featured, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilt block, quilting, quilts, sewing

Mimi’s Modern Flower Garden

As usual, I started this with just a concept in my head. For the most part it worked. Until I got to the borders. Then it got tricky.

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And that’s saying something since the borders are just kinda borders, right?

Well, now they are.

If I actually sat down and drew out a plan (either on paper or my computer), I would have seen that extending the hexagons into the borders wasn’t going to work. At least not with this size hexie I was using. I mean, it would have been really cool, and it’s something I might use in the future.

You know, when I have the math all sorted.

After I had the center pieced, and had attached the inner border (which took much longer than expected because I had to variegate it), then I got to move on to the outer borders.

Originally my plan was to extend the hexagons from the center to the outside, but, like I said a few paragraphs ago, it didn’t work because I couldn’t make the corners fit.

bad corner web

See? I’d have to chop off too much of a hexie.

I also wish I’d realized that BEFORE I put on the top border.

top border web

It looked awful because I couldn’t halve the hexagons along the top – I had to have a hexagon at the corners – but I was not going to have ANY of that.

border test

I tried a few different things like having a grey variegated border, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that either.

So, after fussing for a few days.

Daaaayyysss, y’all, daaayyysss….

I decided to get a print that reads as a solid and call it a day.

My hope is that when I (or someone else) quilts it, the borders will have some fun thread work. Perhaps I’ll have the quilting follow the color pattern of the quilt, going from red to pink to purple to blue to green.

Maybe.

I should probably make a plan for that before I start.

book, quilt, quilting, quilts

Adventures in Hexagons Blog Book Tour

I’ve had my eye on Emily’s book for some time now and when I saw that her blog book tour was kicking off, I really wanted to be a part of it. Hexagons have been en vogue for some time now, and personally, I’m fascinated with all the great quilts that can be made from one shape. Hexagons are so versatile, incredibly fun, and really create dynamic, beautiful quilts.

Adventuresinhexagonscover

I’ve made one hexagon quilt (you can see it in the header image on my home page). I wish I could say I’ve made more, and will fess up to the fact that the only other EPP quilt I started to make (ahem) 8 years ago is still an unassembled mess of little hexagon shapes sitting in a box. I will get back to it, but I digress.

There are so many things that I like about this book. Emily includes instructions to machine piece AND English Paper Piece each quilt in her book so quilters have great versatility depending on comfort level, which method they prefer, etc. You can even mix methods if you are feeling wild! I like to machine piece, which explains the unfinished adventure in EPP from 8 years ago, but many of her tips and ideas work for BOTH methods, so you either way you win.

11177 Breclaw S'17

Confetti in Times Square (above) and Superstar (below) are my favorites! I love the elegant simplicity of Confetti in Times Square and in Superstar, I see something new every time I look at the quilt.

11177 Breclaw S'17

Right off the bat, I was learning things, like the difference between a rosette and a sprocket (page 4). I didn’t even know there were names for differently pieced hexagon shapes. And I like that there are quilt shapes called sprockets. I smile when I say sprocket.  Emily offers some great tips about measuring hexagons, kites, triangles, and other shapes, but my favorite tips show you how to string EPP pieces together, tie knots (much better method what I’ve done in the past), and how to cut shapes using strip piecing. It’s absolutely brilliant!

I also like how Emily discusses pressing the hexagon units. I use the same method, more or less based on the fabrics, and furling my pieces, but her rule of thumb is going to stick in my head for eternity. And that’s a good thing. It’ll stick in your head as well.

If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at making a hexagon quilt, this book is for you! If you comment on my blog you will have TWO chances to win. I will randomly pick 2 winners using random.org. One of you will get a copy of Emily’s book, and the other will get a copy of my book (continental US, only).

Be sure to check out all the blogs on the tour below. They each have some great giveaways!

