lastly, attach the last white borders in the same order: top, bottom, side, side.  Press toward the second (print) border.

You’re done!

How do I plan to quilt this?  I’m thinking I’d first stabilize those long stacks with either stitching in the ditch white white thread, or a quarter-inch away into the white.  I’d like to outline along the Polaroids to make them pop.  The white sections call out for some sort of overall pattern, like this pattern from Leah Day of Free-Motion Quilting, Bow-tie Parade:

Go and visit Leah’s site for lots of ideas and a stimulating blog.  I love reading her posts.  I do plan to bind this with more of that print shown in my border.

Now! Leave a message if you are interested in scooping up some of my Polaroid blocks, and mention what you’ll do with them–have you started your collection?  Do you have a few and want more?  Do you have plans for them?  And for fun, tell me about your favorite vacation photo, since this quilt is, after all, a tribute to vacation photos everywhere.

Mine favorite vacation photo is from when Dave and I were newly married (under a year) and we took all the kids to Zion National Park.  We are standing there in the middle of red rock country in our slightly dirty T-shirts, a group of 2 adults and 4 children who were on their way to becoming a family. Now let me hear about yours.

 

UPDATE:  Congrats to the winners of the Polaroid Blocks: Mary, Cindy and Marilyn.  I’ll look forward to seeing what they do with their blocks, so send those photos over to my email when that future finish day arrives.

Snapshot: Constructing the Double Polaroid Blocks

First, let me say a thank you to Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics, who is hosting WIP Wednesday for us.  Click *here* to return to her blog and see other fabulous Works-in-Progress.

If you missed yesterday’s post about Snapshot, my latest quilt (above), scroll down as there is information for fabric requirements and a basic How-To for Polaroid Blocks.

The first picture (top) is Snapshot in a beauty pose.  This one (above) is the one where she’s in under the fluorescent lights in her doctor’s office, wearing only a flimsy gown that opens in the back.  You know the feeling.  But we need to examine the quilt to see how it’s put together, so I thought you needed a clinical kind of picture. Here you can see some of the variety in the tilting, and in stacking the blocks.  I had some scraps of fabric at the end and late one night made the one at the bottom left into two colors. (I should go to bed earlier, I think.)

I did these in sets.  You’ll end up making about 4 sets, alternating the blue fabric with the green fabric (only use one color at a time), as each stack is made up of 13 blocks.  However, I made a few more of each color, because I doubled up on some colors for variety (you can see it above where there are two blue blocks together).  So make 4 1/2 sets.
For each set of 13 double blocks, you’ll need:
8 strips of either blue or green (don’t mix), cut  1 and 1/2″ wide
2 strips of either blue of green (don’t mix), cut 1 and 1/4″ wide
26 Polaroid blocks, in pairs of two (take some time to match up the ones you want together)

Start by sewing the Polaroid blocks to to the wider  (1 and 1/2″) strip, placing Polaroids face down.  You are sewing this to the TOP of the blocks.

Lay out the strip of blocks and cut the blocks apart.  With scissors.  Remember those?  We finished up our discussion of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Your Brains in class, and the last section talked about tools; when we adapt and adopt a tool, it become an extension of us and we may leave older tools behind if the new one suits us better.  So if you feel like the rotary cutter is an extension of your hand, you may need to practice using scissors again.  Kidding.

Press the fabric away from the block, like this:

Now sew another wide strip on the bottom of your Polaroids.

Here’s four blocks, with the top and bottom borders sewn.  Again, you are using the 1 and 1/2″ width fabric.

Lay out a strip of the narrower fabric (1 and 1/4″) and place your blocks side by side, matching up your pairs.  Separate them by about 1/4″ at the bottom.   I pinned them so it would be easier to transfer to the sewing machine.  Sew the first set (one side) onto the center strip. You should be able to get about 7 Polaroids per strip.

As you sew on the first set, pay attention matching the edge of the Polaroid block to the edge of the center strip, letting those little bits of borders stick out.  You can cut them off in an earlier stage if you need to, but I did mine after sewing them.

