Friday, October 19, 2018

Hurdy Gurdy QAL Part Five - The Finish Line!

I was doing SO WELL! I got every tutorial out by noon on the day it was due, even if it meant writing the post until 11:58am. I was ahead of the sewing game behind the scenes. I was kicking stash and taking names. I was so proud. The quilting part was taking a little longer than I hoped, but that's normal for me. I tend to be maybe not the best machine quilter, but very enthusiastic, and my designs often head off into Crazytown, taking longer than anticipated.

Enter bronchitis/morbid sore throat/ sinus infection this week and pretty much derailed my train to funkytown. Best laid plans. Thank you for waiting a few extra days for this final tutorial.

So let's revisit the cool photo I took of my blocks, because I really do love them, and this is my blog and I can focus on whatever I want. Rarely do I take such a pretty random photo, so thank you for humoring me.

You may well have more blocks than I do. As I have said, I just needed a quick-ish project and wanted an alternate Hurdy Gurdy project of my very own. I'll chat about putting my three block project together per the instructions on page 56 first, and then I can regale you with a few thoughts about the original quilt I did with 9 blocks, in case you were all eager beaver and did nine of them for your project.

The runner (bed or table, you choose!) is set on point. Every now and then I like to throw some blocks on point, though I admit cutting setting triangles always makes me a little skeevy. I ALWAYS mess it up. I always cut the wrong ones twice on the diagonal, and waste good chunks of fabric. This time was no exception. Read directions twice, cut once is really not my cup of tea. I favor "Don't read directions, assume you know what you are doing, mess up, swear, repeat." It's just more fun and keeps the fabric manufacturers in business supplying my replacement fabrics after my mess ups.

With that said, read the directions. And to reiterate, it's the BIG triangles that get cut twice on the diagonal. The littler ones only once. I mean, even to write it out seems obvious enough to a normal human. I never claimed to be normal, though.

Once those setting triangles are cut, it's all about creating diagonal strips. Pretty simple, and my biggest piece of advice is to watch the direction you are putting those triangle sides when you get ready to sew. Who among us hasn't pressed one of these rows and then noticed the triangle was facing totally the wrong direction like a compound ankle fracture? It's almost as painful, if only to the ego. Somehow this I managed to do just fine! Celebrate good times, come on!

Two little tips for sewing these triangles to the blocks. First, I do pin, and I keep the block on TOP of the triangle. That way I can see where my points of my stars are and hopefully not totally cut them off. Plus having all those seams right under my needle, rather than under the triangle fabric AND the needle, means I can keep the seams going in the direction I need them to (Open. Always open.) and not have to just hope and pray that they don't get messed up.

Second, the side setting triangles are always easy to line up correctly, because one end of them is a 90 degree angle, just like the block. But the corner setting triangles are not quite so easy, since you are sewing a longer triangle side to a slightly shorter side of a square. Centering that point of the triangle on the center seam of the block is key - but wait? How do you do that if you are putting the block on top? Assuming you aren't using see through fabrics, this can be tricky.

I take my block and place it face up as shown, then line up the point of the corner setting triangle with the central seam. Then I fold back the block, exposing the back side, and pin at the center seam from the block through the triangle. This way I'm assured of having the triangle pretty accurately even and the overhang pretty symmetrical on either side of the edge of the square. I pin a few more places with the block on top, and can now sew it with the block on top as I prefer. Cool, huh? The photo to the right here should illustrate it for you, hopefully!

If you've never sewn a quilt on point, something this size, with just one block per row, is truly the best place to start. I find with longer diagonal strips I can never line up the right places to start and finish, and I end up with blocks overhanging on each end. By now you are probably thinking "I seriously can't believe she calls herself a professional" and believe me, I have that thought often myself. Happy to report that when I sewed these rows together, I didn't even screw up once. YAY ME! Pinning at the block and setting triangle intersections helps. Prayer doesn't hurt.

Ever since I had my first pattern in a magazine, and was told they wanted to never have "Quilt as Desired" as the last instruction of any pattern, I have always tried to give some quilting ideas with each pattern wherever possible. With that said, I didn't always do so in the book. So this tutorial will shed that extra light. Since I wanted the blocks to evoke turning leaves, I kept that idea up with the quilting. I put actual leaf shapes in all four corners of each block, using Aurifil 40 wt quilting thread, the only thread I would sell a kidney for if it ever came to that. I used a dark orange for these leafy shapes, as well as the little swirls I quilted into each parallelogram shape of the star. I was pretty proud of how it turned out. Award winning? No. But it isn't horrible, either. I give myself a 7.

