Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Simple gratitude

I've been debating about whether or not to write this post at all...started and stopped a few times before finally jumping in. I really try to keep this space positive - a place to escape the mundane and enjoy this amazing creative online community. But sometimes an event occurs that changes your perspective and makes you see everything in a new light.

Many of you may have seen the news about the recent shooting at the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall in Oregon. Two innocent bystanders were killed and another girl injured as a 22 year old man in a hockey mask and body armor sprayed bullets from a semi-automatic rifle. My family and I were in the mall when it happened. We were there to take the kids to see Santa and were next in line to have our picture taken. There were a few loud pops and everyone looked around trying to figure out what was happening. Then there was a loud burst of gunfire - too many shots to count - and everyone around us realized it was someone with a gun. My husband was across the concourse to videotape the kids' visit with Santa. I grabbed both Owen and Bailey and pulled them in behind the little doorway area at the entrance to the Santa area, covering them as well as I could. There was another long burst of gunfire that sounded louder and closer than before.

My husband rushed over to us as well as one of the employees from the Santa area. She kept yelling at Gary to get down, but he said that it sounded like the gunfire was coming closer and we needed to get out of there. I have never been so terrified in my life. Needing to make a decision about whether to stay hunkered down or move wasn't easy. But in that split second we realized that the gunfire had stopped for the moment so we decided to try to get out. Gary grabbed Bailey and lifted her over the fence surrounding the Santa line and I lifted Owen over. I have no memory of hopping the fence myself, but I obviously did.

We ran to the nearest store, Macy's, and got on the escalator going to the upper level. I remember yelling "Why are we going up? Why are we going up?" When we were out in the center of the mall it had seemed that the gunfire was coming from the upper level. I was terrified that we were heading up to a situation that would be worse than the one we had just left. Someone shouted back to me that there was no exit out the store on the ground level, which is true. My son kept trying to get me to stop because his shoe had fallen off and we left his winter coat on the floor at the Santa land. I kept him moving and told him that those things weren't important.

At the top of the escalator we all ran straight ahead and out the door to the parking lot. We managed to get out before a lockdown went into effect. We went straight to our car and left the area. My son was still upset about his shoe and we kept telling him that it wasn't important and we would get him new shoes.

And that's what became abundantly clear in those moments. None of the things that had seemed so important just 30 minutes earlier seemed important any more. It's so easy to get caught up in small stuff and an experience like this really brought everything into focus. My family, my babies, people are what is important. Looking out for each other, taking care of each other, being kind to each other, that's what's important.

As we watched the news coverage in the evening and got a better sense of the course of events, we realized that we were very very close to where the shooter started to fire his rifle. Apparently, after firing several bursts of gunfire in the food court area, he started to head down the mall in our direction when the rifle jammed. It was during that quiet time when he was changing out the jammed magazine that we made the decision to move and get out. I cannot bear to think of the many "what-ifs" of the whole experience.

We are so very fortunate. And our hearts ache for the two people who lost their lives and their families. I'm just sick that my children had to bear witness to such an event. There is an undeniable loss of innocence that has touched their young lives. And I'm sure we will feel the effects of this for quite a time to come.

So, please take care of each other. Let go of anything that is standing in the way of love and compassion for each other. It's a cliche, but don't sweat the small stuff. Hug your kids, or your parents, or your neighbor, or your dog. Life is such a wild and precious thing.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Itty Bitty

Oh my goodness, look at the teeny tiny sweater I just knit up! Well, I say "just" like it took me twenty minutes and I made it with my eyes closed. In reality, it took several days and I cussed pretty bad at one point. Seriously, tiny things are hard - they're so TINY!

A certain little someone I know had her sixth birthday recently and was the recipient of an American Girl Doll. Her mama is a sewist extraordinaire so the wardrobe was covered - except for a sweater. That's when I got busy with some tiny knitting needles and sparkly pink sock yarn.

It's seriously small - that's a quarter on it for scale. But it was loads of fun to make and I hope it is enjoyed.

There are a few other things on needles and hooks these days, though I haven't been getting much sewing done. It all seems to go in cycles and I'm just going with the flow. Hope you are enjoying the start of this beautiful holiday season!

Friday, November 30, 2012


Such a strange post to write. Forgive me if it seems like bragging, but I was jumping up and down like a little girl when I received this lovely in the mail.

