Tag Archives: quilt

Barn Stars Block of the Month Part 1
6.16.2021

We’ve made it! After all the prep and much anticipation, the first box of Barn Stars, this 9 month Block of the Month, is officially here and moving along. 

For me, Barn Stars is a great way to flex beyond my usual design aesthetics and work with some more classic color tones. While my creative eye is generally pulled toward big bold palettes, it is exciting to have such a distinctively unique design to work with. 

The Barn Stars Block of the Month pattern is exclusive to the select group who subscribed in Spring of this year. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to sew along with such an incredible and diverse group of sewists! Our subscribers total several hundred and include all levels of quilters. Personally, I’ve been sewing and quilting for most of my life, so I’m always excited when something new comes across my cutting table. 

Because of the exclusivity of this pattern, please consider this post as more of a broad, casual discussion, rather than a comprehensive sew-along tutorial. I’m a member of the subscribing group just as everyone else, so it is an opportunity to share the excitement.

For those sewing along with this Block of the Month, or any of our others, don’t forget to share and tag us on social media, including Facebook and Instagram! We love to see what everyone is making. #CTBOM, #BarnStarsBOM #ConnectingThreads, and #TogetherWeQuilt are great hashtags to use and follow to join in on the fun!

Top left: Barn Stars Part 1 fabric list sheet with width of fabric cuts lined up below it. Bottom Left: the bobbin housing with presser plate removed as a reminder to prep the machine before we begin. Right: all pieces cut and piled by color atop a cutting mat, with a rotary cutter and cutting ruler with white handle and leftover fabrics stacked near them.

To begin these stunning blue and green blocks, I first ironed each of my pieces. I’m generally a fan of prewashing, but refrain when working with precuts or anything less than a full yard. Fortunately, the Connecting Threads Luxe fabrics use such a beautiful tight weave and high quality fibers, so I know I can trust my bias edges not to distort and for shrinkage to be minimal. These fabrics are so crisp and luxurious! I’m always so excited when I get to work with a new collection. 

At the start of any project, this is also my time to go over my machine and make sure everything is set and ready for the hours of work ahead of it. I dutifully clean out my bobbin casing, pre-wind a few bobbins, change my needle, and affix my foot. I sew with a Janome M7 Continental, so I prefer to piece with my AcufFeed HP2 foot. It is a gentle walking foot with an incredibly accurate quarter inch guide. If I were using my Babylock Molly, I would just use my standard presser foot. 

Initially, I had planned to use a neutral shade of Essential Thread, but I had a spool of Caramel handy and thought it would work well with all the yellow undertones of these particular blocks. When it comes to piecing, I’m generally not overly precious about the thread colors I use. 

Once I had everything ironed smooth, I set to work cutting. Personally, I prefer to cut WOF (width of fabric) strips all at once, then circle back and begin subcutting. My “cutting station” is an old kitchen table I purchased during my first year of undergrad that I set up on bed risers so I don’t destroy my back. One of my favorite things about quilting, and sewing in general, is that there are no requirements that suggest specific tools or resources are needed. Every individual is able to design a workspace that works best for each need. It is really quite uniquely magical. 

Once I finished subcutting, I went to work on the flying geese units. It has been a while since I made flying geese one at a time, so it was a nice change of pace. 

Top Left: Marking diagonal stitch guides on tan fabric with a transparent pink ruler and marking pencil. Bottom Left: A half assembled flying geese block with unsewn fabric set atop, waiting to be stitched. Right: Flying geese block being sewn, with the pencil marking as a guide.

Because this pattern is so point specific, I spent extra time marking lines, pressing between steps, and ensuring each piece lined up as precisely as I was able. Once I finished each of the units, I used my Bloc Loc ruler to trim off any wonky bits and make sure my seam allowance was properly aligned so as not to lose the point in future assembly. 

