Hallowe’en 1904 QAL–Step Four

Step 4 halloweenQAL

It’s the WONKY STARS step!

If you are appliquéing your stars onto your smaller background blocks, go for it and we’ll see you next month.  For the rest of you, even those not making this quilt, I’ll walk you through a stack and slash version of a star, pioneered by Thelma of Cupcakes and Daisies.

HalloweeenQuilt 1008dollars

You’ve seen this before; this is an image I found on the web some time ago of the quilt we are making, Hallowe’en 1904 by Blackbird Designs.  Yes, we are again hard at it for the Hallowe’en 1904 Quilt-A-Long.  All of four of us will have quilts ready for Halloween, so I’m excited about that prospect. Well, maybe it’s more than four of you out there in the Internets, but at least two of us — Leisa and I — will be among those finished in time for that fall celebration.

Again, Leisa and I are making NINE blocks, down from the original twelve in the pattern.  I posted a version of smaller quilt *here,* using all twelve blocks and formulated by Mary Burton.  But we’re doing nine, with four appliqué and five star blocks.

A recap of last month’s sewing:

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Yes, all four are done, even the one with the weird-o leaf.  It’s staying put for now.

touching up stitching

Here’s my tip for touching up those stray bobbin threads that work their way up if you are doing satin stitch: get out a Sharpie marker in the color of your thread and color it in.  I also use it for errant free-motion-quilting oopsies.

And this time, we’re heading right into How to Make A Wonky Star.  If you want to go the traditional route, of cutting and appliquéing your stars down to your background, go ahead and get going, and we’ll see you next time, on June 13th.  Anyone else who wants to learn this technique, stick around.

crazy nine patch block

(from here)

It’s not a new technique as we used to use it to make things like nine-patch blocks: stack up a bunch of fabrics, cut, swap out the fabrics and sew.  I also found a version of this stack-and-slash used in a star block, and the copyright on the page says it’s from 2000-2005. And Bethany Reynolds is credited with the first national use of the technique known as Stack-N-Whack.  I tell you all of this to say there is nothing new under the sun, especially in quilting, but only new turns at an old technique or form or idea.

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We’ll get this far this month, but will do five of these blocks, saving the points around the outside for next month (although you are free to move forward if you want). Halloweenqal4_1

Get out your strips of fabrics, cut according to the chart.

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Different versions of the Stack & Slash Star pattern. Halloweenqal4_2I drafted and revised this star block multiple times, trying to get the proportions of the Stack & Slash pattern correct. For this reason, please print off only enough for your own use.  Please don’t print off enough for your mother or your girlfriend; send them here to get their own.   Download the PDF file here: Stack&Slash StarEastmondHalloweenqal4_2a

You’ll notice on the pattern that there are lots of little diamonds and slashes.  (These are your notches to help you get the thing back together.  It doesn’t matter if you use mine, or make up some marking system of your own, but please do this!)  Lay some clear template plastic over the pattern and trace.  Looks like mine got reversed somehow, but really it just doesn’t matter one way or the other.  Now pay attention to what is the center of the star (A1, B1, B2 and C1) and what is the background (all the rest).
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Working with a single layer of fabric (yes, you can stack them up, but don’t put the fabrics back-to-back unless you want to have some “regular” stars and some “reversed” stars.  It will drive you a bit crazy, but it’s do-able, in case you forgot), lay out the background templates. (See example below)

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If you do the usual cut of WOF, you’ll have part of the fabric facing you and part of it will be facing down to the cutting table, because of that fold.  Unfold it before cutting and you’ll avoid this problem.  I just had to go back in and cut some parts “backwards” and I made enough for a star or two.  So  you’ll notice that some of my stars are wonky to the left, and some are wonky to the right.  It just doesn’t matter.  Really.

