Cloud 9 Blog Hop – Improv Hydrangea

Hi! Today I get to share with you a new block tutorial I’ve written using solids Cloud 9 provided. I feel I must say this upfront — this is not a beginner block. There are improv curves involved… dunh dunh dunh.

fabric-sent

This was the lovely pile Cloud 9 sent me. Right around the time these arrived, my hydrangea was in full bloom and the two were forever linked in my mind.

fabric-choices

I made the bold (for me) decision to use the purples, and the gray. Insert shocked face here.

cut-pieces

To make the block, you will need:

  • 1 dark 14″ square
  • 3 light 1″ strips (the length isn’t important, but I used 22″)
  • 1 gray 8″ square, cut diagonally.

This is a very improvised block. My ‘instructions’ are really just suggestions — please feel free to make the block however you’d like!

Cut the dark square roughly in half diagonally.

slice-down-the-middle

Pin a light strip along one of the cut edges.

pin-the-highlight-strip

Sew and press.

Now comes the fun part. You get to choose how big your highlight strip is. Trim from one edge to the other, angling your ruler to change the highlight size.

trim-the-highlight-piece

Pin, sew, and press the other dark triangle onto the highlight.

first-highlight

Now, you can leave this as is, or you can add as many more strips as you’d like. (The math here works with three strips, you may need to adjust if you want to add more). Just slice, insert, trim, attach, press. (If only saying the words made them happen, hunh?)

petal-shaping

Do you see the petal shape emerging? You might also see that this isn’t close to square anymore, but we can fix that!

Trim your block to 13″ square.

trim-to-13

See the upper right hand corner? How it doesn’t quiet meet the line? That’s okay. The next step is going to fix it.

Take one of the gray triangles, and place it over that upper right hand corner. You want the edges to extend 1/2″ past the block. Then cut an improv curve with whatever method works for you. I like the freehand rotary cutter method, personally, but any method will do.

cut-and-mark-the-curve

I mark the curve in a few places, on both pieces. This helps keep the pieces aligned. Then I pin through every mark.

pin-the-curve

Sew the curve, slowly and carefully. Press towards the gray (concave curve).

Repeat in the opposite corner. Press the entire block really well.

Trim to 12.5″ inches.

trim-and-finish

Ta-da! You have a lovely improvised petal!

Now, I’m not the only one sharing brand new block tutorials, check out these other fine creations:

Host: Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs

Miranda @I Have Purple Hair
Jennifer @The Inquiring Quilter
Sarah @123 Quilt
Leanne @Devoted Quilter
Jen @Patterns By Jen
Jennifer @RV Quilting
Amanda @Quiltologie
Sharon @Yellow Cat Quilt Designs
Jen @A Dream and A Stitch
Jen @Faith and Fabric
Carole @Carole Lyles Shaw
Stephanie @Quilt’n Party
Susan @Sevenoaks Street Quilts
Katrin @Now What Puppilalla
Amista @Hilltop Custom Designs
Nicole @Handwrought Quilts
Marla @Penny Lane Quilts
Silvia @A Stranger View
Sarah @Smiles Too Loudly
Carrie @the zen quilter
Mary @Quilting is in My Blood
Velda @GRANNYcanQUILT

 

Broken Log Cabin Tutorial

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Hi! And welcome to my stop on the PaintBrush Studio Blog Hop!!! I’ve designed a 12.5″ block to share with you today:

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

There’s a few options when you get a finished quilt layout, but first let’s start with how to make it!

You will need:

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

(2) 2.5″ x at least 15″ strips of one color (light blue)

(2) 2.5″ x at least 15″ strips of another color (navy blue)

(4) 1″ x at least 15″ strips of contrasting color (pink)

(1) 2.5″ x 2.5″ square (white)

 

Sew a pink strip to each one of the blue strips. This will make it easier to sew the skinny strips.

Cut each strip into a 5″ long piece and a 10″ long piece. You will need two of each size, per color.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Now here is where it gets a little trickier: Partial Seams. Dunh dunh dunh.  They aren’t that bad, I promise. These are really, really easy ones.

First, you just line up one of the dark blue pieces with the white center square, and sew most of the way down.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Press the seam open, and sew on the next piece.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

And the next piece. Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Now with the next piece, you want to make sure you don’t catch the piece that’s hanging down.  Pin the next piece in place, and sew.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Now it’s time to finish the partial seam. All you have to do is line up the half sewn piece with the edge of the piece you just sewed. Unfortunately, this is hard to photograph, but it’ll make sense when you get here.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

You have now finished the middle of the block!  For the rest of the block you just do all the same steps, sewing each piece around the middle.  Starting with the first strip, only sew most of the seam.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Pressing the seams open as you go, sew the other three strips onto the middle.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

And then sew the last strip on, then finish the partial seam.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Tada! You have a completed block!

