Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quilter's Tool Kit - Blue Painter's Tape!

Painter's Tape - a must have for every quilter!!!

This may not be something you have thought of before but one of the handiest things in my sewing room is a roll of blue painter's tape!

I know you are probably thinking I have lost my mind but that is a subject for another day! LOL


Just about every quilt I make has a half square triangle included somewhere.  Some quilts have lots of them...

The usual way of making them involved marking the fabric with a pencil or chalk line on one of the squares, pairing it up with another and then when you sew, you put the edge of the 1/4" presser foot on the line sew across the square, turn and sew down the other side and thus end up with a perfect 1/4" seam on both sides of the line and two half square triangles after trimming on the line.


To do this I use a scrap piece of fabric and lay the square on top - the fabrics stick together and slip around less as you draw the line.  Some people use sand paper but fabric scraps are always available in my sewing room and since they work that is what I use.  




TIP: Accurately drawing the line from one corner to the other is important and will help ensure your HST units are square and dead on. 

Seems simple enough right?  It is until you have to mark a few hundred of them. 


So in my quest to make the process easier I got out my trusty painter's tape. 

I took the tape and placed the edge of it along the 1/4" seam marking line on my machine (using the 1/4" foot as a guide helps too) and brought the tape across the bed of my machine and down onto the desk. It is very important that you keep that line straight and accurate.  Remember you need the tape edge to be on the 1/4" seam line.


Once the tape is in place you just lay your pair of squares on the machine placing the point of the square under the 1/4" foot with the point aligned on the edge of the foot.  Then align the bottom of the square (point) along the edge of the tape. Do you see in the pic how the points of the square are at the edge of the foot and also the edge of the tape? Very important!  As you sew, keep the bottom point on that tape edge and your HST units will come out perfect. 

After you chain as many as you like, just flip them around and do the opposite side, you then end up with 2 perfect half square triangles after trimming that you didn't have to mark!


Another Tip: If you have to make a lot of small ones and accuracy is important to you, make them a little bigger and trim up using a bias ruler like the one Winnie is holding down. (I was using it to trim the edge of a border in this pic - not HST) Trimming them ensures that they will all be the correct size.

This ruler is another must have in my sewing room!

Easy Peasy!!!

After all the hard work you can reward yourself (or your assistant) with a nap!

Winston (aka Winnie) is always ready to help.


Have a great day!!!   ~ LT

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Joy of Quilting

It's more than just fabric and thread...

The start of this week was a tough one.  Mother's Day is just about my least favorite holiday of all of them - for so many reasons...


I had a very sad day on Sunday. There were tears. It continued into Monday. I didn't feel like quilting. I was bouncing from thing to thing and not doing any of them well.  


Do you ever have days like that? 


Normally I am an upbeat, positive person who can't wait to see what wonderful things my day will bring.  Sunday and Monday were not those kind of days.  Friends reached out. My "adopted kids" (children of my BFF Karen Lieberman) took me to dinner and gave me presents and a card - and made me cry just a bit at the thoughtfulness of their hearts.

And then something even more wonderful happened. I got an email.  A very special email.  An email telling me I won an award at Machine Quilter's Showcase. I had two entries but the email was not specific. I had not thought about the entries since I handed them off to the UPS guy - I wasn't going this year so I just put it to the back of my mind I guess. 


Wednesday rolled around and a couple of my friends offered to let me know the outcome at the awards celebration that evening.  I waited.  And I thought about my entries.  I looked at the pictures again.  I went to my sewing room and started taking stock of all the joy that resides in that room just waiting to be unleashed in my life. 

I felt inspired.  I started getting excited - not at the outcome of the award, but the ideas floating around in my head for a new project.  There was joy.  The sadness cloud I was living under lifted and I was starting to feel like my old self. I know there were people praying for me - they knew I was off because, well I am just basically a happy person.  They tend to freak out a bit when I am down. I think bad moods are a waste of time and I don't want to waste a minute of my time on this earth.  I have had a couple warnings already and well, I didn't listen the first time, but I'm listening now. And prayers were answered.