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Cut around them.Halloweenqal4_8

Start stacking up your pieces underneath the templates as you cut them

VERY IMPORTANT:  To get the appropriate amount of wonkiness, you’ll need at least FIVE different background fabrics, because there are 5 different pieces to the background.  If you want to have the star pieces all different, you’ll need FOUR different star fabrics, because there are 4 different pieces to the star.  Confused?  Just walk yourself through one and you’ll see what I mean.  I only had four different background fabrics and you’ll see some repeats, but I did have the five different star fabrics.Halloweenqal4_9

You’ll need to do some shuffling as you sew.  Notice how all the fabrics are the same up above–all the star points are the same fabric and all the backgrounds are the same.  In this stack and slash method, you will think of them as separate stacks.  From the picture above, take one of the star points (start with B1) and move the top fabric to the bottom.  Then move the next star point (B2) and move the top TWO fabrics to the bottom of the stack.  Repeat for C1–moving the top THREE fabrics to the bottom of the stack.  Now all the star sections will be different in your block.  If you cut in layers and have multiple layers, just follow the instructions, treating the same fabrics as “one” and shuffling them all to the bottom. If this is all too confusing, on YouTube there are multiple videos — just type “stack and slash,” or “stack and whack.”  If you have a lot of time, *this* one is in four parts, but it’s very thorough.

Repeat that process of shuffling the top fabric to the bottom of the stack for all five background pieces.
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We’ll assemble this in three sections: A-section, B-section, C-section.  First sew A2 to A1.  Concentrate on that lower edge–keeping it aligned (where it butts up against the B-section).  Press toward star.  Sew A3 to A1/2 section, again, concentrating on that long straight edge.  Press.  Trim up that long edge, if necessary.

Repeat for the B-section: This time sew B2 to B3, concentrating on the long edge against the B1 piece.  Now sew that unit to B1.  Trim the edge where it will join up to the C-section if necessary, erring on the side of too little, rather than too much, trimming.

And the C-section follows the same process: C1 gets sewn to C2; press.  Then sew that to C3; trim if necessary to get a long straight line where it will join the B-section.Halloweenqal4_12

Join the sections together, pressing the seams to one side.  All the outside edges are skitty-wampus.Halloweenqal4_13

Trim up the block to a 5 and 3/4″ square, REMEMBERING TO TRIM ON POINT,  so the main star tip is pointing UP to the corner.  Yeah, I know mine got turned around pointing to the right, but I think you can figure it out.  It’s the star point sitting on top of that long B1 piece.  Repeat this over and over.  You can cut and sew a bunch and it goes much faster.
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Add on your outside large triangles, varying them from orange to black, as are your star points.  We’ll save the outside HSTs for next month.  So, get busy making wonky stars and we’ll see you on June 13th!

1halloweenQAL logo

Here’s our schedule:

Step 1 (Preparation): February 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Mine was purchased from Common Threads in Waxahachie, TX (www.commonthreadsquilting.com).  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 2: March 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, strips for the wonky stars, but save the piano key border for later.

Step 3: April 2016–Assemble four blocks and add large appliques; use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. Make and add half-square triangeles (HSTs) around these blocks, using the 8-at-a-time method of HSTs.

Step 4: May 2016–Cut and make the wonky star blocks from templates and strips.  I’m doing five blocks, so will need to make twenty wonky stars and true them up.  Add on the large outside triangles.

Step 5: June 2016–Assemble the rest of the star blocks, by adding their HST borders. In the pattern, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

Step6: July 2016–Arrange the blocks on your design wall and stitch together.  Cut the pieces for your borders.  Make the four corner pinwheels.

Step 7: August 2016–Sew borders together and attach them to the quilt.

Hallowe’en 1904 QAL–Step Three

Step 3 halloweenQAL

Welcome again to the Hallowe’en 1904 Quilt-A-Long.

halloweenqal_pattern cover

As a refresher, we are making this quilt, a pattern from Blackbird Designs.  I must admit it took me a while to re-orient myself to what-the-heck-I-am-doing in this process, but I dragged out my box of stuff, found my pieces am ready to get going.  (If you aren’t making this quilt with us, scroll down to read about making 8 half square triangles at one time, as well as some tips for shaping bias strips.)

