Friday, May 30, 2008

Tutorial: Nine Patches

I learned a different way of making nine patches from my friend, Nan, while I was at my retreat. It is a really fun way and I think this is how I will be doing them from now on. They seem to be more accurate and maybe even faster!

Ok, so start with two 4 1/2" squares. One light and one dark. (you will be making two nine patch blocks at the same time)

Put them right sides together and stitch a 1/4" seam on opposite sides of the squares. (no, I don't usually sew with bright orange thread. I just used it so you could see the stitches)
Now your going to cut your square into three equal pieces. Each piece should measure 1 1/2". (make sure your cuts are parallel with your stitches)
Take the two sides that are sewn and press the seams towards the dark fabric. Then lay your strips out like this.

Now sew your third strip to the other two. Make sure you are sewing a light, dark, light block and a dark, light, dark block. This is what your two blocks should look like so far. Right now you have two rail fence blocks but we are going to keep going so we can have two nine patches.

Put your blocks right sides together making sure the strips are going the same way. Here is where the pay off comes for pressing your seams towards the dark fabric. You can fit those seams together like a puzzle. Now stitch your 1/4" seam on opposite sides of the block.
Just like before, you are going to cut your block in three equal parts, 1 1/2" each.Press your seams. Now your ready for the last step. Aren't you excited!
Sew that last strip onto your block with a 1/4" seam. Then press.

Ta-Da!! Two cute little nine patches that will measure 3 1/2". (3" finished)

Here's a view of the back of the blocks.

This is a great way to use up your scrap fabric. There are so many cute quilt designs you can make with nine patches. And you can use this method for any size nine patch you like. Let me know if you try this method and what you think of it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chain of Friends

I finished my Sylvia's Bridal Sampler swap quilt! And just in time. The deadline is tomorrow if I want my quilt to be considered for an appearance in Jennifer Chiaverini's new SBS book. I decided to name it Chain of Friends. I love how it turned out. When it is all finished being quilted and bound it will happily reside on our bed.

And a side view...

Aren't my rhododendrons looking so beautiful right now!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Quilt Retreat

I just had the best weekend! It was a true vacation where I could just relax, do what I love, and not cook at all! I got there at 9am on Friday and set up all my stuff. I got sewing right away before everyone else had arrived.
Here was my view. Pretty, huh?

If you walk all the way across the lawn you get a better view of the water down below.

Well are you ready to find out why I had to make all those four patches? Drum roll please... I started by sewing them into the setting blocks for my quilt. That and cutting out some of the cream fabric into spacer blocks took pretty much the whole day Friday.

Then on Saturday I put all my blocks up on the design wall. I moved them around for a while and got some help from some of my friends until I loved it. Now let me tell you about these blocks. I joined an online swap that was being organized by one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Chiaverini of the Elm Creek Quilt novels. If you have never read them you need to because they are amazing. The swap was for blocks from her Sylvia's Bridal Sampler quilt. I signed up to make ten different blocks, five of each. So I sent her 50 blocks and got 50 different blocks back. They were made by quilters from all over the United States and some from Sweden. They are beautiful blocks and I wanted to put them in a quilt with a beautiful setting. I thought the setting I chose would really showcase these pretty blocks.

Once I had the layout of the blocks I started sewing my quilt together. This (see pic below) is how far I got when I realized I was running out of the cream background fabric. Yikes! I went to two stores that night trying to find it and they were all out. So on Sunday morning I called four more stores and put 3 yards on hold at one store and 3 3/4 yards on hold at the other. My husband said he would go Monday morning to both stores and pick them up for me. What a sweetheart!!

Since I couldn't work on my swap quilt (by this time I was glad to have a break from it), I worked on finishing my little patriotic redwork quilt that I brought with me. I finished handstitching the redwork and then bound it. Isn't it cute! It is only 8 1/2" x 11", the size of a piece of paper. I thought it was the perfect project to finish up on Memorial Day weekend.
I also worked on a Halloween wall quilt that I had started long ago. I am hand appliqueing the pumpkins and stars on and will be handstitching the words Happy Halloween in the middle. I made quite a bit of progress on it and plan to actually have it done so I can use it by this October!

