Having been asked many times how these techniques came about, here is the history.... I learned to quilt in 1976, doing everything by hand. And for the next almost 30 years, that was the only way I worked. I never went to a show, class, quilt shop or guild meeting. I was a closet quilter - enjoying making my own patterns and working hard enough to make about one quilt per year. I did have a few magazines, but that was all (looked at the pictures, not the details).
I only discovered the rotary cutter in 2004 so came late to the party. But, what a world of possibilities that opened up. I had been carrying around a sketch of a block for years (do not remember where it came from) and decided to make the quilt - which got to be quite large.
So, to use my spanking new rotary cutter and mat I considered how to approach this in the traditional manner which was to cut each piece individually, then sew them back together to make the units, take 16 units and make the block for a total of 35 individual pieces per block x 143 blocks. It just seemed an overwhelming prospect. Having made a few units and playing around with them I noticed a few things.
1. a few HSTS together, on the 45, made what looked like two strips.
2. a few QSTs together, on the 45, made what looked like a checker board and some strips.
So, I started playing with the math to get the right strip widths to end up with 2-1/2" units.
There had to be dark red with light green, light red with light green, dark green with light red and dark red with dark green. Plus there had to be mirror versions of all blocks... and no to identical fabrics could touch at any seam. So, you see the problem. This resulted in making lots and lots and lots of HSTs and QSTs, sorting them out into bins and arranging each block meticulously.
This is the final quilt.
Over time I started to learn from other quilters, visited quilt shops (very often actually), started building my stash, bought rulers, took courses. But realized that no one was making HSTs and QSTs the way I was. So I decided to work on the techniques so they could be published and shared with everyone. Hopefully this will be the way to make these units whenever you need lots of them. I figured out how to make Flying Geese, Hunter's Star and Six Point Star using a shortcut sheet method. Currently I am working on triangle-in-a-square units and QSTs with 4 fabrics. These will be released soon.
If anyone has a pattern that calls for any of these units and would like some help with the calculations for the Shortcut Sheet method, feel free to give me a call or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I am hoping these techniques become 'the way it is done'.
Note to pattern designers: feel free to incorporate Shortcut Sheet techniques into your pattern instructions. I only ask that you give me credit for the technique by using the Shortcut Sheet logo on the front of your pattern. These are available free, just send me a message and I will send you the JPG file.
Happy quilting everyone! I hope you find these Shortcut Sheet techniques easy and fun.
Are you like me – do you travel with all your quilt stuff just in case you can get to it and finish something? Let me show you my ‘Have Sewing Machine, Will Travel’ setup.
We are in a travel trailer for two months and just can’t imagine going that long without sewing something. So……
First and foremost, good lighting. Fortunately there is a skylight and top window lights plus the windows so there is plenty of natural lighting. Plus directional light for my cutting board positioned so there is no shadow.
Any travel setup needs space for the machine. Having a chair would be ideal, but hey, in the spirit of compact living space, it’s amazing how easy it is to sew standing up. Getting quite used to it actually. This airstream used to have a second bed/couch in this space. Well that had to go of course. This has been replaced with a very handy counter and storage space. Darn, didn’t bring enough thread!
Next, space to cut. I often cut width-of-fabric (WOF) so absolutely must a have 24” wide cutting mat. But, due to the compact depth of the counter, just can’t get more than 18”. So that means when handling the fabric, just accordion fold at the back edge and cut from the front edge.
When it comes to ironing, there is definitely not enough room for an ironing board. But there is this very handy counter addition that fits my portable 12 x 14 cutting/ironing mat from Omnigrid. That, plus the mini iron and Strip Stick, is more than adequate.
My design wall? Well…… there are curtains and a door, and pins or tape. So, although leaving things up for any length of time is not an option, it works.
Now, where to put the UFO bin – and what to put in it? Totally guilty of bringing way too much and even in two months doubt even a fraction will be finished. Note to me, make a realistic plan of what can be accomplished.
Plus there are 5 quilts to start, the most important of which is for our new grandson!
And finally, fabric! One thing you might discover if you travel and sew is that fabric is HEAVY! So putting too much into a bin is probably not a good idea. Raise your hand if you travel with bolts of fabric (see my hand up). Remove the cardboard from the bolt so the fabric folds and stacks. Accordion fold ahead of time so you can just select your bolt and lay it on the back of the cutting mat and pull forward to cut from the front.
So that is the set-up. Anyone inspired to travel for a few months without having to leave the sewing room behind? Now if I could only fit the longarm…..
I have seen this called a 'flange' on your binding, or faux 'piping' but I call it 2-toned and use it on all my quilts - like a signature. It takes a little extra time preparing the binding, but doing the whole thing by machine makes the overall time much less.
First select your two fabrics. The inside binding is what makes the 'piping' and is the larger piece. Cut enough width of fabric to go around your quilt plus extra. The strip width is 1-3/4". The fabric should accentuate whichever color you want to pop in your quilt. Join your pieces end to end at 45 degree angles so you don't have a big bump at the joints. Press your seams open
Next cut your outside binding strips. These are 1-1/2" wide. Also join them end to end and press seems open.
Sew the two strips together and press very flat with seams going towards the smaller piece - the outside binding fabric.