NOW trim off the little edges if they bug you.  For sure, trim off the big overhangs!  Just lay out the strip as shown, and cut the overhangs off, even with the long strip.  DO NOT CUT THEM APART!!!   Let me repeat.  DO NOT CUT THEM APART!!

Now, take your “right leaning” and “left leaning” PDF printouts from the last post, and set one of them at a time on the table while you do the next step.  I made all the greens to lean to the LEFT. All my blues lean to the RIGHT.  It feels backwards, but here we go.  I used the picture to get in my mind which Polaroid should be 1/4″ up and which one should be 1/4″ (or the width of that top border) down as I’m lining them up along that center strip.

Notice in this high-quality illustration that the blocks lean to the right.  To accomplish this, you have to offset them when you sew them to the center strip.  The left block is “lower” on the strip, and the block on the right side is “higher.”  This is why I used two colors: to keep things straight.

But my greens tilt the OTHER way, so I used the “left leaning” diagram to help me.

(Diagram in action!)

Again, to get the tilt, you need to jog the one on the top down about one-fourth inch.  What I did was line up the edge of the green border  with the top of my center picture in my Polaroid block.  (I know this sounds confusing, so just look at the pictures.) This will give you that offset you need in order to tilt your block.  Do this with the remainder of your pairs.  Pin, then stitch.

When working with the blue, I reversed the sewing, stitching the blocks on the right-hand side of the center strip first, then the left.

Here it is sewn.  You can really see the slipped alignment here.  Press this seam toward the center strip.  See two steps down, for the why of pressing.

Cut these blocks apart now; the cut will be angled to fit the skewed alignment.

Here’s one that’s been cut apart after sewing.  Here you can see the shift.

And in comparing these two blocks (the one directly above and the one below), you can see the difference the pressing makes.  The pressed edges can either make a block look like it’s resting on the top or like it’s “sunken” into the strips surrounding it.  I wanted my Polaroids to have that look of being bordered by strips, not the strips “supporting” and “lifting” up the Polaroids.  So that’s why all the pressing directions indicate which way to press the seams.

Here you can see the different pressing.  All right Goldilocks, you are through the deep scary forest and just about to claim that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Using the wider (1 1/4″) strip again, sew the outer borders onto both sides of your block assemblage. Cut apart.

You should have 13 blocks that look like this.  Now comes more fun, more forest.

Get out that PDF picture again.  Lay it at the top while you trim your blocks.  The size you want to trim to is 4 1/2″ by 7 1/2″.

You need to tilt your ruler a bit, making sure you leave at least 1/2″ space between the edge of your white Polaroid interior block and the planned cutting line on the outside edge of your ruler.  (This is why you make extra blocks, if you get my drift.)  I tried to vary my cuts, because I think one of the charm of these Polaroid blocks is their wonkiness when set into their frames, much like a child would paste vacation photos into an album.  So sometimes I was just over 1/2″ from that edge, and other times I was closer to 3/4″.

Keep at eye on that 4 1/2 line, as well as the 7 1/2″ line.  Be a juggler, keeping all these things in mind as you go for your first cut, slicing off the top of the block.  Then flip it around, putting the cut edge at the bottom.

Lay the 4 1/2″ line of your ruler at the bottom, lining up your freshly cut edge.  Check your measurements.  You want the bottom lined up, but you also have to check that the block is centered so when you cut off that right side, you’ll have an evenly centered  7 1/2″ block.  If you are good to go, slice off that right-hand side.

At first, I flipped it around again, as I’d only have to pay attention to one last side (shown above).  But after a while I became confident enough to slice off the top, >flip<, slice off the right and top edges again, then >flip< cut the last edge off.  Which is what I’m doing in the picture above.

I took this photo mid-cutting to show you how the block can feel skitty-wampus when you look at the first two cuts.  But then you slice off the two side edges and you are Through The Forest Again!  In the arrangement of my quilt, I used 28 blue double-Polaroid blocks and 24 green.  Make enough that you have some to play around with, and if you like decorations on the back of your quilts, include some for that too.

NEXT POST:  Putting the quilt top together, and one day closer to my surprise giveaway.