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Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Indian Summer Borders

This tutorial is especially for my beginning paper piecing students. 

Indian Summer by Quiltworx was originally printed more than a few years ago. The revised version was released earlier this year. Here is my version made in 2011 I believe.  

Once the paper piecing is complete you will trim each unit just outside the outer solid line. The inner solid line is your seam line.  Lay the blocks out on a design wall or floor. Two units are placed together to make one square. Once you are happy with the layout you can begin piecing the units into squares then piece the squares into rows then piece the rows together.

When to remove the paper?? First try piecing with the paper intact. The advantage of this is the paper keeps the fabric stable (no stretching) and you can stitch on the printed seam line. The disadvantage is it takes longer to remove the paper. If you are careful to not stretch the fabric and use a 1/4" foot you might feel comfortable removing the papers before stitching the units together. Use the method that gets the best results for you.

Four of the triangle units are left over after piecing the interior of the quilt. I  included one of these in each edge of the border. Here is how I pieced the borders.

You will need 2 yards of fabric for the borders and the binding. The border strips are cut along the lengthwise grain which means the strips are cut parallel to the selvage edges.

Here is a short video from Marti Michelle explaining why you want to cut strips on the lengthwise grain.

When the fabric comes off the bolt it is folded in half with the selvage edges together. We don't want that. Press the crease out of the fabric. Fold the fabric by placing the raw edges together as shown below.

Now fold it again in the same direction by taking the fold up to the raw edges. Keep the selvages straight on both ends.

Repeat the folding until the piece is small enough to fit on your mat for cutting. If you started off with 2 yards of fabric, you would need to fold twice to get 18" and you will have 4 layers of fabric to cut.

You should now have something that looks like this.
Check that your selvages are lined up on both sides and the fabric is smooth.Start by cutting off the selvage on the left. Then cut 4 strips that are each 8" wide. Square up one side of each strip. You will use one strip for each side of the quilt.

You can cut binding strips from the remaining fabric. Cut 4 strips at 2-1/2" for the bindings.
It is best to work at a table where you can lay the quilt flat.  Decide the approximate place you want to place the triangle unit for each side. You will be attaching the borders to the sides of the quilt first. These are the long sides.

Lay the pieced quilt top on the table and with the left edges lined up, position one border strip against one side. The border strip will extend past the right side edge. Next position the triangle unit on top of the border strip in the approximate area you want it.

Now you will work with just the border strip and triangle unit. Line up the bottom edge of the triangle unit with the bottom of the border strip. Place your ruler along the edge of the triangle unit.

 To allow for the seam allowances, slide the triangle unit to the right until the distance from the ruler to the triangle unit is about 1/2".
 Slide the ruler over so it is once again aligned with the edge of the triangle unit.
 Cut the border strip along the edge of the ruler. Keep the left side of the border strip in the same place. Set aside the border strip on the right and work with just the left side and the triangle unit.
 Next we need to mark the seam allowance on the cut edge of the left border strip. Holding the cut edge, flip it up as shown so you are looking at the wrong side.Notice that the cut edge is now horizontal and at the top and the bottom edge is at an angle on the left. Place your ruler along the cut edge and mark a 1/4" seam line.
 Mark the seam line on the bottom edge (which is now angled and on the left). We are marking the intersection of both seam lines. This intersection will be used to line up the triangle unit with the border.
 The picture below shows the intersection we marked on the back of the border strip and the seam line point of the triangle unit. These are the points we will match in the next step.
Now flip the end of the border strip back down so the right side is facing up. Place the triangle unit as shown.
 The next two pictures show how the intersections are matched. Here is how it looks from the wrong side of the border strip.
Here is how it looks from the wrong side of the triangle unit.
Place another pin or two to hold the pieces together. Don't worry about the extra fabric in the border strip for now.
 Sew the triangle unit to the border strip using the solid seam line on the triangle unit as a guide. Press the seam towards the border strip.
Align your ruler along the right side of the triangle unit as shown and cut off the extra fabric in the border strip.
Now we are going to work with the right border strip you set aside earlier.
 Fold the point from left to right making sure you line up the bottom edges and top does not overlap. BEFORE YOU CUT ANYTHING Look at the next 2 pictures to see what we will be doing.
Here is how you will cut. 
You will end up with a triangle cut off the end. Discard the triangle.
 Just as you did before, flip up the end of the right side border and mark the seam line...
 and the intersection as shown.
 Match the intersections as you did before but this time you will not have extra fabric in the border. Sew the triangle unit/left border strip to the right border strip.
Press the seam allowance towards the border fabric. You will have a little nub at the top. Just cut it off evenly with the top edge of the border.
 There you go. Now to attach the border to the quilt top.
 Measure the length of this side you are attaching this border. Using this measurement and starting from the left side of the border strip you just completed, measure and cut the strip to this size.

Pin and sew the border strip to the quilt top and ease in any fullness.

You will repeat this entire process for each of the remaining three sides of the quilt top in this order:
  1. The remaining long side of the quilt top.
  2. The top edge of the quilt top.
  3. The bottom edge of the quilt top.

Happy quilting!


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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Top 5 Paper Piecing Tools

 I am crazy for paper piecing and can't get enough of it. This is a picture of my Raindrops quilt by Quiltworx where I prepared and stacked three layers of foundations.

