Sew Karen-ly Created...

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Sunday 25 October 2009

Diamond Chips

In no time at all, we will be scrambling for ideas on what to make and give for presents this holiday season. Here's a quick tutorial for a potholder which makes an inexpensive and useful gift. If you attended the Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend workshop last week, you will have leftover short strips which will work well in this project. The potholder is designed to use up your 2" strips. The finished size is 9" across and 10-1/2" high (point to point). You will require 3 different shades of one colour, in this case green: a light, a medium and a dark, as well as one red. We have kept the same red constant throughout; the dimensional effect is carried by the main colour. Please read through the instructions before beginning project. Materials Required: 2 strips 2" x 10" each of light green, medium green and dark green 4 strips 2" x 10" red 1 strip 3-1/2" x 19" red 12" square backing fabric 12" square cotton batting (I used 2 squares in mine to make it thicker) sewing and quilting thread to match Supplies Needed: Rotary cutter and mat; acrylic ruler with 60 degree line
For the Light Diamond:
2 strips 10" x 2" light green
2 strips 10" x 2" red
For The Medium Diamond:
2 strips 10" x 2" medium green
1 strip 10" x 2" red
For the Dark Diamond: 2 strips 10" x 2" dark green
1 strip 10" x 2" red
To Make the Dark Diamond: Sew the red strip between the 2 dark green strips lengthwise using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press seams to one side. This strip set should measure 5" wide after pressing. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, place the 60 degree angle line of the ruler on the bottom of the strip and trim off the left side of the strip on this angle. Move the ruler over 5" and make another cut on a 60 degree angle. To Make the Medium Diamond: Sew the red strip between the 2 medium green strips lengthwise using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press seams to one side. TURN THIS STRIP SET UPSIDE DOWN and trim the left side as above for the dark diamond on a 60 degree angle. Move the ruler over 5" and make another cut on a 60 degree angle. You will now have two diamonds like this:(notice the medium green is upside down in the photo)Flip the medium green diamond to the right side and position the diamonds as shown below. You will see the reason you cut the medium strip upside down is so that the red stripe would be properly oriented when joining the diamonds.
To Make the Light Diamond: Sew the red strip between the 2 light green strips lengthwise using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press seams to one side. Place the 60 degree angle line of the ruler on the bottom of the strip and trim off the left side of the strip on on this angle. Move the ruler over 2" and make another cut on a 60 degree angle. Repeat to cut 2 strip segments like this:
Sew a red strip to the right side of one segment. Trim off top and bottom on a 60 degree angle, and then add the second segment to the red. When joining, don't forget to offset the pieces to allow them to align properly; there will be a tiny point of fabric extending at each end.
Lay out your three pieced diamonds as shown.
Choose your favourite method to sew the Y seam - either the 1/4" open, or pivot method.  I like to sew the seam between the medium and dark diamonds from the outside in, to within 1/4" of the end, and lock my stitches. Press this seam open. 
Sew the seam to set in the top diamond the same way, leaving 1/4' open at the centre; press this seam allowance down over the the open seam allowance. This will make your Y seam lie flat.
Layer top, batting and backing, pin baste and quilt as desired. If you are intending to use this as a potholder, do not use polyester batting. Two layers of cotton batting makes a good thick pad. My sample was quilted in the ditch along the red ribbon. When quilting is complete, trim edges and bind.** You will need approximately 55" of binding. If you have more leftover 2" strips, piece them end to end for length. I used a straight grain double French fold, cut 2" wide and pressed in half. Binding was attached by machine to the front of the quilt, then folded to the back and hand stitched in place.
** An even faster, simpler method is simply "birth" the potholder.  To do this, lay the patchwork right sides together with the backing and batting and sew around the outside edges, leaving an opening to turn.  Turn right sides out, and stitch the seam closed by hand.
  To Make the Bow: Cut a strip of red fabric 3-1/2" x 19". Fold in half and sew across one end and part way down one side. Break stitching, leave a 6" length for turning, and continue sewing the remaining length of the strip and across the other end. Turn strip right side out, press, and slip stitch opening closed with hand stitches.
Tie into a bow and tack on the top of your gift.

