Category Archives: Quilts

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!)

Reverse Applique for Susie Q

I used reverse applique for the melon on the Dear Jane LS6 Susie Q triangle. It would not be too hard to applique this melon but reverse applique on a seam gives you a very neat finish and this method is great for really small, impossible to applique melons.

The idea is set the melon into a seam so that you don’t have to turn raw edges under at a point.

For this block start with 2 pieces of background fabric that are 5½” by 2”. Sew them together on the long edge twice to reinforce the seam because you will be cutting into the seam for the applique.

Cut out your melon template for reverse applique. Fold the template in half with the shiny side out. Line the fold up on the seam line of the background fabric and press in place without placing your iron on the shiny side of the template that is on top! 😉

Carefully cut out your melon shape leaving a ¼” seam allowance.

Remove the template, open up the background piece and press the seams open. Unfold the template and iron it on the front of the background piece centered over the cut out for the melon. Carefully rip out ¼” of the seam at the points so the seam allowance can be folded back for appliqueing.

 

For this triangle block place a 3” x 1 ½” piece of print fabric behind the background fabric centered under the cut out. Baste the pieces together and reverse applique the melon. Trim the excess print fabric on the back leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Rotary cut the background fabric at one end of the melon leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Sew this piece to top of your triangle with the melon centered and lined up correctly. For this triangle the rest of the block was paper pieced.

To finish the triangle trim using your Dear Jane Triangle ruler.

I have used this method on a few blocks. When I see a small melon that needs to be appliqued I try to figure out a way to use this method!

 

Sashing Stash Challenge

I signed up for the Modern Quilt Guild Riley Blake Sashing Stash Challenge this past winter.  The 3/4 yard piece of black and white fabric was given to me in March.  I had until the end of May to put a quilt together.

I went with a combination of traditional blocks and some improvised blocks that used up just about all of the fabric I received.  I have always wanted to make an Ocean Wave quilt, but all those teeny tiny half square triangles!  The Sashing Stash certainly made it easy to put an Ocean Wave block together.

Once I got my blocks and layout figured out I put the top together and then it was on to the final challenge of quilting.  I am very comfortable with my pantographs on my longarm machine, but I want to move on to more free motion quilting.  This was my most adventurous attempt so far.  I definitely need more practice, especially with those little circles, but it was fun and I am excited to do more on the other side of my quilt frame!

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Dear Jane B9 Tinker Toy Tutorial

I used reverse applique for this block. A bit fussy, but I was happy with the finished block.  I have photos from two different blocks since I did not get enough photos with my first block!  The tutorial assumes you have access to Dear Jane Templates from the Electric Quilt software, or you have drawn them yourself.

Cut one 6 ½” square of print fabric and cut twice diagonally into 4 triangles
Cut one 3 ½” square of print fabric and cut twice diagonally into 4 triangles
Cut on 6” square of background fabric

Sew the large print triangle pieces back together to make a square with diagonal seams. This will allow you to reverse applique on seams and avoid turning under raw edges in the corners.

Sew each seam twice to reinforce them because the ends will need to be ripped out so they can be folded to set in the applique.

Center your Dear Jane ruler on the square with the diagonal seams lined up. Draw a line around the edges of the ruler to mark cutting lines for the block. This will allow you to correctly position the corner triangles.

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Cut out a square and triangle template printed on freezer paper. Cut out on the cutting lines and cut out the center on the seam lines.

Iron the template square in the center of the pieced square. Carefully cut out the center leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Then carefully rip out the seams up to the corners of the template. Finger press the seam allowances to the back.

Line the triangle template up on the seam in each corner to mark cutting lines. The point will go towards the center. The edges on each side of the template should line up with the outside cutting lines drawn on the pieced block.

Press the template into each corner and then draw cutting lines ¼” from the inside edges of the template. Once each corner is marked, cut out the corners on the cutting lines.

Carefully rip out ¼” of the seam in each corner so that the seam allowance can be folded back. Draw the seam lines on the inside and press the ¼” seam allowance to the back in each corner.

Now you can finally applique/reverse applique this piece to the background square!

Baste the print square to the background piece and reverse applique the center and each corner. Once you have finished appliqueing carefully cut back the background fabric diagonally in each corner by lining your ruler up with the ends of the cutting lines on the print piece.

Sew each of the small print triangles to the corners. Trim the block to 5” with your Dear Jane ruler by matching the diagonal seams with the guidelines on the ruler.

Wow! They are both beautiful!! Which one should I use?

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.

 

 

One Kite and Three Triangles

Here is the latest on my Jane Blocks.

I finally decided to do one of the corner kite blocks.  My thinking is that I have enough triangles finished to justify this accomplishment.  A wonderful reward!.  This block has octagon pieces.  I glue basted the seam allowances to card stock templates, then used Best Press to set the seams before removing the templates.  The octagons were then hand pieced together and appliquéd to the background.  I am happy with the finished block.

The three triangles all have some hand piecing as well as machine piecing.  BR-9 needed to be adjusted because I cut the points off of the curved background pieces, so the bottom section is wider than it should be.  This happens sometimes when you cut out the Dear Jane templates exactly as printed from the Electric Quilt software.  I am not too upset about it and am not planning to redo this one.

My color scheme for the quilt has yellow for RS-7.  I used a yellow with pink to add some color, so the hearts are not as obvious.  The seams for the hearts were also glue basted to templates before setting the seams.

RS-3 was quite an adventure.  First the diamonds and middle triangle at the bottom are appliquéd to a 6.5″ x 8.5″ piece of background fabric.  The center circle started with a 6.5″ pinwheel block.  The melons started as 3.5″ squares with just the inside curve cut on one side of each square.  The curved edges were appliquéd to the pinwheel block resulting is a 6″ square for the center.  Then the block was reverse appliquéd over the center piece.  It was not my idea.  Pat K. from Quilters Common came up with this fabulous method and it is just about the same as the one used on the That Quilt blog.  It is time consuming but was not frustrating. I am happy with this one, too.

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

Curvy

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