Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hive 1 - February Block Tutorial

Hello there, Hive One!  My name is Gwendellyn (these days online you can find me under therainbowrevolts), and I just turned 24 a couple weeks ago. I've been married for just over two years and we're currently in Tucson, AZ with our two rescue kitties, Andrew Jackson and Ziggy Stardust ♥ I grew up loving to craft things; my dad even taught me to cross stitch when I was 9 or so! I took up crafting again after my chronic illness (signs point to Crohns, but I have no official diagnosis - I assume people are a little curious, haha) kept me from work or even getting out of the house too often. First I started cross stitching, then quickly avalanched into crochet and embroidery and then the inevitable slide into quilting. How could I have resisted? I did lots of fashion design (started school for it, even!) out of high school, and I found myself continually frustrated at how many fabrics were out there that I was absolutely in love with, but just couldn't see as clothes, or see me wearing them. The second I realized there was a practical application for all those fabrics that I've always wanted to bring home and touch gently and arrange into shrines of color, I was unstoppable! That was January of last year; and while my illness has made it harder to stay sewing (lots of cross stitching and knitting lately!), I remain dedicated to, and overwhelmingly inspired by, quilting.

As far as stash organization goes, well... there's not much to speak of :|

Normally there's a stack of fabric at least five layers deep on top of this, though...

Just a giant plastic tub I try to keep tidy, and now a small overflow container, and a laundry basket filled with bags and bags and bags of scraps. I love scraps! Can I call scraps my favorite designer? :) I love seeing tons of fabrics working well together in spite of the odds. Okay, but really, my favorite fabric designers are Aneela Hoey, Sarah Jane, PamKittyMorning, Lecien, Kokka...everything cute, basically. I'm pretty predicable, I think :)

Let's see, the one thing I'd wish I'd known from the start is glue basting. I was really hard on myself for my early seams not aligning! Could've saved myself some anguish, haha. It's definitely one of my favorite tricks. Also sort of my favorite tool! I use a gluestick because I'm cheap, it lasts for a pretty long while, and I don't need to worry about getting glue on my fingers and then also everywhere. I am basically a second grader when it comes to things like glue and scissors: the glue will be everywhere, and I still can't cut even a moderately straight line :| You should've seen me before my rotary cutter!

Yikes, favorite fictional character is a hard one! I grew up devouring books, and have since started doing the same with movies, so I have a lot of favorite characters. I guess I'll give a couple ones that came to mind first? Let's see, Crowley from Good Omens (anyone read it? It's incredibly funny! Go read it if you haven't); a demon who likes the materialistic things that our world provides and thus is hesitant to do his part to bring about the apocalypse. And really, the story just gets better from there, haha. The other one that came to mind is Briony from Atonement (you all know the know...the really depressing one...), she's just such a very real character and I think we can all relate in some way to looking back on our childhood and inexperience with new, critical eyes. This was a tough question, by the way! I never realized how much easier it was for me to just name favorite books or movies.

Whew, that's the interview over with. I'm sorry for all the words! I promise we're getting to the pictures part of things!

For my month I decided to correct a heinous wrong in this household: I do not have a pink quilt. What? Why not? It's a third of my stash and it hasn't come together in a quilt top yet? The first fabrics I pull for almost any project are pink, but it hasn't been the star of anything big yet?? Well, I did put this together last year, but it hasn't been sewn up yet (waiting for larger low volume cuts for the bg!). So, it is time. Pink time. I hope you're all ready :) I mean, quilters tend to be a seasonally-minded bunch anyway, so you guys already have all your pinks out for Valentine's Day, right? ...Right?

