Archive | April, 2020

Wet days and White Russians

30 Apr We want the seam running toward us

Fellow Quilters,

It’s another rainy day here, perfect for quilting 😊.  Hopefully these April showers will bring May flowers.  The days are getting warmer so it won’t be long before the robin nesting outside our kitchen window has a nest full of babies.  Did you know that robins can have 2-3 clutches in a year? Hubby has been working on cleaning up the yard while I work on quilt blocks.  Next week is forecasted to be sunny so I will likely get out to putter as well, though truth be told I’d rather putter in my sewing room.  It is nice, though, to get outside, even just for a walk around the block.

Yesterday Hubby and I selected Belgium as our port of call on our stay-at-Home-and-Cruise, and he chose to make a cocktail that originated in Brussels – the Black Russian.  Who knew?!?

White Russians - our modified Belgian cocktail of the day on our Stay-at-Home-and-Cruise

White Russians – our modified Belgian cocktail of the day on our Stay-at-Home-and-Cruise

He decided to cut the sweetness by turning it into a White Russian by adding cream – yum!  He tells me he has another Belgian-based cocktail planned for today.  I’ll keep you posted.

Block 23 in the Time to Quilt quilt-along is straight-forward.  I made no changes to the pattern on Northcott’s, Banyan’s and FIGO’s Facebook page, however I did add pressing directions – I wonder if mine vary from Daphne’s.  She likes to press some of her seams open to disperse the bulk of many layers of fabric.  You can pop over to her blog here to find out.  While piecing this block I did find a tip that I would like to share with you.

Today’s tip:  When making the units with the two sew-and-flip squares on the end, you will find it easier to add them in a specific order.

Making the side units on Block 23

Making the side units on Block 23

Let me show you.  Add the first sew-and-flip square, pressing the triangle toward the corner and trimming the excess ¼” beyond the seam line – easy-peasy.  Now, it is easier to add the 2nd square so that the tail end of the square is overlapping the first square, not so that the leading end is overlapping the first square.

The unit on the left is harder to sew than the unit on the right

The unit on the left is harder to sew than the unit on the right

Why?!?  Because we want the seam for the first square to be toward us so that it doesn’t get caught under the feed dogs.

We want the seam running toward us

We want the seam running toward us

Once these units and the ever-present HST units are done, the blocks go together quickly.

Block 23 done - we're almost finished!!

Block 23 done – we’re almost finished!!

You can find my instructions for Block 23 here.

Today Northcott’s blocks are made with the lovely Tree of Wisdom (the textures in this collection are gorgeous!) and Banyan is using Creative Director Karen Gibbs’ favorite collection Ride On.  If you have any cycling enthusiasts in your life this collection is just perfect for a quilt for them. Over at FIGO, Christina has used Away We Go for her post today – love it!

Just a reminder to head over the Northcott’s Facebook page tomorrow and post a photo of some of your blocks for a chance to win some cool swag.  You can also post the on Instagram and include the #timetoquiltfigo for the FIGO prizes.  Good luck!

Cheers,

Patti

Cocktails, crusts and creases

29 Apr Essential pastry-making items: a pastry blender (U-shaped thing), rolling pin, pastry cloth and sleeve

Fellow Quilters,

Yesterday was a sea day on our Stay-at-Home-and-Cruise.

Banana daquiri was yesterday's cocktail

Banana daquiri was yesterday’s cocktail

While Hubby prepared the cocktail-du-jour – a banana daquiri – I prepared turkey pot pie.  Back on Day 9 of the Time to Quilt quilt-along I also made turkey pot pie and mentioned that I would show you my pastry tools the next time I make pastry.  Well, I almost forgot!  I quickly snapped a couple photos before the dinner went into the oven.