For the purple setting triangles, I was dealing with a lot more open space, and had already quilted the blocks at a medium density. So I knew I had to go pretty close to medium dense on those to keep the runner from being puffy in all the wrong places. Because a puffy in all the wrong places runner is a wine glass tip over waiting to happen.

I changed to a purple thread that matched my purple fabric. This is the key to knowing your limits. I figure if I'm quilting something all fancy-like, I can do it in contrasting thread ONLY if I'm quilting on top of pieced stuff, because it all kind of blends and is more forgiving. But a piece of fabric by itself isn't as forgiving. There's nothing to look at here but the purple, and any contrasting thread quilting is going to scream in the viewer's face "HERE I AM AND I HAD BETTER BE STUNNING!" Quilting designs can be so rude sometimes.

I ended up mirroring the leafy shapes I'd done in orange thread within the blocks, one big one and two kind of "half leaves" along the long edge of the triangle. I filled in the resulting areas with some more swirlies like I'd done within the stars, which now to me look like fallopian tubes. Whatever. Dare I point out quilts often have a role in human reproduction? Why not a little basic knowledge while we are at it, I guess.

Overall, the blocks and setting triangles ended up being quilted pretty comparably densely, so I am thrilled. It's all got that nice crinkly look of just the right amount of quilting.
I bound the quilt by machine. I do that now sometimes. It's not the end of the world, especially for something you might end up washing more frequently, isn't going in a show, and you just want done. All of these applied to this quilt, so I found a batik fabric in burnt yellows and purples and threw it on there. As you can see in the photos above, it looks pretty good and I am pleased with it.

Thank God New England has no shortage of old buildings lying around to hang quilts on and snap a photo.

Though on page 56 I suggest using a fabric the same as your Color Two for the setting triangles, you can see I chose to go with the purple, which was my accent color. I chose to do that because I thought, and truly believe I am right, that if I went with my Color Two, orange, my blocks would have kind of died a little. They need to be set on something darker to show the true autumnal beauty, kind of like the real leaves always look best against deep blue sky. As always, my directions are never set in stone. I suggest what I think will work for most situations, but in the end, your quilt, your colors, your choice.

If you chose to make the full version, you won't risk incorrect cutting of setting triangles, but you will get to choose whether you want those little stars at the sashing intersections to be made from your Colors One and Two, as I did, or if you maybe want to go crazy and try something else entirely. You are allowed! In themselves, the sashing pieces are pretty easy to make - if you can sew along the diagonal, you can make those sashing strips, and then when they come together with the little squares? It's so simple yet stunning. I love a design that looks way harder than it actually is to pull off.

The quilting I chose for the larger sized version from the book was simple straight lines radiating out in V's from the center of each block. The sashing was done simply as well, with just some stitching 1/4" away from the seams inside the sashing. I used a medium grey Aurifil 40 wt for all of the quilting. I love grey thread because it blends into a grey background but doesn't scream "HERE I AM AND I HAD BETTER BE STUNNING" against other colors.

The photo of Hurdy Gurdy on the back cover of the book is actually pretty good as far as showing the quilting, in case you need further assistance on that. Whatever you do, I know it's going to look completely amazing!

And with that, our Hurdy Gurdy QAL has come to an end. I'd love to know if you've done any sewing along, if you've banked the ideas for another time, or if I've intrigued you in any way to make this design at some point. I am very thrilled with how my new sample turned out and can't wait to show it off in my new lecture about my Accordion Sewn HSTs™.

Until next time!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hurdy Gurdy QAL Part Four - Cut Those Accordions and Sew Those Blocks!

Assuming you are all ready to stop wearing your accordion tubes as delightful accessories, it's time to cut them apart and get to sewing your amazing, fantabulous, and stupendous blocks.

Unless you are Harriet. Harriet has already got most of her blocks done. She's my hero.

For the rest of us non-Harriets, we are getting down to business. Find those accordions and head on over to your cutting/trimming areas!

You know what I love best about the accordions, besides pretty much everything? I love that sewing them all up means that all of my squares are CONTAINED. They aren't in little piles all over my cutting table, risking being lost in a stiff breeze or a rogue cat attack. They are just where they need to be, ready to go when I'm ready to work on the next block. I love that Harriet gets that. She's just hanging those accordions by the finished blocks, ready to go when she is. I highly recommend being Harriet- and Beth-like and cut just one accordion at a time, sew it all into a block, and then move on to the next. It will make your life profoundly easier.

