The Lily Pad: The Journal of White Lotus Quilting


Stacked Snailz pantograph

Posted in my pantographs,news by whitelotusquilting on January 5, 2013
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Okay, so I think I figured out how you can see some of Patricia’s brilliance over at Urban Elementz.  Here’s one of our newer pantographs together, Stacked Snailz, the one I used on the little double four-patch quilt.

stacked snailz pantograph

Stacked Snailz pantograph by Marybeth O’Halloran and Patricia Ritter, available at http://www.urbanelementz.com

And while I’m remembering to mention it, I started pinterest pinboards on each of the pantographs I’ve worked on so you can see some of the designs inspirations and sources.  Here’s the one for this pantograph: stacked snailz pinterest board.

The designs are available in paper and digital forms, and if you want a particular custom size printed out, they can take care of it for you.  Patricia has a wonderful cheerful staff that’s there to help.

Here’s another pic of the sweet little double four-patch with this quilting:

double four-patch tutorial - 58

It makes a great quilting pattern on quilts that will get a lot of use and washes, well-balanced and fairly dense.

Happy quilting all!

Latest pantograph from Urban Elements

Posted in my pantographs,news by whitelotusquilting on January 4, 2013
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It was a busy year here in the studio, and personally as well.  Let’s just say that we used all sorts of insurance we haven’t for a number of years (household, car, and unemployment), and survived two tax audits.  Needless to say I’m quite glad that 2012 is over and despite my husband being out of work at the moment I feel somehow hopeful that 2013 can be a better year for us.

One of the bright spots in our troubled 2012  is the amazing Patricia Ritter at Urban Elementz.  Not only has she been a source of digitizing inspiration in her quilting designs, but she has helped me develop sketches into works of beauty.  She’s encouraging and reassuring and a general source of calm.  We have several jointly designed pantographs out now from her website urbanelementz.com and I thought you might like to see them.  Here’s the link to my designs with her: my pantographs.

Eventually I’ll figure out a way to put some of the graphics here, but in the meantime, enjoy a pic of my ‘stacked snailz’ pantograph stitched out on a little quilt (kits to be available soon on Etsy).  Happy new year all!

double four-patch tutorial - 59

Little double four-patch quilt stitched with my ‘stacked snailz’ pantograph

New pantograph available at Urban Elementz!

Posted in news by whitelotusquilting on March 27, 2012
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I’ve been working on pantograph designs with Patricia Ritter, the owner of Urban Elementz, and the first pantograph, called Nautilus, is now available on her site.  Click here to see it!

Nautilus sketches - 1

A pantograph is a pattern that goes onto a long arm sewing machine and is either stitched out by hand (by tracing the pattern with a laser) or by computer (if you have one on your machine — I don’t).  After many hours of stitching freehand I’ve developed some favorite motifs that I think make great pantographs, and I’ve been working with Patricia to develop the designs, and she’s been digitizing them.  So the patterns are available in both paper and digital formats for those of you who have mid or long arm sewing machines and want to stitch them.

More pictures and posts to come as I stitch these out on a few quilts.  Plus there has been so much going on here at the studio that I haven’t taken the time to upload pictures — just rest assured that things haven’t gone quiet for a lack of activity, but rather the opposite!  We’ve been working on American Hero Quilts over the past year and have donated almost a dozen to the cause.  There have been lots of client quilts too — and awards.  Not only did quilts that I’ve worked on win Best Machine Quilting last year and this year at the Kitsap Guild show — but also a Grand Champion at the Puyallup.

Happy stitching all!

New staff member MacCloud

Posted in Sheltie staff by whitelotusquilting on February 28, 2012
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What to do when you haven’t posted to your blog for a very long time — hide under a quilt!Especially if you’re a white-factored Sheltie puppy whose ruff matches batting — perfect camouflage!

Finishing up Behemoth superblock #2

Posted in Atomic quilting,Block of the Month (BOM) by whitelotusquilting on January 29, 2011
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Well, here it is the end of January already, and I am just getting to posting the last two blocks of the Behemoth month #2 blocks.  We’ll just call the monthly 20″ by 20″ squares ‘superblocks’ so you can more easily follow what I’m doing.

