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 #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

 

PaintBox QAL – Week #2 – Sorting Your Strips into Groups & Cutting

PaintBox Front Cover copyWelcome back to Week #2 of the Colourwerx Paint Box QuiltAlong!  This week is all about sorting your strips into color groups and cutting.

Also, just a friendly reminder!   If you want to join with other quilty friends and aren’t yet a member of our Facebook group, I  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 other QAL news with quilty buddies and invite them to join along in the fun!

JOIN THE COLOURWERX QAL FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

GATHER YOUR MATERIALS:   By now you should have selected your materials, purchased your pattern and gathered the speciality triangle ruler and other sewing notions if needed.  But just in case, we’ll review what you need super quick:

•  The PaintBox pattern by Colourwerx (CW-124) – you can purchase this at our shop and choose either a paper edition or electronic PDF edition;

PURCHASE THE PAINTBOX PATTERN – PAPER VERSION
PURCHASE THE PAINTBOX PATTERN – PDF VERSION

•  A strip roll (or jelly roll) – choose a strip roll containing (40) precut 2-1/2″ wide strips.  If you’d like to “bust your stash” – Cut (40) 2″ wide x 41-43″ long strips from your stash;

•  Sashing Triangles & Binding  – choose two coordinating fabrics that match or compliment your strips – these fabrics make up the “sashing triangles” – You’ll need a 1-yard cut of each fabric.

•  A Speciality 90 Degree Ruler  for Cutting the Triangles – the Creative Grids Quarter Square Triangle Ruler CGRT90.  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

WHAT DID I CHOOSE TO USE?  Last week you might recall I was alternating between two different jelly rolls I had in my stash.  I finally settled on the Laundry Basket Linen Texture roll and added two 1-yard cuts of Edyta’s gorgeous linen fabrics for the sashing triangles.  The coordinating colors I chose were Linen and a Dark Teal.   Thanks to the good peeps at Fat Quarter Shop my added yardage I had to order arrived this afternoon just in time for me to write this blog!

Linda's PB Fabrics

SORT YOUR STRIPS INTO COLOUR GROUPS –
This task is probably the hardest step in making this quilt.  There are so many choices and none of them are wrong. You’ll first need to come up with 5 color groups – each group containing 8 strips. Each grouping will then be subdivided into (2)  subgroups containing (4) strips each.

Last week I provided a link to this  handy black and white diagram below  to assist you in planning your colour placement for your Paint Box quilt.  You can use crayons, colored pencils or markers – whatever works for you.  Here’s the link again just in case you missed it:

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THE PAINT BOX LINE ART HERE
Paintbox Layout

If your strip roll contains duplicate strips or as often is the case – 20 different fabrics with 2 strips of each fabric – this task is a bit easier for you.  Just divide the strips into 5 color groups selecting 4 different fabrics for each group.  If the fabric strips are duplicated, then you would place (2) strips from each of the 4 fabrics selected in that group to total the (8) strips assigned to each group.

Paint Box Color Grouping 2
If your strip roll has (40) different colored strips – the task is a little harder. You will need to come up first with five color groups – then subdivide each group into two sub groups and place 4 strips in each subgroup.

Paint Box Groupings

My Laundry Basket Linen strip roll had (40) strips but the strip colors, hues  and variations were very subtle. Here’s an example of the some of the color variations I found across the amber /green spectrums.

I settled to make (10) distinct color groups with (4) strips in each group. Whenever I start a new PaintBox quilt, I like to lay out the strips in their color groups on my floor to audition what that center square might look like and also ensure that all that fabrics are “playing nicely” in their individual color groups  as well as across the quilt top. Here’s what mine looked like:

Linda's Strips

I also found coloring in the B&W line art drawing most helpful and used the subtle variances in the color groupings to make an almost rotating pinwheel of changing colors around the  quilt top. I think this might look neat but I won’t really  know until I get the quilt top together and that’s the fun of it!   Here’s what my B&W line art quilt top looked like after I colored it in:

Linda's Paint Box

CUTTING THE STRIP ROLL STRIPS TO 2″ WIDE –
Once you’ve placed the strips in color groupings, you’re ready to cut each strip down to 2″ wide (unless of course you have cut from your stash and then hopefully you have already cut them at 2″ wide).  That’s right each strip needs to be 2″ wide before we start stitching them together.  Take your time in doing this and be accurate!

