Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Zig and A Zag : Second Sewing Instructions

This post is part of an ongoing series of posts for A Zig and A Zag Quilt Along I'm hosting here on my blog.  You can join in at any time!  You will find the links to all previous steps in my sidebar.

I hope that those of you playing along are having a good time with the zig zag quilt. We are getting to the rewarding part where we will actually see zig zags! Woohoo! Today we are going to start sewing together all those pieces we have cut and start getting some blocks and even some rows!

You should have a number of piles that look like this one: angled striped pieces in a light and dark colorway and half square triangles of your background fabric.


The first step is to sew a triangle to either side of each striped piece. Sew the long bias edge of the triangle to the long edge of the striped piece on both sides. This is a pretty straight forward step with only one slightly tricky part...and if you have worked with triangles before, you will not be surprised.

Unlike sewing square pieces of fabric together, when you sew angled pieces together (for example, a triangle) you need to pay special attention to the seam allowance. If you try to line up the pieces directly on top of one another, you will find that once you sew them that your pieces in fact DO NOT line up. That's because of that pesky seam allowance. So we need to compensate for that and put our pieces right sides together with a little 1/4" overlap. You can see below in the following pictures what I mean by this. You will have a little "tail" of white triangle sticking out over the edge of the striped piece.

Quarter Inch overlap

You will do this for both sides and both colors. You do want to make this as precise as possible, but the fact that the background triangle piece is cut on a bias gives you a little breathing room. You can stretch that piece just a bit if you need to make it line up on that first edge. Be careful though that you don't stretch the fabric too much! Those bias edges can get all funky pretty quickly.

I like to chain stitch the triangles to the striped pieces at this point because it just goes so much faster.


When you have sewn one triangle to your angled piece, you end up with a funny piece like this one.

one triangle sewn

You want to check that overlapping your seam allowance has worked well by checking the point where the two pieces come together. It should look like this!


Happy with how that looks?! Great! Now you can start sewing triangles to the other side of the striped piece. Follow the same procedure as with the first side and you will end up with a rectangular piece that looks like this!

half of one block

You have completed one half of one block! There will be a light piece and a dark piece to make one complete block. It takes a bit of time to sew all those background triangles on to every single angled piece, and let's face it...that can get a little boring. So I won't leave you with just that as your sewing instructions. Personally I get worn out after just working on one row...that's 12 striped pieces and you are sewing a triangle to each 24 seams. After that I'm ready for some gratification of zig zag rows! But before we get a row, we need to get some full blocks. And that is where our most important seams of the whole quilt are!

Your seams should be pressed in the same direction as your original striped piece. Remember that we pressed the light pieces one way and the dark pieces the opposite way. So your two half blocks should look like this from the back.


This helps us line up the points of the zig zag and ease over the seams more easily with less bulk.

I like to line up the pieces from the front so that I can check the direction of my blocks. Then put the two pieces right sides together, butting up the seams of the zig zag. I flip back a bit of the seam allowance to check that I am on track with lining up my pieces and then pin that sucker together.

My creation

Again, the bias edges can be your friend here, but tread carefully. This time it is the original striped piece that has some bias edges (your triangle piece no longer does!). So that gives you some ability to manipulate the pieces so that they line up. Remember that it is more important that they line up a 1/4" in than that the line up along the edge...once again the joy of sewing angled pieces!

Sew the two pieces together and press the seam open. You can check at this point whether those zig zags line up.

press seam allowance open

But I always hold my breath while I flip the piece over to see how it really looks from the front...because that's the part that matters more! You will want to check the following points to make sure your zig zag is coming together.

matching points!

Phew! It worked and now I have one beautiful block with a light piece and a dark piece. Now you just have to do that 41 more times. ;)

A completed block

From there, it doesn't take too much to create a finished row. And that is REALLY satisfying! Just join each block together the same way that you joined each HALF block together. And before long you will have each block attached, light to dark, and a beautiful zig zag will appear.

a complete row!

