Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Is Here!

Hello everyone! After having such a long and snowy winter we finally made it to summer! I wasn't sure it would ever get here since spring was pretty cold here too. This weekend it is supposed to be really hot, and today we are getting severe thunderstorms. I just hope the hail and tornadoes stay away!

So, that means I should stay inside and sew this weekend. I did just finish up another kindle case since now I have a small kindle instead of the one with the huge keyboard at the bottom.

Now I'll have something pretty to carry around with me and my kindle won't get all scratched up! :)

I have several other projects going on right now too, but what I really need to do is figure out what pattern I'm going to use for my bee month. I host August and since we'll be moving at the end of July I'll have to get my act together early. Any suggestions? I'm thinking I might design my own block and put up a tutorial... We'll see if I have time for that I guess.

Anyway, I do have a little finish to share today. I have finished my June bee block.

It was the first time I've had to do real paper piecing, and I was kind of nervous since I had to make this for someone else! I think it turned out OK though. The middle isn't quite on, but I'm happy with it. And, I only had to rip one seam! I'd say that's a win! :)

So, what are you all working on this summer?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tractor Block Tutorial and Quilty Barns Update

Hello everyone! This weekend I was working on my Quilty-Barn-Along blocks and was thinking it could really use a tractor with all of those barns. So, I sat down with my graph paper and started designing this:

I love this tractor so much! It's the same dimensions as the barns (14.5" x 14.5" without sashing) so it will fit nicely in with my quilt. I also added a little quilt block to the side of the tractor so it can join in the fun as well. The little quilt block is a 4.5 inch unfinished block though, so a little smaller than the ones in the barns. I'm just not sure if I'll use the tractor on the front of the quilt or put it on the back. My mom said the place where I put the quilt block would also make a nice space for a quilt label for the back of the quilt. What a smart woman!

So, I thought maybe other people would want to make a tractor block too. If no one else does, then this post will be just for my mom who said she wants to make a whole quilt of tractors. Haha - I think she's a bit biased (quilty pun intended!). :) So, in case you do want to make one, here's a little tutorial:

For the background (white in my block) you'll want to cut 19 pieces:
(2) 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles (one for the smoke stack, one for the tractor cab)
(10) 1.5" squares (used throughout the block)
(1) 4.5" x 5.5" rectangle (for the smoke stack section)
(1) 1.5" x 2.5" rectangle (for the cab of the tractor)
(1) 1.5" x 6.5" rectangle (for the engine of the tractor)
(2) 2.5" squares (for the large wheel)
(1) 3.5" square (for the small wheel section)
(1) 2.5" x 3.5" rectangle (for the small wheel section)

For the tractor (green in my block) you'll want to cut 11 pieces:
(7) 1.5" x 6.5" rectangles
(2) 1.5"x 4.5" rectangles
(2) 2.5" squares (these will be used when you sew the tires)

For the tires (black and yellow in my block) you'll want to cut 18 pieces:
(8) 2.5" squares in black (large tire)
(8) 1.5" squares in black (small tire)
(1) 2.5" square in yellow (large tire center)
(1) 1.5" square in yellow (small tire center)

For the seat you'll want to cut 2 pieces:
(1) 1.5" x 2.5" rectangle
(1) 1.5" x 4.5" rectangle

For the smokestack you'll want to cut 1 piece:
(1) 1.5" x 4.5" rectangle

For the quilt block, you can make it in 2 different ways:

First Way: Using all half square triangles you can make it with 28 pieces:
(16) 1.5" squares from the background fabric (white in my block)
(12) 1.5" squares from the star fabric (red in my block)

Or Second Way: You can use larger pieces and you'll want to cut 21 pieces:
(1) 2.5" square (cross word puzzle print)
(4) 2.5" x 1.5" rectangles (black fabric)
(4) 1.5" squares (blue fabric)
Star fabric (red in my block):
(12) 1.5" squares

In my completed tractor block I used all half square triangles and 1.5" pieces because I had several of these left over from my quilty barns already. But, you'll will have less seams and be more accurate if you use the larger pieces instead. I just wanted to recycle all of those tiny pieces that I had left over. Anyway, back to the tutorial!

Here's a picture of the sketched out design which might also help you visually:

Once you have all of your pieces cut out you're ready to sew it all together. I started with the star block since it has the most tiny pieces to keep track of.

If you're using all 1.5" squares, pair up a star square to a background square and sew on the diagonal across the squares from corner to corner. This is Lori Holt's easy half square triangle method. Then cut 1/4 inch away from the seam and press open to get a total of 12 half square triangle blocks. Lay them out with the left over background blocks like this:

Then sew them into rows and press the seams open. Then sew the rows into the square block and press those seams open to get this:

If you're using the larger pieces for the star here's what you'll do. 

