QM Scrap Squad: Louisa’s Canada Goose

QM scrap squadB3 QM Scrap Squad: Louisas Canada Goose

Quiltmaker’s Scrap Squad is a select group of readers who take one predetermined pattern from each issue and make scrappy versions to inspire other readers. We feature a new Scrap Squad quilt almost every week.

QM created the Scrap Squad because we know our readers want to use fabric they already own to make lively one-of-a-kind creations from our patterns.

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The Scrap Squad quilt from the March/April issue is Summer Love, designed by Kimberly Jolly. It was made by Nancy Parkinson in fabrics from Marcus Fabrics.

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Summer Love, designed by Kimberly Jolly, made in fabrics from Marcus Fabrics

Today’s featured quilt is by Louisa Robertson from Merritt, British Columbia, Canada. You’ll want to check out her blog, Louisa Quilts. Hear her story in her own words below.

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I know that block! The block in Kimberly Jolly’s Summer Love is one I’ve had on my “Someday List” for years. I first saw it in Ruth McKendry’s book Quilts and Other Bed Coverings in the Canadian Tradition, 1979, where it was called “Old Brown Goose” or “Old Grey Goose.” It’s a traditional block that was used a lot in early Canadian quilts.

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Shirt fabrics and muslin were uninspiring.

 

First thought—make this old-fashioned block in old-fashioned fabrics, shirtings and plaids with muslin. But this pile didn’t look very inspiring for sewing on dreary winter days!


 

I put away the plaids and decided instead to give the block a Canadian flavour by using red and white. Adding black to this gave me red/white/black, an easy palette to work with which should appeal to the men in my family.

I have a “mature stash” which was the source of most of the fabrics I needed.

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Reds – at the orange-red end of the scale.

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I was able to include this batik made for Canadian Quilters Association (CQA-ACC) 25th anniversary (2006).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Black and white fabrics

The black-and-white fabrics came from a collection that had been gathered over many years. I couldn’t use all of them – some were not clearly light OR dark, but I did manage to put a few of those middle ones in the centres of red blocks.

 

 

 

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Whites, including one recycled thrift shop shirt

 

 

Whites – mostly white-on-white, but a piece from a thrift shop shirt was white enough to fit in with the others.

 

 

 

I liked the way the quilt designer coloured the centre of the block using pairs of triangles to make parallelograms, and I decided to do this with my blocks. When coloured this way, the block has strong vertical and horizontal symmetry. I decided I preferred it set straight rather than on point.

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Plan for fabric placement

My plan called for alternate red blocks and black blocks. This required a layout in odd numbers: five blocks by seven blocks gives a nice proportion. I reduced the block size to 10″ so I’d have room to play with pieced borders.

Many of my fabrics were scrappy small pieces, not large enough for cutting the squares and rectangles needed for the quick methods of making the units. I cut individual triangles instead. This meant handling bias edges. Using spray starch before cutting helped minimize stretching.

Since the block size is 10″,  units need to finish 2.5″ x 5″. Both types of triangles—the “goose” unit and the smaller “wings”—can be cut from a 3″ strip using appropriate triangle rulers.

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Cutting both types of triangles from a 3″ strip.

 

 

I used an Omnigrid 96 ruler for the half-square triangles and Omnigrid 98 for the quarter square triangle. (Editor’s note: You can also use the Easy Angle ruler, the Companion Angle ruler, or the Fons & Porter Half & Quarter ruler.)

 

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Making use of small scraps.

In order to use a few special scraps I resorted to “poverty piecing” – these triangles were made of three strips sewn together.

 

 

 

 

 

After all the pieces were cut I made block “kits” to ensure a good distribution of fabrics. I tried to avoid duplicating any fabrics in a block.

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The “kit” for one red block.

Each kit consisted of 24 triangles. There is a set of background pieces, all matching; two geese and eight wings. For the main part of the block, which is scrappy, there are four geese and four matching pairs of wings. I aimed for eight different fabrics here. And for the centre of the block there are two matching geese. These are red in the black blocks and black on white in the red blocks.

 

 

 

 

Using only one fabric for the background of each block simplified construction of the outer four geese. I used these pieces for “leaders and enders” between sections as I constructed the centre portion.

