Tuesday, August 27, 2013

plots and plans: a baby quilt

I have a reason to think about a baby quilt. There will soon be another baby in the family! Not my immediate family.... (thank goodness!) but the wider family.

Occasionally, I will pick up some great baby quilt backing fabric if it's on sale, I have a stash of 5 of these 2 yard pieces (alright, not the most impressive number), and though it's not my usual method of working, I kinda enjoy the challenge of designing a top to match a back, rather than finding a back to match a top, which is more usual for me.

Ye Olde Stashe
The cupcakes may not have been on sale, simply, irresistible (it's a Riley Blake print, I think). Pink Castle Fabrics has that great Lizzy House town print (second from top) in both the blue and the purple...

The one I am dying to use is this one:

Because I love the colors. It's a lavender background with two purples, orange, a hot pink and a watermelon. I just want to get the coordinating solids* and make something... amazing. (Can't decide between half square triangles (just got the die for my sizzix big shot) and my fall back favorite, drunkard's path circles.) But I have at least two months before the baby is born, right?

closer in.
But there is a problem, which is hard for me to get around. The print is running from selvage edge to selvage edge (weft wise), rather than with the warp... The wrong way for a back!

The easiest solution is not to care and use it as is (sideways!) anyway. But I can't bring myself to do that....

If I turn it the right way, I am 6 inches short of 48 inches, so a few strips of solids can built it up, since I am not into matching the giraffes seamlessly (as it were), and it'd take three pieces to finish it with them anyway. If you can't make it work without cutting, you're left with making your deviations from what's usual at least look intentional...

So, a foot of solids would cover the gap with some left over for that wiggle room one needs when basting. I'd rather put it on the bottom, say, than put part on top and part on the bottom and risk it looking too letter boxed... But I should probably finish (start!) a top before getting hung up on a back.

*In case you are curious: Bella Peony, Popsicle, and Freesia; Kona Wisteria, Crocus, and Orange.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Triangle tips and inspiration

So, this triangle quilt came about because when I was at the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild retreat this summer, finishing up my scrappy trip along, basting my drunkard's daisy quilt, and beginning to piece the Lotta Jansdotter quilt, Emily was piecing this beauty.

In the meantime, I have noticed many amazing equilateral triangle quilts appear on blogs and on instagram (Emily made another, too, and it's only been, what? 6 weeks since the retreat?)

In case it's becoming a thing, I am going to present my thoughts on it here.


The triangles shrink left to right when you sew them together, but only lose 1/4" height top to bottom. And when you join rows (losing 3/4" total).

Mine are 7.5" high (which makes the sides 8 2/3" each - based on geometry), and I went with 18/row and 13 rows - which is a little over 6 feet wide, and 7.3 feet tall.

How many should you cut? Well, what kind of quilt do you want? How about an equation? 

quilt length = row # x (triangle height - 0.75)

-Or, if you prefer not to do the algebra- triangle height = quilt length/row # + 0.75

(The 0.75 is your seam allowances - 0.25" lost in row piecing + 0.5" lost in row joining.)

So, if you wanted a baby quilt, which to me is 3' x 4', and thought 8 rows would be cute, you would write down:

triangle height = 48"/8 + 0.75 = 6.75"

Half an equilateral triangle 6.75" high is a right triangle, and you can solve for the long side using geometry:  

side length = 2*height /  3 

in our example:  side length = 2 * 6.75" / 1.732 = 7.8"

So, to find out how many triangle in a row, you actually have to figure out how many pairs, because the upper half of a triangle is tiny, while its base is huge, but they average out if you pair them:

number of triangle pairs = quilt width / (triangle side length - 0.5)

(The 0.5 is your seam allowances, again.)

number of triangle pairs = 36" / (7.8"-.5") .... roughly 5 pairs, so about 10 triangles/ row, or 80 triangles for this 8 row quilt.

*alternately, if you want to solve for the number of triangles, you can use:

number of triangles = 2 * quilt width/ (triangle side length - 0.5)

I decided to use patterns from some of my Spoonflower fabrics for the demos.
Cut your height first! And then use the 60 degree guide on your ruler to cut the triangles (if you need more details, Faith from Fresh Lemons has a great tutorial on this). In a 22" wide cut, you can get 3-4 7.5" high triangles - 18", only three, and 7 in 44" one. (At least that was my experience.)

You want to have your triangle height running along the grain of the fabric, either the crosswise or the lengthwise grain is fine - depending either on convenience or on the pattern of the fabric. But the bottom side should be aligned on the grain, because, well, it is a triangle, and triangle edges are notoriously stretchy except where they run along the grain.

You'll notice that I didn't start my triangle cuts right at the edge, but left a margin. That is so I can save those pieces for row ends. However, you need not do this for every fabric you cut - with 60 fabrics, I could have up to 120 of these end caps, but with only 13 rows, I only need 26.  (Although, one must note that unless you are using only solids, they are chiral; not every end cap will fit on every triangle.  And it becomes even worse if the fabric is directional.)


step 1: make sure the grain is going in the right direction!
The first blocks are easy, just line up the points and sew. Press the seams, then pick up another triangle.

You may be thinking that this is a good time to chain piece- well, don't. Your best chance to line up triangles (unless you have clipped all of them) is to leave a corner free. On that note, I found it helpful not to clip dog ears, too.

Line up your new triangle with free corner and the folded under dog ear.
Although I did chain piece them in a fashion - I started all the rows at once! I sewed 13 triangles to 13 rows, then pressed them open, then started over.

And when the row is finished, I still don't trim the dog ears, but use them for a guide to line the row up with its neighbor:
These seams do get very bulky, though.
This is a fairly quick and dirty way of powering through triangle piecing. If you want a more elegant approach, I would suggest this tutorial from Adrianne at On the Windy Side.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Inside the triangle quilt!