Also I’ve given up calling the superblocks by their month — we’ve slipped a month or two coming up on superblock #3 so we’ll just go by the numbers instead of the months.  Each superblock has several smaller block components as well as strip segments.  We’ve covered a few of month #2 blocks and talked a little about the strip segments.  So all that’s left is the Monkey Wrench (churn dash) and the Colorado blocks.  Both are made up of pieces you’ve seen before, and should know how to make already.  The exception is in the Churn Dash block — there’s a little strippy block you might not have seen or used before (but could still figure out how to make I hope!)

So here’s the block:

Monkey Wrench or Churn Dash block from Behemoth #2

It’s got four half-square triangles (at the corners), one plain square, and four strippy squares.  The strippy squares are compound pieces, which have been cut from two strips sewn together first (a light and a dark).  Of course you have to do the funky seam allowance math, so for instance if the strippy square finishes at 2 inches square, then the strips you need to cut to sew together to begin with need to be 1 inch finished plus 1/2 inch each for seam allowance of 1/4 inch on each side.  So for a strippy square of 2.5″ (the finished 2″ plus the 1/2 inch seam allowance), you need to begin with two 1.5″ strips.  Then sew those together along the long edge, press toward the dark side, and then cut 2.5″ squares.  And yes, there are pictures of this in the photostream, just click on any picture to go to the picture set for that block.

The cool thing is with these pieces you can easily change your mind about which way you want the Churn Dash to be, dark on light, or light on dark.  By switching the direction of the half-square triangles, and then also the strippy squares, you can flip the pattern to be dark.  Of course then you need to change out the solid square to a light color instead, but if you have lots of strips and squares on hand, this is easy and just becomes a matter of a design choice.

Here’s the reversed block:
monkey wrench block alternate

The leftover center dark square is to the left — all the other components are the same.  All I did was reverse the direction that they point.

So try this with your block as you assemble it.  Put it together one way, and then try reversing it and the center square.  See which image you like better, light on dark, or dark on light.  Figure out which one pleases you more with your other blocks.  Or just make two blocks, you’ll certainly use the spare later if you’re making the bigger quilt.

Which reminds me, if I haven’t said it before, definitely build up a spare parts bucket with this quilt.  Anytime you make half-square triangles, make a few extra.  Same with flying geese.  That way you can fill in a plain strip or square with your spare parts and look like a piecing genius who’s drafting all sorts of new patterns.

In superblock #2 there’s also a little strip of flying geese and the Colorado block. You already know how to make flying geese, and the Colorado block is made up entirely of half-square triangles, which you also know how to make (or can choose your favorite method).  You can do all 16 in the same lights and darks in your half-square triangles for this block, or experiment a little with different combinations of colors in different locations.  Or do it completely scrappy, just keep the light and dark locations correct in each position, and you’ll still see the pattern.
colorado block

If you need a review on how to do flying geese, just click on the picture below.

Making flying geese for economy block

So there’s everything you need for superblock #2; good luck!  Be sure to send in a picture of your Behemoth in progress if you’re not here on an open sewing night (where we try to take lots of pictures — the blocks look very different with different color choices).  Be sure to check the Block of the Month sewing dates page to check for those dates if you’re not sure.

If it’s quiet here for awhile it just means there’s LOTS of stuff going on in the studio, not all of which I’ve uploaded the pictures for🙂.  Just give a call or e-mail to find out what’s happening!

Happy sewing all!

Scary canary paper piecing :)

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM),Quilting tips and techniques by whitelotusquilting on January 6, 2011
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Okay, here it is: the one block section you definitely need to foundation piece in the Behemoth:

Paper pieced star from block #2 of the Behemoth

It’s from the second Behemoth large block, the one we were working on in November (you’re with me, right???), but that I still haven’t posted all the components to yet.  (There’s a few more to come.)  Okay, so maybe block #3 will be in February, but that’s good, right?  It gives everyone a chance to catch up.  Besides.  the first few blocks are the most time consuming to show and explain, and the more experience you get, the easier the later blocks become.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it🙂.

This is a pretty good place to start if you haven’t done paper piecing before.  Let me clarify.  The technique you will use on this block component is actually called paper foundation piecing.  There is another technique called English paper piecing, which is very different, that we’re not going to cover in the Behemoth.

If you click on the picture above you’ll get to the photostream that has the entire process documented so if you haven’t done paper foundation piecing yet (or haven’t made friends with it) then you might want to check out each individual step.  You need a dark, a medium, and a light, and I started with 2.5″ strips and then trimmed them to fit the paper.  That’s quick and easy for me but it does waste a bit of fabric so if that keeps you up late at night then you might start with pieces cut closer to their finished sizes.