July 24- C&T Publishing www.ctpub.com

July 25- Generation Q Magazine http://generationqmagazine.com/

July 27- Marti Michell https://www.frommarti.com/

July 28-Clothworks Fabrics www.clothworks.com

July 29- Cathi Godwin, https://quiltobsession.blog/

July 30- Paper Pieces , www.paperpieces.com

August  1- Mary Huey, http://maryhueyquilts.blogspot.com/

August 2- Linda Franz, www.inklingo.com

August 3- Patty Murphy, https://pattymurphyhandmade.com (you’re here)

August 4- Cheryl Sleboda, www.Muppin.com

August 5- Wendy Sheppard, https://ivoryspring.wordpress.com/

August 6- Emily Breclaw, www.thecaffeinatedquilter.com

*C&T will send a hard copy to winners in the continental US and will send an electronic version to winners overseas.

quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing

Upcycled Baby Blankets

A friend of mine called me a few months ago needing some help. Her dog chewed up her husband’s favorite childhood comforter and she wanted to cut it up and turn it into 4 blankets – one for each of her children. But she doesn’t sew so….

The comforter is super cute, and I see why husband loved it. White background with cute, brightly colored bicycles on it. It’s your standard sorta 70’s or 80’s era comforter with invisible thread and a poly backing that is somehow magically attached to the bike fabric. Except this one had holes.

Lucky for me, the blankets didn’t need to be the same size and I was able to cut around the holes to get four decent sized blankets. Decent enough for kids, at least. Cutting it was a bit of a challenge since the comforter has some puckers in it from the original quilting. Once I did get the pieces cut, I measured them – I arbitrarily picked sizes based on the space I could work with – then I cut flannel to size.

IMG_0719 copy

The easy part was getting a square piece of flannel cut. Because of the gathers in the top, I had to ease in in a few spots from the top and that made sewing down the binding a little less straightforward. I sewed binding to the flannel on two of the blankets, folding the binding to the top, and for the other two I sewed the binding to the top, and folded the binding to the back. I’m not sure which I liked better as they both presented some challenges.

Sewing the binding to the flannel was much easier but stitching the binding to the top of the blanket was harder because I had to work with all the puckers, folds and gathers from the top piece. The inverse is also true. In the end, though, they all look great and my friend is super excited with them.

IMG_0224 copy

I used a yellow and white polka flannel on the back of each blanket and each blanket has a different binding from my pile of scrap bindings. That also allows each child to have his or her own blanket that they can identify by the binding. I consider that a big win, especially for the littles that can’t read a name or a label.

Even bigger win is that she picked them up this morning and is going to surprise her husband for their anniversary tonight. Sweet!

 

quilt, quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

Blocking Your Quilt

Do you block your quilts? If you don’t, you should.

Truth be told, I don’t block all my quilts. They don’t all need it. If a quilt is going on a bed, or will be well used and loved, I see no reason to do the work. However, if you plan to put a quilt into a show you should block it. If the quilt is obviously askew, go ahead and do the work. That wall hanging not quite right? Block it. You will thank when you don’t continually look at a quilt that won’t lay flat or has really wonky, wavy sides.

So, what is blocking? Basically, blocking is the process of squaring up your quilt after it’s been quilted so it’s flat and square.

Even though we square up blocks and borders and all our pieces as we sew, the process of quilting can stretch your top (think quilting it out) and you may need to block your quilt. Sometimes your quilt just isn’t square when it’s quilted. Who knows? But it happens to a lot of quilts for one reason or another. Don’t worry if yours isn’t quite right – it can get fixed. Even the professionals have to block quilts from time to time. And, it’s important to reiterate: if you are going to put a quilt into a show, block it. You will never get a blue ribbon if your quilt isn’t perfectly square.

Blocking is one of the most underrated steps in finishing a quilt. I don’t think a lot of quilters talk about it – certainly not high on my list of quilt-related conversations – but for some reason it’s come up twice in the last few weeks. Maybe that’s a sign? I’m taking it as a sign.

