PaintBox QAL – Week #3 – Stitching the Strips

Welcome back to Week #3 of the Colourwerx Paint Box Quilt Along!  This week is all PaintBox Front Cover copyabout stitching your strip sets together !  I love this step in the process as I find it quite relaxing to spend a few afternoons at the machine simple strip piecing the day away – no stress and eazy peazy!

Just a brief recap of where we are in the process and what the next few weeks have in store for us:
By now you’ve selected your materials and you’ve probably sorted the (40) strips into first: groups of 5 with 8 strips each group and then again into: groups of 10 with 4 strips in each group.

If you need further clarification regarding this step, refer to page 1 of the Paint Box pattern or Week #2 ‘s Blog where I discuss in depth the various ways to sort your strips into colour groups!  Also you should have gathered your two 1-yard cuts for the sashing triangles and cut strips from each of those fabrics according to the cutting directions on page 1 of the Paint Box pattern.

Week #3 – this week is all about piecing the strips.
Week #4 – we will cut the triangle shapes from the strips sets.
Week #5 – we will discuss arranging the blocks for the quilt top and sewing rows together.
Week #6 – finally concluding with steps and pictures of some some basic straight line machine quilting ideas to complete your quilt top.
PaintBox QAL Slug

Great!  You are now ready for some relaxing strip piecing! But first things first!

It’s important to set yourself and your sewing machine up for “Stitchin’ Success”!  If you prefer to watch a fun little video of the “Setting Your Machine up for Stitchin’ Success”  I have a companion video that explains the below steps….You can view it on our Colourwerx You Tube channel and also subscribe so you won’t miss future broadcasts!

VIEW THE SET YOUR MACHINE UP FOR STITCHIN’ SUCCESS VIDEO!

Linda Week 3
First let’s review how I set up my machine for stitchin’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 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!

Now you’re ready to start stitchin’ your Paint Box strips!!

Step #1 – STITCH THE STRIP ROLL GROUPINGS TOGETHER —
Ok – first things first, – if you used strips from a precut strip roll or jelly roll, make sure you have cut the strips to a width of 2″ wide.

However like I explained in Week #2’s blog post –  I confess that often times I cut the strips down to this width after I have stitched pairs of strips together.  Here’s an example:  I’ve stitched  (2) 2-1/2″ wide strips together with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  Before pressing the strips open, I place them (still Right Sides Together) on the cutting board, line up the 2″ mark of the ruler on the stitched side and then cut the width to 2″ wide. Easy Peazy!  However if this makes you nervous, then by all means, trim each of your strips to 2″ wide before stitching pairs together.

Continue stitchin’ strips together for each of the remaining nine color groupings!  Be sure to measure the strip width each time to make sure you are maintaining your scant 1/4″ seam!

Here’s what my coloured strip sets looked like after I was complete – I chose to cut my strips down to the 2″ width as I pieced the pairings together so I ended up with some lovely colorful trimmings too!


Step #2 – STITCH THE SASHING TRIANGLE STRIPS TOGETHER —

Referring to Page 3-Step #1 in the pattern, lay out your sashing strips near your sewing machine.  Start with the top strips in each pile and stitch together – again stitching a scant 1/4″ seam.

 Once the 3 strips from the top of the piles are stitched together, press the seams in the same direction and then measure the width of the strip set.  If all went well, then your strips width should match what the Paint Box pattern says on Page 3 – Step #2.    As above, you can also spritz your strip sets with a bit of starch or Mary Ellen’s Best Press at this point to give them a little body and a crisper, firmer press.

Continue strips piecing groups of 3 until you have created the appropriate number of sashing triangle strips sets!  Here’s what mine looked like when I was complete with a very relaxing weekend of strip piecing!

Strip Set 1

See – that wasn’t so bad! – eazy peazy and quite relaxing right?!?!  🙂
Strips set 3And that’s it!  You are now ready for Week #4 – Cutting the Triangles & Layout.

Make sure you have your Creative Grids Quarter Square Triangle Ruler CGRT90 CGRT90-1ready!!   I really like the Creative Grids brand of rulers! We also have these available for purchase in our Colourwerx shop!