I get so excited just seeing that one purple row!! Woohoo! It really will be a beautiful quilt. It won't be too long before we have a whole quilt top.


As always, please feel free to ask questions! And I'd love to see anything that you are all working on over in my flickr group, Cut To Pieces.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Books and Blocks

I was at a discount book store this afternoon looking for ideas for wedding decorations for my friend.  I wasn't particularly successful in that venture, but I did discover a couple of "quilting" books that I decided to grab for the heck of it.  Some of you have probably heard of the author and her books.  She is Lisa Boyer and I am currently reading her book "That Dorky Homemade Look : Quilting Lessons from a Parallel Universe"

And soon I will be starting "Stash Envy: And other Quilting Confessions and Adventures".

If the second book is anything like the first, then I will be laughing for a bit.  Although written almost 10 years ago, I think that the sentiment still rings true for modern quilters. (She does seem surprised that friends buy fabric online...clearly we're a bit past that!)  But oh there are so many funny pieces to this book that have had me laughing out loud literally.  She has a strange affinity for "special" scissors, a compulsion to buy the ugliest fabric in the store because she feels sorry for it, and a great reluctance to let anyone judge her quilts.  In short, I think that a lot of us can relate.  After all, her fabric speaks to her.  Doesn't your fabric speak to you?  lol

The first book, as I'm sure is the second, is definitely a quick read...and perhaps not the most brilliantly written book, but I found so much to relate to that I couldn't put it down.  So if anyone needs a quick pick me up...or at the very least wants to read about another woman's dilemma in explaining yet another fabric purchase to her husband, you may want to find a copy of these and see what you think.

In quilting bee news, I finished this block quite a while ago, but I didn't have time to blog about it until now.  Casey asked us to make the block entitled "Interlocking Seasons" found over at the Parfait Cafe.

Bee Modern Too - July block for Casey

Look complicated?  Well it is!  Those squares are cut at 1.25" square.  That's tiny people!  And there are a lot of them.  I think that the tutorial is actually pretty well written given the amount of tiny pieces that create this interlocking ring.  I of course made my life more difficult by sewing pieces in the wrong order more than once.  And my seam ripper got a nice workout.  Sigh.  But that just makes it more rewarding right?  This block is not for the weak of heart...but I think that it would make a fabulous pillow or wall hanging if you enlarged the scale of the pattern.  I think that a part of the difficulty is working with the really tiny pieces!

I'm working away on my bottled rainbow quilt and my zig zag quilt.  I've even managed to connect the two quilts by using some left over scraps from one in the other.  The benefit of working on two rainbow quilts at one time.  But more on that soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's almost like being in Love!

*the giveaway is now closed*

Today just happens to be my 9th wedding anniversary.  In some ways time has flown by and in other ways I think it could be longer. ;)  We've been through a lot together and life can be crazy...but crazy is better than boring!

In the spirit of celebrating, I wanted to both finish up one giveaway and start another.

First off, is the winner of the Flurry layer cake from The Fat Quarter Shop.  I think it would have been cute if the lucky winner was number 9, but was # 50!

Who is Shelly!

(Remember we were celebrating Christmas then!)

Congrats to you Shelly!  I hope you enjoy that Christmas fabric.  Oh and I adore your email address.  I'm sort of jealous that it is not mine!  lol

But wait everyone, there is more!  I told you that we had a new sponsor coming and here she is!  It's Brenda from Pink Castle Fabrics!

(ack! My computer is being weird and won't let me put her pink castle logo in this thread...but you can see it in my sidebar.  You can't miss it.  It's the only Pink Castle over there. ;)  )

I just ordered the most luscious fabrics from Brenda!  Most of them were from the Newest Joel Dewberry line (quite possibly my most favorite designer!) Heirloom.  Tell me that these are not sooo delicious!!

