Gypsy Wife Quiltalong: July blocks and Giveaway

Edited to add: The winner of the July Gypsy Wife Quiltalong giveaway was Crafty Kat, who is doing a very lovely blue and orange and grey version of the quilt that I’m really liking a lot! Go check out her blocks, they look pretty amazing!

So I’ve been AWOL for a while now, but not for reasons of not crafting (though a couple of weeks of too hot weather did put a bit of a damper on my desire to sew this month), just for reasons of not feeling like updating. I guess I needed a break! I could probably spend most of August just catching up on things I’ve been not writing about since April, but instead I’ll knock out three months worth of Gypsy Wife blocks right now. (Well, my brights version, anyway. I’m still three months behind on my low volume version…)

Gypsy Wife QAL - May

May Blocks

I’m pretty much in love with my Hope from Hartford block. I rarely love florals and I don’t even really love the one I used, but I love how it looks in this block. I loved how it looked with that teal Je Vous en Prie fabric and even though I don’t love the background fabric for the block, I think it’ll all work out in the end anyway; that background is hardly going to stand out in the face of all the bright and crazy mish-mash of prints and colours that this quilt is going to use. There’s a lot of blue Anna Maria Horner fabric going on in this little collection – you can always tell what’s near the top of the scrap pile with these blocks! – but there’s even more Heather Bailey, which I had been cutting into at the time for a different project that I’ve stalled on.

Gypsy Wife QAL  - June

June Blocks

I count another four Heather Bailey prints in this collection of blocks – definitely the scraps on top of the pile… I went a bit less crazy with my Crazy Anne block than was recommended and just maintained the same four prints around the outside of the block, rather than swapping in something different for each quadrant. This is another one where I was really pleased with the final look – I was so afraid of those half-rectangle triangles, but they came out almost perfectly (maybe 2-3 millimetres short). I’m not sure I love all these bordered square in square blocks, but I’m trying to remind myself that most of them will kind of disappear into the quilt and won’t be so noticeably off or awful.

Wind blown

July Blocks

Windblown!

Gypsy Wife QAL - July Blocks

I felt like I went too pink/purple and blue in the two previous months, so I tried to be really conscious about using other colours in this month’s blocks. But jeez… what was I thinking putting that same dark red-orange on the outside of two different blocks? These blocks won’t be too close together in the quilt (they’re in sections 2 and 8), but if they seem like too much, then I’ll probably pull off the straight borders and swap in something else (although that particular block features the only time I’ve sewn with that Corsage print and actually had a pair of scissors not get half-swallowed up in a seam allowance). Also, you’ll note, I stuck ANOTHER square of that blue Anna Maria Horner print into a square-in-square block. I’m definitely going to have to make sure those blocks all wind up spread out.

Normally I post a photo of my design wall with all my blocks up on it, but I’ve run out of design wall space, so they’re not up there at all. I think I’m going to take down my low volume blocks and start grouping all these brights blocks into sections on the design wall. I know some people are also working on this by section, rather than by the blocks Michelle set out for the month and if you’re having a hard time figuring out what goes where, I’ve made a spreadsheet that breaks down which blocks go into which section. (I took all the data from my previous spreadsheet, which breaks down which blocks we’re making each month. There may be mistakes in either or both documents, but please let me know if you find one!)

Now for the fun bit! Please link up your July blocks (Star block, three Square in Square blocks, and one bordered Square in Square block) and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate provided by our lovely sponsor Fat Quarter Shop. (A name will be chosen by Random.org on August 1st, but the linky closes late on July 31st.)

gypsy-fatquartershop

If you are working ahead to put your quilt together in sections, just pull together photos of the July blocks and you can still enter to win:

Because I’m a WordPress blog, you’ll go away to another site to enter the linky. Best of luck!

April Gypsy Wife blocks

So my A Lovely Year of Finishes goal for April was to catch up on all my blocks for the Gypsy Wife quilts, both low and higher volume versions. And hey – I managed it! (Largely because I was on holiday in the middle of the month, so I did a whole lot of block sewing…)

Since I was most caught up on the Brights version, I’ll start there. Here are all my blocks so far – February, March, and April:

Gypsy Wife Quiltalong

I like having all the blocks up on the design wall because it does help a bit to see where I need more or less of a particular colour… but they are not easy to photograph like this!

For April we were sewing seven blocks (see a chart with all the blocks and when to sew them here), mostly Courthouse Steps blocks, but also a Square in a Square and a heart-shaped block, which I totally swapped out for something without a heart on it because ugh.