Did you stick the safety pin in your accordion when you sewed it? And is it still there? If so, as you know from reading the book intro, that's the square to slice down the diagonal with your scissors. But here is a little secret - for the Hurdy Gurdy block, it honestly doesn't matter which background square you slice down. Any of the background squares will work, I promise, because the pattern you sewed the background and your two colors in is just repeated four times. So if you forgot the safety pin, there are no worries. Pick a background square and slice that baby down the middle. With scissors. To try to cut the tube using your rotary cutter is inviting complete disaster. 

If you need to review Cutting Apart and Keeping in Order on page 10 before you take that first slice, do. There's no shame in wanting to be sure you do it right! The key to the ease of any of the blocks in this book that are made from ordered accordions is keeping the order throughout the cutting, trimming, and pressing process. It's a lot of restacking at each step, but it's worth it to take the time to keep all of your HSTs in order, from cutting to ready to lay out.

These particular accordions being 28 HSTs long, they aren't going to stack quite as easily as those that are shorter without risk of becoming the Leaning Tower of HSTs - a. I avoid that problem with these longer accordions by stacking them more horizontally than vertically, as shown in the above photo. As long as they stay in order, either way is great.

With any luck at all, you won't come across this issue as you are cutting apart your accordion. Yep. Check it out. Even I, the queen of all things Accordion Sewn HSTs, can mess them the heck up and sew a flap shut now and then. There usually is swearing when I discover it, I won't lie. But let's be honest, there is swearing in the studio frequently around here. Just another day, really.

To free the flap, should you be a dummy like me, you'll rip that puppy out, but don't panic. It's very easy to just resew the seam with the HST now freed. But do free and resew it the second you come across it in your cutting apart of the accordion - even better if you notice before you start cutting, but this is real life. I didn't notice, and you might not either. Fixing it before trying to cut the rest of it and just telling yourself you'll remember what went where and where it goes in the stack is probably not going to work out quite so well. Just saying. I might know this from experience.

Trim and press or press and trim. Your order will depend on what trimming tool you are using, which is also outlined on page 10. Are you getting the idea that Page 10 is one of the best pages in the whole book? You aren't wrong! So much fun and information to be had!

I always start and end at the left side of my star when I lay all my HSTs out in order, as shown by the arrows on my diagram on page 53. As we discussed earlier, though, since this accordion repeats four times, any point (top, right, bottom, or left) is totally the same as any other as far as where you start and end. So if it makes more sense to start at the top, go for it. All you have to remember is to go clockwise no matter what and you are golden.

But what if some horrible tragedy befalls you between your final step of cutting, trimming, and pressing and layout, like you trip on the way to the design wall and spatter your HSTs all over the floor, or you see a mouse run by and you throw them up in the air while running screaming from the room? Well, never fear. If it's the latter, set some traps, then go pick them all up. It's going to take you a little longer to figure out how they all fit together, but the beauty of the Accordion Sewn HSTs method is going to mean they are STILL going to all end up in the same places they would have pre-mouse sighting. Just start with one of the background pieces and match up each fabric as you go around. That's all. It's a little miracle. Though I really recommend just avoiding having a horrible tragedy in the first place, in the end your block will still be exactly as it was meant to be.

You'll note that on page 53 there is also a lovely "blown apart" diagram of how I suggest sewing by
sections to get this block, including the corner pieces you sewed in part three, all put together. As with anything, these are a simple suggestion. If you'd rather sew them in different units that make more sense to you, as I actually did because I was paying no attention to my own book, I promise that will work too! It's a symmetrical block, after all. Broken down into units that fit together without Y seams or having to throw things is really the only key to joy in the construction.

While we are here, take a look at that red flowered fabric at the top right of the lower unit pictured to the right. See how the directional-ness of the flowers is the same in the bottom unit as it is in the larger unit, where they will line up? This is yet another miracle of Accordion Sewn HSTs - directional fabrics always line up properly. Why? I LITERALLY HAVE NO IDEA. I'm sure it's a mathy sort of answer, and one that most engineers could not only explain easily but are right now laughing at me for not understanding, but I really don't care. This amazes me every time and I need you all to be amazed, or pretend to be amazed, right along with me.