Top Left: Stitched flying geese units in a pile, one side newly trimmed and waiting waiting to be pressed open. Bottom Left: Open flying geese units, pressure pressed by the hera marker end of a Point 2 Point turner. Upper Right: A mini iron pressing flying geese units atop a wool pressing mat. Lower Right: Pressed flying geese units being trimmed with the aid of a Bloc Loc ruler and a rotary cutter.

Connecting the flying geese units to the green corner and center pieces went smoothly. Through thoughtful pressing, I was able to perfectly nest my seams and make sure each of the components lined up as they should. Pressing between each step ensured crisp assembly. These little blocks were so darn cute, but also a bit of a tease when I realized they were just the centers of a much larger assembly process!

Left: Using a transparent pink ruler and Sewline fabric pencil, diagonal lines are drawn as sewing guides on tan fabric. Upper Right: Mid-sewing of the half square triangle blocks, using the marked pencil line as guide. Lower Right: Chain pieced square fabrics, stitched with parallel lines each 1/4 inch away from the marked pencil line.

To ensure precise sewing for my half square triangle blocks, I used my Sewline pencil and the 2.5”x8” ruler I keep at my sewing table as a guide. I marked my guide line from corner to corner, and stitched a quarter inch away from each. Back at my cutting table, I sliced the assembled squares in half, pressed the seam allowance toward the dark blue fabric, and cleaned them up with my 4.5”x4.5” Bloc Loc ruler

Top Left: Using a transparent ruler as a guide atop a grid-lined cutting mat, the parallel stitched squares are cut in half with the rotary cutter. Bottom Left: Newly cut half square triangles sit in a pile next to a rotary cutter. Right: Pressed open half square triangles are trimmed using a 4.5″ square Bloc Loc ruler and rotary cutter atop a cutting mat.

Then, the fun step! I’ve never used Tri-Recs rulers before and I was excited to figure out the nuances of these angular units. While Cora’s Quilts was kind enough to include a link to a tutorial within the pattern instructions, I opted for my usual style of just winging it. 

Left: Two template-cut triangle fabrics are sewn together. Top Right: Sewn triangle fabrics are pressed open using the hera marker side of a Point 2 Point Turner. Bottom Right: Sewn triangle units are pressed more firmly with a mini iron and crisped with a tailors clapper.

It took a few tries to get the placement correct and I ripped out a few seams from less than successful initial attempts, but once I figured out the nuances, it was smooth sailing. I was sure to press between assembling the left and right sides to help guide proper seam alignment and reduce wobble when overlapping fabrics at the tip.

To keep pressed seams extra crisp, I was sure to also utilize my handy tailor’s clapper. The clapper itself was made by my father several years ago and is my not-so-secret weapon for creating the smoothest seams.

Left: Marking stitch lines using a transparent ruler and fabric pencil for elongated flying geese units. Upper Right: Stitching across the marked lines of each elongated flying geese unit. Bottom Right: Blue fabric pencil lines drawn diagonally across green fabric to serve as sewing guides.

To save a bit of time from going back and forth between my sewing desk and my pressing/cutting table, I worked on both the template units and elongated flying geese units simultaneously. Through chain piecing, I continued right after the final template unit and swooped right into the first side of the elongated flying geese

Left: Pressed half-complete elongated flying geese and template triangle units. Upper Right: half-sewn elongated flying geese unit with marked stitch line clearly shown in blue. Bottom Right: Pressing half assembled flying geese units with a mini iron atop a wool pressing mat. Previously ironed units are stacked and pressed under a wooden tailor’s clapper and pressed template triangle units are stacked nearby.

To keep the elongated flying geese nice and tidy, I marked from each corner to 2.5” (the width of each piece) from the opposite edge. This gave me nice angular lines to follow along with my stitches. I pressed up and away from the point, to keep the bulk managed as best I could. 

Left: Mid-stitching of the 2nd half of the template triangle units. Upper Right: Pressing the completed template triangle units, while pressed units sit in a pile below a tailor’s clapper. Bottom Right: Pressed elongated flying geese units sit in a pile below pressed template triangle units stacked under a tailor’s clapper.

