PaintBox QAL – Week #6 -Machine Quilting Your Top

PaintBox Front Cover copyWelcome back !!  It’s the final week of our PaintBox QuiltAlong and this is the week to finish off your quilt top.

Last week we pieced the triangles and also stitched the rows together to complete your quilt top.  You can review Week 5’s post right here!

This week, I’m going to share some insights, successes and some fails (at least for me) into machine quilting your Paint Box quilt top on your domestic sewing machine.

Full disclosure now! – I am “the world’s worst free motion machine quilter” (at least that’s what I think) and because of that – I own a longarm machine and 100% prefer my quilt tops machine quilted on my longarm with an overall pattern or for something fancier, sent to a professional machine quilter like  Teresa Silva of Quilting is my Bliss for some of her gorgeous free hand long arm machine quilting – however, I know that not everyone can afford long arm services or a long arm machine or may just prefer their tops not to be longarmed, so hence this week’s blog subject about quilting your top on your domestic home machine!

However before moving on and in case you are taking your PaintBox quilt to your favorite longarm machine quilter,  pictured below is the pantograph all over quilt design I use on most of my PaintBox samples – it’s called Monsoon and I love it!

Pattern 1

On the other hand though sometimes a nice straight stitch will do the trick.

One of my favorite books out there for ideas on using your walking foot and  straight stitch machine quilting is Jacquie Gering’s “Walk” – I highly recommend this book as it’s a terrific reference on straight stitch machine quilting and is chocked full of different ideas and designs that you can quilt on your tops using just the walking foot and your straight stitch on your domestic machine.

The designs she offers range from very simple to very complex but all are accomplished with just a straight stitch and your walking foot (or even feed foot), and best of all no lowering of feed dogs or feeling totally out of control (my problem with the process).  Also the sequel to this best selling book, “Walk 2.0”will be released in May, so both books together would be a terrific reference pairing for your quilting library!

When I do choose to quilt my tops on my domestic machine, I prefer the control and regimented pace I feel when using my walking foot/dual feed foot, keeping the feed dogs up and just using my straight stitch across the top.  That doesn’t mean I don’t make a design though.  Here’s some “curvacious” quilting I just completed on this single ModCat wallhanging.  My feed dogs were up, I set my machine to the straight stitch and used my dual feed foot (which is similar to a walking foot).  I then gently moved the quilt top from side to side to create the gentle curves.

Cat Curvy
And some more quilting I did on a ModTiki – again nothing fancy – just straight stitch quilting and making a wonky chevron look.  Beautiful and looks fancier than it really is!
Tiki Chevron
First things first – Get a plan!

You should have an idea of what pattern or stitch you might like to machine quilt on your quilt top before beginning.  I like to have a plan before I begin quilting.  Instead of marking your top and then erasing and marking and erasing, why not take a picture of your quilt top and print out the picture on your printer.??

Now you can draw on the printout your ideas for patterns or lines across the quilt top and see how you might like to quilt your top.  You can do this just once or print more copies and try out a whole bunch of different ideas.  Penciling in your quilting ideas before beginning will give you an idea of what the design will look like on your quilt top and also provide you with at the very least a starting point – a good thing!  Here’s a few examples of the quilting ideas and plans I drew before starting to quilt my PaintBox quilt top.  The first one is just some simple straight up and down gridding…..

….and the second drawing plan had simple diagonal cross hatching plus a squarish design within the blocks…

Basting Your Quilt Top with the Batting & Backing Fabric
Next get ready to make your quilting sandwich – meaning baste your quilt top with the batting and backing.  For this project, I spray basted my batting to my backing fabric and then again, spray basted the top to the batting.  This was my first time spray basting a larger quilt like this and I  used the 505 Temporary Adhesive Spray .  It worked great – no safety pins needed.
Baste 1
It did take quite a bit of patience though and I had to roll the batting (and then the quilt top) accordian style and work on only basting about 1 foot at a time.   I just kept smoothing and smoothing the fabric or batting across the surfaces and then gave it a really good pressing before starting to quilt the top.

If you like using fusible spray to baste your quilt – please check out Christa Watson’s tutorial on basting your top.  She actually spray bastes small to queen size quilts with her method, and machine quilts all of her tops on her domestic machine with no problems!

WATCH CHRISTA’S BASTING YOUR QUILT TOP TUTORIAL HERE!

Marking and the First Stitches to Stabilize
I chose to diagonally cross hatch my quilt top referring to my 2nd plan above.  I wanted to stitch a 1/4″ to either side of the seam lines so that it would be like a double stitch line, but I needed to mark in some of these lines first.  I did use my Frixion pen to make the markings BUT BUT BUT – I am fully aware that my pen markings may reappear sometime in the future  as this is the chance I take when marking my lines with the Frixion pen.  If you are not ok with this, please do use a washable marker or water soluble pen. 