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Laying out triangles to for proper placement of each fabric.

The centre portion of each block needed more concentration as it contains 12 pieces and six different fabrics. Only by laying out the block before I started to sew, and by putting each piece back into the layout as I completed it, could I be sure the pieces would form the parallelograms correctly.

 

 

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Alternate blocks were too “checkerboard-y”

 

 

I proceeded to piece blocks happily, really liking each block as it joined the others on the wall. But as the blocks accumulated I realized I didn’t like them alternating like that. For a few days I was paralyzed with indecision. Perhaps there was a better layout and I just couldn’t find it.

 

I sent off an email to my computer guru sons:  18 red blocks, 17 black, arranged in a five by seven array, must be symmetrical vertically and horizontally.  How many layouts are possible? I expected an answer of maybe ten or twenty or perhaps even thirty possibilities.

Back came answers with formulas and charts (all that nCr stuff from the Probability and Statistics section of math class). They told me that there were 290 arrangements of my blocks! Wow! In that case I would certainly not settle for a plain old checkerboard! There wasn’t time to work my way through all 289 of the other combinations so I chose one that seemed to work and sewed the blocks together.

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Border assembly in diagonal rows

 

 

I needed yet more triangles to make the pieced borders. I cut these as quarter-square triangles (straight grain on the long edge) to keep the designs (mostly) running vertically on the quilt. I assembled the strips diagonally which meant I was again handling a lot of bias, but the starched fabrics held everything nice and straight, and the borders came out just right.

 

 

 

Just in case the blocks were not exactly the right size, I did not cut the white strips until AFTER I made the pieced parts of the borders. I measured the borders and the quilt centre and found that everything fit beautifully. If the sizes had not been correct, an adjustment could have been made in the width of the white strip.

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I love the way that just a simple square helps the border turn the corner neatly.

 

Finally the top was all together. I found a gray flannel backing for it and used Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 batting. A panto pattern called “Blowing Wind” added a bit of movement to the design. The quilting thread is a variegated black/grey/white from Aurifil. A simple black binding finishes the edge.

 

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Canada Goose, 66″ x 85″

And here is my finished quilt.  Canada Goose is 66″ x 85″—just about right for one of my tall sons.

 

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Tune-Up on Twenty

It’s the 20th of March.

That means it’s time for Tune-Up on Twenty!

This is a friendly reminder:

• Open up your sewing machine’s innards and gently clean out all the lint, dirt and debris.

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• Oil your machine (not all machines should be oiled, check your manual)

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• Change out the machine needle (general rule of thumb is after eight hours, or after a quilt project)

 Tune Up on Twenty

• Put a new blade in your rotary cutter

I take good care of my sewing machines, but I always procrastinate when it comes to rotary blades. And so when I do change it, and it’s nice and sharp and cuts like anything, I think, “Why did I wait so long?”

Now you’re all set for some serious sewing! Enjoy!

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QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition–with a Twist

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It was the first day of first grade and I was ready. I had my Big Chief writing tablet and a pristine box of 16 beautiful Crayola crayons. I could hardly wait to break it open. As we were given our seat assignments, I noticed that some of the other kids had much larger boxes. Then I spot the biggest box of all containing about a zillion crayons plus a built-in sharpener sitting right in front of my friend Chris. I wanted zillions of colors too! (Okay, so I wasn’t so good at counting yet.)

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A pitifully small box of crayons.

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My dream box of crayons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of that day, after patiently listening to my sob story, my dad took me aside to show me how to use my crayons to create new colors by blending and shading. Having 16 crayons wasn’t as terrible as I thought. I learned some amazing things about color that day. (I also learned that good friends share. Chris would take pity on me and let me use her periwinkle every once in a while, and I showed her how I could blend my colors.)

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Periwinkle–my favorite Crayola color in grade school.

Fast forward to the early 90s. That was when I was learning to quilt, and I was less than thrilled with the variety of cotton fabrics. It was mostly calicos and solids back then. The colors were often dark and muddy. It was like having a box of 16 crayons all over again. As my quilting skills progressed, I began finding more fabric that appealed to me and more ways to combine colors in my quilts. When I found bright, bold fabric I liked, I didn’t hesitate to buy it–often in large quantities, and usually without a plan for its use.