Foundation piecing can be out of fabric, stabilizer, or paper, and can be left in (depending on the type) or removed after piecing, depending on what you’re after.  A foundation provides perfect seam line guidance for very spiky points, which are difficult to piece with other methods due to sewing distortion.  Also a foundation provides strength and stability for slippery or biased fabrics (like silk ties) so depending on the circumstance you may wish to leave the foundation in the quilt.

Paper foundation piecing isn’t really scary at all but many quilters shy away from it because it is a bit of a perspective shift.  Typically you’re looking down at the seam you’re sewing from the top side of the work.  With foundation piecing you’re looking at the seam from the bottom — that is, you’re sewing with the wrong side of the quilt top facing you.  Clear as mud?  Well you can think of it like a compass issue.  In the West we look at our compasses top down, as if they were by our feet.  The Chinese look at their compasses as if they were in the sky, looking up at them (by the way, this reverses north and south without altering east and west — how’s that for a brain flip).  So just think of paper foundation piecing as looking up through your quilt top toward the sky.  The printed guidelines on the paper or other foundation will be flipped from how it appears on the right side of the quilt.

So give it a try and make your own beautiful eight pointed star!

Behemoth, month 2, continued: End of Day block

Posted in Atomic quilting,Block of the Month (BOM) by whitelotusquilting on December 23, 2010
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No matter which holiday you celebrate, December is an action-packed month.  The season has a way of getting ahead of me and this year it’s been no exception.  We started with an extreme ice and snow storm the week of Thanksgiving (the end of November) — which included 20 hours of power outages over the course of two days — and then have had wind storms, excess rain, and lots of visitors to our house.  So I feel like I started out behind on my holiday preparations and then got further behind.  Not that I really mind — it’s all been fun. Oh and there’s been LOTS of Christmas quilts to finish for clients.  I just finished the last quilt to be done for Christmas yesterday so I’m just getting some giftmaking and shopping done, and I’m finally posting some more blocks of the Behemoth for month #2.  This block was supposed to be for November but it’s stretched into December so don’t worry if you’re not caught up yet!  You’ll have plenty of time as we’re poking along here.

Here’s the ‘End of Day’ block:

End of Day Block

This is a gorgeous block and wonderfully shaded with lights and darks, which can give it a 3D feel if you look at it just right.  I built it with Thangles, which isn’t in the pattern directions, but you can successfully follow the pattern directions instead if you prefer.  With Thangles you’ll wind up with two full blocks, one that spins to the right, and one that spins to the left.  If you’re making the larger version of the Behemoth, you’ll need four extra big blocks anyway, so just start up a spare parts bucket and by the time we’re done with the 12 months of blocks, you’ll have a few good spare pieces to get you started on your extra blocks.

(remember that if you want to see the whole photostream for this block, click on any picture, which will take you to the flickr photo album for this block)

When I look at this block, I see a pinwheel made of stripped components.  That is, there are four very large half-square triangles, that same quilting atom again, spun around like a basic pinwheel.  Each triangle half, though, is made of a light and dark strip, making it a compound triangle.

Clear as mud?  Well, what it means is that you can create this block without cutting triangles or trapezoids first.  In fact, you can create it with a light and a dark strip (of the same size) and a handful of Thangles.  For this particular block I used 6″ finished  ‘big Thangles’ and started with 3.5″ strips.  But you can scale it to suit your needs.  To begin with, sew your light and dark strips together along the long edges.  Press toward the dark side. (Darth Vader would be so proud).  It will look something like this:

End of Day Block

I paired this beautiful hand dye by Judy Robertson (Just Imagination) with a batik from Fabric Depot in Portland Oregon.  Then I stacked the layers as you might for sewing a four-patchie, like this:

End of Day Block

Then I cut the sewn pairs to 6.5″ by 7.25″ rectangles and pinned on the Thangles paper, like this:

End of Day Block

Then I sewed on the guidelines.  When I cut them apart (each pair of rectangles makes 2 half-square triangle atoms), I realized that I had both right- and left-spinning units, and that to make one whole block I needed to make twice as many half-square triangles as I’d originally thought.  Here’s the four half-square triangle units, two right-spinning, and two left-spinning:

End of Day Block

For the second set of half-square triangles I changed up the fabrics a bit, so the final block is made up of two different sets of strips, with each pair retaining a light and dark so that the contrast would work properly for the overall block.  Here’s the two finished blocks:

End of Day Block

However you make your ‘End of Day’ block I hope you enjoy it.  It’s fun to play with values and see if you can get enough contrast to get the 3D effect that makes this block sing.

