Category Archives: Patterns

Kaleidoscope Magic

I have been having too much fun making kaleidoscope blocks lately.  Every time I look at a fabric now I am wondering how well it might work for kaleidoscope blocks.

Bethany Reynolds has books on this technique which includes patterns for blocks with 45 degree triangle quilts as well as 60 degree triangle quilts, and she also includes patterns using diamonds and half square triangles.  Her books are Stack-n-Whack and Stack-n-Whackier.  Check out your local quilt shop to see if either is available.  They might even order a copy of them for you.   Or you can just make some blocks and create your own quilt or quilts with them.

I also have a pattern available on Craftsy for the quilts featured in this article. 😉

This week I will be sharing my enthusiasm at Quilters Common  in Wakefield, MA.  I am teaching a workshop on the process for making these quilts.

Here is a quick rundown on the process.

I like to look for fabrics with large prints that have different shapes and colors.  You need to pay attention to the repeat of the design on the fabric. You can work with any repeat, but I have found that I like working with a 24″ repeat, which is usually pretty standard with the larger print fabrics.

Since the classic Kaleidoscope block consists of 8 45 degree triangle blocks, you need 8 repeats of the fabric.  8 times 45 is 360, which gives you a full circle!  Plan on buying at least 5 1/2 yards of fabric of your kaleidoscope fabric.

The first thing I do is cut my fabric in half lengthwise.  This way you will be working with half of the width of fabric and this will allow you to have some flexibility with your fabric.  You can either set up two sets of repeats of the fabric for cutting triangles, or you can use the other half of the width of fabric for length of fabric borders.  What you do with the fabric depends on what you have in mind for a quilt.

You can snip and rip your fabric down the length or carefully rotary cut it.  To do this I just rolled the fabric as I went to keep it out of the way.  Snipping if faster and more fun, but it may pull at the threads in the fabric, so don’t do this if your fabric is not a robust weave!

(As you view the photos in this article remember you can click on each to enlarge it.).

Layer the 8 repeats on your cutting board with the salvage on top.  The next thing to do is to carefully cut eight repeats of the fabric.  Each piece should be about 22″ x 24″ and they all should be pretty much the same.  Once you have all eight repeats cut, layer them and match them up by placing a pin through the same spot in all eight layers.  Secure that area that you have pinned by placing a second flat  head pin in and out of the eight layers.  Repeat this process with a few pins about 2″ in and each about 3″ apart from the side of the layers of fabric.

Once you have the pins in place you can take a look at the edge of the layers to see how well lined up they are.  Make some adjustments by repining if necessary.  If everything is lined up then go ahead a cut one strip of fabric for your blocks.  For my pattern I cut 5 1/2″ strips.

Next cut the triangles.  Bethany provides paper templates in her book, but I like using a 45 degree acrylic ruler.  Mine is the Simpli-EZ Ruler by EZ Quilting.  You should get 7 sets if triangles from each strip of fabric.  Cut through all eight layers at once.  Be sure you have a new blade in your rotary cutter.  I like using a larger 60 mm cutter because you get better leverage and a quicker cut.

Next step is to sew your triangles together.  First sew four pairs, then two pairs together and then the two halves together.

 

Consider trying this!  If the back of your fabric is suitable you can achieve a mirror effect by alternating the back of the fabric with the front!  To do this sew each set with both pieces right side up.

These two photos will give you an idea of the difference between using all of the right side of the fabric and a block with every other triangle with the reverse of the fabric.  The same set of identical triangle pieces were used for both photos.  Both are beautiful!  Which would you use?

To finish the blocks I cut two  4 1/2″ squares for each blocks and then cut them once on the diagonal.  Then I sewed each half square triangle to the corners of the blocks.  The triangles are over sized so that you can trim the blocks to the correct size.

Here is a picture of this quilt in progress:

And here is another finished version of the same quilt pattern.  The blocks on this one are all fabric right side up which creates more of a spiral effect.  Pictures show the front and back of the quilt.

The pattern is available for sale at Craftsy!

And a couple more finished using the same fabric.

… and one just getting started.  (it’s addicting!)

Slice and Dice Piecing

I am working on a quilt with blocks that are based on a technique in Quilting Modern by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pedersen. The book has some great ideas and illustrations, but I thought it might help to see step by step photos.  The tricky part is matching up the first set of strips after the second set has been added.  I drew a seam line to help line things up when pinning.

My plan is to make a quilt with these blocks alternating with square in a square blocks.

 

 

Piecing with Improvisation

Here are three quilt block tutorials that I put together for the Boston Modern Quilt Guild BOM.

These tutorials all have improvisational techniques, but they also let you be a little precise if you want to be.

This tutorial lets you practice curved piecing: Curves Ahead

Curvy

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With this one you can try paper piecing without worrying about things being too perfect: Playing with Paper

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And this tutorial lets you improvise with strips of fabric: Fenced In

October

Zipper Pouch Inspiration

The Boston Modern Quilt Guild will occasionally have a swap.  In November we were asked to bring a zippered pouch to the monthly meeting. I started checking out Pinterest and Google images for ideas.

