Block #8: Dresden Plate

While planning out blocks to add to this quilt, I had an inkling I might like to try a Dresden Plate.  But I wasn’t sure – it was just SO traditional.  Then I saw this fabulous block on Flickr and knew I had to try it.

Never having made a Dresden Plate block before, I did a quick Google search for tutorials.  I found some useful information, but every single tutorial claimed that I needed to go out and buy a special ruler for making Dresden Plate blocks.  I was not about to buy a ruler for a singular quilt block, so out came the graph paper and the compass and the protractor:


Template in hand, I made quick work of the Dresden Plate.  It was so much easier than I had assumed, and super addicting.

Dresden Plate!

If anyone is interested in trying it for themselves, here are some good tutorials:

Just keep in mind that, with a little effort, you do not have to buy a special ruler.  Also, these tutorials mainly advocate appliqueing by machine, but I did mine by hand.  One isn’t better than the other, necessarily, but it is nice to know that it can be done either way.

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Blocks #6 and #7: Curved Piecing

When I started on this sampler quilt, I knew that I wanted a true sampler and I was going to have to use a wide variety of techniques. For these next two blocks, that meant curved piecing. Very scary. It is a lot easier to just cut out a circle and applique it, in my opinion. But then, it doesn’t lay nice and flat, like the curved piecing does.

I drafted the pattern for these blocks with my graph paper and a compass, and made my own templates.  However, all I know about curved piecing I learned from The Modern Quilt Workshop. They may not want to lay claim to me, though, when they see the following blocks.  I think the lesson I learned here is that quarter circles are pulled off a lot more easily than half circles. Observe:

Pieced Quarter Circles

Pieced Semi-Circles

See what I mean? Those half circles are just all wonky.  Not my favorite block.

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Quilted Bags

Quilted Bags - Front

These are three scrappy, quilted tote bags I made for three little girls I know. They are personalized with each girl’s first initial in some hand embroidery. These were super fun to make. I like piecing without a plan.  Unfortunately, I just about depleted all of my yellow and purple stash.  Obviously, I did not have much to begin with.  I never seem to have enough of those two colors.

Quilted Bags - Back
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Blocks #4 and #5: All Color, No Neutral

I fell in love with this pillow when I saw it on Sew Mama Sew’s pillow month.  I knew I just had to give the pattern a try, so I figured out how to do it as a 12″ block and rainbowed it up:

Rainbow Crosses

I tried to get the fabric to match up across the seams, but obviously I failed pretty miserably.  I didn’t hate it enough to redo the block though, and quickly moved on to Hexagons:

Paper Pieced Hexagons

This was only my second attempt at English Paper Piecing.  I really enjoy sewing by hand, but don’t always enjoy how long it takes.  This block was just the right amount of time (a whole quilt of this would obviously be too much!).  I used this tutorial from The Sometimes Crafter to make the block, because I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel if I didn’t have to.  It was a great tutorial and super easy to follow.  I must admit, I have a little bit of Hexagon love right now.  I might need to applique them onto some little girl clothing to cure myself.

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New Baby Gift

Even though we all know that there are nine months to prepare for a baby’s arrival, I still found myself scrambling for a last-minute baby gift.  I did a quick internet search for vintage embroidery patterns, found some vintage-looking fabric in the stash, added some lace and here is the result:

Gemma Dorothy

The embroidery is done by hand, but everything else is done by machine.  I love vintage and embroidery, so I kind of love this pillow by default.  It’s adorable.  This may be my new default for a keepsake baby gift.

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Blocks #2 and #3: Raiding the Scrap Bin

Scrappy Squares

I don’t think I mentioned in previous posts that all the blocks for these two quilts are 12″ finished. That means that all the squares in the above quilt are only 1″ – very tedious work, but super cute result.  There are no repeating fabrics, since I made copious use of my stash of scraps.  There are just some fabrics I love so much that I can’t throw away even the tiniest scrap.  And it’s so nice to see them again – hello friends!