1. Take your 2.5 inch square background piece and lay a 1.5 inch star piece over the corner. Sew across the small piece from corner to corner diagonally. Trim cut 1/4 inch away from the seam and press toward the corner. This again uses a tip from Lori Holt - her easy corners method. Repeat this on all 4 corners of the 2.5 inch piece to get the center of the star block. 

2. For each 1.5" x 2.5" background rectangle, you'll pair it up with (2) 1.5" star squares. You'll use the same technique you would for step one, but you only have 2 corners to do instead of 4. Trim 1/4 inch away from the seam and press toward the star block pieces.

3. Lay out your block like this 

and then sew the rows together and then sew the rows into the block. Press seams open where you can to reduce bulk and you're done!

This way was faster and easier than all of the half square triangles, so it just depends on what pieces you want to use. :)

OK, now you're ready to assemble the tractor!

I started with the wheels and went from large to small. Lay out your pieces like this:

Large Wheel with 2.5 inch pieces
Small Wheel with 1.5 inch pieces
Then you're going to sew them together. The four corner squares will be made into easy half square triangles. Pair them up right sides together, sew on the diagonal across the square, trim 1/4 inch away from the seam and press toward the background fabric. 

Once that's done, you'll sew them into rows, and then sew the rows into a block. It will look like a snowball block. :) And now you have two tires!

Next I put together the cab of the tractor. For this I started with assembling the pieces of the seat and the bottom piece of tractor under the seat. Lay out your pieces like this so you know where everything goes:

You'll use (4) of the 1.5" x 6.5" tractor pieces, (2) 1.5" background squares, a 3.5" x 5.5" background pieces and the pieces for the seat.

Sew the background pieces to each piece of seat like below. Then sew an easy corner triangle onto that bottom piece of the tractor. Make sure your triangle goes the right way! You want it to be on the bottom right hand side.

Then you're going to sew all of these pieces together to make the cab. Sew seat bottom the large background fabric piece and press. Then sew on the seat back and press. Then sew the sides of the tractor cab on and press. Then sew on the top and bottom.

From here you're ready to put together the cab and the large wheel. Put right sides together and sew the cab and large, back wheel together. Press and set those pieces aside for later.

Now you're ready to make the front end of the tractor. I started with the smokestack piece. Lay out your pieces like this:

You're going to sew one 1.5 inch square on as an easy corner to the top of the smokestack rectangle. Make sure it's pointing the right way, otherwise your tractor driver will get a face full of engine exhaust and that's never good! :) You want the background triangle to be on the top left hand corner of the smoke stack.

Press and sew on the second 1.5 inch square to the top of the smoke stack. Press. You'll have the 3.5" x 5.5" piece of background fabric on the left side of the smoke stack and the 4.5" x 5.5" background piece on the right side of the smoke stack. More space between the driver and that smoke stack. ;) Press and set aside for now.

Now you're ready to make the engine part! This was my favorite. :) Lay out your pieces like this:

You'll make those two small background squares into easy corners on that 1.5" x 6.5" piece of tractor fabric. Like this:

Then sew a 1.5" x 4.5" piece of tractor fabric to the left and right sides of your quilt block. Press. Then sew on a 1.5" x 6.5" piece of tractor fabric to the top and bottom sides of your quilt block. Press. Then sew on the front piece of the tractor, then sew on the 1.5" x 6.5" piece of background fabric to the front. Press this piece and set aside for now.

Now you can get the small wheel ready for action. Lay out your pieces like this:

Now sew those together in a row. You'll have the 2.5" x 3.5" piece of background fabric on the left of the wheel and the 3.5" square on the right side of the wheel. Press.

Now you can sew all of the front end pieces together! :) Lay them out like this:

Now sew them together and pin where you feel it's needed. Press.

Now you can sew the front to the back and have a completed tractor!

At this point it should measure 14.5" x 14.5". I added an embroidered steering wheel to my cab as well:

So, there you have it! A quilty tractor to go along with your quilty barns! :) My mom also said it would be neat to have a large 4.5 inch square of crop fabric (like corn or wheat) instead of the quilt block on the side. She's just full of good ideas. :) If you make one, I'd love to see what it looks like!

And just for fun, here's a picture of it with all of my barns so far. I'm really enjoying this project, so thanks so much to Lori Holt for getting us all going!! Happy quilting everyone!

