Friday, August 18, 2017

Crazy Log Cabins - Block 8

The Crazy Log Cabin blocks for Twilight Garden can be paper pieced, or if you choose, you can make templates from the diagram on page 15. If you choose to make templates be sure to add a 1/4" seam allowance to your templates before cutting your fabrics.

If you are opting to do the foundation paper piecing method (by far the easiest method), you can follow along with me, as this is the method I have chosen to do.

Fabrics

 For these blocks I have chosen a wide variety of fabrics. Honestly, just about any of the fabrics in the kit will work well for these blocks.  They are very scrappy and I would pick out some lights, darks and mediums, and also some fabrics with pattern, just because they add a lot of visual interest. 
Each block will have a different sequence of fabrics, and, if you want, you can use many more fabrics than I have selected.  I avoided any of the blue fabrics, as I thought that would take away from the tulips, and also avoided the very light cream used in the day lily flowers, for the same reason. I did include some reds, greens, browns, golden tan, and grays.

Supplies

First a word about foundation paper.  If you have experimented with papers for foundation piecing, you probably have your favorite that you use all the time.  For me, this is the paper from That Patchwork Place.  It is not expensive, and comes in large reams of 100 sheets.  The reason I like this paper is that it tears away easily.  There are several brands of vellum paper on the market that are touted as easy tear, but I find that all vellum is too robust for paper piecing.  For me, the lighter the paper the better. I do like the crispness of vellum, and it makes a sharp fold, but I have never found one that tears away easily.  Vellum always rips out some of my stitches, regardless of how small I make my stitch length.
The paper pictured at left works very well, and runs easily through my computer printer.
Make sure when you are copying foundation patterns that you have your printer set on 100% scale, or "actual size". 
Even with that, some printers are not accurate to size.  Be sure to measure your first copy against the original and only continue copying all your foundations when the copies match the original size perfectly.
A very handy tool to use when paper piecing is the Add-A-Quarter ruler.  It is not required, but will make trimming excess fabrics away very quick.  It comes in a 6" and also a 12" length.  The 6" version is adequate to do these blocks, but the 12" is a more versatile size. Here it is pictured butted up against the fold of the foundation paper.  The 1/4" lip on the bottom of this ruler assures you are trimming to exactly a 1/4" seam allowance.
 You will also need a small rotary cutter, and a small cutting mat to have at your work station.  It also is a time saver if you have a small ironing pad and iron right at your station as well.  Paper piecing requires that you press after each fabric addition, so if you iron is a distance from you work space, you will be traveling a bit.

Corrections

There are some minor errors in the numbering of the the foundation pattern.  Not a biggy, but you might want to correct these numbers so you don't get confused as to the order you add the fabrics to the block.  Note in the photo, I have crossed out and re-numbered a few spaces on the pattern.  Please make these corrections before you copy your foundations. Newer versions of the pattern may already have these corrections, so double check just to be sure.

A word about cutting out your fabric pieces on the straight of grain. The pattern author stresses that this is very important, and she does provide a block diagram in the pattern with grain lines clearly marked.  If you wish to take the time to cut your pieces out with correct grain direction it will ultimately make the block more stable and less stretchy around the outside edges.  However, I personally do not bother with this.  I find as long as you use reasonable care when handling your pieces and particularly while pressing, you will have no problems assembling these blocks, or sewing them into the quilt. If you are really concerned about stability, you can always leave the foundation on the block until it is securely sewn into the quilt, then remove the paper.

Assembly

I will not go into great detail about the process of paper piecing, as it is covered extremely well in many books that focus on this technique.  I will tell you a few hints to make your work easier.
First, sit next to a window, or have a light box handy so you can see your fabrics through the foundation paper to get proper alignment.  Second, if you are worried about your fabrics slipping while flipping over the foundation pattern and sewing.  Use a pin to hold the fabric to the foundation.  Just make sure your pin does not cross the sew line you will be sewing on. And Third, reduce the stitch length on your sewing machine so you are sewing about 15 stitches per inch or more.  This will help perforate the paper and make tearing away your pattern much easier.

