Design It! Red & White Quilt Challenge

SewCalGal is hosting a quilt design challenge as part of a Year of Red & White Quilt Challenges. You can read more information about this design challenge and the Year of Red & White Quilt Challenges at SewCalGal’s blog. I encourage you to check out the “Year of” post for a video of the “Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts” show displayed in New York City in March of 2011, sponsored by the American Folk Art Museum. Red and white quilts have been a popular theme in quilting for a very long time, and it’s wonderful to see so many of them (615!) in one place.

If you’re interested in designing a quilt for this challenge, you still have a little time. You do NOT have to use EQ to design your quilt – you can use other software or draw it by hand. This is a design only challenge, so a week is plenty of time to create something wonderful! The next challenge is a “make it” challenge, so if red and white quilts appeal to you, you can create your own. Check out the many ways you can participate in these challenges, either by entering or by viewing the entries.

Here is my entry in the Design It! Red & White Quilt Challenge:

Sherlock

When I thought about a red & white quilt, I knew it had to be graphic and it had to work in just two colors. Though we can use different shades of red and white or red & white prints, I knew the design would show better in a linky thumbnail if it were created in solids. I went through my EQ folders looking for something original that I hadn’t shared yet, and came across Sherlock. Yes, I’m talking about Benedict Cumberbatch (which, seriously, is the most awesome name!) and Martin Freeman. Any fans out there? (Silly question, I know.)

I have a habit of noticing shapes and designs on television shows that prompt me to grab a paper and pencil or even fire up my laptop and open EQ. As I was watching Sherlock, I noticed the wallpaper behind their sofa. I paused (isn’t the ability to pause a show wonderful?!) and sketched out the design. I honestly don’t remember if the original design had the stars in it or not. Here are the first two designs in my Sherlock file:

Sherlock 1 Sherlock 2

The first is kind of dumpy looking, while the stars in the second open up the illusion of circles. I like the second, but I knew I wanted just two colors, so I changed it to red and white and adjusted the size of the squares so the points lined up. Here’s the result:

Sherlock 3

I liked it, but I felt it was maybe too simple – not “designed” enough. It is, after all, just a repeated block with pieced sashing. One of the easiest ways to edit a design is to eliminate parts of some of the blocks. I whited out the red rectangles around the outside edges and then, on a whim, whited out the center red rectangles as well. When I put the two images side by side, I definitely preferred the edited one. In the first red and white quilt I noticed tumbler shapes, while the second seemed a little more delicate, almost like a snowflake. The points were more visible without completely losing the circle illusion. Here they are again side by side:

Sherlock 3 Sherlock

This quilt is actually quite easy to construct. The most challenging aspect is the extended triangles, but once you learn the technique it isn’t difficult. As part of the Design It challenge, Island Batiks will choose one design and provide fabric to make it, and maybe even share the free pattern on their website or more! Wouldn’t this look awesome in batiks?!

SherlockBatiks

Anyway, to be eligible for that prize I need to provide the following information: The quilt finishes at 62″ square. It requires 3 1/2 yards of white fabric and 1 3/4 yards of red, plus 1/2 yard for the binding and 4 yards for the backing.

Don’t forget to pop over to SewCalGal and check out the other design entries… and enter one of your own!

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TYSS: LeMoyne Star

The LeMoyne Star block requires eight Y seams, so before you get into it you should review the Y Seam Skill Builder post. Unlike most of the TYSS posts, I duplicated a lot of the Skill Builder instructions in this post.

LeMoyne Star

If you’re following the White & Bright layout, this block is pink and yellow. The block finishes at 12″ (12 1/2″ unfinished).

The first small hurdle in the LeMoyne Star is cutting the diamond shapes. It isn’t difficult once you know how, but it does require the use of TWO rulers, one of which has a 45 degree line. Begin by cutting a 4″ wide strip that is at least 18 inches long from both the pink and yellow fabrics. Place the 45 degree line on your ruler along the bottom edge of the strip and cut to create your first 45 degree angle.

LeMoyne 1

Measure 4 1/4″ from the bottom point with the ruler with the 45 degree line (you don’t use the 45 degree line here, you just need to measure with it so that ruler is available for the next step). Place the second ruler next to it, holding that 4 1/4″ point. Line up the 45 degree line along the bottom edge of the strip with the point of the ruler at the 4 1/4″ point marked by the other ruler. Cut your first diamond. Repeat until you have four diamond of both fabrics.