Well lookie there - that's my Fractal Quilt!

Madeline Roburg wrote a lovely piece about math quilts and she was kind enough to feature mine in her article. Such a thrill!


Thank you for all of the well-wishes regarding my last post. Helen is missed but our little family is doing well, enjoying happy memories,  and experiencing gratitude that she is no longer suffering.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love and Light

My mother-in-law passed away this past weekend. Her life was punctuated by incredible hardships, but she was a survivor. Thank you, Helen, for welcoming me into your family.

Helen Dye (Galina Ivonova Lebedeva) March 19, 1923 – November 17, 2012 

Helen Dye was born as Galina Lebedeva in a small village near Rzhev, Russia (100 miles west of Moscow) to Ivon Lebedev and Katerina (Yermolinski) Lebedeva, the second of three children.  The family lived on their agricultural estate provided by Helen’s maternal grandparents, whose Polish family had large land holdings in the area.  Helen’s paternal side had an extensive history as civil servants in the Czar’s court.  Indeed, her father, Ivon was a Colonel in the White Russian Army, but was soon discharged after having contracted typhus.  Foretelling her future, Helen experienced tragedies at her birthplace:  When she was two years old, a fire in her home resulted in the death of her younger sister, which she remembered her whole life.  Her young uncle, who had lived in her house, was a notorious womanizer, but met with a pre-mature death when a jealous boyfriend clubbed him over the head.  But many extended relatives on both sides of the family lived in the tranquil area, and life was generally good.

When Helen was four years old, the NKVD (fore-runners of the KGB) knocked on their door at three o’clock in the morning and demanded they pack their bags within an hour and board a train headed for a labor camp (the Gulag).  The government would confiscate their home and property as part of their collectivization program.  The family was loaded into a boxcar along with other internally exiled families and sent to the Ural Mountains to work in a gold mine.  Helen remembered the long trek from the train and through the snow to the labor camp.  There, the family was assigned a small corner of a warehouse as their home, separated from others by a blanket hanging from the ceiling.  Helen’s father appealed to the authorities to, at least, have them sent to an encampment where other extended family members were being exiled (their crimes being landowners and being associated, however minimally, with the Czar), to no avail.  Later, the family escaped from the labor camp and made their way back to Rzhev and relatives, only to find their jewelry, heirlooms, and possessions that they left behind (hidden from the government) had been sold to keep the villagers from starving.  They also learned that many of their extended family had perished under the harsh conditions of labor camps or had been executed as enemies of the State.  Thus, they went into hiding, staying with friends and relatives.  Helen’s father tried to barter and sell goods to bring food to the table, and was thrown into the Lubyanka Prison many times for this illegal activity.  Eventually, the family was re-absorbed into society, and settled in Klin, about 50 miles northwest of Moscow.  Helen went to school, and later trained as a midwife at the local medical school.

In 1941, the Nazis invaded Russia, and quickly overran Klin.  Helen was working at the hospital when panic struck:  many of the doctors and nurses decided to run and hide in the woods, but Helen chose to stay.  Good choice, as the Nazis rounded up those who had hidden from them, accused them of being partisans, and hanged them as examples for all to see.  Helen later learned that her 16-year-old cousin had been accused of stealing food by the Nazis, and his punishment was to be put inside a pen with hungry dogs and mauled to death.  Helen’s aunt hated all Germans for the rest of her life because of this incident and other atrocities she had witnessed.  Helen’s older brother, Mikhail, escaped and joined the Red Army (he suffered a bullet in the head at Stalingrad), and amid all the strife and chaos, she lost all communication with her family.

Because Helen studied the German language in school and was fluent, the Nazis found her useful. (It also didn’t hurt that she was a beautiful, young woman). She was put to work in a commissary to serve German soldiers, and was generally well-fed and well-treated.  When the Russian Army counter-attacked, she was transferred by train to Minsk.  Things turned for the worse when her friend sent her a letter in which she gave the opinion that the Germans were losing the war.  The letter was intercepted by the Nazi authorities; Helen was accused of siding with the enemy, and was thrown into a concentration camp, and her friend was detained by the SS and was never heard from again.  A German colonel, who knew her, rescued her from the camp and sent her to work on his farm near Wiesbaden, Germany.  There, she lived and worked alongside the family, and ties were so strong that they continued their correspondence throughout their lives.