Making pastry for my turkey pot pie

Making pastry for my turkey pot pie

My 4 essential items for pastry-making are:

  • a pastry blender (the U-shaped wire thing) used to cut the fat (shortening, butter, lard) into pea-sized pieces into the flour
  • a rolling pin – I prefer a longer one to make bigger sheets of pastry
  • a sleeve to cover the rolling pin. This is a knitted tube.  It prevents the pastry from sticking to the rolling pin, and they’re really hard to find.
  • a pastry cloth – mine is a piece of muslin that I picked up at the fabric store (I serged the edges to prevent them from raveling). This prevents the pastry from sticking to the work surface and makes it super easy to roll the sheet of pastry around the rolling pin to place it on the pie.

    Essential pastry-making items: a pastry blender (U-shaped thing), rolling pin, pastry cloth and sleeve

    Essential pastry-making items: a pastry blender (U-shaped thing), rolling pin, pastry cloth and sleeve

My mom used to make pastry regularly and did not use a pastry cloth and sleeve – we didn’t know they existed. My dear sweet MIL was not much of a baker however she had a set and gave it to me – bless her heart.  What a godsend! No more scraping pastry off the counter or rerolling the pastry because the rolling pin grabbed a corner and now a swath of pastry is wrapped around the rolling pin.  My go-to recipe is 2 cups flour, 1 cup shortening, ¾tsp salt (combine with the pastry blender until you have pea-sized pieces of shortening) then with a fork add a mixture of 1 egg, 1tbsp vinegar & 2tbsp water and combine with the flour mixture just until blended. I sprinkle 2-3tbsp of flour on the pastry cloth, roll the sleeved rolling pin through it once, then roll out half my pastry.  Easy peasy!  I store my cloth and sleeve in a ziplok bag in the fridge.

So, on to Time to Quilt Block 22.  More HST units, and a square-in-a-square in the center.  I thought of another tip for sewing this unit.

Today’s tip:  To correctly align my triangle pieces on opposite sides of my center square, I finger-press my square in half vertically and horizontally.

I finger-press my center squares in half vertically and horizontally

I finger-press my center squares in half vertically and horizontally

Then I line up the point of the triangle with this crease mark.

I align the tip of the triangle with the crease

I align the tip of the triangle with the crease

Fast and easy!  That square-in-a-square unit is done in a flash!

Repeat with the remaining 2 triangles

Repeat with the remaining 2 triangles

Next thing I knew my blocks were done.

Block 22 done :)

Block 22 done 🙂

You can find my instructions for Block 22 here.

A couple days ago I mentioned the current issue of Love of Quilting magazine and the great article on disappearing blocks.  One of the blocks shown in the article is very similar to Block 22 – the only difference is the center unit – a pinwheel instead of a square-in-a-square.  When I was pressing my blocks, I thought how fun they would be in an on-point layout in a quilt, so in Electric Quilt I whipped up 2 samples.

The positive and negative versions of Block 22, the similar disappearing pinwheel version and 2 on-point quilts showing these blocks

The positive and negative versions of Block 22, the similar disappearing pinwheel version and 2 on-point quilts showing these blocks

One has just Block 22 in positive and negative, and the other has Block 22 combined with the disappearing pinwheel block from Love of Quilting.  How fun!

On Facebook today Northcott has used the same blue Shimmer fabric in their sample as I used in mine – this is totally serendipitous!  Banyan has used Scott Hansen’s Ocean Park for a summer-fresh look.  On her blog today Daphne has also played with the layout options and even thrown in some color changes to add interest.

Enjoy your day.  It’s a wet one for me- perfect for quilting!  Sewing machine, here I come 😊

Cheers,

Patti

Checkerboards and Chelsea Sidecars

28 Apr

Fellow Quilters,

Yesterday was fabulous weather-wise – sunny and finally warming up.  I went for my first bicycle ride of the season, a quick 10km (6mi) spin, after which my legs felt like jelly.  I have a feeling that I may be somewhat sore later today or tomorrow.  Regardless, the bike ride justified the daily cocktail – a White Lady.