BUT WAIT!!!  I must confess that often times I cut the strips down to this width after I have stitched pairs of strips together.  I’ll talk more about this step next week, but 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 Peezy!  However if that makes you nervous, then by all means, trim each of your strips to 2″ wide.

CUTTING THE COORDINATING FABRICS INTO STRIPS –
Next gather the (2) coordinating fabric.  Choose one to also be your biding fabric.  Follow the cutting instructions and dimensions on page 1 of the pattern and cut your coordinating fabrics into strips.

That’s it!  You are now ready for Week #3 – Stitching the Strips together!  See ya then! 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

ColourMaze QAL – Week #2 – Sorting your Strips & Cutting

Hi guys!  We are in Week #2 of the Colourmaze QAL!  Welcome back!

materialsjpg.jpgJust to recap – Week#1 was all about getting the ColourMaze pattern (still available from our Colourwerx shop by clicking here) and also choosing your fabrics: A 40-piece 2-1/2″ strip roll and 1-3/4 yards of background fabric – you can of course cut the (40) 2-1/2″ strips from your stash too!  If you’re new this week, then just jump on in! You can review Week#1’s blog post here!

Also, our free Colourwerx QAL Facebook Group is really where all the action is and everyone is encouraged to ask questions, share  progress and of course, post pictures of  finished projects so everyone in the group can share in the fun!  We’re also doing weekly giveaways here too!  Click below to join the Colourwerx Quilt Along Facebook Group  or 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

Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 4.32.55 PM
Just like last week – Carl and I put together a little companion video to Week#2 QAL recapping this blog post along with tips and tricks.  You can view it on our  Colourwerx UTube channel so if you’d like to watch me ‘yak on’ instead of reading this post – you’ll find that video here…

Linda Video Wk 2

So let’s get started!   WEEK #2 – Sorting Your Strips & Cutting
To prepare you for piecing which is next week (and really, that’s the super fun part of this quilt, right?!?), you’ll need to cut your background fabric and strips this week!

  • Sort and Pair up the Strips! Unroll your strip roll and begin to group together strips into pairs.  Each pair of 2-1/2″ strips will make (1) ColourMaze block.    So if you want to make a couple of placemats, place together (4) pairs of strips for (4) placemats!   If you are making the 50″ x 70″ pattern cover quilt. group together (20) pairs of strips.  You may choose to pair your strips tone on tone, contrast or just random – whatever suits your fancy 😀.IMG_6988
    In Week #1’s post, there’s a slide show of different ColourMaze quilts showing the finished blocks so you can see that almost anything goes when pairing up the strips.
  • Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 4.26.21 PMCut Your Background Fabric:  First off, before cutting – I really, really, really  like to starch my fabric.  Mary Ellen’s Best Press is terrific stuff but it its too pricey to use on larger pieces and when I need to starch several yards or a larger piece such as this background fabric, I use the Faultless Gold Top Firm Finish Spray Starch. First you can’t beat the price at like $1.99 a can – available at Target, Walmart, the supermarket, etc….  Secondly, I just happen to love the way it makes my fabric feel.  It gives the fabric a firm hand but not too stiff and makes my cutting and piecing more precise.  Use a hot dry iron (no steam) and definitely starch the fabric before you make that first cut as the fabric may shrink ever so slightly after the starch is ironed dry.

You’ll find all of the cutting directions and dimensions in the Colourmaze pattern on pages 1 & 2.CW Strips

You’ll see in the pattern that you’ll need to cut  lots of 1″ strips from the background fabric – in fact you’ll actually be cutting a few dozen 1″ strips.  The idea of cutting 1″ strips seems easy enough but these smaller width strips can be tricky,  especially when you cut strip after strip after strip after strip after strip after…. – well you get the idea, right?

So first, I encourage you to change your rotary blade to a fresh new one for extra sharpness, and always use a good quality rotary ruler to measure the strip widths and to cut against.

