Tuesday, April 26, 2016

tiny star tutorial...


Had a few email questions about how I'm sewing my 2" stars and how on earth they could actually be easy so thought I'd post about how to make them. There are lots of funny coincidences that led to the start of what ambitiously will be a star quilt and not a cushion cover:)

My obsession with a certain antique quilt is well documented. Imagine my surprise to find it in the background of Anita Grossman Soloman in her Craftsy class! More exciting is that in this class she teaches a method of making stars without making geese. Using a paper template for cutting (not foundation piecing) she shows how to make a 6" inch star block. Before I was sewing stars this way which also works but requires more time, trimming and sewing prep. Both methods are effective but I wanted to modify and engineer an even faster method to make a much smaller star. I'm essentially a lazy and stressed sewer with little spare time these days...


Realized that instead of trying to reverse calculate and scale AGS's paper template technique down to get the size I wanted, I could use my die cutter specifically the 1 1/2" half square triangle and the 2 1/8" square dies to cut fabric and make hundreds of pieces for "square in a square" blocks very quickly. (If you don't have an Accuquilt or Sizzix simply cut layers of two 2 3/8" squares and slice them once on the diagonal for the triangles and cut 2 5/8" squares on point for the center.)

 

To make the block, sew each triangle in opposing pairs to the sides of the squares. Finger press the seams open to reduce bulk...


At this point the block is 3 1/2". Now comes the magic. You make cuts through the block and reverse the pointed pieces that have become flying geese. I learned this in the AGS class, but have been informed that Jenny Doan also uses this method in some of her MSQC tutorials for much larger blocks. I calculated that with 4 1" cuts around the perimeter my finished star would end up 2". A spinning or small easily turned mat is essential for this part.

 

After making a bunch,  swap the components to make different stars.

 

Finger press the seam allowances in the top and bottom rows towards the outer squares and the two flying geese blocks in the second row towards the center square. Everything nests together beautifully and can be sewn chain piecing 10 blocks at a time with no pins.

I'm mixing up all the prints randomly so that the top is not overly designed and am enjoying the surprise of each finished block. Some are more successful than others. Making these stars is actually quite fast and tremendously addictive. Guess you could call Mary Elizabeth Kinch a bad influence:)



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

mary elizabeth kinch...


In March I went to a lecture presented by Mary Elizabeth Kinch. She is a madly creative quilter fascinated by both modern and antique designs. Her passion for quilting was ignited by working as a textile arts demonstrator at a local pioneer village. She's also quilted with the Gee's Bend women and counts Gwen Marston as a friend and mentor.


Mary Elizabeth is most well known for her obsession with quilts made of tiny blocks. With Biz Storms she is the author of "Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts" and "Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts" . These are both inspiring and beautiful books with superb patterns and instructions for sewing in such a small scale. Her use of color is also interesting. She uses a variety of fairly subdued fabrics but the effect is never dull. There is a great deal of movement almost a visual shimmer in all the tops.  MEK also designs for Windham fabrics and her "Modern Country" line is a fresh take on traditional small scale prints.


Not only are they technical wonders, her quilts are gorgeous. It was a really interesting evening and you could spend hours examining her work. Her blog is great too, filled with her pieces and she often posts stunning vintage finds as well. Lastly, while Mary Elizabeth seems perfectly sane, this is a woman who thinks any block over 3 inches is large?!

Seeing her work gives me the push to continue making my version of the antique quilt I wrote about last year. This is the 1800's quilt I'm attempting to re-create...


and here are some of the stars that will finish at 2". It may take years...