Spectator Sport by Linda M. Thielfoldt

I got the news that both my entries had won.  My quilt Scrapalicious #12 took first and my wearable art "Spectator Sport" took second.  I was elated.  I was thankful.  I was stunned. I was excited. I was humbled. I was all the words you can use to describe joy.  Mostly I was thankful.

Spectator Sport by Linda M. Thielfoldt


Not for the reasons you might think.  I was thankful that the God I love gave me this talent and the time to use it.  To explore it.  To share it with others.  To feed my creative soul.  I was thankful that I have the time to make things.  Not just for shows but to help other people feel joy.  Or to keep warm.  Or to make them feel loved. I was humbled.

I made a quilt for my SIL Loretta, took it to her on Monday.  I got a call on Thursday that she stood for a few minutes for the first time since the drunk driver hit her a month ago.  She loved the quilt I made her and said she will cherish it for the rest of her life.  Those words brought joy to my heart. They fed my soul. I was thankful.

Scrapalicious #12 by Linda M. Thielfoldt © 2013

It was an amazing week.  It was unexpected.  There was joy.


The women's group at my church is working through the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It is an amazing study.  The challenge is to "live fully right where you are" and to start a journal where you write down 1000 things you are truly thankful for.  To live with a thankful heart.  To not miss a minute. To live with an attitude of gratitude. 


In the midst of my journal entries I find quilting. And fabric. And friendships born of quilting. And sharing our passion. And joy. It is woven throughout my life. I cannot speak of joy and thanksgiving without some aspect of quilting entering into the conversation.

So for me this thing called quilting is much more than fabric and thread.  It is more than time spent creating.  It is a gift I can give.  A gift that can be shared.  Born of my hands which really means my heart. Which means it comes from God.  Most times the gift blesses me the most. 


And all those quilts are the "children" that will be here long after I am gone. That makes me smile.

Perhaps you don't worship this God I love, but maybe you can identify with the amazing gift quilting is and the joy that it brings.  In so many forms. On so many levels.  And when you least expect it. 

Embrace it. Celebrate it. Share it. 


Dare to write it down.


Thanks for your contribution to this joy in my life.    ~ LT

  © 2013 Linda M. Thielfoldt

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Let's Get Ready to Rumble Part 2

Block #2 - Sawtooth Star

 (Designer Note:  All fabrics will be referred to as either background or scraps when I am working with the blocks.  I picked this block for my BFF Karen Lieberman - I am pretty sure it's her favorite!)

12" Finish size block - make one



A: 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" square  - cut 4 of scraps.

C: 3 7/8" x 3 7/8" square - cut 4 of scraps and then cut on the diagonal to yield 8 triangles.  

D: 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" square - cut 1 of scraps.

B: 7 1/4" x 7 1/4" square - cut 1 of background fabric.  Then cut on the diagonal twice.

Lay out all the pieces making sure to have the proper supervision.  As you can see two of my fabrics have stripes.  Pay attention to the orientation if your fabrics are directional.  If supervisors approve, move on to the next step ☺


Align a smaller triangle (c) on top of a larger triangle (b) making certain bottom edge (left in this picture) is even and you can see the little ear hanging over the edge. Sew a 1/4" seam along the edge with the ear as show below.

 Normally I would press to the dark but in this case construction trumps that rule. You will see why in a bit.

I like to lay out the pieced units with the rest of the block making sure I get my fabrics oriented the right way.  

Now add the other smaller triangle (c) to the partially pieced unit. Press as you did, away from the larger triangle being careful not to stretch the bias out of shape.

After pressing check to see if you have a quarter inch gap between the bigger triangle and the edge (at the pencil point) - this is your seam allowance and if it is off you will cut the point off when you sew them together.

Once all my flying geese units are together I like to lay out the block again to make sure I have the direction of the fabrics positioned the correct way. 