I've been too in love with sampler quilts recently (think Penny Sampler style), so here's what I'm requesting! Traditional (and traditionally pieced) quilt blocks in whatever size you fancy, using a color scheme of mostly pink, with some aqua, light gray, a little bit of yellow, and of course low volume whites and creams are welcome! I put together a list of blocks (with links to good tutorials!) if you're wondering what sort of traditional blocks I'm talking about. Things like: Bear PawsBirds in the Air (think like this or this), Wonky Stars (if you're not tired of them yet!),  Improv Log Cabins (I like these since they don't look too wonky...I'm just not into wonky log cabins for some reason!), St Louis 16 PatchStarflowersAnvils (check out this super cute one, she even gives a tutorial on how to make it a tiny 4.5"!); or blocks that are sort of cutesy: Cross Stitch Blocks, Simple Hearts, Scrappy Hearts (I love these!!) or this one, not sure what the name of it is but I love it! A lot of these blocks, by the way, are fairly small - you can make whatever size block you want, but if you make a small one and discover that working with pink really is like working with candy and you feel like making more - make as many as you like! If you're more mathematically-minded than I am, you could also change the measurements for one of the small blocks to make it larger, of course.

As a short list of what I'm NOT looking for, I'm steering clear of: paper pieced blocks, EPP/applique, dark/heavily saturated fabrics, or blocks where pink isn't the featured color. That's pretty much it! If you have any questions at all or have a block in mind you'd like to make that I haven't listed, please just let me know ♥ Sometimes it's hard to have fewer guidelines than more, so I totally understand if you'd like my opinion on anything to help set you at ease. Sometimes I get anxious about fabric choices or block choices when it comes to things like this, so I don't want anyone else to feel that way :)

Speaking of fabric choices! I do have a fairly restrictive color scheme in mind, so let's look at what sorts of things we'll be working with, shall we~

Pink!! Of course. I've divided them into three groups:
Blue-toned Pinks
Neutral Pinks
Bright Pinks
Maybe Pinks

Ok. So let's take a look! Blue toned pinks are those that, if they were more heavily saturated, would be reminiscent of a Barbie pink - so blue-pink that any darker and it would probably be a purple! These aren't  my absolute favorite pinks (I think it's mostly because I can't wear them! They look weird with my skintone, haha), but as long as they aren't getting into Barbie territory, they're OK :)  Neutral pinks have a yellow undertone instead of blue, so they tend to pair better with other colors (and other pinks! If you have a pink fabric that isn't meshing well with the others, it might be a more blue undertoned pink. Just try switching it for a pink fabric that's a little bit warmer in tone). Bright pink is pretty self-explanatory! I did only pull these two for a reason though: the one on the left has a bit of white, yellow, and some lighter pink to keep it from being too overly bright. The one on the right has some aqua and yellow tones, so I know it'll work well with the other fabrics I'll be using for these blocks. Use these sorts of bright pinks more sparingly! And the more the accent colors it has that coordinate with the rest of the fabrics, the better. Honestly, that goes for all the pinks - if the accent colors of the print are neutrals or aquas/yellows, maybe a little bit of green (if you love florals, there'll always be some green!), that's definitely preferred! Basically, just be sure everything coordinates well. I think scrappiness might give you more leeway on this front!

Now, the maybe pinks are ones that I pulled that I really liked with some of the other fabrics, but which didn't seem on the surface like they'd work. For instance, faux bois on the far left is a bit peachy, the flowers just beside it have some greenish tones and not a ton of pink, and the pearl bracelets are pretty dusty. If you  have some of these pinks and they go well with the block you're making, by all means use them! Just use your judgement :)

Of course, even I can't make a quilt wholly of pinks. Here's the supporting colors!

Supporting colors! Blues, Grays, Yellows, Purples that are basically pink
Low volume whites, creams, pinks, blues

I think these are pretty self-explanatory! Various shades of aqua (if they have other colors in the print, neutrals like light browns, yellows, or white would be good!), light gray, maybe some yellow - some yellow always sneaks into my pink projects somehow! Maybe I just love that woodgrain too much. Oh, the chevrons I threw in because they're technically a purple (from the Blossom colorway of Out to Sea), but it reads as very pink to me. I like that the chevrons are watery and not too solid, too! For low volumes, go for neutrals or coordinating colors, like aquas, minty/soft blues, pinks, etc. I almost think the ledger print is too creamy, nearly tan, but I think in the right block it would work just fine.