Springtime 2016

And of course, it’s lovely springtime in Southern California, so that really makes us feel like working on Halloween stuff, but we agreed to work early so we could hang our quilts up at the first of October, not the last.  While the original quilt has twelve blocks, my friend Leisa and I are making a quilt with nine blocks, and so have adjusted all the quantities accordingly: four blocks with appliqué and five blocks with stars.

In Step One, we gathered supplies.
In Step Two, we did all our cutting.  There is a cutting chart you can download and use to guide you.
Now, in Step Three, we making the appliqué blocks with the Halloween shapes on them: pumpkin (2), pumpkin with cat (1) and moon and star (1).  We’ll also talk about how to make half square triangles (HST) more efficiently, and then about appliquéing the whole thing down.  Here we go.

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Leisa came over for an afternoon, and we started by tracing around all the templates, getting our motifs organized.  We decided to add a black cat to our pumpkin, so here is the PDF file: Halloween Cat.  Print it at 100%, so it ends up about six inches tall (or tweak it to make it bigger or smaller–whatever you like).  We wanted the cat facing to the right, so flipped it over and traced the outline on the back with a black marker pen.  Then Leisa traced it out for us on the fusible stuff.

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Remember that it has to be backwards, to be facing the right way.  We used Steam A Seam 2, following their directions of which paper to trace onto, and then cut the shape out loosely, after which we ironed it onto the back of the fabric.  I recommend using either a pressing cloth, or a larger piece of their release paper so you don’t get any gunk on the iron.Halloweenqal3_11

(pumpkin leaves)Halloweenqal3_12

Cut out all your shapes and then set them aside.

Now grab a stack of your dark and light 7-inch squares.  Layer two together, so the light is on top.  You’ll be making HST eight at a time in this next step.  This is not a new idea, but it’s explained pretty well *here* and *here* and *here.*

Somewhere in my web travels I picked up this chart: HST 8 part

I wish I knew where it was from, because it’s a great chart with lots of sizes.  If you know where it’s from (I couldn’t find it in my searches) let me know so I can give them proper attribution. [UPDATE:  Katell from France wrote in to tell me it’s from Jeni Baker’s Book Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle.   I suggest you pick up a copy of her book, as it has lots of great tips for making perfect half-square triangles.]

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So basically, you draw two lines across the two diagonals of your block, then stitch 1/4″ away from either side of the line.  It looks rumply because you’ve been sewing on the bias.Halloweenqal3_3

Take it to the ironing board and press and steam out the block so it lays flat, and the stitching is nestled into your fabric.
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Now you’ll be cutting across the block in two ways, as shown by all these extraneous photos.  I’m sure you’ll get it after seeing all these.Halloweenqal3_4a

First cut side-to-side and top-to-bottom. Don’t slide them apart–mine are that way just to show you.Halloweenqal3_4b

Then cut along your penciled lines.  Again, do it while everything’s together.  Mine are apart for illustration purposes only.Halloweenqal3_5

Take the triangles to your ironing board and press to the dark side (insert Star Wars reference here). Halloweenqal3_6

I use a Bloc-Loc ruler (6 1/2″ size) to true them up to 3 inches square; it has a groove in it that fits neatly over your seam and makes truing up much easier.  You’ll need three sets of these blocks for each large block in this quilt.  You’ll repeat this process, choosing different darks and different lights.  Let’s do that math again.

Each Eight-at-a-Time square makes. . . 8 HST.  You need 24 HST per quilt block, so you make three sets.  I tried to vary my fabrics, using three different lights and three different darks (or oranges).  You’ll find out why you want variety in a minute.  After they are all trued up to 3″ square (all 24 per block), set them aside.Halloweenqal3_7

Take the smaller light background squares, and choose four.  Stitch them together:Halloweenqal3_7a Halloweenqal3_8

Choosing either black or orange, sew on four large triangles, two at a time, to your set of four light squares.
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Grab your stack of HSTs.  Starting with one set, distribute them around the block, two per side, spacing them randomly.  I also put my smaller corner blocks down, so I can make sure to keep everything as random as I can (trying NOT to match the fabrics, but sometimes it happens. If it does, don’t fret).
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Here’s mine (orange HST) and Leisa’s (black HST).Halloweenqal3_9

Start with the lower edge of triangles; sew them together in a strip.  This goes on very smoothly if you are using a 1/4″ seam allowance when you stitch (not 3/16ths” and not 5/16s” Strive for accuracy).  Press to the dark side (okay, I couldn’t resist).