Begin by placing your 1 and 2 fabrics right sides together and place them on the back of the pattern with the 1 piece wrong side to the paper.  Align them so their common edges overhang the sew line between 1 and 2 by at least 1/4". Pin these in place, flip the pattern so the printed side is up and sew on the line between 1 and 2, beginning your stitching a little before the line starts and continue your stitching a little past the end of the line. Clip threads and remove from the machine. 
With the printed side up, fold the pattern back on the line you just sewed. and trim the seam allowance to no more than  1/4".  The Add-A-Quarter ruler comes in handy for this. With the fabrics on top, flip piece 2 and press.
Add each new piece in numbered order, making sure to align each piece, pin if necessary, sew on the common line between the two fabrics, then fold and trim.  Very quickly you will get the hang of it, and most people really enjoy the process.

The pieces of fabric can be much larger than you actually need.
Just so long as once they are sewn in and flipped into position, they have to completely cover their numbered area on the pattern, plus have at least 1/4" seam allowance all around. 

This is particularly important when you reach the outer edges of the block.  Here, the numbered pieces must cover their numbered area and extend beyond the dotted line along the outside edge of the block.


Once all the fabrics are added, the block will be trimmed on this dotted line and that space along the outside edge is your seam allowance to sew you blocks to the adjacent blocks in the quilt.

You will be making 4 of these blocks, then they will be sewn together in line. Once you have your row of Crazy Log Cabin blocks, they can be sewn onto the bottom of the Day Lily block from last month.

We will then need to sew together chains of 1 1/2" scrappy squares (using lots of fabrics from your kits).  We will need one single chain of 16 squares to go along the top of the Day Lily block, and a double chain of 2 squares wide by 13 squares long, which will be added to a 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle and sewn onto the left side of the block as in the diagram on page 16 of your pattern.  This is a great way of using up your leftover 1 1/2" squares from the Picnic Block.
We will be making more of these sashing filler strips as we begin assembling the quilt top, so don't worry about cutting out a few extra of all the little squares.  We will also be making one large piano key strip set (scrappy) from lots of 1 1/2" x 5 1/2" strips of all these same fabrics.  So if you have some 1 1/2" strips cut out, cut some 5 1/2" segments as well as your squares.  You will eventually need 39 of these rectangles.

Our block next month is the basket blocks.  Just a warning, there are some rather important corrections for the cutting directions for these blocks.  I might suggest you wait for my article in September, with corrections before cutting, or, make some sample blocks with scrap fabrics so you can make adjustments before cutting your kit fabrics.

Thanks for following along!

Happy Sewing

Steven

























Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where Do I Buy These Fabrics??

Taupes

Even before I closed the One World Fabrics website, I had numerous emails from customers who were worried they would not be able to find continuing sources for Japanese Taupe fabrics.  It is difficult to find them unless you are buying directly from retailers in Japan.  I know this. That is one of the reasons I created One World Fabrics several years ago, as I saw a real need for a store that would bring all these fabrics to the Western market.

Fortunately for you, there are a few other sources in the U.S. and Canada, and during the time I was running the business, a few other people opened stores in competition with me, carrying some of the fabric lines I did.

What follows is a list of retailers who sell Japanese Taupe fabrics.  Some are walk in stores that have a website where you can order some or all of their offerings, some are Etsy stores.  There are also a few in other countries that I have found by doing internet searches.  You might find more than my list here, and I am sure there will be more stores that will carry these fabrics in the future.  The number of people using Taupe fabrics, and decorating with this color palette is growing every day.

These are in order of my personal favorites.  Some specialize more in general Japanese fabrics and Sashiko supplies.

1. Quilted Threads in Henniker, New Hampshire (http://www.quiltedthreads.com) - For a walk in store, QT has one of the very best selections of real, authentic Japanese Taupe fabrics, and has an especially good selection of yarn dyed wovens. If you have a chance to visit the store in person, do so. You will be pleasantly surprised with lots of Taupe samples, Sashiko samples, and a very friendly staff. They also offer a Taupe fabric club online, and several Taupe BOM programs.

