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

This Girl is Headed to The Quilt Show

My first (and currently only) school house was at Market in fall 2016. I was excited about my presentation, and was sharing the time slot with John Kubiniec. John was speaking about his new book, A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path, and had made some quilts using Alex Anderson’s new line of fabric being released at market.

Now, I knew I would be speaking with John, and he and I had spoken on the phone prior to quilt market. What I didn’t know was that Alex Anderson would be there.

Yep!

She was 5 feet from me. In the front row. I was equal parts ecstatic and terrified! You would be, too! Half of what I wanted to say went right out the window.

So, I make it through my presentation, and Alex was as kind and lovely as you think she’d be. She told me I did a nice job and congrats on the book, and so on.

The end.

Okay, not the end. Only the end until fall market 2017. I had a whirlwind trip to Houston that included finding out the hard way I had a sulpha drug allergy. So in addition to spending two days walking around George Brown being incredibly itchy,  I was walking around on Sunday tired from Benadryl.

Anyhow, about halfway through the day, my friend Charlene and I walked into a booth. Alex was sitting at a table helping someone. She smiled at us when we walked in, and Charlene and I continued to peruse. I was particularly interested in the EVA foam Cheryl Sleboda had because I had just made a not so great but kind of okay helmet for my son for Halloween. Charlene was checking out batting.

Anyhow, while I was looking around Alex must have finished what she was doing, walked over to me, smiled, and said hello. We started to talk, and in a complete “this is either a REALLY good idea or a terrible one” kind of moment, I said: so, do you remember….and launched into reminding her about my school house and how nice she was to me last year.

Alex asked about my book, Piecing Makeover, and, of course, I was happy to grab it from my bag and show it to her. She flipped through it and then asked if I’d want to be on The Quilt Show.

WHAT?! Um, yes!! No need to ask twice. I. AM. THERE!

Seriously, though. I am there. Well, I’m there in March and I am SO EXCITED! Y’all! This is ah-mazing!

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I’m super excited to go, and I’ll keep you updated on any fun developments. It’s going to be great!

Happy Piecing!

PM

family, make something, personal, quilt, quilt block, quilting, quilts

On Making Resolutions, Not Making Resolutions, and Sweet Things

I generally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I have enough to keep up with on any given day and the thought of adding to my already lengthy list is daunting. Plus, it’s always a disappointment if I can’t keep a promise to myself for a year. Why set myself up for failure, right?

Enter being alone…sewing…head going…..then poof! I blew up that thought when I made a quiet resolution to myself. Dang it!

For every NEW quilt I start, I’m going to finish a work in progress.

It’s a good one, but this must have been a complete moment of weakness; or me looking around my space realizing I’d have more if I finished some projects.

The plan: if it’s been cut, partially pieced, blocks made but need to assemble the top, partially quilted, WHATEVER, then it’s time to finish that project.

I am allowing myself one small stipulation: finished tops don’t count.  I can fold them up and put them in my cabinet to be quilted on another day.  Fast forward to a year from now when I’m complaining about all the quilts that need quilting. Here’s hoping that’s not the case. Note: I’m grateful for long arm quilters. Anyhow, at least if the mess is off my floor, I’ll have some room to move. That’ll be nice. I could use more space. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

The first project I’m tackling this year is a quilt for my husband’s aunt. Several years ago she asked me to make a quilt from her children’s clothing. She has 5 (yes, F-I-V-E) kids and had a great, big basket of things for me to use. I cut a bunch of things into 5″ squares and put them together with a sashing and I never. liked. the. quilt.

It was somewhere between a large wall and small lap quilt. I didn’t like the pieces just sashed. There was no pizzaz, and I knew I could do something I liked FAR better. 4 squares were larger so I used them as cornerstones, but then the borders were too wide, and the quilt wasn’t quite proportional. I didn’t like my border choice for that quilt, either. Also, if I’m making a quilt from clothing from 5 babies, then said aunt should be able to snuggle up under it. I mean, those are years of precious memories. Diaper covers, cross-stitched bags, flannel blankets, and loads of other sweet, sweet things.

So I sat on it.

For two years I sat on a (small) almost-completed quilt because I didn’t love it. It was okay, but that’s not okay for me.

So I stewed, and mulled, and processed, and let it muster until the lightbulb went off. And THEN, when the inspiration hit, I was able to pull the trigger. Sheesh, y’all! This quilt is going to be ah-mazing!! I’m so excited about it. I can’t wait for you to see the finished project!

Let me also add (completely-ish off topic) that sometimes waiting is the best thing you can do for a project. I am one of the most impatient people I know, so that really means something coming from me. But it’s true. I am so glad that I waited and didn’t finish this quilt. It’s definitely worth it!

Back to the quilt. When the lightbulb came on at 3am one morning (thank you insomnia, Carrie Bloomston, and That Little Spark), the quilt came together.

I spent the last 2 days reworking the top. I have the center blocks assembled, and plan to sew them together today. Plans for the rest of the week include inner and outer border, then determining quilting situation.