The war finally reached western Germany, where Helen experienced aerial bombings nearby, and finally, American tanks rumbling right by the farmhouse.   After the war, she chose to remain with her adopted German family, and started working in downtown Wiesbaden.  With her exposure while working with American officials and socializing with American GI’s, she learned the English language.  This was important, as she could not return home to Russia – Stalin had declared anyone falling behind Western lines were traitors, and would be met with labor camps or execution upon their return.  As a Displaced Person, she chose to live in the United States, and her adopted German family contacted their German friends, the Schaltenbrands of Sherwood, Oregon, who were willing to sponsor her.  In 1950, she travelled across the ocean by ship, registered at Ellis Island, and took a train to Oregon.  On the farm in Sherwood, she gathered filberts and performed other work, but eventually lived and worked in Portland, taking jobs with Leopold and Stevens (optics) and Jantzen swimwear.  She gained her US citizenship in 1955.

In 1955, Helen met Drew Dye, a union worker at Davidson Bakery.  Drew had also experienced much hardship in his earlier life, having been the tenth of ten children struggling to survive in Dustbowl, Oklahoma during the Great Depression.  They fell in love and were married months later.  They had their wedding dinner at The Country Kitchen Restaurant (still operating, and which remained their favorite restaurant through their last wedding anniversary) and honeymooned in Depoe Bay (convincing the owner of the Spouting Horn Restaurant to let them spend their wedding night upstairs).  They decided to have a family, buying a small home in outer SE Portland in 1956, three months before Gordon was born, who was followed by Gary in 1958.  Helen quit working to be a homemaker shortly thereafter.

Having been a victim of government pogroms in the past, the onset of the Cold War caused Helen to be very concerned with her Russian heritage.  To be on the safe side, she decided to claim a German heritage, even on her official US papers.  She told everyone she was German, including her husband and children.  Finally, the truth came out, telling her husband that she lost all contact of her family since 1941.  She contacted a person in Russia to track down her family, finally obtaining her mother’s address.  When her mother received a letter in the mail saying her long-lost daughter was alive and well and living with her family in America – over twenty years after having been assumed killed along with millions of other Russians in the war – she fainted on the post office floor.  The following years saw thousands of letters and boxes of food and essentials sent to her mother and brother (her father had died in 1952) in Russia.  However, none of this was sent from her mailbox at home, fearing the neighbors might find out that she and her children were Russian.

Because telephones were rare in Russia back then, Helen heard her mother’s and brother’s voices on the telephone in 1975 for the first time in over 30 years, to be follow by a trip to Russia in 1978 (before which, she renounced her Soviet citizenship, just in case…).  As one can imagine, the scene at Leningrad Airport upon her arrival and first meeting in nearly 40 years cannot be described by words.  Her mother died a year later.  Her brother was provided an airline ticket to America in 1985, and marveled at her good life in contrast to his own in Soviet Russia.  Her brother died in 1988, but her nephew visited America in 2001.  Her son Gary visited Russia in 1994 and 2002, acquainting himself with some of his Russian heritage.  However, Helen was vehement about being an American, and dismissive of her Russian identity. 

Helen’s interests started and ended with her family.  She loved making jellies, jams, and pies from the fruit grown in the backyard.  She achieved legendary status with kids in the neighborhood by serving her homemade chocolate pudding for lunch.  She was a classic Little-League mom; loved to take family trips to the coast, mountains, Kah-nee-ta, and scenic places; and had many friends that she’d known for fifty years and longer.  And every so often she would coax her husband to take her out dancing.

Last year, after significant weight loss, Helen was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, causing ileus, and preventing nourishment from being absorbed into her body.  Death came slow, but relatively painless, and she died peacefully in her beloved home of the last 56 years.  She is survived by her husband of 57 years, two sons, and four grandchildren.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Can you believe that it's already November? When did that happen?!

Well, it's that time of year - time to start (or finish if you're one those organized and on the ball types) the holiday crafting. For the past two years I've had all the fabric I need to make each of my kids a Christmas quilt but it looks like that may have to wait - AGAIN. But, I did manage to finish at least one of my holiday projects this year. And guess what! It's in the latest issue of Fat Quarterly!