I found this lovely Lavender Pouch at Pretty by Hand, but alas no pattern!  But then I found this neet Tutorial at Sew Like my Mom.  I combined the two and came up with my own version that includes a pocket on the back.

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Too bad I didn’t get a picture of the bag after I added the turquoise ribbon!

Scrappy Monochromatic Blocks

The Boston Modern Quilt Guild is making charity quilts this year and members have been asked to donate blocks made with fabrics that are from the same color family.  The quilts will then be made with a rainbow of the different color grouped blocks.

I came up with a strategy for my blocks which involved sorting all of my fabric scraps by color and then selecting strips from each pile and sewing them together.

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After sorting the strips I trimmed them so they were all about the same length and so that each strip was a uniform width, but the strips are various widths!

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Then I sewed them together.

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For the blocks that I decided to make I made sure that the pieced strips panel was 38″ long and about 15″ wide. This is enough to make several blocks. You do need a 38″ long strip for the log cabin block featured in this article.

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Trim the uneven edge and don’t forget to save your scraps that are too small to sew with.  These will be the stuffing for a pillow!

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I cut my pieced strips 3 1/2″ wide and some are 2″ wide.

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One of the block designs is a log cabin block.  This block uses one of the 3 1/2″ wide strips with other fabric scraps.  The center is a 3 1/2″ square bordered with 2″ strips.

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Sew the strips and then trim them to the correct size.  Use a square ruler to make sure your cuts are correct.  The center block will be 6 1/2″ square.

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Then continue adding the 3 1/2″ wide pieced strips.  Sew then trim to the correct size as you go.  Once the block was larger than 6 1/2″ I got out my 12 1/2″ ruler to trim the block.

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The block will be 12 1/2″ square when completed.  These are two of the blocks:

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Here are some made with purple and green strips.

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Of course I got carried away and will be making a lot of these blocks, so I will make my own quilt with these blocks.   Usually I would use all different colors, but I really love the idea of using strips that are in the same color group. The finished blocks are sublimely wonderful.

Holiday Cheer Gift Bag

Here is a quick pattern for a Holiday Gift Bag.  This little pouch is a good size for a bottle of wine or perhaps a bottle of Pear Vodka for your Hairdresser! Debi was VERY happy with her Pear Vodka.  Start with two coordinating pieces of fabric each 15″ x 18″ and one 20″ piece of ribbon.  Place the two pieces of fabric right sides together and sew a seam across the short edge on one side.

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Open up the two pieces with the seam in the middle and fold in half lengthwise, right sides together.

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Now sew seams as follows:

Start on the fabric you want on the outside edge about 4″ or so from the first seam sewn.  The starting point can be adjusted depending on the length of the neck of your gift bottle. Sew from this point towards the inside (lining) fabric and continue along until you get around the first corner.  Then STOP!  Leave a gap of a few inches, so you can turn everything right side out, and start sewing again until you get to the folded edge, and then stop.  Start again at the fold by the bottom of the outside fabric and continue towards where you first started, but STOP before you reach that point to leave an opening that is large enough for your ribbon. Don’t forget to secure your stitches when starting and stopping.

My stitching is a bit messy because my first ribbon gap was too high!

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Now, reach inside the opening and scrunch the tube up until you reach the other end and pull it through so your tube is now right side out.  Adjust the corners and press the opening closed.  Sew along the bottom edge to close the opening.

 

 

Fold the lining inside of the bag (it is now a bag!). Find the ribbon opening on the side seam. Pin a safety pin to one end of your ribbon and run it through the hole, around the bag and out again.

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Put your bottle in the bag, tie the ribbon and clip the ends. Debi said she liked the gift bag, too!

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This pattern can be adjusted as needed to accommodate any gift!

Happy Holidays and Cheers!

Vintage Butterfly Applique Quilt

I have finished my vintage butterfly quilt.  I love the colors in this quilt! This is the quilt I made with my vintage 30’s butterfly applique blocks that were a gift from my Mother-in-Law’s friend.  As I mentioned in my last post her friend Pat gave me some “quilted fabric” that turned out to be wonderful quilt tops and blocks that her mother made in the 30s.

I saw Pat yesterday and she was very pleased with both quilts, but I could tell the Bow Tie quilt was calling to her, so I gave the finished quilt to her.  She is going to give it to her mother for Christmas.  He mother is in assisted living with short term memory loss.  But, her long term memory is fine so I imagine it will be quite exciting for her to see her old quilt top again.  At least I hope so!  Maybe she will be wondering when and how it turned from a quilt top to a finished quilt!

The Butterfly Treasure Quilt took all of my quilting attention for the last few weeks.  Both it and the wall hanging version are finished.  The wall hanging is made with some wonderful Kaffe Fassett prints, so it gives the 30s pattern a new look!  The pattern for both is also finished now and for sale at Craftsy.

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