Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hive 1 - January Tutorial

Let's kick off Stash Bee, shall we?

As a Hive Mama, I was assigned January for my block tutorial. I am writing this up on 21 December. I am due with my second baby soon and may have her before 1 January, when this tutorial is scheduled to go live.

What is your name? Danny Heyen (dheyen on Instagram)

Where do you live? Gilbert, Arizona, USA

Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.) I am married to a guitar playing, computer hacking husband who totally supports my quilting obsession (even better, right?!) We have one daughter named Clara Mae (who we affectionately call "Maze") and one daughter on the way! Her name is Lily Noelle.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting. My Grammar-Rock (grandmother) was an artist. She found herself using many mediums, only one of which was sewing. She didn't sew often, but when I was about 12 years old she taught me to make a dress. The dress became my favorite, although my 12 year-old-tomboy-self would NEVER have admitted it then. I was fascinated by its construction; how the fabric draped and ruffled. I experimented with hand sewing and embroidery as a teenager, never really taking the time to fully grasp the concepts of sewing, but instead feeling my way through the art through trial and error. Flash forward a few years. I got married. My sweet and feisty Grammar-Rock died. Life changed drastically for me. One night, I lamented to my husband about those times spent with my Grammar behind her sewing machine. How I loved to figure out how things pieced together! A couple days later, a package arrived for me: a new Brother sewing machine, from my husband. I broke it out and read the manual cover to cover, learning the ins-and-outs of my new toy. After I became more comfortable with my machine, I took a beginning quilting class so I could join a local group of quilters who make quilts for people with cancer. I was hooked. Now, my primary creative outlet is quilting.

How do you organize your fabric stash? (Pictures appreciated) I organize by size, color and collection (if applicable). My collections I don't want broken apart are placed in clear, labeled, stacking storage containers on a shelf in my craft room. They are there along with current projects. My large pieces of fabrics (2 yards are more) are folded and stacked at the bottom of a book shelf which holds my other large pieces of fabric (half yard or larger) on comic book boards. My smaller pieces of fabric and scraps are held in color coordinated fabric bins. Most pieces in here are fat quarter size or chopped to the point that they cannot be wrapped on the boards. The teeny, tiny pieces are in clear, labeled, stacking storage containers. These pieces are most often used for small scrappy projects and applique.

Most of my stash.

Small, plastic, labeled bins for the itty bitty pieces. The plastic envelopes to the right are labeled and hold different Kona solids that I use often (white, black, charcoal, etc.)

Fabric wrapped on comic book boards in color order.

Charm square storage, organized by Anna Maria Horner, I Spy, and color. Solid charm squares are placed in a pile on top.

Larger scraps in color coordinated fabric bins.

Project specific bins and line specific breakouts.

And this is the pile of fabric that needs to be put away. Wanted to show this so you can see a better reflection of my stash and that I'm not totally crazy with my organization!

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers? My most favorite designer is Anna Maria Horner. No contest. Her artwork is amazing! I also like Lizzy House, Heather Ross, Lotta Jansdotter, and Sarah Watson, to name a few.

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting? Quilting is an art. Do your best but don't stress when your piece doesn't come out flawlessly. It's okay to not be perfect, especially when you should be focusing on expressing yourself, and not on precision. There will always be critics when it comes to artwork. Don't devalue yours because someone else can't see it's beauty.

What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it? Glue tips from Purple Daisies LLC. I am a huge fan of glue basting. It has seriously caused my piecing to evolve for the better. For more information on glue basting, check out this link.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.) Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series. Luna is unapologetically herself. She has unshakable faith, never bowing to peer pressure. She stands up for herself and what is right, regardless of the opposition she may face. She is a free spirit. She's happy. She is the embodiment of what all little girls should strive to be: smart, strong, positive, and an individual. I had been jockeying for the name "Luna" for our new baby, but my husband vetoed me on that one. Instead we are naming her "Lily" after Harry's mother in the series. She is the complete embodiment of unconditional love. A perfect name for our soon-to-arrive baby girl.

So now that you know a little more about me, let's move on to the tutorial!

I am asking for each of you to make me the following block:

I don't really know what to call it... a modern, white, wonky star on dark, scrappy, negative space?? It's too much of a mouth full, I'm thinking. Let's call it a Modern Night Star block.

I got this idea from my friend Alissa. She is an absolutely amazing modern quilter. I wish she had an online presence so you could all "meet" her. Her taste is impeccable. She asked for this block from the Phoenix Modern Quilt Guild Vitamin D Bee, which I also chair. Here is a shot of the blocks she received:

Here are the general guidelines:

- Per Stash Bee Rules, I am asking you to make me one block. If you would like to make more, you are more than welcome to do so!