I made this wall/door hanging with two generous pockets for holding holiday cards (of course you could put other little goodies in the pockets if you like). The best part of the whole thing was getting the chance to work with some of Monica's cuter-than-cute Winterkist fabric! I mean the gnomes - seriously! And they come in orange so you KNOW Miss B is going to end up with some in her room for the holidays.

There are loads of other great patterns and projects in the holiday issue of Fat Quarterly so hop on over there and grab yourself a copy.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Who knew?

Anybody still here? Who knew that getting sidelined by a cold over a month ago would turn into complete blog abandonment?

Well, I'm back! Before I get into the sewing and crafting I've been up to, I thought I'd share this year's Halloween costumes.

Miss B decided she wanted to be Snow White - again. Owen kept trying to tell her, "Mommy will make a NEW costume. You can be something else." But no go. She is a girl who knows what she wants and can be stubbornly persistent.

This year we added a white ruffled petticoat to her ensemble. It added a little bit to the length of the dress, which we needed since she last wore this when she was three (and yes, it was HUGE on her then). I should add that I did not make the dress, though it is handmade. Somehow we got super lucky and found it at a thrift store for a whopping seven bucks. Can you believe it? It's so beautifully crafted I'm guessing it was made for a children's theater production.

Next up - storm trooper! Owen is heavily invested in all things Star Wars. We found this great tutorial for how to make your own storm trooper helmet, which we didn't follow exactly but it helped us to figure out some basic helmet construction.

The rest of his costume was just black sweatpants and a white sweatshirt with the armor drawn on with sharpie. Simple and it kept him warm while trick-or-treating.

Looking forward to spending some more time here. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Under the weather

If one must stay home with an icky stomach bug, one should at least have a cute pair of slippers.

Made from Ayumi's pattern in Stitch magazine.

At least my feet are happy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Pattern for YOU!

Well, from the beginning there was interest in a pattern but I just didn't have the time to get it together. Is this a good time to mention that when I make an original pattern, I generally don't make a copy of it? Since most of my patterns are hand-drawn rather than generated on a computer, once I make the pattern, it's gone. I'm thinking that might need to change......

Anyway, apparently this has been making the rounds on Pinterest and there have been a number of new requests. As a thank you to everyone who comes by my little blog for a visit, I finally wrote up a pattern!

It's not slick or fancy and it does assume that you know the basics of paper-piecing. But I hope a few of you find it a fun little project. 

***Edit: For those of you who have commented or emailed that you're able to access the instructions but not the pattern - the pattern is on the instruction sheet. There is only one page and it's all there. Really! :-)

Now that the kids are back in school, I'm finding a little bit of extra time to be creative. What are you working on right now?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not sewing

There's been a lot of not-sewing going on around these parts. But I'm slowly getting my mojo back now that the kids are back in school and I can eek out a little bit of time during the week.

Meanwhile, we whipped up a batch of homemade cheese crackers that won little Miss B a blue ribbon at the county fair. Not bad for a four year old!

She loved kneading the dough - "just like play dough!"

And she got to use a fluted pastry wheel to do "real cutting!"

And the all important job of using a toothpick to poke a hole in each cracker.

Where is the finished product you are asking?

Um, we'll have to make another batch. These disappear pretty quickly around here!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

* Blink *

Where, exactly, did the summer go? 

Looking back, of course, it went to swimming lessons, ballet and Tae Kwan Do classes, trips around our beautiful state of Oregon, play time with friends, reading late into the night, eating outside, playing in sprinklers, hiking in the woods, going to the county fair, and backyard campouts. Little sewing and even less sharing about it here.

And then this morning I sent this little fella on to first grade!

Hard to believe the little mister is going to be in school all day. He did half-day kindergarten last year and I really enjoyed getting to spend our afternoons together. But he looks pretty ready to start the day in his new classroom, with his new teacher, and a fresh box of crayons on his desk.

His sister starts preschool next week. Then maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to get back to posting with some regularity!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Catching Up

I'm sure that some of you will understand the complete and utter relief that is felt when you finally get caught up on your bee blocks! That's how I feel after spending a sewing day with my awesome PMQG peeps and getting these Cocorico blocks finished.