Now in this block, while I did raid the stash, you will see every fabric repeated twice.  That is because I cut all my fabrics into squares before making them into triangles.  It made for much faster piecing, and that was more valuable to me than the uniqueness of each triangle.

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Block #1: Rainbow Strips

Rainbow Wave

This is the first quilt I imagined as I planned this rainbow sampler quilt.  I thought of making cascading strips of color, possibly grouping all same colors together (red, red, red, instead of red, orange, yellow, etc.).  In the end, I went with a repeating rainbow pattern.

I wracked my brain to come up with a cheater way of making this block.  The original idea I had was to cut strips of fabric 1.5″x6.5″ in both the colors and the background fabric.  Then, I would sew them together (white-color-white) to make strips totaling 18.5″ – way in excess of the 12.5″ I needed.  I would line up the strips in the pattern I wanted on my cutting mat and cut off the excess.  The problem was, I wanted this to be precise, and that method did not lend to precision.

So, I had to painstakingly design, measure, and cut every little bit of that background fabric.  The hard part was making sure I didn’t make an error in sewing the pieces together.  It would be easy to mistake a 2.25″ wide piece of fabric for a 2.5″ one!  In the end I’m satisfied with the way it came out, but not exactly loving it.  Maybe I’ll try again with thinner strips, or possibly with more variation in the spacing.

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Motivation: Documentation

I’ve had an idea for a sampler quilt in my head for a while now.  It’s been brewing around, trying to take hold for months and months.  Finally, at the start of the new year, I decided to give in and let it happen.  I used some of my Christmas money to buy new fabric (which I had previously forbidden myself to do, unless it was for a special gift) and gave myself a goal of creating TWO sampler crib quilts by this summer.  The process has been so inspiring, that it has brought me back to this blog.  I have this need to document the process.

Designing Quilt Blocks - old school

I like to improvise, and I’m a HUGE fan of rotary cutting and short-cuts, but some of these blocks have required actual planning.  AND, for some of them I even had to break down and make templates.  I haven’t used templates since I first learned how to quilt, because the rotary cutter is awesome and I love to find a way to avoid the templates.  However, given the choice between a so-so quilt block and the look I actually want to achieve, I went with templates, and lots of graph paper.  Maybe it’s the engineer in me trying to get out, but I just love graph paper, pencils, ruler and compass.  They have been my friends lately as I plan these quilt blocks.

My children have also been my quilting friends as I plan quilt blocks.  They often insist on having their own graph paper, but their favorite is when I make a copy of a quilt block for them to color in themselves.  It’s like a quilting coloring book:

Quilt Coloring

The next logical step from here, is to coach them in designing their own quilts.  But we are a long way from there right now.  I think we’ll stick to coloring and wait and see if anybody expresses an interest in design.  I’ll keep you posted.

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One Year Birthday

My biggest challenge isn’t finding time to sew. It’s finding time to take pictures, and then process and post them. These are presents for my one-year-old. I still need to take a picture of her baby quilt. Or mention her on this here blog. Well, at least that’s done.

Someone's Birthday Is Tomorrow!

The jumper is Simplicity 5936 and the doll is Molly Monkey from mmmcrafts.

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Fun With Machine Applique

Fun With Machine AppliqueThere is a class offered in March at my local quilt shop that I am considering taking. It’s about machine applique. Specifically, it’s about doing machine applique that looks like it is done by hand. I am skeptical that this is possible, but am interested in learning how. The class is for beginners and I am not a beginner at hand applique, but I certainly am with the machine.

Here is my attempt at some fun, little appliques done by machine. They are certainly not meant to look like they are done by hand. Nevertheless, I love the way they look. The are fun and whimsical. The snail and apple have some embroidery on them that I did by hand. I’m wondering if that’s a little silly: machine applique and hand embroidery. Shouldn’t it be all or nothing?

I don’t follow rules. I just do what I like.

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