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I still have yards of this Hoffman print from the 90s.

My early quilts were mostly traditional–Rail Fences, Log Cabins, Irish Chains, etc. These patterns were fine, but I didn’t want my quilts looking exactly like the pattern picture or anybody else’s. That’s when I began thinking outside the box, or should I say “outside the blocks”.

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My first applique project. I decided on a different arrangement for the blocks and border.

In 2005, I signed up for a color and design class with Heather Thomas author of A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color & Design (Landauer Publishing). The quilts made for this 13-month course had to be original designs. I thought the easiest way to do this was to use traditional designs in new ways. With the help of my Electric Quilt software, I started working on new layouts, new block or color combinations, new twists. It was fun learning so much about color and value. Here are 3 of my projects from that class.

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My version of Tumbling Blocks.

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My star layout to show a split complement color combination.

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My Fibonacci layout for a New York Beauty block.

Kismet, my quilt published by Quilter’s Newsletter in April/May 2008, is based on a traditional Carpenter’s Wheel and Sawtooth Star blocks. I strategically used blacks, grays and white with values of red to create the quilt’s 3-dimensional illusion.

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Kismet from Quilter’s Newsletter April/May 2008

This 3-D tumbling block design was created in a class taught by Karen Combs in 2008. I love the optical illusion.

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A fun version of Tumbling Blocks.

My Great Ball of Fire design (Sept/Oct ’09) uses an off-center Pineapple block.

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Great Ball of Fire from Quiltmaker Sept/Oct ’09

I skewed a 16-Patch block in my Aqua Marina design (Nov/Dec ’10), but playing with the colors and values was more fun.

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Aqua Marina from Quiltmaker Nov/Dec ’10

Sparkling Bubbles (July/Aug ’13) was influenced by Mariner’s Compass and New York Beauty blocks. This was a pretty bold color combination for me.

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Sparkling Bubbles from Quiltmaker July/Aug ’13

In addition to Karen Combs’s work (karencombs.com), I am in awe of quilts designed and made by Jacqueline de Jong (becolourful.com) and George Siciliano (georgesiciliano.com). I could look at them for hours. Check out their websites to see why.

In case you haven’t noticed, my designs are mostly foundation-pieced with batiks. Here are a couple of my designs from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks.

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Ice Crystal from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 2

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Whoopsy Daisy from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks volume 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still love the challenge of giving traditional designs a new look. Isn’t it wonderful to have so many fun fabric choices these days? It’s especially difficult for me to pass by displays of colorful batiks. To fill my fabric stash, I just need a zillion more!

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Recommended Quilt Books Giveaway

There are many new titles of interest to quilters. Let’s take a look at several and then we’ll have a giveaway.

• From Kansas City Star Quilts: Baskets, Birds and Boughs: Quilts Year ‘Round by Debbie Roberts, $27.95

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Baskets, Birds and Boughs: Quilts Year ‘Round by Debbie Roberts for Kansas City Star Quilts

If you love tradition but you want it with a twist, if you’re tired of blocks repeated in rows, if you love gorgeous photography in a beautiful setting, then this is the book for you.

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Gather Around, designed by Debbie Roberts and Anneliese Reid

Debbie has a way of making old things new again. Her style is decidedly fresh but firmly rooted in tradition. Gather Around, shown above, is one of nine projects in the book. Every one is a keeper.

• From That Patchwork Place, 501 Quilting Motifs: Designs for Hand or Machine Quilting from The Editors of Quiltmaker Magazine, $19.99

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501 Quilting Motifs

Now available in softcover is our best-selling 501 Quilting Motifs. You may know that for 32 years Quiltmaker has always published quilting plans with its designs. Which means we have amassed hundreds of original quilting motifs.

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Not only do you get the motif, but we show you many ways to combine, flip and rotate it for new possibilities.

We’ve gathered some of the best ones together in this title. Not only do you get the motif, but we also show you many ways to combine, flip and rotate it for new possibilities. When you ask yourself “How should I quilt it?”, now there’s an answer!

• From Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing, Playful Petals: Learn Simple, Fusible Applique by Corey Yoder, $22.95

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Playful Petals by Corey Yoder for Stash Books

My complaint about applique is that it always just seems so complicated. Corey Yoder’s new Playful Petals solves the problem! This is applique in its simplest form: fused and stitched and good to go.