Gypsy Wife Quiltalong
Gypsy Wife Quiltalong
Gypsy Wife Quiltalong

There are a lot of small bits of fabrics in these blocks and I keep digging through my scrap baskets looking for stuff to use, rather than using the fabric I bought for it. Which is fine, even kind of great, but sort of makes me laugh because I probably could have gotten away without buying anything at all.

Gypsy Wife Quiltalong

This Granny Square block is the one I made instead of the heart block. I just needed a 6.5″ quilt block, and there it was! I’m pretty sure it’ll fit in perfectly with the aesthetic of the quilt, and it saves me from having a block I don’t like taking up space in a pretty awesome quilt. I used a tutorial from Why Not Sew, if you want to try out making one too.

So after that was all the catch-up for the lower volume version – I had to do all of the March blocks and the April ones because I fell behind! Here are all the blocks – February through April – so far:

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

So here are my March blocks:

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

The slightly scary Pershing block! As with my brights version, this block came out about 1/8″ too small. Which isn’t bad, but I still wish the pattern had a little more detail about what size the central units should be as you go along, so that I could have measured and saved myself losing that bit of size. I think I pressed this one with a little too much steam and Best Press because I pressed some wrinkles into it. I’ll have to wash it to get those out at this point, I think.

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife
Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

I really love the fabrics on the outsides of both of these blocks. That red one surprises me because it doesn’t feel like a print I’d usually go for, but I just like what it’s adding to these blocks, with the bits of red but lots of neutral. The blue is such an interesting and strange print – I have a feeling it’ll pop up again before this quilt is through…

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

I question every decision that went into the making of these two blocks. Every single one. I mostly like the prints involved (I don’t like the star print, but I almost never like star prints), but I don’t understand at all why I paired those two blues and those two… whatever those other ones are. From a distance they just sort of blend into a block of nothing.

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

For my April blocks I did do the stupid heart block. I thought that since I was making two versions of the quilt, maybe I should make one of them properly. I reserve the right to change my mind eventually a swap this out for something else entirely… A note about this one: you’ll be left with a spare hourglass from the construction process, which will be useful in one of the blocks next month – if you save it, you can trim it down to the required size and save yourself a little time.

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

By and large I’m happy with these, although that peach number is another one that kind of blurs into nothing because the fabrics are two samey. (Also, I need to trim the borders on that one on the bottom left – I cut the outside ring too big.)

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

This block gives me some troubles. I keep trying to push myself a include bits that I don’t think are necessarily lower volume, because I’m afraid of the quilt falling flat if I don’t play around the the volume a little bit, but I’m not sure this was a successful experiment. I think it might just be too bright, regardless of how quiet they are compared to, say, a burgundy or a navy blue.

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

This one I think I pretty much got right, though. That blue is fairly dark, but somehow (in the group photo above) I think it just adds a little punctuation, without being such a misstep.

Anyway, next up is the Hope from Hartford block, 3 hourglass based blocks, and more square in square blocks! In the meantime, if you’re quilting along, come link up with Megan at Jaffa Quilts. Our prize this month is sponsored by the wonder Fat Quarter Shop:

gypsy-fatquartershop

Don’t forget to visit all our amazing sponsors who can be found here at Michelle’s blog, Factotum of Arts and check out the schedule to see where we are at! This is a very easy quiltalong to keep up with because there are only a few, often small blocks per month and usually only one slightly more complicated, intense or larger block to complement it. We’d love to have you, so just start sewing along and start linking up! (I don’t think anyone’s double checking to be sure you’re all caught up, so you know… dive in where we’re at and then backtrack through the previous blocks!)

So this is still my project because it’s very nearly May now, so I want to get started on my May blocks right away, before I have a chance to get distracted by all the other wonderful distracting things out there!

March Gypsy Wife

Well, it’s only taken me until April, but I’ve finished my (brights) Gypsy Wife blocks!

Gypsy Wife

Here are all my blocks – February and March (plus one bonus hourglass from the future…) – so far. You can see a tiny bit of a couple of my lower volume blocks too down at the bottom, but I haven’t started on those blocks yet…

Gypsy Wife

I started out with the easy blocks, more pinwheels, tiny little pinwheels (I think those central units are 2.5-inches… or maybe they were 3… anyway, small). I really like the framed pinwheels – it sort of makes me want to add more to the quilt somewhere, but then I’d have to start adjusting the sizes of other things to make things fit. The lovely Mari-Ann (@rockislander on IG) sent me some scraps in exchange for some Mendocino scraps I sent her and I bunch of those popped up in these blocks! I’m mostly aiming to cut into larger pieces of fabric for the big blocks in the quilt, but to use scraps in the smaller blocks. There are a lot of little square in square blocks in the quilt, so I think they’ll be great for using up random triangles and weird bits like that.