Our daily cocktail for our Stay-at-Home-and-Cruise was a White Lady, garnished with pineapple

Our daily cocktail for our Stay-at-Home-and-Cruise was a White Lady, garnished with pineapple

In our quest to finish up the last of the egg whites I requested that the resident mixologist find a recipe for an interesting sour.  He willingly complied.  Apparently a White Lady is the gin-based British version of a brandy-based Sidecar, and is also known as a Chelsea Sidecar or Delilah.  Delicious!

Are you ready for today’s block in the Time to Quilt quilt-along?

Block 21

Block 21

Block 21 has a checkerboard look to it and is somewhat similar to Block 10.  The easiest way to make that checkerboard is by sewing our light and dark strips together, cross-cutting into small units and reassembling them in a light-dark-light-dark 4-patch unit.

Today’s tip:  When I have long width-of-fabric strips to strip-piece, I lay each strip set on my cutting mat and pin it together in 3 spots – at each end and at the mid-point (approx. 21”). When I sew the strips together, I make them fit so that they are still perfectly aligned at each pin.  Now 21” is a big distance, so I hold the strip out in front of the machine (I’m leaning back in my chair for the first photo), and I pinch the strip set at the 10” mark and hold it with that pinch until I get close to the presser foot.

I'm holding my 15" strip so that the 2 strips are aligned at the far end

I’m holding my strip set so that the 2 strips are aligned at the far end, then I will pinch them together at the 10″ mid-point

Then I use my index finger, pressing on the table/machine front to continue to keep the strips aligned.

I press the 2 strips together against the bed of my machine to keep them aligned until they get to the needle

I press the 2 strips together against the bed of my machine to keep them aligned until they get to the needle

So, in effect, I am holding my strip set every 10” to keep the 2 strips aligned. The result?  Perfectly straight strip sets, critical for bargello quilts, borders or any quilt made from strip sets.  Perfectly flat quilt tops every time.  I never feed the strips through the machine without pinning, simply expecting the feed dogs on the machine to keep them perfectly aligned, because the strip set will be bowed (curved).  Now, I could pin my strip sets every 10” but I often do a lot of strip-piecing and I empty my pin cushion just by placing the pins every 21”.  I would need twice as many pins and my pin cushion is full enough as it is.

I chose not to follow the original instructions on Northcott’s, Banyan’s and FIGO’s Facebook pages (again!).  Instead I redrew the block so that the outer frame was made with a single piece of fabric on each side. I spun or twirled those seams in the checkerboard sections.

Spin or twirl the seams in the checkerboard section

Spin or twirl the seams in the checkerboard section

I found I could also spin the seams when adding the units onto the center checkerboard section – sort of. On the darker block I could press my seam toward the C unit while still spinning the seams.

I could spin the additional seams in the C-unit while still pressing the seams toward the C-unit

I could spin the additional seams in the C-unit while still pressing the seams toward the C-unit

On the lighter block I had to press my seam toward the block center to get the seams to spin.

On the lighter block if I spin the seams in the C-unit I need to press the seam away from the C-unit :(

On the lighter block if I spin the seams in the C-unit I need to press the seam away from the C-unit 😦

I think I prefer to press the seam toward the C unit and not spin the extra seams.  I quickly added those outer strips and my blocks were done 😊.

Block 21 is finished

Block 21 is finished

You can find my instructions for Block 21 here.

Northcott’s block and quilt today are made with The Joys of Spring, and Banyan has used Jungle Rose  – I like that puzzle pattern shown on the collection page!   Daphne came up with yet another way to make this block – see her method on her blog.

Whichever method you choose, have fun with today’s block!

Cheers,

Patti

Disappearing Blocks

27 Apr Our Very Berry martinis complement my hydrangea

Fellow Quilters,

My Stay-at-Home-and-Cruise continues as I cruise from the living room to the sewing room instead of spending the day in the Azores.  The cocktail du jour yesterday was a Very Berry Martini. Made with muddled blueberries, it was colorful and tasty.