Once these were finished, I sewed the HST units to each side of the template triangle units, pressed away from the center, and attached them atop each elongated flying geese unit.

Upper Left: half square triangle units are sewn to template triangle units. Bottom Left: assembled half square tirangle/template triangle units are pressed and sitting in a pile. Right: a template triangle unit next to a half square triangle unit, waiting to be sewn.

When attaching these two pieces together, I made sure to pay close attention to the points where the two green triangles would meet. Should anything be sewn askew- this is one of the points where it would really be noticeable! 

Left: HST/Triangle/HST blocks being lined up above an elongated flying geese unit. Upper Right: Assembled HST/Triangle/Elongated flying geese block being ironed. Bottom Right: Assembled and pressed HST/Triangle/Elongated flying geese block.

Once these units were combined, I attached half to each side of the smaller star blocks that I’d previously assembled, and the other half were sandwiched between the large tan corner squares. Each of these I pressed carefully with close attention on each of the points to make sure they didn’t become buried in bulk. 

Left: sewing assembly of flying geese units onto a green square of fabric. Upper Right: sewing assembly of flying geese unit onto light green fabric, the top fabric is upturned to show placement. Bottom Right: chain piecing of flying geese units onto light green fabric squares.

Once pressed, I was on the home stretch! I took a bit extra time assembling these and made sure to nest my pressed seams and pinned them in place.

Upper Right: pinning assembly of previously stitched units. Lower right: up-close view of pinned nested seams Right: full view of block assembly with pins holding the fabrics in place.

Moving from the nested seams, I continued pinning along the length of the block to ensure nothing would shift during assembly and my corners would stay lined up where they needed to be. 

Right: stitch assembly of previously pinned block components. Upper Right: Pressing the fully assembled block with a mini iron and tailor’s clapper. Bottom right: the final stitch of the final block

After two long seams on each block, they were finished!! One final press and careful seam guiding later, they were ready for pictures. 

It was a nice day outside, so I took the blocks to my fenced garden for some quick photos before jumping back into the house to start on my next projects!

Left: chain piecing assembly of the final assembly steps Right: pressing the completed block with a mini iron and tailor’s clapper.

Even with the block measurements listed before I began, it was still a delight to see how enormous these first few blocks became! I always love that moment, after sitting so focused on each little step, to finally step back and see what each carefully placed cut and seam came together. 

Upper Left: a single completed block of blues, green, and cream, creating an intricate starburst pattern, pinned to a garden fence. Bottom Left: a small corgi peers between the boards of a garden fence, next to the finished quilt block. Upper Right: two finished quilt blocks are pinned side-by-side to a garden fence. Bottom Right: Final pressing of the completed quilt block with a mini iron.

The best thing about the Block-of-the-Month subscription is that all sewists are free to go at their own paces. Because of a slight shipping hiccup, I personally got my box several weeks after most subscribers got theirs. While this did set met back a bit, it wasn’t as though I were missing a hard-set deadline. The wonderful sense of accomplishment gained by stepping back and admiring a finished piece, knowing “I made this” is the joy in itself.

The pattern does include fabric and instructions for blocks 14 and 15, which will be added to slowly along the course of this project. I’ve decided to hold off until next month before adding these two blocks to my task list!

With the first block behind me a shipping hiccups resolved, I’m ready and ecstatic to tackle the next ones.

Now I have a crib size quilt top to cut and piece for a friend, a few pairs of Fernway Culottes to cut and assemble, and then onward to block number two!


Kwik Klip
4.11.2017

Featured Tool: Kwik Klip by Paula Jean Creations, Item #82219

What is this tool typically used for?

This tool is for anyone about to use safety pins to baste their backing, batting, and quilt top together.

Upon first glance, what were your initial thoughts?

At first glance it looks like a giant seam ripper.

How did you use it?

I took my safety pins and and inserted them down into the three quilting layers, coming up through the top. Then, I took the Kwik Klip and gently pushed the sharp end of the pin up and into the pin chamber.

What do you like best about the Kwik Klip?