New Joel Dewberry

New Joel Dewberry

This man is killing me because that is not even all of the colorways in this collection!  Stop the madness!!  So many fabrics, so little time.

I also got some irresistible new fabrics from a line called Dazzle.  These are the basket weave prints.  Brenda has too many yummy fabrics!

Dazzle Basketweaves

So, Brenda has graciously agreed to do a giveaway of a Jelly Roll of.... well, you all voted....and the results were pretty interesting.  But hands down the clear winner was Little Apples!  So we will be doing a giveaway of Little Apples Jellyroll!  (but if you don't prefer that line we might be able to twist Brenda's arm into giving you the one that you voted for!)

So, given that it is my 9th wedding anniversary, this time I'd love to hear from you something marriage related.  A piece of advice that you live by... Your favorite way to celebrate an anniversary (Lynne I already know what you are going to say!)...  Your song you danced to at your wedding.... (the title of the post is ours!).  Really anything about marriage!  Everyone has something to say on this subject, so this is obviously not only limited to married people.  lol.  We're all full of opinions!

To enter the giveaway:
   1.  Leave a marriage/anniversary/wedding related comment
   2.  Run over to Brenda's shop and leave a comment back here telling me your favorite item she has or what you would like to see her carry.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bottling up a Rainbow

So once again, the lure of the Bottled Rainbow quilt designed by Rachel was too hard for me to resist.  I needed a cheerful quilting project and this one never fails to make me happy.  Plus I really just want to finish it!  Remember that crazy goal I have to get myself down to two projects at one time?!  I am determined to make that not just a dream. lol

So I've finally managed to finish up every Bottled Rainbow Block!  I wasn't necessarily trying to finish this at first, but once I got so close I knew that I needed to.  So in no particular order, my final blocks are...

Deep Pink - I don't remember who sent the button scraps but I am so happy to give that wonderful fabric a home!

Bottled Rainbows - Deep Pink

Cerise - I love so many of these scraps!

Cerise Bottled Rainbow

Yellow - I had to dig through some special scraps for this one.  It may be my favorite block...of course I say that a lot!

Yellow Bottled Rainbow

Red - look at that luscious piece of Christmas Zoo Print!

Red Bottled Rainbow

Navy - I had to pull fabric out of my stash for this one...the only block that didn't use entirely scraps!

Navy Bottled Rainbow

Orange - Katie Jump Rope, Japanese Elephants, Prints Charming, FFA, Lightening Bugs, and so much more!

Orange Bottled Rainbow

And then I was playing around with the layout for the quilt.  I used some slightly different colors than Rachel originally suggested because I just wanted to use my stash.  So I felt the need to rearrange some colors a bit to make more sense with my particular fabrics.

Bottled Rainbow

I think it works...and I think that this is what I went with.  I've actually sewn it together already!  I still need to put the border on the quilt but the blocks are all together.

Bottled Rainbow

I'm loving how it looks.  I'll be sure to post more pics when it's finished.  Which will hopefully be soon!

Anyone else behind on this quilt along like me?!  lol.

Monday, July 25, 2011

upcoming giveaway survey

There's a new sponsor who will be showing up on my blog soon and we want to do a little jelly roll giveaway for you all.  But I just can't decide which fabric line you all would prefer to win.  So I decided to let you all choose.  Which of the following fabrics would you like to see in a giveaway?

Little Apples

Fairy Tale Friends


Vote Below!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Zig and A Zag : Second Cutting Instructions

This post is part of an ongoing series of posts for A Zig and A Zag Quilt Along I'm hosting here on my blog.  You can join in at any time!  You will find the links to all previous steps in my sidebar.

