May 30, 2016

Chart 53: Judy, Block #48 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along

Judy, or Jud-ay, Jud-ay, Jud-ay – People of certain generations simply can’t just say Judy once. If you're thinking about Clark Gable, you are way off base! And you might be surprised to know that Cary Grand said he never said “Jud-ay, Jud-ay, Jud-ay.”  He claimed that people have searched every movie he ever made and cannot find him saying that on film. It is believed that it started with a celebrity impersonator named Larry Storch. You can read the story here:

In fact, when I hear or read the name Judy, I think of childhood memories of playing in the timber, riding ponies, or playing in the hay-mows on the farm. I’ve mentioned Judy in an earlier blog. She was my best friend from crawling age all through high school. Our family farm homes were only ¼ mile apart. I could talk all day about the fun we had growing up on Iowa farms, but…back to quilting!

Judy is just like last week’s Doris, except with a 4-patch center. They really could have been a 2-in-1 day pair of blocks.

If you liked the bonus Spike's Windmill quilt last week, you would probably really love Scrappy Sedona Star, one of our large patterns. The Scrappy Sedona Star was the first quilt I made using the “stack six fat quarters, cut all the pieces for the block  and rotate” technique. The only name I could find for the block in any book was the Elongated Eight-Pointed Star. It is just like Judy and Doris except even easier! The center square is just a square. The wide variety of arranging and setting the blocks into full-size quilts is what makes the pattern so much fun!

Can you believe all these quilts are made with the same Elongated Star block design?  I love this block!

Some of the quilts are made with 9-inch blocks and some have 12-inch blocks. Here's a picture of the pattern cover. It's our product # 8016.

Oh yes -- The reason it is called Scrappy Sedona Star is that Audrey Waite and Dee Lynn, who at the time ran a wonderful summer retreat called “Quilting in the Pines” in Flagstaff, AZ., saw my brand new quilt top at Quilt Market, loved it and wanted me to teach at the next retreat. When I told them the name, Audrey who lives in Sedona, politely suggested that she thought Scrappy Sedona Star sounded like a lot more fun! I wholeheartedly agreed! We're so proud that, over the years, our Scrappy Sedona Star pattern has helped a lot of quilters make friends with Peaky and Spike.

My Judy Block

Click on the image for a larger view. Click the link below to download the Chart for cutting and making Judy:

In addition to our template conversion PDF download, you will want to read Gnome Angel's tutorials for these blocks.

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W.

May 23, 2016

Chart 52: Doris, Block #29 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along

Doris is the first block that actually uses the Peaky and Spike triangles. You can use these triangles so effectively, but they are difficult to cut accurately without acrylic tools, and they can be perplexing to sew if the tools don’t have engineered corners. The Peaky and Spike triangles in this block will be joined to make a 2-inch finished pieced unit.

On the PDF, we have shown you how to cut these pieces with Set D, which many of you have been using it for the past several months in different blocks. That set was designed for 4-inch finished size units, not 2-inch finished units like the ones needed for Doris -- but you can use templates in Set D to cut piece for Doris if you follow our instructions in the PDF.  The pieces in Set D fit with pieces in Set B (for 4-inch finished units). The shapes in Sets B and D are the same as Sets A and C (for 3-inch finished units). Those templates don't have markings for other sizes, but you can use them successfully to cut the Peaky and Spike pieces for Doris if you follow our instructions in the PDF. 

There is a good chance many of you own either Template Set C or Set D. Since it's critical to have an accurate angle and engineered corners, you can cut out the paper pattern printed from Laurie’s book to use as a guide for length and simply align the longest sides of the tool and the pattern for accurate cutting of both the angles and the engineered corners.

Multi-Size Peaky and Spike Tools

We do have a tool for easily cutting 2-inch finished size Peaky and Spike pieces for Doris. Our Multi-size Peaky and Spike template set, Product #8289, is a multi-size set that cuts these shapes for 2-inch to 6-inch units in half-inch increments, and it's super easy to use. If you think you might want to use the Multi-Size Peaky and Spike set, this is a great time to buy it, while everything on our site is 15% off -- until midnight on Memorial Day! 

Cutting with templates will allow you to get perfect grainline on the outside edge of the finished square, which is much harder to accomplish with paper-piecing.

Bonus Quilt Pattern!

One of our favorite quick-and-easy quilt designs using Peaky and Spike is Spike's Windmill, shown here from 5 is Fabulous, our Volume 5. In it, the blocks are 10 inches made with Set R of the Perfect Patchwork Templates. But I think you can see how easy it would be to make in any size if you own the Multi-size Peaky and Spike Set.

When you print the PDF Conversion chart, be sure to click the second link for a bonus handout on making Spikes Windmill!  We love this block!

My Doris Block

Click on the image for a larger view. Click the links below the images to download the Template Conversion Chart for cutting and making Doris.

