Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday {words}

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... the Christmas Edition

Lest you think that my new blog header is completely off color well, there's a story behind the phrase.  And really, a little humor is always fun.  Right? :)

We laugh a lot in our home and the holidays are no exception.

For example, our headless shepherd.  I love this nativity set but there's one unfortunate shepherd who always seems to topple over.  Because he's been glued a million times all it takes is his annual fall and the poor guy is headless again.

And then there's the time when Chaney was 3 and decided to take advantage of the laundry being folded on the couch.  She got too quiet and then came to find me and show off how she decorated our Christmas tree with my um... unmentionables. 

No, there are NOT pictures of that.  Because I wasn't blogging back then.

Oh, and Elf on the Shelf!  Do ya'll do this?  We were a little late to the party and only started this tradition last year but it was an absolute blast.  He made his first appearance last night... a day early because apparently the other kids at school have already had their elves appear and Chaney was positive that he wasn't going to come back.

Lastly, Steve is That Guy... you know the one on every street who goes all out with lights, inflatables, etc. outside. 

It seems Chaney has become That Kid because this is what I came home to on Monday night.  The two of them went to Lowes unsupervised and are now both blaming each other for the outhouse on our lawn. 

It's pretty obvious that we are already in full swing yet I have also resolved to slow down, enjoy the true meaning of the season and of course laugh a little too...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chasing Chevrons {part 3}

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Previous Chasing Chevrons posts:

Welcome to Week 3! Didn't ya'll have so much fun making all those HSTs and chevron blocks? Me too.

This week we will be assembling our quilt top. This is where it gets fun {or at least I think so} because all your hard work starts to look like an actual quilt.

So you have your stack of 60 chevron blocks pressed and ready to go, right?  We will be using 59 of them for the top.  Set the last one aside... we will be using it as a part of the quilt back.

Remember the other 84 solid blocks that we cut and set to the side?  If you don't, that's OK.  Just refer back here for those instructions.  These blocks will make up your background for the chevrons to contrast against.

There are lots of different ways for piecing a quilt top together... this is just how I do it.  Go ahead and lay out all of your blocks as shown in the picture above.  It helps me to go row by row like you see them numbered. 

If you want a different layout then go for it!  Just make sure that your blocks are laid out 11 rows across x 13 rows down to get the correct quilt size.

Now it's time to stitch your blocks together with a scant 1/4" seam allowance.  Start with row 1.  My preference is to press the seams open.  Repeat this process for rows 2 -13.

Once you have all your rows done, you are ready to sew your rows into sections.  For this quilt I decided to make 4 sections:

stitch row 1 to 2 to 3

stitch row 4 to 5 to 6 to 7

stitch row 8 to 9 to 10

stitch row 11 to 12 to 13

Match your seams up as shown. 

I'm not big on pins but I highly recommend pins here because it's no fun to have a wonky or wavy quilt top.  Butt the seams up against each other and pin.  Pin your rows together and sew.  Make sure you remove your pins as you go... don't sew over them!

Don't stress if the ends of your rows don't match up.  It's far more important to have your seams match!  We can always square up the quilt top to fix the rows.

Keep going until you have your 4 sections.  Press your seams open again and from here it's super easy. 

Following the same pinning and stitching instructions, sew section 1 to 2 and then section 3 to 4 to leave 2 large sections. 

Stitch your final 2 sections together, press and you have your completed quilt top!

Have fun completing your top and be sure to post your progress in our Flickr group.  As always, if you have any questions just comment here on this post, in the Flickr group or email me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday {Words}

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the Thanksgiving edition

I happen to love Thanksgiving.  It just might be my favorite holiday.  Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas too but there's something about a holiday with no real commercial representation {other than turkey I suppose}.  A day where we can be thankful for what we have sandwiched between one where we go door to door asking for candy and another where commercialism is at its raging peak.

It's a nice change of pace. :)

So I want to take a minute to say thank you to everyone who reads here.  Your comments, emails, calls, and prayers have meant the world to me this year.  I am so thankful for a place to write, share with others who share my passions, and the friends I have made through this little blog about quilting.

I hope ya'll have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm {knitting}

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I have tried to learn how to knit at least five different times.  The craft of knitting hates me.  Or so I thought.