I also threaded my machine with a 90/14 Microtex Needle and King Tut 40 weight thread in the color of Alabaster.  This particular thread color is a wonderful variegated neutral and works marvelous with almost any fabric collection.

Since I don’t like to ‘fight’ with my quilt when I machine quilt I rolled up the sides of the quilt diagonally toward my first center seam lines to be machine stitched.  The first lines I stitched were what I call the “main veins” of the quilt.  Since I was cross hatching on a diagonal, the first seams I stitched were the long diagonal lines from top left to bottom right and vice versa thus stitching what you might call a large “X” across the quilt.

The main “veins” of the quilt have now been stabilized and I can now cross hatch and stitch my diagonal lines working always out from the center “main veins” of the quilt to the outer edges.

Stitch 1
And I kept stitching and stitching……

Stitch 2

…and stitching and stitching……

Stitch 3

…and then I decided to stitch 1/4″ to either side of the vertical and the horizontal seam lines….
Stitch 4

And I kept stitching and stitching……as you can guess, although simple to do, this process can take a long, long, long time.  Just cross hatching 1/4″ to either side of the seam lines on this 48″ square top took me almost 7 hours of straight stitching with just a few short breaks to stretch here and there.

Stitch 6
Next I thought I would try my idea to machine quilt the ‘square within the square design’  I had drawn on my quilt top photo (see below) —

Drawing 2B

I marked a center square in the middle and tried out my idea…..

Well – time again for another full disclosure!  I hated it!  It just didn’t ‘sing’ to me and frankly I was having a hard time keeping the stitched squares even with the sewn squares –  it just looked sloppy!  😦    So out came the seam ripper and time to reconsider what to do next.

Eager to finish the quilting as I was now in hour 8 of machine quilting, I decided to carry on with the diagonal and straight seam quilting and halved the distance between those lines I already stitched.

The results as you see was a nice effect even though some of my stitching was a bit wobbly due to the evening wearing on and I was getting tired!

Stitch 9
Life Lesson 101!  Which reminds me to remind you of one big life lesson – be kind to bekindyouyourself – I have to remind myself of this all the time!  We are our own worst critics!  But let’s face it – we are not perfect and guess what – your machine quilting will likely not be either….its only fabric and it is a handmade item.  Also believe me on this one – your quilt top always looks 200% better after you remove all of your drawn lines (that you may or may not have stitched on when quilting your top) and after the quilt is squared down and trimmed.

Once I was completed with my machine quilting, I trimmed the batting/backing edges square to the quilt top and cut the binding from my remaining sashing fabric and sewed it on.

Viola!  All done and ready to grace our dining room table…

Table 1

…or be taken on a nice picnic outside on this beautiful Spring day in our desert oasis!!

Outside 2

 

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This now concludes our PaintBox QuiltAlong – send me your pictures so we can see your gorgeous PaintBox quilts!

Thank you so much for following along and for your continued support!  Look for more Colourwerx QuiltAlongs on our Colourwerx Facebook page or on our website under QuiltAlongs!mouth21

Until your next colour fix – happy quilting!  Linda & Carl xxoo

 

 

PaintBox QAL – Week 5 – Quilt Top Assembly

PaintBox Front Cover copyHello again!  Whoop!  Whoop!  We are approaching the final weeks in our Paint Box QuiltAlong!  This week is all about assembling your quilt top and stitching it all together! Next week in our final week, I will be showing how I’ll be machine quilting my top on my domestic sewing machine!

But when last we spoke in Week #4 Blog’s Post, I mentioned that once I had laid out all my units on my design board, I was pondering whether I wanted to fiddle with the layout to play with the subtle color changes in this Linen Texture strip roll designed by Laundry Basket Quilts.  You’ll find the Quilt Top Layout Diagram on page 6 of the PaintBox pattern.

Here’s where we left off last week with my layout :

Layout 1

LAYOUT #1

I did fiddle with color placement  here and there and finally ended up with the new layout below –  do you see the difference?…Instead of keeping color groupings close together, I mixed up each quandrants’ units (for example the violets and pink palettes) to see if the colors would morph or “move” across the quilt top better.  Mmmmmmmm….

LAYOUT 2

LAYOUT #2

See the difference side by side??

Lol! After an hour or so of pondering this and some choice comments from Carl like “What’s that?!?  What happened to the first layout?” I decided to back to the first layout!  LOL!  Sometimes you first instinct is indeed the best!

Layout 1

LAYOUT #1

First Make Blocks!  So once you have decided on your layout, it’s time to start stitching, but first things first:   We need to make blocks out of those sashing triangles and colored triangle units so the quilt top goes together much more easily.  BIG TIP!  BE SURE TO SNAP A PHOTO FOR REFERENCE OF YOUR FINAL LAYOUT!  YOU’LL NEED IT!