Next fold in half and press again. I seldom get a perfect 1/4" seam so I am very careful with the folding, adjusting to show only 1/8" of the inside binding along the top edge.
I like to baste this binding to keep it from slipping when sewing to the quilt, and then trim to exactly 1-1/4".
Now the binding is ready to apply to the quilt.
Sew your binding to the back of the quilt with the inside facing up. I sew 3/8", not 1/4". This gives me full seam allowance in the binding, no empty spaces. At the corner, 3/8" from the edge, angle your seam towards the corner at a 45 degrees. Then fold your binding back along this angle and back down to align with the next side and the top edge.
If you can join your binding once you get all the way around using a 45 degree seam, then do it. If not, just cut straight across, making one 1/2" longer than the other, match right sides and sew a 1/4" seam. Then finish joining to the quilt.
Now top stitch from the front lining up your stitch with the sewn seam, just on the outside edge of the outside binding, keeping your 'piping' loose. At the corner, trim a little of the inside to make the turn easier, fold to make a miter corner and continue stitching. That's it! Have fun!
So a few weeks have passed since I started quilting Eyes on the Stars. My deadline was June 21 to get the quilt in as the entry to Vermont Quilt Festival. Not to jump ahead too much, but I made the deadline... sort of.
Here is what happened...
In-the-ditch with mono-filament thread went mostly OK. I tried to follow a path to minimize thread cuts. Given the complexity of the pattern this was a little complicated.
I marked the seams (Stattler calls it a boundary) using the machine head trying for as long a continuous pattern as possible. This boundary was converted to a stitching pattern. I needed to zoom in to make the points converge. Then once I told it to stitch (well actually, selected 'stitch' on the computer screen), then it stitched the path. I just guided with fingers on either side of the stitching head putting slight pressure on one side or the other to make sure the stitch was as close to the ditch as possible.
Since my seams are pressed open, there is no clear ditch. But the mono-filament made this almost invisible.
With all the 'in-the-ditch' quilting done it was time to select thread for the detail quilting. I had planned to change thread with every shape. Well you know what they say about plans. This didn't quite work out. The clock was ticking. It was already Wednesday - only 3 days left.
I started with all the stars using silver glitter thread. And then all the 'eyes' using light blue.
Then I switched to the larger areas - the dark blue and medium blue wedges. The patterns had been created earlier so it was a matter of marking out the boundary and placing the pattern - slight manipulation and then start quilting. This took time as there are 48 of each and that means a thread break between wedges. They had different colors of thread so I did all the navy and then all the medium blue. Lots of problems with thread breaks for no apparent reason. By now it was end of day Thursday.
Friday I switch to the border as the pattern selected was quite dense and took a lot of time.
So long story longer - continued with as much quilting as possible until midnight Saturday. Then after a few hours sleep did the binding and made the deadline to get the quilt into the show. But, with about 40% less quilting than I had originally planned. Well, a yellow ribbon is nothing to sneeze at. Judges deducted points for having some dense quilting, and some without any. Here it is from the back and the final result.
There is always next year.....
So today I started quilting the Eyes on the Stars quilt. This will be entered in the Vermont Quilt Festival so I am doing my very, very best to have an interesting and complicated design.
We have had the Gammill for a couple of months. The learning curve has been very steep. The idea is to program the designs and have the computer do the stitching - good in theory but not so easy in practice. But, its getting better.
So Eyes on the Stars uses the Talking Points block plus 880 half square triangles. There are 11 fabrics. The HSTs are used for a 4" sashing between the 'eye' blocks plus an 8" border around the outside.
First I needed to give everything a final press - both the top and the wide backing. Then I loaded the quilt top by pinning to the leader on the top roller and rolling it up. It is 100 x 80, I am doing it across the 100 dimension.
The wide backing is great because look Mom, no seams! Just had to trim off the selvage as it doesn't stretch the way the fabric does. I am using a double layer of batting to really pop the quilt design. The bottom is a Hobbs 80/20 cotton/polyester and the top layer is Hobbs 100% wool. I tuck this under the machine table rather than using the roller that is there - way to0 hard to crawl under, layer the two battings and rolling it up.
With the quilt top in position I am ready to start. I made sure there was room for a strip of fabric on the side. This is to test my tension each time I do a thread change. First I plan on doing in-the-ditch around all the shapes using a dusty colored mono filament thread for both the top and bottom. By shapes I mean the stars, the eyes and the spikes around the eyes. This will really disguise where the blocks are.
With stitching around the outside of the star you can see how puffy the inside is. Then the quilting in the stars is with a Glide silver thread. Can't see the sparkles on the pic but trust me - it sparkles.
So that is how far the project got - one width of in-the-ditch and a sample star. I plan to do a lot of thread changes so each shape has its own color. Can't get back to it until Monday.... but keep watching.
A new series of patterns using five 1 yard cuts of fabric. Some include new & fast techniques for creating half square triangles or flying geese depending on the pattern.
First patterns up will be.
Nine Patch Evolved
This is the current Talking Points project. This pattern is called All Points of View. We are video taping this project to produce a video of the process of taking a Talking Points project from start to finish.
Here is the top finished. In a few weeks the pattern/directions will be on our site and will be free.
Email a picture of your finished project and we will post to our gallery - email@example.com