Now, there’s a few things you can do with this block…

You can sash multiple blocks with 1″ strips and get something like this.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Or, you can choose a nice big floral, a coordinating solid and get something like this:

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

I cannot wait to see what you come up with!!!

There are so many other gorgeous block tutorials being posted this week — Today’s offerings are:

Host: Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs
Kim @Leland Ave Studios
Andrea @The Sewing Fools
Cassandra @The (not so) Dramatic Life
Stephanie @Quilt’n Party
Irene @Patchwork and Pastry
Tish @Tish’s Adventures in Wonderland
Abby @Hashtag Quilt
Sarah @Smiles Too Loudly
Carrie @The Zen Quilter
Wanda @Wanda’s Life Sampler

Jayne @Twiggy and Opal

ocean-sunrise-palette2

Secret Revealed!!!!

Brake Lights, a Moda Bakeshop Tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Hi Everyone!!!! Today I finally get to reveal the secret I’ve been holding onto for the last couple of months! YAYAYAYYYY! I’m really excited, can you tell?

Drumroll please….. I wrote a tutorial for the Moda Bake Shop! I submitted a design, and they actually liked it! (Hubby says I shouldn’t be so surprised, of course they liked it, I’m awesome — but you understand my excitement, right?)

Brake Lights, a Moda Bakeshop Tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

A few months ago, after a wonderful quilty day with friends, I got stuck in traffic. Fueled by a day full of talking about quilts, I started seeing quilts everywhere, including the brake lights I was staring at. A little more refining and thinking, I had this:

Brake Lights, a Moda Bake Shop Tutorial, by Smiles Too Loudly

This is the first time I ever made a fully detailed drawing of a design in my head (and I’ll share more about this in a few days). I am so amazed that it came out exactly like I saw it in my head!

Brake Lights, a Moda Bakeshop Tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

I designed the quilt around using just one charm pack. So many of us can’t resist those little cuties, and collect them almost obsessively. But what do you do with just one charm pack? Especially if it’s a few years old and you can’t find coordinating fabric anymore? Find two coordinating solids and make this!

Brake Lights, a Moda Bakeshop Tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

I really wanted to intensely quilt it, of course, but time constraints just wouldn’t allow it. So this quilting scheme was proposed by my husband. Something simple, but impactful. No sprained wrists, no running out of thread at 3am, just easy and carefree. Well, until the thread kept breaking… My machine DEFINITELY prefers poly thread.

Brake Lights, a Moda Bakeshop Tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

There’s random straight line quilting in the foreground, with two colors: yellow variegated and hot pink. Yes, I used hot pink thread! The background is done in figure eights that gradually get bigger as you move up the quilt. A very fun way of playing with the negative space, but very easy. I just marked out the sections with masking tape.

Brake Lights, a Moda Bakeshop Tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Moda sent me the new Bright Sun fabric by Chelsea and Sherri from A Quilting Life.  It’s like this fabric was made just for me! Yellow, turquoise, polka dots, arrows… what’s not to adore? I hope you guys like the fabric too, you’re going to be seeing a lot of it here in the next few decades. I can’t wait to see what their new line is going to look like!!!!

Brake Lights, a Moda Bakeshop Tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

And of course, Woody had to help. Just as he’s helping type this… Purring away and making it difficult, but he’s so cute, I never have the heart to move him.

Woody Approves, Brake Lights, Smiles Too Loudly

Oh, and if you’re a frequent visitor, you may have noticed the change of scenery. My normal photo site was cramped with extra siding, so hubby suggested the local lake beach. (He’s really smart.) They had all these wonderful spots to snap pictures (and that gorgeous yellow tree!) that I’m sure you’ll be seeing it again.

Brake Lights, a Moda Bakeshop Tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Please, please, please let me know if you have any issues with the tutorial, or need a little extra help. I know there’s a few tricky parts, but it’s really not as difficult as it may look.

No more secrets for awhile, okay guys? I’m not good with secrets….

(Linking to Sew Cute Tuesday and WIP Wednesday)

How To: Press Open Seams (without burning your fingers!)

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!

Recently, I started doing precision piecing again (more on that later), and I thought I’d share my method for pressing open seams with you. When I started quilting, the only method I knew to press seams open was the standard hold the fabric open just before you iron it. As you probably know, this results in sore, burnt finger tips, and frustration. Possibly even swearing, but we can pretend that doesn’t happen, right? With a few tools, I’ve figured out a way to press seams open without having my fingers anywhere near the iron!

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!