Here’s a sneak peak.

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Enjoy!

Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilt block, quilting, quilts

Matching a Fussy Cut Print

I wrote an entire book on precision piecing so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I love fussy cutting and matching prints. It’s been my experience that quilters either love it or hate it.  Regardless of your preference, I’m a fan, and think it adds great interest to quilts and blocks. I used it on this quilt border recently, and just love the look!

I’m also pretty keen on matching fussy cut prints in borders. I mean, if I’m going to spend the time accurately, precisely cutting a border strip, I darn well want it to match along the edges! It’s visually appealing, and once the quilt has been quilted you usually can’t see the seam, anyhow.

Here’s my two cents on how to fussy cut a print for a border, or at least this quilt.

First, look at the print. Once you determine your border width you can pick an arbitrary point to use for cutting for both sides of your border. I knew I wanted to have one fussy cut skull running down the center of my vertical pieces (sides) and one fussy cut skull running through the middle of my border (top and bottom). I also knew I wanted an approximately 5″ border.

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The repeat on this print made math simple. I could place my ruler 1″ above the top of the skulls and 1″ below the bottom of the skull that would run horizontally and I’d have a 5″ border.

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Use your rotary cutter, and cut along the edge of the ruler, adjusting as necessary. Here’s the trick: YOU WILL HAVE TO ADJUST YOUR RULER. Several times, usually. That also means, cut a small bit, say 6″ or so, where your ruler is correctly aligned, readjust, then cut more. Prints are almost never perfectly on grain. That also means that your border won’t quite be on grain. That’s okay. You’ll have a 5″ border and make adjustments as you sew and quilt, as needed.

The image below shows you, using an upside down ruler, how the print isn’t perfectly on grain. See how it veers off toward the 5″ mark? No worries. Let your ruler do the work for you and adjust it.

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See how I adjusted the ruler below? If you do that, your print will line up exactly as you’d like and you’ll have perfect fussy cut borders. This technique works for horizontal and vertical borders. Pick a point, and use your ruler to get perfectly cut pieces running the length or width of the fabric.

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While it’s not entirely necessary, I usually use my ruler along the second cut for the border. Under normal circumstances, I’d like up my ruler along the cut edge and cut the border pieces to the size I want. Since this is a fussy cut strip, I want to make sure that the second cut is in the exact right spot. Normally it is, but an abundance of caution here is worth the extra minute or two to make sure your border will have the center skull (or whatever) in the correct spot.

So, what happens when you want to MATCH your fussy cut strips? Let your iron do the work for you!

I have two horizontal cuts.

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I pick a point on the fabric to match. I try to make it easy and somewhat obvious. For this print, I chose to use the center of the skull. I can use the center of the skull and have half the face on each side of my seam. Since the spot in the fabric is busy, it’ll be less noticeable when the top is quilted.

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I ironed the border strip back onto itself to create a line to sew along on another strip.

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Next, place the pieces together, FACE UP,  as you’d like them to be sewn together on your border. This one is basted because I forgot to snap a photo of that step, so imagine this without stitches. The skull lines up (almost) perfectly. You will want to sew along that ironed line.

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Gently fold back the top piece. I usually keep my hand on the folded part of the fabric being flipped so it doesn’t move. Here, the fold was big enough for me to keep my hand on it, while flipping the top portion. Then I place my hand/fingers on the other edge to keep it from moving, and let the left side of the fabric all the way out.

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Pin.

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BASTE along the ironed fold line. I like to baste to make sure the pattern is lined up exactly the way I want. If it’s not quite right, it’s easy to take out the stitches, readjust, then try again.

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When you have the pieces lined up as you’d like, sew them together. I usually sew over the basting stitches, and leave them in the quilt. Ideally, I’d have long threads to pull out the basting, but I don’t think it adds enough bulk in the border to cause any problems.

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Trim.

And press.

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Voila! Perfectly matched fussy cut borders!

family, friends, quilt, quilt block, quilting, quilts

All Squared Up – January Blues edition

Like many quilts, this one has a story. It began in November of 1974. I was 3 months old. We lived in a new subdivision in a suburb of Atlanta, and had neighbors with 2 small children. The youngest was 6 months old at the time. We grew up together and were the best of friends.

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Then we moved to Charlotte.

As luck would have it, though, my grandparents still lived in Atlanta so when we’d come to visit, I’d always have a spend the night with my friend. She even came to visit a full week one summer – brought her bike and everything – it was the best week ever!

Fast forward to 1987 when moved back to Atlanta. My friend and I were still in contact, and getting together was far easier now that we were geographically convenient to one another. We would talk for hours on the phone since we were thirteen and there were no long distance fees to pay. There was always a reason to get together, be it an afternoon, evening, or a night. I think it helped that our parents were friends.

I have fond memories of my friend and her family celebrating holidays together. They’d celebrate Christmas with us, and we’d celebrate Rosh Hashanah with them. Thanksgivings at my house, and 4th of July’s on a boat. Birthdays, weddings (me as her maid of honor and her as my matron of honor) and yes, even funerals.