In addition to our template conversion PDF download, you will want to read Gnome Angel's tutorials for these blocks.

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W.

May 16, 2016

Chart 51: Anne, Block #5, or our simplified Annie, in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along

In this classic block of many names, both Brackman and Beyer give first publication credit to Laura Wheeler, 1937, who called it Road to Fortune in the Indianapolis Star. However, both say that in 1974, McCalls printed a special publication called “Antique Quilts” that included a quilt called Pinwheels made from this pattern, however, the date it was made is unknown.

When I looked at Anne, it seemed like just too many unnecessary pieces for a 6-inch block, so this is another block where I chose a little fusing and edge-stitch treatment. Download the PDF conversion chart for full instructions of my method. I also chose to use matching-size triangles for my spinning triangles, as is typical for this pattern.We call our simplified version "Annie."

You will see in the PDF, I took advantage of the engineered corners on our templates and used the stitch and flip method for the smaller triangles on 8 A2 triangles instead of cutting odd shapes.

Doing Justice to the Block 

Sometimes using a single block in a Sampler quilt does not do the block justice. This is a perfect example. Looking at one block, it is hard to imagine how neat the newly-created pattern will be when the blocks touch. Usually we call that the secondary pattern, but I have seen at least one quilt where I think the secondary pattern shows equally or better than the pinwheel that is at the center of this block. Looking at one block with a pair of mirrors on adjacent sides of the block reveals the new design:

If you can, locate a copy of the beautiful book Mississippi Quilts by Mary Elizabeth Johnson, published in 2001 by University Press of Mississippi. Among other terrific antique quilts shown in the book, there is a great photo and story about this quilt on page 127. The quilt shown in the book was a gift from a group of quilters involved in a WPA program to their supervisor in Hancock Co. Mississippi. The quilt is very scrappy ’30s fabrics with a white background, except most of the smallest corner pieces were pink and green, making a consistent pink and green star where the corners of the blocks come together.

The book is the result of the Mississippi Heritage Quilt Search Project; for those of you who go to Paducah every year, you may remember this special exhibit at the 2001 Rotary Antique Quilt Show. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a government program during the Depression which promoted handcrafts, including quilting.

On a Similar Topic

I love the state quilt search documentation books and have many of them. Like Mississippi Quilts, these books are treasure troves of quilt history. If you are interested in knowing more about quilts that were made in your area, you will find a starter list of search project books by state here:

My Annie Block

Click the links below to download the Template Conversion Chart for cutting and making Annie:

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W.

May 9, 2016

Chart 50: Lady, Block #50 in the Farmer's Wife Sew Along

This week's block, Lady, is just like any lady who invited you to sit down, rest a minute and have a relaxing cup of tea. The block provides a moment to relax halfway through the 1930s Farmer’s Wife Sew-Along. Had you noticed this is post #50? Yes! We have reached the summit and are now on the downhill side!

It is also a good moment to reflect on the farmer’s wife letter associated with the block. It is a very nice reminder to pause and think sweet thoughts or “Look for the silver lining and find the sunny side of the street.” Those words are from a song the farmer’s wives of the 1920s and 1930s might have enjoyed on the radio. It was written in 1919 and published in 1920. The music was by Jerome Kern and lyrics by B.G. DeSylva. Judy Garland renewed the song's popularity in the 1940s and Andy Williams again in the late ’50s. According to Wikipedia, those of you who watched Downton Abbey may remember hearing it during a memorable dance scene between Lady Mary and Matthew Crowley (Season 2, Episode 8). For the record, for all of the period accuracy portrayed in the show, that episode would have actually pre-dated the publication of the song, but only by several months.

The large central square in Lady called out to me for a novelty print. It would also have been a perfect space to show off a fussy cut, carefully centered motif. And that suggestion gives me the opportunity to mention one of our latest tools, the Fussy Cutter, Product #8297.

About the Block

Even though we included information about mirror image pieces on the template conversion chart, this is really one block where it will not matter if the seams aren’t reflective, as long as the triangles are. It is just another chance to practice mirror image techniques.

My favorite part of this block is that I do always love being able to accurately cut a shape for which I don’t actually have a template, as we did with A-7.

Along that line, I haven’t mentioned More Bang for the Buck! recently. One of the many things I love in this book is the section on template tricks that shows how to cut many other shapes for which you don’t have the actual template. However, the entire book is geared toward helping you see more opportunities to use the templates you own. We know that the more you use them, the more you love them! Here are some of the things you are missing if you don’t own “More Bang for the Buck.”