I really could not be happier with how my blocks really do look like the leaves changing. Remember that rogue accordion I made with the oranges next to each other? Well, this block is why! Look how those oranges in the middle making a star change the look somewhat! I now kind of wish I'd done them all like this, but whatever. I love all of these blocks and I absolutely love how the deep purple looks. Of course I used all of it and then some up from my scrap bins, and now I want to be able to use it for my setting triangles next lesson. Will I find more? Will I have to change my thinking? I guess you'll have to tune in then!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hurdy Gurdy QAL Part 3 - Time to Make Some Noise! Accordioning those Blocks

Finally! Finally we get to touch our sewing machines! Well, unless you are me, whose main machine (Janome 6125, since I know you'll ask) crapped out on her last week by refusing to feed fabric through anymore. Just out of nowhere. One moment we were happy together, singing "You are My Sunshine" and "Kumbaya," and thirty seconds later I was telling her she was the bane of my existence and swearing to never speak to her again. #angersewing

Luckily, like most quilters, I do have a spare machine, the Janome My Style 100, which looks like it should be best suited for a child's first machine and is better known in my house as "Barbie's Dream Sewing Machine." However, it's thankfully one that is best suited to simple piecing, and is a surprising workhorse in that arena, so I was still able to piece my accordions and not be behind the rest of you. That would be embarrassing. Worst QAL leader ever.

If you are planning to use the Clearly Perfect Slotted Trimmer for trimming, and I really hope you are because I would like to think you like to make things as easy as possible for yourself, I recommend threading your machine with a thread that you'll be able to see. I often thread the top of my machine with my Color One, and the bobbin with Color Two, because in most cases I'll be able to see the thread on at least one side of my HSTs that way, and I am able to feel like I at least made an effort in matching thread so that it won't show. But sometimes, like this time, I go crazy and use a thread that is completely different, like my purple shown. I can justify it because as you may recall, my accent fabric color is purple, so eventually it's going to match, right? And in the meantime, I can see perfectly to line that stitching up and trim quickly with my CPST.

 I'm just over here assuming you've kept up thus far, that not only have you chosen and cut all your colors and pieces, but you've also done a little accordion practice. I'm hoping the practice went fairly well, and from all the examples of #accordionsewnhsts I'm seeing hashtagged on IG and FB daily, I think it probably did. Granted, most of those are not from this QAL, but it doesn't matter. Things for the most part seem to be going well in Accordion Sewingland, and I'm just assuming things for this QAL are in that category. But what if they didn't? What if you were frustrated?

First of all, thank you for not sending me nastygrams full of words akin to what I was yelling at my sewing machine. Second, did you check out the amazing Troubleshooting chart on page 11? I came up with the idea to include it in a dream (one where lots of people were really mad at me because they were having issues - not all dreams are sunshine and roses, people) and I am really pretty proud of it. Even if you don't have issues, read it for the entertainment value.

So now that we are all accordion experts, we are off to the races! At the bottom of page 52 is the photo and explanation of the order you will sew your accordions for each block. You'll sew one accordion for each block you'll be making, so I'm at three accordions, which I show you here to prove that I sewed them all and also to make you feel better that you aren't the only one who hasn't put the garden hose away for the season yet.

Now, you may note a couple of things about my accordions. Number one, they are a far cry, contrast wise, from my original Hurdy Gurdy accordions, which were teal and red, arguably two very different colors. In a way, you may sort of have to take my word for it that I followed the same order when sewing my red and orange accordions, because red and orange are pretty similar, being from the same family and all. I did touch on my concerns and reasoning  behind my non-contrasty choices in Part One. I continue to hope I have made a good decision and that my final project evokes the feel of leaves turning. So far my accordions are making me all October happy, so I guess that's good. In the end, this is my quilt. Your quilt is your quilt. I've already made one all contrasty, and I love it. So I am trying something a bit new. Nothing wrong with that, right?

You might also notice that the accordion on the far left is slightly different from the other two in terms of order, with my Color Two (orange) being intermingled a little differently with my Color One (red) within each of the four repeats of the pattern, with the Color Twos ending up together in the middle of pairs of Color Ones. See the photo closeup to the left to admire this slight change and to be impressed by my lack of ability to trim threads. Meh. They'll be gone once we start trimming. Why make more work?

I have a vision for how this block will look different from the other two. Perhaps you can figure it out as well. But we will save the reveal for next week when we figure out if it actually worked when I sewed the blocks. In any case, I'll throw it in the middle of the runner so it had better be spectacular!

Be sure to remember to tube up the accordions! As cute as they are and as easy to see all your lovely fabrics as they are all straight, without tubing you'll lose one very important HST, and you'll end up having to refer to the page 11 Troubleshooting chart when you can't figure out why you have random extra pieces. Plus they are pretty cute when they are tubed as well! And the uses!