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Matching up that center spot, pin, and then stitch the row onto your larger block.  Press toward the larger block.

Now for the side rows: pin, but add on the corner blocks on each end.  Press the row’s seam allowances toward the dark side EXCEPT for those corner blocks.  On those, I pressed toward the corner block, so that putting this together would be easier (the seams will nest–you’ll see what I mean).  Now attach them to the larger block, matching those corner seams, and stitch.  Press toward the block.

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Ta-DONE!Halloweenqal3_13

Get your cut-outs, and start playing.  Remove the backing paper and you’ll find it easier, as the fusible stuff is tacky and will adhere lightly as you arrange and re-arrange.Halloweenqal3_14

When you like where things are, fuse them to your block, following the directions that came with your fusing product (I use a cotton setting, lifting the iron on with an up-and-down motion until it’s adhered, but don’t mash it flat and sear it into the cloth.  Easy does it).Halloweenqal3_15

Leisa’s block.Halloweenqal3_16

Leisa’s pumpkin in place.Halloweenqal3_17

Now it’s time to make that curlicue vine/stem.  Cut a bias piece of fabric, 1-inch wide and at least 14 inches long.  Fold it in half, with the right sides outside.  Stitch in fat 1/4″ seam.Halloweenqal3_17a

Trim the seam to a scant 1/8.”Halloweenqal3_17b

I use bias pressing bars and insert them into the tube, rolling the seam allowance to the top.  Press lightly.  Remove the 1/4″ bar, and press the bias lightly.  You don’t want to mash it flat, but you do want to set the bias tube so the seam remains to the back side.Halloweenqal3_17c

On a padded surface (I use my ironing board), coil and pin one end fairly tightly, then using the pattern pictures as a guide, loosely curve the curlicue stem the other way.  Steam it with your iron, then let it cool.  Remove the pins.Halloweenqal3_18

Drape it/arrange it/fiddle with it on your block.  I concentrated more on the coiled up section, then let the curve artfully drape back to the center of the pumpkin, not worrying about how long it was.  Halloweenqal3_18a

I decided to sew it down by hand.  First sew the outer edge, then the inner edge (shown below), coaxing that inner edge flat with nudges from your finger and by taking smaller stitches.  You are not necessarily aiming for *flat* but more for *nice curve.*  After stitching it down, give it a little steam from your iron to press it lightly.Halloweenqal3_18b Halloweenqal3_19

Next one is prepped up.  I cut off the extra stem about 1/2″ below the pumpkin’s edge and folded this end  (as well as the inner coil end) under 1/4″ and tacked the edges down.Halloweenqal3_20

I’m not a huge fan of machine-done buttonhole stitch, although I really like it on others’ quilts.  If you are skilled at that, try that stitch.  For me, I went with a medium-wide satin stitch, my needle just over the edge of the piece.  Halloweenqal3_20a

I lifted up a leaf a bit as I got to the end, another advantage of not searing your applique piece into your fabric.  I ironed it back down again after I was through.Halloweenqal3_20b

Pumpkin is on.Halloweenqal3_20c

Here’s my secret to getting even appliqué stitching without having the bobbin thread pull up to the top: two sheets of computer paper.  It also prevents stretching as you stitch.  I’ve backed all my stitching with this for years and years and years–it comes off easily, like tearing perforated paper, and makes your stitching nice and smooth.  After stitching down the pumpkin (the shape at the bottom of the stack), stitch down your leaves (next layer up) and finally, your cat.  In some quilts, I’ve seen a star in the middle of the pumpkin.Halloweenqal3_21

Well, that’s it for this step: because we’re doing nine blocks, we chose to do four with cut-out motifs.  You’ll need to adjust whatever you’re doing to the number of blocks you’ve chosen.Halloweenqal3_21a

Close-up of my appliqué.  If truly this bias thing is driving you mad, feel free to try Thelma’s method of drawing a shape and fusing it down.