- Per Stash Bee Rules, I cannot ask for larger than a 16" x 16" block. That is 256" square. I am asking you to make me a block that is roughly that size as a minimum. Due to the nature of this block, you may want to make it square, you may want to make it a rectangle. It's up to you. If you are under the size limit, please don't sweat it. If you go over, that's fine too. I intend to sash these all in to one large quilt. The size of the quilt will depend on the size of the blocks I receive and if I have time and fabric to make more. The sample block I made with the three stars is roughly 30" x 29". It's so easy to just keep adding to this type of improv block! Alternately, if piecing the stars into a negative/improv background totally stresses you out, you can send me just the star blocks without sashing them into one larger block. I'm flexible.

- Press your seams to the dark side, as mentioned later in the tutorial.

Fabric selection:

For the background, I want dark blues, dark grays, dark purples and blacks. I would prefer they have as little white in them as possible as I feel the white detracts from the stars' impact. This is a good block for blenders and solids. Not great for novelty prints. This snapshot is an image of fabrics I chose from my stash to make this block with.

This image is a collection of fabrics I thought weren't great for this block. Too much white in the dark fabrics and these purples (although I LOVE them) weren't quite dark enough.

The white fabrics used should read mostly white. I have a Lizzy House Constellations fabric in the mix that has small stars on it, but it reads mostly white so it fits well with this block. I also have a couple white-on-white prints, low volume, and Michael Miller Mirror Dot. I know the Mirror Dot is more cream than white, but I think it still works, don't you?

To begin this block, you will want to make a couple wonky stars blocks. I am going to write out a tutorial here for you, but if you don't particularly like the way I make wonky stars, I have listed a few online tutorials I found below:

Adventures in Quilting
The Silly BooDilly
Sew Mama Sew

Begin with eight (8) squares of dark fabrics and one (1) square of white fabric, each the same size. For example, the star made with the black pin dot was made of nine (9) 3.5" squares. From the white, also cut at least four (4) or five (5) more squares of the same size to make the spikes. Spires? Whatever the pointy bits of the star are called. I'm going with "spikes".

Stitch the white fabric right sides together at an angle to the base of a dark square, as seen in the image above. Stitch 1/4" from the edge of the white fabric. Changing the angle of the white fabric will change the wonkiness of the star. Do this to four (4) of the dark squares. I chain stitched these to save a little time.

I would like to be able to see the points of the star when it is sewn into a block/quilt. Please be sure to leave at least 1/2" dark fabric above the white point you create.

With right side of the dark square facing up, open up the white fabric to make sure the white fully extends past the edges of the dark fabric as shown above. If the white does not cover the entire dark corner, you will have to unpick and try again. This is typically why I like using squares and larger scraps of fabric for the spikes. Often times, using precut triangles results in the white fabric not covering the dark all the way, which leads to unpicking and anger.

Be careful!! White fabrics can be tricky on the eyes! Be sure you are sewing with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.

If it does cover, flip the white back so the seam you sewed is exposed. Using your ruler, line up the seam with the quarter inch marking on your ruler then rotary cut. Basically, you are making your quarter inch seam allowance and cutting off the extra dark fabric you no longer need. This is an important step. I don't want the dark fabric to show through the white fabric.

Here is a close-up of the cut.

Next, take your square to the pressing board and press your seam allowance (SA) to the dark side with a hot, dry iron.

Once you have cut away the dark fabric you no longer need and pressed, square up your block. I lined my dark square up with the 5.5" mark on my square ruler since this dark square started as a 5.5" square. Cut away the extra white, leaving one little white spike on the corner of your dark square. Do this to all four (4) of the squares.

Next, use the scraps of white you cut away in the previous step (or larger scraps or squares, if you prefer) and line the white fabric up, right sides together with the dark square, diagonally along the other corner. It is okay to overlap the new white fabric with the existing white spike at the base of the square. This is another way to alter the wonkiness of the finished star. You will need this white fabric to completely cover the dark corner so make sure you are allowing for enough overhang before you sew. I'm trying to save you from having to unpick!! Again, I chain pieced these.

As before, check to make sure the white covers the dark corner. If it does, cut 1/4" from the seam you just sewed to cut off the dark section you no longer need. Press seams to the dark side. Square up the square to the initial square size. Let me type "square" one more time: square.