2. Kallisti Quilts in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (http://www.kallistiquilts.com) - Michelle has been carrying Taupe fabrics for quite some time.  Originally just an Etsy shop, she now has a new website.  She also carries a few batiks and other imported fabrics.

3. Willow Lane Quilting Company, Seattle, Washington (http://www.willowlanequiltingcompany.com) - This store is run by Priscilla Knoble who many of you know as the owner of Stitch Publications. Priscilla has a passion for Taupe fabrics and carries not only a very good selection of fabrics, but also a wonderful assortment of notions that are regularly used by quilters in Japan.

4. Quilting Foxes in Mt. Vernon, Washington (http://www.quiltingfoxes.com) - Also originally an Etsy store, they have a new website that offers Taupe and other Japanese fabrics, and Sashiko supplies.

5. Kimonomomo in Alameda, California (http://www.etsy.com/shop/kimonomomo) - This is an Etsy shop and is not focused on Taupe per se. They carry a wide assortment of Japanese fabrics and also Sashiko supplies.  They do have a good selection of indigo prints, and kimono silks.

6. Shibori Dragon in University Place, Washington (https://shiboridragon.com/) - A large store carrying a nice selection of Taupe prints and some yarn dyes.  Lots of other Asian fabrics, and an excellent selection of Sashiko supplies.

7. Holly and Ivy in Ripon, Wisconson (http://www.etsy.com/shop/fromhollyandivy) - This shop is closing their walk in store and going strictly to Etsy at the end of Summer.  They currently have some sales going.  They carry a few Daiwabo fabrics, but mostly reproductions, wool, and a bit of perle cotton.

This next shop I almost did not include, because it has been difficult to order from, however, they now are handling their orders through a brokerage business in Japan that handles shipping of orders.  I have ordered from them with delivery to Oregon with no problems.

8. Quilt Party in Japan (https://global.rakuten.com/en/store/quiltparty/) - This is the store owned and run by Yoko Saito.  I was fortunate enough to visit this shop in person while visiting Japan in 2014, and there really is no better source for Taupes. The shop carries all of Yoko Saito's fabrics, but also beautiful Taupe fabrics from many other designers.  The shipping is a little expensive, and time consuming, but for the true fan of Taupe fabrics, you will find a great selection here.

And, finally, this last shop is out of the U.S. and I have not ordered from them.  I found them through internet searches and links off of Pinterest.  You should do a little more digging for information on them before trying to order.

9. Quilt House Russia in Moscow (https://www.etsy.com/shop/QuiltHouseRussia) - Seems to have a beautiful selection of Taupe fabrics, particularly yarn dyes.  Many I have never seen.  Intriguing.

Good luck in your search for beautiful fabrics!

Please, when you shop at any of the above shops, mention that you were referred by Steven Lennert from One World Fabrics, and that you heard about their shop through my blog.
I hope you will continue to follow my blog, as I do plan to share some of my projects and continued fun things to do with Taupe fabrics.  Most of these last few months has been spent on completing the Twilight Garden BOM, but I will also have articles sharing many other projects in the future.

Happy sewing to everyone.

Steven


 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Block 7 - Lillies

Applique

As with any applique project, there are numerous ways of doing the applique.  Block 7 can be done with needle turn applique, turned machine applique, or fused.  The flower shapes on this one are a bit challenging for needleturn, although that is the method I have used. I believe the pattern designer chose to fuse her flowers and then do a decorative hand blanket stitch around the edges. This gives a little more folk art look to the block.

Fabric Selection

There is one fabric included in the kit which is specifically for the flowers in this block.  It is the lightest cream fabric, included with your Dedicated Fabrics bundle. For those selecting their own fabrics, choose a fabric here that does stand out.  This block is really beautiful and you do want your flowers to be a focal point.

The background I chose for this block is black, as are most of the blocks, and for the stems and leaves I chose a brown hombre plaid.  I love the look of the hombre value changes along the flower stems and it gives the leaves a bit of variation so they all look a little different. This fabric also shows up well on the black background, but does not compete with the flowers.