I don't know about everyone else, but my favorite part about making a quilt is picking out the fabrics. And shopping, dudes, I love fabric shopping... and I also enjoy fabric browsing.

At home, I like pulling fabric off the shelves, out of the drawers, and sorting through my scrap bin for things, and rearranging colors, and pulling them out, and leaving them in a big pile to deal with later because I can't be bothered to put stuff away where it belongs in the moment.

Just being honest. Though, seriously, that quickly becomes a problem in a space as small as my sewing room. I haven't seen my desk in months!

So, I thought, in honor of starting, I'd share my fabric picks for this quilt. It's for my daughter's room, which is green. She will be soon leaving her toddler bed and moving up into a twin sized bed. I justified purchases for the Lotta Jansdotter quilt I made saying it would be for her, but when it was done, I wasn't able to let it go to her. It's so white! and she's so... apt to destroy stuff...

I started with two prints - one from Lotta Jansdotter from Bella that I like to think of as rocks and leaves, and one of Lizzy House's pearl bracelets - the deep purple one. I added hot pinks, and then greens and then stole the color scheme of her wall hanging... to add turquoise, royal blue... (and looking at it now, I should have found that butterfly print! It would have been perfect!) and I had to add my Lizzy House coral ducks, and then I added some more coral to flush it out.

So, sorry as I am about to bore you with minutia, I really find this sort of thing interesting and perhaps necessary - a record of those fabrics, if you will, that have passed through my hands. Feel free to skip or skim as required.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Drunkard's Daisies

This is an off shoot of my Drunkard's Dice quilt. In part because I bought a lot of aqua, teal, and seafoam prints and solids for that quilt, in pursuit of my desire for a scrappy yet fairly tonal quilt, and wanted to use them up and in part because of an unfortunate leftover issue...

Because when I cut out the Drunkard's Path blocks for that quilt, I used the template from this quilt pattern:  Dancing Daisies by Cathy Victor.  And if you look at the template, you'll see that it cuts both pieces for a 4.5" Drunkard's Path block from a single 5" square - which is super clever, actually, and it's great for charms. But when you are making, as I was, a quilt that only used one color for the circles, and one for the background, you end up with a huge pile of the reverse color scheme, and you use up fabric faster than you should, and end up buying more Bella mustard to cover the gap.

Or maybe that's just me.

There is a theory, among some people I know, to cut the inverse out as well as the intended color scheme and make both quilts (or two or three) but I don't have the time to make my initial quilts, let alone the alternates, so I am going to try and avoid this in the future, but I love this one, so I can't regret the chance to make it.

This is sideways, not that it matters. The left side is actually "top'.

Where it differs from Dice, apart from the lack of orange, is that I was much more wide ranging in my selection of fabrics - so there are more dark tones, and a few more novel novelties. It's also bigger, it's 72"x80" (or there about). It's a couch quilt! For my hideous mustard couch!

It's a ton of 4.5" squares and the flowers finish at 16." As with the last one, I assembled it in smaller sections, then joined those sections until it was all one piece; and at least this one didn't have any partial seams to deal with. (whew!)

Then it disappeared for a long while because when I basted it, I messed it up, and it had to be unpinned and rebasted, and it took a month for me to work back up to doing that again.... Actually, I finally did it at the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild retreat! Which is good, because my house doesn't have the space to accomplish such a feat.

And Tula Pink seahorses on the back. Still have to put the finished date on this one.

Then it was quilted with Flower Power, one of the designs from Angela Walter's first book. Where I couldn't fit a big flower, I put in a leaf or two.

Then bound with this print from Julia Rothman's Type:

Love this one!

The last thing I will note is that I used some of my Spoonflower fabrics for a few of the blocks:

The far right one is my favorite - they're water drops!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Another week, another contest

I entered one fabric design into the contest that Connecting Threads is running this week (well, it is actually running for the next two and a half weeks).

However, though I am happy to show you the picture, I am not going to ask you to vote, with nearly 30 pages of designs to comb through, you have to make that choice on your own!   o.O (Though, due to my name being early in the alphabet, mine is on page 2. Just in case you want to vote anyway. hint. hint. hint.)
And here it is:

Not a haunting moon, but a haughty moon.
Do I have a story behind this? Not really, more of a feeling. It's been a less than awesome summer, actually, we've been unable to take a vacation, and I've had some health unhappiness (nothing major - the worst was a sinus infection, but sometimes it feels like constant small irritations - though most of that is just allergies) and of course the weather has been crummy... And finally I just thought, I haven't drawn in *ages* and that's probably what the issue is. I only draw when I am happy, you see, so I decided that if that was true, maybe drawing makes me happier? So when I started sketching everything that day came out moons, and I drew a few, then made this design, and when the contest came along... Well, I entered it because it was recent, and a stand alone design.

And now I am trying to draw everyday! And the drawing from last week came out of it. I am also trying to blog more, but we'll see how that shakes out, won't we?

And speaking of voting, it's the last full day to vote for my firefly design on Spoonflower!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Well, they're spooky fireflies, then.

I have an entry in this week's spoonflower contest - the theme is fireflies.

It looks a bit like this, but without the watermark.
I was thinking spooky for reasons I am no longer certain of. But I'm very pleased with it - I spent days on those clouds alone. I may do a Halloween version in orange with will-o-wisps instead of fireflies, I dunno. And I am working on a print that's just the clouds and moon, but I'm struggling on the repeat. Some solution will present itself eventually no doubt.

Voting opens tomorrow if you'd like to help me out.


Sunday, August 4, 2013