Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hive 6 - January Block Tutorial

Hello Stash Bee Hive 6!  I'm the hive mama, so January is my month to be queen bee.

What is your name?
Courtney Lyons.  I blog here, and I'm courtiepie on flickr and IG.

Where do you live?
Charlotte, NC
Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)
I am married to my college (UNC - go Tar Heels!) sweetheart, Andrew and we have three boys and a yellow lab, Bettis (I'm originally from Pittsburgh, so the Steelers are big in our house).  I never knew how much free time I had with two until Baby Sean arrived!  I try to fit sewing in any chance I get, but I also love to work out (yoga, running, cycle and cardio funk), garden and cook. 
Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.
 I loved to sew when I was little, probably because of my Aunt Cheryl who taught me to cross stitch and let me sit on her lap while she sewed.  But she was the only one in my family who ever sewed, and we moved away when I was in third grade.  I still kept cross stitching and making doll clothes.  In college I decided I wanted to make a patchwork quilt for my bed.  I had no idea how to do anything (but I sure knew I liked shopping for fabric at Mulberry Silks in Carboro, near the UNC campus), so I used regular scissors and post it notes as a template.  I hand sewed almost the whole thing and when my mom found out, she felt bad and took me to walmart to buy a sewing machine.  I had that $99 singer up until two years ago!  After that quilt, I dabbled in various other artistic pursuits until I discovered an online tutorial about 5 years ago and the floodgates opened to the online sewing community! 

How do you organize your fabric stash? (Picture appreciated)
Good grief, I guess I love to buy fabric more than I actually like to use it.  It's just so pretty and you know you have to get it before it goes out of print!  
 Here is a picture of my sewing room right after we built the L shaped desk area, which is just painted plywood on top of 3 bookcases.  I'm glad I took these pictures, because right now the room is such a mess!  I have changed a few things with storage, though, so I may add some more pictures.

Here is a close up of the bookcase by the window.  There is so much more fabric in there now, all of the bins are full.  The top two shelves on the right hold apparel fabrics.  The top left holds whites, neutrals, linens and some home decor. The bottom two left hold 1/2 yard - 1 yard cuts of fabric that are predominately one color and the bottom right is Anna Maria Horner fabrics.

Across the (small)room is an old dresser and a tall ikea bookcase.  The dresser top holds holiday fabric, fat quarter collections and charm packs.  The small drawers hold fat quarters and sewing supplies while the bottom drawers hold 2 yard+ cuts and some specialty fabrics like terry cloth, PLU, and interfacing.  The tower holds (from the top) sewing books, a bin with scraps arranged in color order, a bin of ribbons, Heather Ross fabrics, a bin with special scraps (precious fabric, linens, multi colored), and more sewing manuals/books.

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?
Anna Maria Horner, Heather Ross, Aneela Hoey, Suzuko Koseki, anything from Echino, Yuwa and Kokka.

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?
Linen fabrics do not pair well with quilting cottons unless you take precautions like larger seam allowances or heavier quilting.  Also, to just fix a mistake right away if it bugs you, if you keep going it is only going to be more trouble to fix and you're never going to not see it!
What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?
 The little snipper scissors.  I can't sit at my sewing machine without them. I also rip seams with them when I am too lazy to find my seam ripper.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.)
 Oh, I could never choose between Anne of Green Gables and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.  I guess they have a lot in common.  I would love to be friends with both of them.  I think Anne was like a friend to me as I read every LM Montgomery book at least twice when I was in 5th or 6th grade.  I like that they are fiercely independent but really feminine too.  And Gilbert and Mr. Darcy.  I'll stop now.

 Okay, on to the January Block!

I am sure I have seen this idea somewhere, as there is nothing new under the sun but the idea came to me when I saw a lattice quilt that I thought would be fun to swap out the lattice part with postage stamp blocks. I'm also really into the scrappy white backgrounds lately, so I used those as background.

As per the bee guidelines, you are only required to make one of these blocks, but may make more.  I made two because my first one was made using pieces from another project and I wanted to make sure if you started from scratch that it could be made in under the 1.5 hour limit.  The block I made from scratch took under half an hour to cut and half an hour to piece.  Leaving you a whole half hour to clean up the mess!

Let's take a look at how this block goes together.  It is pretty much a nine patch with 5 of the blocks being mini nine patches.  You can cut out those little 2" squares individually (and end up with 45 unique fabric squares) or strip piece them which creates some repeats, but is certainly a little quicker.  I cut my 45 pieces individually in less than half an hour from raiding a scrap basket, but it would probably take longer using stash fabrics.

You will need:
(4) 5" charm squares of white/ivory low volume fabric for the corners
(45) 2" squares for the (5) mini scrappy nine patches in bright, happy colors.
or (15) 2"x 7" strips if you would like to strip piece the patches.
*use 1/4" seams throughout

Here is the tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts for strip piecing postage stamp blocks.  I would use her sizing of 2x7" strips because you have a little room for error (vs. 2x6" strips).  In the tutorial she sews 4 strips together, but for this block you will only sew 3 together.  After trimming the blocks into 3 strips, you will also just sew three of these rows together to make the nine patch block.

If you are not strip piecing, just lay out your blocks in an arrangement you like and begin sewing the nine patches. I normally press seams open, but find it too tedious on these small pieces, so I used Rita's method of nesting seams from the tutorial above when it came time to sew my rows together.  You may use whatever method works for you, I'm not too fussy : )

Please trim your blocks to 5" once you finish and press them.  It will help with getting the seams lined up!

If you sewed with a true 1/4" seam you should not have much trimming to do. In the picture above I moved the cutting ruler down (from where I would actually cut) to show you where the two seam lines should lie, at the 1.75 and 3.25 marks.  Finding those marks ensures you don't take too much off one side.

Now you should have (9) 5" blocks to sew into you big nine patch!

I sew the blocks into rows first, press the seams and then join the rows.  All finished.

*A note about color.  I do really want a nice contrast between the patchwork and the background.  Although I love text fabrics, a lot of the ones with black text on white background end up reading a bit darker than you would expect.  I thought that the text fabric I used in the second block would be okay since half of the text was in gray, but it still reads darker than I hoped.  Also, I took most of these photos at night in my sewing room, so I think the patchwork is a little brighter in real life.  I love the colors of the finished quilt in Rita's tutorial, so you can also refer to that if you have any question. 

Thank you so much and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!


Melodee said...

Hi Courtney! Great block choice :) I am working on getting the nine patches all sorted. I started with making a pile that I intended to have 45 prints in but then my ADHD kicked in and I'm now picking them based on the nine patch! but it is fun to dig and dig and see what I can find! It is amazing to me how many poka dot prints I have!! I had no idea! but boo <:(> I do have a fair amount of browns too...I'm sorting thinking why in the world do I have so much brown! really brown?!?!?!
what a great night! sorting fabric with Netflix (Doctor Who) on in the background <:)>

Diane-crewe said...

block made going in the post in the morning xx

Kim @ TiesThatBindQuilting said...

What a fun block! Looking forward to putting this one together!

Angela N. said...

Oh this is just perfect because i just finally put my scraps in order. Im so excited!!

Yanick B. said...

Thanks for the great first block. I am hoping for time later this week to get my stash buckets out and start on this beauty.