Visuals for fabrics you should pass on? Here you go:

I'll go L - R, Top to Bottom through these! They're all fabrics I initially pulled, but then set aside for various reasons. The first one is a bit too dusty of a pink, and the print is very busy with other colors; I'm not fond of the idea of normal solid chevrons in this quilt because of how bold and powerful they read; this bright pink was actually one I had wanted to use from the start, but only the bg is really the right color. The print definitely leans too fuschia/red, especially when I compared it to the bright pinks I pulled above; This print is too busy and reads as rather dark from a distance; This one is quite coral and not very pink at all; Ohh, I wish I could use these roses! They're so dusty and very nearly mauve, though; these stripes felt too busy and the red and purples in it throw me off; I pulled this purple gingham when I pulled the Out to Sea chevrons, but this print is way too Definitely Purple, where the other one really reads as pink; I almost included this blue! But in the end the orange was too overwhelming, if it was yellow instead I might still have included it; the red in this print is so stark against the white that it stood out among the other low volume choices.

Whew! If you still have any fabric questions - again don't hesitate to ask!

I think we might be getting to the tutorial now! Excited? This is my first tutorial, so please let me know if there's any steps I missed, anything I stated as obvious that is not obvious at all, or if anything is unclear in any way. I want to be sure to have helped everyone!

The block that I decided to make a tutorial for is a donut block - inspired by this gorgeous quilt by heyporkchop, and helped along greatly by the measurements provided in this tutorial. Since it's pretty much the only block I wanted to use that didn't return a bounty of resources from Google, I figured it'd be a good choice :) I'm also planning on doing a photo tutorial for the anvil block sometime this week, and I'll be putting together another block or two (probably from the linked list above) as well. Then you'll have more than just one block to use as a style reference!

The block from the tutorial I used was 12" finished (12.5" unfinished), but mine ended up at 11.75" unfinished - I'll explain why at the end, don't worry!

First off, decide if you'd like to make your donut scrappy or not! I make everything scrappy (why use one fabric when you can use eight???), so well, I made this scrappy, too :) Either way, you will need (8) 4.5" squares and (4) 1.5" squares for the donut, and (1) 4.5" square and (4) 3.5" squares for the background. 

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner the wrong side of the (4) 1.5" squares and (4) 3.5" squares with a pencil or water soluble pen, then pin as shown. I like pinning them this way because you can sew right down the line without having to stop, plus I find it helps with that crossgrain shifting you get when sewing along diagonals. I usually don't pin the tiny squares, they're so small that they're more difficult to pin than to just hold in place! Note: If you're particular about your background being directionally the same, then pin two squares going vertical and two going horizontal - you should end up with them all the right direction! I don't mind either way, personally.

Sew along your marked lines! Afterwards, do a quick check to be sure you've sewn them correctly (for some reason I always end up having to re-do at least one!). 

On the left, you can see that my sewn line strays a bit outward, while on the right it's perfectly straight. How can you tell if you're off by enough you should re-do it? I just fold back the corners really quick. 

If it looks like this, you'll probably want to re-do it!

If it looks like this, you're good! Hooray!

Once you're pretty sure you don't need to sew anything again, trim the corners. Line up the quarter inch mark on your ruler with the line you just sewed, and cut!

Hopefully ending up with something that looks like this! You basically just cut your seam allowance into existence. The best part is that you get leftovers! I always sew them into HST's, then shove them in a bag. One day they'll be a project, I swear! If you'd like to send them along (as scraps or HST's) please feel free! Maybe you'll want to start your own scrap project instead, who knows :)

Anyway, do this along each seam you've just sewn, then press your seam allowances.

Before Pressing

After pressing!
I like to press my seams open (garment industry background never dies), but you can press them however you like! 

Now, I noticed that when I measured my sewn squares, none of them were quite 4.5" square. I'm not sure if there's a good trick to getting these perfect, but I don't know it yet! Instead, I trimmed all my squares down to 4.25" square. Since this is a sampler quilt and the blocks don't have to be the same size, you have this luxury! It makes it so, so much easier when you have guaranteed that all the squares you're sewing together are the same size - and makes it much more likely for you to match your seams perfectly when sewing rows together. If your blocks are slightly varying sizes, I highly recommend this step! I skip it when I feel lazy/adventurous/like living on the edge, but I almost always end up having to re-do it. 