LeMoyne 2

From your background fabric, cut (1) 6 1/4″ square and (4) 4″ squares. This photo shows the larger square cut diagonally, but before cutting…

LeMoyne 3

…draw a diagonal line 1/4″ from center both sides of center, in both directions.

LeMoyne 4

LeMoyne 5

Lay out the pieces, making sure the star points and angles line up perfectly. If the angle of the diamonds are off even slightly, your star may be a bit domed in the middle. Ask me how I know. Honestly, I just went with it instead of ripping it all apart and correcting it. My next attempt will be better.

LeMoyne 6

As mentioned in the Skill Builder post, you may prefer to mark a 1/4″ sewing line along each edge that require a Y seam. That’s what the drawn line are on the background piece above. In my diamonds, I only marked a short 1/4″ line at the tips of the diamonds where the background fabric will be sewn.

LeMoyne 8

LeMoyne 12

Sew the diamonds together in pairs, but only sew as far as the drawn line at the end that will be sewn to a background.

LeMoyne 11

Press to one side, always pressing to the same fabric (either yellow or pink).

LeMoyne 7

Place a background triangle right sides together with one of the pairs. The point should line up with the diamond, and the intersection of the drawn lines should fall at the seam between the diamonds.

LeMoyne 10

Sew on the drawn line, stopping at the point where the lines intersect. You may want to take a backstitch here.

LeMoyne 15

This photo doesn’t show it very well, but there is a seam along the top of the background triangle. In order to create the Y seam, you need to sew the other edge of the triangle (with the drawn line) to the yellow diamond. This takes a little effort.

LeMoyne 16

First, lift the  background triangle up out of the way and fold the two diamonds right ides together.

LeMoyne 17a

Pull the blue point down and to the right so it lines up with the yellow point. Pinch the blue/green seam and pull it to the left as the blue point comes down.

LeMoyne 17b

You can see that the green fabric is folded between the layers.

LeMoyne 17c

Sew from point (seam intersection) to point (seam intersection). Drop the needle through the dot or seam intersection, then put the presser foot down. It is important here that you are only going through two layers of fabric, NOT the fabric that is folded out of the way. If you can manually roll the needle down, you can feel more resistance if there is extra fabric. This is one time when an automatic needle up/down button works against you. Sew to the next intersection. I did not mark the outside seam, so just stop 1/4″ from the end.

LeMoyne 18

Y seams can be bulky, so one way to reduce that bulk is to spiral press, “splitting” the seams where they intersect. As long as you did not sew to the edge of the fabric, this is easy. Just press each seam from the intersecting point to the edge. Each one should go in the same direction, as if you pressed in a circle. Once the main seams are pressed, you can press the center, which has a tiny bit of the right sides of each fabric exposed.

LeMoyne 19

Repeat with the other three sets of diamonds, then sew two sets together and repeat with the other two sets.

LeMoyne 21

Measure 1/4″ from both edges on a 4″ background square and mark the point with a dot. Place the square right sides together with the star, lining up the top edge with the star fabric edge and the dot with the seam intersection of the diamonds.

LeMoyne 23

Sew from the outside edge to the dot, taking a backstitch at the dot.

LeMoyne 24

Once again, you’ll have to lift the background fabric out of the way and fold the two sides together so you can line up the other edge.

LeMoyne 25

LeMoyne 26

Again, sew from the dot to the edge of the fabric.

LeMoyne 27

Press in a spiral, as you did with the triangle.

LeMoyne 28

Sew the two halves together, crossing just at the tip of the seams where the diamonds come together.

LeMoyne 29

Sew the last two corner squares in the same way you did the last two corners.

LeMoyne 30

Press and square up to 12 1/2″.

LeMoyne 31

There’s your LeMoyne Star… and only two more blocks to go!

PM/GC Quilts Skill Builder Series: Part 16 – Y Seams

For some reason, I’ve always been a little afraid of Y seams, but they really aren’t all that awful. A Y seam is exactly what the letter looks like – a place where three seam lines intersect. Believe it or not, Y seams are actually quite easy if you hand piece. They really aren’t much different than a regular seam. To machine piecers it seems more difficult because we are accustomed to just pushing the fabric through the machine, trusting that our quarter inch foot or guide will line up the seams correctly. Everything is flat when it goes through the machine on “regular” seams, but with Y seams you need to fold fabric to get the excess out of the way before sewing.