Start with Row 2’s first sashing triangle and the orange colored triangle (note the yellow circle below and refer to the layout diagram on page 6 of the pattern).   Place these 2 units right sides together and stitch down the long diagonal edge.  TIP!  Sometimes I mark or crease the center of the colored triangle unit so that I can pin the center seams of the units together.  Remember these are triangles and the fabric has been cut on the bias so those edges can stretch out of shape very easily.  Having that center seam pinned aids you in placing the the 2 units together at their centers and then you also know that the outer tips of the 2 triangles have to meet as well when stitching!

Press the seam toward the coloured triangle unit and repeat until you have stitched all units together.  Referring to page 4 – Step 5 in the Paint Box pattern trim the blocks down to the desired size.  TIP! TIP!  Be sure to use  the diagonal line of your square ruler along the diagonal line of the block to aid you in squaring up the block to the appropriate size.  Note from the pics below that you probably won’t be trimming very much off – just a sliver here and there.

I usually sew these block units together quadrant by quadrant – meaning I pick up all the triangles from the top color  quadrant and sew those units together, then the second and so on like below:

Once complete, refer to your layout photo and return the blocks to places.

Now you are ready to start assembling the quilt top row by row.  Most of your seams usually end up nicely nesting together from block to block simply because of how you  rotated the ruler while cutting the triangles in Week #3.

Nest 4
However, you may find that some seams will need to be repressed in the opposite direction to make the seams nest before you stitch the blocks together. I found that I repressed about half of the sashing triangle seams in the opposite direction before sewing the triangle units together to form a block.

Again referring to the layout on page 6, notice that the rows are on point and you will be stitching block to block to block to form diagonal rows.  Sometimes (even though my diagram in the pattern shows this differently) I find it easier to toss aside the outer colored triangles that make up the top and bottom corner units (i.e.: Row #1) and just concentrate on getting the other rows together first. I usually stitch the top half together first and put it aside, followed by the bottom half and then join to the 2 halves together to complete the top.

Halves

When you join the 2 halves together – pin, pin, pin!!

Pin1

Again, some seams will nest and some will not.

I’m not the most patient quilter and at this point I am anxious to see my top done, so I usually pin at each and every seam regardless if the seams are nesting or not and stitch the top together.  Most times the quilting gods are with me and it works out beautifully! 🙂

Pin 4

Here is my quilt top with the corner units left off.  As a sidenote: You could indeed leave the quilt top just like this if you wanted more of a hexagon shaped quilt or were perhaps using it as a table topper of some sort. It’s kinda different looking!

Corners Off

Next stitch the 2 outer colored triangles together to form your corner units.

And to complete the top, stitch these outer corner units on!  Voila!  Just like that you PaintBox quilt top is complete!

Top Done

That’s it for this week!  Join us next week for Week #6 – Machine Quilting the Top where I’ll share how I am machine quilting my Paint Box quilt using my domestic machine, some straight line quilting techniques  and perhaps a few decorative stitches as well!

Until then, please be sure to email us at colourwerx@yahoo.com if you have any questions.  Or feel free to post progress pictures on our Colourwerx QAL Facebook Group.

Until your next colour fix and next week’s QAL post ~  happy and bright quilting always!    L&C xxoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

PaintBox QAL – Week #4 – Cutting the Triangles and Layout

Wow – can you believe we are already in Week #4 of our Colourwerx PaintBox PaintBox Front Cover copyQuiltAlong!  If you’re just joining us, you can catch up on Week #1-3’s blog posts right here:

Week 1 – Gather the Pattern and Materials
Week 2 – Sorting Your Strips Into Groups & Cutting
Week 3 – Stitching the Strips

This week is where all the magic happens and you begin to actually see your quilt top take shape!  First things first.  By now you should have stitched your strip sets together in groups as explained in detail in last week’s post – Week 3 – Stitching the Strips!

Now the fun begins where we cut the strips into the triangle shapes, and begin to play with our layout options.

Cutting the Triangles —
Gather together  the coloured strips sets and the Creative Grids Quarter Square Triangle Ruler CGRT90 .

First a word about why I love, love the Creative Grids Brand of rulers and no – they are not paying me to say this – I just happen to really like the brand. 🙂
1.  Each ruler has a firm non-slip surface so the ruler pretty much stays put on your fabric;
2. The markings on the ruler are clear and easy to read;
3. My favorite part:  each ruler has a QR code stamped on the ruler.

Yup, that little funny looking square is actually an informational code that when scanned with the QR Reader App (available for all smart devices through the App Store) will then automatically take you to a video of how to use the ruler, special tips and tricks and perhaps a free pattern or two to use with your new ruler.   This little QR code is on each and every Creative Grids ruler even the most basic straight rulers.  Just download the QR Reader app from onto your device…then open the application and your camera will appear on the screen – hover the screen of the camera over the QR code on the ruler and loike magic, you will be taken to the corresponding QR video!