Wear it as a bracelet!

Put it on the cat as a tutu! (Not pictured with accordion tutu. The cat was having none of that. And oh yeah! Page 45 now contains a lie in the callout box. I DO now have a cat. I just didn't when the book went to press. Sorry about the misleading journalism on that one.)

  It's your own personal tiara!

But in all seriousness, I actually think they look like they fit right in with my fall decor, no?

I find that each accordion tends to take about 15 minutes to sew. While I'm curious if that is fast or slow compared to others, just remember your pace may vary. If you break 10 minutes, though, I definitely want to know!

I'd also definitely suggest working on the Block Corner Construction pieces, pages 51 and 52. A little easy, mindless sewing that you can chain piece, then you'll have those parts done and not have to worry about them once we start cutting those accordions apart and creating the rest of the block next week! The chains even can look like little smiles if you hang them on your design wall before you cut them apart. It's like getting a little affirmation from your piecing that you are rocking this project.

 Open pressing of seams is my mantra. If you haven't given it a try, I continue to berate you into submission suggest that you give it a try. I will never be known as a perfect piecer, but I have definitely found that my points are a lot more accurate when I press my seams open. Sure, you can't nest your seams, but you CAN line them up really well just by looking at them, smoosh them tight together, pin, and sew, and they come out looking pretty darn good most of the time. Plus the flatness of the final block is enough to make even the Flat Earth Society proud.

You'll need to make just 6 each of the Left Accent Unit and the Right Accent Unit shown on page 52. I like to confuse you I guess, so I'm showing two Left Accent Units in this photo. But you are smart, and you will do 6 of each.

Ok, so that's it for this week! I hope you enjoy your actual sewing and I hope you'll share some of your amazing looking accordions in the Quilting Along with EPQD facebook page, or by using the #hurdygurdyqal hashtag!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hurdy Gurdy QAL Week Two - All That Infernal Cutting


Cutting for a quilt is the spawn of the devil. It just is.

 I suppose there are some of you out there who love themselves a good session of slicing up helpless inanimate objects for hours on end using sharp instruments. In another world we might need to worry that you were psychotic, but thankfully, we quilters get you. However I'm in the camp of quilters who would really prefer I could snap my fingers and be done with all my cutting immediately.

Side note - I taught a class last week of my Vinnie Loves Maude pattern (shown on right). Even the baby size, which I had them all cut for, has over 1000 pieces. In good news, no one killed me, though some grumbling commenced. In better, one of the students bragged that using her guild's AccuQuilt cutter she got it all done in less than an hour. So there's definitely that option. We all bowed down to her appropriately.

Hurdy Gurdy is one of the most popular quilt designs in the "Oompah!" book, and I'm pretty sure one of the reasons is because of the way all those fabrics come together to make the pattern look so cool. But "all those fabrics" becomes the problem of ALL THAT CUTTING really quickly. So the best thing to do is either decide, like I did, to make a table runner with just three blocks (cutting amounts, page 56), or steel yourself for the realities of the mind numbing dullness of cutting and just go for it with the amounts for the larger quilt found on page 51. I definitely find that rocking out to some 80s hair bands on Pandora helps, but maybe that's just me.

  As a scrappy quilter, my cutting process isn't quite as straightforward as whipping some strips off my yardage and cutting them into the correct sized squares. For one, I don't want any of my fabrics to be the same in my blocks and if possible, my whole quilt, so cutting more than one or two of any particular fabric is useless to me. For another, I tend to be digging around in my scrap bins for pieces that are big enough for what I need rather than going directly to my yardage. I end up using a few different methods of cutting that may be of interest to you. Or not. But you're here, so you might as well read on.
The Stack, Smash, and Bang

The Stack, Smash, and Bang. So once I've chosen all my fabrics, like I did and you did in last week's tutorial, I'm left with a pile of randomly sized fabrics to work with, from all of which I want just one square (maybe two) cut. So I'm a big fan of just stacking those smaller puppies up, smashing them down with the iron just to make sure there are no creases, and banging out a stack of 5-6 squares at once. I do try to be cognizant (ooo! That's one of Mr QH's favorite big words - apparently I listen to him) of bias when I stack them, but let's be honest. I'm about using up fabric scraps and if I end up with one or two squares that aren't perfectly cut on straight of grain, I lose approximately zero minutes sleep over it.

