Tuesday, April 22, 2014

tiny nine patch {a tutorial}

Hello, happy Tuesday to you all.

Last time when I talked about sewing with 1" finished squares quite a few of you said you love these little squares but find them too fiddly and tricky to work with. I agree. The smaller the blocks, the trickier things get.  But, when I made my tiny nine patches I used strips of fabric instead of individual tiny squares and it made for incredibly fast and precise blocks. Really.
 
 
Would you like to see? Here's how I make my blocks - I work on two blocks at a time which not only speeds things up, I also waste a lot less fabric this way :)

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A few tips before we start, though.

* A consistent seam allowance is extremely important. These blocks are tiny, so every little discrepancy shows. I used the edge of my sewing machine foot as a guide for all my seam allowances.

* Pressing your seams a certain way helps the little pieces "lock in" a lot better so pay attention to how you press (pressing towards darker fabric is usually the best)

*Slightly reduce your stitch length. I usually use 2.5 stitch length on my Juki but I reduce it to 2 when sewing such small blocks.

*One last thing - use a sharp blade in you rotary cutter. It can make a world of difference.
 
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Each blocks finishes at 3.5" square.


For two 3.5" nine patch blocks you will need three 1.5" x 5" strips of fabric A (my red fabric) and three 1.5" x 5" strips of fabric B (my black fabric).


Arrange your fabric strips in two sets. One set will have two strips of fabric A on the sides and fabric B in the middle. Second set will have two strips B on the side and strip A in the middle.


Stitch the strips of fabric in both sets together, press all the seams towards fabric B.


Place your sets on cutting mat and subcut each set into three 1.5" strips (as shown in the above picture).
 

Take two subcut strips from first set and one from the second set and arrange them into a nine patch block, arrange the other three strips into another block (picture above).


Stitch the strips together to make nine patch blocks. See how the seams should go in opposite direction making for a very easy and precise assembly?

You can use pins to hold your strips in place. I don't think it's necessary though since we're dealing with very short seams here.


 Press the final two seams open. It will help your blocks lay nice and flat.


Give your blocks one more press and you're finished!!! Now, wasn't that easy? And quick too?

I do hope you give these little cuties a try.

Oh, one more thing before I go. I opened a new inspired by s.o.t.a.k handmade group on Flickr. Would you consider adding projects you make with either this or my other tutorials to the group? I would love to see all your creations in one place.

Wishing you all a very lovely evening. Svetlana

Friday, April 18, 2014

one inch squares


1" finished squares are my newest obsession. Boy, these little guys are so fun. The blocks measure 3.5" square and are an amazing scrap buster project. I don't have a specific purpose in mind for these right now, I will simply keep making more until I get tired of them and then decide. Backwards, yes! But sooo fun!


I'm using leftover little squares to make tiny 36 patch blocks. I'm sure these would make an amazing quilt if I were to make enough of these scrappy blocks to alternate with some solid or polka dotty squares.


I'm not making just blocks, though. I used a combination of these low volume squares to make a little coin pouch for my daughter's friend. I might have to make one, or two, for myself soon :)


Last, but definitely not least, are these 12 patch blocks. I made them as part of  Chase's Pack Patch Mini quilt along . Aren't they adorable? I can't wait to have all the blocks finished and joined together into a pretty little mini quilt. You can still join if you'd like. Click here to be taken to quilt along Flickr group.

Off I go, more tiny blocks to be made :)

Hope you have an amazing weekend. Happy Easter to all who celebrate. Svetlana

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

popsicles mug rug

 When I first started sewing I made mug rugs all the time. They were my favorite thing to sew since they were small, relatively quick and easy to make, and I was able to try out new techniques and patterns without committing to anything large or long term.


So, when I came across Ayumi's adorable paper pieced popsicles pattern while digging through my stack of my will have to give it another try for sure patterns the other day, I decided a new mug rug was exactly what I needed :)


As you can see, paper piecing is a messy business, for me at least. I never seem to have as many supplies and fabrics out as when I paper piece. Pure craziness! And fun too!


This was definitely not the easiest pattern to tackle, but the cuteness of this penguin totally makes up for the headache trying to figure out which tiny parts go where.


In case you're tempted to think you need some special talent to be able to paper piece, I wanted to show my two previous attempts at this pattern from a few months ago. First time I made one popsicle and I was done. My second try resulted in two very strangely colored ones, I think the purple one was the grape flavor, I have no idea what blue/ yellow one was supposed to be :)

See, practice does make perfect???  Well, I would not go as far as calling my paper piecing perfect, but definitely improved. I think I will have to give this pattern a try one more time soon. I might even attempt to make all four popsicles included in a pattern and turn them into a pillow.

