Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hive 7 - October Block Tutorial

What is your name?
Hi All! As I am last, I think you pretty much know who I am by now :) but my name is Emma. I am an Australian by descent, but was born in South Africa and raised in Zimbabwe. We had a truly amazing childhood in Zim, until things started to go pear-shaped, and now I have friends and family scattered all over the world. 

Where do you live?
I am currently in Australia studying towards my PhD in Structural Engineering (specialising in Earthquake design). I also spent a lovely 2 years in Pennsylvania studying for my Masters degree, and in California whilst working on my undergrad (did anyone else study abroad?)

Tell us about your family 
I am one of three kids. My younger sister is currently with me in Australia doing her undergrad degree, and my older brother and his wife live in Switzerland. My parents live in Dubai, and at the moment this is "home". I am single, so home is wherever my parents are :) Also... yes, we live all over the place!

This is us (minus my sister-in-law who was taking the picture) on Christmas day last year. I am in the purple jeans.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting
My mom has always quilted, and one of my favourite possessions is a baby quilt (ok it is single bed size but still!) which she made me :) I dabbled in sewing when I was younger, but that was more like annoying my mom by buying fabric and leaving half finished projects all over her sewing room ;) I had always thought I would start quilting when my friends started having babies. Well, that happened sooner than I thought and I made my first quilt for a dear friend in Indiana exactly 2 years ago! I was hooked after that first one, and never looked back! Now, I am so thankful that I found such an awesome creative outlet - it has definitely kept me sane whilst researching for my PhD!

How do you organize your fabric stash? 
I live by myself in a small apartment, so space is at a premium and I recently just reorganised everything! Basically I have two plastic tubs with my "working stash" i.e. things I use all the time, sorted by colour. I also have a couple of shelves with the "special stash" and things which have been put aside for specific "some day" projects, as well as fabric designated for quilt backings and bindings. I also have two large cubbies, one of which is stuffed full of scraps, and the other holds WIPS (in an effort to keep things tidier - haha!). My sewing desk also has space underneath it where I stash my apparel fabrics. (whew... addict anyone?!?)


 Stash in tubs - the first contains solids, linens and low volume fabric, the second all organised by colour (there are three layers of folded fabric in there!)

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?
Anna Maria Horner, Tula Pink and Alison Glass are my absolute favourites. I love all the bold saturated colour and gorgeous designs. I am also loving the Cotton and Steel basics and I love pretty much everything from Art Gallery Fabrics.Otherwise I tend to buy selectively from many fabric lines. I generally tend towards colour and clever blender-like prints.

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?
That cutting and piecing accurately is worth it later! Also I got very caught up in "must make everything" and "must buy everything" trap when I first found the quilting community online. It has been a continuous lesson to not have to have all the latest fabric, and not churn out a project or more a week! I am a much happier and more relaxed quilter now.

What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?
The clover finger presser definitely changed the way I quilt and my accuracy! I am a lazy quilter, and due to limited space dont really leave my ironing board set up all the time. So being able to quickly "press" a seam at my machine and then continue on with the next one is definitely a huge improvement!

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? 
Gosh, this is such a hard one! I am a big reader, and a bit of a literature snob, so most of my favourites are from classics, although my allegiances change frequently! Becky Sharp from "Vanity Fair" is probably one of absolute favourites. I adore this book and the anti-hero in Becky is such a breath of fresh air in the writing from that time. So cheeky! The film with Reese Witherspoon is actually really good too if you wanted to watch it! Jean Valjean from "Les Miserables" is another favourite... hmm I am starting to notice an anti-hero trend! ;) Both excellent books but long reads! I also watch a lot of TV, and although this changes all the time, at the moment I am very much in love with Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural, and of course The Gilmore Girls will always be a favourite!


Ok! If you are still with me, on to the tutorial! I (finally!) decided on an easy, no-thinking-required block for our last month together. The final block is made up of 16 x 4" (finished) HSTs, for an unfinished size of 16&1/2".

The fabrics will be all blue and green prints. Any variation of blue or green e.g. aqua, turquoise etc is fine, and any shade is great too, just not overly dark or light, and no "muddy" prints please. Also may I please request that no batiks be used.

Prints with bits of other colours are fine, as long as the print ultimately "reads" blue or green. Tip: I read this a while back and cant remember where, but if you are unsure of what colour your fabric "reads" then shake it quickly back and forth in front of you. What colour do you see? This colour is the main colour of the fabric. If you see two or more colours equally dominantly then it is a multi-coloured print, and please save those for another project. Blue or green prints with white are also fine, but please keep the white to a minimum, and again make sure that it is not the dominant colour in the fabric.

An example of fabric from my stash and ranges of colours that may be used is shown below. Obviously this is not extensive, just an example pull which I then narrowed down for my block.

Fabric Pull

Choose eight different prints in varying shades of blue and green. Pair off your prints from your 8 chosen such that there is some contrast between the pair. You will then have 4 sets, each of two prints. The 8 prints I chose are shown paired together below. You don't need as much variety in shades as I used in my block, but I would ask that you use a minimum of 2 blue shades and 2 green shades in each block (for example 2 navy blue prints and 2 sky blue prints and 2 mint green and 2 grass green prints at the least).

Narrowed down to 8 prints sorted into pairs

You will need to cut 2 x 5" squares from each of your 8 prints, to make 8 pairs which will yield 16 HSTs. 

5" squares of pairs (note there are 2 of each print, but are shown stacked here)

We will use a basic two-at-a-time HST method, so in each of the 4 sets, pair off the 5" squares. Draw a line from corner to corner on the wrong side of one of the prints (I used a frixion pen), and place the squares right sides together. You will then sew 1/4" on each side of your drawn line. Once each side is sewn, cut between the sewn lines on the line that you drew previously.

Press open each of the 16 HSTs and trim each HST to 4&1/2".

We will then sew together the block in four sub-units. Each sub-unit consists of four HSTs in two prints only. Arrange the HSTs in the four sub-units, ensuring that the diagonal runs in the same direction for all the HSTs. At this stage I also placed out all my HSTs and decided where I would like to place each sub-unit. This helps later as you can press seams to the side such that they "nestle" together when sewing the sub-units together.

Arranging the HSTs in their pairs. Ensure the diagonal is uniform, and that each sub-unit only consists of like HSTs

Sew the HSTs together first two at a time, then four together to create one sub-unit. I like to press the seams to opposite sides so that the seams nestle when joining the two rows together. Repeat for each of the four sub-units.

one sub-unit

All four sub-units

Once all four sub-units are sewn, you can sew them together to create the final block. Again, you can decide the layout after sewing the four sub-units or before. I press seams to the side, so it is helpful to alternate directions when pressing for seam accuracy. Unfinished block size is 16&1/2". 

Final Block - yay! 16&1/2" unfinished.

It's a simple block, so I hope my instructions weren't too confusing! Shout if you have any questions! Thanks ladies :)

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