I made this Little Lone Star for my friend Sarah to display in her booth during Quilt Con 2017. It’s a quick and easy quilt but I didn’t have time to block it prior to getting it back to her before the show. I knew it wasn’t quite square – mostly square, but not completely – because of all the bias and y-seams, even with starch, thankyouverymuch.

Honestly, I wasn’t even going to mess with blocking the quilt but since it’s not quite square and it’s been a recent topic of conversation in quilt circles (see also: sign), this turns out to be the best little quilt to show you how I do it.

Like most other things quilting, there are multiple ways to achieve your desired results. Blocking is no different, and I’ll go through my process below.

Before doing anything, wet your quilt in the tub. Make sure you get the quilt good and saturated, then press out as much water as you can. I just use my hands and press down into the lob of quilt I’ve created.  Get as much water as possible out of the quilt before transporting it. I roll the quilt out of the tub onto a beach towel to take to the washing machine. This allows the towel to carry the weight of the quilt, meaning you are less likely to damage your quilt from the weight of the water. Gently dump your quilt in the washing machine and turn on the spin cycle.

Once you have a damp quilt, you are ready to start blocking. There are several different ways to block:

carpet over foundation trick
use a plastic drop cloth
use insulation foam/board

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For all methods you’ll need:

rulers
t-pins
tape measure

Here’s the skinny on each:

In my old house, I worked in semi-finished basement room with an inexpensive carpet over the concrete foundation. I may have blocked quilts on the rug from time to time. The carpet on foundation trick worked extremely well. I mean, really well. I had a really solid, stable surface, I didn’t have to worry about t-pins scratching the floor and my quilts came out unbelievably square. So if you have an unfinished basement, get an inexpensive piece of carpet (perhaps a remnant?) and use that on the floor if you have space. Works like a charm.

Recently, I used  a plastic drop cloth over carpet. I didn’t really care for the method. I should have cut down the drop cloth and taped or tacked down the edges. Not doing that resulted in  a plastic sheet that shifted as I worked.  I had to continually pull at the sheet and the quilt to get my quilt to square up. And it didn’t come out quite square on one side. I didn’t like feeling like my quilt wasn’t as taut as it could have or should have been because of the carpet and padding below, either. It could have been a rookie blocking-over-carpet and using a plastic drop cloth mistake, too, but I found greener pastures.

Method three is by far the one I like best. Insulation board. I am currently in the middle of blocking a 77’x72″ quilt and absolutely LOVED using the insulation board! You can buy it in 4’x8′ sheets. I had the home improvement store cut the board into 4′ square pieces so I could get it home. You can also buy 2′ square pieces of insulation board. The smaller pieces are more expensive but if you can’t fit large sheets of insulation board in your car then it’s the way to go.

Tape the insulation board together. I used painters tape because it’s easy to remove so I can store the 4’x4′ boards in the workroom. The example I have here uses a small quilt that fits onto a 4’x4′ board.

Open the quilt flat onto the board(s). You do not need to pull or stretch it, just open it.  I make a few initial measurements (see diagram below).  I block my quilts to the largest measurements. For example, if I measure 76″, 76 1/2″ and 77 1/4″ from top to bottom of a quilt, I make sure the quilt is 77 1/4″ long across left, center and right of the quilt.

blocking

Use t-pins to mark the longest measurements in those 6 spots, gently stretching the quilt where necessary.

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I like to block with the binding on the quilt but not sewn down. I do this for two reasons. First, the quilt can stretch when you sew on the binding. If the binding is sewn down then I can’t stretch it as easily, though I have done that too, like with this example. I use bias binding so I have the ability to stretch the quilt. Second, you can stick t-pins through the seam allowance and not have to worry about messing up the top of your quilt since you’ll sew down the binding and cover up any holes the pins make. If this isn’t an option because the binding is already sewn down, carefully place pins along the edge of the binding where it meets the quilt. You can use your fingers to manipulate the fabric back into place once the pins are removed.