Here’s a link to the tutorial from Creative Grids for the triangle ruler:

Now onto cutting your triangles!  Lay your first strip set across your cutting board and place the triangle ruler on top.  Place the top tip of the ruler aligned with the top edge of your strips – the bottom strip edge should align straight across the appropriate measurement of your ruler as diagrammed in the pattern on page 2.

Hold on though! – We can’t all be perfect piecers all the time so it’s ok if your strip set width is not measuring exactly to the desired size as specified in the pattern….a hair off here and there or a wobble in piecing between strips is perfectly ok.  You will need to cut (4) triangles from each strip set and you will find that you will have more than enough fabric to cut around your tiny imperfections in strip piecing.

TAKE NOTE THOUGH!! Next and probably the most important thing to remember about cutting the triangles is to keep the horizontal sewn seams from strip 1 to strip 2 to strip 3 to strip 4 running horizontally straight and true under the horizontal ruler lines – see page 2 Step 3 for detailed information on this step but the picture below also gives you a good idea of what to look for before making your first cut.   Cut your first triangle.

Rotate the ruler upside down and align the left diagonal edge of the ruler to the left diagonal cut edge of the strip set.  (Of course these instructions are for right handers – if you are left handed, you may be aligning on the right hand side of the strip set and then cutting from right to left).  Again before cutting make sure the horizontal seams of your strip set are running horizontally straight and true under the ruler measurement lines.

Strip Set 5

Many times you will find that after you line up the  horizontal seams of the strip set under the ruler, that the cut diagonal left edge of the strip set will not line up perfectly with the left diagonal edge of the ruler – that’s ok.  See the photo below for an exaggerated example…..

That’s ok – again, you have plenty of fabric to cut yourself a new diagonal edge.   Continue cutting the remaining (9) coloured strips sets into triangles.

Strip Set 8

Cutting the Sashing Triangles –
Gather the sashing strip sets and your triangle ruler.  Keeping the above notes in mind, follow along on page 3-4 and cut triangles from each of these strip sets.

Piece the Sashing Triangles – 
Gather the sashing triangles and following along in the pattern on page 4-Step 1-2, stitch (2) triangles together to form a larger triangle.   If you pressed each seam set in the same direction from seam to seam, you will find that when matching 2 triangles together that the seams will already go in opposite directions.

Sometimes you might have to toss a triangle in the pile to the side until a partner (with seams pressed in the opposite direction) appears in the pile.  Regardless, stitch the triangles together and press the seams in one direction.

Layout!
Now the fun begins!  It’s time to lay out all of the sashing triangles and coloured triangles in formation on your floor or design board – follow the Quilt Top Diagram on page 6.

If you colored in the B&W line art quilt top diagram from Week 1 , then this next step is easy.  If not, there’s still time and  you may want to download the line art below and have a little colouring session before  proceeding.  Believe me it makes a world of difference and at the very least give you a starting point when laying out your units.

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THE PAINT BOX LINE ART HERE

Here’s my original drawing and my first layout….

I think I might leave this up on my design wall for a few days and ponder the layout.  Things look different after you let them ferment for awhile if you know what I mean.  And I may want to play around with the subtle color changes from strip set to strip set to see if something different happens. You can also take a photo and look at your layout from there.  It’s amazing how the photo gives you a slightly different perspective than being up close and in person.

Layout 2

As a sidenote, you may be wondering what my design wall in the above photo is made of and what it is attached to.  It is actually (2) 4′ x 8′ pieces of  lightweight foam insulation board (available from Lowes or Home Depot) and then covered in batting.  They are then attached with 3M sticky tabs to the sliding glass closet doors in my sewing studio. Viola!  Instant design wall and storage space in the closet!

That’s it for this week!  Join us next week for Week #5 – Quilt Top Assembly.  I’ll report back if I changed anything in my Layout above and then how to stitch the rows together to finally assemble your quilt top.

Until then, please be sure to email us at colourwerx@yahoo.com if you have any questions.  Or feel free to post progress pictures on our Colourwerx QAL Facebook Group.

Until your next colour fix and next week’s QAL post ~  happy and bright quilting always!    L&C xxoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Quilt Market Fun!

IMG_8338It’s been a whirlwind these last few weeks (in fact the whole year!) but I  finally found time to sit down and share with you our experience at the recent International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas.  The International Quilt Market took place October 26th-28th (always over my birthday wouldn’t you know it!) and is THE PLACE to see all the new fabrics, patterns and products by shop owners and industry professionals before they arrive in the shops some six months later.

We didn’t have a booth this time around but rather chose to “be free” and able to roam the show floor – this was a first for us and very liberating!  As always, Market is full of seeing old friends, meeting new ones , super fun antics and just an all around generally inspiring, terrific quilty experience!

We debuted six new patterns for Quilt Market – You can see them below in the slide show, and we’ll highlight each of these new patterns  in future blog posts, but all are available for order in our Colourwerx shop right now!