For the centers of the flowers I chose a soft, small scale plaid that is actually a green/gray color with accent threads in both blue and cream. The very small scale of the plaid gives the look of a check in the center of the flowers.
A note of caution however, the fabric I chose to use for the centers is really soft and has very little body.  I was very concerned that I would not be able to create the crisp round shape I wanted to with this fabric, so I fused a Pellon featherweight interfacing (#906F) to the back side of this fabric before cutting out my circles. This stabilized the fabric and totally prevented any stretching.  It is a technique that I have used frequently on lightweight or stretchy fabrics, such as Japanese Kimono Silk, to allow me to cut and piece them along with my standard quilting cottons.  Try it, you will like it.



 

 

 

Assembly of the Block

You will need to copy your applique pattern pages (2) and tape them together to make the complete design.  I like to use a light box to trace the design onto the background fabric.  You may be surprised to learn that, yes, you can see the pattern lines through black fabric.  I learned how to do this when copying Sashiko designs onto dark Indigo fabric.  Make sure your pattern lines are dark and bold.  When you copy the pattern, go over the lines on your copy with black Sharpie Marker.  The fine point, not the extra fine.  Then use a light box with a bright light.  I have been using one of the newer LED flat panel light boxes and it works great.  If you plan on doing this tracing on a window, do it on a bright day in the middle of the afternoon.

On dark fabrics I love to use the Clover white marking pen #517. These pens are fine point, roller ball point pens that go on clear and dry quickly to a chalky white, very fine line.  This line will not wipe off while you work and handle the fabric, but instantly come off with water, or just the steam of your iron.

I demonstrated how to make bias stems for flowers in a previous blog article on applique, so I will not repeat that, or the basic technique of turned edge hand applique.  Just a few pointers. 
Make plastic templates the finished size of your applique pieces.  Trace around the templates on the good side of your fabric (not the back), with a marking tool that will come off (test this).  Laying the fabric on a sand paper board will prevent it from slipping while you are tracing. The line will be your turning line, so you want to be able to see it clearly.  Cut out your pieces leaving a 3/16" seam allowance beyond your marked line.  This is about half way between 1/8" and 1/4". It is not critical if this varies a bit, as it will be turned under during the applique process.  Just be aware, 1/8" is not really enough, and 1/4" is often a bit to much, so something in between works best.
When you are sewing, turn under the edge of your fabric right to the turn line, then finger press with your thumb and take a couple of stitches.  Only turn under the fabric just 1/2"-3/4" ahead of where you are stitching.  As you go around outside curves, take small stitches and adjust the fold of your edge frequently (sometimes every stitch) so you have a nice curve and not several flat sides like a stop sign. When you are approaching an inside point (like the notches between flower petals), clip your seam allowance once right at the base of the valley just up to the turn line. As you sew and get closer to this valley, your seam allowance will get smaller and smaller until there is no seam allowance at all.



Your stitches should get closer together, and you need to take a deeper stitch, beyond the turn line, creating a bit of satin stitching right over the valley. Then begin increasing your stitch spacing, back to about 1/8" apart again. Note the satin stitching over the base of the valleys on my flower.  Choose a close matching thread for this so it does not show much.

To make perfect circles for your centers, use a template form the correct size.  I like Perfect Circles by Karen Kay Buckley.  This pack has all the circle sizes you need for most projects and they are heat resistant, so you can baste around your fabric circle then pull and tighten the basting forming the fabric around the circle template.  While you have the basting tight, iron the circle, setting the perfect circular edge, then remove the template.




 















Stitching down your circles is just a breeze as the edges are already turned perfectly!
Here is our finished applique.  We will be trimming this block later when we make the blocks for next month and attach them to the bottom of the flowers.
Thanks for following along.  Happy stitching.

Steve

Friday, June 9, 2017

Twilight Garden - Block Six - Picnic

Fabric Selection

 This month we are using quite a few fabrics in our block to give it that scrappy look.  My block is going to lean more toward the reds, beige and gray.  I like having a couple of very distinct reds in this block, both in the center checkerboard design, and in the bordering rectangles.  I also am using a couple of plaid, gray fabrics.  These are only being used in the checkerboard, but really give it a lot of visual interest and some motion to carry your eyes from place to place.