I love that it was much easier to use than I thought it would be! It’s comfortable to hold, and goes pretty fast. Plus, it only took a minute to learn how to use it.

What did you like the least?

Nothing.

Why do you NEED one?

It’s fast, safe, and easy to use! Plus, it puts less stress on your hands and fingers–this would be great for anyone who has to work with a lot of safety pins on a regular basis. I recommend this tool for sure. There are also pin covers that go with this tool called Quilter’s Delight Safety Pin Grip Covers, #82218.

 


Chaco Liners
3.7.2017

Featured Tool: Chaco Liners by Clover

What is this tool typically used for?

This tool helps trace lines perfectly to mark fabric prior to sewing or quilting.

What were your initial thoughts?

Well, I’ve known and used these for years now, but at first glance I thought they were just short and fat markers.

How did you use it?

First, I aligned my ruler onto my finished quilt top. I then ran the Chaco Liner down the side of the ruler to mark a straight line in preparation for quilting. You can also mark organic lines too (without a ruler).

How did using it go?

Wonderful! I love using these markers because they are chalk-based and it easily rubs off.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

Instantly.

What did you like best?

I love that it comes in three colors: yellow, blue, and white. No matter what color of fabric I’m working with, I can find a liner that shows up well. The chalk comes out easily and plus they are easy to hold.

What did you like the least?

There’s nothing negative to note about these liners!

Could you see another potential use for Chaco Liners?

You could use it for apparel marking and general sewing.

Why do you NEED it?

If you want a simple, easy-marking tool in a variety of colors, these Chaco Liner Pens are awesome. They are our go-to marking tool by our staff sewists.

Who would appreciate Chaco Liners most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, Intermediate and Expert quilters
  • Anyone looking to acquire the basics

Hang It Dang It
2.21.2017

Featured Tool: Hang It Dang It by Innovative Solutions, Item #82328, 82131

Connecting Threads Reviewer: Ann

What is this tool typically used for?

Hanging quilts of various sizes on walls. The larger one can hang quilts between 35″ and 68″ and the smaller 21″ to 40″.

How did you use it?

I hung a 41″ square quilt in our bedroom with the larger Hang It Dang It.

How did using it go?

The Hang It Dang It does require a sleeve – which my quilt already had. The instructions were simple for centering the quilt on the rod. I did have a little trouble hanging the quilt at first. There is a grooved area nailed to the wall for the rod to clamp into. The rod fit well but the fabric of the sleeve bunched up so the quilt did not hang evenly. I found that making a small slit in the sleeve allowed the rod to fit in the clamp directly without any fabric involved.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

It took a bit to figure out the issue mentioned above – but overall it was quick and easy to install.

What did you like best?

One nail in the wall works for either size of hanger- and the flexibility to display wall hangings of different sizes as well.

What did you like the least?

Having to fuss a bit with getting the quilt to hang straight without bunching up the sleeve. It is so easy to fix with a little slit in the sleeve or making a two-part sleeve that it is a non-issue.

Could you see another potential use for Hang It Dang It?

It will hold up to 40 lbs so perhaps there are other applications, such as tapestries or banners.

Why do you NEED it?

The Hang It Dang It is a quick, flexible, and easy way to hang quilts up to 68″ wide. It is especially useful for quilters who like to change their wall hangings with the seasons, as new projects are completed, and with changes in decor. Having the two sizes increases the possibilities.

Who would appreciate a Hang It Dang It most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, Intermediate and Expert quilters
  • Anyone eager to display a finished project!

Embroidery Hoop
2.7.2017

Featured Tool: Embroidery Hoop by Clover, Item #82034, 82035 

What is this tool typically used for?

Keeping your fabric taut while you embroider. There is both a small (4-3/4″) and large (7″) size.

Upon first glance, what were your initial thoughts?

It has a very sturdy appearance; it’s made of thick plastic with a bulky, metal screw.

How did you use it?