Our Very Berry martinis complement my hydrangea

Our Very Berry martinis complement my hydrangea

After dinner Hubby and I watched a movie on Netflix called Contagion, released in 2011, depicting the outbreak of a novel virus.  It probably seemed far-fetched at the time.  So much of the movie parallels our current situation.  Just saying.

Time to Quilt logoWe are in the home stretch of the Time to Quilt quilt-along, with just 5 days to go.  I think Northcott has prepared some quilt finishing options, and I will see if I can squeeze in some time this week between pattern writing and magazine submissions to come up a few options as well.

I mentioned yesterday that I have a great hack for Block 20 so let’s get to it.  When I looked at this block I saw something other than 4 quadrants with small squares and short strips.  I saw Block 15 cut into 4 quadrants, and I thought I’d rather sew longer strips onto a larger square and just do it once for each positive and negative block.

Slightly modified Block 15 cut into quadrants to make Block 20

Slightly modified Block 15 cut into quadrants to make Block 20

Now, this works because we are doing a positive and negative block, because we need 2 quarters from each to make our finished blocks.

Today’s tip:  If your fabrics are non-directional, you can move your quadrants around so that you don’t have the seams abutting each other.  If your fabrics are directional, press the final seams on the block with the lighter fabric as the outer strip, toward the block center – by doing this, your seams will off-set each other (see the arrows in the diagram below).

If you have directional fabric use the diagram on the left. For non-directional fabric arrange quadrants to offset seams as shown on right.

If you have directional fabric use the diagram on the left. For non-directional fabric arrange quadrants to offset seams as shown on right.

As I was rearranging my quadrants I found another fun arrangement for this block – it looks like diagonal chains!  So many options.

Playing with my super-size Shimmer quadrants

Playing with my super-size Shimmer quadrants

Now it just so happens that I was flipping through the latest (May/June) issue of Love of Quilting magazine yesterday and saw a similar quilt, Next Steps, by Mary Ann Castrogivanni, created by cutting Courthouse Steps blocks in quadrants. In fact this issue has several quilts created by cutting blocks apart and reassembling them, and a Magic Block Show with a myriad of ideas for “disappearing” blocks, made by cutting easy blocks in sections to create complex blocks easily.ELOQ20003_cover

Once I finished rearranging my quadrants my blocks went together quickly.

Block 20 done :)

Block 20 done 🙂

You can find my instructions for Block 20 here.

Northcott is showing the gorgeous Shimmer black earth in the block today and Banyan has used Intaglio for their block.  Christina continues to make her rainbow blocks with Lucky Charms and is showing Block 20 in Book Club as well (the book mark print is adorable).  And have you checked out what my friend Daphne did on her blog today with this block?

I’m off to make Block 21 now.  See you tomorrow 😊

Patti

Our Stay-at-Home-and-Cruise Plan

26 Apr Pisco Sours with appetizers

Fellow Quilters,

Hubby and I were scheduled to be on a 3-week cruise right now.  Today would have been Day 7.  I think he is really missing it.  Hubby is a closet mixologist.  The other night I suggested that we choose a beverage of the day to pretend we are on the cruise, and perhaps make some gourmet dinners and desserts.

Pisco Sours with appetizers

Pisco Sours with appetizers

Yesterday’s cocktail was Pisco Sours because we had 6 egg whites left over from making last night’s epic dessert.  The dessert was tiramisu, and it’s best if it is made a day in advance.  Now, Hubby and I aren’t huge fans of tiramisu, that Italian dessert made with soggy coffee-flavored cookies and mousse-y custard.  Last year Son #2 requested it for his girlfriend’s birthday “cake” so I went online to find a recipe. OMG!  This recipe  by Chef Dennis Littley is the best!

The best tiramisu ever - easy to make and incredibly good!

The best tiramisu ever – easy to make and incredibly good!

Hubby and I whipped it up in less than half an hour.  Now we are fans. Hubby was picking up the ingredients on his weekly grocery run and called me – “Do we really need mascarpone cheese?  Do you realize it’s $10 for a small container?!?”  “Yes, we need mascarpone cheese.”  “Can we substitute cream cheese?” “No, get the mascarpone, it’s worth it.”