Monday 19 October 2009

Houston Quilt Festival

An honour to see "Log Canada" pictured on the Houston International Quilt Festival website. Click this link, then choose "Special Exhibits" on the left, and "O Canada" on the top:

Sunday 18 October 2009

Diamonds...Some in the Rough

In this post are pictures of some of the samples used in the Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend workshop presented at the 2009 N.S. Fibre Arts Festival in Amherst, Nova Scotia. The class was more than just the sewing of one project; it was a day of "thinking outside the diamond."

When I decided on the topic for the workshop, I spent a great deal of time in private brainstorming sessions looking at different ways that diamonds may be used. I came up with these ideas which I thought might inspire a bit of lateral thinking among class participants. Our project for the day was this log cabin diamond star which was chosen for several reasons:

  1. The centres are rotary cut diamonds (no templates used)
  2. It requires the sewing of 6 "Y" seams to complete the project - enough to give mastery of the seam, yet not enough to overwhelm. I demonstrated 3 different ways participants may choose to sew the Y seam.
  3. It has the added bonus of strip-piecing log cabin blocks, which require repeated trimming on a 60 degree angle. Repetition helps us retain what we've learned.
  4. The size of the finished project is easy to adjust to suit participant's preferences

I brought along samples of my Seven Sisters pattern which uses smaller diamond stars, pieced in log cabins, pinwheels, and plain fabrics.

After we had mastered the rotary cutting, we then examined various ways one-patch diamonds could be used in a project, and addressed the tricky issue of off-setting the patches when joining the diamonds. We looked at how to stack fabric to strip-piece, cut, and sew one patch diamond blocks.

No class on diamonds would be complete without a nod to the topic of isometric perspective where diamonds are used to give the illusion of depth and dimension. It surprised many to realize that the quilt below is basically the same as our log cabin star workshop project. It uses the same number of blocks, and the same number of strips on each log cabin block. Can you see how easily our star morphed into these boxes?I sewed several samples showing how the placement of light, medium and dark values causes our eyes to tumble the blocks. This is a favourite traditional design which our grandmothers often used.From there, citing Karen Combs as reference, I showed some fun things which could be done with diamonds. You will notice many of these pieces are unfinished.
Here are some diamonds joined in an Attic Windows setting:The same Attic Windows set was used in this second example, but I reversed the width of the centres and sashing strips. The effect is quite different: The same diamond is used for the top of this "vase":Of course you cannot talk about 60 degree diamonds without also including companion geometric shapes of equilateral triangles, hexagons, and half hexagons, which share a common angle. Grandmother's Flower Garden is a well-known traditional pattern composed of hexagons. My sample for this pattern was done in black and white, and sewn into a cushion which resembles a soccer ball (you can picture this one yourself- just visualize a soccer ball.) It was a piece I had designed for Quick & Easy Quilting a few years back when I was writing a column for that magazine. Hexagon blocks were joined by hand in the past, but are easily and quickly sewn by machine.

This sample was pieced in honey shades to look like the comb our bees spin in wax on their foundations:The "Inner City" block, composed of half-hexagons, was my favourite to sew and is a terrific use of scraps.When I packed up the samples to take to the workshop, I did a rough count of the "Y" seams which I had sewn to produce them. It came to just under 500 "Y" seams. I was quick to point out to the participants that there was to be no whining about sewing 6 for their project!

This workshop was organized and hosted by the Cumberland Quilt Guild. It was originally scheduled to run one day, but it filled quickly and the waiting list was long enough that we added a second class. In the end, both classes were over-filled, as we squeezed as many in as the room would hold. It was wonderful to have so many enthusiastic quilters gathered - as quilters, we grow so much within ourselves in such a coming together. I hope the attendees left with their heads weighted down with diamonds.

Plans are already underway for next year's N.S. Fibre Arts Festival. If you have ideas or any comments to share, please visit the festival website to find contact information. For those who joined us in class, I welcome feedback and sincerely look forward to seeing pictures of your finished pieces.