Next, I place a large, square ruler in the corner of my quilt. Gently pull the quilt so the edge of the binding is lined up with the edge of the ruler. Place a t-pin every 3-5 inches.

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I like to have a long ruler that meets my square ruler to continue working along a side to get a straight edge. Line the rulers up along the binding (second photo). You can also pick a spot along one edge and measure a straight line across your quilt using rulers and tape measures (top photo). This works well if you have a lot of acrylic rulers or a small quilt.

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I work my way across the quilt, extending from each side of the square ruler. When I am halfway down an edge of the quilt I place my square ruler in the corner to make sure I get it straight (not straight here).

IMG_0669 2

I measure and remeasure as I pin to make sure all sides are the correct length or width. You might have to adjust and remeasure here or there.

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Once you have the quilt square, leave it to dry. I like to put a fan on the quilt to help it dry faster. If it’s a nice day, I’ll leave the quilt outside to dry. I put a white sheet on top to keep of animals and debris.

IMG_0673 copy

When the quilt has dried, sew down the binding if you haven’t already, and enjoy your flat, square quilt!

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featured, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts

Little Lone Star {free pattern}

I made this sweet little Lone Star quilt for my friend Sarah to hang at the Intown Quilters booth during Quilt Con 2017. She gave out the pattern during the show and I thought I’d share it here, as well.

The quilt is really quick and easy to put together. Enjoy!

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Lone Star ~43-1/2” x 43-1/2”
Designed, Pieced and quilted by Patty Murphy,
based on my book Piecing Makeover

Fabrics*
16 fat eighths
1 yard background fabric (we used Essex Yarn-Dyed Linen in Flax)
1/2 yd binding

*You can buy fat eighth bundles here and Essex Yarn-Dyes Linen here

Cutting Instructions: 
          Fat eighths:
Cut three 2-1/2” x 21” strips from each fat eighth.

          Background fabric: 
First cut one 20” x 20”square.
Then cut four 12-1/2” x 12-1/2” squares.

Assembly Instructions
1. Sew 12 sets of 4 strips. Press open seams.
2. Cut strip sets on a 45° angle. You will get 3 full strips from each set, giving you a possible 36 strips to use for your Lone Star. You will have extra to use.
3. Arrange the strips on a design wall to make the Lone Star. Four strips go into each diamond section.
4. Sew each of the 8 diamond sections together, making sure you off-set the seams to create perfect points. (pg. 110, Diamonds)
5. Once you have 8 diamond sections, sew the top 4 together to make the top of your star then sew the bottom 4 together to make the bottom half of your star.
6. Sew the 2 sections together, making sure you match points in the center and furl your seams to reduce bulk. (pg. 27, Furling Busy Intersections)
7. Using a y-seam, sew each of the 12-1/2” x 12-1/2” background squares into each of the corners. (pg. 105, Hexagons)
8. Cut the 20” x 20” background square twice on the diagonal to get 4 triangles.
9. Using a y-seam, sew the triangles cut in Step 8 into the quilt along the top, bottom, and sides. (pg. 105, Hexagons)
10. Quilt, bind, and enjoy! See it on IG: #pmlonestar

img_0327

quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing

Remove the Clutter and Create

I strongly believe that in order to create freely, we sometimes have to get rid of the clutter in our lives. That clutter can come in different forms: doing the laundry, cleaning the house, volunteering, helping with homework, and many times for me, cleaning up my sewing room and knocking out some unfinished projects.

When I head to my sewing machine and see small projects littered in my space, I get a little anxious. I WANT to create what I want to create when I have time to sew. The quilt or project I’m working on is THE NUMBER ONE THING, right? I don’t necessarily want to work on those other things I’ve put aside for another day. That’s why those things have been case aside anyhow.

