Work-in-Progress Girl


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Pushme Pullme Florence Baby Quilt

This newest finish is not one I’d really had on my horizon to get finished, but rather out of nowhere I got a bug up my ass about finishing it, and so I did.

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt

The last time I wrote about this quilt was in January of 2013. (Yikes! I need to finish more and start less if little, easy to finish quilts like this are sitting around for nearly 3 years!) You should go check out that post – in it I talk a lot more about the pattern, which is the Pushme Pullme block, designed by Michelle Wilkie of Factotum of Arts. I was one of Michelle’s pattern testers for this block and I think the only one who didn’t actually finish what I’d created with it. I’m really glad to have it done now, though – it’s one more thing off my list and better: it’s going to be donated to a Linus blanket charity and is a part of the 100 Quilts for Kids campaign.

100 Quilts for Kids

I really don’t know why I took so long to finish this – with a very simple pattern (a loopy meander), it took just a couple hours to get the quilting completely finished. I think I spent more time trying to decide what binding to use than it took just to get it all finished. I was helped out by it being a fairly small quilt: just a teeny-tin itty-bitty 30.5 inches square.

Both the best and worst places to see the quilting on this is on those dark blue bits of fabric. I will quilt with white thread over pretty much anything and it pretty much always sinks into the background even when you use it on colour, but it sure does look awful on that deep blue! From a distance you could almost imagine that’s a print on the fabric, rather than free motion quilting!

I spent a lot of time contemplating a more complex straight-line quilting pattern that would emphasize the arrows in the blocks, but decided that after 3 years of inaction, I needed to do the fast thing instead of the intricate thing.

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt

Every print in this quilt is a Denyse Schmidt print, front, back, and binding. All of the prints (except the two binding prints) come from Schmidt’s Florence line – I’d bought a 12 print bundle of blues and greens, and all 12 prints made their way into this quilt. The solid fabrics are all Kona cottons and I pulled most of them out of a jelly roll, so I’m not actually sure what colours they are! The dark blue is Nightfall, which is a really beautiful deep colour (and I wish I had yards and yards of it instead of scraps after having used it in a couple quilts). Its hard to tell in most photos, but there are two different light blues and two different greens – since I only had jelly roll strips, I think there wasn’t enough to stretch out each colour over two blocks.

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt

The binding fabrics come from Chicopee and (I think) Shelburne Falls. Schmidt creates magnificent plaids (and I’m sort of having a plaid moment right now!) so there are four different plaids in just this one quilt. Too much?

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt
Obligatory windblown shot!

Anyway, I suppose that’s all there is to say about this little quilt! I really like it and am really pleased to see it finished and ready to find a home with a child in need.

Some quilt stats
Name: PushMe PullMe Florence Quilt
Pattern: Pushme Pulle by Michelle Wilkie
Size: 30.5″ x 30.5″
Fabric: 12 FQs from Denyse Schmidt’s Florence line, plus assorted Kona cottons (featuring Nightfall on the back and in the corners of the front)
Batting: Some weird all cotton no name from Michaels
Thread: White Guttermann (piecing), White Aurifil (quilting)
Backing: Assorted Florence prints, plus Kona Nightfall
Binding: Plaids from Denyse Schmidt’s lines Chicopee and Shelburne Falls.


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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.

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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:

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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


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Pushme Pullme quilt top

Back in September, Michelle of Factotum of Arts and Squeek Crafts debuted a new pattern she’d created for a block that used nested arrows. Then called This Way That Way, the block plays with value and kind of tessellating pattern to create a really neat design that’s almost like an optical illusion: if you look at it one way, the In arrow stands out and the rest fades into the background, but if you refocus your eye, the opposite occurs and the Out arrow stands out. When Michelle was looking for pattern testers, I was only too happy to help!

Push Me Pull Me quilt top

Michelle has made several blocks in a (mostly) monochromatic colour scheme, using dark and light value blues with white and grey borders, so I wanted to try something a little bit different, to see how it would work out using fabrics with varying colours (not that I went so wild with that, sticking primarily to shades of blue and green, all from the same line). So I made four Pushme Pullme blocks using 8 prints from Denyse Schmidt’s Florence line of fabrics and five different shades of Kona cotton for the borders. (The darkest blue is Nightfall, but the other four were pulled out of a design roll of “New Colours” from… several years ago. I don’t know what their colour names are.)

001

I did all the blocks one at a time (rather than chain piecing the units of multiple blocks) and they took me a little longer than an hour per block – I’m a pretty slow sewist, though, and was also watching a new-to-me movie at the time (“Highway 61″), which was a bit more distracting than I prefer when I’m sewing. Still, they come together very easily. I had been a little concerned about matching up the cross in the centre of the blocks, but that didn’t give me any trouble either.

The blocks are a bit larger than standard – 15 inches finished – which is nice for quilt making because it sizes up a quilt nicely without having to add sashing or borders. My blocks came out a touch small – about 15.25″ rather than 15.5” unfinished. The centre unit was the correct size in every case, but I didn’t measure anything after that, so I think I ate up an eighth of an inch with each of my borders. I rarely sew with a scant seam, but I think I probably should have in this case!

Push Me Pull Me

Regardless, I love the finished top! (And my obligatory wind-blown shot, since I can’t seem to manage a photo shoot in my backyard without it!) I think it turned out as well with my (controlled) blend of colours and prints as it did in Michelle’s monochromatic version, and I think it’d work also with a more chaotic blend of colours as well. I’m imagining a child’s quilt with rainbow blocks, for instance. As long as you maintain the value differences, I think it’ll work out with nearly anything.

I was really hoping to have this quilt entirely finished in time for the mini-blog hop for this pattern, but I got held up making the backing for the quilt. I’m using four more prints from Florence for the back and was going to have a blue cross through the centre to break it all up and to mimic the sashing a little bit, but I went and cut my Florence prints an inch too small all around and so I need to re-cut the blue cross to be a little larger, so that it’ll still be big enough. Anyway, hopefully I’ll finish it up soon. I’m thinking about putting hanging tabs on the back and putting this one up on an empty wall in my bedroom.

In any case, definitely head over to Factotum of Arts, where Michelle is hosting a giveaway and then go check out the posts of my fellow testers. I haven’t seen what they’ve made yet, but I’m willing to bet they all look amazing!

Ashley at Wasn’t Quilt in a Day
Mara at Secretly Stitching
Sarah at Sarah Quilts