Friday 16 October 2009

Diamonds Workshop: Friday

Yesterday was the final presentation of the Fibre Arts Festival "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend". The day got off to a great start with this surprise gift of selvedges! These came from Joan who joined us from Saulnierville, N.S. This was the first time I had met Joan in person, although we have been enjoying each other's blogs for some time now. You can visit Joan's blog here (but give her time to get home to post about her visit to Amherst - that's a long drive!) Joan's sister Simone is also a quilter and she travelled from Antigonish to join Joan for the Fibre Arts Festival .
We had a fabulous day of sewing together. The Ralston Room of First Baptist Church was pretty much at capacity, and the air was filled with the hum of machines...or at least it was until we overloaded the circuits and lost power on the right side of the room! That issue was very quickly remedied. However, apparently the competitive bunch of quilters on the left side of the room took it as a challenge and stepped up their production, thus blowing out the left side of the room as well...over, and over and over again! The clever caretaker solved the problem once and for all, and work resumed uninterrupted from that point forward. It was a wonderful, eclectic group of both new and seasoned quilters from around the Maritimes. Peter, from Mahone Bay, is fairly new to quilting but rotary cut the 60 degree angles like a veteran.
It's always fun to see fabric choices, and Brenda - another from Antigonish - wowed us with these. We are all looking forward to seeing Brenda's finished piece.
Upstairs, the Cumberland Quilt Guild had a magnificent showing of quilts hung in the sanctuary. Throughout the day visitors to that exhibit dropped in to see our progress. Included among those was Sharon who came to show us her finished top from Wednesday's workshop. Isn't it gorgeous? That's Sharon's hand you see at the top, and Patricia from Sackville on the right.
After the workshop ended, I visited the quilt show upstairs, which was every bit as spectacular as last year. Then I headed over to take in the Zonta Bazaar being held at Tantramar Theatre. It was a busy spot of vendors and shoppers. As I knew The Bernina Lady was going to be there, I took along some silk, silk thread and a fine needle to see how the Bernina would handle it. As expected, it sewed perfectly. (Santa, are you listening?)
Later I will post some pictures of the samples I sewed for the workshop. Today is the final day of festivities, and I will be at Dayle's Department Store from 2-4 pm with a display of quilts. If you are in the area, please drop in to say hi.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Fibre Arts Festival: Thursday

Today I was able to view several of the Fibre Art exhibits around Amherst. My first stop was at the Home Furniture Store on Lawrence Street, where quilts by Bobbins & Baymist Quilters were on display. There were also a great many hooked pieces there by Vera and Trina McInnis. Next, I crossed over to Dayle's Department Store to catch Vera demonstrating her exquisite crazy-quilting. Here she is ruching a length of ribbon which she will use to embellish one of the squares on her quilt. All of Vera's work is meticulously done by hand.
There are lots of fibre enthusiasts in town this week and Vera was attracting quite a crowd of onlookers interested in seeing her work.

They were all beautiful, but if I had to pick a would be this fan quilt. The contrast in colours and sharp crispness of the blades appeal to my eye.
I also spotted "Farrago" hanging high-up in the fabric department.
Tomorrow after my last workshop is finished, I plan to take in the quilt shows at both the Baptist and Anglican Churches and then the Zonta Bazaar at Tantramar Theatre. There is so much to see around town and I don't want to miss any of it!

