Connecting Threads Sale

For those who are interested in trying Connecting Threads fabric, they are having a one day sale on their pre-cut fabrics, including charm squares, 2 1/2″ strips, stacks (10″ squares), fat eighths and fat quarters. It’s a BIG sale – 50% off! That means charm packs (24 fabrics) for less than a dollar, and stacks for under $4. Imagine getting 24 fat quarters for less than $15!

There are only a few hours left in the sale, so hurry! If you live in the US, shipping is free if you order $50 or more.


WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I (finally) discovered the Work in Progress Wednesday hosted by Freshly Pieced. I really like this idea – let’s feature the progress instead of just the finishes. Here’s my WIP Wednesday project:

Diamonds Really

Um, well, that doesn’t really give you a good idea of it, does it? You see I have cats, cats who like to play chase, cats who think fabric on the floor is there for their enjoyment. I need to sew these blocks together but I probably won’t get to them until tomorrow.

Here’s a much better view:

Diamonds Project

This is entirely from stash – I had a Hunky Dory honey bun laying around (Honey Buns are 1 1/2″ strips from Moda, but they’re not making them anymore), and I found three yards of the yellow solid in my stash. I wanted to sew and nothing that was already in progress was tripping my trigger, so I started this instead. I’ve been working on it for about 2 weeks.

Buttercup helped a lot.

Buttercup Curly Worm

Buttercup Helping Again

At least here she’s out of the way. Too many times I had to stop sewing and pick her up because she didn’t want to be on the pillow I have set up for her. No, she wanted to lay on the cutting mat next to my sewing machine. This project requires constant ironing and trimming, so that was a problem.

Honey Bun Project

And in case anyone’s interested, here’s how the basement looks when we have the Stitch & Bitch.

S&B Setup 1

S&B Setup 2

The finished part is L shaped – actually, J shaped because the wall extends a little ways into the back section. We manage to fit 11 people with sewing machines, three cutting areas, and two ironing areas into this! Okay, so one iron is set up in the back room, but still…

The fabrics you see on the table are from Connecting Threads. I purchased a 10″ square stack of their solids and then laid them all out in the order they are shown in the catalog so I knew which ones I needed to order for the Dear Jane project (I think I can, I think I can).

Connecting Thread Solids

I’ve since received a charm pack of the same fabrics that I will write the item numbers and names on for reference. The fabrics lean toward brights, but I really like the lighter weight and smooth feel of them.

Time to check in

We’re 2/5ths of the way through the Christmas Cactus Quilt Along, and I’m curious how everyone’s doing. I know Mary at Needled Mom is keeping right up – how ’bout you? If you want to see what the blocks look like so far, check out the Patterns page (scroll down a bit). Each day I add the new block, and the layout on the page is the same as the quilt will be.

For inspiration, here are some more colorways (I love EQ7!!!). We have a thistle and a desert cactus:

Christmas Cactus 4 Desert Cactus

… and Blush and Fire Dragons (thank you aviva_hadas on Flickr for the dragon idea!).

Blush Fire Dragons

Quilty goodness… and blog envy

Last night I clicked my Google Reader Next button* and a post came up that made my jaw drop and my quilty bloggery heart turn bright shining green with envy. Why didn’t I think of this?! I mean, my Quilting Resources page is pretty darn fantastic, but this… this is genius. Cluck Cluck Sew has put together a Free Quilting Tutorials page where other bloggers can post links to their free tutorials. It’s gorgeous because it shows little photos of the projects, so you know what you’re getting.

If you have a free tutorial you’d like to add, just scroll to the bottom of the screen and click “Click Here to Enter.” It walks you through the steps, and you get to choose the photo you’d like to use. She posted this yesterday and there are already 81 tutorials linked to it!

*The Google Reader Next button goes in your toolbar, and when you click it it takes you to the next blog in your Reader. It marks the blog as read, but you get to view it at the actual site instead of in the Reader window. If you use Google Reader, just make sure you’re signed in, then go to your settings ( Click on the Goodies tab, then scroll halfway down to “Put Reader in a Bookmark.” Click the Next button and drag it to your toolbar. That’s it! If you use categories to sort your subscriptions, you can create Next buttons for individual categories, too.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I checked my email when I got home from work tonight and found nothing particularly interesting in the Inbox. There were a couple of items in my Spam folder and I always glance at the list before deleting it. Tonight I had to look at it twice – one said “You’re a Pink Chalk Studio Book Tour Winner.” Wait – what?!

You’ve probably seen the new book by Elizabeth Hartman (of Oh, Fransson! fame) called The Practical Guide to Patchwork. You may have seen it pop up on a dozen or so blogs over the past two weeks as part of her blog tour. Well, I won it! Thanks to Pink Chalk Studio I won the book AND a beautiful bundle of fabrics. Check out their review of the book (and my nifty new fabrics) at Pink Chalk Studios.

I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of the book after I’ve had a chance to read it.