Now, I can crochet all day long with no problem but put two pointy non-sewing needles in my hands and it's trouble.

But there's this really cute stocking hat that I want to make for Chaney so I've convinced myself that I will knit it.  Plus I love all the pictures that pop up on blogs of knitting works in progress.  They are so pretty.  So peaceful.  I pretend that those bloggers knit and sip tea all day long and if only I could knit then I could do the same.  Right?

Don't go ruining my fantasy.  Please.

So I appealed to Facebook and got several suggestions.  How did we ever accomplish anything before Facebook?  I also stumbled on Stitch -n- Bitch  at Joann's for 30% off.  I learned to crochet from the companion to that book called The Happy Hooker.  And yes, both books are just as fun as their titles.

I'm by no means fast but I'm getting there.  Knitting is becoming enjoyable but I don't think I'll ever love it as much as quilting.  So as much as I would love to knit, blog, and sip tea all day long, I don't see this blog ever evolving into a knitting blog. 

Can you hear Steve breathing a sigh of relief as my tea & knitting fantasy comes to an end?  I'm pretty sure I just heard it.  Maybe in his wave of relief he won't mind a tiny fabric shopping spree... ;)

For those of you who knit, any tips that you wished you had known early on when learning how to knit??

Monday, November 21, 2011

I get around...

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... blog-land!

Today I'm over with Cindy playing The Name Game.  Want to know how I came up with the name for my blog??  The answer is over there...

Cindy is one of my friends that I met blogging and she is one of the nicest people I know.  If you haven't seen her blog, go take a look.  She definitely knows color and her selvage designs are one-of-a-kind!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chasing Chevrons {part 2}

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Have all your fabric selected and ready to go?  Then let's cut it up into pieces and sew it back together!

*Please note, these cutting instructions are for using Method 1 for constructing half square triangles {HSTs}  If you are using Method 2 or 3 please refer to our Flickr group discussion area for the alternate method cutting instructions I tried to post the three sets of cutting instructions here and it started looking very confusing!*

Lap size {55"x70"}
Cut 60 5" squares from your dark fabric {this color will be your background}
Cut 60 5" squares from your various colors of fabric {these colors will be your chevrons}
Cut 84 5.5" squares from your dark fabric & set aside

Twin size {77"x98"}
Cut 60 6.5" squares from your dark fabric {this color will be your background}
Cut 60 6.5" squares from your various colors of fabric {these colors will be your chevrons}
Cut 84 7.5" squares from you dark fabric & set aside

Queen size {88"x112"}
Cut 60 7.25" squares from  your dark fabric {this color will be your background}
Cut 60 7.25" squares from your various colors of fabric {these colors will be your chevrons}
Cut 84 8.5" squares from your dark fabric & set aside

Got all your squares cut??  Nice work!  Now let's make some half square triangles...

Take your 60 squares of dark fabric and your 60 squares of colored fabric; these squares are what we will be making the HSTs from.  Refer to this tutorial for constructing your HSTs using Method 1. 

I prefer making all my HSTs at once, then pressing them all, and then squaring them all at the same time.

So now that you have your nice stack of HSTs let's press {not iron!} them... 

*ironing involves a back and forth motion like when you iron a shirt.  Don't do that here because it will distort your block shape.  Pressing is simply putting your iron down on the seam, leaving the iron on the block for a reasonable amount of time, and the lifting the iron back up*

Before you open the block up, take your iron and press  the block.  This will set the stitches.  Setting the stitches is especially important when pressing your seams open.

Now open your block and place it right side down on your ironing board.

 With your finger carefully open the seam and press.  Be careful not to burn your finger!

Flip the block right side up and press again. {this is where I like to use a spray of starch}  Repeat with each HST until you have them all pressed.

*I have tried this chevron block with pressing the seams to one side as well as pressing the seams open and I prefer seams open.  If pressing seams to the side is your preference then that's fine.  I just find that there is less bulk and a flatter block with the seams pressed open* 

 Now it's time to square your blocks up.  Square up to the size indicated below according to your quilt size:

Lap size: square HST to 3"
Twin size: square HST to 4.0"
Queen size: square HST to 4.5" 

*Don't be alarmed if you are trimming your squares down more than just the dog ears.  I overestimated just a bit to allow for error because there's nothing worse that trying to square a block only to find that it's a tad too small.*

Let's make the chevrons!  Lay out your block as shown.  