The fabrics pictured at right show the color range and the value changes from light to dark.  The darkest at the top is the pure black that I am using for the background setting triangles.

 

Pattern Errors

I am just going to begin this month's article by pointing out some rather big errors in the pattern for block six.

I had been really looking forward to making this block, as I think it is one of the prettiest in the quilt, and it is very scrappy, including many different fabrics.  I had pre-cut all of my pieces as per the instructions and sat down to make the block.  As I was assembling the different units and pieces, it became clear that the measurements for some of the pieces were wrong.  Fortunately, some pieces are too large, and can just be cut down to the correct size, but some are really too small and will require re-cutting if you have already cut them out.

Under "Cutting Instructions", where it says from a Dark Fabric:  The pieces for A are correct and will work, but the pieces for B - Cut four squares 3 1/4" x 3 1/4" should be larger squares.  This change is necessary because of a measurement error for the center part of the block. The entire block center is a bit smaller than what is stated in the pattern, so the setting triangles, cut from the Dark Fabric, need to be a little bit larger.  I would recommend cutting your B pieces from 3 3/4" squares, cut twice diagonally to create sixteen quarter square triangles.

Then under the section "From the Light Fabric"  It says to cut two rectangles (piece E) 1 1/2" x 6 7/8".  These should be 1 1/2" x 6 1/2".  Also, for piece F, the two rectangles should measure 1 1/2" x 8 1/2" not 1 1/2" x 9".

If the center checkerboard is assembled as called for in the pattern, after pressing, the 6 x 6 checkerboard will measure 6 1/2" square.  After adding the 4 border strips and pressing, it should measure 8 1/2" square, not 9" square as stated in the pattern.

Do not be alarmed by this.  Continue your assembly as the pattern indicates, only substituting the larger cut B pieces as your setting triangles.  This will give you enough overhang to trim your finished blocks down to 12 1/2" square.  (The other error I found was under the title of the block where it says "approximate size 12 1/2" x 12" finished - this should read 12 1/2" x 12 1/2" unfinished)

I guess I was a little disappointed that this pattern was not tested and proof read, but having written patterns myself, I know how easy it is to make a error and not see it.  In any case, it should not cause you much trouble, and the block will come out fine.

Assembly

 The assembly of this block is pretty straightforward.  You are essentially sewing little squares together in rows, pressing the seam allowances in opposite directions on each row so they will "nest", then sewing the rows together.  The final row seam allowances I pressed open to avoid too much fabric build up.


The photo at left shows the final row seams pressed open to reduce bulk













Here is the block center with the intermediate border installed.  These are your light rectangles (E and F).  Remember to adjust your pattern and cut these at 6 1/2" and 8 1/2".  They should fit perfectly.

Your next step is to assemble the corner units that will finish the block.  The cutting directions of the rectangles used in these units is correct.  Simply add a setting triangle (B) to each end of the rectangles, trim off the dogears, then sew the large rectangle to the smaller one, centering each piece with one another by folding in half and matching the center lines.



 Add the larger corner setting triangle (A) to the smaller rectangle side of the unit, again centering the pieces together.  The edges with not align properly and that is ok.  They will be trimmed in the final step. Press the seam allowances toward the large setting triangle. Repeat and make 4 of these units.
 Now you want to sew the corner units to the center block.  Again, find the center of each side of the block, and the center of the long side of each triangle corner unit and match them when you are aligning the corner unit on the side of the block.  Sew on the top and bottom first. Press. Then sew on the sides.
Your block should then look something like this, all irregular around the outside edge.  If you used the larger cutting directions I gave you at the beginning of this article, you should have plenty of trimming room around the edge of your block.  The easiest way to trim is to use a 12 1/2" square ruler and line up the center point of the checkerboard with the measuring lines for 6 1/4" in both direction on the ruler, then adjust the rotation of the ruler so it's sides parallel the sides of your block.  The setting fabric should extend beyond the ruler on all sides, and there should be at least 1/4" of space beyond all "points" on the block. 