I know. I know.  You probably have all thought that I've forgotten about my quilt along.  But I promise I haven't!  I'm all caught up now with it.  If you recall, I admitted that I incorrectly cut half of the pieces for the quilt in my rush to get it done before I moved from NOLA. took me a bit to get my ducks in a row and get all those fabrics out and recut.  But I've done it!  And now I'm ready to share that with you all and make sure that you don't make the mistakes that I did. ;)

So, we're on to the second set of cutting instructions.  Yep.  No sewing this week.  Just cutting.

You should have ended the last set of directions with a big pile of white background squares and a whole bunch of sewn strips.

A Zig and A Zag

Divide your strips into two piles.  Put the light colored strips in one set and the dark colored strips in another. Let's start with the light colored strips.  Disclaimer: clever eyes will notice that the following photos of "light" fabric turn out to actually be a dark fabric in my quilt.  The cutting directions ARE correct, so just pretend these are my light orange fabric. ;)  Live and learn.

The following instructions are completely dependent on your ability to cut a 45 degree angle.  I do this using the 45 degree mark on my cutting mat, however some of you may find this easier to do with a special ruler. So use whatever method works for you.

Place your first light colored strip on the cutting mat and line it up with the long edge along a straight horizontal line.  Find the 45 degree mark on your cutting mat and move the strip so that one edge is near it.  The 45 degree mark should be angled as shown, going from the bottom left in towards the top right.

A Zig and A Zag

Place your ruler along the 45 degree mark on your cutting mat.

A Zig and A Zag

Cut along the 45 degree mark.

A Zig and A Zag

You have one angled edge!  Now move the strip on the mat so that a new spot is along the 45 degree mark.  The next cut will be 9 1/4"  away from either the top or bottom edge (it doesn't matter which you use).

A Zig and A Zag

That 1/4" may be the trickiest part to see, so here's a little close up.  I have used my cutting board so much that it's pretty easy for me to find a 1/4" on the board, but just do your best.

A Zig and A Zag

Place your ruler along the new 45 degree mark.

A Zig and A Zag

And make a second cut.  Tada!  One diagonal piece!

A Zig and A Zag

Continue moving the strip along the cutting mat making the same cut at 9 1/4" away from the angled edge.  I can get 3 and sometimes 4 pieces out of one sewn strip.  You will need 6 pieces all together of each color, so feel free to just cut 3 from each of the two strips you should have in each lighter color.  There will be some excess fabric left over.

Now, here's where you don't want to make the Angela mistake.  The mistake that made me have to redo half of my quilt pieces.  DO NOT cut your darker strips along the 45 degree angle that you cut the lighter strips on.  You will need to cut them in the opposite direction.  This means that you want the 45 degree mark to go from the bottom RIGHT out towards the upper left this time.

Find the 45 degree mark on your cutting board, but align your board so that it is facing the opposite way as before.  (some mats may have a line going in both directions, so you will just want to use the other one.)

A Zig and A Zag

Place your ruler along that edge and cut, just as before.  Then again, move the strip 9 1/4" along the cutting board and cut along that new edge.

A Zig and A Zag

You use the exact same steps for the darker strips, you are just getting the opposite 45 degree angle on the pieces.  In the end, you should be able to line up your light and dark strips as shown below.

A Zig and A Zag

Again, you will need 6 pieces of each color with the light colors angled in one direction and the dark colors angled in the other.  All the pieces should measure 9 1/4" along the long straight edges.

All you need to do to the white background squares is cut them diagonally in half from one corner to the other.  So you will get two triangles from ONE square.  If anyone is going all fancy on me and using a directional background print, let me know.  But otherwise, you should all be safe just picking a corner and cutting to the opposite diagonal corner.  To avoid possible errors, cut all of these the same way. (It shouldn't matter if you are using a two sided solid fabric, but I know not everyone is.)

Okay?!  Clear?  I hope so.  PLEASE let me know if you have any questions.  This is the second and only cutting step...from here on out it is just sewing the pieces together.  Yay!  After this you will have all the pieces cut for your whole quilt.  Now that is awesome.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fabric Flower Tutorial-with a little help from a Go! Baby

Fabric Flower

I promised you all a tutorial for a fabric flower that I made a while back, but to be honest I was a little worn out after making one.  You see, it involves a number of pieces of fabric cut into circles.  And that can be a little tedious.  Doable.  But tedious.