Match the seams up and pin or don't pin depending on your preference.  Stitch with a scant 1/4" seam allowance

You will be making 2 sets of pairs.  Set A and set B.  Take note of how the HSTs are arranged in the sets above.  It is important to sew your pairs as shown.  If you don't, you won't get chevron blocks; you will just have a bunch of flying geese units.  

Stitch you pairs together with a scant 1/4" seam allowance.

*Piecing the HSTs into pairs via chain piecing is a really good idea and you will probably hate me less for suggesting that we make a quilt out of 240 HSTs.*

Once you've pieced your pairs, press again using the instructions above on pressing.

Lay your pairs out to form a chevron.  With right sides together, line up your seams and pin to secure the seam so your points are nice and lined up.  

Press the completed block with the same pressing method and you will have your first chevron!  Repeat until you have all 60 your blocks complete.  It sounds like a lot but it really does go pretty fast using Method 1 and chain piecing.

*And again, if you are wanting to use Method 2 or 3 from my HST tutorial, please refer to our Flickr group for the sticky on cutting instructions.*

Once your blocks are done, that brings us to the end of part 2.  If you have any questions at all please leave a comment, email me, or post in our Flickr group.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm over here...

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 ... on Sew We Quilt today!

All month long block tutorials are being shared.  There have been some great tutorials so far and I'm so excited to be a part of the Guest Blocker series.  So head on over and take a look at my tutorial for one of my favorite traditional blocks!

Look for the Chasing Chevrons quilt along post later today...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

11/11/11 on 11/17/11

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Cindy's post this morning reminded me about my own 11/11/11 experience last week and being outsmarted by a soon-to-be 8 year old.

I was off work for Veterans Day.  Chaney still had to go to school...

Chaney: Mom, will you please take a picture of your phone at 11:11 this morning??

Me:  Sure

Chaney:  What if you are busy?  Can you set your alarm??

Me:  I'll remember.  I'm not working today so I'll be sure I do it.  Don't worry!

Chaney:  This is a once in a lifetime day!  You can't forget!!

Me:  I won't.  I will plan my day around it.  But even if something really weird happened and I did, I could still take a picture of it at 11:11 PM.

Chaney:  That wouldn't work.

Me:  Why not??

Chaney:  Because that's really 23:11; not 11:11.

that.  child.  I'm so glad that Steve taught her how to tell military time.  He was quite proud of her and his teaching skills.  I fear for all of us if she figures out Zulu and starts running on that time without telling us.

Tomorrow is a busy day around here!  I'm guest posting over at Stash Manicure and part two of our quilt along is up.  If you haven't already, make sure you take a few pictures of your fabric choices and post them in our Flickr group.  I'll be putting together our first progress mosaic to share here over the weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday {words}

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Beagle burrito.  That's what Chaney and I call what Gus does every morning on the bed when we are getting ready. 

Steve is typically already long gone to work so I took this picture to explain why the bed he made always ends up a complete mess.

It's getting colder and harder to get out of bed in the mornings.  I think that Gus has the right idea!

Where's Buddy, our other beagle?  Just outside of the picture getting ready to jump on poor Gus.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Half Square Triangles Tutorial {3 ways}

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a nice pile of HSTs ready to be trimmed

In preparation for piecing our blocks for our Chasing Chevrons quilt along, I decided to work ahead and show the three different ways that I make half square triangles {HSTs}.  Each way has both pro's and con's and in the end, the method you use relies the most on your cutting, piecing and pressing accuracy.  By rolling this tutorial out ahead of time; hopefully you will have time to practice and decide which method works best for you for when it comes time to piece the HSTs for your Chasing Chevrons quilt.

Please note, the measurements for these methods and blocks are not the same as the quilt along so don't go getting crazy and start cutting your fabric for the actual quilt.  I'm showing the math for figuring HSTs for others who might use this tutorial and well, because I'm nice.  But this is just practice for the real quilt...

Method 1 {my favorite}
Want to make 4 HSTs at once?  Then this is the method for you.  Now, I know there is a bit of controversy over creating blocks with bias edges and this method does that.  However, I would almost rather create a bias edge and use some starch than sew actual triangles together on the bias. 