Week 2 Blade
Just a little sidenote before cutting your fabric.I know some people like to use their rotary cutting mat to measure the width of strips but I can tell you from experience that cutting mats are notoriously “off” – why you ask?  The measurements are ‘printed’ on the cutting mat and the super thick line on the mat can throw off your cut by 1/32nd or 1/64th of an inch.  Additionally those printed measurements can expand and contract with heat and cold and also with general day to day use.   This all leads to tiny inaccuracies in your cutting but compounds itself cut after cut after cut.   It’s ok to use the cutting mat for general measurements such as to quickly check if a block is measuring 9-1/2″ x 9-1/2″ but for super accurate cutting and squaring down please use a good quality quilting ruler to measure and cut against not the cutting mat- just mho! 😉

First Tip on Cutting the Background Fabric  – I like to reduce the distance I need to travel with my rotary cutter from the bottom of the fabric to the top.  Once I find the straight of grain of the fabric (and here’s a great tutorial if you need one), I then match selvage edges at the top with my fold at the bottom.   I then fold my fabric in half again  – this reduces  the distance my rotary cutter needs to  travel from 22″ to 11″.   Yes,  I am cutting through four layers of fabric instead of two, but my rotary cutter is only traveling the length of 11″ to cut a strip….therefore reducing the likelihood of my ruler slipping or sliding from side to side resulting in an inaccurate cut.  Additionally, less pressure is needed to hold the ruler in place therefore less pain or cramping in my wrist or hand  if cutting for longer periods of time.  A win-win!


Once you are ready to begin, be sure to always cut yourself a fresh clean edge before proceeding to cut your strips.

Clean Edge

Next tip 🙂  –  I have found that sometimes after cutting 8, 9 or 10 strips in a row, sometimes it becomes impossible to precisely line up the ruler on the edge of the fabric straight – it’s as if the fabric edge has been warped or skewed and the edge is generally not true to the line under the ruler (at least not like it was when you made your very first clean cut). This happens because as you cut strip after strip, you are placing a lot of pressure 1) against the ruler by holding it steady in place and 2) by sliding the rotary cutter along the side of the ruler as you cut consecutive strips (especially smaller width strips like 1″ strips).

Ruler Skewed
So it’s not uncommon to see this and its a good practice that after cutting 10 or so strips, to simply cut a fresh, new clean edge to ensure you are cutting accurately and of course, to line the ruler up against.

Next up…..IMG_7051

  • Cut Your Fabric Strips for the ColourMaze Blocks:  Again, you’ll find all the dimensions to cut your block pieces, on pages 1 & 2 of the Colourmaze pattern.  Every (2) 2-1/2″ strips will yield (1) ColourMaze block, and after cutting the block pieces, you may indeed have some generous offcuts – think about whether you might like to make more Colourmaze blocks or save those offcuts for a scrappy binding.  Make sure you UNFOLD each strip and then cut your block pieces so you will be left with a longer offcut to use for other projects.

Additionally, in last week’s post I mentioned that if you are making the  50″x70″ Lap Quilt there are actually (21) blocks needed and you might be asking yourself “Where do I get the extra 2 strips for that 21st block if I am using a 40-piece strip roll ?”  Well I have the answer…..

If your strip roll has at least 2 different fabrics that are duplicated within the strip roll then you can pair these 4 strips together,  cut them for efficiency and yield 3 Colourmaze blocks out of these 4 total strips.

So first things first – look at your (40) strips and pull out the strips that are duplicated .   You need to locate a minimum of 2 fabrics that are duplicated – pair up these fabric strips (so you should have 4 strips total, 2 from Fabric A and 2 from Fabric B).

Duplicate Strip

Unfold the first Fabric A strip, cut the selvage edge off and then cut the (4) pieces specified in the pattern for (1) ColourMaze block starting with the largest unit to the smallest unit.

Strip Cut 1

With the leftover from strip #1, begin to cut the 2nd block’s pieces, Cut the largest unit first, and then with what’s left cut the smallest unit.   In other words, you may need to go out of order from the pattern.   Use the whole strip up!

Strip Cut 2

Unfold the the second Fabric A strip (aka the same fabric as the first) and continue to cut the remaining units required for the second block. If all works out, you should be left with approx. 29″ – just enough to cut the units for a 3rd ColourMaze block (i.e.: the 21st block for the lap size cover quilt).

Strip Cut 3

Repeat the above on the matching Fabric B strips to pair up with Fabric A.   Keep in mind that not all fabric strips are manufactured at exactly the same length – some are 44″ long, some 43″ and some even 42″….so before making your first cut on the fabric strips, mark out the segments on the strip with a washable marker to make sure you can get all the required pieces to make (3) blocks.

I demonstrate this in the companion QAL video here.

So this week is all about cutting – take your time, and remember that old phrase – measure twice, cut once!  And if you have any questions or need any additional assistance, please email Carl and I at colourwerx@yahoo.com or message us on our Facebook Colourwerx or Colourwerx QuiltAlong pages.