And then the accuquilt people came along and offered me a Go! Baby in return for my review (so lucky!  I know!).  I knew immediately that I wanted to use this fancy dancy machine to cut out shapes that are a little bit annoying to cut by hand.  And that led me right back to circles.

go! baby

I love how compact this Baby is!  I've seen the large one in person and frankly I just don't have the room in an already crowded sewing space for another device.  But this one is cleverly designed with flip down sides making it super compact!

the sides flip down

I used the circle template to make the fabric flower!  I was very happy with the little cutter.  It's difficult for my type AAA personality to make and cut out perfect circles from fabric by hand.  But I was pleased to see how lovely they came out with this machine.  (Although really to make this flower they don't HAVE to be just makes me happier!)

accuquilt templates

To cut out the circles, I cut a 6" strip of 45" inch fabric and folded it in fourths.  I laid the fabric over the circle template and placed the cutting board on top.  Then with a little roll of the handle (very much like a pasta cutter!), I let the Baby do its work and out came an assortment of cut circles.  I found the smallest ones were too little for this particular project, but I did use the larger and medium size.  I did this a couple of times to create enough circles for the project!

Using the accuquilt Go! Baby

straight from the cutter

(If you don't happen to have an accuquilt cutter, you can still make this flower!  You will just need to cut out the circles by hand.  I do this the uber glamorous way with a glass rim that I trace onto the fabric over and over and then cut out with scissors. )

Then put away that Baby and start to work on those fabric circles.

The next step is to cut every one of those circles in half.  It's easy enough to do with a rotary cutter and piles of the circles.  You're all smart cookies, so I know you can do this!

flower tutorial

Then you will do a little machine sewing!  Take each half of a circle and fold it right sides together along the straight edge.  Then sew along that straight edge using a 1/4" or so stitch.  You may find chain piecing helpful here!

Then turn the pieces right side out.  You may find it helpful to trim the tips so that you get "pointier" points.

fabric flower

Once you have the "petals" turned right side out, you get to do a little folding and tacking.  With the point towards the top, fold the left side toward the center followed by the right side.  Then either tack the fabric in place by hand stitching or with a small zig zag stitch on your machine.

fabric flower

Here comes the magic!  Start putting those petals together.  I hand sew this part so that the petals have some flexibility while I'm working.  I use however many petals I feel to make whatever size flower I want.  Clear as mud?  Try it and find out.  You'll see what I'm saying.  Just place the edge of one petal over the center of the previous one and stitch in place.  Continue until you're happy with the amount of petals in the first ring.

fabric flower

Use a small piece of backing fabric such as felt (sturdy and cheap!) to stitch your flower to.  Take your first ring and arrange it on the background, then stitch it into place using a small zig zag stitch.  Overlap the edge of the ring with the thread to hold it in place.

fabric flower

Use the same steps to create more rings of petals.  I use less petals in each concentric circle and smaller petals as I get closer to the center.

fabric flower

Almost finished!  Take one circle and baste about an 1/8" away from the perimeter all around.  (I think I used one of the small retrospect I would use a medium or large one for this because I had to add an extra piece of fabric to hide some seams.) Pull the thread as tight as possible to create a sweet bunched circle.  Grab a small button of your choice and place it in the center of the circle which is now the center of the flower.  Tack it all in place together!

fabric flower

Fabric Flower

Use your fabric flower as an accent where ever you like!  You can put it on a pillow.  Make one for a hand bag.  Put one in your know the drill.  Just be creative!  If you do make one, I'd love to see it!  You can always post it in my flicker group, Cut To Pieces.

Fabric Flower

I hope that you all enjoy the tutorial!


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