A bonus: the projects are made from precuts! Use the precuts you’ve collected or use your stash. Either way, the designs are fresh and playful. Combinations of simple piecing with Corey’s single petal shape yield a surprising variety of quilts and pillows—nine of each!

Quilts Made with Love: To Celebrate, Comfort and Show You Care by Rachel Griffith

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Quilts Made with Love by Rachel Griffith

Quiltmaker has been privileged to call Rachel a friend since she was a newbie at quilt market quite a few years back. Now she’s written her first book and we couldn’t be happier for her.

Rachel has taken the idea that quilters make quilts on all sorts of occasions, good and not so good, and turned it into a project book. It’s filled with inspiring ideas for easy quilts to give away. The quilts range from super quick to more detailed, but all are fresh and fun. Follow Rachel’s lead on colors and fabric styles, or dive into your stash to create them in a way that’s uniquely you.

If you want to give quilts to the people you love and you want to do it soon, this is the book to own.

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Giveaway time! I have three of these books to give to lucky readers. For your chance to win, please leave a comment below by midnight Friday, March 21. We’ll choose winners and post them here next week. The giveaways winners are Jeanne, Karlene and Donna, who have been notified by email. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone who commented.

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It’s National Quilting Day: Giveaway

Today is National Quilting Day. I hope you’re doing a little something to celebrate. At least grab a few minutes at the machine, or do some cutting for the Brain-Free Sewing Zone.

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I’m lucky enough to live fairly close to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. I’m on my way there bright and early to take in their special events, demonstrations and exhibits with friends from my area. With a little luck, I’ll have a post about it next week.

In the meantime, how about a giveaway just for readers of Quilty Pleasures? We’re glad you’re here and this is a good day to say so!

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Giveaway! Win these fat quarters and great magazines from Quiltmaker.

For your chance to win a bundle of fat quarters and great quilting magazines, please leave a comment by midnight tonight, Saturday, March 15, telling us how you discovered Quilty Pleasures. We’ll announce a winner here next week. The winner is Dianne. She has been notified by email.

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Pinks and browns for giveaway on National Quilting Day

Happy National Quilting Day
from Quiltmaker!

Posted in Giveaways & Contests, Scrapbag | Tagged , | 206 Comments

QM Scrap Squad: I Carried A Watermelon by Beth Helfter

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Quiltmaker’s Scrap Squad is a select group of readers who take one predetermined pattern from each issue and make scrappy versions to inspire other readers. We feature a new Scrap Squad quilt almost every week.

QM created the Scrap Squad because we know our readers want to use fabric they already own to make lively one-of-a-kind creations from our patterns.

QMMP 140400 cover 200 QM Scrap Squad: I Carried A Watermelon by Beth Helfter

 

The Scrap Squad quilt from the March/April issue is Summer Love, designed by Kimberly Jolly. It was made by Nancy Parkinson in fabrics from Marcus Fabrics.

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Summer Love, designed by Kimberly Jolly, made in fabrics from Marcus Fabrics.

 

Today’s featured quilt is by Beth Helfter from Pepperell, Massachusetts. Beth blogs at Quilting Hottie Haven.

 

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You’ll soon see that Beth doesn’t take herself—or much else—too seriously. She keeps it fun. You’ll hear from Beth below, in a way that only she can get away with!

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Ah, Summer Love. I have thoughts of donning my poodle skirt and surrounding myself with all my besties while we dance on a lunch table and sing about Danny Zuko. Except I can’t sing.

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It also makes me think of one of my favorite things about quilting – brights, brights, and more brights! Or maybe that is three things. Either way, I knew when I saw Summer Love that I wanted to brighten it. I settled on hot pink, lime, and something between teal and forest that I am going to refer to as blue-green—while fully recognizing that Crayola might have a better name for it. I chose these in part because they were my most overflowing scrap bins, and in part because they made me happy.

Immediately all I could see was watermelon, and “I Carried A Watermelon” had a name before I’d sewn a stitch. Don’t you love it when that happens?

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They almost look like they should make my hands sticky.