Are you enjoying the Time to Quilt quilt-along?  We are on the home stretch – Block 19 already.  It is a classic friendship star block, similar to Block 5 but easier – no fancy center unit.  No changes to the original pattern on Northcott’s, Banyan’s and FIGO’s Facebook page, except to include the make-it-mini and super-size versions.  Lots of the HST units, which we’re very good at by now.

Press in the direction of the arrows for flat seams in your friendship star block

Press in the direction of the arrows for flat seams in your friendship star block

In my instructions I have indicated the direction to press the seams so we can spin them.  Ta Da!  Done!

Block 19 done

Block 19 done

Today’s tip is a general quilt-making tip. I have and regularly use a variety of rulers, some of which adhere better than others to my fabric while cutting.

My collection of rulers that I use regularly

My collection of rulers that I use regularly

On the ones that don’t, I have applied some Onmigrid Invisi-Grip, a self-adhering clear plastic film, to the underside of the ruler.

Invisi-Grip is a thin film applied to the underside of rulers

Invisi-Grip is a thin film applied to the underside of rulers

There is enough on a roll to do several rulers.  Some of my colleagues have weakness in their shoulders and they swear by this stuff.

It is repositionable

It is repositionable

It doesn't impair my vision through the ruler

It doesn’t impair my vision through the ruler

It really does make a difference to reduce ruler slippage, the rulers stay flat (not wobbly like when you add the non-slip dots) and it doesn’t impair my vision through the ruler.

You can find my instructions for Block 19 here.

Northcott has used Rod & Reel in their block today (there are some terrific textures in this group), and Banyan has used Cherry Blossoms – pretty!  I wonder what Daphne is up to on her blog today.  I have a great hack for tomorrow’s block (I wonder if Daphne will come up with the same one 😊) so I’m off to make the blocks now.

Have a great day!

Patti

Another Great Hack!

25 Apr Then cut the blocks diagonally into 2 triangles

Fellow Quilters,

Today is a beautiful sunny day where I am.  I do believe that Spring is finally here – when I took a quick walk around the block this morning, I saw a long row of glorious daffodils brightening the side of the road.

Spotted during my morning walk

Spotted during my morning walk

Now, if you look in the upper left corner of this photo you will also see the snow-covered ski hills in our neighborhood, albeit with lots of brown patches.  Hubby put his heavy winter boots away yesterday, also a sign that Spring is here.

I’m so excited about Time to Quilt Block 18 – I think you’re gonna love it!  It is another great hack. I cannot take credit for this hack, however my online search for the clever creator of this split 9-patch came up blank.  If you know who did, please let me know.  Today’s pattern took a bit longer to write because I needed to do some extra diagrams and test my cutting instructions, but it is worth the wait.  Let me show you 😊.

Block 18

Block 18

For this block I did not follow the original instructions on Northcott’s, Banyan’s and FIGO’s Facebook page at all.  Instead of cutting and sewing all those half-square triangle units I cut rectangles.  Then I pieced each positive and negative block.

Sew the squares and rectangles together for the positive and negative blocks

Sew the squares and rectangles together for the positive and negative blocks

Then I cut the blocks diagonally into 2 triangles each.

Then cut the blocks diagonally into 2 triangles

Then cut the blocks diagonally into 2 triangles

 

Today’s tip: So, to cut the block we measure ⅜” in from the right edge along the top, and ⅜” in from the left edge along the bottom, then make a 45° cut connecting these 2 spots.  There are 2 super-easy ways to do this.  The first one is to position your block on your cutting mat so that the 45° line on your mat (almost every mat has one) is running through both marks.

Align the 3/8" marks with the 45 degree line on the mat and check that the block is square to the mat

Align the 3/8″ marks with the 45 degree line on the mat and check that the block is square to the mat

Is your block square to the mat?  Perfect!  Make the cut.  The other way method is to use a right-angle triangle ruler – we all seem to have a collection of them, so let’s use them.  When I checked my ruler stash, sure enough I had 2.