The tools you need are: fork pins and a brayer (they’re shown above). I wish I could remember who I heard first mention these tools to give them credit, but I’m a little hazy on the details. A brayer is usually used to help with stamping/inking processes, not that I’ve ever done those… But someone, somewhere, at sometime mentioned it was handy for paperpiecing. It works just like a rolling pin (only smaller) to give you a really firm finger press. I could go into all the mechanics behind force and moment arms to explain why the roller can press better than your fingers, but you would probably fall asleep and miss the important part — how not to burn your fingers — so we’ll skip the physics lesson for today. I picked up my brayer at a semi-local quilt store, but you can find them online as well. (Hint: try searching for wooden seam roller if you don’t have any luck with brayer)

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!
a brayer or seam roller

Fork pins are just awesome for so many reasons, especially when dealing with open seams. As you can probably tell from the picture, they have two prongs, so they immobilize the pieces/fabric at two points instead of the usual one. Also, they’re thinner than standard straight pins (at least the ones I have), so you can sew really really close. These are made by Clover, and are available online, and possibly your LQS.

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!

Now for the technique! I’m kind of a lazy quilter — see, I don’t like to iron/press at every single step. A.) My cat likes to knock my iron over, so I leave it unplugged as much as possible. Fires are not welcomed. B.) Sewing is supposed to be relaxing, if I’m always getting up and moving around, it’s not as relaxing. The point to this, is with this technique, I only need to press most blocks at the end, when it’s all sewn up. (The example block here was an exception; I did have to press some of the subunits.)  When I’m joining two sections, I finger press each seam, and use the fork pins to hold the seams open, and in place aligned together.

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!

See how the seams aren’t open all the way down? The fork pins will hold the seams open where you’re sewing, and the rest can get pressed open later.

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!

Since the fork pins are so small, you can sew much, much closer to them. If you remove the pins (any kind of pins, not just these) too soon, it’s almost like you didn’t pin at all. This particular machine I was sewing on doesn’t fair well if I try to sew over the pins… but if you know your machine is okay with it, you can do that too. Just be careful. Maybe wear safety goggles. Or, do like I do, and just sew right up to the pin, then remove it. That’s the other handy feature of fork pins. Rather than having a standard, hard-to-grab head on the end, the forked part angles upwards, making them very easy to grab.

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!
Once you’re all done sewing up your block, the back will look kind of like this (barring variations in what block you’re sewing of course.) I had already pressed some subunits, so there are a few seams pressed fully open, but you can see the majority of the ‘big’ seams are not open at all.

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!
Start by finger pressing the seams. Run your fingers along each seam, pushing downward, just like if you were creasing paper to make a paper airplane, or wrapping a present. You want to start coercing that seam flat. Because we all know, seams have a mind of their own, and will fight you if given half a chance.

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!
Once you’ve finger pressed the seams, you can roll the brayer over the seams, applying a firm downward pressure. This is just like if you’ve ever rolled out pie dough, just on a smaller, less delicious scale. (Carla jokes that I always make her hungry with my blog posts — Sorry Carla!!!)

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!
Ta-da! This is what those seams will look like after you’re done bray-ing them. (I’m making up words now.) Kind of flat, but still rebellious enough to flip any way they please. So now we bring in the big guns, uhhh, I mean the iron. A little heat will teach them who’s boss!

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!
This is where you want to PRESS, not IRON. Pressing is where you lift the iron straight up and down, ironing you slide back and forth. You do not want to slide the iron at this point. Pressing with the iron will follow with those good intentions you sowed with the finger pressing and brayer rolling. Ironing will mess that all up. So put the iron down on a section, count to three or so (depending on your iron, of course) then lift straight up. Place it down on another section, etc, etc, until all the seams have been pressed. Then you can flip over to the other side, the right side of the block, and iron, if you must. I usually must because then I can admire the pretty block. Admiration is a very important step of the quilting process. It is, just ask my cat.  But see how there are no fingers nearby? In fact, I did this one handed (because I only have two, and one was holding the iron, the other the camera). Not a chance in the world of burning fingers!!!

And here is where I would show you the picture I took of the back of the block so you can see how beautifully everything lies open. Except I forgot to take that picture. I was hungry, it was dinnertime, I got wrapped up in the admiration step and forgot to admire with my camera as well. Ooops.

By the power of the internet (and going to take the photo just now), I have a picture for you!

How to Press Open Seams from Smiles Too Loudly -- use a brayer and fork pins to keep your fingers from getting burnt!

So, what do you think? Did this remove a little of the pain in pressing open seams? Are you now a convert?

 

(Linking this to Stephanie’s Tips and Tutorial Tuesday)

(This block is one of my Friendship Supernova blocks. Yes, I’m finally going to finish those. Jo, you can stop sending the sad puppy eyes)