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We had several versions of our new quilts displayed with various companies throughout the quilt market floor.

First, we collaborated again with our good friends at Island Batiks and five of our quilts were displayed in a special preview window at the front of the Island Batiks Booth (slideshow below).  All of these quilts were made using the new and super gorgeous Jewel Box Batik Collection designed by Kathy Brett Engle for Island Batiks and coming to a shop near you in February 2020.   Check out the fabrics in the link above! Just lovely!!

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We also collaborated again with our  partners at Free Spirit Fabrics and always welcome opportunities to make our new patterns using Kaffe Fassett’s newest fabrics or other beautiful collections coming soon.  Here’s our PaintBox pattern in both the Warm and Cool colorway of Kaffe’s new fabrics- arriving in shops in February 2020 and we will also have kits available too.

We  also made our new Waterfall pattern in Martha Negley’s newsest fabric collection called Veggies – I am super in love with the rich jewel tones of Martha’s newest collection and the vegetable designs of carrots, beets and cabbage are to die for – it partners super well with all things Kaffe and I just love it .

Martha Nagly Waterfall

Continuing on with our collaboration and great friendship with Christa Watson of Christa Quilts.com – I was thrilled when she asked if I would make our new Paint Box pattern in her new fabric collection called GridWork.  Of course I would!  Here’s the finished version and of course a cute picture of Christa & I in her colorful booth at Quilt Market. Her new fabrics, GridWork will be coming to your local quilt shop in February!

We also formed a new relationship with Windham Fabrics and their popular fabric designer, Carrie Bloomston.  You all know Carrie by her popular fabric design, Love Newsprint that we sell in our Colourwerx shop right here!

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 12.48.34 PM

Carrie’s fabric collections are always full of whimsical motifs and adventures and mostly have a collage look with super beautiful color palettes of magentas, turquoises and golds.  Her newest collection “Wish” was fabulous and fun and we were thrilled to make our ModBlossom quilt for display in her booth!  Carl and  loved meeting Carrie and also love her new Wish fabric collection which will be coming to shops in the Spring!

Last but not least and perhaps most exciting, because we were free to roam the show floor, we were finally able to share our fabric design portfolio with many of the fabric companies’ design directors.   We can’t say anything just yet, but Carl and I were super pleased by the positive feedback we received regarding our fabric designs and are excited to explore this additional design avenue in our business! Look for more news on this in the very near future! 🙂

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Until your next colour fix – thanks as always for following along and Happy Fall!  L&C xxoo

 

ModTiki – Missouri Star Quilt Company Style!!

Aloha BashLast month, the Missouri Star Quilt Company and Jenny Doan celebrated their 11th year in business with an enormous Birthday Bash weekend!  It was a grand party with lots of festivities, special guest teachers, stitchin’, eatin’ and dancin’  galore and lots and lots of quilters gathering together for a weekend of fun in Hamilton, MO with Jenny and everyone at MSQC.

This year’s theme was an Hawaiian Luau theme and appropriately titled the “Aloha 11th Birthday Bash” celebration.

IMG_8196Although Carl and I were not there – our ModTiki pattern was.  Our  happy little fella had been selected as the weekend’s thematic pattern for members of MSQC to make their own tiki which would then be displayed in shops and on the main street during the birthday bash weekend!   What a thrill and Carl and I couldn’t have been more proud of their creations.  Each one was lovingly made by quilters and non-quilters from MSQC,  and each person who made one was asked to personalize the tiki in whatever way he/she wished.  Here’s a brief slideshow of the many tikis that were posted around town !!

 

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Barb and Mary of Me & My Sisters Designs who were guest teachers also made their own personalized version below – love the dresden petal skirts and the flip flops.

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And here’s Jenny’s version – can you guess who this might be?  Yes – a self portrait of her and her husband, Ron!

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All in all, a very fun time was had by all and we thank Jenny and everyone at MSQC for IMG_6827choosing to use our ModTiki pattern to celebrate their 11th birthday bash in style.  Sending kisses and a giant MAHALO to you all!

If you’d like to make your own version of our ModTiki – you can purchase the pattern right here in our Colourwerx shop!  We would love to see what you come up with!

Mahalo my friends and until your next colour fix~  L&C xxoo

 

 

ColourMaze QAL -Week #4 – Assembly & Borders

ColourMaze Front Cover(1)Welcome back!  We’re in the last week of our amazing ColourMaze QuiltAlong!  This week is all about stitching the ColourMaze Blocks together to form vertical rows and then completing your quilt top by sewing those rows together!  If you’re doing placemats or a table runner – just refer back to the pattern on pages 5 & 6 for sashing and border directions!

As always, there is a fun short companion video to this post.  So if you’re more of a ‘visual’ person, then hop on on over to our Colourwerx You Tube Channel and subscribe to view the video!

