Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hive 5 - February Block Tutorial

What is your name? Where do you live? Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)

Hello! I'm Alyson. :-) I blog at although I have taken a long hiatus from blogging...I hope to be back at it soon. 

I live in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, just outside of Washington, DC,with my husband, Bill, my six-year-old son, Caleb, and our rescue dog, Daisy.  Any day now (if we haven't by the time this post goes live) we'll be welcoming a wee baby "E" to our ranks. Yes, we are A, B, C, D and (soon to be) E.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.

My mom has been sewing for as long as I can remember, but never quilts (not until I started quilting, HAH!).  I always wanted to learn to sew and because I have an affinity for math, I think quilting appealed to me the most.  After college I made a friend who had learned to quilt from her grandmother and when I mentioned that I would like to learn how, she was more than happy to teach me.

How do you organize your fabric stash? (Picture appreciated)

My stash is...messy.  At the top level there's the type of fabric - quilting, fashion, craft...then in the quilting section there's 2 major categories - the section that's organized by color and the section that's kept in bundles or sets. There's also a smaller grouping of a new year's resolution, I bought a large glass jar to story my scraps and when it's full, it's full, I have to find something to do with the scraps if I want to save any more. Until a few months ago my stash was also MUCH much larger.  I've been paring down while we await Baby E's arrival since my sewing ROOM is being converted to a sewing CORNER in order to make way for baby. *sniff* 

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?

I'm not usually into specific designers, but lately I've been totally obsessed with Heather Bailey - specifically her True Colors line.  Also pretty much anything Heather Ross. Maybe I just like designers who have the first name Heather...

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?

 Break the rules. That's what rules are there for.


What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it? 

A bottle of glue. Seriously. I've been playing around with glue basting my seams recently and it is such a simple technique that requires very little practice to get it right!  It moves everything along so quickly too! Do yourselves a favor if you haven't tried it - buy yourselves a bottle of good, old-fashioned Elmer's and watch this video:  You'll never go back. Pins? Who needs 'em.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.)

I have an affinity for Alice in Wonderland. I love the nonsense of the stories and Alice trying to make sense of it all just resonates with me.



For my block, I've chosen Anna Maria Horner's feathers from the Feather Bed Quilt.  I've been wanting to make myself one of these quilts for a while, but it always seemed so daunting to make all of those feathers myself!  Plus, it's easier to get a scrappy look when you've got fabrics coming in from all different places.  Please go to her site here: and download/print the pattern pieces.  I've written up a stand alone tutorial, but you will need the pattern from her site. If you want to conserve paper & ink, you only need to print the pattern pieces on pages 7 and 8.   

I'd like to feathers themselves to be scrappy in hues of teal, purple, orange, yellow, brown, even a little pink and chartreuse - a lot like the color palette used in Anna Maria Horner's example on the pattern cover page.  I'm even ok with small pieces of non-cottons in the feather, for mine I found the PERFECT solid orange in silk dupioni, I knew i just had to use it. The "stem" of the feathers should be darker grey to black - prints or solids are ok here too, just aim for mostly grey to black.  And the backgrounds for the feathers - scrappy low volume.  Here's a picture of what's I'm envisioning as palettes for the feathers (left, center) and background (right):

First thing's first, cut out the pattern pieces and tape together the ones that need taping (A and F).  I find it's much more accurate to use my quilting ruler and rotary cutter, but I leave that to you.  I also like to leave a little overlap on the pieces that need to be taped together, not much, just a quarter inch on one side, but it helps with the accuracy of lining them up before taping.  Also you can cut out two "C's" and tape them together or cut on the fold, it just depends on you.
Next, cut out your background pieces and set them aside.  I use a rotary cutting and quilting ruler for this step as well, but you could pin and cut by hand if you sew (haha!) desire. You need 2 "Bs" and two "Fs" and they need to be mirror images of each other. I find that it's easiest to put two pieces of fabric wrong sides together and cut out both pieces at the same time.