PURCHASE THE CREATIVE GRIDS TRIANGLE RULER HERE

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

 

New Colourwerx QuiltAlong Starting January 28th – Making PaintBox

Carl and I are super excited to announce our next Colourwerx Quilt Along starting on January 28th!   Yes, by popular demand, we’ll be making the Paint Box pattern together.  This is a very easy to piece yet fun quilt to make and I’m so happy that the Facebook Colourwerx Quilt Along Group chose this one for our second quilt along!

PaintBox Front Cover copy

WHAT’S A QUILT ALONG?   First, if you are unfamiliar with the concept of a “quilt along” – here’s how it works!

The quilt along is almost like a virtual sewing party or taking a virtual sewing lesson without leaving your home.   Everyone is invited to join in and you can sew along with me each week as I post lessons, tip and tricks or you can just observe from afar or just take the project at your own pace!  Anything goes!  As with all of my quilt alongs, all the videos and blog posts will remain accessible to you for many years after the quilt along has completed so you can jump in at anytime.

You can check our our last quilt Along – making the ColourMaze quilt by clicking here!

There is no cost to join in on the quilt along – and all you need is the pattern, a triangle ruler and to gather materials.  The Paint Box Quilt Along will begin on January 28th and will last 6 weeks – here ‘s the schedule.

PaintBox QAL Slug

You can also view my Introductory video by clicking here –

Screen Shot 2020-01-12 at 3.05.01 PM

HOW TO JOIN IN? – You can choose to follow along week to week here on the Colourwerx blog or by joining our free Colourwerx Quilt Along Facebook group where you can ask questions, share your progress and of course, post pictures of your finished projects so everyone can share in the fun!  You can also  share this invite and any QAL news with other quilty buddies and invite them to join along in the fun!

JOIN THE COLOURWERX QAL FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

Materials to make the Paint Box quilt are as follows:PaintBox Front Cover copy
1.  ThePaint Box pattern by Colourwerx- you can purchase the paper version or a PDF – and if you use the discount code QAL at checkout you’ll save 10% – yippee!

PURCHASE THE PAPER VERSION OF THE PAINT BOX PATTERN
PURCHASE THE PDF DOWNLOADABLE VERSION OF PAINT BOX PATTERN 

2.  You’ll need a speciality triangle ruler – CGRT90-1specifically the Creative Grids 90˙ Triangle Quarter Square Ruler CGRT90 -we have these available for purchase in our Colourwerx shop and again, if you use the discount code QAL at checkout you’ll save 10% – double yippee!

 

PURCHASE THE CREATIVE GRIDS TRIANGLE RULER HERE

3.  Fabrics Needed:  One 2-1/2″ strip roll with at least (40) strips (or cut from your stash (40) strips) plus two 1-yard cuts of coordinating fabrics.

HOW ABOUT SOME FABRIC KITS?  Both Colourwerx and our good sewing pal, Christa Watson from Christa Quilts have put together a special fabric kit for the Paint Box Quilt Along! Both of these kits are offered at a discount for a limited time!

PaintBox Designs copy

BRIGHT AND COLORFUL GRIDWORK KIT FROM CHRISTA QUILTS: Christa’s kit features her bright and geometric new fabric collection called “GridWork” (pictured on the left) and she’s offering a discount on this – use the code PAINT. (This kit does not include the pattern).

 

GORGEOUS JEWEL BOX BATIK KIT FROM COLOURWERX: If you love those jewelled toned batiks, then this Colourwerx Jewel Box batik fabric kit featuring Island Batik fabrics is the perfect kit for you.

PURCHASE COLOURWERX’S JEWEL BOX BATIK FABRIC KIT

That’s it!!  I hope you’ll join us for some colouricious fun as we start our next Quilt Along !!  I can’t wait to start making this quilt with your guys!  Until January 28th – please be sure to email us at colourwerx@yahoo.com if you have any questions.  Or feel free to post a question on our Colourwerx QAL Facebook Group!

Until your next colour fix ~  happy and bright quilting always!    L&C xxoo

Paint Box – New Pattern Preview

PaintBox Front Cover copyIt’s time to once again start highlighting each of our new patterns that were just released at the Houston International Fall Quilt Market 2019.  First on the list is Paint Box.  You can purchase the pattern in paper or PDF format right here in our Colourwerx shop!

Paint Box  was designed by Carl and the first version was specially made for Island Batik using our second signature batik collection with them called ‘Jewel Box’ designed for us by Kathy Brett Engle! As we preview more new patterns in the coming weeks, you’ll see this gorgeous collection of batiks used with each of our new designs!  You can view the whole ‘Jewel Box” fabric collection by clicking here!