• More ways to use Perfect Patchwork Templates
• Ways to convert ruler-cutting instructions to template cutting
• Rotary cutting tips – More specifically, template rotary cutting tips!
• Why and how to cut strips the Marti Way
• Ways to teach your templates magic tricks for cutting shapes that have no template
• Tips for cutting connector blocks
• Why you want to be a Grainline Geek!
• Why 1.414 is a quilter’s favorite number
• How to calculate fabric requirements – or just use the Strip Yield Charts!
• To make Four Patches the Marti Way –It’s faster than strips!
• To use the versatile Patchwork Trio in hundreds of block designs
• Why Square Within a Square units are so easy and accurate with templates
• And practice new techniques making the Toad in a Puddle quilt shown on the back cover.

My Lady Block

Click the links below to download the Template Conversion Chart for cutting and making Lady.

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W.

May 2, 2016

Chart 49: Half-Square Triangles and Eva, Block 31 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along

Congratulations to Grainline Geeks

Eva’s grid design provides the perfect opportunity to show off your Grainline IQ regarding half-square triangles. Grainline Geeks always try to look ahead and visualize the best way to cut individual pieces so that, whenever possible, sub-units, blocks and quilt tops all have straight grain on all outside edges. They know thoughtful cutting can eliminate fluttery, rippling edges seen on some blocks.

Grainline Geeks also know that there is more than one way to cut a half-square triangle. Therefore, when they see a HST in a block, they make a conscious decision on the best way to cut each one.

The two most common ways to cut HST are:
    •    Cutting with the legs on straight grain
    •    Cutting with the hypotenuse on straight grain

Template Cutting HSTs

In Eva, there are 8 half-square triangles and 4 are cut each way. For those of you using the From Marti Michell templates and our PDF conversion charts, the cutting diagram for Eva shows the perfect way to cut all 8 triangles from one strip of fabric.

Ruler Cutting HSTs

Here are a few grainline geek tips if you are ruler cutting.

Do you need the legs on straight grain?

Naturally, you will add 7/8-inch to the size of the finished HST, cut a square that size and cut it in half diagonally. If you need 4 triangles for a block because you have one in each corner, as with Eva, try to remember to cut the squares in opposite directions, especially if the fabric has any directional design at all.

Then position as shown and all lines will go in the same direction.

Do you need the hypotenuse on the straight grain?

Well, this time you add 1-1/4 inches to the length of the finished hypotenuse and cut a square that size, then cut it in half diagonally in both directions.

If you read last week’s blog, you know I don’t recommend this method for the setting triangles needed for the rows of blocks in Laurie’s quilt layout because some will be crosswise and some lengthwise. However, I don’t mind it so much in a block. In fact, it is a good thing if there is any directional design in the fabric.

Don’t Forget the Corner Trimmer

If you are ruler cutting, I hope you have a From Marti Michell corner trimmer or are using the engineered corners on any of our right triangle templates to nub off the pointed dog-ears on the triangles. It only takes a few seconds, and it makes a world of difference in your finished work.

This is how much fabric is trimmed off every 45° angle corner! Just think how the bulk of untrimmed corners builds up on 6-inch blocks! The real payoff is that our engineered corners make it easy to align the triangles with other patchwork in your block.

Paper Piecing HSTs

Many people who paper piece think that the rigidity of the paper will allow them to ignore grainline guidelines. However, when you pull away the paper there is a great risk of stretching seams and outside edges of the block. As the blocks are joined, they are vulnerable and when the finished quilt is washed, the off-grain pieces love to act out by wrinkling and puckering to show everyone just where they are.

Coming Soon - Peaky and Spike!

Have you met Peaky and Spike? If you connect the center point of one side of a square with both opposite corners, you will get 3 triangles. Two are asymmetrical and are mirror image shapes. One is symmetrical and easily confused with an equilateral triangle, but beware, it is not. Instead, two of the angles on this triangle are 63.25 and the other is 53.5 degrees. That is why people love to cut these triangles with templates or specialty rulers. We have templates for both triangles.

While you will love cutting with the acrylic tools, it is the engineered corners that will make sewing Peaky and Spike a dream.

Why are They called Peaky and Spike?

Sometime in the 1980s, the late Doreen Speckmann affectionately named this pair of triangles, her favorite patchwork shapes, “Peaky and Spike” and introduced them to quilters around the world. In her honor, we continue the tradition of calling them by their famous nicknames and hope you will, too. You will probably be surprised to know the big triangle is Spike and the little guy is Peaky. Her books that explain why are now out of print, but look for them in your guild library or shop for them on eBay®: Pattern Play (C&T Publishing,1993) and Travels with Peaky and Spike (1999). Both books are loaded with designs featuring Peaky and Spike.

Peaky and Spike shapes are in Set D, but those pieces are size-specific to make 4-inch squares. We will write about how to adapt them to the small blocks. However, we now have a multi-size Peaky and Spike set for cutting triangle sets from 1 to 6 inches every half-inch. Product #8289. Ask for it at your favorite quilt shop or visit our website.

My Eva Block

Click the links below to download the Template Conversion Chart for cutting and making Eva:

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W.