At least I like the little pile of scraps that results!
So, if you're awesome and all your squares are 4.5" square (or if you're still awesome, but you ended up with slightly smaller squares), you should be able to lay them out like so!

Yayy! It's almost a donut!
My favorite step of the sewing process is when you can lay out all the units and see what the block will become :) It didn't take me too long to decide on a layout, I just tried to keep the lights, blues, and neutral pinks evenly distributed so it didn't look "uneven", so to speak. If you've decided to go with one fabric, your job here is much, much easier...

 I mentioned before that I was a glue-baster, and that I used a gluestick specifically. I think it's more common to use liquid glue (with a special tip to avoid getting globs of glue everywhere), but like I said above, I just don't think it would be a great fit for me! If you don't like/want to baste this way, feel free to use whatever method you're most comfortable with! I'm always astounded with how precise my seams can be when I do this, though.

Your next step will be sewing your squares into three rows, then sewing the rows together! 

I start by lining up the squares together (right sides facing), then folding back the top square along where the seam will be. I used my purple gluestick because I thought it might photograph decently, but it's barely noticeable! You really don't need very much (in fact, too much and it seems like it never quite heatsets properly), which didn't help me. Anyway, I drew arrows to mark where I dabbed a bit - usually about an inch or so from the start and end of the seam, and then once in the middle. Try to stay within the .25" seam allowance along the edge, but it won't really harm anything if it extends a bit further (just pull the two squares apart after the seam is sewn and it will easily pull apart any glue sticking the right sides of the squares together). Gently fold the top square back into place, then give it a good finger press. When you've glue basted all your squares, take your iron and press each seam for about 3-5 seconds - this will heatset the glue so it won't be tacky and sticky anymore! All dry and ready to start stitching. If you're like me and obsessed with pressing your seams open, you can open up your seams by just pulling the two sides of the seam allowance apart gently. This is why I don't like to put any glue close to the beginning or end of the seam - it makes it very, very difficult to pull apart gently! If you like pressing seams to the side, you can skip this (slightly tedious) step :)

Yay! All sewn into rows! Now to glue baste the rows together. 

This part is slightly trickier since you have seams to align now as well. I do the same thing as with the squares, just lining them up right sides facing, this time being sure that the seams are aligned on both sides. I like to start from the center, using the same glue placement; one dab about an inch away from each seam and one in the center. 

Then do either end, with the same technique. Sew your seams together and then check to see your seam alignment! How'd you do?


If you pressed your seams open, this is what the back should look like. I think mine might need  more steam, haha!

Hooray! You did it! If you're going to make a donut block to send to me, you don't really have to bother squaring it up; but if you'd like to for some reason...

When I measured my block, I noticed it was just between 12" and 11.75" square. Just for the sake of tidying things up, I squared it up to 11.75" square; this, combined with squaring up my 4.5" squares to 4.25" squares, is why my block is 11.75" instead of 12.5"! Hey, I ended up with some awesome seams though, so I think it's worth it :) Plus, in a sampler quilt, the size of the individual blocks is pretty negligible! 

All finished!
Well, what do you think? Craving donuts now? I think I'm in love with making these, I could assembly line them pretty quickly, probably...hmm maybe I'll have to make more as a backing! Oh, by the way, if you'd like to send along any scraps from making your block, or if you have some scraps that you think would go well with the quilt overall but didn't use in your block, please feel free! I'm a scrap fiend and, seeing how scrappy this quilt will be, a little bit of cohesion wouldn't hurt :) 

Like I said before, please let me know immediately if you have any questions/concerns or would like a second opinion on anything! I am so looking forward to what you guys come up with ♥♥


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

oh this is fun! let me know if you have any holes that need filling when you get your blocks ;) I think I will do something simple but since I am only in October I will probably change my mind 10 times between now and then!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your interview.

I can say I definitely do NOT have the "no pink" problem in my house. Since I have three daughters, the pink seems to just manifest itself in my house, even if I don't bring it in. It's a strange phenomenon.

I'm not in your group, but I just wanted to say hello.