Not in any order, here are the top 5 things I use for paper piecing:

1.  Washout Glue Pen
I use this constantly for paper piecing. Use it for gluing the first piece of fabric to the first section of the foundation paper. When the first section is pieced you are stitching two pieces of fabric onto the foundation paper. Gluing the first fabric to the paper makes it easier to handle.

The other times I use the glue pen is to glue fabric together such as the seam allowance along a curved line. It is so much easier to get a perfect 1/4" seam allowance and to prevent the fabric from pleating is to glue the pieces together first. This also works if you have  along, narrow piece of fabric. Glue the seam allowances together to keep the fabric from shifting.

Here are two brands of pens and their refills. I have used them all and don't really have a preference. I only wish it was possible to have the glue be retractable. It slows me down to remove / replace the cap and this glue will dry up fast!

2.  Add A Quarter Ruler
When you want to add an accurate 1/4" seam allowance you fold the fabric and paper over a fold template then use the Add-A-Quarter Ruler to trim the fabric. The ruler comes in various sizes but my two favorite sizes are the 6" and the 12". There is an 18" ruler but I find it cumbersome to use. To cut longer pieces of fabric I simply slide the ruler along the fold template and cut.

3. Ruler - 6" x 12"
I do virtually all my fabric cutting with a 6" or 6-1/2" x 12" ruler. I fold my fabric into four layers: selvage-to-selvage then selvage-to-fold. There are plenty of brands out there.

4.  45mm Rotary Cutter
I like the 45mm rotary cutter and use it almost exclusively, although I have a 60mm and a 28mm in case I need them. I find the 60mm blade difficult to use and expensive to replace the blade. However I know of many people who really love using the 60mm. There are plenty of good brands of rotary cutters and I have used many of them. I like the Olfa brand with the safety handle. When you squeeze the handle, the blade is exposed. Without this feature I often leave my blade exposed and that can be dangerous! Be sure to keep plenty of fresh blades on hand!

5.  50wt Cotton Thread and Microtex Needles
The 50 wt thread is a little thinner than regular, 40wt thread. The 50wt is preferred for paper piecing because it seems to "melt" into the fabric. If you run your finger over the stitching you can hardly feel it. This allows you to obtain a crisp edge when you fold and press the fabric after it is stitched. I generally use a tan or khaki color for most piecing.

The microtex needles have a very sharp point to keep the thread from breaking. You will want to change the needle often. How often? Some quilters change the needle after each project. I change it when I remember to!

Happy quilting!


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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Prismatic Star - Sewing the Accent Strips

I am working on my second Prismatic Star. These things are FAST. This one is done with blue and brown Civil War reproduction fabrics. While stitching the accent strips on my first PS I think I ripped out about 5 attempts before I finally got it right. Here is a quick way to piece all the accent strips on all the diamonds in two runs.

The first run uses the T-Template A1 pieces and the second run uses the A2 pieces. The pictures below were taken during the second run where I stitched the T-Template A2 pieces to the sides but use the same method to stitch the T-Template A1 pieces to the top and bottom of the diamond pieces.

Place all the accent strips  to the right of the needle. Place them vertically all in one stack, right sides up and Sew Side on the left.

 The picture below shows the top and bottom accent strips pieced and pressed after round one. With the light side of the diamond pointing down...

 Flip the accent strip over horizontally so the right side of the fabric is down and Sew Side is on the right.

Line up the raw edges and Smart Corners and stitch it down.. Spin the diamond so the the light side is pointing up and stitch an accent strip to the other side.

CAUTION: Be sure to check the first diamond from each round to make sure the accent strip is pieced correctly before proceeding to stitch the entire stack!

Happy Quilting!
Carol Thelen

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Piecing the Prismatic Star Quilt

Today I started my Prismatic Star.  Last week I attended the first of two Certified Instructor training workshops at Quiltworx in Montana.

 Here is the pattern cover for Prismatic Star.

It looks difficult but this pattern is set up for really fast and easy piecing using foundation papers and pre-cut fabric strips. This quilt requires 48 strips of 2-1/2" fabric. To make it easy for us Hoffman and Quiltworx produce packages of 48 strips. I used one of these packages.

First thing I did was cut out all the templates and put them in 6 bags. Each bag will make 4 of the parallelogram units.

When you open the fabric package you will find that the strips have already been sorted into 6 groups of 8 strips each with each group arranged from light to dark. The next picture shows the 6 groups laid out on the cutting mat.

I worked with one group at a time to prepare the fabric strips for piecing. Open up each strip and stack them with the darkest on the bottom and lightest on the top. Using the two cutting templates the stack is cut into 2 parallelograms.

The little triangle you cut off at the beginning of each stack is used to make swatches to help keep things straight.
 The smaller swatches are glued to the foundation papers and the larger swatches are glued to a Swatch Chart for Prismatic Star that you can download below.

Swatch Chart for Prismatic Star
Swatch Chart for Prismatic Star

Happy Quilting!
Carol Thelen

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fire Island Hosta - Everything But The Borders

Some time ago, I cannot remember when, I pieced together the interior of the top. It went together very well but I just ran out of steam and have not put on the borders yet.  Here is a picture of what I have so far.

This picture shows the top without borders.

Here is a close up of one corner.
I plan to attach the borders on this quilt sometime this week. 

Happy Quilting!
Carol Thelen

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