You only need one each of D and E.  Cut out your 'stem' piece "C" from the grey/black fabric at this time also; don't forget to cut it out on the fold unless you opted to double the pattern piece!

Next up you'll need to cut some scrappy strips and make a strip-pieced chunk of fabric for the feathers.  Cut a bunch of strips that are 1.5" to 3" wide and at least 12 inches long. Piece them together as shown on the right here. The 'chunk' needs to be at least 12 inches wide since the feathers are set on a 45 degree angle.  If you want to be really conservative with the fabric, you could "stair step" the strips, or you could even foundation piece it directly to the paper.  If you do it this way however, remember you'll need two A1/A2 pattern pieces since they'll get destroyed in the process.  Just like with pattern pieces F and B, you'll need two "A" pieces that are mirror images of each other.  Most importantly, try to line up the angle of the strips with the angles printed on the feathers. Before lining up and cutting out the opposite A piece, I drew the angle lines on the back of the pattern piece, just to be on the safe side.    

When you are done with all this pattern taping and cutting, you should be left with a pile that looks something like this (i mixed up pattern pieces D and E in this picture, they should be switched, sorry about that): 
***Important note: all of your pieces have angles in them, but in particular, the feather pieces are cut on the bias. Handle with care or they will stretch and you'll have to redo it all and you'll curse my name! (Please don't curse my name.)***

Using a quarter inch seam allowance, attach the B pieces to the A pieces. Now, I am not a huge pinner, unless you are talking about Pinterest, however in this case, because you are sewing bias to bias to bias and angles galore, pin, pin, pin, pin, pin the heck out of these pieces. Seriously, for all of our sakes. Un-pin, press. (I do not have a preference which way you press unless the darker fabrics are REALLY obvious through the lighter ones.  In this case, I found my pressing was more accurate when I pressed toward the feathers.

Next, We need to add the 'stem' (piece C).  Line up C with the bottom of an A/B piece. Pin, pin, pin. If you didn't stretch the bias, the stem should extend beyond the top of the feather. This is is correct. (Ask me how I know.) Sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press toward the 'stem'. (This makes the 'stem' pop out, which is an effect I really like.) Repeat on the opposite side of the 'stem'. Trim the top of the 'stem', using the angles at the top of the feather, making a point.

D and E should be added in order: add piece D to the left side at the top of the feather, press. Add piece E to the right side at the top of the feather, press. Hint: on the pattern pieces themselves it indicates which edge should be attached to A.

Last bit! Add F and the mirror image of F to opposite sides of the feather. Again, on the pattern piece it indicates which end is the top and which end is the bottom, but for your sanity, the bottom is the skinner end of the wedge, the top is wider. Press. Ta-dah! Feather! (or feathers.)

Please make me one feather, or more if you feel so inclined.  I'm going to need many of these feathers to make a quilt for myself, so the more the merrier. If you are only making 1 feather, please don't make one side of it out of a single piece of fabric as I have done in the example on the left above.  The scrappier the better!  If you make more than one and you happen to have the perfect fabric for one side of the feather, I will be super happy to have it!  Who am I kidding, I'll be happy to have it anyway. :-)

Happy stitching!


Carla said...

These feathers are gorgeous! I made two last year for swaps and have yet to make some for me : )

Darlene Barnes Rosner said...

Oh this block is so beautiful; thank you for choosing it! I think I have some lovely fabrics to use for your feather blocks. Take care.

Unknown said...

Love this block! Can't wait to try it!

HotPinkThread said...

Wondering what size this should finish up at??

hey jude said...

attempting to make this block which I think is so attractive but having trouble with the "spine". Am I missing something really obvious (I often do)……Even placed on a fold the spine pattern isn't long enough and it also appears to be too wide. Would love to hear your view on this

la jeanne p said...

I have been trying to get this feather pattern for the last several month's from her site with no success. Will anyone out there share with me ? Thanks PLEASE !!!!