The Fold and Slice
The Fold and Slice If I'm willing to have more than one square of the same fabric, which now and then I will suck it up and do, I just fold over the edge of the yardage or scrap far enough that I can cut out two squares at once. Seem obvious? Yes. Thank you for humoring me. It's one of those things that I point out in the case that someone didn't know. We all learn these things at our own pace! The nice thing too is that I didn't cut a whole strip of yardage this way but still managed to just get exactly what I needed. I am a little cheap with my fabric - I love to use it up, but I also love to be efficient. On the other hand, I do toss small scraps and trimmings with reckless abandon. I know many of you are clutching your pearls at the thought of all the birds and dog beds that could benefit, but I'm a tosser. You do you, I do me, and we are all happy as can be. I think I just made that up and maybe it should be on a pillow. It can also be sung to the Barney theme tune if you must.
The OLFA rotating mat is a gift from the gods

Do you own one of these OLFA rotating mats? If you are a scrap quilter and tend to cut from smaller pieces, or if you are any kind of quilter who ever trims anything, OMG. I totally recommend it. I used mine continuously while cutting out all my fabrics for my runner! Continuously! It started to yell for a union mandated coffee break!

The Piece to Piece
The Piece to Piece Finally, sometimes I get obessed with using a fabric in my quilt but I don't have a large enough piece of it ready to cut. However I DO have enough of the fabric to be able to piece it together to cut the right sized square. In that case, I figure I already am going to have a million seams in my quilt, what's one or two more? I have no issue sewing some smaller pieces together so that I can chop them right up again. I definitely recommend open pressing of seams if you do this, though. It not only makes the seam flatter, but eliminating the bump you'd have with a pressed to the side seam also makes the fact that you have a seam there at all a whole lot less obvious. Another thing that would make it way less obvious is using tone on tones for this method when possible, which I did do as you can see in the photo, and using matching thread, which you can see I did not. However I wanted you to see it. Or I was lazy. Possibly both.

Eventually, you'll have those pieces all cut out. It's going to be a beautiful thing, truly. It's possible by that time you'll have also perfected your rendition of "Pour Some Sugar on Me," and if so, extra kudos.

There's definite joy in having all your pieces cut out and ready to go. There's also a time and place for deciding to just cut one block's worth of fabrics at once if it makes you feel more human. I tend to fall in that latter category. Whatever you need to do to stay sane during the cutting process, you do it. We aren't here to judge, we are just here to get you through it!
All my beautiful squares, ready to accordion.
Next week is when the BIG FUN begins! So I hope you're keeping up because you don't want to miss the Oompah joy of the actual accordion making!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hurdy Gurdy QAL Part One - Fabric Selection and Accordion Practice

So you've decided to join us for the Hurdy Gurdy QAL! That's because you are a seeker of fun and an owner of fine taste in quilt patterns. As I am a purveyor of both fun and quilt patterns, I feel like maybe we were meant for each other. Yay us!

Part one of part one - Dive into those fabrics!

I know most of you likely are all set to go with the book, and that is great! If you don't yet have the book, and if you can't find it in your LQS (many have it! Ask them first!) or you may buy it right from my site. If all else fails, it is available on Amazon. It's all up to you!

Because the book is required for the QAL, I will not be referring to any sizes or amounts of any fabrics to be cut, as you will have that information already. I definitely will be referring to various pages and sections, so you'll need it handy!

As with any project, color and fabric selection is generally the first big hurdle. Especially when it comes to scrappy quilts, quilters can tend to be overwhelmed. Some of us feel like we are really pretty good at choosing color combos and fabrics that sing together like the Vienna boys choir, and others of us feel like we sometimes end up with fabrics that sing more like a group of cats in the dumpster behind the pizza joint while there is a full moon.  The keys to the city of Vienna is a really awesome combination of just a few colors, IMO.
I got 99 fabrics and only matched one...or thirteen.

"Hurdy Gurdy" as seen in the book was my first attempt at a teal and red quilt. Those who know my style and color loves know that you've likely never seen me use red. I'm just not a fan. It's never done it for me. The whole teal/red fad of several years ago in more modern quilting passed me by, and I didn't even care. But for some reason I was all about giving it a shot this time around, and I kind of loved it! It's all about the contrast of a warm color with a cool color that makes the teal/red combo really work. Think about other cool/warm combos - purple/orange might look like a sunset, green/red is obviously Christmas, green/pink is every sorority girl's favorite, and maroon/yellow is fall in a quilt. I know you'll think of more.