Then I finish my project, and I’m ready to move on to something else, but I have to find inspiration. That’s when the clutter actually helps. If I knock out the little things that I have pushed aside for a variety of reasons, then I help myself in few ways:

  1. I finish a project.
  2. I get said project off the floor and start cleaning(ish).
  3. If a project is finished, then I have more space in my head to create. I’m not bogged down my the pressure to finish “other” things. This is important for me because I tend to get wrapped up in the minutiae.

Recently I finished a few projects, and put another aside for not cooperating, and I started tackling some things that have been yelling “Finish me!”

First up:  a Daisy scout vest. Just needed to sew on a few patches. It took all of 20 minutes. Done and done.

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2. A seriously overdue baby quilt. A very good friend of mine asked me to make quilts for babies 1 and 2. And I had those suckers finished on time. The quilt for baby 3? Just finishing it. Awesome, except she’s 18 months old now. Hey, I was busy writing a book, y’all.

img_9522

I was also struggling with how to incorporate the elephants. I’m not sure why but whatevs. It all finally came together. img_95613. And last but not least, a journal cover for a teacher. It’s part of her Christmas gift and all I can say is I hope she likes it. If not, I do, and I’ll gladly take it back.

img_9584Interestingly, another super groovy idea came into my head late one night after I’d finished round 2 with my Bejeweler, proving that sometimes the best way to get your creative going is to clean up projects and free your mind. It makes me happy.

Now if I can just finish up these projects to get to some stuff I really want to work on I’ll be set!

book, featured, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing, Uncategorized

Piecing Makeover Blog Book Tour + Giveaway

What a week it’s been! Wow! Thanks for all the love, y’all! The week was such a success and I couldn’t have done it without C&T Publishing, AnneMarie, Jodie, Teri at GenQ, Sandi, Mary, and Kristin. Really big thanks to each of you!

My biggest tip to share is to ask for help. I mean – How easy is that!? Seriously, though. When I first started to quilt I always asked my mom but not everyone has a mom that sews, or is near. However,  if you are fortunate enough, your local quilt shop has staff on hand to help you work through your problems. Yes, it means another trip out, and you might come home with more fabric but getting inspired while getting help is fun! And I promise they LOVE to help figure out your quilting problems! If the shop can’t help, they will find someone that can. Honest.

If you don’t have a quilt shop near you, go online to see if you can find the answer to your problem, or send a message to a quilter via a blog or read a book – perhaps, mine?  A little time to noodle on the issue might work for you, too. Don’t be afraid to explore possibilities. And if you are worried about messing up your favorite piece of fabric, experiment with some muslin, or old scraps until you’ve solved your problem.

Most importantly, remember it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s how we learn. I have quilts riddled with errors and almost every quilt I make throws me for a loop at some point or another – I really should plan more! But I’ve learned a lot. Some of my (ahem) older friends have been a valuable source of knowledge, too.

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C&T is giving away one copy at each stop along the way and today is your last chance to win a copy of Piecing Makeover  for yourself (printed copy in the U.S. and e-book outside the States). Leave a comment on the blog and we will announce the winners tomorrow.

Here’s the list again so you can check to see if you have won on another page. Winners will be chosen at random using random.org number generator.

9/13  AnneMarie Chany http://www.genxquilters.com/
9/15 Teri Lucas/Gen Q Magazine  http://generationqmagazine.com/
9/16 Sandi Hazlewood http://www.craftyplanner.com/
9/18 Kristin Esser https://kristinesser.com/
Happy piecing, everyone!

*edited on 9/20 – Congratulations to Sally for winning a copy of Piecing Makeover!

Piecing Makeover, quilt, Uncategorized

Piecing Makeover Blog Book Tour

Hey everyone! My blog book tour starts today. I have a rock star list of participants, beginning with C&T today!

Every day, visit the blog of a participating author, designer, or sewist for your chance to win a copy of my book, Piecing Makeover!