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Now I need to get busy and finish these!  I have all of this month to do it in.  Next post in the Hallowe’en 1904 QAL will be May 13th.  I plan to finish up these three, then make scads and scads of HSTs, getting ready for the next steps.  Hope you can finish yours, too!

UPDATE:

Halloweenqal3_24white pumpkin

Here’s my latest block.  I cut down the moon because it needed to be more round (according to my husband and I always listen to him) and I smallerized the star, then put them both on a white pumpkin.  I did two layers on that white pumpkin: the fabric you see and I underlined it with some cream solid fabric so the black wouldn’t show through.  I created a stem (2 1/2″ inches high), and a smaller moon and star for inside the pumpkin (PDF file of the patterns are here: StemStarMoon_OPQuilt).  Print it out at 100%.  I’m much happier with things now.  Don’t be timid about playing around with your pieces and colors until you find what makes you happy, too.

1halloweenQAL logo

Here’s our schedule:

Step 1 (Preparation): February 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Mine was purchased from Common Threads in Waxahachie, TX (www.commonthreadsquilting.com).  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 2: March 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, strips for the wonky stars, but save the piano key border for later.

Step 3: April 2016–Assemble four blocks and add large appliques; use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. Make and add half-square triangeles (HSTs) around these blocks, using the 8-at-a-time method of HSTs.

Step 4: May 2016–Cut and make the wonky star blocks from templates and strips. We’ll be using Thelma’s method.  I’m doing five blocks, so will need to make twenty wonky stars and true them up.

Step 5: June 2016–Assemble the rest of the star blocks, adding the large triangles on each corner and their HST borders. In the pattern, and in the photo above from Thelma, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

Step6: July 2016–Arrange the blocks on your design wall and stitch together.  Cut the pieces for your borders.  Make the four corner pinwheels.

Step 7: August 2016–Sew borders together and attach them to the quilt.

 

Hallowe’en 1904 QAL–Step Two

Step 2 halloweenQAL

STEP TWO: CUT!!

Happy March 13th!  My friend Leisa and I got busy this month, cutting up our fabrics so we could show you this step.  I’ve made some alterations to our Master Plan (below).  If you’re not making this quilt–see you at the next post!

Fearless Leaders HalloweenQAL

Yep, we got a little goofy on some of the cutting, but don’t worry! We made it through, and so can  you.  Remember that Leisa and I are doing only NINE blocks of the original twenty as we want wall-sized quilts, so if you are making the big one, your numbers and cutting time will increase (I know that’s a duh.)

HOWEVER, at the end of this post, I’ve included a smallerized version of this quilt, thanks to Mary Burton, one of my readers, who often “shrinks down” quilt patterns in order to make the full compliment of blocks.  So you can make a smaller quilt, by also making smaller blocks.  More, later.

halloweenqal_pattern cover

As a reminder, we are following this pattern by Blackbird Designs, so of necessity, to protect the pattern designers, I won’t show complete measurements.  But where I’ve deviated or made up my own pattern, I’m happy to share.

