Flower Garden Path #36

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When I was 17, my mom piled me, my two brother, and the bottomless cooler (she could feed a family of four epic meals for days on end without restocking) into our VW Rabbit and took us on an epic road trip from Utah to Vancouver, BC, down the coast to Cottage Grove, OR (where we had lived when I was little) and eventually home.  We were gone for two weeks.  The day after we started the trip, I came down with the flu.  It reached its apex about the time we got to Vancouver and Victoria, and while my family was out exploring the wonders and beauty of that part of Canada, I was trapped in the hotel room, wishing I were dead.  I missed Victoria completely, but out last day in Vancouver, mom dragged me along as we went to Butchart Gardens.  If you’ve never been, I strongly encourage you to make the effort.  It is, quite truly, a thing of beauty.  I was more than exhausted by the time we were done, but the memories of wandering down the garden paths, surrounded by the art of horticulture on all sides, has stayed with me for over 30 years.

This Garden Path isn’t quite as beautiful as Butchart Gardens, but it is lovely in its own right, and the geometric designs make it look more intricate than it really is.

2013-05-09 21.26.03Starting at the top, I sewed together the two Light/Dark #13 HSTs, then I attached a Light#13 to the Dark side of the HSTs, like little wings.  I then sewed these units to either side of the Dark #25.

For the second row, I attached two Dark #13s to either side of the Light #20, making a flying geese unit.  I then attached a Light #13 to either side of the unit.

Using enough pins to keep the pins matched up, sew the two rows together.  It goes without saying that all the seams get pressed – either open or to he dark side – before moving onto the next step.  When the two rows are sewn together, attach the 20 to the bottom, completing a triangle.  Repeat this for the bottom.

 

2013-05-09 22.08.50I used a chain stitch method to sew a Light #13 to two adjoining sides of a Dark #19 square creating a small triangle.  You should end up with 4 of them.  Attach one #44 contrasting strip to the long edge of each small triangle.  After the seams are pressed, attach one small triangle unit to either side of the top and bottom triangle units, creating two halves of the block.

Match up the seams of the two halves and sew them together, press the seams, then press the entire block flat.

 

 

2013-05-09 22.12.49And that is how you make your Flower Garden Path, full of intricacies and beauty.  When I made mine, I used colors similar to what was used in the example: yellow, orange and green.  I think if I were do it again, I’d use spring-like colors rather than autumnal colors.  I like the way the pattern lays out when it’s all put together.  Imagine an entire quilt made out of this block!  There would be dark squares surrounded by light triangles sashed with a contrasting color.  It could be pretty striking!

Periwinkle: #66

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The word Periwinkle always makes me smile.  Has since the 4th grade.  See, we were studying the Pilgrims and our teacher handed out art paper and crayons, had us draw pilgrims.  I come from a long line of artists.  My great-grandfather ran away from home to become an artists.  My grandfather used his artistic skills to design and build a taco shell cooker and a fantastic trout spinner fly, and to send gorgeous illustrations of the North African desert home during WWII.  My mother put herself through med school so she could be a Medical Illustrator, and her water colors rivaled those of Ian Ramsey.  I, on the other hand, draw bad stick figures.  But that day, my hands knew exactly what to do.  It was the best drawing I’d ever done.  In fact, some of my classmates asked me to draw their pilgrims.  But none of those looked as good.  She had a pretty face, lovely, wavy blonde hair.  And a dress of periwinkle blue.

Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Company made a great tutorial for a periwinkle block quilt.  It’s a gorgeous quilt, and a great way to use scraps.  And maybe one of these days I’ll make a full sized periwinkle quilt!  For now, though, I’m contenting myself with the periwinkle block.

2014-01-15 21.55.45This block uses #61/61R triangles and #70 diamonds.  And the assembly is quick and easy.  In fact, so quick and easy I made it two ways:  with a light background and with a dark background.

With the pieces laid out, I placed the #61 on top of the #70, lining up the short side if the triangle with the long side of the diamond, then chain stitched and pressed.  This block absolutely benefits from having the seams pressed open.  Repeat with the other triangle, stitching it to he other side of the diamond.

2014-01-15 22.18.03Now there are four turnover shapes.  Making sure to use one of each color, pair them up, right sides together, and sew along one side.  I chose one color to be on top so I could make sure the two halves came out the same.  I used pins to help me match up the points as well as the seams and hold everything in place while I stitched.

2014-01-15 22.33.382014-01-15 22.33.32I think I like the darker block the best, but they’re both lovely and I really like this block.