This little ‘Paint Box’ quilt has quickly become an all time favorite of mine to piece from beginning to end.  Let me explain why….Strip Roll

First off – gathering the materials is so – so – so simple – all you need is  (1) 2-1/2″ strip roll with at least 40 strips and two 1-yard cuts of coordinating fabrics – that’s it!  From those materials, you’ll be able to make the 48″ x 48″ quilt top plus your binding.  Throw in 3-1/4 yards backing materials and you are set!  (This pattern is also a great stash buster so you could choose to cut the forty strips from your stash!)  I used for my second ‘Paint Box’ version the fabulously rich jewel toned Me+You Rainbow assortment of batik strips pictured above!

You will also need the Creative Grids 90˙ Quarter Square Triangle Ruler (CGRT90).  You can purchase the ruler from your favorite quilt shop or right here in our Colourwerx shop!
CGRT90-1Next sort the strips from your roll into groups – here’s where the fun begins 🙂  – you can sort by color, design, or just because – anything looks great!

Once you’ve cut and sorted your fabrics, its easy strip piecing and lots of it – but it goes fast!   I love this step in the process – although I still have to concentrate on my 1/4″ seam, I find strip piecing of this nature very relaxing and easy going.

Hoffman Strips
Next a little pressing and some fun cutting of triangles using the Creative Grids 90˙ Quarter Square Triangle Ruler.   And voila!

Hoffman Triangles

Lay out the triangles according to the pattern, sew triangles units together to form blocks, sew blocks together to form rows,  sew rows together and you’re done!   It really is that simple!

Me + You PB 2
To date, I have made five versions of our Paint Box pattern, including the two versions mentioned above.

Gridwork PB 1Here’s another version and this one graces the pattern cover because it truly came out so #colouricious!  This version uses Christa Watson’s newest fabric collection from Bernartex Contempo Fabrics called ‘Grid Work’.  You can view  the whole collection by clicking here and purchase these fabrics in Christa’s shop by clicking here.

Christa’s new fabrics are full of pure color and fun geometric designs so the combination of her “GridWork’ fabrics and the Paint Box pattern created a dynamic and fun quilt for sure!

We also made two versions for our friends at Free Spirit Fabrics, using of course, the new Kaffe Fassett Collective also coming to your local quilt shops and available in February 2020.

So go ahead and give it a try -it’s really so much fun!
Purchase the Paper Paint Box Pattern here!  Purchase the PDF Paint Box Pattern here!

And also be sure to check back into our Colourwerx shop as we will have kits for most of these versions coming real soon!

And of course, by all means – please do send us a picture of your completed Paint Box quilts – we always love to see and share all of your beautiful creations made using our Colourwerx patterns!

Carl and I are so thankful for your support and wish you happy and bright quilting always!  Until your next colour fix~ 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

 

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

ColourMaze QAL – Week #1 – Choosing Your Strip Roll and Different Combinations

ColourMaze Front Cover(1)Hello!  And welcome to the ‘first week’ of the ‘first ever’ Colourwerx QAL (quilt along) where we’ll be making our super fun ColourMaze quilt!

First, I want to thank you so much for joining us for our first QAL.  Whether you’ll be sewing up the pattern along side us or just observing from afar, we welcome you and are overwhelmed by your enthusiasm so far – so thank you, thank you, thank you!

Also, we invite you to join our free QAL Facebook group where you can ask questions, share your progress and of course, post pictures of your finished projects so everyone can share in the fun!  Also feel free to share this invite and any QAL news with other quilty buddies and invite them to join along in the fun!

JOIN THE COLOURWERX QAL FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

I also have a companion video on or Colourwerx UTube channel so if you’d like to watch me ‘yak on’ instead of reading this post – you’ll find that video here…

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So this is Week#1 of the Colourmaze QAL –  First let’s review the schedule!
Colourmaze QAL 2As you can see it’s a 4-week QAL but you can take it at your own pace and join in anytime.  All of the videos and blog posts will remain here, as well as be posted on our website and social media pages throughout the year.  It’s free to join and you can choose to make the 50″x70″ lap quilt, or just a few blocks for a table runner or placemats, or just even one block – it’s all your choice!   So feel free to hop in anytime!