The first step of pressing and cutting all those little scraps into submission is always the most fun. (WHEN will someone come up with a sarcasm font?) I’m still waiting for my girls to be old enough to use my rotary cutter properly; it will be fantastic to pay them to cut all my pieces. But thanks to a good book on Audible, it all got done.

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Finally ready to sew!

My vision for this quilt was to alternate the lime and blue-green fabrics around the pinks, which I separated into light and dark tones. So while I made my pink and green flying geese for the block centers, I built them with a lime on the right and a b/g on the left.

It didn’t take me more than four geese to realize that in order to complete that pesky vision of eight fabrics marching light/dark/light/dark around the block, I also had to make sure I was pulling a matching lime or b/g from the pile each time I added one to the pinks. Otherwise I wouldn’t have enough of each fabric to match them up in the next step.

After all my pink centers were together, and the block centers sewn with a lighter and a darker pink, I had to work with each block center individually to complete the next step. So much for chain piecing.

So after grabbing a center, I rummaged through the whole pile of green squares I had oh-so-conveniently thrown off to the side to find the four matching fabrics. It was a little bit like a game of Go Fish with those rainbow-colored fish cards, lacking only my daughter cheating her face off.

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Amazingly, every matching square was accounted for.

Next, I sewed the lime to the left and the b/g to the right along with my ultra light pink background to form some more flying geese, then matched up the fabrics and sewed them to the block centers.

This part took a while as I had to do each individual block on its own after finding the fabrics and therefore couldn’t chain piece, but I love how they turned out so it was worth it. The moral here is that quilting is awesome as a whole, but certain parts can be tedious. This may or may not be why God created wine.

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Are you noticing the light/dark/light/dark thing I’ve got going on yet?

Next up: The remaining sides of the block. While the original Summer Love featured one background fabric on all sides of the black prints, one of my favorite discoveries in EQ was that adding a hot pink to the corners of the blocks suddenly gave the whole quilt a new movement and a sultry, juicy, come-hither-and-look-deep-into-my-eyes-y attitude.

Hither I went, and built the remaining flying geese with two-colored backgrounds, hot pink on the left for the dark greens, hot pink on the right for the light greens. Unfortunately this meant I could not take advantage of the fast flying geese construction recommended in the pattern for this step. There was a little sadness about that, I won’t lie.

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Upper right corner is proof positive that I rarely remember to shut my rotary cutter. I am indeed a teacher’s worst nightmare, and the girl no one wants to sit with at Open Sew.

Once all the geese were cooked, I sewed them together into strips with the hot pinks on the corners,

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Really loving this project!

made sure that the greens in each strip didn’t repeat in the block, AND that I was putting it on the right side of the block,

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Eh, one out of two.

and VOILA! A block! Now just to make 17 more.

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Sometimes a block just makes you smile.

Once I got my groove on, I sewed the rest of the blocks over the course of a day or two. I may have forgotten to go do my library volunteering in my daughter’s class one day, so caught up was I in piecing these blocks. The good news is that the world did not end and the books got put away.

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In other dirty little sewing room secrets, yes, I have indeed given up on lint rolling my design wall.

Yay! All of my blocks are done! And they are too big for my design wall, so they are on the floor!

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Finished blocks

Husband—not thrilled with the idea I have for complete rehaul of studio because it wouldn’t fit on the wall.

Knowing I was naming this quilt after watermelon and Patrick Swayze, I decided to make the sashing squares black to represent the watermelon seeds, and the sashing strips a bright lime green, because I am sure I wore something of that color when I went to see Dirty Dancing in 1982.

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In truth, the “seeds” ended up a wicked dark green, because that is what I had and I was too cheap to go shop. But it worked.

As a designer, my normal block creations tend toward the less traditional, and to make a quilt using 18 of the same block in the same fabrics is not generally my thing. At. All.

But that is one of the 9000 things I love about being on the Scrap Squad: I made this traditional block my own by scrapping it up, and each time I finished a block I was amazed by how beautiful and how different from each other they were looking. And once I got the entire thing together, I was kind of floored by how much I loved it.

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As you can see, the setting triangles were cut from several different pinks, and set around the quilt in a light-to-dark fashion.