I have made several quilts, including my Blissful Zig Zags using this method and I have never had an issue with the bias edges.  I certainly would not post a suggested method if I had not tried it myself and had plenty of success. :)

There is some math involved in this method but an easy way to figure what size your HSTs will be it is:

Beginning square size x 0.64 = HST size  

If you know what size your HST should be then use this to find what size the beginning square needs to be:

HSTsize/0.64 = beginning square size

To make 4, 3" HSTs, grab two 5" squares.  Ideally, you want one light square and one darker square to create good contrast.

Place the squares right sides together {RST}.  Stitch a scant 1/4" all away around the perimeter of the block.  Pivot at each corner until you reach the beginning of your stitching. 

What's that you say??  Yes, I know the squares are completely sewn together.  Don't worry... ;)

 Take your squares on your cutting mat.  With a ruler and a rotary cutter, cut diagonally from corner to corner.

Keep the halves together and cut diagonally from corner to corner again.

Open your 4 quarters to reveal 4 HSTs!   Here's where it gets important:  Lightly Press {don't iron} the square open.  Using a back and forth ironing motion will distort those edges!

We will talk more about the often debated directions in pressing seams when we get to that step in the quilt along.  It will be so much fun!

Now grab some starch and lightly mist your open block.  If you have never pieced with starched blocks then be ready to be amazed!  Again, press the block to set the starch.  You can use spray starch in a can if you'd like but I like making my own from this great recipe over at Pins & Bobbins.

Once you are done pressing, you will have 4 finished HSTs ready to be trimmed to size.  If you are accurate in your piecing, you will basically be trimming the dog ears on the corners and that's about it.

Method 2:
This is my second favorite method.  To determine how big your starting squares need to be, add 7/8" the size you want your finished HST to be.

This method will let you make 2 HSTs at once.  Not bad!

Take 2 squares and place them RST. 

With a ruler and a marking pen or pencil, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.

Pin your squares together and stitch with a scant 1/4" on both sides of the line you drew. 

Once done, take your ruler and rotary cutter and cut along that same line.  Follow the same pressing instructions from above, trim the HSTs and you're done!

Method 3 {my least favorite method}:
This method seems to invite the most opportunities for error.  Of course this is only my opinion; your experience might be different.  It also only produces one HST at a time.  Boooo!

There's still a little math involved in this method.  If you are cutting your triangles out of squares all you need to do is add 7/8" to the desired finished size of your HST.  For example, if you want a 3" finished HST, then you would cut the square to measure 3 7/8". 

Once you have your square, I highly recommend lightly spraying it with starch and pressing the square to set the starch.  This will make your edges a little easier to deal with. 

Next, cut diagonally from one corner to the other to create your two triangles. 

Place them RST and stitch together with a scant 1/4" seam allowance.  Follow the pressing instructions from the other methods.  Trim and you now have one HST complete.

Like I said, this is my least favorite method but I know that some people have an AccuQuilt cutter or triangles that they would like to use up.  If you choose this method... starch and patience are a must because the edges can get funky in a hurry. 

So there you have it!  Make one at a time, two at a time or, four at a time... hmmm.

And lastly, what's a scant 1/4" seam allowance?  Something I didn't bother with until I started making HSTs and couldn't get my sizes to come out right.  Turns out it's pretty important sometimes!  A scant is literally a few threads short of a true 1/4".  Turns out that a few or so threads can add up after opening a block and pressing because of the fold and how our machines stitch with locking threads.

The best way to set your machine to sew a scant 1/4" is a little trial and error.  Take a 5" square and cut it exactly in half.  Each piece is now 2.5" wide. 

If you have a 1/4" presser foot, start there.  Stitch a seam, open, press, and then measure the finished block. 

You have your scant seam allowance correct when your open and pressed piece measures exactly 4.5" wide.  If the measurement is perfect then you've got it! 

If your block is a tad too small, just adjust your needle position to make your seam a little less than a 1/4".  Stitch another seam and measure again.  Lather, rinse & repeat.  It might take a few tries but it's well worth it to have your HSTs turn out correctly!

As always, if you have any questions please let me know.. :)  Linking up for Fabric Tuesday too!

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