Some quilter have had success breaking blocks with Y seams into smaller components, piecing half square triangles so the same fabrics are next to one another. This gives the same appearance as a Y seam, but with an easier construction technique. The well-loved Swoon quilt pattern by Camille Roskelly (pattern available from her shop, Thimble Blossoms) is very similar to an old block called Star of Bethlehem, circa 1931 from Prize Winning Designs (Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns, page 289):

There are some slight changes in color placement and she removed the corner triangles, but the biggest difference is that some of the shapes have been changed slightly so they can be cut in half and pieced as half square triangles and flying geese. To illustrate the slight difference in shapes, here are the two blocks side by side. On the left is the Star of Bethlehem block recolored to match the Swoon layout. On the right is the Swoon block. Both blocks are shown without seam lines.

Star of Bethlehem block recolored Swoon block

If you look closely, the blue house shapes in the four corners of the Swoon block are narrower than the ones at the top/bottom/left/right. Also, the pink diamonds aren’t exactly diamonds, and the center star is a slightly different shape, with the points coming in farther and the white triangles between the points being slightly different sizes. The difference is very subtle, and both blocks are beautiful. This is a great way to make a complex block more accessible. But, you know, this post is about Y seams…

Y seams are used in a lot of 8-pointed star blocks like the Star of Bethlehem, LeMoyne Star, Carpenter’s Wheel, Lone Star and Feathered Stars.

LeMoyne Star

Carpenter’s Wheel

Lone Star

Feathered Star

They’re also used in the optical illusion called Tumbling Blocks:

Tumbling Blocks

And of course, the hexagon and it’s many variations, including those created with diamonds and triangles:

Hexagon

Pieced Diamonds Hexagon

Quilts that have an overall pattern that can’t be broken down into squares or rectangles all use Y seams. One of my favorites is a design called Jack’s Chain or Rosalia Flower Garden, made of nine patches, triangles and hexagons. This is a challenge to draw in EQ7, and I wasn’t having much luck. Fortunately, Marjorie at Quilt Design NW is smarter than I am, and shared an EQ7 file for the pattern. Here is my colored variation:

Jack’s Chain

I even found this design requiring Y seams on a tissue box! Wouldn’t it make a great quilt?

Tissue Box quilt

Construction

The example I’m using is my LeMoyne Star block from the Test Your Skills Sampler. The TYSS post will follow this one within a few hours, and will contain the complete cutting and piecing instructions for a 12″ finished LeMoyne Star. This post will focus only on the Y seam.

There are two tricks to Y seams. The first trick is knowing exactly where the seam line is. Oh, obviously it’s 1/4″ from the edge of the fabric, but with the long points of a diamond, there’s a little extra fabric. Most instructions for Y seams have you put a dot at each corner indicating where you should start and stop sewing.

LeMoyne 23

You may find it even easier if you draw the complete sewing line on the back of the fabric. This way you can see exactly where the lines intersect. This is especially true when working with non-90 degree angles (anything other than squares or rectangles).

LeMoyne 10

Second, you don’t sew from edge to edge – instead, you sew from seam to seam. In other words, you start sewing where your seam line intersects with the adjacent seam line, and stop when you meet the next seam. If you marked your starting and ending points with a dot, place your fabric under the presser foot and drop the needle through that dot, then sew to the ending dot.

LeMoyne 27

If you marked complete seam lines, drop you needle where they intersect and sew to the next intersection.

LeMoyne 18

One part of sewing Y seams that confounds people is how to get the fabric you’ve already sewn out of the way. Be patient. Slow down and just ease the fabric to where it needs to be. Try not to sew over any seam allowances, since that will make it easier to press the seams later.

The first two thirds of the Y seam are easy. It’s that last one that requires fabric to be folded out of the way. In the example below, I’ve already sewn the yellow and green fabrics together, and the blue to the green at the left. Now I need to get that second blue edge right sides together with the yellow edge.

LeMoyne 16

First, I flipped the blue fabric up and folded the green and yellow fabrics so they were right sides together.

LeMoyne 17a

Next I pulled the blue point down and to the right so it lined up with the yellow point. I pinched the blue/green seam and pulled it to the left as the blue point came down.