Here’s the official line up:

9/13  AnneMarie Chany http://www.genxquilters.com/
9/15 Teri Lucas/Gen Q Magazine  http://generationqmagazine.com/
9/16 Sandi Hazlewood http://www.craftyplanner.com/
9/18 Kristin Esser https://kristinesser.com/
Make sure to leave a comment on each blog for your chance to win. At the end of the tour, winners will be announced. C&T will mail a copy of the book to you. Winners outside the U.S. will receive an e-copy.
Happy Piecing!
quilt, quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

Evolution of a Quilt

It started out rather simply. I had a plan, sketched it out, dug through my stash then bought more fabric. Execute. Right? Well, it went that way until it was time to make said quilt.

It was a cool diamond and hexie quilt with an interwoven lattice. I decided to make the diamonds large, so I could piece the top faster. Unfortunately, I made them too large, and by the time I finished I had 20 diamonds that were 20″ from point to point on the long side, meaning my quilt would have covered the living room floor. No bueno.

So began the task of moving around my pieces and figuring out how in the world I could turn what I’d made into a really fantastic quilt. I was frustrated and thought I’d spent a lot of time and money on a quilt that wasn’t going to happen. And, among other things, I knew I didn’t need more random quilt blocks on my studio floor. After several failed iterations on my design wall, I put the diamonds next to each other.

I paused.

I looked at it.

I liked it.

I waited.

I looked more.

I still liked it.

And so began the evolution of this quilt. img_8580

I’m tackling the borders today because, as one might guess, I changed my mind on them and this quilt will go into another evolution.

 

Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

Piecing Makeover

box web

My book arrived last week. Friday to be exact, yet it took me a day to open the package. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it was because it meant the exciting chapter of writing a book was over. Maybe I was a little scared. I know I was anxious about seeing it, which is funny because I KNEW how my book would look, but alas, I waited. Quiet contemplation, perhaps? And how would I feel the moment I could see what I’d been working on for a full year and a half come to fruition?

It actually took me a day and a half to rip into the box. I may have waited longer but Mary’s book arrived the same day and we opened our books together. Yeah, yeah, such girls (also, you should check out her new book. It’s incredible!).

I grew up sewing. My Mom taught me to sew when I was 6 and by the time I was in high school I had mastered Very Advanced Vogue patterns. At 18, though, my interest in quilting was piqued. The art of quilting was very much starting a revival and I wanted to get on board. I helped Mom make a few quilts through the years, but I wanted to make my own. Mom took me to a local quilt shop and we picked fabric for me to make my first quilt. It was far from perfect but it was perfect to me!

My journey began there, at that shop, well before I even knew it, and part of my journey and my dream was realized with this book. I wished for this book for myself when I was just beginning to quilt. I wanted it for a few reasons. As a bit of a self-proclaimed perfectionist with my own work  (hey, Mom has a degree in fashion design so I picked up all kinds of habits and thoughts about my work), I wanted my quilts to be perfect. I didn’t know how to make that happen AND I didn’t have an extra $30 for a class – it wasn’t a priority for me. I could, however, always find an extra $30 for a good quilting book – one that would teach me a few things and serve as a great resource and learning tool.  But none of the books I ever purchased had ALL the things I wanted to know. This one won’t have all  of them either, but it sure has a lot!  My hope is that this book will help you gain confidence and skills in your piecing REGARDLESS of your quilting style – it’s not about modern vs. traditional it’s about making your work better. I’m eternally grateful that C&T saw my vision, too.

book web

I’m not going to lie when I say that seeing a book with YOUR name on it is overwhelming, and magical, and exciting, and kind of crazy! Sadly (?) what has continued to run through my mind for the last year and a half is Sally Field receiving an Oscar – “They like me! They really like me!” This journey has been phenomenal, and C&T has been incredible to work with every step of the way! I’ve had many cheerleaders throughout the years, and I’m happy to add the staff at C&T to that list. They even sent me  a card along with my book, full of wonderful sentiments about my work from all the amazing people that helped me make it!