Gypsy Wife

This is the block that I let hold me up for a long time, the Pershing block. It’s… not as a bad to put together as I expected. But you have to be very careful of all those bias cuts and it helps to sew scant seams throughout and then trim the unit down so that it’s square before adding the next round. It would be really helpful if the pattern had more instruction, like what size each unit should be as you construct it. I kept thinking throughout that I was going to wind up with a too small block and that I’d have to add a half-inch border around it to bring it up to size, but it only wound up about 1/8″ too small all around, which I can live with. It would also be useful to have some instruction on how best to piece the block. I’ve done a lot of traditional piecing in my years of sewing, so I didn’t have issues getting it together, but I think if anyone who was fairly new to traditional piecing were to try it, it would be pretty intimidating. I think pattern writers always have to find that balance between too much hand-holding and not enough, but even just a basic explanation of what to do and when would be helpful for a lot of people.

Anyway, I think I’m going to try to get my April brights blocks done first, then I’ll backtrack and get into the lower volume ones for March and April – I have a week’s holiday in April, so it shouldn’t be an issue, I hope!

Linking up with the Gypsy Wife Quiltalong, being hosted by Ashley at Wasn’t Quilt in a Day:

GypsyWifeQAL

This month’s prize is being sponsored by Fresh Modern Fabric:

gypsy-freshmodernfabric

Why not come link up too! I know there are more of you out there stitching along than have popped by to link up!

Gypsy Wife Quiltalong – February Blocks and Giveaway

Are you participating in the Gypsy Wife Quilt-a-long? I hope so! It’s a gorgeous quilt and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun putting it together. I’m still hoping to hook in a few more people to join us on this Gypsy Wife Quilt-along; we’re still so early in the process that you could very easily jump in! We’re doing just a handful of blocks each month, so even a couple months from now it would still be pretty easy to join in without being too far behind. (Here is the schedule if you want to see what’s coming and just how easy it’ll be to sew along with us.) As someone with 30+ somewhere-in-progress projects sitting around, I know how hard it is to add another one, but… I also know how very fun it is. (I wouldn’t have 30+ unfinished projects if starting new things weren’t the funnest thing there is!) So why not join us? You can still pick up the pattern from Westwood Acres or Modern Quilter or Queen Bee Fabrics or Vintage Modern Fabrics or probably a dozen other places.

GypsyWifeQAL

This month we’re sewing one Colour Wheel block and six 4-in Pinwheel Blocks. (Four of the six pinwheel blocks will become 6.5″ unfinished blocks by adding sashing.) Here are mine:

Gypsy Wife blocks - Colour Wheel
Gypsy Wife blocks
Gypsy Wife blocks

First up is Pattern Errata: There’s a tiny mistake on the Colour Wheel block — the bottom centre unit is missing it’s quarter square triangle. Not much of a mistake, just helpful to fill in the lines for when you’re laying out the block; my repair is shown here in blue.

005

In any case, I thought I’d offer up a few tips for sewing these as accurately as possible.

Colour Wheel block
There’s a lot of seams sewn on bias cuts in these blocks and that can mean stretched fabric and wonky sized blocks. Usually I try to minimize sewing on a bias cut by doing two units at a time (ie. leaving the squares intact and sewing a quarter inch on either side of the centre line, then cutting it in half and getting two units). You can’t really do anything about the about the units in the middle of each outer row/column, but if you’re willing to make your block with only two main colours, rather than four, you can eliminate the potential stretch on the four outer corners:

007

I’ve skipped over a lot, there, but you’d cut the background and centre fabrics as described in the pattern. The outer corners would be sewn as in my picture, but the rest you’d proceed as in the pattern.

I wanted mine as scrappy as possible, so I did something else entirely: I sewed mine with paper underneath. I didn’t think to take photos of this when I was working on my blocks, so I’m going to show you while sewing some pin wheel units. The principle is exactly the same, the pieces are just a little larger in the Colour Wheel.

013

I sewed mine onto paper meant for foundation piecing, but you could also use regular printer paper; I just happened to have this in my sewing room. All I’ve done is put my triangles right sides together, laid the unit on top of the paper at the left edge, and then sewed it 1/4-in from the edge. I also dropped my stitch size to 1.5 on my machine – not as small as I’d use for paper piecing, but smaller than I use for regular piecing. It’ll help keep your seam tight when you pull out the paper (though I do that very carefully anyway).

015

The reason I specified stitching it from the left is this — I like to do several in a row without pulling the units off each time. When I have a longer piece of paper, I’ll do more down the length of the paper first.

