Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hive #2 May 2014 Block- The Road to Tennessee

Hello Hive 2 Friends. Allow me to introduce myself, I am Lisa Stahl, know on Instagram as doxiesandturtlesandscottiesomy and on flickr as lisasu1988, and I live with my family in Milford, Connecticut. Milford is a "little city with a big heart" of about 50,000 on the coast of Long Island Sound nestled between Bridgeport and New Haven, with 13 miles of beaches, with part of that being a state park. There are so many beautiful places to take pictures and enjoy wildlife both land and sea. We moved here from Pennsylvania about 15 years ago and I am still in awe of the beauty here. I have two children, Hannah who will be 21 in the Fall and Peter who just turned 17 and have been married to my best friend, Jake, for almost 26 years.

From left to right: Myself, Peter, Jake, and Hannah.
Our home is know as "The Ark" by our families because we have so many animals. We currently have two Dachshunds, Bugsy and Tucker, a Scottish Terrier named Angus, our Felines in Residence  Miss Taffy, Khaleesi and Julius, Carmen is a Senegal parrot and then there are Clyde and Thurston, the Chinese Fighting fish. They're all adoptees, we wouldn't have it any other way.

I have always loved crafting and have always had my fingers in the pot (literally at times) all of my life, be it sewing, rug making, scrapbooking, painting, drawing, different forms of pottery or stained glass. Over the last year I rediscovered my passion for fabric and other textiles and decided I wanted to quilt for real instead of from my head and that brings me to this point.

My stash suddenly went from several thrifted vintage sheets that I have collected over the years, to all,of these beautiful collections from all of these hip, imaginative designers. I am busting at the seams right now with fabric and am TRYING to organize it so that I know what I have. I'm using comic book boards to wrap it around and baskets to corral it in. My sewing table is an old library table that I thrifted last summer.  I was able to thrift some shelving to slide under my table that are short and longish that I can put some of my baskets of fabric on by color. I'm keeping the fabric I purchased in collections together though, that way I don't have to attempt to match it up again. It's very time consuming, but I guess if I would stop taking time out to pet the fabric, it wouldn't take as long.

My sewing room is our great room which I share with my daughter who is a painter and draws along with being a college student. The Great Room lives up to its name in size and for the benefits it provides an artist.  It overlooks the woods, which we are fortunate enough to have on two sides of our property. It goes back for several hundred acres and can never be built on because there are wetlands within it. There are three eight foot long picture windows lining the back of the house so that we can enjoy the morning and mid-afternoon sunlight, perfect for seeing all of the colors in the fabric rainbow, and also the variety of wildlife that inhabit the woods. We are fortunate to have a fox and her kits out there right now along with some turkeys. Last summer we had a family of owls living in the high trees and it was so neat to hear them calling to one another. I hope they're back this year. You would think we lived in the country, but we are smack dab in the middle of suburbia. I love where I live and my family very much, I am very blessed to be where I am in life at this moment.

My favorite designers include but are not limited to Tula Pink, Kate Spain, Alison Glass, Valori Wells, Dear Stella and Anna Maria Horner. I'm also waiting with baited breath for the new Cotton and Steel line to be released in the next couple of months. These designers are so innovative and hip in their designs and ideas, and their color coordination is impeccable. They are always on the cutting edge and coming out with the next "big thing", and I love it. I would love to spend a day with each one of them and see each ones process and ask questions, find out what makes them tick, pick their brains and get an ideal of how they became so successful. That would be soo cool!

The one thing that I have learned since I started quilting that I wish I knew before I started is how much of a binge shopper I can be.  I can go for a month or two or more without spending any money on fabric or supplies. But get me started and baby this girl doesn't want to stop!  I put money aside each month and when I don't spend it, the money rolls over so it adds up. Right now I'm saving my Sheckles for anything new from Quilt Market I might NEED!  Enough about me, let's move on to the quilting!!

The block we are doing this month is The block that makes up The Road to Tennessee quilt as seen here to the left. A little bit more about this lovely quilt and block at the end of the tutorial.

Now on with the show!!

