Thursday, January 23, 2014

XO Table Runner and Mini Quilt

I have been obsessed with these little blocks lately! They are so easy to make, and depending on where you put the print or the neutral you can completely change the look of the block. 

So this table runner is not a new idea, but I had fun making it, and I took pictures while I was sewing! So I'm sharing the XO Table Runner and Mini Quilt.

XO Table Runner Tutorial

1 Charm Pack (I used Table For Two from Moda)
1/2 yard neutral (I used the white on white from the line)
1/2 yard for backing
1/4 yard for binding

Step 1: 
You need 40 squares of your print for the block. I pulled the two cream squares out of my charm pack and used the other 40 squares. If your charm pack comes with less squares you may need to supplement with some yardage, or a second charm pack. But anyway, you need 40 squares.
Cut those 40 squares down to 4 1/2"
And cut 80 squares from the neutral that are 2 1/2"

Step 2:
Put one small square in the corner of one large square (right sides together) and sew across the diagonal as shown below.

One thing that helps me with this is to put a piece of tape lining up with the 0 on my machine. Then I follow the tape with the bottom corner of the square. Pretty washi tape makes it fun! If this doesn't make sense, you can draw a line across the diagonal of the square and then sew on the line. 
 Do that over and over until you get through all 40 of your squares. 

Step 3:
Now, if you are crazy like me you can do this next step. If not, feel free to skip it. But really, why not go ahead and go for it?? 
Go back through your whole stack and sew another stitch 1/4" from your first stitch, closer to the outer corner. We can use these little scrap pieces later!

If you did this extra step your blocks will look like this now.

Step 4:
OK! Now switch your blocks around and repeat all those steps on the opposite side of the block.

Here's what you have now! If you skipped the crazy step then you'll only have one stitch on each square.

Now take a break and enjoy my kitty "helping" me sew! I swear they make fabric out of cat nip, because my cat goes CRAZY for it. Maybe in his former life he was a quilter... 

Step 5: 
In order to keep the block 4 1/2" I have a pressing trick. Line up the corners of the squares and press. Don't worry about the stitching line. Really. Just line up the corners. This way you don't have to square up the blocks later!
Do you see the yellow fabric there? I recovered my ironing board FINALLY. I made it myself! 

Ok, so now you should have a nice neat pile of squares that look like this.

Step 6:
Now snip off the scrap corner. Be careful that you only cut those layers and don't catch the top layer! Cut between the lines of stitching. You can use a rotary cutter, but I think scissors are easier here.

And here's your pile now!

Step 7:
Do yourself a favor and iron these little babies now. Trust me, if you don't do it now you'll be tired later and miss out on all the fun!

Blurry pile of tiny half square triangles.

I don't know if you are interested, but I thought I would share my sewing set up. I sew at the dining room table, and this is my little corner that I've taken over. I lowered my ironing board to sit next to me so I don't have to stand while I press blocks. When not in use, my board fits perfectly under the 3-seater sofa, and my big quilting mat fits under the 2-seater. It's my hide-away quilting room!

Step 8:
The reward for all your hard work pressing! Now you get to lay out your table runner! All 40 of your blocks are exactly the same, so all you have to do is rotate how you lay it down to make your X and O shapes.

Step 9:
Sew the pieces together. My method is to flip the right block over the left block,

and then make a pile of that column's blocks.

 Then I take that pile to the machine and sew them together on the right side. Then I lay those blocks back on the table so I don't have to worry about getting them out of order.

Step 10:
Repeat the piecing method, sewing the pairs together. 

When you get all the pieces sewn together across the row you'll end up with four rows that look like this.

Step 11:
Flip the quilt over to the back side and press each row in opposite directions. This will help your seams to nestle together when you sew the rows together. 

Closeup of how the seams go in opposite directions.

Step 12:
Sew your rows together, give it a good pressing, and you have a table runner! I am liking pressing my seams open these days to get a super flat quilt top. But feel free to press all the seams one direction. Whatever makes you happy!

Here's my table runner in action, sans quilting. 

Step 13: 
Quilt and Bind! I used a walking fit to echo the shape of the x's and o's, and also a stitch in the ditch between all the blocks. Then I bound it with one of the light pinks from the line. 

The backing is a panel piece from the line. It was too wide to use the whole width, and too narrow to just use one strip. But I went with one and added two pieces of fabric to the sides. I really like how it turned out!

Table for two please!

Valentine Mini Quilt

Now we get to use all your little scraps!! I had so much fun with this part!
You will have 80 little half square triangles to play with. You can use all of them, or only some. I had some fun playing with layouts.





Here's the one I went with. I love it!
This little guy isn't quilted yet, but it will be soon. It's the perfect size for a placemat, but only having one I don't think I will use it for that. Could be a candle mat, or a table topper. But I think it will hang on my wall as a mini quilt. It's a little big for a true mini quilt, but I'll forgive it. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Show and Tell

One of our employees, Whitney (left) is getting married, and leaving. Charly (right) wanted to make her a quilt and our new Valentine's fabric line was perfect. She made a simple strip quilt and it turned out great!
 But the real fun was in the quilting! I mentioned on Instagram that our shop got a Quilt Path. It's a computer that controls our long-arm! We downloaded a pattern called "conversation hearts" and let the long-arm do all the work while we stood back and squealed oohs and ahhs.
 Can you see it?? CAN YOU???