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Diamonds Workshop - Wed

Here's today's group hard at work in the Ralston Room of the First Baptist Church of Amherst. It's a great space, and it was so terrific to work with such an eager, enthusiastic group. They even paid rapt attention to the application of Pythagoras' C2 -B2 = A 2 theory on finding the height of an equilateral triangle. Well...maybe not "rapt" attention... but that glazed look in Sharon's eyes had a certain politeness about it. That counts. Mary from Montreal, one of the class participants, surprised me with a very thoughtful gift she had made just for me. Not only is this set of table mats stitched from selvedges, they are sewn around a centre of bee print fabric. Aren't they lovely? I am touched by her thoughtfulness, to say the least, although I suspect that Mary makes a habit of doing kind and thoughtful things. I first met Mary last evening at the Festival's opening reception. She had a display on Victoria's Quilts Canada (VQC), a national non-profit organization which provides home-made quilts to comfort folks with cancer. Mary is spreading the word on VQC, hoping to encourage local quilters to establish a VQC branch in N.S.
Mary's mats are pictured here with a gift from another quilter; Janet saw this bee skep and honey dipper last year and immediately thought of me.
Friday will be the second and last presentation of this workshop. Reporters from The Amherst Daily News dropped by the class so if you are a local, check the paper tomorrow to possibly catch a glimpse of what we were up to today. This teacher certainly enjoyed her apple, which she ate on the drive home :)

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Krakow Farrago...with dots.

Day one of the NS Fibre Arts Festival is over and what a day it was - more like 2 or 3 rolled into one! Early this afternoon I attended a mini-workshop with Laurie Swim, where she demonstrated some of the techniques she uses in her work. We each had opportunity to work on three different samples and they were all a lot of fun. Knit & Stitch from New Minas supplied Janome sewing machines; it was wonderful not to have to lug a machine. The opening reception this evening at Tantramar Theatre on Victoria Street was lovely. There were several displays set up, words of welcome from town dignitaries and the Fibre Arts Festival committee, as well as tons of food and refreshments. There was a good crowd in attendance, including these lovely ladies who are gearing up for the Diamonds workshop.
And speaking of Diamonds...the piece they are examining contains 24 diamond shaped blocks. This is "Farrago": an assortment or a medley; a conglomeration; a confused mixture. Well named, don't you think? It is pieced from a fabric line designed by Mark Lipinski named Krakow. Dayle's ordered it in especially for the Festival and my quilt was designed to showcase the dramatic red and black prints.
The pattern is available for $15.95 ; something new this time are packages of pre-printed tear-away paper foundations at a cost of $8.00 for 24 foundations, which is enough to complete the quilt. Farrago measures 41-1/2" across, and makes a stunning accent on a wall or table; it's an eye-popper! Pattern and foundations are available from Dayle's or directly from me.  Farrago is shown here photographed against the quarry stones of the First Baptist Church in Amherst, where the diamond workshops will be held...the first in a very few short hours.

Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival

The Festival begins!
The schedule for this very busy week is posted on the Festival website. For me, today will include the final packing up for the workshops and attending a session with amazing quilter Laurie Swim this afternoon. It will be a thrill to see her beautiful works of art in person. After that is set-up for the first workshop and the display for tonight's signing of Canadian Heritage Quilting at the official opening reception. This will be held at Tantramar Theatre from 7-8:30. At this display, I will unveil the new piece I designed with the special fabric which Dayle's Department Store brought in just for the Festival. No hints, except to say it's a wild one! I'll show you tomorrow, when the piece goes on display at Dayle's for the duration of the Festival. Hope to see you tonight!

Monday 12 October 2009

Giving Thanks

After a few whirlwind weeks of preparing for the Fibre Arts Festival, it was wonderful to stop this weekend and reconnect with family and friends and all the things that make our lives worthwhile. Part of our travels to be with family took us through the beautiful Wentworth Valley in Nova Scotia, an area renowned for its spectacular displays of fall foliage. Every Thanksgiving weekend, the chair lift at Ski Wentworth operates to allow visitors access to the top of the hill, a terrific vantage point for viewing fall leaves. The parking lot was full and the cars were lined back to the road.
Here's some of what folks would see:
Lots of oranges and yellows, but not many deep reds as yet. Those will come soon enough.
Further along on the Shore Road in Masstown, we visited a pumpkin U-Pick operation. Nothing says "Thanksgiving" like pumpkins, and they dotted this field as far as the eye could see.

I gave a special word of thanks for not dropping the pumpkin pie this year...which I have done twice in the past. I'd like to think the jinx is broken, but I will continue to make two for the annual dinner... just in case. Never hurts to have back-up.