Tuesday, August 30, 2011

...Sew Australia - A Bee Block Tutorial

My month in the Sew Australia bee has less snuck up on me, rather arrived with no smaller pile of things to do and little planning for the bee being done until recently. My thinking went something like this. I want a block (and a quilt) that is not the same as all the others (don't ask me to explain what I mean by same and others - I don't know). And I had fabric already chosen and bought so whatever I came up with had to be something that would suit, and feature, the novelty prints. The fabric is Circa 50 so I was thinking a 1950's design. Google couldn't help me with that but I did spy this quilt.

The description suggests that the block is called 'Stacked Hex' or 'Running Hex' but for the life of me I can't find the hexagon unit in it. If you can please tell me, it is driving me insane. But in the absence of such sight I drafted myself a block and will add the setting triangles between it and the sashing for a twin size quilt when they all return.

I'm calling the block 50's Crystal for a lack of knowledge as to the real name.  
***EDIT*** Lisa has pointed out that the finished block has six sides, and is therefore a hexagon. There might be some goemetry experts out there that would argue the case and point out the six sides are not equal in length but I think they would be nitpicking. Maybe I should be calling it a Stacked Hex block afterall.

Apologies for the dark, rubbish pictures. No matter what I do I can't seem to get a good picture at night and that is when I get to sew.
 50's Crystal Block Tutorial

For each block you will need
1x 6" square of dark print
2x 5" square of light print (I used a print and solid)
1x 4" square of light print cut on point.
I have described where I used the dark and light print - my sashing will be reasonably dark and that has impacted my placement but switching them would give an effect more like the inspiration quilt.

Step 1: Making the end units

 Place 5" Squares right sides together and draw a line corner to corner. Sew 1/4" each side of this line.

Cut along the drawn line, press seams to set and then press seam towards the print.

Trim these units to 4" square. Place your ruler with the 45 degree mark on the seam line ensuring the edge of the block extends beyond the 4" mark on your ruler.
Trim the two sides and then turn the block, line up with the 4" line again and the 45 degree line and trim the final two sides.

You will now have the 3 centre squares that are sewn into the block on point.

Step Two: The setting triangles
The 6" square will be cut into 4 triangles like you are cutting a sandwich.
First cut corner to corner diagonally.
And then cut the resulting triangle in half again. It helps to position the 45 degree line on the side and the ruler on the point to ensure your halves will be equal. I find cutting one and a time makes this more accurate.

 Lay out your setting triangles with the square units you made in the previous step. The blocks will be orientated vertically in the final quilt so please orientate the squares in this way when laying it out. The solid white triangles should be on the outside.

The triangles will extend 1/4" beyond the square on one side. Match the top corner (right angle corner) of the triangle with the corner of the square as shown in the picture above.

Sew a one triangle to each of the end squares and two to the middle square.
You will end up with three units as shown above.

Press to set all seams and then press seam allowances towards the setting triangles.

Step Three: Joining the units.
The last step is joining the three units.

Nest the seams as shown in the picture above and pin on the seamline. Your prints and whites will be right sides together as shown in the picture above as well.
You want the seams to match and that 1/4" tag at each end of the seam as shown below.
Sew both joining seams and...
You're done!

There are a lot of pictures in this post spelling out what might seems to be really basic steps but they do help make a precise block. The blocks actually don't take that long to make either but I think they will look pretty effective on mass!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

...a hexagonal baby quilt

I have wanted to make this quilt for age. It still isn't quite finished, I have to choose some fabric for the setting diamonds but I am so excited about it I couldn't wait to blog about it.

The pattern is one designed and originally sewn by Malka from A Stitch in Dye. As I recall it was made for Quilt Market during the second half of last year. I am not sure if it was on display at all but the pattern was definitely featured in the magazine. I thought there was no chance I would ever get my hands on the pattern and then I happened to come across the magazine on some obscure online quilt store in Canberra some time later.

It has taken a few more months for me to find the perfect recipient for the finished quilt. Now I have one in mind I'm finally making it.

The large centre flower garden unit is made of six hexagons, each made of the irregular shaped units cut from string pieced units. The three units that make the hexagon, and the hexagons themselves are all joined with "Y" seams that I had not sewn before.

I was really happy with how they all turned out and with some careful marking they were not as difficult to get accurate as I had feared. The plan is to source this setting diamond fabric this week and get this basted and quilted soon...before the recipient is born!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

...Scattered Showers in Spotlight solids

You could be forgiven for thinking I had disappeared. It is for sure that I haven't been here for several weeks...as so often happens life has gotten busy and my evening priorities have had to change a little. I have been given a temporary promotion at work, it means more work and responsibility but it is a challenge that I am enjoying.

It means though that most evenings I must choose between blogging or sewing. Sewing has been winning of late! I am hoping that now Nik has returned from five weeks visiting relatives overseas things will settle down a bit and I can do a little more of both in the evenings.

One of the things I have sewn in the last weeks is a sample of Kate's new pattern, Scattered Showers. I made it up in the Spotlight solids I mentioned in this post. Including the backing and binding the whole quilt cost me less than $30 and I think this design in the solids is really striking - and would be great for a little boy.
It is a great, quick sew. I made the top in about 4 hours, it was over two evenings after work and they were not late ones!

The backing is mostly a solid the same as the background with IMAG0042one strip of leftover units from the front.

The quilting took a little longer, I chose to hand quilt around each of the coloured squares, once 1/4" around the outside of the larger squares and twice, also spaced 1/4" apart around the smaller squares. I used a DMC No. 8 Perle cotton in almost exactly the same shade as the background.
The binding was prepared and waiting for machine sewing for days before I got to it but the hand sewing to the back happened the same night.

I really love how it turned out. I have a couple of work colleagues currently pregnant that might get it, although   I have a different plan for one I hope to put into action tomorrow.