LInda Week 4
Let’s get stitchin’!!  Once your ColourMaze blocks are complete, you’ll then stitch the remaining  1″ strips to the top edge of each block.  For tips and trick on sewing those thin little strips to your blocks, check out Week #3’s ColourMaze QAL here.  If you’re making the Lap Quilt – you should have (3) 1″ strips left – set those aside.

While you’re at the machine – just go ahead and stitch the sashing and outer border strips together too.  All of the directions are on pages 5 & 6 of the ColourMaze Pattern.

Next the fun begins – lay out on your design wall or floor the blocks in the order you prefer!  Notice that I bolded the words “you prefer” – that’s because there is no right or wrong way to do this.  I usually just choose a layout because I’m either pleased with how the order and colors flow from one block to another such as the Violet Craft Modern Classics sample below:

….Or I follow color wheel order like the Kaffe Fassett sample below….

Anything goes!  Once you’ve decided your order, stitch those remaining (3) 1″ strips to the bottom edge of the the bottom block in each row.   Now you’re ready to start stitching block to block to block to form vertical rows.   On my Violet Craft Modern Classics sample, here’s Row #1….
Row 1

And Row #2….
Row 2

And Row #3….
Row 3

Next, stitch the sashing strips on to one side of each vertical row!  Now  you”re ready to stitch the rows together to complete your quilt top.

Colourmaze Geo 1

Geo Pop on Black (purchase a kit from christaquilts.com)

But wait – I have a tip!  Sometimes when stitching these long vertical rows together, the top row may creep ahead of the bottom row thus causing those strong horizontal lines (which were/are the 1″ strips in each block) to look off kilter.  Part of the illusion of the ColourMaze design is that when all those little horizontal strips are lined up parallel across the vertical rows, it looks like a maze.  So wouldn’t it be rather maddening after all your work  to have them unparallel across the rows once the top is done? I think so!

So here’s what I do…. first, I place my two rows Right Sides Together.  I then pin as usual but when I come to a place in the pinning where the thin strips need to stay aligned and parallel to each other from block to block – I “sneak, peek and pin” –  🙂  yes,  a very technical term.  But here it is a nutshell:  I peel back the top row just enough so I can sneak a peek and realign the strips so that they are directly on top of each other.  I then fold back the top layer to match to up the edges and pin in place.  Works like a dream and almost always those thin little strips are aligned and parallel from each other from row to row!

Once you have the three rows stitched together – just finish off your ColourMaze quilt top by stitching the last outer border strip onto the remaining edge!  And now you are complete and ready for the big reveal to family and friends!  Great job!  Go celebrate!

And what to do with all of the offcuts from the strips – how about make some scrappy binding!  Here’s mine…I just sewed all the scrap strips together and made more than enough binding for my lap quilt!
Binding

This now concludes our ColourMaze QuiltAlong!  Thank you so much for following along and for your continued support!  Look for more Colourwerx QuiltAlongs on our Colourwerx Facebook page or on our website under QuiltAlongs!mouth21

Until your next colour fix – happy quilting!  Linda & Carl xxoo

 

 

 

 

ColourMaze QAL – Week #3 – Piecing the Block

Hey, hey!  Welcome to Week #3 of the ColourMaze QAL!  This week is all about piecing the beautiful ColourMaze block!

Test Block
If you’d like to view our companion video to Week #3, you can view it on our Colourwerx You Tube channel and also subscribe so you won’t miss future broadcasts!

Linda Week 3
Let’ s get stitchin’!!    Before I start any new sewing project that requires some pretty precise piecing as this ColourMaze Block I like to ‘set my machine up for sewing success’.  Over the years, I believe that all of these steps help me to stitch a much more accurate scant 1/4″ seam and improve my piecing accuracy!

Here’s what I do every time I start a new patchwork project:Clean

  1.  Clean and Oil That Machine – I’m always amazed at how much ‘fabric dust’ one accumulates under the stitch plate within a few days of stitching….those fibers and all that dust can really inhibit the machine from ‘taking its best stitch’ which in turn cause inaccuracies in your 1/4″ seam allowance.  Every few days actually, I just make a habit to lift up that stitch plate , remove all the dust bunnies and give it my machine a good drink of oil to boot.  You might find depending upon your climate that your machine requires more oil than the manufacturer recommends.  For me, the desert air here actually dries out my machine alot and I find that I really need to oil it at least once a week and sometimes in Summer twice a week;