Sew the units together - don't clip the threads in between. Pay close attention to the direction you press. 

Remember you want to see those intersections on the outer edges.

Pin.  I always put a pin on either side of a seam intersection - keeps things nice and accurate.

 Important.  See that intersection where the threads cross?  This is the spot you need to pay attention to if you want precision.  


When putting the block together you will need to sew this seam. When you get to that intersection, make sure that your needle goes in just beyond the tip of the triangle - just a smidge to the right in this pic.  If you don't pay attention to this you can very easily cut off your points. Always make sure this is facing up when piecing a triangle unit to anything else - if you can see it, you can sew it properly.


 Pinning helps me with accuracy.  I know some people don't like to pin but I like ripping out even less!

See that point?  That is piecing perfection and if you are careful when you put the units together you can nail this every time! Press toward the center square. Continue piecing block units together.  Press well.

Ta Dah - Block #2 is done!!!


I hope this tutorial helped you piece this block! ☺


Quilty hugs....LT





Let's Get Ready to Rumble ~ Stash Buster BOM kickoff!

Block #1 Greek Square

(Designer Note:  All fabrics will be referred to as either background or scraps when I'm working with blocks)


12" finish size block

You have the option of either using 3 fabrics or 4 fabrics or really any number if you like! 

Four fabrics - I like this one better.

Three fabrics - OK but not jazzy enough for me.

I made the first block with just three fabrics and wasn't sure it had enough zing for me so I added another fabric and made another one.  Pretty sure I like the second one better but I will wait till all the blocks are done to decide.  It's just a little fabric after all.  ☺

Accurate cutting is important - please measure and cut carefully. Please remember to press after each step.  I also use Magic Sizing - helps with precision and makes your blocks easier to construct.  


Do you have an issue with your blocks turning out too small?  Try using a thinner thread - helps minimize "turn of the cloth" issues that can lead to smaller blocks.  I piece with good quality serger thread - gasp - I know!  Have been for years!  Not the bargain bin stuff at JoAnn's but good quality thread. All the myths you have heard about cotton fabric/thread/ripping the fabric/destroying the quilt/etc. are just that, myths!  I have been quilting for 38+ years and it hasn't happened yet!


Layout and Cutting: 


A:  4 7/8" x 4 7/8"  square. Cut two of background fabric and two of scraps.

C:  4 1/2" x 4 1/2" square. Cut one of scraps.

B:  4 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangle.  Cut 4 of background and four of scraps

Construction:  Lets start with A

Draw a line down the middle from corner to corner. Be careful not to cut Winnie's paw or tail ☺

Pair it with the scrap square.
Sew a 1/4" seam on either side of the drawn line.
Cut down the middle (on the drawn line) to make 4 Half Square Triangle units
Press seam to the dark fabric.
 Match up rectangles and sew down the long edge using a 1/4" seam.
Again, press to the dark.  Just lay the unit so the dark is up and press gently away from you.
Layout the block making sure to orient the HST units the correct way.  (this is showing my first block fabric choices)
String piece the units together - don't clip the threads in between.  Do one side and then the other. Pin if you need to.
It will look like this.  Now to the iron. 
If you look at the end of my pencils you can see that the seam allowance is pressed in different directions.  This is very important.  At the point of the white pencil you will note that you can see the intersection of the triangles and rectangles is showing.  Be sure to press so that is visible as you will need to see that when you join the blocks later so you don't cut off the points. Notice that the yellow pencil is pointing at the seam going the opposite direction.  Press your block accordingly. 
Because the seam allowances are pressed in different directions the block units nest quite nicely and make for precision piecing.  Put a pin on either side of the seam.
Sew a 1/4" seam.
 Pay attention to how you press the final two seams...remember you want to be able to see that intersection at the end of my white pencil.

Ta Dah!!!  Stash Buster BOM Block #1 is done.

Hopefully you found this tutorial helpful.  If you did, leave a comment ☺!