Christmas Cactus Quilt Along button

Just in case anyone wants to add a button to their sidebar, here are a couple of options:

Christmas Cactus Quilt Along

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Christmas Cactus Quilt Along" /></a>

Christmas Cactus Quilt Along

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Christmas Cactus Quilt Along" /></a>

And, very shortly, I’ll have the first block posted!

Christmas Cactus Quilt Along – Nine Patch Chain Piecing

See the earlier posts of the Christmas Cactus Quilt Along here:
Fabric Requirements
and Cutting & HSTs

Before I post the first block pattern, I want to talk a little about basic construction. As I mentioned in the last post, I prefer pressing my seams to one side for the larger sizes, but if you’re doing the quilt with 1″ or 1 1/2″ finished squares you really should consider pressing the seams open. It may mean pinning a bit more, but you’ll probably be happier with the finished quilt.

Over the next 25 days I’ll post a new block each day. There won’t be a lot of detailed instructions on those posts – it’s mostly just an illustration of the block because all of the blocks are assembled like a basic nine patch. I’ll go through the steps of a nine patch block at the end of this post.

Remember, you need to make FOUR of each block! (Boy, you’d be really peeved if you got through this whole thing and then discovered you were supposed to make four and you’d only made one, wouldn’t you? I think I’ll add that reminder to each block post!) I like to chain piece my blocks, and making four identical blocks is pretty easy. If you have the space to lay out all four right next to your sewing machine, you can do this whole thing without moving from your seat. Well, if you have an iron nearby, or if you’re good at finger-pressing.

When you lay out the pieces of your blocks, watch your half square triangle positioning – make sure it isn’t turned sideways, or you may have to pick it out and re-sew it like I did!

Okay, so here is how I like to make (and chain piece) nine patch blocks. I am using just plain squares – this sample is NOT block 1!

Lay out your squares to form your nine patch. If you’re chain piecing multiple blocks, lay out two or even all four blocks. I’m showing two blocks, but when I made my blocks I did all four at one time.

Starting with the first block, flip the SECOND square in the top row onto the FIRST square in the top row, and sew those two squares together.

Without cutting the thread or removing the first two pieces, repeat with the middle row. A little chain of thread links the two sets.

Now repeat with the bottom row. Don’t cut the thread yet! Repeat these steps with the first two squares of the next block.

When you’ve finished those squares you can cut the thread linking the first block to the second block, and place the chained pieces by the remaining squares for that block. Don’t turn it upside down!

Finish chain piecing the first and second squares of the remaining rows on the second block. (If you’re doing all four squares at once, repeat the chaining until you have all four sets sewn.)

With the last set from your last block still under the presser foot, pick up the chained squares from the first block. Open the first pair of squares and place the last square for that row on the middle square.

Sew a scant 1/4″ seam, then repeat with the other two squares. Just as you did with the first sets, start your second block before cutting off the first one.

Repeat with the rest of the blocks.

Press your squares. If you’re using larger squares you can press them open or to one side. If you press to one side, alternate the direction the seams are pressed. I recommend pressing the top and bottom rows to one side and the middle row to the other side. You’ll do it the same directions for blocks 1-5, 11-15, and 21 – 25. The remaining blocks will be pressed in the opposite direction. That way when the rows are sewn together, the seams will continue to nest neatly together.

If you’re using 1″ or 1 1/2″ finished squares, press the seams open.

Now sew the first two rows of your first block together. The little chains of thread hold the rows in the correct order, which is very handy. If you pressed to the side you can still pin, but you may not need to. Nest the seams together, with one seam folded one direction and the other going the opposite way. See how they nudge right up against one another? If you squeeze the seam intersection between your fingers, it should feel perfectly flat. If you can feel a ridge or a depression, they aren’t nested together properly.

If you don’t pin, press on the seams with your finger as you sew so you can feel if it starts to separate.

You can adjust the block as you sew by lifting the top piece and aligning the seams, then pressing on them with your finger as it feeds to the needle.

If you pressed your seams open, you may want to pin before (and after, if you prefer) the seam intersection to make your seam intersections as accurate as possible.

If you pin, don’t pin in the seam, pin in the seam allowance. If you push a pin into the seam, you’ll widen the space and cause a little gap in the intersection. If I pin, I usually pin just the side that will be going under the presser foot first.

Sew those two rows together, then repeat with the remaining blocks. See how you always have a block under the presser foot? That’s chain piecing.

Do the same with the bottom row of the block, pinning as necessary, and repeat until all blocks are sewn together. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures here!)

If you’re pressing to the side, I suggest waiting to press these last two seams until you assemble the finished blocks into a quilt top. That way you can decide which direction to press so the different blocks nest together neatly.

If you’re pressing your seams open, do that now. Snip the little thread chains so you can press the open seams flat.

Here are the finished blocks. As you can see, the one with the seams pressed open are flat and pretty. The block with the seams pressed to the side looks a little funny now because it hasn’t been pressed, but you’ll appreciate that when you sew the rows together later.

Now, with all of that out of the way, are you ready for the blocks? I’ll post the first block later today!

Nine Patch Chain Piecing PDF