Friday, March 20, 2015

A New Quilty Start

Some very exciting things have been happening in my quilty world. I got my first quilt commission! Then I got a second one! They are for the same people, but one is for their business and the other is a personal quilt.

I designed a dragonfly quilt for them to give as a baby gift. It has dragonfly blocks in it and shoofly blocks. And I love the colors. When I think about dragonflies I always think about the neat irridescent colors, so I really wanted great fabric. I wanted to use batiks, and I wanted the main fabric to have dragonflies on it. I thought that would be easy to find. NOT! I finally found the perfect one. Timeless Treasures has this cool one that has gloriously colored dragonflies on a black background. It looks wonderful with the batiks.

This picture shows the four dragonfly blocks in each corner. At the top are 3 shoofly blocks between the large and small dragonflies. All the space in between will eventually have shoofly blocks in them. I made one large dragonfly block, since my customer wanted to introduce some assymetry. It's helped me with the name of the quilt - Baby Dragonflies. I've started thinking of the big block as the Mommy!

The dragonfly block is my first foray into foundation piecing. Foundation piecing is when a pattern is drawn on paper (or other base material) and then used to make the block. Dragonfly blocks are put together in 4 parts this way: the head, 2 wings, and the tail. Below is the foundation for the head.
If you look closely you can see that each section has a number on it. These correspond to the order that the fabrics will be sewn. I also wrote in color names or abbreviations so I knew which fabric to use. (Note: For those of you that might do a lot of foundation piecing, you might have looked at this and realized something is out of whack. The numbers are not right on this example! And this configuration couldn't be done all at once. I had to redo it. I separated the top row of triangles so that the seams would work out. Then on the bottom half of the block, I realized I had to start with the small triangles on the side, then do the square. Like I said I was learning.) So each dragonfly block used 5 foundations!

The hard part of piecing this way is that the fabrics are under the paper and you sew on the drawn lines. That's right, you sew right through the paper to make your seams and, when all the fabrics for the block are sewn, you remove the paper. Below is the same block above, flipped over to show the fabrics.
The best part of foundation piecing is that it allows really sharp points and you don't have to worry about grain line. The foundation keeps everything from stretching out of place. It's really good for small blocks too, like the baby dragonflies!

After a few rough starts and some un-sewing (yuck!), I finished all the dragonflies and moved on to the shoofly block. It isn't hard. The shoofly is a nine patch block with the corners being half-square triangles (HST). There are lots of different ways to make HSTs. I particularly like this way.

HST: With 2 selected fabrics, cut squares 7/8" larger than the finished size you want. On one square, draw sewing lines on the diagonal. I use a special ruler made to make it quicker. You just place the center line of the ruler on the diagonal corners then draw a line on either side of the ruler.
 If you don't have a ruler like this, you can draw a diagonal line from corner to corner. Then draw 2 other diagonals lines 1/4" away from the center line, one on either side. Then stack your 2 fabric squares together with the one with the lines drawn on it on top. Sew directly on your sewing lines. You should have 2 lines of stitching when you're done that surround the center diagonal. Below is a picture of a chain of HSTs that have been stitched.
 If you look at these pictures you might notice extra lines. That's because I goofed when I first cut my squares and made them too big, so I had to cut them down to size and redraw my sewing lines. Sigh. After you've finished sewing, cut the square along the center diagonal from corner to corner between the two stitched lines.
 Then press the triangles open, pressing the seam to the dark side.
You should cut off the little dog ears (or rabbit ears!) on each HST. I save mine in a small jar. They're just too pretty to throw away. You can imagine how pretty a full jar would be.
 With my HSTs, I was ready to make the shoofly block. Four HSTs, one in each corner and five regular squares of dragonfly fabric (cut 1/2" larger than the finished size I needed). Below all the blocks are done! They are just up on my design wall here; waiting to be sewn together.
I love the secondary designs that form and the gorgeous splash of colors. Who knew that dragonflies could sa(y) quilts?!

The Joy of Quilt Guild

Well it took a good 6 to 9 months, but I think we've finally settled into the new house and getting comfortable in our new home town. The biggest thing I've done? I joined a quilt guild, something I've never done before. Don't get me wrong I was always interested in guilds, but their meeting times never seemed to work out well for me.

My new quilty connnection is the Blue Ridge Quilter's Guild. I suppose there are about 40 people who come to the regular monthly meetings, but the membership is about 60. I have to say they are the most welcoming, friendly, and supportive group of people I've ever come across. The talent here is amazing and, normally, I'd be super shy about sharing what I do. But they encourage everyone, at all levels to share their work and glorify in it. It's enough to make a girl put aside her inhibitions and try things she never has before.

I even went on my first quilt retreat! Imagine sewing to your hearts content with delicious meals and all the snacks you can dream of! Quilter's heaven. I'm sure I gained more than a few pounds that weekend! It was all worth it! I got a lot done too - 568 half-square triangles for a PhD (project half done!) that I started on ages ago. It's a queen-size quilt for my own bed so, of course, it may never get done. I apologize I didn't take any pictures.

Since then lots of good things have been happening, but that's news for another blog entry. In the meantime, look around you and see how many things SA(y) Quilts!