Monday, 26 September 2011

Sawtooth Quilt Block Borders

The sawtooth star is a perfect way to frame a quilt block and is not difficult to make.  It certainly gives something different to a sampler quilt if all the quilt blocks are framed with something other than plain sashing.  In the example shown I have made a 6” (finished size) quilt block to go in the middle.





The sawtooth border is made using four 6.1/2” by 3.1/2” rectangles in brown fabric and eight 3.1/2” squares in the red fabric. These are for the units on the sides known as flying geese units. You will also need four 3.1/2” brown squares for the corners.





With right sides together, place a red square on one end of the brown rectangle and mark a line along the diagonal. Sew a seam along that line.





Trim the excess triangles (one in brown, one in red) about ¼” from the seam. Fold the other half of the red square over to fill the space left by trimming the triangles. In the right hand photo that means folding the red fabric up towards the top right corner.


Repeat with the other red square on the other side of the brown rectangle so that you have a flying geese unit as shown.  Make four of these.






You can now use these flying geese units to frame a 6” quilt block as shown. Sew one flying geese unit each to the top and bottom of the quilt block. Add a brown square to each end of the other two flying geese units and sew these extended units to the sides of the quilt block. You could add this border to any quilt block and it would give a theme to your quilt design even when every block is different.


That works fine for a 6” block and smaller, but what happens when you have a larger block to go in the middle? You could try making your flying geese units bigger but the whole unit would begin to look really unwieldy.

The answer is to slip in a few extra triangles. In the photo the central quilt block is 12” finished size. I made a lot of extra 3.1/2” half square triangle squares so that I could play around. That’s why the flying geese units are made using half square triangle units sewn together. That’s a perfectly acceptable way to make flying geese units, but it does give you an extra seam in the middle.


I have added an extra half square triangle on each end of each flying geese unit so that there are four half square triangles on each side. In each corner I have put a half square triangle square instead of a plain square and that gives a slightly circular look to the entire block.




As you can see, it is possible to put any 12” block or even a plain piece of fabric into the middle of this saw toothed edging. The possibilities are huge: photo blocks, memory blocks, autograph blocks can all be used instead of or as well as sampler blocks.


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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Piano Key Quilt Borders

Another week flown by.  My daughter Samantha has returned from her trip to Mexico and Guatemala looking very happy and healthy.  I've had great fun looking at her photos and hearing about her experiences.  So I didn't really have the time to spend all morning deciding on a quilt cornerstone, but that's exactly what I did.

Do you find that sometimes you get to the end of a morning's quilting and wonder how you managed to spend so much time on such a relatively minor part of the quilt such as the quilt border?  I did that the other day trying to decide on a cornerstone for a quilt with a piano key border.

I had used four colours in the quilt so to make the piano key border I cut 1.1/2" strips of fabric in all four fabrics and sewed the strips together along the length.  I pressed all the seams in the same direction to make life easy and then cut the strips into 4.1/2" squares.


Sewing these squares together to give strips the length and width of the quilt was the easy part:  deciding on the quilt corner was the sticking point!

I tried using just the piano key strips just butted up against each other, but that didn't look particularly pretty.



The next most easy option would have been a plain fabric square in the corner.  Verdict:  slightly better but still not giving the feel that I wanted.






I cut out 2.1/2" squares of all four fabrics and sewed them together as a four patch unit for the quilt corner.  Trying the four patch rotated still didn't give me the design that I was looking for, so I decided to have one last attempt at finding a suitable corner for my piano key border.


I used a half log cabin design, beginning with a 1.1/2" square of purple fabric and then adding 1.1/2" strips of the other three fabrics on two sides only so that the purple square remained in the corner of the quilt block.





That's the one!  I like that as a cornerstone for the piano keys quilt border.  Now, which way round shall I place the log cabin cornerstone ...........?




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Sunday, 11 September 2011

Vermont Quilt Block

What a delightful quilt block!  Do you ever come across quilt blocks that are so pretty that you just want to make one?  I feel that I can always think about how to use it later.  In this particular case four of them combined would make a stunning lap quilt, but I used up all of one of the fabrics from my stash so I'll have to think carefully about how I could add to it using quilt blocks made with different fabrics.


The fundamental building block of the Vermont quilt block is a half square triangle unit.  This is made by placing two squares of fabric with right sides together and marking a line along the diagonal.  Sew a 1/4" seam either side of the marked line and cut along the marked line.  Result - two squares each made up of a triangle of each of the fabrics.  It's the way that I find easiest to make half square triangle units because you don't have to worry about the fabric stretching as you sew along the diagonal.

The quilt block that I made is around 23" square and I made it using  4" finished size squares.  The total fabric requirements are: 
purple fabric:  two 8.7/8" squares cut along the diagonal to make four triangles
                      seven 4.7/8" squares
white fabric:    six 4.7/8" squares
dark blue:        four 4.7/8" squares
light blue:         seven 4.7/8" squares

After I had finished making it, I realised that there is a simpler method of construction for this block.  Story of my life!  So, the simple method ....

Make ten half square units in white/purple, eight in dark blue/light blue, two in light blue/white.  Sew together four 4 patch units as shown in the photo, using two each of the purple/white and dark blue/light blue half square units.


Sew together two purple/white and two light blue/white half square units to make the 4 patch shown on the left.  This will appear in the middle of the Vermont quilt block.   Cut two purple and two light blue squares in half and sew them together as shown on the right to make four corner units.
Now, just put all these units together!


Sew a purple triangle to either side of one 4 patch unit.  Repeat so that you have two of these panels.  The Vermont quilt block is constructed on point so these panels will be sewn together as diagonal strips.  Do check the photos carefully to see that you have all the triangles facing the right way in relation to each other.



The central strip is made of a 4 patch unit on each end and the central unit of purple and pale blue half square units  in the middle.  Sew these three units together and then sew the two units with large purple triangles above and below the central strip.




Sew a corner unit on to each corner and that's the Vermont quilt block complete.  I'm really pleased both with how good it looks and how easy it was to construct what at first looked like quite a complicated block.



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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Oh what a week.  I was asked to make a quilt 10' by 7' from some very textured (but absolutely beautiful) curtain fabric.  What could go wrong?  The most difficult part would be matching the pattern where I joined the sections of fabric and then it would be plain sailing.  If only .....  The fabric was so heavy that somehow I managed to stretch it slightly even though I was being really careful.  The only solution was an awful lot of hand quilting which took me most of the week.  Luckily the customer was thrilled with it, but I don't think that I'll take on a commission like that again.

Well, we're into September now and although the weather has been absolutely beautiful here in Shropshire I decided that I must start thinking about autumn colours.  I managed to find a quilt block called autumn tints so I thought that would be a good start.




It's fairly easy to make because the four corner units are the same as each other and they are joined by sashing with a brown square in the middle.

I made it initially with some fairly boring fabric but I think when I make it to go into a quilt I'll make full use of all the gorgeous fabrics that have the full range of autumn colours.


I mentioned the crumb quilt tutorial in a recent post and I put it on the website a week or so back.  I used nine patch units between the crumb quilt blocks to separate them out a bit and it worked quite well, so I thought that I would post the video here in case you'd like to see it.  It's such an amazingly simple way of using up fabric scraps that I can see myself making many more of them!





I have been harvesting the lavender in my garden and I saw a really neat idea for lavender bags in town last week.  I'm usually fairly predictable and make lavender bags in squares or hearts, but these ones were in the shape of animals and they would make gorgeous Christmas presents.   Oh dear, another thing to add to my to do list.

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