Take time to enjoy the season and your celebrations, and stay ‘sew’ happy!

More Atomic Quilting: the three-part triangle

In today’s exciting episode of atomic quilting, we’re going to consider a hybrid atom that is really very useful: the three-part triangle.  (In Thangles instructions this is often called a ‘tulip square.’)  And we’re going to look at this atom in the context of building a Behemoth block, from month #2.  Yes, I’ve finished mine (it was supposed to be for November), and no, I haven’t posted any pictures yet, at least not here.  But the whole photostream is on flickr so if you click on that link, or any of these pictures below you’ll get to the album full of Behemoth pictures from October and November.

It’s the ‘card trick’ block that’s so interesting, and I made it last, but I’m going to show it to you first.

card trick block assembly

In the Behemoth directions, Julie shows this as a three color block, and I made it with five colors.  Take your pick of how you’d like yours to look.  I made the block with Thangles but of course you can use your favorite way to make half-square triangles and related pieces.  With the Thangles I made make all the pieces from one strip size; depending on the method you may need to cut up to three different sizes of squares or triangles.

If you break this block down into quilting atoms, it contains three different atoms, each successively more complex, although they each finish out to the same size.  There are four half-square triangles (HST) on the corners (one each of each colored ‘card’ and common background); one quarter-square triangle (QST) in the center (with four different colors of the ‘cards’); and four three-part triangles (if you can think of an appropriate abbreviation let me know), each one containing two colors of ‘cards’ and the common background color.

Three-part triangles are like a half-square triangle, except that one half is divided again, usually into a light and a dark.  They are made similarly to quarter-square triangles in that a finished half-square triangle is sewn again, this time to a solid square (instead of another half-square triangle, for the quarter-square).  Again I used Thangles for this step, so I wound up with one three-part of the appropriate size, and one smaller hatchling, for each color ‘card.’

With five colors, it can be a bit confusing, so here are pictures of the block in progress so you can see how I built the block:

card trick block assembly

First, I made the half-square triangles of the four colors plus the background.  I cut the Thangles paper into individual pairs, so when I sewed these, I wound up with two HST of each (I only show one here, in each corner).  I used all of them though, more on this in a moment.  Then I made the quarter-square triangle in the middle, by making two pairs of half-square triangles in light/dark combinations.  I then sewed one pair together for the center QST.  (The alternate pair will be spare.)  You wind up with one QST in the correct size, and one hatchling of smaller size, which is also spare.  These hatchlings, by the way, are the result of using only one strip size to begin with, rather than cutting each piece to different sizes.  I don’t mind them, and usually find other uses for them, but if they bother you, use a different method for your QST.

Here’s the quarter-square triangle and its hatchling:

card trick block assembly

Now comes the interesting bit.  I laid them out a little strangely, but it’s so that I can get the colors right for the three-part triangles.  I took the leftover half-square triangles from the block corners, that look like this:

card trick block assembly

And I put them next to their similar colors, in a sort of flying geese layout.  (Don’t worry, it will look wrong at this point.)  Then I cut solid squares of each of the colors for the cards, like this:

card trick block assembly

Then to make each three-part triangle, I laid the square over the spare half-square triangle, in the orientation I wanted to see it finish (to be sure I sewed the line correctly).  Here’s what I mean:

card trick block assembly

Once I knew where the color square needed to be placed, I stacked it on top of the half-square triangle and used Thangles paper to sew the diagonal seam.  I sewed the second seam for the bonus ‘hatchling.’  Here’s what it looks like with the Thangles paper:

card trick block assembly

Here’s finished three-part triangles in a different color set, one of the correct size, and one hatchling:

card trick block assembly

And here is the block with two three-part triangles completed (it’s their hatchlings below the block):

card trick block assembly

Cool, eh?  Once you finish all the three-part triangles, the block looks like the picture at the top of the post.  It gives the illusion of the color ‘cards’ overlapping each other, which I think is wonderful.  Sure, the block is fussy, and it takes a fair amount of diligence to get the colors right, but when you do, it’s an entertaining illusion.  And by breaking it down into component atoms, it makes the block construction simpler to understand, and scale up or down, as you choose.