Peaceful Hours: #65

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When I looked at this block, I decided whoever named it must have meant many peaceful (frustrating, annoying, interminable) hours would be spent putting it together, since it has so many pieces.  And so many of them are little.  Then I laid it out and started looking at the composition and realized it wasn’t going to as hard as I thought.  Don’t get me wrong; it still took about an hour to complete.  The best part of this block was it presents another opportunity for a fussy cut.  I really wanted to use a particular charm square for the center, but I didn’t have another block that color to make the outside corner pieces.  Then I realized I could make it work!  I folded the charm in quarters, lined up the #7 template on the outside corner and cut it off.  Then I laid the remainder flat, centered the #69 template where I wanted it and trimmed away the rest.

2014-01-12 13.33.08The first thing I did was sew the tiny little #68 triangles to the four diagonal sides of the #69, turning an octagon into a nice little square.

 

 

 

2014-01-12 13.52.06This has some tricky pieces, specifically #66/#66R, which is joined with #68 triangles and #67/67R long triangles.  In order to keep myself from getting confused (a state easily achieved for me) I laid a #68 tiny triangle (honestly, these make the dreaded #13 look big) on the short side of the #66 and chain stitched and pressed.  I repeated this for the #66R.  And I repeated it again with the #67/67R on the long side of the #66.  Once assembled, I refer to these as star points.

 

 

 

2014-01-12 14.04.01Pins will come in handy when you line up the left and right star points.  Be careful to match the seams so that points line up well.  Not all of mine did.  Probably should have taken the time to fix the one that didn’t, but I didn’t.

Before going any further, take a minute or two to sew together the HSTs that make the corner pieces, and press the seams.

Sew two HSTs to either side of the top and bottom star point pairs, so that the dark fabric points to the outside.  Sew the left and right star point pairs to either side of the center unit, creating three rows.

Use all the pins you need to pin the top row to the middle row.  There are more seams to match up than you might imagine, and if they don’t match up right, it’s VERY noticeable.  Mine didn’t at first, and I took it apart to fix it.

2014-01-12 14.33.02Mine isn’t perfect, butI like the way it turned out anyway.  I’m considering doing it again, this time in reds.  I think it would benefit from having the center, and the outside corners, be a more vibrant color.  What do you think?

 

 

Old Windmill #62 and Peace and Plenty #64

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I stitched the Old Windmill block, giving it all of my attention and not thinking about any of the other blocks until I was done with it and started looking at the next block.  Which, since I’d already done the Ozark Maple Leaf, was Peace and Plenty.  As soon as I started looking at the pattern, I realized the basic construction of these two blocks are primarily the same: 16 HSTs.  The difference in the blocks are the arrangement of the HSTs and the number of colors used.

2014-01-11 19.32.43In both blocks, I laid the contrasting fabrics of the HSTs right sides together so that when I was ready to sew them together, they were already lined up and ready to go.  Because I cut them out this way, I didn’t bother to lay the block out first.  In fact, I didn’t even worry about chain stitching them in any particular order.  After I stitched them all, I pressed the seams open.  I’ve found, through trial and error, that the more seams there are in any particular block the more it benefits from having the seams pressed open.

 

 

OLD WINDMILL ARRANGEMENT

The old windmill is constructed of two complete pinwheels, 2 half pinwheels, and 4 HSTs.  After all the HSTs are pressed open, spend some time arranging and rearranging the pieces until you have the layout you like.

2014-01-11 19.47.58Start with the complete pinwheels.  Make sure all of the blades of the pinwheels are spinning the right way.  Lay right sides face down on left sides, matching the diagonal seams, and sew down the right side.  Press the seams, then place the top facedown on the bottom, us pins to hold the seams in place, and stitch, then press the seams.

Place the two complete pinwheels right sides together, taking care to match the seams, and stitch and press.

 

 

2014-01-11 20.06.45Sew the two halves of the half pinwheels together and press the seams.  Sew one HST to either side of the half pinwheel, creating a strip consisting of 4 HSTs, with the blades alternating, pointing to upper left, lower left, and the other, similar strip, pointing upper right, lower right.

To assemble the block, lay the top strip face down on the top edge of the completed pinwheels, using a lot of pins to line up the seams and old them in place while stitching.  Then lay the bottom strip face down on the bottom edge of the completed pinwheels and repeat.  Press open the seams and give the whole block a final press.

PEACE AND PLENTY CONSTRUCTION

2014-01-11 23.04.23The four corners of the Peace and Plenty block consist of four identical almost pinwheels.  Three of the blades follow each other the way you’d expect for a pinwheel,  The fourth blade, however, is turned the opposite way.  This results in having a wide dark triangle on one side and a wide light triangle on the side immediately to the right of it.

When the four quadrants are complete, arrange them so the top right has the dark triangle on the top edge, then rotate the next block 90 degrees to the right and place it in the bottom right corner.  Rotate the next one another 90 degrees and place it in the bottom left corner.  Rotate the last block another 90 degrees and place it in the top left corner.

Place the right blocks on top of the left, right sides together, and sew along the right edge.  Press the seams open, then place the top face down on the bottom, sew the long seam together and press open.

