Monday, May 17, 2010

Another Finished Quilt Top...

I can't believe I've completed two quilt tops in two weeks. See what happens when I'm given a challenge? I guess all I needed was a good swift kick! LOL

I started with three prints. One yard of the molted orange/red, one yard of the floral, and one-half yard of the yellow. I then cut them into 5" squares, 48 squares for the orange/red and floral prints, and twelve of the yellow print.

I then stitched them into twelve nine patches. Following the same technique as in my earlier Disappearing Nine-Patch, I cut my nine-patches into four equal pieces, squared them into 7" squares and put them onto my design wall...

Using the same design layout I laid my blocks into the design; six blocks across and eight blocks down. Above is what it looked like after assembling.

I added two borders. The yellow border was cut 2" for a 1.5" finished border and the orange/red border was cut 6" for a 5.5" finished border.

Here is my finished quilt top. It is hard to believe this is the same pattern as my scrappy D9P quilt from last week. I'm calling this Citrus Splash because it makes me think of oranges, tangerines, and lemons.

Now, how should I quilt these two tops?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Disappearing Nine-Patch Tutorial

I've been busy sewing the last couple of days using a new-to-me technique. I've always been fascinated with the Disappearing Nine-Patch (D9P) pattern because of its versatility and ease in making a quilt that looks as though you spent a lot of time on it. Although there are several good tutorials for this pattern, I developed this tutorial so that even a beginner could master this fun technique.

I started with two charm packs.

I separated the packs into colors because although my design will be scrappy, I wanted to use the red for my center block.

Next I laid out my nine-patches on my sewing table so that I could quickly assemble them.

By following my planned layout, I placed the top middle square onto the upper corner.

Carefully lining up the edges.

Before sewing the 1/4" seam.

I followed the same process for the middle row.

And the third row.

I chose to press the seams as follows: For the top and bottom rows, I chose to press the seam towards the outer corners, For the middle row, I chose to press the seam towards the middle square. To achieve this, place the block you want the seam to be pressed towards on top before pressing.

The first step in pressing your seam is to set your stitches by pressing the closed seam.

After setting your stitches, you open up your seam and finger press it before pressing with your iron. I have found by finger pressing the seam first, it ensures my seams are opened fully and I retain the correct seam allowance and block size.

When pressing the seams, it is critical to take care and press in an up and down motion. If you move the iron back and forth, you risk distorting your fabric and you will have problems achieving accurate blocks or matching seams.

This is what my nine-patch blocks looks like at this point.

Repeat this process for the third block for each row.

After pressing the seams, it is time to join the horizontal rows.

Take the top row and place it onto the middle row, lining up the edges.

By pressing the seams using the method I did, I will be able to easily match my seams and achieve perfectly matched corners.

Lay the seams on top of each other.

As you slide the seams against each other, you can feel when they but up against each other. I prefer not to pin my seams, unless they are in more complex piecing patterns. However, the seams can be pinned to ensure the seams don't move while you're stitching the seam.

Once the seam has been matched, I hold onto it until just before the seam is stitched. Sometimes I will use a stiletto or wooden skewer to hold the seam in place until it is stitched.

Press the seam to set the stitches. I chose to press the seams towards the top and bottom horizontal rows.

Open up the seam by finger pressing before pressing it with the iron.

Perfectly matched seams. Follow the same process with the third horizontal row

Here are my five nine-patch blocks.

The next step is to make a horizontal and vertical cuts down the center of my nine-patches. Because I started with 5" charm squares and I used 1/4" seams, I measured 2.25" from the seam to find my center of the middle vertical row.

Cut through the center.

Turn each half and follow the same process to find the center and cut.

Each section was squared to 7" before I played with them on my design wall.

I placed the squares on my design wall and played around with the layout. Once I chose the layout I wanted I reassembled the 7" blocks into larger blocks by joining four per block. I then squared up the larger blocks to 13.5" before joining them. The final row consisted of four 7" blocks which I joined into one row before adding it to the upper section.

I decided to add two borders to finish the quilt top. The red border was cut 1.5" in width for a finished 1" wide border. The outer border was cut 5" in width for a 4.5" finished width. To determine the length, I measured the center for both horizontal and vertical strips. By measuring the center I won't have to worry about sagging borders. Also, the border strips were cut on the grain to prevent stretching of the strips.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Challenge Blocks - December and January

I've gotten behind on my Challenge blocks and have been trying to catch-up. During our sew-in a couple of weeks ago, I managed to complete two of them.

My friend Judy selected Country Farm for December's challenge block. What should have been a relatively simple block to assemble turned out to be very frustrating and I had to redo it. The above picture is my second attempt. As you can tell, all of the intersecting seams match and I have an accurate 1/4" seam for assembling the blocks together.

This is my first attempt. What a mess! The center four-patch didn't lay flat and was very puffy, some of the intersecting seams didn't quite match, and I was missing the 1/4" seam allowance for assembling to other blocks.

Initially, I had planned to assemble this block during January's sew-in and cut the pieces out a day or two prior to our scheduled sew-in. However, my MIL was hospitalized and I wasn't able to attend our sew-in causing the block to sit for a couple of months. My guess is in my rush to prepare everything for our sew-in, I accidentally cut some of the block pieces inaccurately because it went together quite quickly the second time around. Once I completed the redo of this block, I really like it and will probably use it again.

My friend Billie selected Quatrefoils for January's challenge block. This block went together very quilter since I had made it a couple of months ago for one of my friends in our Birthday Block Swap. While assembling this block, I really struggled on my fabric choices. I swapped the colors from the initial pattern, using light for dark and vice versa. When I was playing around with my layout choices I happened to change my color choices and almost switched the dark blue corner squares with the lighter lavender print. It would change the appearance of the block completely, but I really liked it. I'm probably going to do another one of this block with that layout to see how it would look assembled.

Two down and three more to go! What are you working on?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Houston, We Have a Problem...

And it's been a roller coaster! We have had a couple of strong storms hit us in the last couple of days causing lots of fallen trees and power outages. Monday I lost power seven or eight times. It wasn't out long enough to cause any discomfort, just enough to reset our electronic clocks. I had no idea how many of those we have in our home! After resetting them the third time, I left them blinking until I went to bed.

To compound my frustration, I lost my Internet connection. We live in a rural area where DSL isn't available and Dial-up is extremely painful. So we access the Internet via satellite. What a problem this has been! I was finally able to get it working on our desktop but my laptop still can't connect to our router. Of course all of my files are on my laptop and it can be a hassle transferring the files to a flash drive and try to retrieve them via the desktop which uses VISTA for its operating system. I definitely do not like VISTA and have been boycotting it since its debut.

Now you know why I have been absent and hopefully I'll be back to regular posting tomorrow. I really do have some things to share. I promise...