LeMoyne 17b

You can see in this last photo that the green fabric is folded between the layers.
LeMoyne 17c

All that’s left is to sew the last seam from point (seam intersection) to point (seam intersection). Drop the needle through the dot or seam intersection, then put the presser foot down. It is important here that you are only going through two layers of fabric, NOT the fabric that is folded out of the way. If you can manually roll the needle down, you can feel more resistance if there is extra fabric. This is one time when an automatic needle up/down button works against you. Sew to the next intersection.

LeMoyne 18

Y seams can be bulky, so one way to reduce that bulk is to spiral press, “splitting” the seams where they intersect. As long as you did not sew to the edge of the fabric, this is easy. Just press each seam from the intersecting point to the edge. Each one should go in the same direction, as if you pressed in a circle. Once the main seams are pressed, you can press the center, which has a tiny bit of the right sides of each fabric exposed.

LeMoyne 19

Well, that’s how you do a Y seam! Any questions? Any tips that you’d like to share if you’ve had some experience with Y seams?

Whoops, I did it again

(Thank you, Britney.)

The pillow bug has bitten me. Today I made this pillow:

Blue Diamond Pillow

I am totally in love with the colors, and I like the solid fabrics. This time I used a regular zipper because I didn’t have an invisible zipper in the right color. You can’t really tell in this photo, but the zipper doesn’t match the fabric. Instead, the zipper is a dark aqua, and I think it’s a fun contrast without being too noticeable.

Pillow Zipper

This pillow thing could be a problem.

Blue Diamond Pillow

But in the meantime, I’m linking up – again – with the Pillow Collective at Amy’s Creative Side.

Botanicals BOM: Block 2 – Shasta Daisy

This month’s block has many pieces, but is quite easy to put together. There are four identical quarters rotated to form the flower-like shape. This is actually a 5 grid block made at 12″, so it’s likely to finish a smidge large, but it can easily be trimmed to the correct size without losing any design integrity.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts

As always, I recommend you check out the Skill Builder Series posts, especially the Quarter Inch Seams and Nine Patch posts for detailed information about block assembly.

Cutting

Fabric 1 (light): Cut a 3″ strip. Subcut a 15″ rectangle, then cut the remaining strip to 1 3/4″ and cut (2) 8” x 1 3/4″ rectangles.
Fabric 2 (medium): Cut (2) 1 3/4″ strips. Subcut (8) 5″ rectangles. You will use more of the strip later in the block. (The photo does not show the 5″ pieces.)
Fabric 3 (dark): Cut a 1 3/4″ strip. Subcut a 15” rectangle and an 8” rectangle. You will use more of the strip later in the block.
Background: Cut (8) 2 7/8″ squares.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 1

Sewing

Sew 3″ x 15” light strip to 1 3/4″ x 15” dark strip. Press to the dark.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 2

Subcut (8) 1 3/4″ segments (A).

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 3

Sew 1 3/4” x 8” light strip to 1 3/4” x8” dark strip. Sew another 1 3/4” x 8” light strip to the other side of the dark strip. Press to the dark on both sides.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 4

Subcut (4) 1 3/4” segments (B).

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 5

Lay out two of segment A with one of segment B and sew together.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 6

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 7

Separate the seam at the back by tugging gently so the thread slips out, and press in opposite direction. This will give a flatter seam.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 8

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 9

Do the same with the second section.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 10

Repeat to form four center units.

Chain piece the center units onto the medium 1 3/4” strip.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 11

Cut apart, trim and repeat on the other side of the center unit.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 12

Cut apart and trim. Press to the medium.

Chain piece the short side of the 5” medium segments to the remainder of the dark strip.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 13

Press to the medium (the larger piece), then cut apart and trim to create segment C.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 14

Sew one segment C to either side of the center unit, lining up the seam intersection and nesting the seam allowances. The medium strip will NOT be as long as the rest of the unit, but should extend at least 1/4” past the edge of the center light/dark unit. Repeat with the other three units.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 15

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 16

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 17

Place a 2 7/8” background square on the unfinished corner and sew from corner to corner. You may prefer to draw this line before sewing.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 18

Trim excess fabric away and press to the background fabric.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 19

Repeat with the second corner, then repeat with the other three units.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 20

Lay out the four units, rotating to form the block design, and sew together.

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts 21

Trim to 12 1/2″ square, and there’s your Shasta Daisy block!

Botanicals BOM Block 2 Shasta Daisy from Piecemeal Quilts

Any questions? Click here to download a “short version” of these block instructions in PDF form.

Please visit the Botanicals BOM Intro post for optional settings with fabric requirements and links to all blocks that have been posted so far.