I thought the quilt deserved an exciting border, so working with the pinks I had left, I cut them into 4 1/2″ strips and JUST BARELY had enough to make it all the way around. I placed the darker borders on the side with the lighter setting triangles, and vice versa. I believe it was the perfect way to continue the light/dark movement of this quilt. I have no idea what possessed me to miter the corners, but I’m glad I did it.

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I won’t lie. I celebrated this miter with a cookie.

To pull more green to the borders, I threw a 1/2″ flange in there, using a green I particularly liked and happened to have plenty of. It’s just a 1″ strip about a mile long (not really, but it seems that way when you’re pressing!) pressed wrong sides together and sewn to the quilt top in between the setting triangles and the border.

Some people don’t like flanges because they are three-dimensional and can cause stress in regard to the quilting. (Do I quilt around them? Do I quilt over them? How does that affect my thread choice? Argh!)

But as the queen of imperfectionism I don’t give any of those things a thought. I didn’t end up quilting over the flange. But I have done so on other quilts and the world did not end. So either way works.

A fancy, award-winning machine quilter I am not. But what I am is an enthusiastic one. As I am wont to do, I quilted the heck out of this quilt, trying some new designs and generally just having a good time.

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You can see some of my quilting in this photo.

I bound the quilt in the same green as the flange, and then it was time for the photo session. I braved two feet of snow in my backyard while two of my daughters held “I Carried A Watermelon” off the side of the deck. There was complaining about how heavy it was. I reminded them that an actual watermelon would be harder to hold above their heads and they shut up.

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“Do we HAVE to hold it so high?”

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Yes, you do. Because the snow is so darn deep I can’t see the border when you do that.

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Then let’s let the wind help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo sessions are always fun, aren’t they?

Thanks for letting me regale you with the fun of my first Scrap Squad assignment! I hope you enjoyed it! I’ll leave you with one final close up, one that will hopefully having you dreaming of summer fresh fruit and learning to mambo!

beth7 QM Scrap Squad: I Carried A Watermelon by Beth Helfter

Just plain yummy!

 

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QM Staff Inventory: I Love Funky

If you took inventory among Quiltmaker staff members, you might be surprised. Our personal quilt styles don’t necessarily reflect the style of QM, which is generally traditional and whimsical.

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I’m the staff person who loves funky. For me, the more offbeat, the better. Sometimes my co-workers have to reign me in. They are kind and they do it gently.

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Funky Baskets by Diane Harris, based on tutorial by Darra Williamson

This is a little basket quilt I made using a free tutorial from Darra Williamson. I made my handles funky because I thought they’d be more interesting that way. I put borders on just two sides.

 funky9 QM Staff Inventory: I Love FunkyI’m the person who brings a wild quilt to guild and wonders why everyone looks so puzzled when it’s my turn for Show & Tell. The quilt above is an example. I know its aesthetics may not be for everyone, but it’s one of my favorites, partly because of the weird border fabric.

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I got this fabric from a clearance table. It’s one of my favorites ever.

I got this fabric for a song because apparently everyone else thought it would be a challenge. I loved it instantly! It’s a Terrie Hancock Mangat design. I cut the border on the quilt above 9.5″ wide to show it off.

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I made this baby quilt on a retreat with Mary Lou Weidman.

Occasionally I meet a kindred spirit who loves funky as much as I do. One such person is Mary Lou Weidman, a nationally known designer, author and instructor who has also become a friend. I made the quilt above under her guidance at a retreat in Idaho. She encouraged me to leave that bottom right corner just as it is. I like this piece so much that I haven’t been able to part with it as I’d planned.

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Orphan block with borders, used as a practice piece for machine quilting

Sometimes I buy orphan quilt blocks and build weird things around them. The quilt above started with the very strange vintage block of polka dots and pastel stripes. I thought it had potential and I had a great time adding borders and quilting it.

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A leftover strip of reproduction fabrics discarded in our lunch room

This is a leftover strip from someone’s reproduction project that I found in our lunch room at the office. I wondered if I could create something totally different out of these browns and rusts.

I paired them with some Michael James “Colorstripes” and voilá.

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Reproduction strips and Michael James Colorstripes join forces to make something completely new.

The borders are different widths and are not straight—by design. I think asymmetrical is more interesting than symmetrical.