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We started here.  I didn’t have the pattern when we were buying, so we went a little overboard on some things, but amazingly, we ended up fairly on target for most of the fabrics.  I would probably add another green, if I were doing it again.  Download and print out the PDF of the cutting chart: Cutting Chart for Halloween Quilt

Here’s a part of it:

CuttingChartHalloween

Across the top I identify the piece, then the color of the fabric and the number (#) of those pieces for one block.  Then I added my column of number (#) for 9 blocks.  You get to fill in your info on the last column.  Keep reading. . . while you enjoy this wonderful quilt from Thelma, of Cupcakes ‘n Daisies:

Thelma’s Quilt, of Cupcakes ‘n’ Daisies

As you look at YOUR chart, you’ll need to decide how many star blocks you want, how many appliqué blocks you’d like to make.  Then, further subdivide your appliqué choices into how many pumpkins?  how many cats?  how many moons/whatever?  The pattern includes the pumpkins, stars and moons, but for the cat, you’re on your own (that’s what we have Google Image for–just type in silhouette halloween cat).  Thelma’s owl is referenced in *this* post.  Leisa and I are making 5 star blocks, 1 cat-on-a-pumpkin block, 2 pumpkin blocks, and 1 moon block.

We are doing the 8-way method of making half-square triangle blocks (HST)–more on this in the next post–but for the size of HSTs we need to go around the outside edge, we need to cut 7″ squares.  Since there are 24 HST around the outside of one large block, you’ll need three sets per block of these 8-way HSTs–three of a dark (orange or black) and three of a light (tan/off-white).  I couldn’t decide ahead what I wanted where, so I planned to cut 27 of each (dark, light) and I’ll figure it out as I go along, but then I’m okay if I have to mix orange and black HST points around the outside.  Refer to the chart.  Quickly, here’s all that we cut:

halloweenqal2_fabriccuts1

Cut seven-inch squares on this step, half in light and half in dark (orange/black) fabrics.halloweenqal2_fabriccuts2 halloweenqal2_fabriccuts3 halloweenqal2_pumpkin block

Then to make sure I was on track, I thought I’d better sew up one of these 8-way HST things and cut the triangles for the corners around the appliqué just to make sure it all worked.  It does.  I’ve put on the leaves on my pumpkin, but not the curlicue stem (that, and appliquéing them down will come later–I’m just testing).  By the way, this block measures 19 1/2″ (finished)– just to compare it to Mary’s version of 9″ (her instruction sheet further down; keep reading).

ATTENTION: If you are going to appliqué down your stars onto the center of your background blocks, skip ahead to the next section.  This next discussion (somewhat confusing until you start the actual construction, but I’ll do my best to explain it now) is for those who want to make wonky stars.

halloweenqal2_star block

Let’s talk about the Wonky Stars.  Here’s a sample (without the HSTs) to see how the fabrics are all placed around.  There are four pieces for the star centers, and five pieces that make up the star backgrounds.  Sew them together, trim and you have our block. halloweenqal2_wonkystar2

While this cutting-bigger-and-shuffling thing was big in the 1980s when we’d make wonky nine-patch blocks, it’s currently being taken to new heights by the Buggy Barn.  But generally you make a pattern for the star bigger than you need, then sew it together after shuffling the pieces.  I’ll give you this template next month, but above you can see one of the earlier prototypes.halloweenqal2_wonkystar3

The stars in the blue/light print are my first prototype and you can see I cut off the points.  Re-draft.  The next set (the lower green/white) just looked weird.  Re-draft.  I am pretty happy with the top two stars (green white) as their proportions look okay to me, and when I did them up in the fabrics of the blocks (above), they still looked okay.  So, how did we figure out what to cut?
halloweenqal2_wonkystar4

First, following Thelma’s lead, I made plastic templates for each piece, then divided them up by star-center and star-background.  Leisa laid out the templates on the cutting board, trying to see how economically we could fit them onto a strip of fabric.  She came up with a 4″ strip of fabric for the star backgrounds (and it will take 18″ of that strip for one background set) and a 3 1/2″ strip for the star centers (and you’ll use 11″ of that strip).  So you can get two complete star backgrounds from one 4″ by WOF strip and three complete star centers from one 3-1/2″ by WOF strip.

The trick is, though, that you need a variety of prints to make the wonkiness.  Since there are 4 pieces to the star center, you’ll need at least 4 strips, each of a different fabric.  For the star backgrounds, you’ll need 5 different strips.