My husband brought me the fabric on Monday morning after he ran around and bought it for me. I can't tell you what a relief it was to have the fabric in my hands knowing I would be able to finish my quilt.

I am home now and it is a beautiful Memorial Day. I am so grateful I got to go on this retreat and enjoy time with friends and quilt to my hearts delight. The food was incredible, seeing the other quilters projects was inspiring, and all the quilting knowledge I learned from these amazing women was priceless! Now that I shared what I worked on, let me show you what everyone else was up to...

This is a round robin that Virginia participated in. It was beautiful and the blocks were very small.

When we got to the retreat we got to pick a mug filled with fabric and little goodies. Virginia took that fabric and whipped up a quilt that included them! I was amazed.

Sandy made this fun quilt with a jelly roll and a layer cake. This picture doesn't portray how cheerful and fun the fabrics are.

Sandy also made this cute patriotic quilt out of a jelly roll.I was blown away by Margot's amazing thread pinning skills that she used to make this quilt.

Alice made this bright fun quilt filled with flowers and flip-flops for her niece that is graduating from high school.

Mimi made two of these quilts. A red version and a blue, but I only got a picture of the blue one. So cute!

Ruth made this cute quilt and also a crazy quilted stocking for her grandson.

Darlene made a reversible apron. Hamburgers on one side and tomatoes on the other. She was very sweet to model it for me.

And she made a very pretty quilt.

Barb is our guild president and known for her scrappy quilts. Here is one she was working on.

She also made this great tote and wallet set. And a big tote too. She raves about these patterns and the designer.

Lou showed me one of her finished quilts. Isn't it beautiful! It is made from batiks.

We took a field trip to Ada's room to see the cracker box quilt she made out of thirties fabrics. It really brightened up her room.

I snuck a picture of one of Ada's quilts while it was up on the design wall.

As we were about to leave Alice showed us all the quilts that she brought ready to quilt. She didn't end up getting to them but aren't they beautiful!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day! My husband surprised me by grocery shopping for the coming week so I don't have to and planned a barbeque for tonight. I can't wait!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sneak Peek

Tomorrow I leave for a weekend quilt retreat. Four days of uninterrupted quilting and delicious food that I don't have to make! It doesn't get much better. I have a quilt that I have to have the top done by the end of this weekend. I have been measuring and cutting and sewing and cutting some more this week in preparation for the retreat. I had to make 320 of these...

I will show you after this weekend what all those four patches are for!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cabled Bag

I started this bag a LONG time ago. It is the Cable Ready Bag from Lion Brand. I knit the two pieces pretty quickly and then it sat in my knitting basket needing seaming. While I took it easy yesterday in hopes my back would feel better, I seamed this up and attached the handles. Thanks to reading some comments on Ravelry of other people that have made this bag, I knew to only seam it up the sides to the top of the green so the bag would have a bigger opening. I had written to Lion Brand when I was almost finished with the second side in hopes that they would clarify their vague instructions for attaching the handles. They weren't very helpful so I gave up on finishing it. I ended up attaching the handles using a crochet hook. I ended up wrapping the yarn around the handle and then catching that yarn and pulling it through the loops on my crochet hook. I think I was single crocheting but I am not a crocheter at all so I am not sure. I love how it turned out. I am definately going to need to line this bag or it will stretch if I put anything in it. It is pretty heavy because the yarn is super bulky.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Thanks, Mom!

I got a fun package in the mail on Saturday. My mom had sent me a package to cheer me up. I have degenerative disc disease and deal with low back pain on a daily basis and it has been more painful than usual lately. It was such a treat to open it up and discover five beautiful washcloths she knit for me and a bar of K. Hall Designs shea butter/olive oil soap. When I visited her in April she gave me a bar of their Pomegranate scented soap and I have been using it every day and LOVE it! I am so excited that when I finish with that one I get to try the Egyptian Jasmine which smells so good. The washcloths are lovely and so nice to use. She used cotton tots for two of them and they are extra soft. Even though I knit and could make my own knitted items, I love getting a knitted item as a gift. I appreciate it more because I know all about the time and love that goes into a gift that is handmade.

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