The tip on my Omnigrid ruler shows me where to align it

The tip on my Omnigrid ruler shows me where to align it

My Easy Angle II ruler also has a marked tip to show where to align it.

My Easy Angle II ruler also has a marked tip to show where to align it.

The point of these rulers is marked with a line that shows you where to align the ruler to get the correct seam allowance on the tip of your patch.

Then I sewed a positive triangle to a negative triangle.  Voila!  The blocks are done!

Block 18 is done :)

Block 18 is done 🙂

Isn’t that the fastest easiest split 9-patch ever?!?  Have fun with it!

Daphne has a slightly different way of assembling Block 18 on her blog today using some connector corners – pop over and check it out.  And also check the Northcott or Banyan Facebook page to see if you were one of the 5 winners yesterday (personally I think you’re all winners 😊).

Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow with Block 19.

Cheers,

Patti

My Forest Frolic Friday

24 Apr A close-up of the Forest Frolic cathedral window fabric in my quilt

Fellow Quilters,

Happy Friday!  I am behind schedule today because I had another project on my To Do list that needed to get done by 2pm.  That project is now done and on its way to a magazine.  Here is a teaser picture of my quilt, coming out in the September issue of Love of Quilting.

A close-up of the Forest Frolic cathedral window fabric in my quilt

A close-up of the Forest Frolic cathedral window fabric in my quilt

It is made with Northcott’s Forest Frolic collection, a happy “frolic-y” collection. I like everything in this collection – the colors, the motifs on the fabric, and especially the “cathedral windows” print.  It was the inspiration for my magazine quilt. Northcott has used Forest Frolic for today’s block!  Speaking of today’s block, let’s get to it.

Time to Quilt Block 17 is made strictly with half-square triangle units.  I didn’t alter the cutting instructions in the original pattern on Northcott, Banyan and FIGO’s Facebook page, however I did change the way the units are pressed.  So did Daphne as you can see in her post today.  The instructions in the original pattern have you pressing the seam in the half-square triangle units to the dark fabric.  When I went to assemble my blocks, I realized that my diagonal seams would stack on top of each other, creating lots of bulk.

Those diagonal seams are going to be bulky

Those diagonal seams are going to be bulky

To make the seams nest nicely I needed to press one seam to the light fabric.

Today’s tip:  I like to work through the steps or methods used in a block/quilt in my head beforehand because sometimes I can make small changes to make the block/quilt easier.  I thought a bit more about how the seams between the units would line up and decided to press the half-square triangle units in the center column to the light fabric.

The HST seam in the units in the center column are pressed to the light side

The HST seam in the units in the center column are pressed to the light side

By doing this I could spin the intersections of the units.  Now, as you can see from my picture of the back of my Midsommar block, 2 of the intersections have full spin – all the seams are spinning in the same direction.  The other 2 intersections have only partial spin – the HST seams are spinning the opposite direction of the seams between units.

The 2 intersections on the left fully spin whereas the 2 on the right partially spin (the HST seams are going the other way)

The 2 intersections on the left fully spin whereas the 2 on the right partially spin (the HST seams are going the other way)

Try as I might I couldn’t get all 4 intersections to fully spin.  No matter – the bulk of those intersections is dispersed.  I am really liking these spinning seams!  And just like that, the blocks are done!

Block 17 done :)

Block 17 done 🙂

You can find my instructions for Block 17 here.

It’s Prize Friday today, so please go onto the Northcott Facebook page to post pictures of some of your blocks.  You can also share them on Instagram and include #timetoquiltfigo for a chance to win some swanky swag.  I know it’s late, but you have until 11:59 tonight to post, and I have a feeling you’re not going to the movies/out to dinner/to a friend’s house tonight.  Good luck!

I’ll see you tomorrow – earlier than 5pm – I promise😊

Cheers,

Patti