ARE YOU THOROUGHLY CONFUSED?  Me too, and I already did it.  Just download the chart, follow along how many we cut (or count the number in the photo) and get everything cut.  Don’t give away your extra fabric, in case you need more, and tuck it all away in a box until April 13th, when we’ll start constructing the appliqué blocks, and I’ll show you how to do the 8-way HST blocks, too.  Wonky stars are coming in May.

NOW, here’s Mary Burton’s measurements for her smaller quilt.  She writes:

“The blocks finish at 8.5 inches with piano border finishing at 3″ so the quilt will be 40″ square.  I love mine. I don’t usually make bed quilts so I reduce lots of patterns.”

MaryBurtonHalloween

I’ve purposely left this photo uncropped so you can use the outlet for a gauge as to how elegant this smaller version of the quilt is.  Really fabulous, and I love the way her backgrounds in the star blocks go from medium to light.

She and I corresponded back and forth several times.  She mentioned that:

“[Going smaller] isn’t harder when you are an experienced quilter. You just take your time.  Take two squares, sew your seam and measure  that piece to be sure you have the measurement you are supposed to have.  Do that until you get the correct measurement.  If you do that you should not have to pin.  Also, you will always be able to use that needle position for all future projects.
The only part that I had to slow down for were the half square triangles because they are so small.  If you use the easy angle ruler, they actually cut and go together fast.  I just learned how to use it this year and it’s wonderful.   Since I made this quilt last spring I just cut 2-inch squares in half and sewed my triangles together and then squared them down to 1 1/4.”   The Easy Angle ruler leaves that step out and you don’t have any fabric waste.  You do have to find your correct measurement though.   You don’t measure your seam, you measure those 2 squares after you sew them.
I did press my seams open because of so many seams. You can use any technique you wish. I always use whatever works for me. If you have never use the Easy Angle ruler, Bonnie Hunter has a tutorial for it on her site.   Don’t bother with the tutorial from the manufacturer.”
Download her instruction sheet here: Burton_Halloween1904  And if you want to thank her, leave a comment and I’ll forward it on to her.

By the way, I’ve changed some of the schedule stuff below.  Just keeping’ things up to date.  See you next month!

1halloweenQAL logo

Revised Master Schedule:

Step 1 (Preparation): February 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Mine was purchased from Common Threads in Waxahachie, TX (www.commonthreadsquilting.com).  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 2: March 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, strips for the wonky stars, but save the piano key border for later.

Step 3: April 2016–Assemble four blocks and add large appliques; use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. Make and add half-square triangeles (HSTs) around these blocks, using the 8-at-a-time method of HSTs, here and here. In the pattern, and in the photo from Thelma, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

Step 4: May 2016–Cut and make the wonky star blocks from templates and strips. We’ll be using Thelma’s method.  I’m doing five blocks, so will need to make twenty wonky stars and true them up.

Step 5: June 2016–Assemble the rest of the star blocks, adding the large triangles on each corner and their HST borders. In the pattern, and in the photo above from Thelma, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

Step6: July 2016–Arrange the blocks on your design wall and stitch together.  Cut the pieces for your borders.  Make the four corner pinwheels.

Step 7: August 2016–Sew borders together and attach them to the quilt.

Two Finishes: Baskets and a Halloween Quilt for 2016

NOTE: Please forgive the blog gremlins who used to work here.  To quote Monty Python, they have been sacked.Halloween QuiltQuilt Number 154
Spooky Action at a Distance

Construction began October 2015 • Finished November 2015

I began saving Polaroid blocks for this quilt two years ago, and purchased the fabric about the same time.  I thought it was time to push it over to the “done” side of the ledger, given my last post.  Label’s not yet finished–coming soon.  The title is taken from one of Einstein’s scoffing statements over the idea that  that one particle can have an effect on another particle which might be some distance away.  He thought is was not possible.  Modern physics has proved him wrong, and scads of poems have been written about this, so I thought, why not a quilt title for a spooky quilt?