Here’s what you’ll need though to join in on the stitchin’ fun –
• The ColourMaze pattern by Colourwerx

PURCHASE THE COLOURMAZE PATTERN – PAPER VERSION
PURCHASE THE COLOURMAZE PATTERN – PDF VERSION

MaterialsJPG•  Background Fabric – 1-3/4 yards – choose a coordinating fabric to the strip roll or a neutral color with perhaps a tone on tone texture;

•  A strip roll (or jelly roll) – choose a strip roll containing (40) precut 2-1/2″ wide strips.  If you’d like you can choose these other options as well:

— Bust Your Stash – Cut (40-42) 2-1/2″ wide x 41-43″ long strips from your stash;
— 6″ Design Roll – this is a roll containing 20 fabrics all cut at 6″ x WOF – you would need to cut (2) 2-1/2″ strips from each of the (20) strips to make (40) 2-1/2″ strips for the project;
— Fat Quarter Bundle – a Fat Quarter is (18″ x 22″).  Choose a bundle that has at least (21) fat quarters and you would need to cut (4) 2-1/2″ x 21″ strips from each of the Fat Quarters.

•  Optional for the QAL – Binding : 5/8 yard and Backing Fabric : 4-1/2 yards

I always think that seeing different color combinations with a new quilt pattern is helpful when choosing fabrics so here a few different color combinations we have designed using some of our favorite fabric designers’ collections…

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You can purchase fabric kits for most of these combinations here:

PURCHASE THE KAFFE FASSETT RAINBOW FABRIC KITS
PURCHASE THE VIOLET CRAFT MODERN BASICS FABRIC KIT
PURCHASE THE GEO POP FABRIC KIT FROM CHRISTAQUILTS.COM

Preparing Your Fabrics for Week #2:
1.  Once you’ve selected your fabrics, be sure to measure the precut 2-1/2″ strips for accuracy.  Flash – flash – not all strip rolls are cut exactly alike or are accurately cut by the fabric factories! Yup – it’s just the way the ball bounces here in the quilting world and there are inconsistencies on these precuts from fabric company to fabric company.

So go ahead and unroll that strip roll and measure the width of the strip.  You may find as I did, that some need a little tiny trim off the width to make them a perfect 2-1/2″ wide.  (And remember if your strip roll has a pinked edge, you would measure from the outer tip of the pinked edge).


2.  Next, feel free to starch your background fabric and the 2-1/2″ strips if needed.  However – warning – DO NOT PREWASH YOUR STRIPS.  The strips are pretty fragile and if you wash and dry them, there will be tears (literally) – The strips will shrivel up and be unsable – trust me on this one!

3.  Lastly, each ColourMaze block is made using (2) different 2-1/2″ strips plus some background fabric.  So to prepare for Week #2 and cutting, pair up your strips for each block you will be making.  If you are making (1) block, then you will need (2) 2-1/2″ x WOF strips; if you are making the 50″x70″ Lap Size, then  you will need  (20) pairs of strips….

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ColourMaze Front Cover(1)….which brings us to a burning question where the 50″x70″ Lap Quilt is concerned….There are actually (21) blocks to make and you might be asking yourself “Where do I get the extra 2 strips for that 21st block if I am using a strip roll that only contains 40 strips?”  Well I have the answer below…  As you group your strips together this week, start thinking about which option you might like to choose:

 OPTION #1:  If your strips measure aprox. 42-43″ long, there is a way to cut your pieces more efficiently from each strip in order to have the necessary fabric left over to create the 21st block.  In next week’s blog post and tutorial video, I will demo this for you so wait for the answer before cutting;
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OPTION #2:  Once we cut the strips next week, there will be generous offcuts of each strip left over…so you could choose to cut your 21st block from these offcuts and create a scrappy block that goes in the center or off to one side of your quilt.  You can also use these offcuts to make your binding strips (which is what I’m going to do) or to make scrappy placemats or a table runner at a later date.

OPTION #3:  If you wish to purchase your binding fabric this week, purchase as the pattern states 5/8 yard.  This 5/8 yard is more than enough fabric to create your binding strips and also allows you extra yardage to cut the extra (2)  2-1/2″ wide strips to add to your (40) strips to make the (21) blocks total.

Next week – Week #2: we’ll be Cutting Your Strips and Background Fabric – woohoo!

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