Thursday, January 24, 2019

Project QUILTING - True Confessions

True Confession #1 - I've never participated in Project Quilting before, even though two of my favorite people in the quilting world, Kim Lapacek and Trish Frankland, run it. This possibly makes me a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad friend, but I hope the facts that I've followed along, cheered from afar, and even voted before have made up for my rude non-commitment to making a quilt in a week prior to this year. When Kim asked me if I might consider being a "celebrity sewist" this year and sew along for one of the weeks, I decided it was high time I participated and this way we both forced me to do it, which was clearly going to be a good thing.

True Confession #2 - I think the PQ logo thingy is THE CUTEST! So colorful and the CUSTOM FONT! I can never resist a good font.

True Confession #3 - When the challenge of Red, White and Blue was announced, I died just a little inside. I honestly have never been drawn to red/white/blue quilts as a whole, in either all three colors or just red/white or blue/white. One quick glimpse at my social media feeds will show you that I tend toward brights and happy color combinations, and in the past I've had a hard time seeing red, white and blue as anything but Americana-esque and maybe a little bit more old fashioned than I personally prefer to create with - but THAT IS JUST ME. And a challenge is meant to be a challenge, so what is more simply and effectively challenging in quilting than making yourself use a palette you don't normally use? Not much. So it was like Kim and Trish created this especially for me, really. Plus, can we all agree that initial photo of the blue bike against the brick red wall is pretty darn stunning? It alone got me thinking of red, white and blue in a whole new, more modern way.

True Confession #4 - Though the rules state that the whole project, from inception to completion, must happen in this week, I thought of this design months ago, and knew that I wanted to pursue it and some others of the same size and theme later this year as a Christmas in July mug rug quiltalong, which I totally will be doing. I actually even made another one but gave it away for Christmas. But because I design in my head first, paper second, the prototyping process can take a bunch of tweaking, and the first one I made wasn't perfect. I'm still not sure this second one is either. But I did make some changes that I like, so it IS different, and I DID make the whole thing in the last few days. So there.

So, are you ready? I present my Santa Hat mug rug project, Prototype 2. Still not perfect, but getting there! It's a 7" square postage stamp style and was way fun to make! And quick! Because you may have noticed, it's not even Sunday and I'm done. Go me!

True Confession #4 - I did not notice that top right red piece of fabric somehow ended up in there with the white print of it looking like it's outlining the piece. I think we can all agree that looks stupid. But otherwise, I think the idea is coming along!

True Confession #5 - I of course made this whole thing using my Accordion Sewn HSTs technique, which you have either tried and decided it has changed your whole life like it has mine, have never heard of before, or are sick to death of hearing about. I hope most of you fall in the first category! If you are in the second, Google now! If you are in the third, I hope you can still stand me.

First I picked my fabrics, like we all did. I went with multiple reds and whites, but only one blue. I like a little consistency in the chaos, after all.
Pretty sure that top red fabric is the culprit of Outlinegate
The best part of Accordion Sewn HSTs? IMO, it's when you tube them up and they make a little crown-like thing, suitable for wearing around the studio and seeing if anyone might bow to you. No luck on that so far at my house.

 Someone in my FB group last week said the accordions, when they are all ready to be cut apart, look like the Very Hungry Caterpillar. She wasn't wrong. This one looks like the Very Hungry Caterpillar wearing a sombrero.
 Cutting apart and trimming is THE BEST with the Clearly Perfect Slotted Trimmer, which you are also sick of me gushing over but is possibly even more life changing than the Accordion Sewn HSTs method, so I guess you're hearing about it one more time.

Once I had everything all cut apart and trimmed, it was really just a matter of laying it out the way I saw it in my head. In reality, it was a little too blocky at that point, so I added some Accordion Sewn QSTs (quarter square triangles) to give the "fur" part a little more dimension, with the red going into the white a bit and the background blue softening the edges of the bottom. I still am not sure I am finished with this design as it still looks a little choppy to me, but you get the drift.
I'm sure you can notice, too, that I actually doctored up the first photo I showed you, because the bottom right of this one looks like a fish tail. I definitely did not like that look. I'm thinking in prototype 3 I'll replace the blue/white HST with a 1/4 white, 3/4 blue HST and see how I like it. For now, I used my very meager Picmonkey clone tool skills to fix it.

My favorite part of binding small projects like this one is the joy I experience when I find I can use one of my premade bindings I keep wound on empty spools in jars. They are there mostly because I made way too much binding on another project a long time ago. but waste, not want not! And I wanted not. This red binding was perfection.

True Confession #6 - I may have quilted this with pale grey thread, which went against Kim and Trish's rules. For an all over quilting pattern that doesn't stand out on any particular color of a multicolored background, it's my go to and they weren't here to stop me.

And check it out! It's just the right size for a cup of tea and a handful of chocolate covered cashews. Delightful!

I hope you have had a great time participating in Project QUILTING. I know I have! I'm so glad I finally was coerced into it; it really is amazing what you can get done. And the whole red, white, and blue thing? I am finding a new appreciation for the crisp edge it brings to the projects I'm seeing, and I already have some favorites that I can't wait to vote for. Great job, Project QUILTING Nation!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Highland Fling Mystery! The Cure for Droughtlander!

It's coming.