Spooky Quilt_front

Howard Levy’s poem, of the same name, notes that those who snuggle under quilts can experience this effect:

It is this way: men and women
spin. Hundreds of miles apart, thousands
of miles, the speed of light, it will make no difference….

And Einstein, could he admit
that love would be fast enough,
that this “spooky action at a distance”
is not necessarily paradox,
that these two influence simply in their being,
taken in to each other and separate,
separate and taken in.

Spooky Quilt_detail Spooky Quilt_back

Baskets QuiltQuilt Number 155
I carried quilt and basket through whispering grass

Made the first basket in May 2015 • Finished November 2015

This was a fun quilt to make, a really great one to do with large scraps.  I have a tutorial •here• for cutting up the baskets quickly, and the how-to for the handle is *here.*  Just go go go, trying not to think about it too much, and have fun while you cut and sew.  The title is taken from “The Picnic,” a poem by Maylee Bossy, about an outing after her husband has passed away.  My husband is still very much here, but the poem involved a quilt and a basket — how could I pass it up?

Basket Quilt_frontBasket Quilt_back

So I guess that deadline thing is working for me, right?  A Halloween quilt finished in November?  A Spring quilt finished in autumn?  Let’s just say we’re EARLY, and leave it at that.

Sewing Sewing Sewing Along

Peter's Pumpkin 2014

To get you back in the mood for this post, here’s my son’s pumpkin.  Did I tell you he has a great sense of humor and can write computer code that drives websites?

KeaganEgyptian_1

First up is Keagan, the Egyptian Princess.  I visited my daughter’s home in October and went right to work.  We had to double-line that white sheath because, well, it was white.  Keagan and I talked over costumes, looking some up on Pinterest before she went to school and then I headed to JoAnn’s.  I hate paying a billion dollars for patterns, so picked up one of the $2.99 Quick and Easy patterns that looked like it might work, and added on enough at the bottom to be long enough.  I used the bodice of the dress to fashion a collar out of paper and tried it on her.  Keagan had a few suggestions and I trimmed it to her specifications.

KeaganEgyptian_2

The drapey thing was pinned on in the back with a safety pin, then wrapped around some rubber bands.  Her mother and dad fashioned some gold bands for her (one solution is to cut a Pringle’s can into sections, then spray-paint gold) which she slipped over to hide the hair bands.  She also had some on her upper arms to complete the look.

MaddyasElsa_1

Maddy wanted to be Elsa.  She had VERY detailed instructions, and since she was recovering from a tonsillectomy I had her at my disposal for measuring.  The dress had to had see-through sleeves and silver at the top of the bodice, and Maddy was very specific about the drapey overcoat thing, wanting it to flow from her shoulders, but since I only had one day to get both costumes done, I went with a “coat-type” construction, made out of organza so it would have some body.

MaddyasElsa_2

We cut out a giant silver snowflake by tracing it onto the paper side of fusible web, adhering it to the silver lame.  We cut out the lame, peeled off the paper and fused it on.  Because the lame and the organza are kind of “open” this process left a residue of stickiness.  I told my daughter she’d better wash her ironing board cover so it wouldn’t stick to anything she ironed after that.

MaddyasElsa_3

I’m told both costumes were a hit.

Halloween 2014

Here they are with their brother who was a Mad Scientist-Zombie Guy.  Maddy is not wearing a crown (it’s a bush behind her).  Sure looks like a crown, though.

BarbarasTote_1

I was also able to get ahold of the pouch I made for Barbara and check it out, fully loaded.

BarbarasTote_2

BarbarasTote_3She says it works great.  I’m so glad I can sew! Thanks, Mom!

Halloween House Quilt Block

Finally getting back to these little houses, after being gone to Montreal for a few days, then stuck in the Grading Galaxy when I returned.  I could make lists of the things I’m working on, but today — a little progress after a long time away from quilting.  And yes, you can still see my autumn quilt up on the pin wall behind the ironing board.  Add that to the list!

Thanks, Lee, of Freshly Pieced Fabrics, for hosting us all.

Click *here* for the block pattern cutting diagram.