Trim block to 12 1/2" square.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Twilight Gardens - Dutch Tulips

Block 5 - Dutch Tulips

If you followed along on my earlier article, Applique Tutorial, you may have already started or completed block 5.  I wrote that tutorial just a little early, as I know many quilters are not applique people and sometimes get discouraged just at the mention of the word.

In reality, applique is not that difficult, it is just another skill that once you add to your toolbox, will open up an enormous number of patterns to you.  If you are already skilled at applique, you probably have a favorite method you like to use, and so by all means proceed.  My tutorial focused on a method of preparation of the pieces that I had never done before, so it was a learning experience for me too.  I thought it worked very well, and, had the added benefit, that once the pieces are prepared, you can applique them to the background either by hand or by machine, whichever you choose.



We have two groups of fabrics for this block.  The first group includes the block background.  This is the first block where I have selected a fabric other than solid black for my background.  This dark charcoal with a subtle stripe is just a little different, and provides some nice texture for the open areas surrounding the flowers.  I also selected 3 blue fabrics to use for the tulips and a single green (plain) fabric to use for the bias stems and the leaves.  The applique design is simple and these are nice high contrast fabrics with the background.




The second group of fabrics forms the piano key strip that runs along the base of this block. I selected a mix of solid look fabrics, and ones with patterns, textures, and contrasting colors.  I purposely stayed with warmer tones and a couple of grays.  These will each contribute a couple of pieces to the pieced strip, just in random order.













The strip is very easy to construct. We cut 13 rectangles from this group of fabrics (2 or 3 from each) that are 1 1/2" x 5 1/2". Then arrange them in a pleasant, random fashion and sew them together with a 1/4" seam.  Press all seams in the same direction.


Set this pieced strip aside while we do the applique.

Refer to my earlier article, Applique Tutorial, for specific instructions on preparing your applique pieces, and also hand sewing to the background.

For placement of the pieces, I like to transfer the outline design of the block onto the background fabric.  So, the pattern has you start by cutting out a 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" piece from the background.  I cut mine so that the lines on the fabric were vertical, but that is just individual preference.


Use a light box, or work against a bright window. Cover your pattern with the background fabric. Position the fabric over the pattern so that you will have some trimming room around the design on all sides when you are done.  I centered the design left to right, and positioned it so that I had about 1 3/4" of background space above the top of the center tulip.





 Trace the design onto the fabric with your favorite washable (removable) marker.  For dark fabrics like this, my favorite marking pen is the Clover #517 white marking pen.  It creates a fine white line that can easily be seen on any medium to dark value fabric.  It is permanent while you are working, and will not wipe away, even with a lot of handling. Then it completely comes out with a little water, or the steam of an iron.  So easy!









Use these lines as your placement guides when you begin sewing your pieces down. Begin with the stems.  I did the two side stems first, clipping them in the middle where they overlap to create a miter that would easily by covered by the vertical stem.























For hand applique, you can position the pieces, and hold them in place with a washable basting glue (like Roxanne), or just pin them in place with small applique pins.

Applique pins are a special type of pin. They are shorter than regular quilting pins to prevent your thread from getting tangled around them as you are working.  They are available from many companies, but the best on the market, bar none, are those from Little House of Japan.  They have the finest shaft of any applique pins so they don't distort your fabrics, and a very small glass head to grip.  I LOVE them.  Little House Applique Pins.

Proceed to applique all leaves in place.  When you reach to tulips be sure to applique the left and right outside pieces down first, then the center of each tulip.  On mine, I fussy cut the woven accent design on one of the blue fabrics to fall down the center of each of the side tulips.

 Once your applique is finished, stitch the piano key strip to the bottom of your applique block, being sure to incorporate the center stem of the tulips into the seam.  Carefully position before you sew.










Once the two units are sewn together, press the seam allowance toward the applique block.  Center and trim the finished block to measure 12 1/2" tall x 13 1/2" wide.  Note this is a different size than the previous blocks we have made.  This is because we will be adding additional sashing around all the blocks.  The sizes will all work out in the end.


Steven