  2. Start with a New Needle! – an absolute must!  When Carl and I owned our quilt shop, Linderella’s Quilt Works, in Southern Pines, NC, we were always always amused by customers who would brag and boast that they had never, ever, ever changed the needle on their sewing machine….uh, say what?  That needle takes alot of abuse with just regular stitching and if you’ve every run smack-dab over a pin – whoa!  Check out the picture below – The picture to the left is a new needle and the picture on the right? That’s what the tip of your needle now looks like after you hit a pin – time to change the needle!
    Dull-Needle-Close-Up
    Additionally, the needle manufacturer actually recommends that you change it every 8-10 hours of sewing…that might be too much or too little depending on the project…I usually change my needle whenever I start a new project …. For piecing, my go-to needle is the Schmetz 75/11 Quilting Needle.  This needle has a super sharp tapered point that penetrates the fabric without leaving a large hole and also eliminates skipped stitches;IMG_7750
  3. Change the Stitch Plate to a Single Hole Stitch Plate – This little guy is a game changer!  If you don’t already own one, run (don’t walk) to your sewing machine dealer.  By changing over to a single hole stitch plate,  the needle and thread (as it loops around the bobbin thread to make each stitch),  are forced to stay perfectly straight up and down in the single hole thus creating a more perfect straight stitch.  The single hole stitch plate also prevents fabric from getting caught or chewed up under the stitch plate as you start stitching.  Just remember to switch the stitch plate back to the rectangular opening stitch plate if you choose a zig zag stitch or other decorative stitch – if not, you’ll hear a violent crunch and then definitely need to change that needle!IMG_7757
  4. Change Thread to a 50 Weight Cotton Thread – One of major reasons 1/4″ seams are inaccurate is thread takes up a lot of space in the seam allowance, and if one is using a thicker shaft thread such as a 40 weight or 30 weight, some of that precious seam allowance has just been robbed by the thicker thread (compounded by perhaps slight inaccuracies in cutting and pressing)  – all of these factors cause the block not to finish at the exact measurement the pattern says it will – a great example of this is when your points are cut off while making a star block.  So I always switch out to a 50 weight cotton thread for the top and for the bobbin. My go to preference is Aurifil 50 weight Silvery Gray – #2615 – this color is fabulous and no matter what my fabric color is (dark or light)  this thread color camouflages itself in the seams.  There are many other great brands such as Gutterman, Superior etc…. just choose a neutral color like tan or gray and make sure it is 50 weight cotton;IMG_7752
  5. Change the Presser Foot to a 1/4″ Patchwork Presser Foot –  Another must have and available from your sewing machine dealer.  This foot helps you achieve and stay true to the 1/4″ seam allowance that all quilting seams require.  I prefer the 1/4″ foot without the guide  – personally for me, I find that when I use the 1/4″ presser foot with the guide, I become lazy about my 1/4″ seam and begin to push my fabric up against that guide thinking everything is just peachy.  The results?  My seam allowance is larger than a 1/4″ and my piecing is inaccurate.

IMG_7878Get Your 1/4″ Seam Mojo Going!  Now that my machine is ready to go – I always like to test my scant 1/4″ seam. Let’s face it, a 1/4″ seam is not a whole lot of room (as evidenced by the photo to the right – this is the Wrong side of one of those 1″ strips after it is sewn in to the block –  the seams almost touch!  Not alot of room to spare!)  And alot of things take up space or rob you of that precious seam allowance like thread, pressing, inaccurate cutting, wobbly stitches, thread build up from from seam ripping etc.   So a scant 1/4″ seam is what’s really required, and a scant 1/4″ seam is just a hair less than a full 1/4″ seam allowance.

Quilter beware!! – Alot of the 1/4″ presser feet for machines are a full 1/4″ – I have found this with my Bernina for sure and I need to slightly “back off” from the right edge of the foot to achieve a scant 1/4″.  One of the best ways to figure this out is to simply stitch a test strip.

Test Your Scant 1/4″ Seam: Cut (2) 2″ wide strips of fabric – any length will work. Stitch your best scant 1/4″ seam.  Press the seam to one side and the strips should measure 3-1/2″ wide at the top, middle and bottom.  If not, try again and adjust where you place the fabric edge up against the edge of the presser foot – like I said, you may need to back off from the edge or move your fabric ever so slightly to the left (toward the needle).

Still Can’t Get That Scant 1/4″ Seam??  If you’re having trouble achieving a scant 1/4″ seam,  there’s a fabulous tool to help you – available at most quilt shops.  Its called the Perkins Perfect Piecing Seam Guide.  It’s a small little ruler with a hole in the middle and a scant 1/4″ seam drawn on the side of the ruler. Place it under your stitch plate, drop the needle in the hole and voila!: the right edge of the ruler denotes the scant 1/4″ seam on your machine – you may even notice as I did that the scant 1/4″ seam is just to the left of the right edge of the 1/4″ presser foot.    I like to run a piece of tape from the stitch plate down the slide on table and then line my fabric up against the tape edge to keep my fabric straight while stitching!

TTest Blockhis is a TEST! 

Now you’re ready to start stitchin’ up the gorgeous ColourMaze block!  I like to always stitch up a test block. Test blocks are great ways to work out all the kinks. I find whenever I skip this step – I always wish somewhere along the way that I had chosen to make a test block to avoid headaches in the future.