Be sure to check back in next week – Week #3 for Piecing the Block where I’ll share my all time favorite tip and tricks to perfect your 1/4″ seam and precision piecing skills! 

Thanks again for joining in on the quilt along fun and I can’t wait to see everyone’s blocks soon!   Until your next colour fix~ L&C xxoo

 

 

 

 

Abstract Garden Blog Hop & Giveaway!

AbstractGarden_bloghopWINNER  WINNER! 

Congratulations to Allison!!  Molly (our Beagle) selected Comment #72 – Allison in Alabama –  with the Random # Generator  as the Winner of our Colourwerx/Abstract Garden giveaway!  Hurray, and congratulations to Allison.  And thank you to everyone who played along!

Hey y’all !  Today is our day on the Abstract Garden Blog Hop and we couldn’t be more thrilled that Benartex Fabrics and designer, Christa Watson asked us to join in on the fun! To find out more about the Abstract Garden Blog Hop and Christa’s inspiration behind this fab fabric collection, check out Benartex’s Sew in Love (with Fabric) blog and Christa’s blog here!

AG BundlePattern GiveawayWe’re one of the last stops on the hop so first let me say – there are giveaways!!! Yippee!  Christa and the nice folks at Benartex are giving away an Abstract Garden Fat Quarter Bundle and we here at Colourwerx are also throwing in a pattern pack of the three patterns we used when making the projects you see here: ModCat, Mini ModDog & Disco.

Here’s how the giveaway works: Just leave a comment below and we’ll select a winner Saturday morning.  It’s that easy!   Back to the hop….

Abstract Garden is the new signature collection of designer extraordinaire and Colourwerx good friend, Christa Watson of Christa Quilts.    The collection is super modern, fab, fun and bright – just my cup of tea!  Last year, when Christa mentioned that her Abstract Garden Fabric Collection was coming out soon, I jumped at the chance to make her a few projects to display in her booth at the Fall Quilt Market. Here’s a picture of the finished projects…

Christa_Projects

Christa is also always so generous with her fabric!  Here’s the assortment of fabulous fabrics Christa sent out to me.  Check out the #colouricious tones and those fabulous mid-mod designs (can I get a ooooo and an ahhhhhh please!), ….not only did Christa send me  fat quarters of the entire collection of Abstract Garden, but she also included some fabrics from her first 2 collections, Modern Marks and Fandangle – and yes, I do have big plans for these other fabrics soon! 🙂

AG Fabric

Now – what projects to make for Christa??  Well that was easy – what could be better than a ModCat and Mini ModDog out of Christa’s super modern fabrics!!

I made the ModCat trio first – this is the wallhanging version of our popular ModCat pattern.  First I needed to divide the fabrics she sent me into three colorways – I decided to make a yellow/orange, blue/aqua, and purple/pink cat.  After wonky strip piecing the fabrics together, I cut out the cat shapes and then appliqued stitched around the cat eyes before fusing everything to the background fabric.   Hint – hint!: By stitching around the cat eyes first, I have more control over my stitching and it’s easier to control the zigzag around the smaller shapes.

I had a lot of scraps left over so next I made (2) Mini ModDog pillows for her booth – these are always so much fun and work up quickly – I made Christa a girl and a boy dog pillow!!.  Again first I machine quilted the background, then wonky strip pieced the the fabrics together, cut out the shapes and appliqued stitched the pups to their fabrics.  These came out super cute if I do say so myself!

Finally, I worked up for Christa my Disco pattern in her new collection. I placed this version of Disco on the back of my pattern cover!    I just love it!

Disco_Abstract Garden copy

Also on today’s blog hop are Tara and Stephanie – check out their links below and hop on over to their blogs!   And be sure to check out Benartex’s blog tomorrow where they’ll present a virtual trunk show of Christa’s Abstract Garden quilts.  Here’s the full list of my fellow bloggers and the quick links to their blogs ….Abstract Garden Fabrics

Monday 
Benartex Blog – Intro & inspiration about my designs

Tuesday
Sherry Shish from Powered by Quilting
Lee Monroe from May Chappell

Wednesday
Annie Unrein from Patterns by Annie
Pam and Lynn from The Stitch TV Show

Thursday

Friday

Finally – go ahead and leave a comment below to enter our giveaway!  Molly the Beagle – office manager in charge – will randomly select a winner on Saturday morning! 