Now you can lay out all your pieces to see the beautiful wonky star you are creating!

Next up: sew together your rows.

As mentioned in my interview questions, I am a glue baster. I glue baste just about all of my seams. This process not only holds the fabrics together, but it stabilizes the weave. The ONLY glue that works for this is Elmer's School Glue as you can see in my pictures. I am using a glue tip from Purple Daisies LLC on my bottle to get a super fine line of glue, which I place in my SA.

I want to sew these two pieces of fabric together. I place them right sides together, spread a very thin line of glue near the very edge of the bottom fabric, then place the top fabric on top of the glue, lining up the fabrics to match edges.

Using your hot, dry iron, heat set the glue. Make sure to press. This will dry the glue to hold the seam together as you sew. I typically glue all my seams before taking them to the sewing machine.

Now, sew your seams. The glue will hold them still so no pinning is required! Also, gluing means more chain piecing. Always a plus.

Once all the rows are sewn together, take them back to the pressing board to press those seams. I pressed my top and bottom row seams out and my center row seams in so I could nestle the seams when I glue basted the completed rows together.

Glue baste the top row to the center row matching seams. Glue baste the center row to the bottom row matching seams. Sew the new glued seams. Press SA.

Ta-da! And now you have a completed wonky star!

I wanted to specifically show you all three examples of what finished wonky stars look like. The top left star is made with all the same dark fabric. The right star is made with different dark prints. These completed wonky star blocks are square. The last star, the one on the bottom left, was made with different dark fabrics and different sizes. Varying the size of the squares/rectangles you use to create your wonky star block will change the wonkiness. On that one, I used a 2.5" center square but elongated the sides to 4" and 5" creating the longer spikes. Feel free to mix up your styles!

I am definitely a fan of the "slight wonk" over the "super wonk", in case anyone needs the added direction.

I would like each star to be made of the same white fabric. In my example block, I made three stars, each of which use the same fabric for all components of the star. Three stars. Three white fabrics.

For the background, I would love to see as many fabrics as you want to add!

Once you have decided on the number of wonky stars you want to make, it's time to start sashing them into a larger block. I typically arrange the stars roughly where I want them and start filling in the spaces between them with fabric. I glue baste each seam.

I decided to stop here because my contractions were starting to get more distracting. I easily could have kept going though. I LOVE this type of improv piecing. I'm so glad I recently stocked up on some Kona Black and Charcoal, but I'm thinking of going out to buy some more dark blenders I can use to make more of these blocks! I'm thinking crosshatch, quilter's linen, and some tone-on-tone shades that would match my color palette.

UPDATE: I DID go out and buy more fabric! These are all good fabrics for this quilt too.

As I mentioned before, feel free to use a different technique for making these wonky stars. All I ask is that you cut away the dark under the spikes and that you press to the dark side. I want those whites to be as crisp as possible!!

Make a square or rectangle. Don't leave me to piece Y seams, please!!!

If you make more wonky stars than you want to use in your block and you don't want to keep the extras, feel free to send them along with your block. I know some people mind ending up with extras, but I don't mind at all.

If you are terrified by the thought of sashing the wonky stars into one cohesive block, please don't panic. Just send me the wonky star blocks you made, but I DO hope you will try. It can be very therapeutic!

Also, with this type of block, cohesion is difficult to create. If you have pieces or scraps of the dark fabrics you use in your block that you would be willing to send along with your block, it would be most appreciated. That way I can use bits of the fabrics you used in other sections of the quilt when I'm sashing, rounding out the quilt patterns. If you do not have extra or do not want to send any, I completely understand! This would be over and beyond what Stash Bee requires of you!

I have had lots of questions about whether someone from another hive can make blocks for people not in their hives. The answer is YES! It is not required, but if you would like to make a block for someone who is in another hive, you are more than welcome to do so. You must contact the Queen to get her address since you do not have access to the mailing addresses for members of other hives. I addressed this in more detail on the Block Posting Etiquette post I wrote earlier this month. You can also find that post on the FAQ page.

Thank you all in advance for your hard work! I can't wait to see the blocks you create. As always, if you have any questions regarding this block, you can contact me via the comment section here (please note I am the ONLY person who gets the comment notifications so if you are trying to chat at someone else, you will need to contact them directly) or you can contact me directly by email. If you want, also feel free to create a new thread on the Stash Bee Flickr page. It's there as a communication tool for you.


1 comment:

Alissa said...

Hi Danny, great tutorial, thanks for the shout out! :) You're an amazing friend!