P.S. I'm not perfect, so if you find something wrong with this tutorial, just let me know! :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Current Projects

Hello everyone! We had a pretty rainy evening here tonight with some very strong winds. That meant I had a little bit of time to spend indoors working on crafty things. :)

Tonight I finished up the first of 12 embroidery blocks that I'm working on. I've never done a large embroidery project before, so we'll see how this goes. I don't really know too many stitches, and I have just a hodge-podge of thread that I'm using. (Is it called floss for embroidery? For some reason I have it in my head that it's called floss, but that does sound a bit silly considering you floss your teeth, not your fabric...) Anyway, it's a travel pattern, so each block will feature items from a different country. I started with Germany since we've actually traveled there several times and I thought maybe my husband would be more interested in this block than some others. I think he feigned interest just to humor me. :)

I should have used a different thread for the building. I didn't have a great selection of gray, so I used a silvery thread that was really thick - wrong choice! So, I used a regular thread (floss?) for the rest and those areas turned out much nicer. Lesson learned! :)

Once I finished the embroidery I decided to cut out all of the pieces for the Quilty Barn-A-Long blocks that Lori of Bee In My Bonnet has put together that I haven't done yet. I'm now behind on 6 (!!!!) blocks, which is a lot for me. I try to stay on top of things (at least my bee blocks are all on time so far!).

Cutting took up the rest of the evening since I ironed each fabric first and then folded and put them away when I was done. Since these blocks are all pretty scrappy that meant getting out and putting away a lot of difference pieces. And, I just realized while writing this post, that I have one more to cut out. I've only prepped 5 of them, so I guess tomorrow night I'll spend a little more time with my rotary blade and rulers. :)

My mother and I are getting together on Friday evening to work on these together. She's doing the Quilty Barn-A-Long too! I'm going to her house to work on them, so I figured putting them all into little bags would help me not get things all mixed up. We'll see how far we get versus how much we get distracted by other things. :)

Lastly I just wanted to show off the fabric that I bought while I was on vacation. I did manage to actually get inside 3 quilt shops on our first full day in Portland. My husband had a 2 hour interview that morning so I busied myself by going to 3 quilt shops. One was really large, one was really small, and one was just right. :)

Some of this is for me, and some of this is for other people. I don't know what I'm going to do with them yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something. :) Happy quilting everyone!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hands2Help Charity Quilts Completed!

Hello everyone! I hope the start to your month of June is going well. We just returned from a long vacation (totally awesome and I have some more posts on that coming up to share with you), but I had a lot of sewing to do right away.

I've completed both of my charity quilts that I pledged for the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge. It was such fun putting these together. I completed the challenge with my mother. Together we made 6 quilts - 3 for each type of charity.

Here are the two fishy quilts I put together:

Obviously these are both very similar. The first one has more pink and purple in it, so I consider it to be more of a girl quilt. The second one has more blue and green in it, so I consider it to be more of a boy quilt. I hope the children who receive them will enjoy them. Maybe they'll even make a new friend by talking to the other kid that gets the same type of quilt.

I decided to donate both of mine to the Russian initiative of the Quilts Beyond Borders charity (my mother donated hers to the Ethiopian initiative). I have just a bare twinge of connection to Russia since I studied a couple semesters of the language while I was in college. I've never been there, but I hope to travel there some day!

For these quilts I had planned on doing an all over pebble/bubble quilting. I think that would have worked, but I changed my mind at the last second. I decided to do what I like to refer to as my "seaweed" quilting. It's loops with some free motion lines connecting them. I think it makes it look like the bubble type of seaweed that you sometimes see washed up on the shore.

This quilting went really fast - it only took me about 2 hours on each quilt to do the quilting - then another 45 or so minutes to do the binding. This was also the first time I had ever completed the binding totally by machine. It was sooooo fast that I'm debating doing it again. I'm just very fond of the way hand stitched binding looks that I'm sure I won't make the change completely. However, these should definitely stand up to multiple washes!

For the back of the quilt I chose a green stripe on each one. I felt that the front of the quilt was very child friendly and I didn't want the entire thing to just be for children. I'm hoping the children who receive these quilts keep them for a long time. If they do, they may not want everyone to see a bunch of rainbow fish all the time, so that's why I chose the more grown-up green stripe for the back. I still kept the binding as the rainbow colors so some of the quilt top will always show through. ;)

My second quilt is in the wash right now getting all crinkly ad nice. The first is completely ready to go and folded. I've got to get a box to send these off on Monday!

And, here's one more shot of my little cat Leia. She snuck in while I wasn't looking and decided to test out the second quilt right before I put the binding on. I think she approves! I do have some fish blocks left over, so maybe I'll have to make her and her sister Sasha a little kitty quilt to snuggle on. I have a feeling they'll still try out my quilts even if they have their own though! :)

So, hope you all are having a great weekend! If you want to check out the other quilts that were made for the challenge, please head to Sarah's blog at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and see the other linked up projects. Mine will be there too, toward the bottom, since I'm cutting it close to the wire! There are some really great quilts there, and if you weren't able to join in this year I think she'll have the challenge again next year. :) Happy quilting everyone!

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