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Dresden plates and improv piecing

Here’s a small quilt I designed and made when I was playing with Dresden plates and improvisational piecing. It’s another of my favorites. I like the border: it’s red and aqua but I kept it interesting by using different reds and different aquas. I grouped them together so it wasn’t too chaotic.

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How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?

Here’s another improvisational piece I have started. The photo shows the various fabrics I was auditioning for the next border. I so want to use those cowboys and I still might.

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Improvisational star quilt in progress

Here’s a closer look. I just stopped the verse when I ran out of space. I learned something on this piece: if you’re going to go wonky, go BIG. The star points aren’t uneven enough. They are off enough to look off, but not off enough to look wonky.

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Love, based on an idea by Tonya Ricucci, made by Diane Harris

This is a small Love quilt I made for a graduation gift. I thoroughly enjoyed adding the big-stitch handwork. The Love block is an idea that originated with Tonya Ricucci.

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Nested Nicks, designed and made by Diane Harris, Quiltmaker’s Small Quilts & Gifts Fall ’11

Nested Nicks, above, is a quilt I designed for Quiltmaker’s Small Quilts & Gifts Fall ’11. That’s about as tame as I get.

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Happy Holly Days, designed by Diane Harris, Quiltmaker Nov/Dec ’09

Happy Holly Days appeared on QM’s Nov/Dec ’09 cover. It’s probably the funkiest thing I’ll ever have in Quiltmaker.

 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Funky

October Rain fabric collage by LeeAnn at Nifty Quilts; used with permission

I’ve found some bloggers who really love funky, and I devour their posts. One of them is LeeAnn of Nifty Quilts who lives in Seattle. Above is a fabric collage she did after a class with Freddy Moran, inspired by the work of Edrica Huws. Isn’t this just dynamite?!

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Here’s another quilt by LeeAnn at Nifty Quilts. Her fabric choices really appeal to me. Used with permission.

And this star makes my heart jump a little. I think it’s wonderful.

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Organized Chaos by Sujata Shah of The Root Connection; used with permission

Another person who is always dreaming up something fabulous is Sujata at The Root Connection. I love Organized Chaos, above.

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Sunday Paper by Sujata Shah of The Root Connection; used with permission

And get a load of this wonder. Does it get any better?! Sujata calls it Sunday Paper. She has a second blog called Basket Full of Scraps. I read them both.

The thing is, some of my favorite funky bloggers don’t post that often because, you guessed it, they are busy sewing!

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Goalposts quilt

Here’s a simple baby quilt top I pieced a few weeks ago. I thought it was great until I took this photo. Now I see that the quilt will have to be called “Goalposts” unless I add red to the top and bottom, too. There’s a limit to how much weirdness I can handle.

funky14 QM Staff Inventory: I Love FunkyAnd one last WIP (that’s quiltspeak for Work In Progress). These are traditional blocks I made in funky fabric combinations. It’s a traditional design that’s making the rounds of the quilting internet under the name Swoon, made popular by the talented Camille Roskelley. I have since added a great border and it’s ready for quilting.

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Another improvisational work in progress

Here’s another improv piece I started at Mary Lou’s retreat. It’s exciting to build something in this freeform way. You never know what you’ll end up with! It makes ordinary piecing seem kind of boring.

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Improv Christmas quilt

And this Christmas quilt is coming together bit by bit. Putting it together is like a puzzle. I am really anxious to finish it.

My job with Quiltmaker has taken me down so many creative pathways. I am constantly exposed to new ideas, new ways of doing things, new perspectives on quilting and art and the world. I love every minute of this work because it brings me joy. And I hope that shows in the quilts I create for myself and the people I love.

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A few other staff members will be sharing their quilting styles over the next several weeks. I think you’ll enjoy seeing how our tastes are similar to, or different from, QM’s.

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National Quilting Day is Saturday, March 15: Giveaway!

We’ll celebrate National Quilting Day on Saturday with a great giveaway here on Quilty Pleasures. Be sure to visit us on that day and leave a comment for your chance to win fabric, thread and books.

logo National Quilting Day is Saturday, March 15: Giveaway! The National Quilting Association, Inc. began sponsoring National Quilting Day with a resolution passed by members attending its 22nd gathering in Lincoln, Nebraska in June 1991.