First up is Leila's block. Her theme is A Woman's Work and she wanted blocks that reflected the everyday tasks of a proper 50's housewife. Here's my (almost) finished block:

In doing some research for this project, I learned that in the early 50's, only about 1/3 of households had electric washing machines. Most people still did their laundry by hand. This is when I sent up a big fat prayer of gratitude because I'm pretty sure if we didn't have an automatic washer and dryer then my kids would wear a wardrobe of dirt.

I still need to embroider the little hand crank before I send it off. Hopefully, Leila will like it. It sure was a joy to make.

Next up is Kylie's block. Her theme is Best of the British. This was a very fun block to design and stitch up. I hope Kylie enjoys it.

I'll send along some black buttons for the centers of the wheels but I didn't want to sew them on in case they get in the way of assembling and quilting. It seems a bit busy but I just couldn't resist the crown fabric for the background.

In the midst of everything else, I'm also in the process of reorganizing my sewing space. It will be fun to share pictures when all is said and done, but I'm afraid it's going to be one of those things that gets much much worse before it gets better.

Summer is winding down here so we're all filling our days with as much sunshine and fun time as we can. Hope you are enjoying life as well!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Brace yourself

I actually made something! And I'm posting about it!

It certainly wasn't my intention to spend the summer ignoring my sewing machine or my blog, but sometimes that's just what happens when there are swimming lessons, Tae Kwan Do classes, ballet, and general summery mayhem happening all around at the speed of life. 

But somehow I managed to steal away for a little bit and FINALLY make my June Cocorico block for Amy. Her theme was The Artist's Studio.

At first I wanted to try an easel but luckily, Kylie beat me to it. Her block is stunning and no doubt much better than what I might have come up with.

What I did end up making was this:

A calligraphy pen and inkwell. I wish I had taken a better picture so you could see that the steel blue fabric on the left is actually a calligraphy print with writing and different nibs, but it looks pretty washed out in the photo.

One of my favorite parts of this block is the text above the pen nib. Part of it reads, "postpaid, safe arrival." If you've ever participated in an online bee, then you know the worry that can grip you when you hand over a block that you've worked really hard to make and you hope that the postal system won't let you down. Over at Cocorico, we seem to be a particularly nervous bunch while we wait to hear that our blocks arrived safely so I thought Amy would appreciate this little detail.

I promise I won't wait another month before posting! I actually have a lot of things in the works and am excited to show them off. Meanwhile, hope you are enjoying the summer with friends and family.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ballet Bag for Bailey

My daughter is four and a half. She's the girliest tomboy I've ever met. When we were making plans for what to do over the summer break, she wanted to take ballet classes. Since her ballet classes are on the same day as swimming lessons, we knew we wouldn't be able to make it home to change into her dance clothes. It seemed a very good excuse to make her a little ballet bag!

This is the wonderful Bento lunch bag tutorial from Ayumi. It's really a perfect little bag. Cute and stylish with some lovely details in the construction that make the whole thing sew up like a dream. I especially like the drawstring cover that lets things stay securely inside even when a certain four and a half year old swings the bag like a lasso.

The cute ballet fabric is a Japanese cotton canvas print from Cool Cottons. Handles and drawstring cover  are Alexander Henry farmdale and heath. The blue dot is an unknown from my stash.

This is the third or fourth time I've used this pattern and I love it. Go make one for yourself!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

April *ahem* Cocorico block

Finally made my house block for Charise in the Cocorico bee over on Flickr. Yes, I know it's June. Call me a slacker, or a perfectionist, or obsessive. I promise it won't hurt my feelings.

Actually, I had about five different designs drawn up but nothing that I wanted to commit to fabric.

And then I designed a block I really loved, started sewing, and trashed the whole thing because it. just. didn't .work.


Finally, I decided that less is more, radically simplified the design and came up with this.

The original (crazy, overly ambitious) design had a pieced house inside the key. I mean, really? Who do I think I am? Besides, this little polka dot number is way cuter than anything I could dream up.

And the original (again, crazy, overly ambitious) house was a fancy schmancy Victorian with turrets and who knows what else. As it turns out, a few beautiful fabrics and a simple, clean design made for a much more visually appealing block (that didn't involve cussing or crying - bonus!).

