Friday, October 19, 2018
Hurdy Gurdy QAL Part Five - The Finish Line!
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.
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!