The third Saturday in March is officially designated as National Quilting Day, but over the years, observance of National Quilting Day has unofficially expanded to the whole month of March. This year the 23rd annual celebration will be held March 15.

Please remember: Visit Quilty Pleasures on Saturday, March 15 for a great giveaway!

 

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Quiltmaker’s Block Network

I hope you’ve discovered Quiltmaker’s Block Network. It’s a tremendous free resource for quilters.

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Each episode features a free block pattern from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, but also highlights a particular technique. You may find a new way of doing something that will prove to be useful.

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Learn to sew partial seams with Denise Starck in this week’s new episode, Change It Up. Partial seams sound scary but they are actually very simple and they allow you to create some interesting designs that would otherwise require a set-in seam.

 

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Entwined Squares by Moira McSpadden offers design opportunities in its center.

Denise uses Entwined Squares by Moira McSpadden for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 7 to showcase the technique, and also gives ideas for what else could fit in the center area.

Reinforce your learning by watching partial seams with Carolyn Beam as she makes May Flowers from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 2.

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May Flowers by Carolyn Beam for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 2

This is the cutest block and it’s perfect for spring.

June Dudley’s three-dimensional triangle-squares have so much potential. She uses them in her Apple Tree block from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 7.

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Apple Tree by June Dudley for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume7 features three-dimensional half-square triangles.

There is so much to learn on Quiltmaker’s Block Network.

Video Logo Centered Quiltmakers Block Network

Take a few minutes and browse the episodes of Season 1 and Season 2 today. To be notified when a new video is posted, subscribe to Quiltmaker’s YouTube channel.

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QM Scrap Squad: Emily’s Man Quilt

QM scrap squadB3 QM Scrap Squad: Emilys Man Quilt

Quiltmaker’s Scrap Squad is a select group of readers who take one predetermined pattern from each issue and make scrappy versions to inspire other readers. We feature a new Scrap Squad quilt almost every week.

QM created the Scrap Squad because we know our readers want to use fabric they already own to make lively one-of-a-kind creations from our patterns.

QMMP 140400 cover 200 QM Scrap Squad: Emilys Man QuiltThe Scrap Squad quilt from the March/April issue is Summer Love, designed by Kimberly Jolly. It was made by Nancy Parkinson in fabrics from Marcus Fabrics.

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Today’s featured quilt is by Emily Bailey from Centerville, Utah. Check out her blog, Em’s Scrap Bag.

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Emily Bailey from Centerville, Utah

This is Emily’s first Scrap Squad project. She tells the story in her own words below.

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When my friend Ruth shared the link for the Scrap Squad on Facebook I knew I had to give it a go. I was thrilled when I was chosen to be in this group of talented quilters. I love scrap quilts!

When I received Summer Love I knew I wanted to make a manly quilt. I have some pretty special men in my life, three sons and a wonderful hubby, and they need (yes, it is a need) man quilts. So I went to my red and gray scraps.

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I also pulled a few blacks.

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But then I did a value test. I put my camera on its black and white setting to test gray scale. I found that the blacks meshed with the grays, so I decided on a solid black instead. Then I cut 3 1/2″ strips so I could use my Nifty Notions rulers to make the Flying Geese and half-square triangles.

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 I can cut everything from the same strip and there is no waste.

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Once everything was cut I put like fabrics into piles. This allows me to make sure I use a variety of fabrics in each block and that I don’t end up with all of one fabric at the end.

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I assembled my Flying Geese, and then I pinned to get my points nice and sharp when I sewed the Geese together.

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As I finished the blocks I put them on my design wall.

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I found one of my blocks had kissing cousins (two of the same fabric next to each other) and one that I felt had too much orange in it. So I fixed those.

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I decided to do a pieced block for the setting triangles. I used my leftover 3 1/2″ strips to cut 2 squares and make 2 half-square triangles. I set them into a Four Patch to mimic the hourglass in the blocks.

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I added two larger red triangles to complete the setting triangles.

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I put it all together on the design wall with black sashing and red corner posts.

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I added black borders and quilted it in echoing geometric shapes to keep with my man theme.

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I bound it with a scrappy red binding and decided to call it A Black Tie Affair.  ‘Though my boys just call it “The Man Quilt.”

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Happy Quilting!

Emily

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