I think that this process, as difficult as it was, actually taught me quite a lot. I will definitely aim to simplify my block designs and try to keep things cleaner and less muddled with "extras." There are so many amazing fabrics out there that can do a lot more than my piecing skills ever could. But I will definitely keep playing and learning! And I really hope that Charise likes her block!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Awhile back I was invited to do a pattern test for Sonja over at Artisania. She creates beautiful and fun paper piecing patterns, so naturally, I jumped at the chance!

This pattern, I Love Sushi, will be available in her shop soon.

The blocks are fun and perfect for a confident beginner. The instructions, templates, and diagrams are all clear and easy to follow.

Can you believe I already had this sushi fabric? I was going to make pajama pants but it was too perfect not to use on this project.

Check out Artisania for some beautifully styled pictures of this quilt on the actual pattern! Thank you Sonja, I'm so flattered that you chose to feature the quilt on your pattern!

And now I'm craving some sushi!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trajectory: Finished!

Yeah! A finished quilt!

For the binding I chose a patterned fabric with black, gray, and yellow on a white background. I wasn't quite sure at first, but as it turns out I really like the subtle peek at a pattern around the edges of the finished quilt.

I didn't do a tutorial on the binding because there are already so many amazing binding tutorials out there. For this quilt, I cut the binding strips at 2.5" and did a double fold binding. Sometimes I'll opt for 2.25" strips but for this one I really wanted to make sure the print was more visible.

And here's the back.

Seriously digging the straight-ish line quilting.

This quilt will be on display at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in July as part of a special exhibit by the Portland Modern Quilt Guild.

I hope you've enjoyed reading/playing along. It was great to have these posts as a motivator to get this one done. For some reason (um, maybe it's the 4- and 6-year olds???) I haven't had nearly the kind of time I would like to get my creative mojo going. Hopefully, things will balance out a little better soon and I can spend some more time playing and having fun with fabric.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trajectory: Making the Quilt Back and Quilting

So, anyone still with me here? Sorry for the lapse in posting, but life has a way of rearranging the best laid plans.

Here's what I did for the back of my quilt. I started by making one block using two leftover boomerang blocks and two plain blocks:

Then I used a bunch of the scraps and trimmings of the various gray and yellow solids to make a big long strip. I really like using my leftover fabrics from the front in some way on the back - helps to tie everything together. Then I just added a bunch of kona in ash to fill everything out and make the back about 4 inches larger than the front on all sides.

Then it was all about winding a bunch of bobbins and finding my groove with the walking foot.

For this quilt, I didn't mark anything, just started in the center and used the seam lines as a rough guide. Some of the lines are more straight than others and I like the organic flow of it not being too "perfect."

And there you have it - back and quilting all done!

Yes, I realize that I didn't say anything about basting and making the quilt sandwich. There is lots of great information out there about how to do that part and if you've already made a quilt or two then you may already have a way that works for you. If you're curious, I usually spray bast my quilts because I don't have the patience (or knees) for pin basting. I do have some issues with the use of chemicals and what I might be doing to the environment so I'm constantly questioning their use and may re-evaluate my preference. For now, it's what I do and I've had great results. Not one single pucker on this quilt, front or back.

Meanwhile, I'm almost done with the hand sewing part of the binding and will have a finished quilt to show you next time! If you've been playing along, drop me a line and let me know how it's going. I'd love to see other interpretations.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Trajectory: Piecing the Quilt Top

Did you decide on a layout for your quilt? I did!

I went ahead with the original design layout but I was more thoughtful with how I laid out the background pieces, which you will see. When I tried to lay it out randomly, the dark gray really didn't play nicely with the others - too much contrast, I think. But I really do like how it all turned out!

Let's get piecing...

With your blocks all laid out, divide your quilt top into quadrants (4 x 4 squares of blocks).

All seams are 1/4".

Piece a row and press seams open. 

One you have four rows done, attach the rows to each other matching the intersecting seams:

Press seams open. You'll end up with a lovely big block like this:

Is it just me or does anyone else get a little giddy when their seams line up nicely?

Okay, so one quadrant down, three more to go.

Once you have all your quadrants done, it should look like this:

I'd apologize for the weird light in my pictures, but that's the sun and we just don't apologize for sun here in Portland!

Sew those remaining three seams, press seams open and you have a completed quilt top!

Up next: Backing and basting.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trajectory: Layout options

How's everyone doing? Have you started piecing your blocks yet?