Once I've chosen my color scheme, when choosing my actual fabrics I go with my philosophy of "consistency in the chaos," which can be described as "choose a few, use a slew." Choose a few colors - in the case of Hurdy Gurdy, Color One and Color Two - and then grab every single fabric you own that is of those colors. Every. Single. One. You can pare down later, but having more to choose from at the beginning means you might actually use more in the blocks, because you're going to discover fabrics you forgot you even had. I'm a huge fan of using a different fabric for every "chevron" shape in each block, and that's a lot of different fabrics. We can be real - I did reuse reds and teals in multiple blocks, but each block of my quilt does have all unique reds and teals. I encourage it. We are being scrappy here! Your consistency will come from the color theme, and I promise it's going to look amazing!

It's possible I've never loved a photo backdrop more.
As you'll see in the cutting charts on pages 51 and 56, you'll also need a background fabric and a contrast popper. I went with a light silvery grey for background and a navy for the popper, once again just because I was looking for high contrast in value. My tester/sample makers made completely different color choices, both from myself and from each other, and I love that! You can see both Linda's and Barbara's quilts on page 56 as well. So many more options to think about!

I've mentioned I'll be going with a table runner size as I too participate in the QAL, because I am my own biggest fan. Because I like to mix it up, I'm going with less contrast in my fabric and color value selections.  This time around I've opted for reds and oranges as my Color One and Color Two, which one might argue are really just two ends of the same spectrum. In my case, for this project, that's totally the point, because I'm going for making these blocks look like autumn leaves turning. I know, go ahead and laugh at me trying to be all artsy. But I have a vision, and by gosh, I'm going to go with that vision no matter what!

While I don't need you to cut your fabrics until the next tutorial, I'm showing you mine cut because I can get them all in one photo that way. I'm all about efficiency. I'm liking how they are definitely red and orange, but also kind of blendy. It's going to be a different look, but I think it's going to work. It's also going to be perfect for a thought I have about switching up the accordion order (OMG! Can she DO that? Yep. My pattern, my quilt, my rules!) so we will see if all these visions in my head work into reality like I hope.

For the contrast color, I decided to go with deep purple, which to me is for sure an autumn color. I found a gorgeous rich purple in my scrap bin, but even eyeballing I knew it wasn't going to be QUITE enough for all of the contrast squares I was going to need. Enter the "consistency in the chaos" philosophy as related to value. I found another deep purple which had enough to get me to the magic number, and it could not have been more perfectly matched in value. Just a little different print. NO ONE WILL CARE. If I am wrong about this, I'm certain I'm right about the fact that I am not going to care if they do care. Because once again, in my world, scrappy means lots and lots of fabrics.

Want to know a secret? All those navys in my original Hurdy Gurdy quilt? There are seven different fabrics represented. You'd never have known, though, would you? I give you a close up that you can zoom in on if you need to see a few of them.

You might even notice I did the same thing with my background fabrics. Several beiges, all pretty much the same tone and value but different prints. Totally legal! Uses up scraps!

So again, no need to cut yet, but I hope some of these thoughts help you look at your fabric with fresh eyes as you are contemplating your quilts!

Part two of Part One - Practice makes semi-perfect!

I dare to dream that since you purchased "Oompah!" you've done nothing but accordion sew your little faces off. But this may not be true, because you may have been too busy just living your lives without me and my ideas at the centers of them. So now is the time. I always recommend that before you start your first official ordered accordion project, which you are doing by making Hurdy Gurdy, you have a basic understanding and skill level making any sort of accordion at all. You'll be happier, I'll be happier for you, and you're going to get hooked, so it's a huge win for all of us.

I definitely recommend reading the entire introduction section of the book if you haven't already. If nothing else, it is delightfully snarky while being incredibly informative, much like this blog. You might well learn something new, even if you've accordioned with me before accordioning was cool. Starting on page 7, though, are the true get down to business directions for making a basic accordion.

Practice fabrics don't have to be to your taste!
I love using charm packs or random scrappy charm squares I never did anything with for practice (or in my case, for teaching the method in classes). It's a great way to use up stuff you really didn't know how you were going to ever use, and they are already cut for you. I was recently gifted a fat ton of charm squares that must have been from some kind of swap, and I am pretty much set for life on precut squares. If you aren't so lucky, just cut like ten and follow the step by step directions - watch the videos, too! Links on page 7! - and you'll be accordioning like a champ! 

I recommend making one accordion, in any order, about 10-15 fabrics long to practice. Obviously, between the book and videos you are going to be perfect, but page 11's chart about troubleshooting is there in the off chance that you mess up. Make sure you practice cutting it all apart, too! 