Step #1- Cut four 5 squares (here by called Charm Squares), they can come from a Charm Pack or you may cut them yourself. All I ask is that they be colorful!!  I prefer a print but a solid is okay. All the colors can all match, you can do two pairs of solids or one solid and one print, or two sets of two different prints. The choice is up to you , I just want it to ooze bright colors and happiness!!

Step #2- Cut eight 2 background squares in white (may be slightly off-white, but NO beige or tan please unless it's totally unavoidable).

Step #3- Take your ruler or straight edge and draw a diagonal line  down the WRONG SIDE of each of the white 2" blocks.

Step #4-  Take a charm square and place it face up on your work surface. Take two of the newly marked 2" squares and place them marked side up at corners across from each other,  so that the diagonal line is perpendicular with the edge of the charm square (see photo).

Now pin each one in place (see photo below). Repeat this with all of your Charms and 2" squares.

 Step #5-  Sew along the diagonal line on both sides of the charm square. Repeat for all four charms.

Move Charm Squares to the ironing board and clip your hanging threads. Sorry my ironing board cover is so busy. If I'm going to be ironing something other than fun stuff, I might just as well have something fun to look at!

 Step #6-  Take the point of one white square that is pointing in and bring it to the outside point
diagonally across from it. Finger press it (if you need to, add a little heat from your iron, then finger press it), then press it with your iron so that the corners are "on point" (this will be three thicknesses).

Step #7- Pull back the top white flap. On the bottom one, still in the up facing position, from the seam you just sewed toward the corner, measure out 1/4". Make a couple dots perpendicular to your seam at 1/4".

Now connect those dots so you have a straight line perpendicular to your seam. Repeat on the other side and on the remaining Charm Squares.

Step #8- Cut along the line, cutting off the two bottom layers. Only the top white one will remain (the one you originally finger pressed).

Flip the charm over and press the remaining 1/4" of the white down toward the MIDDLE of the charm square. Press both sides of the remaining corner.  Depending on your fabric you may want to use starch on this step to give your fabric some body. In future steps it comes in very handy, so you can kill two birds with one stone here instead of coming back to do it later.  Press (and starch) your remaining Charm Squares. At this point it MAY look like you should clean the edges of the squares up, to square them off.  BUT PLEASE DON'T. Please resist the urge to square up these blocks at any time . If you abide by the seam allowance (1/4") there shouldn't be an issue.

How many of you use starch in your quilting regularly and if so when did you first start using it?   Leave me your experiences with it in the comments section attached to this blog post if you would. Thank you for your help. I just discovered it about a month or so ago on a blog, but I didn't actually buy any until I was doing test blocks for this project. I find it's very nice especially if you are doing scant seams, or in my case, actually trying to come in at the 1/4" seam because the fabric seems to have "less of a mind of its own" and goes where I actually want it to a bit easier.  Also, it's not your grandmother's or even your mother's starch anymore. I used to hate it when either one of them would press my good clothes because they ended up hurting because the formulation was too stiff. I remember when I was little pulling at my dress saying "it's pointy Mama!"  As soon as we got back from wherever we had to wear the hot uncomfortable things, we stripped and we're in our play clothes before Uncle Bud and his passel were out of the driveway! NO more kids getting half naked running from the car to the house anymore, it's made much differently. It keeps your collars, cuffs and more where they should be, without all of the agony they caused in the past.  And it doesn't build up on your iron or in your fabrics like it used to either.

Step #9- Choosing your own destiny. There are two possible configurations if you chose to use two different fabrics in the beginning and I'm going to cover how to set those blocks up in this step.

Below is one of the possible configurations that you can have when dealing with two different colors. Using 2 matching quarters on the top (side or bottom, however you want to position it once it's complete) and two matching quarters on the bottom with both of them coming together to form a V shape. If you have followed the 1/4" seam allowance throughout all of the steps till now, the centers should come together and fit like a glove.  Once your comfortable with the placement, pin your first seam, good side to good side for the first half of the block  and again for the second half of the block. If this is the set up you chose, sit tight while I explain the other configuration. 