2014-01-11 20.24.57 2014-01-11 23.51.18The end result is two blocks that look nothing alike, but each is striking and unique.

Northern Lights: #61

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When I was 19, I married my best friend from high school.  He spent our engagement in Qikiqtagruq, otherwise known as Kotzebue, Alaska, earning enough money to support a wife.  Our 10 month engagement got cut to 4, which meant he came home, we got married, and then moved back to our “honeymoon cottage by the sea.”  The reality was a 20×20 foot one room house with no indoor plumbing, a honeybucket in the corner, and two hotplates that worked when they felt like it.  Twice a month we loaded our sleds with empty water coolers and jugs, walked a few blocks to the world’s farthest north Dairy Queen and filled them up.  This was our water supply for bathing, washing, dishes, and drinking.  It was situated on the inland side of Front street, the only thing that separated us from the Sound.  The road is 1 lane, unpaved.  Kotzebue looked like this most of the time I was there.  In fact, the winter of 1984 was one of the coldest on record, and tied the record for the number of consecutive days for under Zero, most of them ranging around -40 with the wind chill.  It was desolate and challenging.  On the other hand, I remember taking midnight walks on the frozen sound, watching the sunset at 2:00am, and seeing the Northern Lights!  They hovered, blue and green, above the distant horizon, shimmering, glowing, and moving if we whistled or made some other loud noise.  They were definitely a highlight of the 5 months I spent there.

This block really doesn’t remind me of what I saw of the Northern Lights, but I still like it.  It uses two contrasting fabric and templates #4 and #8.2014-01-11 19.05.22

 

I decided to use a delicate yellow and a dark navy blue with tiny designs that reminds me of the night sky.  This block consists of two large HSTs and two Four-Patches, set in opposing corners.  Assemble each of the corner units by sewing the two HSTs together and the two four-patches together.  I pressed all the seams open to cut down on bulk, and, for the four-patches, used pins to hold the seams together.

 

2014-01-11 19.09.36The next part should be easy:  Place the right corner face down on top of the left corner, then sew along the right side and press the seams, and you have two identical pieces.  I say “should” because this only works if you’re NOT watching an intense play during the NFL playoffs.  If that’s the case, you end up with something that, honestly, leaves me wondering how I managed it!  Should this sort of thing happen to you, simply unpick the seam, press it flat, and put it back together the way it was intended.  (If you are still watching an intense NFL playoff game, wait until a commercial break so you can make sure to unpick the incorrect seam rather than the correct one.  Trust me on this.)

 

2014-01-11 19.16.37

The finished block, honestly, reminds me some of the hovering birds/hovering hawks blocks.  But whenever I look at it, I’ll remember it’s name, and that will send me back 30 years ago, to an adventure-filled winter, walking on the frozen sound in the middle of the night, watching the shimmering of the Northern Lights.

 

Noon & Light #60

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When I first saw this block, I thought it would be great for a fussy cut middle.  Then I really looked at it, and realized my math skills aren’t good enough to figure out how to replace the four center triangles with a square.  Besides, I have plenty of blocks where I’ve fussy cut.

Sometimes when I make block, I can just pick fabrics and run with it.  Sometimes, though, I just can’t get past the colors in the book.  Such was the case with this one.  It uses three fabrics and templates 4, 7, 26, and 45

2014-01-07 00.13.13First off, I laid out all the pieces so I could get a feel for the best way to proceed.  I initially thought I’d start at the outside and work my way in, but at the last minute decided to start from the center.  I took the small, center #7 triangles and laid them face down on top of the #45 pieces, along the short side of the #45.  I chain stitched all four pieces, then pressed the seams.  On this one, I initially pressed all the seams to the dark side.  Later, I went back and pressed two of them to the #45 and two of them to then #26.  I did this so I could nest the seams later on.

 

 

2014-01-11 18.13.36Next, I chain pieced the dark and light red #26 triangles together, and pressed the seams to the dark side.  After that, I sewed the right dark/light wing to the side of the corner #4 squares, then pressed the seams toward the dark side.  I followed this up by repeating the process with the left light/dark wing.

Once this process is complete, there are  two triangle pieces for each quadrant of the block.

 

2014-01-11 18.21.50

To complete the four quadrants, I laid the inner triangles on top of the outer triangles and chain stitched them.  I pressed the seams to the dark #45.

When I had them all pressed flat, I examined the seams and did some re-pressing so that I could get them to nest.  I laid the top right quadrant face down on the top left quadrant and stitched them together.  I repeated this for the bottom two quadrants, then pressed the seams in opposite directions.  Taking care to match the seams, I placed the top facedown on the bottom and stitched the center seam, then pressed the whole thing flat.

 

2014-01-11 18.44.13I may redo this block with blues and yellows, or maybe with reversed values so that the center is dark and the inner frame is light.  We’ll see if I actually do it.

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