The card trick block is part of the Behemoth BOM block #2 (in the lower left corner):

finished block #2

So if you haven’t started on your Behemoth yet, don’t worry!  Make the blocks in your own way and time.  You’re going to gain a month as  we’ll use December to catch up.  (I don’t know about any of you, but the snow/ice storm and ensuing power outage shredded my schedule last week!) I won’t post any of the third block until January.  We will still have the open sewing studio date in December, though, so feel welcome to come and sew on whatever blocks you’re working on.  And get your free teeny weeny holiday gift!

And in the meantime, enjoy the holiday season, and happy sewing!

New Kona Bay fabrics are here!

Posted in news,Sheltie staff by whitelotusquilting on November 21, 2010
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Here’s what just arrived in the studio out of the new tone-on-tone ‘Rainshadow’ line by Kona Bay:

Rainshadow tonal fabrics

Aren’t they yummy?  I love tonal prints because they’re so versatile.  They can act like solids (we call them solid-ish) or become more print-like if used with solids.  And the color gradation of the neutrals is wonderful, too, a nice palette to complement just about any color scheme.  Be sure to check them out if you come by to pick up or drop off a quilt, or if you’re here for an open studio night.

Kona Bay is also running a website fabric special on their six-yard bolts.  For a limited time you can purchase these bolts directly from Kona Bay (which is a company local to the Puget Sound area) for $36 each, which works out to be $6/yard.  This is a great backing size for a twin to double sized quilt so if you’re looking for backings you might want to check out this special.  Normally these fabrics go for $9 – $10/yard.

If you use the coupon code 7068 it lets them know where you heard about their special and also gives you a bonus gift with your purchase.

And of course it wouldn’t be fair to mention Kona Bay fabrics without showing a recent picture of Kona Bay the dog🙂.  Finally, a picture of her without her ears back!

Kona Bay the Sheltie

Let’s Twist!

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM),gadgets by whitelotusquilting on November 21, 2010
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Here’s a 12″ block I made this month, in the colors of my Behemoth, with a tool called Lil’Twister by Country Schoolhouse:

Lil' Twister block

The Behemoth is written for a twin size, and if you want to make a queen size, you need to make four extra composite blocks (made of smaller separate blocks).  You can compose them of blocks you’ve already used for other Behemoth blocks, or you can use some of your personal favorites, or try out some new techniques.  Here’s the Lil’Twister block next to my Behemoth block#1 and a few friends from block#2:

Lil' Twister block with friends

The Twister tool and its smaller cousin the Lil’ Twister are simple gadgets and a great way to get your feet wet in  quilting tool using if you’re new to the gadget side of patchwork.  They are designed to take advantage of pre-cut fabrics offered by most major manufacturers and are a great way to leverage your sewing time.

Lil’ Twister is designed for charm packs, those little stacks of pre-cut 5″ squares.  Of course you can also cut your own, and if I do, then I use 5.5″ squares instead, since that’s the size of my template.  It’s not so much that I can’t use the measuring lines on my templates but rather that I’m a lazy cutter and prefer to use the edges of the template when I can.  In any case, either size will work for the Lil’ Twister.

I started by sewing my squares together in a pleasing combination, and then bordering the little mini-quilt with a background color.  In this case I picked what I thought was a pale blue/purple batik as the background.  And I also thought the colors contrasted with each other more — oh, well.  This is a little watercolor-y Twister block.  Then I used the Lil’ Twister tool to recut the intersections — the places where the blocks meet — at an angle (which is clearly marked on the tool).  The tool also has little feet on it so you can move it around without losing your place, and the fabric will stay in place beneath the tool.

Then I sewed the newly cut mini-blocks back together in the same order I cut them in, and viola!  Little windmills of the charm squares appear next to each other, easy as pie.  You can change the size by altering the number of charm squares you start with.

If you want to make something larger, start with layer cake squares (10″) or 10.5″ squares if you’re cutting them yourself, sew them together, border them with the background, and then use the Twister tool to recut the intersections.  The details are in the ‘Let’s Twist’ book by Country Schoolhouse.

Both Twister tools and the book have been added to the Kitsap Quilters Guild gadget library and are available to members for check-out.  And I have them in my library if you want to try them on an open sewing studio date.  But of course you can buy them for yourself and start Twisting!

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