Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tree Toppers Christmas Block

I'm today's designer in the Quilting Gallery's Celebrate Christmas Quilt-Along!

My block is called "Tree Toppers".

(If you can't download it, please email me at twiddletails(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll send it to you.)
When I designed the block I was quite convinced that the stars were classic star blocks but I haven't been able to find a star like this or a name for it anywhere!
The tutorial is pretty comprehensive but it does assume that you know how to make half square triangles and, I thought, the basic star. Apparently not.'s a photo tutorial for making the squares that are the points of the stars.

First make a half square triangle (or two, since they come in pairs).
(You can find a more detailed tutorial for HST's here.)
Then cut two squares the color of the star, and the same size as the half square triangles.
Draw a diagonal line corner to corner on the wrong side of each square.
Place a square right sides together with a half square triangle.
Sew 1/4" away from the line on both sides.
Note how the seams are perpendicular to the seam on the half square triangle. (You can see it showing through the fabric in the photo.)
Cut along the drawn line and press open.
You will actually end up with 4 of these:

Another thing:
In this tutorial you will be cutting squares in multiple sizes.
To ensure that you don't get lost in a maze of squares, I recommend grouping them by size as you cut.
You can even label the little piles with Post-it's if you want, but I just laid them out from large to small:

The fabrics I used to make my block are:
Moda Marble Dots - Yellow
What a Hoot Dots - Green
Squiggle - Lime
Hallmark Christmas Snow Flake Circles - Blue
They are all available in the store.
I've also added the tutorial to the free patterns in the store, so you'll be able to access it at any time.

Don't forget to visit the Quilt-Along home page and have a look at all the other wonderful blocks!
Oh, and you can post photos of your blocks to the Flickr group and have a chance to win some very pretty buttons!

Monday, November 28, 2011

This is not all I'm doing

I promise.
I've spent couple of days getting my tutorial ready for the Quilting Gallery Celebrate Christmas Quilt-Along. (You can see little clues in the photo below.)

But at night, I work on Baltimore Christmas.
This block has more than 70 applique pieces!

In my last post I mentioned that I was having trouble getting smooth curves.
Thanks to everyone who sent their suggestions, especially Lynette.

The bottom line is that everything was just too big: my basting stitches, my seam allowances and, most importantly, my applique stitches.



Not perfect yet, but I can live with this result. (Yes, I did have to redo 12 leaves!)
Another thing I learned was that not all fabric is created equal when it comes to applique. If the weave is too loose, there's a lot of fraying. If the weave is too tight, it gets doubly hard to get those curves smooth.

Remember to come back on Wednesday for my block tutorial.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Baltimore Progress

Working on Block 8 - "Mistletoe Wreath"

I find that I'm having trouble getting smooth curves using the backbasting technique. Any advice from the backbasters out there?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baltimore Christmas - first block done!

Minus the eye. Still figuring out how to tackle a teenie circle.

Baltimore Christmas Quilt Block 3
(Estimated time spent making this block: 25 hours)

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Appliqué Station

Complete with TV remote and M&M's.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A little obsessed

Still having fun with back basting.
The block is a little wrinkled from all the handling. Maybe I should use a hoop.

Many people have asked about back basting. I thought I'd write a tutorial when I get the hang of it, but why reinvent the wheel?
Marjorie has an amazing tutorial on her blog:
Just look in the top right corner. Thanks for sharing your knowledge Marjorie!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I really need to focus!

I used to be organized and focused but in the last year or so I've become a little scattered with a very short attention span.

Last night I played around with my new iPad (love it!) and a free sketching app.

iPad "art"
iPad "art"
I'm no artist but I don't think this is too bad for an hour or two's work.
Maybe I should just embrace the "new me".

(If you have an iPad, I used the free version of Sketchbook Pro but I may buy the full version. I love it so far.
I did all the line drawings as well as the coloring on the girl with my finger. Don't you just love how her hair and her hat become one?
I bought a stylus and colored the spools using that.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hand Appliqué

I've been on a quest to find the best and most accurate hand appliqué technique for a couple of years. Unsuccessfully.

When I started the Baltimore Christmas quilt back in March, I decided to try using plastic templates. Bad idea. The pieces are so small that the little bit of bulk the plastic adds enlarges the sections so much that they won't fit.

I was very discouraged. And gave up.

This weekend at our local quilt show, I spoke to a lady who was working on a beautiful hand appliqué project. And had actually made this quilt.
She recommended that I try backbasting.

I think I may have found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I've got a couple of kinks to sort out (thread, needles, etc.) but I like it. I really like it.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Back from Houston

I'll be sharing photos soon. In the mean time, this is what I spent every spare moment in Houston working on.  Because I've become an expert procrastinator.

It's a challenge quilt for my local quilt guild's show this weekend. And it was due yesterday.
The inspiration is supposed to be the "Red Poppy" painting by Georgia o'Keeffe. Not sure how successful that was.

Please excuse the poor photo quality and the magnets. It's dreary outside and the only white surface I could find with some decent-ish light was the refrigerator.