I started to play with placement and layout of the blocks over the weekend. What I enjoyed most was seeing the variety of options using this one simple block!

Here's the basic pattern that I used in the original quilt. I still like this layout and this is the one you'll want to use if you want your quilt to look most like the original.

But then I played around with making some stars and came up with this:

It's not complete - you can see that the top left corner block is plain instead of a boomerang and the one of the blocks in the bottom row is facing the wrong way. But you get the idea. I really like the secondary pattern made where the non-boomerang corners are joined together.

And then I experimented with a zig-zag:

I actually think I like this one best of all! I may need to adjust my assembly to make this version.

At any around with your blocks and come up with a design that pleases you. Next time we'll get into assembling the blocks into the final quilt top.

Most of all - have fun and enjoy yourself!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trajectory: Piecing the Blocks

This is third post in a series about the Trajectory Quilt. See previous posts here and here.

Are you ready for some paper-piecing? Great! Let's get started!

Before we begin sewing, let's set up our fabrics. Since we need two strips for each boomerang, I like to split the strips into two sets so that I don't accidentally use up more of one color than I should, leaving half a boomerang without a mate. This will also be helpful if you choose to chain piece, which is how I like to assemble these blocks.

As you will see, there are a number of steps to paper-piecing this way. I'll show all the steps for piecing one block but you'll save a LOT of time by chain piecing. There are lots of pictures to help those of you who are brand new to paper-piecing.

First, take one of your background squares and one of your paper templates. Place the template (right side up) on top of the fabric (wrong side up), lining up the edges. This is the only time you will have two wrong sides facing each other (wrong side of fabric to wrong side of template).

I like to pin the paper to the fabric so that things don't get too shifty.

Take one of your boomerang strips and place it under the background square (right sides together). You want to line it up so that the seam allowance of the boomerang strip is lined up about 1/4" beyond the line drawn on your template (see below).

If you are using newsprint or an old phone book, the paper is thin enough to leave your machine's stitch settings at their usual place. If you are using copy paper, you'll probably want to reduce your stitch length to make it easier to tear the paper off later.

Stitch along the line drawn on your template, stopping at the end of the line. I like to do one or two backstitches as I start and stop just so that the stitching stays secure later when it's time to tear the paper off.

With the template facing up, fold the paper back over the line you just stitched.

Trim 1/4" away from the fold. To do this step, I like to use an Add-a-Quarter ruler. But you can use any quilting ruler you like.

This is what you should have after trimming away the excess:

If you flip it over to the fabric side, it should look like this:

Fold the boomerang fabric out to cover the paper template and press. The boomerang fabric should cover the corner of the paper template completely.

Take your second boomerang fabric strip and place it under your block, right sides facing, just like before. Again,you want to line it up so that the seam allowance of the boomerang strip is lined up about 1/4" beyond the line drawn on your template (see below).

Sew from the edge of the block and along the line drawn on your template. I just eyeball the first part where there isn't a drawn line but if that makes you nervous you could draw the line to fill that gap, or....

You can pull out a length of your top thread and stretch it to line up with the drawn line to make sure that your needle is properly lined up before stitching (see below). Neat trick, huh? Adapted that from my previous life as a stage carpenter when we would often extend straight edges with a chalk line...but I digress...

This next part will feel very familiar! With your block fabric side down, fold back the template paper along the line you just stitched.

Line up your ruler with the 1/4" line along the fold and trim the excess fabric.

This is what things should look like:

Turn block fabric side up.

Fold fabric over to cover the corner of the paper template completely and press.

The back of your block (template side) should look like this:

Trim along the edges of your paper template to bring your block to 6.5" square. Then tear off paper.

After tearing off the paper, you should see something like this:

Flip it over and give it a good press. Then pat yourself on the back and give yourself a high-five because you just completed a paper-pieced block!

And once you've made a few of them, you can start playing!

Okay, just to recap:
The assembly system is stitch, trim, press.
DO NOT stitch, press, then trim or you will use bad words and have to start over.

As I mentioned before, I stitch all of my first boomerang pieces, then trim them all, then press them all before moving on to the second boomerang piece for each block. It makes things go much faster since you aren't always having to move from sewing to trimming to pressing, which in my sewing space would give me quite a workout.

Most of all - have fun!

Up next: Assembling the quilt top.