And be sure to ask your local quilt shops if they have Abstract Garden.  If not, check out Christa’s online shop to order some of these great fabrics for your stash!

Happy quilting and until your next colour fix~Linda & Carl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Your Colour Game on with Prismatic!

PrismaticI’m catching up on new pattern blog posts – so let’s talk about one of our newest patterns – Prismatic!.  Boldly go where no colour has gone before!  – It’s  a terrific pattern for batiks, prints or solids! And good news, it may look complicated, but it’s not.

Prismatic! is a fun, easy to piece quilt.   All the blocks Prismatic Front Cover copyare pieced exactly in the same fashion..the only difference is how the fabrics are combined and in what order they appear in each block.  Luckily, we gave you a handy reference chart in the pattern, and if you follow that and a few additional tips below – you’ll be on your way to creating this gorgeous quilt.  Click here to purchase the pattern in either a paper pattern or PDF download pattern.

This new pattern from Colourwerx was designed by Carl on a whim….he was playing around in EQ7 designing quilt block patterns while watching TV one night and happened to switch the channel over to CBS…the logo appeared….this was the result —- see the similarity? Kinda like a cat’s eye, right….    Sometimes it takes just a little inspiration to light a creative fire; and yes, that old saying that ‘inspiration is everywhere’ is absolutely true.

Since the quilt is entirely pieced (and not foundation or paper pieced as many think), a good 1/4″ seam is imperative,  so you’ll need to whip out that 1/4″ patchwork presser foot for your sewing machine.  Mine is the #97 for my Bernina 750QE – it comes with this handy metal guide that keeps my 1/4″ seams perfect and I love it!

Bernina97

Fabric selection for Prismatic! is super easy too – you just need twelve coordinating fabrics plus three neutrals for the backgrounds.  The pattern includes two sizes: a Large Prismatic New Back CoverLap with a 6″ finished block – and measures 72″ x 84″ – which uses just twelve half yards; and a Small Lap Size with a 4″ finished block  – and measures 48″ x 56″ – which uses just twelve fat quarters. Refer to the Material List at your right  for further information on yardage requirements.

So if you’ve been lusting after half yard bundles or fat quarter bundles this may be the perfect pattern!  I selected to use one of our personally curated bundles of gorgeous batik fabrics from Island Batiks.  This is now available for purchase in Fat Quarter or Half Yard bundles in our Colourwerx shop – click here for more information.

It of course follows colour wheel order (….and I always love a good colour wheel order quilt…), but the depth of saturation and gorgeous texture of the Island Batik Basics really callModTiki out to me.  This colour palette may also look familiar to you as I chose this exact same bundle to use for the Big Kahuna version of my ModTiki quilt – this pattern is also available on on our Colourwerx website here.  For the background fabrics, I used my favorite Island Batik neutrals in the colors of Smoke (dark gray), Tin (light gray) and White. Once your fabrics are selected, creating a fabric color key is paramount – just snip a 1″ square from each fabric, staple the fabric squares to a piece of paper and label them accordingly.  This key will aid you continually in keeping your fabrics coordinated and in the order needed to make the pattern work.

Cutting your fabrics is also pretty easy too – using the pattern templates provided and following the cutting chart provided in the pattern,  each fabric has exactly the same quantity of shapes cut – it’s just a matter of cutting the correct template shape from each fabric.   Once the fabrics are cut, the most challenging part is to separate and combine the the fabric shapes into the different block combinations, following the color coded block combination chart provided in the pattern.    There are thirty three different block combinations, so getting the right shape in right color in the correct combination is important – check and double check!.

Once my block combos were separated, I placed each of them into ziplock bag and labelled how many blocks I needed to make for that combo –  all I needed to do was select a bag and sew the units together in that bag.    Eazy peazy, right?

Once all thirty three combinations were completed, I laid out the blocks on my design  board and began to sew the blocks together. I then quilted it on my APQS Lucey longarm with an all over pantograph pattern.  Voila!!

This pattern is so versatile and as mentioned above, choosing twelve coordinating fabrics will always create beautiful results…Here are a few other versions of Prismatic!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Prismatic! is a super fun quilt  – so dive in and step up your colour game!    Thanks for your support and happy holidays!  Until your next colour fix~Linda & Carl

 

 

 

Save

Save