I loosened the metal screw to separate the two hoops, which left me with an inner and an outer hoop. Then, I placed my fabric evenly over the inner hoop. The outer hoop was placed around the inner hoop and I pulled my fabric to tighten it. I adjusted the screw to keep the hoops and fabric tight and in place. Once it was set up, I was able to embroider a design onto the fabric.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

It took no time at all to learn to use. It is used exactly like any other embroidery hoop except it is sturdier and more solid.

What did you like best?

I liked how easy it was to tighten the screw, it is a very large metal screw. And I liked how it kept my fabric very secure and in place.

What did you like the least?

I was hesitant to use a plastic hoop, because I thought the fabric would slip – but it did not! I liked everything about this embroidery hoop.

Why do you NEED a Clover Embroidery Hoop?

You need it because it takes out all the problematic tension issues I’ve experienced with inferior hoops. It also made transporting my embroidery work easy because I could throw it in my bag and not worry about the hoop falling apart. It kept my work in place and very secure.

Who would appreciate a Clover Embroidery Hoop most?

These are perfect for:

  • Embroiderers
  • Someone acquiring the basics

Wonder Under
1.17.2017

Featured Tool: Wonder Under by Pellon Consumer Products, Item #21206 

What is this tool typically used for?

Wonder Under is ideal for applique–it allows fabric to maintain its soft feel after fusing. It is also machine stitchable, fuses easily in seconds, and bonds to fabric or any porous surface.

How did you use it?

Since it is so light weight, it is really easy to trace your applique shapes. You need to remember to trace the mirror image of the pieces especially when applique letters. Because it comes on a roll, you can applique large pieces with only one sheet, which you can do when you are using the pre-cut sheets. Sometimes the paper can be hard to peel off especially on small pieces. I find scoring the back of the paper with my scissors really can help.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

The fusible part is super easy to use, but if you are having a hard time peeling off the paper, make sure you let it cool first.

What did you like best?

It is light weight so when you are sewing through it for finishing the edges or quilting it is easy and doesn’t gum up your needle. Also it is nice if using several different layers of applique.

What did you like the least?

Sometimes the paper is a little difficult to peel off, but for me the quality and light weight of the fusible is really worth a little difficulty.

Could you see another potential use for Wonder Under?

It can be used any where you would need a double sided fusible, including some crafts.

Who would appreciate Wonder Under most?

These are perfect for:

  • Intermediate and expert quilters
  • Someone acquiring the basics

Hold It Precision Stiletto
1.10.2017

Featured Tool: Hold It Precision Stiletto by Clover, Item #82173 

What is this tool typically used for?

No more hot fingers! This is the perfect tool for pressing and sewing! Use the curved end to hold fabrics while you sew, and the rubber grip end when you are pressing. It’s also a great tool to use with a hot glue gun.

What was your first impression of the Hold It Precision Stiletto?

I liked the curved aspect to the stiletto end and the rubber end for ironing. I also use the curved end to poke out corners when I turn a project.

How did you use it?

I use it mainly as a stiletto. I love it! Because the end is curved with a point it is a lot easier to use than other stilettos.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

Figured it out on my first try.

What did you like best?

The curved end makes getting the right grip on your fabric a breeze.

What did you like the least?

My silicone end has started to crack a bit.

Why do you NEED it?

You need this tool to help hold down seams while going through the presser foot. It is very helpful in helping you keep your fabric straight while sewing. The silicone tip saves fingers from getting burned, but also works as a stiletto while sewing.

Could you see another potential use for the Hold It Precision Stiletto?

I also use it to push out corners when turning an object

Who would appreciate the Hold It Precision Stiletto most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Paper-piecers
  • Someone acquiring the basics

Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier
11.15.2016

Featured Tool: Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier by Creative Options, Item #82068

dsmccarrier

What is this typically used for?

This is a carrier for quilting and craft supplies.

What was your first impression of the Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier?

What a great way to store our Essential Threads!

How did you use it?

Storing my assortment of Essential Threads spools.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

Instant – open it, put in spools, and close it up.

What did you like best?