016

When you take off the paper, you want to fold it back against the seam to help break the perforation. Tear in from the edge of the paper to the first hole of the perforation, then holding one side down tightly, pull gently on the other side of the paper so that it’ll pull away. Once that strip is gone, grasp hold of the fabric unit and gently tug it away from the rest of the paper. Don’t pull it up or down from the paper, just tug it gently to the side – that’ll help keep your stitches in place. Press along the seam line with a nice hot iron after removing the paper and that’ll help tighten up the stitches again too.

Another option is just to pin the crap out of it. I know pinning is boring and feels like a waste of time, but any time you’re sewing on a bias cut is a great time to pin pin pin. It’ll help save your fabric from the feed dogs pulling and stretching the fabric out of whack.

Okay, and my final tip with this block, and with all the pin wheels: TRIM YOUR UNITS. After you press your units, trim them down to size. There’s not much excess, but any little bit that’s there can throw things off; a little extra here plus a little extra there always adds up to weird sized/shaped blocks. I know because for years I ignored the trimming thing, and then one day I didn’t and things started coming together the way they’re meant to. It’s like angels suddenly singing over your quilt blocks, the way things go together after a good trim.

Pin Wheels
Okay, so there are a lot of ways to make a pin wheel block and I’m going to go over a few of them here. It really depends how scrappy you want your blocks and your quilt to be – I’ve done a couple blocks with only two fabrics, but the rest are at least a little more scrappy than that.

010

If you want them to be completely scrappy (ie. 8 different fabrics per block), then I’d sew them like I did above – on paper. You can use the four remaining triangles from your Colour Wheel block (you’ll have to trim them down – just cut one new triangle at the proper size, lay it on top of those spare triangles, and trim the larger ones to match the smaller) or cut 8 new squares of fabric, cut them in half, and then start sewing them all back together. Save those other eight triangles for something else or mix them in with still more triangles so that the fabrics get spread around across multiple blocks.

012

Or you can cut a 4.5 inch square out of another fabric and sew four of the spare triangles onto the straight sides to create another pin wheel worth of units. Likewise, you can use a charm square – there’ll be a little waste in either case, but not too much. This method helps deal with the problem of bias cuts – if you keep your charm square on the bottom, you’ll be sewing on the straight of grain, so there’ll be less chance of stretched block units.

018

If you use something busy enough (like that orange and blue Amy Butler print) you might be able to make at least part of it look like it’s a different fabric entirely. (That blue and green triangle? Came from the exact charm square shown in the previous picture, same as all the orange/blue prints in the block.)

011

For a less scrappy block (two fabrics) you have two options. First, you can cut 2 squares in each of 2 fabrics, sew them together on either side of the centre diagonal, cut down the middle of each, and be left with 4 units to make one block.

019

Or you can sew together two 4 1/4″ squares. You want to throw a couple pins in the middle of this one and then stitch around the outside, 1/4-in away from the edge. If you draw on your diagonal lines, you can stop when you reach the line, pivot and continue around the square. (In fact, you should do this, otherwise you’ll have to do like I did and unpick those couple extra stitches in that last quarter inch.) Next, cut on the diagonal in both directions to create 4 units. They units will be about 1/8-in too large, so you’ll definitely have to trim them down to size.

And I think that’s all the ways I know to make pin wheels. (Except one that makes two blocks at a time, but I didn’t want two identical blocks in my quilt, so I didn’t use it!)

This is kind of a SUPER long post, but I hope there’s been something useful in here for making your own Colour Wheel and Pin wheel blocks! Pop back over in the last week of February and I’ll be hosting a link up and giveaway for everyone’s finished blocks. You can stick photos in the flickr group as you make them – I know we’d all love to see them!

Giveaway
If you haven’t joined up with us because you don’t have the pattern yet, I’m also offering a giveaway of the pattern book this week! Leave a comment below if you’d like to join in and I’ll enter you into the draw. I’ll draw the winner a week from today and get the pattern sent out to you as quickly as possible.

gypsywife

If you’re already participating, that should be reward enough ;D Just kidding… sort of. There’ll be a link up at the end of the month and everyone who links up their completed blocks will be entered to win that giveaway! Michelle has been hard at work lining us up some sponsors: Hawthorne Threads will be furnishing a prize in December and Fat Quarter Shop is providing us with a few prizes to spread out through the year! These are two of my favourite fabric shops, so it’s extra exciting to have them help us celebrate making this brilliant quilt.

FatQuarterShop-200x200-Green
hawthorne_threads_200_225
Print