Droughtlander. That sad, torturously long period of time between seasons of Outlander. For me, even rewatching episodes or relistening to the books is just not a substitute for fresh smoulder, fresh interpretations of the story, and surprise non-deaths (Murtaugh lives! I'm still adjusting, but who doesn't love Murtaugh.) I'm a difficult woman who wants what she wants. Claire and I would get along well.

This year I'm hoping to help us all out with Droughtlander with my latest Mystery project - Highland Fling!

Never heard of Outlander? We don't understand where you've been. Not an Outlander fan? We weep for you. But no worries! This mystery really is for anyone who loves sewing and is ready for spring. The only truly Outlander-y thing about my own personal quilt I've made while developing this mystery project are the colors I chose. I promise you won't be creating some sort of project that screams "Claire and Jamie forever!" You will, however be creating something fairly springy, and that's something we can all use in the doldrums of winter, right?

You'll note that I have expressed this as "a mystery quilt in 5 1/2 clues" and I am certain you are likely thinking I said that just to be cute. I am being cute, but I'm also not considering the Fabric Selection and Cutting portion a full clue, mainly because it isn't very mysterious. This first 1/2 clue will be sent to participants a little bit early, on January 28. This will give you six full days to locate and cut your fabrics so that you can be ready to sew on Sunday evening, February 3, when the first clue will be sent to participants. I'll be sending the first and all subsequent clues on Sundays, so that we can spend our evenings sewing even if we would rather be on the couch admiring how quickly Jamie managed to build a pretty fancy cabin in the backwoods complete with craftsman quality furnishings or hiding behind the couch cushion trying to avoid watching the entirety of Claire performing 18th century surgery on the kitchen table. 

So what do you need to know? Here's the scoop, in my favorite Q and A format.

What's the full mystery schedule?

As stated above, the first half clue will come out on a Monday, and then subsequent clues will come out each Sunday for five weeks.

January 28 - Fabric Selection and Cutting
February 3 - Accordioning and Clue #1
February 10 - Clue #2
February 17 - Clue #3
February 24 - Clue #4
March 3 - Layout and Finishing options

Accordioning? What is that? And must we?

If you haven't accordioned, you haven't lived. But I may be biased in that belief, being the inventor of Accordion Sewn HSTs. Links to my videos on youtube are HERE. If you haven't tried it, I hope you will!

As with most of my designs these days, this one does utilize Accordion Sewn HSTs because I keep coming up with more designs that can use planned accordions and I just can't get enough of how magically scrappy they can be. But if you don't want to make accordions, I will give alternate options for making these blocks using traditional HSTs. Like any Accordion Sewn HSTs project, they can be done without accordioning, but WHY WOULD YOU? (Yep. I'm biased.)

How will clues be delivered?

Clues will be delivered to all participants via a pdf email attachment. Clues will be sent out by 2pm on the scheduled day. Depending upon the number of participants, they may need to be sent in batches, so I am only promising I will get them all out by 2pm. You may have them earlier in the day if I can do so.

A word on email delivery - I can only send your clues to the email you use when you purchase the mystery. If you decide to use a different email than you normally use, make sure you make note of where you are asking them to be sent. Also it's not a bad idea to triple check for any typos. I am not going to know if your email is correct or not, but you will. 

What will Highland Fling cost?

As with my previous mystery projects, Highland Fling will be $5 for the entire project. While the directions will include basic accordion sewing directions within them, and my videos of the technique are available 24/7 on youtube, I'll also be offering an optional handy accordion sewing full color technique sheet that you may wish to have if you would like to always have written directions of how to accordion and some tips and tricks right at your fingertips for an intro $3. This technique sheet is coming out in print soon, but you all will get first crack at it! It's not required for participation, but it's coming out due to popular demand and what the heck, why shouldn't I let you have it if you want it?

When and how do I sign up?

I'll be opening the link on my website for preorders on Saturday, January 19. Starting to take names and emails early really helps me to be totally ready for that first half clue to go out in a timely manner on January 28, but signing up before the first day isn't required to participate! You can sign up anytime until the very last day of the mystery, but by then it won't be much of a mystery anymore, so it isn't as much fun. Anyone signing up midway through will be sent all of the pdfs that have been released up to that point, then added to the general distribution to receive the next clues when they come out.

Can I share my progress online? 

Yes you may! I'm taking a page from that other queen of scrappy mystery quilts, that other BKH, the illustrious Bonnie K Hunter, and allowing you to flood the Quilting Along With EPQD facebook group with your photos as you progress. If you prefer not to share, or not to see what the others are doing if you fall behind, that's totally fine! Just don't follow the group online during the mystery. We'd still love to have you drop in when you are done to show off your creation! You're also welcome to use the hashtag #highlandflingmystery on IG.

 What happens after the last clue comes out?

Besides having to slip into a mild depression over trying to figure out what we will do with our lives on Sundays now, with any luck you will have a new project to brighten your home for spring. Or give as a gift, or use as a washcloth. It's always up to you and I never judge. 

As for the design itself, my mysteries go back into my design vault once we reach the end, and if I choose to release them later as a print pattern, I will do so at the regular pattern price of $10. See Suite Life, one of my favorite patterns I ever designed, and one that started as a mystery. A really fun mystery, too, as I recall!

I am SO excited to bring you this new Mystery project. I never knew I'd try this in my design life until I did my first one and I was HOOKED. I hope you'll join us to quench your Droughtlander!

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!

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