How about you? Do you like coming back to the same pattern or are you try it once and done kind of person? I'd love to know. Svetlana

Sunday, April 13, 2014

tone it down {a finished quilt}


Once upon a time, way back in December last year, I fell in love with this gorgeous quilt and could not help but run to the store to get my copy of American Patchwork magazine and start cutting my fabric and piecing all the tiny squares together right away and I was smitten.


I chose lots of low volume fabrics from my stash and decided to go for sort of vintage, faded vibe. This one is my absolute favorite block.


I decided to make 12 blocks to make a nice throw sized quilt and everything was going great. Then I pieced all the blocks together and I was no longer in love :(. The quilt seemed "too busy"??? So, it sat in a dark closet for couple of weeks and then one day I suddenly knew that a little "quilt surgery" might be just the right fix.


 I decided to rip out the two very busy sashing strips and replace then with plain white fabric instead. It worked!!! Now, the whole surgery turned out to be a lot more complicated then I first thought, but it was so very worth it. 


My quilt top was a lot more balanced now and I loved it once again, yay! Very dramatic, I know :)


I did these continuous eights/ wishbones quilting and while it definitely is not perfect, I think I'm finally getting better with my FMQ. The only thing that is kind of bugging me is that after washing and drying the quilt became a lot more crinkled than I'd prefer. Any idea why sometimes quilts crinkle more than other times? I wonder, is it the quilting that determines that? I mean, I still like it, I would just prefer it to be more flat.


I really love this big gingham I chose for the backing. I think it complements the old fashioned look of the quilt quite well.

And yes, this is what happens when my son helps with taking pictures. Dragging the quilt all over the grass is an essential step in making the quilt "ours". Yes, yes, my heart did a few skips when I saw what he was doing, but thankfully the quilt did not sustain any grass or mud stains. Phew!

Long post, right? Thanks for reading. Svetlana

Monday, April 7, 2014

double wedding ring {take two}


Resistance was futile. Again! Ever since I finished my double wedding ring pillow cover I could not stop thinking about giving this block another try.


Last time I used regular foundation paper piecing method to make the arches. This time, however, I used freezer paper method (you can find a great tutorial here). I do prefer this method over regular paper piecing because it avoids sewing over paper and I could keep reusing the template.


Love the texture of this simple straight line quilting in a grid. Easy and quite effective, I think.


I bound it with 2.25" bias binding - pressed in half lengthwise, attached by machine to the front and hand stitched to the back.

Now I just need to decide what to do with this mini. I might use it as a wall hanging. Or maybe a pretty placemat or a table topper? Not sure yet, but I do love the way it turned out so it's definitely staying and getting used :)

What fun projects have you been up to lately? Do tell. Svetlana

Friday, April 4, 2014

patchwork slippers

The other day, as I was browsing through my old quilting magazines, I came across these totally adorable patchwork slippers designed by Ayumi (summer 2011 Stitch magazine). What can I say? I pulled out my gorgeously organized scraps right away and got to work.


Fun, aren't they? And the whole pair took only a couple of hours to make. Yay! for instant gratification projects :).

  
I had so much fun making these log cabin blocks, especially the hedgehog one. And I really seem to be enjoying this red/ gray color combo lately.


 I used walking foot to  sew the slippers together and I was quite surprised at how well it worked out. Even sewing through the non-slip slipper fabric was not such a big deal. It was sticking slightly to my machine so I had to pull and tug a little as I sewed but I kind of expected that. 

Also, I used lots of Wonder Clips to hold all the layers together.

I did a little search online and found out that you can also buy this pattern here. I made a size M slippers and they fit perfectly (my shoe size is 6.5).

Wishing you all a very lovely weekend. Svetlana

Linking up to Finish it up Friday.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

chicago flag

A while back we were given a challenge at our Naperville Modern Quilt Guild to make a Modern in the City quilt.

I was quite lost and almost decided not to participate in the challenge at all. I thought of doing skyscrapers, windows, busy roads, or urban gardens, but the whole time it felt like I was trying to come up with a quilt that simply was not "me".


And then I came across a picture of our Chicago flag. Amazingly I've lived in Chicago + Chicago suburbs for over 16 years and I never really noticed the flag. Who knew cities had their own flags!?!?


I drafted my own pattern for the star, I broke tons of paper piecing rules and wasted lots of material making it, but I was quite happy with the way it turned out.


Thankfully this aqua circular outline was also a lot less nightmarish than I thought and it all came together pretty well (all those geometry classes I had to take in high school are finally paying off :) ).


Then it was on to quilting. I first quilted straight lines about 2.5" apart to stabilize the whole thing and then gradually filled in all the matchstick quilting. I must say, the transformation was amazing.


My quilts are usually all about piecing and quilting is there just to hold the layers together, but this matchstick quilting totally makes this quilt. ♥♥♥


And look, no more snow!!! Yay, spring has finally decided to show up.

Finished size of this quilt is 36" x 36".

Thanks for reading friends. Hope you too are having a beautiful spring day. Svetlana
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