Here's the back view. The words are backwards, of course, but it helps you see how awesome it is.
 Last week I taught a class on how to do the Double Slice quilt. Lucy finished hers! It's a great quilt for beginners to build their skills and for anyone to get a quick and easy project put together. And it's a good size. One of the ladies in class made hers for her mother!
We have an amazing art instructor running a program called Canvas and Corkscrews. She has full classes almost every time she offers the class and runs private parties. I finally joined one of the parties and painted! I don't normally enjoy painting AT ALL, but Marta made the class really fun, and made everyone feel like they can paint!

So proud of my painting!

I thought about posting a pick of the sample painting, but decided not to. If I don't compare my painting to anyone else's I really like it. It's when I start comparing it to hers that I start picking it apart. Which makes no sense, right?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Signature Quilt

Twelve years ago I started working at the best Arts and Crafts program in the Army. It was such a blessing to get the job and I loved it! I worked hard and when the job opened up to be the director of the program I applied. I never dreamed I would actually get the job! Nine years later I'm still here and still loving it!

Back when the store was "The Gussy Goose" we had a lot of quilters. When someone would move, one of the traditions was for everyone to make a block and sign it. Sometimes the blocks would go ahead and be pieced into a quilt top, and sometimes they would be delivered in a box for the person to put together the way they wanted.

I used to always joke, "I'm the one who never leaves. I'll never get a quilt!" Then a few months ago, when another employee was leaving, it dawned on me. Why not make my own memory quilt of everyone who worked with me?! Brilliant! I wish I had thought of it years ago!

I toyed with different patterns and nothing really felt right. Then just a few days ago I put the pieces together. I have been working on a postage stamp quilt of all my fabric scraps. What better way to make a memory quilt than to use THAT as my signature quilt?! 

So now for the signatures! I posted an all points bulletin on FaceBook and got a great response. More proof that you guys are the most awesome people to work with in the world! For those of you who said they would make a block and send it to me, this is your tutorial. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the memories we shared, what we learned together, and for your part in making the Arts and Craft program so incredible!

4 1/2" Signature Block

This is a preview of what the quilt will look like put together. The pattern is floating around the web, but I found this free pattern, if you are interested in making one yourself. I didn't use the strip method, but it's great for the rest of the pattern. 

 Step 1: You need a 4 1/2" block of white (please make sure it's really white, and not cream) and two 2 1/2" blocks of scrap fabrics. This is fun because I get to see something from your stash!

Step 2: If it helps, you can draw a diagonal line across the little squares. That's where you will sew.

Step 3: Stitch across the diagonal, with the printed side of the fabric facing the white.

Step 4: Line up the corner of the little block with the corner of the white fabric. Then press. This helps get it properly lined up and keep the square 4 1/2". 

Step 5: Add your name, which facility/department you worked in, and the years you were here. If you have a fabric pen/marker please use it. If not, a pencil is fine and I can trace over it with a marker when it gets here.

I plan to work on this quilt for a long time, so there is no rush to get your block finished! I'm going to start this tradition with every employee, volunteer, and contractor when they leave. So depending on how long I stay here, it could be a very long work in progress. When you are ready to stick it in the mail, just shoot me a message on FB and I'll send you my address. 

Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for being willing to participate in this quilt! I am so excited to start!

PS. This isn't my first time using this pattern. I had already started one with my BELOVED Modern Meadow that I finally cut into! This one is still a work in progress too, but about half finished. I needed to buy more white to finish it up. I started it as lap size, but loved it so much that I took it apart and added more blocks! I think it will finish out to queen sized.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy New Year!

I know it's a few days late, but hey, I still hope you have a great 2014! 

We don't really do resolutions, but we did start a Whole30, which is a month of really clean eating. I mean REALLY clean. Rob and I have used the Atkins diet principles to lose weight before, so we're fine with giving up bread, pasta, etc. But this one includes giving up DAIRY! Woah. No cheese for 30 days! Also, no latte. I know. 

It's been the hardest adjustment for Ethan because dinner every night is really healthy. More than usual. Tonight he cracked me. As I was cutting up a butternut squash he declared that "my dinner is always RUINED!" and stormed off to bed. I talked him into just giving it a try (it being a beef and pumpkin sautee that was really yummy) and he ended up eating three helpings! His last comment was "I wish there was more of this." HA! 

For my crafting goals I have a pair of pants to finish and fabric for a couple of shirts. But other than that I have given myself permission to not be sweat shop this year. I want to take it slower and focus on improving my skills. So I want to try some harder projects.

I can't wait to see what all my fellow bloggers are up to in 2014!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

First Project of 2014!

One of my goals for 2014 is to blog closer to once per month, instead of once every few months. There are always lots of projects to share, but photographing, editing and blogging always seems to take longer than the actual project! So, don't hold your breath, but just know that I really do want to be better about sharing!

So this is the famous 1600 Quilt, so called because you start out by sewing all the strips from a jelly roll together end to end, making a strip about 1600 inches long. There are whole races set up around making this quilt! I got this done from start to finish in a little over one hour. The bulk of it took me about 50 minutes. The fastest I have heard someone complete it was 30 minutes! I don't know how they did it!

I started with a jelly roll of Kona solids. I took out the pinks and put in whites strips, but in the end I didn't like how that turned out. Even though I mixed them up, they ended up in blocks next to each other. What I wish I had done was taken out the pinks and added in more red, yellow and oranges. But live and learn! While I'm not over the top for this quilt pattern, I did find it to be a fast way to make a quilt, and it turns out to be a pretty good size. I might do it again if a jelly roll comes along that I really love! 

Here's to a crafty 2014!