Half and Half Configuration. + (Name created especially for this tutorial) 
Below is the second possible configuration you can have when using two sets of different fabric. This  time, every other quarter will be a different fabric, as shown in the photo below.  It's very important that your fabric fit together being very mindful of the pattern here. If you want to change anything to make it fit better you HAVE to do it corner instead of side to side like the formation above. Again and especially on this pattern, seam allowance is key.  Once you are happy with how you have everything fitting together, flip them so they are good side to good side and pin them on the line you will need to sew to make them fit  in a side to side fashion (this is important for finishing the construction of the block in the next step. Don't stray on this. )  Follow this for both halves and sew your seams. Now the people from the first configuration can join us for the rest of the instructions. 

Corner to corner configuration. +
Step #10- Press the seams open. If that isn't possible them press them to the darkest side. Now it's time to line the block up for the last seam. This is where the perfect 1/4" seam comes in. If you have succeeded doing this, when laying the two pieces good side to good side, the white seams in the middle (especially the white triangles in the middle) should line up perfectly. Pin and you're ready to sew your last seam. If one side is off and the ends don't match up like they should you are going to have to finagle it a bit. Put the half with the longest white triangles right side up on your surface. Take the other half, right side down, and work the white triangles until the seams fit properly (this will make the edges out of line, with one side of the seam being longer than another. This is the result of the seams are off. Once you have the seams fit properly pin your fabric where you will need to sew your seam.

Lining up seams.

Finagling a seam that wasn't sewn with a perfect 1/4" seam.

Step #11- Sew the two remaining halves together.

 Step #13- Press your seams open. If you can't press them open, press them to the dark side ( Luke, I am your father!). Then press the front also.

And there you have it, your Road to Tennessee Block:

And this is what your block should look like when you are finished!
If yours doesn't look like this, go back through, as you may have missed something. If you are still having problems please contact me at (blueturtle19 at gmail dot com) and I will walk you through and we can figure out what's going on.

Referring to the history of this beautiful block, when you sew two of these blocks side by side or one upon the other it resembles converging roads, off handedly, you are also creating a modern day symbol "X" or a kiss. 

And what we created here, with our actual block, is the "O" or the hug and/or what Modern Quilters call the "snowball".  The combination that the quilt produces are the modern day Hugs and Kisses symbols that we all love to add when we sign a card or letter to a loved one. 

I wasn't able to find a concrete reason as to why they call it "The Road to Tennessee" quilt, but the State of Tennessee is rich with quilt history and is part of the Appalachian Quilt Trail, a plethora of our country's rich middle American quilt history. 


http://thankfullga447 said...

Thanks for the tutorial, I take the ferry from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport. Miss the ocean, live in the midwest now. I also lived in PA in the mountains, miss my mountains.

Unknown said...

Such a small world! Where bouts did you live in PA? We livedin Danielsville, at the base of the Blue Mountains where the Appalachian Trail crosses, on the opposite side, and could see the lights from the Blue Mountain Ski Resort from our front windows in the winter time. We were out in the country and there was no other light pollution and the stars were so bright.
I have never lived anywhere other than the east. I was actually born and raised in Syracuse, NY and went to Syracuse University, GO ORANGE!! Then I got married and we moved to PA where my DH was from. Where are you currently in the Midwest? I'm hoping to travel a little more once my son is out of high school and I hope to see at least one place in every state before I die.
I consider Connecticut my "home home" now because this is where my kids have gone to school and where we have made to most memories as a family. It's a great place to raise kids and with the directions that they are both going in, I think that they will be here for a good portion of their lives too.
This is my first Bee and therefore my first tutorial and I find it very exciting!!


Unknown said...

I might have to make a few of these before getting it right, but I'm looking forward to the challenge! :)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I'm sure you will do fine just relax and take your time, enjoy it. It seems more technical than it really is. Once I did my first,one I was able to do five more in an hour (not counting cutting time). Believe me, I'm not a pro quilter so I wouldn't pick something I couldn't do myself. If you get stuck drop me a note here and I will help you out!


Taller de lino / Linen artisan said...

Very good explanations on this tutorial the colours of your projects :-))

Unknown said...

Thank you Margarita. I'm a very visual learner and I guess I'm passing that along in my tutorials. My hope is that everyone ends up on the same page in the end. As for the colors, I love any shade of purple!