Double-sided = double the storage. It is see-through so I can see what colors are in it. I have two carriers and my threads are arranged by color (like a rainbow). It is easy to see which colors are in each side. They can stack or sit upright. It closes securely and has held up to lots of use.

What did you like the least?

I need a third one – but that is not the carrier’s fault!

Why do you NEED it?

It stores my thread safely and easily. I love that my thread is now protected from light and dust.

Could you see another potential use for the Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier

It is a multi-craft carrier so other craft supplies could be stored in it. I am thinking about getting one to store my spools of pearl cotton and maybe embroidery threads. Perhaps scraps, EPP pieces like hexagons, or cut strips of various sizes for a Log Cabin or other scrappy quilts.

Who would appreciate the Double-Sided Multi-Craft Carrier most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Embroiderers
  • Someone acquiring the basics

Dritz Needle Storage Tubes
5.24.2016

Featured Tool: Needle Storage Tubes by Dritz, Item #82338

Dritz

What is this typically used for?

This tool is used to store and dispense all of your needles.

What was your first impression of the needle storage tubes?

How cool! It looks helpful in keeping me organized, and definitely clever!

What was your experience with them like?

I currently have my needles in wooden tubes right now and all the sizes are mixed up between two wooden tubes. I can’t see them either. With these tubes, I’m going to be able to re-organize all my needles! Wahoo! I can’t wait because I have needles for appliquéing cotton and needles for wool appliqué and ones English paper piecing, not to mention all the regular needles in my collection.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

No time at all–I figured it out immediately.

What did you like best?

I like that the needles don’t all come out at once and are contained by the magnet. For me, tools must fill a measurable need for me to buy them and this one definitely does!

What did you like least?

It takes some skill to manage the little needles. I threw the tube with the same force I use for the larger sizes and all the little needles flew out of the tube and all over my desk!

Why do you NEED it?

I do a lot of handwork, and I do mean a LOT! It is so frustrating to go through my wooden tubes trying to find the perfect needle. I also don’t know what sizes I have because once I’ve removed the needles from the original packaging, there is no way to tell. These tubes come with labels! Now I know what to buy next.

Who would appreciate these the most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Embroiderers, paper piecers, or anyone using hand or machine needles
  • Anyone acquiring the essential quilting tools

 


Vintage Quilt Mending, Part 1
6.16.2014

I swear I'm only 5'2"

I swear I’m only 5’2″

The sewists and quilters in my family have always been practical women: The mentality of “Make things you can use or wear, or don’t make them at all!” is pretty close to the mantra they all held and hold…one I also carry with me.

This quilt my great grandma made was and still is no exception to that mentality! It’s actually unclear when exactly she made it, but I do know my dad received it from her when he was quite young and I inherited it this year. I also know it’s much older than me by at least 10 years and I’m 29. I can remember countless moments growing up when I would lug it out of the closet to wrap up in or pulling it off my parents’ bed in the wintertime.

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Our schnauzer Riley likes to be involved!

 As you can see, it’s a scrappy log cabin quilt tied to finish made with all sorts of different fabrics in true scrappy fashion, with a fair amount of hand stitching.

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Herringbone embroidery and a sailboat!

The backing is the most luxurious blue velvet, I can’t believe how soft it still is after at least 40 years. Due to the fabrics used, it has an amazing weight to it that you can’t help but want to cozy up with.

I just adore so many of the fabric choices found in the panels:

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But all the cozying and wallowing is bound to take its toll on any sewn item, let alone a supple queen sized quilt.

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Since most of the disrepair is panels themselves getting threadbare, I have more options than if entire panels just came off (which actually is the case with another even older quilt from when my dad was a child.)

I could replace the panels with new fabrics, probably with some nice hand-stitching… deciding the fabrics would be quite daunting in and of itself!

But, I could also mock up some era-appropriate embroidery to simultaneously mend and embellish this quilt.

I could also do a combination of both concepts with or without appliqué.

So many choices!

Stay tuned for my next installment where I discuss the designs and decisions I will have made by then.