All of the directions to make the ColourMaze block are on pages 2 & 3 of the pattern.  There you’ll find step-by-step detailed directions, full color diagrams and pressing directions to assist you. Here are some notes  that I hope you find helpful while making your ColourMaze test block and future blocks:

1. Measure and Trim After Each SubUnit is Created:  I’m what you might call a cautious quilter – I like to check the accuracy of my seam allowance and stitching at almost every step in the block construction.   The ColourMaze Block is created by piecing together 3 sub units (top, middle and bottom) and these 3 sub units come together to create the block.  I like to measure and trim after each subunit is completed.  The pattern itself tells you what each subunit should measure after stitching is complete. For me, its a good way to check and make sure that my stitching and pressing is consistent and the block itself is being assembled accurately.  That way I can correct and mistakes while the block is being constructed and I am assured the my block will be fairly close to the finished size according to the pattern.

TRimSubUnit
2. Those Thin 1″ Strips & Tips– Again those thin little strips can be quite squirrely.  At first, you might find it difficult to stitch an accurate scant 1/4″ seam down the edge as the  little strip wants to  slip and slide along the edge of the larger fabric strip.  If so, here are a few tips:

a.  Get a Grip!   Pinning may help but pins also take up space and throw off the seam allowance.  I find that by pressing down on the strip with a pretty firm grip of your finger or even a stiletto is good at preventing the strip from slipping and thus causing your seam allowance to waiver.  I do this when starting to stitch down the 1″ strips and especially near the end of the strip to avoid my seam allowance from waivering as the end of the strip approaches the needle.

b. Draw In Your Scant 1/4″ Seam!  If you’re having a lot of difficulty keeping true to that 1/4″ seam, why not just draw your 1/4″ seam down the edge of the 1″ strip?  Remember it should be a scant 1/4″ or a hair less than a full 1/4″.  Carl does this often and his piecing is really accurate.  With a Frixion Iron Off pen or a washable marker, just lightly draw the 1/4″ seam down each edge of the 1″ strip and then sew directly on the line. Works like magic!

c.  Be Just a Tad More Scant!  When stitching down the edge of the 1″ strips,  I find that if I am just a ‘tad’ more scant (like just a hair less again) with my already scant 1/4″ seam, that the seam allowance works out perfectly and that my strip is stitched on straighter.

Seam

d.  Set the Seam!  Alot of us learned this tip in our Beginning Sewing classes and then promptly forget this useful tip  – I know I did !  But it does really help (and regardless of what you’re sewing)! Setting the seam’ simply means that after you stitch the seam, you press the seam in its closed position (just how you stitched it) – this will squish all the threads down into the seam allowance, and smooth and flatten the seam.  Next you press as you would normally- i.e.: open the seam or finger press the seam to one side or as the pattern directions say.  Then press the seam with the iron.  By adding this one little step of setting the seam in its closed position I can definitely see that my seams and stitching in general are more accurate and also that the block finishes flatter and nicer all around!

e.  Use a Little Steam and Mary Ellen’s Best Press – Yup, in addition to ‘setting the seam’, I also find with a little steam and a squirt of  Mary Ellen’s Best Press that these 1″ strips lay over nicely and behave!

f. Trim after Stitching the 1″ Strip to the Larger Strip:  Again, cautious quilter alert!  After I stitch the 1″ strips onto the larger strips, I like to check and of course, trim them to what their exact measurement should be before proceeding to the next step.  This little trim takes care of all my inaccurate, wobbly stitching when sewing the 1″ strip on in the first place.   So once these little strips are stitched on and pressed, I know that they should measure 3/4″ wide.  So I place the 3/4″ line of my ruler along the seam and trim off excess fabric off the top and side – alot of time I’m trimming off just slivers of fabric but I find this results in a more accurate final block.

TrimStrip

Make More ColourMaze Blocks:  Once my test block is complete and I’ve worked out all the kinks, I’m ready to construct more ColourMaze blocks.  I like to chain piece all the units first and ready them into the three subunits that make the block – top, middle and bottom – this makes the final block construction go oh so much faster!

So go forth and create ColourMaze blocks.  Mine are shown below. I making two ColourMaze quilts at the same time.  The first with Violet Craft Modern Classics and the second with the new Kaffe Fassett Rainbow Stash.

Both of these fabric kits are available in our Colourwerx shop!

Violet BlocksKaffe Blocks

That’s it for Week #3!  Happy quilting everyone! And by all means if you need any help or assistance, please email us at colourwerx@yahoo.com.

Next week – Week #4 – is our final week in the ColourMaze Quilt Along and we’ll discuss layout options and the steps to piece together the rows to complete the ColourMaze Quilt top!  be sure to check out the companion tutorial video to Week #3 on our Colourwerx You Tube channel and subscribe! WooHoo!

See ya next week everyone and thank you!  Until your next colour fix~  L&C xxoo