 Ok, so that's pretty much it for the first lesson. We are easing in and I can't wait to see what you come up with. If you haven't joined the Quilting Along with EPQD group on FB, I'd love to have you check it out. It's new, but I'm hoping this QAL will kick it off in style. It's meant to be a place where anyone can share anything about this or any of my other QALs or mysteries (more of those coming very soon because holy! I have so enjoyed doing them!) and post photos directly. I really hope you'll post some of your color combos and practice accordion photos before our next lesson next week!

I also have the hastag #hurdygurdyqal for IG, so please hashtag away!

Enjoy, and I'll see you next on 9/26!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Announcing the "In the 'Hood" Summer Mystery!

Suite Life, the tablerunner sized result of my first mystery!
Fair warning: Once I try something and it works, I'm pretty apt to try it again. I really am only human in that a positive experience gives me a new reason for designing for you, and I really do enjoy repeating successful programs for all of you to enjoy. Here's hoping I wasn't a one hit wonder with my first mystery project last fall!

This summer I present the EPQD "In the 'Hood" Summer Mystery! Unlike the Jingle Jumble of last fall that resulted in my popular Suite Life pattern (two sizes and styles, plus a bonus project #shamelessplug), this is no "mini" mystery. This is a full blown (50" square) quilt! Why? Because I felt like it. That's pretty much it.

And since it isn't a seasonal design, there's no need to make a smaller project like the nutcracker guys runner was just to get it done in time for the holidays. Oh no. You can start this baby with us, receive the clues along the way, and you'll have 9 full weeks of summer to get it done if you keep up. If not, eh. You'll finish it eventually and you won't feel like you missed the perfect season to use it.  Or gift it. Or ball it up and throw it on the UFO pile, to remain unquilted until 2027. It's your quilt. I don't judge what you do with it.

So how does this work? I'm so glad you are going to let me tell you!

What is the "In The 'Hood" mystery?
Well, it's a mystery, so I really can't tell you. Ha! Kidding. A mystery quilt is one that you create step by step through a series of staggered clues, that if written well enough and/or the quilter is just not thinking the same way I do should only reveal the true pattern at the very end. This mystery will consist of five clues, released via email bi-weekly starting Friday, June 23. The first clue begins with supply list and cutting and the last will have you completing the entire quilt top. 

Why should I do this mystery?
  • You love a puzzle
  • You only have 14 current projects going and you like to have at least 20
  • You've made one or two of my patterns in the past and like my style
  • You've never made one of my patterns but you've heard good things
  • You've never heard of me or my patterns but you love a new experience
  • You're always up for an adventure
  • You have fabric you'd like to play with
  • You're looking for an excuse to go fabric shopping
  • You believe quilting is a four season activity 
  • Your children are home from school and you need to lock yourself away for an hour or two here and there
So basically, if you like to sew, and you like a good project, you should do it!

When will clues be released?
I'll release clues every other Friday, starting on June 23 and ending on August 18. This will give ample time (2 weeks) between each release for you to complete the clue, even with summer activities taking us away from our sewing rooms on occasion.

What if I fall behind?
Well, we won't flog you. It's summer. You do your best to keep up. The worst that will happen is you'll maybe see the end product after the last clue is released before you have a chance to finish. This should only enhance your desire to finish it eventually.

How will my clues be delivered?
When you purchase the mystery package, I'll enter your email into the clue distribution email list. Every time a new clue is released, you will automatically receive it in your email by noon on the release day.

What if I sign up mid-summer? Will I still get all the clues? 
Of course! You can sign up any time, and whatever clues have already been released will be sent the day you sign up. Then your email will be added to the distribution and you'll get the next one along with everyone else. My MIL used to tell me I was crazy efficient. I promise to prove her right!

Is it important for me to give you my real email address when I order, rather than the one I use for spam, or is it okay if I give you the spam one and then send you a frustrated email because I can't find the clues?
So, yeah. That happens. A lot. I can only send clues (or pdf purchases, which is where this tends to happen more) to where you tell me to send clues. I know it is probably reflex to put a spam email into online purchases, but please try to give me your real one so we can both be happy with the outcome when I send the clues. I promise I don't add you to my newsletter distribution unless you've checked the box that says that is okay.

Is there a cost?
The mystery will cost $5 - that's just $1 per clue.

Where do I sign up?
You may sign up starting June 16 HERE.

I hope to see you all "In the 'Hood" this summer!

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