We lived together our freshman year of college, and were just a few doors from each other in apartments in our early twenties….a half mile from each other mid-twenties….see? She was always around, and has always been an important part of my life.

Until she moved across the country. I didn’t realize how sad it would make me until she wasn’t around. It’s been 5 years.

Her son turned 13 almost 2 years ago. He had a Bar Mitzvah in Israel. I was invited to go, but couldn’t swing the expense. I’ve been wanting to make a quilt for him, but hadn’t found (made) the time. I wanted something appropriate for a young man, and, I’ll be honest, nothing really inspired me. Plus the book was just out….I was going in too many directions.

So, when I saw this Libs Elliot fabric I fell in love and immediately knew what I wanted to make! This pattern, All Squared Up, was designed for Intown Quilters when the shop was featured in American Patchwork and Quilting Shop Sampler magazine in spring 2007. I’ve added the scrappy inner border since, but everything else is the same. Skulls seem appropriate for a boy, and I felt much better when my husband told me this was one of his favorite quilts that I’ve made – and he’s seen a lot of quilts.

 

I know how lucky I am to have had a friend for (almost) 44 years. It’s rare, and it’s extremely special.  Next step, off to get quilted, then send it to Seattle. I hope you like, H! Much, much love….

 

Measures 64.5″ x 80″

pieced with 50 weight Cotton + Steel by Sulky

family, featured, holiday, make something, quilting, quilts

Let’s Talk About Big Stitch Quilting

I was introduced to big stitch quilting in 1993. Maybe 1994? It’s been a while and I can’t quite remember the exact date.  25 years and all. Anyhow, I was working at a quilt shop during my summers home from school, and a woman that taught classes there used big stitch quilting for a lot of her quilts. It was new to me. I’d never seen it. I’d only seen teeny, weeny hand stitching – all very traditional (and lovely) – and I immediately fell in love! I thought it was the coolest way to quilt.

Ever.

I mean, tiny stitches are great but who needs 11 or 12 stitches an inch (and I most definitely couldn’t do that when I started!) when I can get away with 4 or 5, right? Besides it’s so much faster.

The first time I made a quilt with big stitch quilting was for a Christmas gift for my Dad. I used reproduction Smithsonian prints (very masculine and I still love those fabrics) and a 12 weight cream colored perle cotton. I probably (details are fuzzy here since it’s been a while) struggled to get the thread into the needle because I didn’t know to use a needle with a bigger eye. I have vague memories of fighting with a needle threader?? Nevertheless, I somehow managed to make it happen.

And I was so proud.

And I showed my quilt to said friend and she (very kindly) gave me a lesson.

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BIG STITCH QUILTING MEANS THE STITCHES ARE BIGGER. NOT ENORMOUS.

If in an ideal world of hand quilting you get 11 or so stitches in an inch of quilting, you should have less with big stitch quilting; meaning your stitches are bigg-er. 

Yeah.  So that sank in for a bit. My stitches were HUGE.  I ruined my Dad’s quilt. dang it!

So, while I was a little brokenhearted about that – you know, messing it all up (even though the quilt isn’t messed up it just has really. big. stitches), I took it as a lesson to learn about this new art I was exploring and went on my way. My Dad was (and still is) none the wiser, and loved his gift. He and Mom still have it over a railing in their house. I had to text mom for photos, in fact. 🙂

To be honest, I didn’t use big stitch quilting on another quilt for a while. I was afraid I’d mess it up. Again. That was DEFINITELY a mistake. Mess up. Learn. Move forward.

So, moving right along through the next decade or two, I would occasionally pick up big stitch quilting again, always careful to make my stitches bigger but not ridiculous.

The most recent (ahem, I say recent loosely) projects are baby quilts. One for my youngest son (he’s almost 8) and another for a friend that just had her first baby.

See how the stitches in the left photo are really big? They shouldn’t be quite so large. Remember, they need to be bigger than traditional hand quilting but not HUGE. You can see 25 years of progress in the right hand photo. Big stitch quilting should be closer to this. Bigg-er than traditional hand quilting stitches.

When you first start, your stitches won’t be small. Even big stitch quilting. That is okay. Keep practicing until you find your rhythm. You will get there. Promise!

Do:

•Use a 12 weight perle cotton. You can use a slightly thinner or thicker thread, but I have found it’s a good weight for big stitch quilting.
•Use a longer needle with a larger eye. I like to use a sashiko needle, but there are big stitch needles in a variety of sizes. Buy a few and experiment
•Remember that you want your thread to fill the hole in the needle (or close to it). If the opening is too large, your thread will fray and eventually break.
•Practice, practice, practice!

Don’t:
Get discouraged. My first big stitch quilt had ENORMOUS stitches. It’s okay.

Remember:

•Handmade isn’t always perfect.
•Handmade has mistakes.
•Handmade with love is better than anything you can buy. Imperfections and all.

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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

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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

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