The Lily Pad: The Journal of White Lotus Quilting

Adventures in the Hyperbolic Plane

Posted in Quilting tips and techniques by whitelotusquilting on November 8, 2010
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Borders are one of those things that vexes quilters, because they are difficult to get to lay flat.  Plus most quilt instructions cast casual directions toward the reader, assuming they already have the skills to make the borders lay flat.  Well, here’s a secret: sometimes it’s just not possible to make the border lay completely flat.  The results depend not only on your sewing skills but also on your sewing machine and fabric, and then at the last stage, also on the quilting.

And what’s this got to do with a hyperbolic plane, anyway?  Plenty.  Most borders when they don’t lay flat are bigger at the outside edge than the inside — in short, they ruffle.  (and yes, ruffles are a shortened explanation of the hyperbolic plane, more on this in a moment, but if you click on the link, there’s a super cool example).  Here’s a quilty example:

hyperbolic plane border

This is the kind of border that makes a longarm quilter very nervous, because we’re unsure we can come up with a pattern for quilting that will make this sort of ruffle unnoticeable.  And while most of my clients think I can work miracles with anything — and that all sorts of unflatness can be ‘quilted out’ — sometimes we can’t make it work and have to take pleats and tucks in the top (hopefully along piecing lines) to make the top lay flat.  We have to use a pattern that doesn’t cross itself and pile up the extra fabric in unflattering ways.  In a bit I’ll show you how this one quilted out.

In any case, this can happen to any border, even if you’re careful, and even if you’re a skilled sewer (which the piecer is in this sample — she makes terrific quilts).  That’s because there are variables beyond your control that contribute to the distortion of a border.  The first is that usually borders are cut on the cross-grain; that is, they’re cut perpendicular to the selvedge, across the width of fabric (WOF).  It turns out that there is a fair amount of give and stretch to the cross-grain that is absent in the selvedge grain.  So the fabric can stretch as you sew, sometimes substantially.  To counter this, you can cut your borders on the lengthwise or selvedge grain, parallel to the selvedge.  But that means you need at least 2-3 yards of fabric to accomplish the border, so if you don’t have that much, you pretty much need to cut it on the cross-grain.  So you can starch it before cutting and sewing to minimize the stretch; that may help.  But it might not.

Another factor is how powerful the feed dogs are on your sewing machine, and whether you have some top feed or not.  If the feed dogs are aggressive and there is no top feed, then the feed dogs act like a micro-gatherer, and slightly gather the fabric you place next to them.  Typically borders are sewn on by placing the border over the larger quilt top, so the quilt top edge gathers slightly while the border piece stretches slightly.

Notice I keep saying ‘slightly?’  That’s because these effects ARE slight when you’re working on 4-8 inch seams.  By the time you get to bed quilt-size seams — like on borders — they’re at least ten times that length and the things that you didn’t notice at the smaller length become visible on the longer seams.

So what can you do if this keeps happening to your borders?  Besides cutting on the lengthwise grain and using some Best Press starch (gotta love this stuff, it doesn’t flake), you can adjust your feed dog pressure to minimal (just enough to pass the fabric under the feet if you have this adjustment) and you can try placing your border underneath the quilt top (next to the feed dogs) to sew it.

Bonnie Hunter’s advice for borders is also great.  She uses the center of the quilt top to measure her border (with the actual border fabric, not with the intermediary of a tape measure) and pins it to the quilt top before sewing, distributing any fullness across the entire border.  This is to prevent the distortion of either level.

Here’s what the border looked like after quilting:

hooked style feathers

There are a few slight wrinkles visible, but overall I think the ruffles quilted out successfully.  Feathers to the rescue again!

It’s actually pretty rare that a quilt lays completely flat.  Usually there are some small areas of bowl or cup shapes (like where eight seams come together in pinwheels or kaleidoscopes) as well as ruffles.  Ruffles turn out to be an interesting phenomenon and have some interesting mathematical properties that you might want to glance over at some point, especially at the crocheted models of hyperbolic planes.  Crochet turns out to be a great medium for modeling this useful but challenging concept.  There’s also an entire book dedicated to the art of the crocheted hyperbolic plane, written by a mathematician at Cornell University.  How cool is that!  After all, the point of science and engineering to make better art, isn’t it???

Borders may be one of those things you’ll have to gain experience with before you gain some mastery, so don’t be afraid to try your own techniques.  And be sure you have a fresh seam ripper :), so you can stay ‘sew’ happy!

Atoms, continued: the Quirky Quarter-square Triangle

So (sew!) to finish up your first block of the Behemoth, you need to make up some giant quarter-square triangles.  Like its less complicated cousin, the half-square triangle, the name refers both to the single triangle as well as the assemblage of the four, usually alternating in lights and darks.  I used the larger of the ones shown below for the block.

Composing quarter square triangles

A quarter-square triangle takes up a quarter of a square, and is the shape that happens when you drawn two diagonal lines within a square, both lines corner to corner.  (And the half-square triangle is what happens with only a single diagonal line in the square, corner to corner).

And like its plucky hard-working cousin — which appears in so many quilt patterns —  the quarter-square triangle (QST) is a versatile quilting atom that can be constructed in LOTS of different ways.  I chose a non-conventional way because it’s easier with what I have on hand.  In any case, the QST is a little further down the food chain of piecing because you need to make at least two half-square triangles (HST) first.  Or halves of HST’s first if that’s your method.

If you consider that a QST has to be seamed twice before it’s inserted into the block then you can understand why you have to start with larger pieces than simple squares.  That is, if you want all your results to be the same size.  I was happy to create QST’s of different sizes, because I may use those in other Behemoth blocks.    In this case I wanted my final QST’s to be 6.5″ square (so they would wind up in the finished quilt at 6″ square).  So I cut my initial pieces of  fabric to 6.5″ by 7.25″ rectangles of  two different sets of lights and darks.  This is the size that the Big Thangles paper needs — and each rectangle pair will produce two identical HST’s that wind up at 6.5″ square.  But if I simply sewed the HST’s together on the diagonal to produce the QST’s, they would both be too small for the size that fits my block.  So I used the Thangles paper again, sewed on one diagonal, and then on the smaller one, and would up with QST’s that are 6.5″ and roughly 5.5″ (which I can use in a later block).

If you click on any of the pictures below, that sends you to the flickr album that has the tutorial for making these QST’s this way.

Composing quarter square trianglesComposing quarter square trianglesComposing quarter square trianglesComposing quarter square triangles

So with all the components finished, I could finally assemble block#1 of the Behemoth on my design wall.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and can’t wait to add some more fabrics.

The finished first block

I hope you’re enjoying this project as much as I am!  There are some things I might do differently if I made the blocks again — but that’s part of the fun, getting to learn something about piecing, and yourself, in the process.

Happy Samhain all!  (Today’s Halloween so I hope you will excuse the pun.  It’s the Irish word for this time of year, and it’s pronounced something like ‘sow-wain’ and it sounds a lot like sewing to me!)

The Mighty Half-Square Triangle

Next to the superhero square, the half-square triangle is probably the most important sub-atomic unit in quilting.  The half-square triangle appears in all sorts of patterns in lots of combinations, so it’s worth getting to be friends with.  In the Behemoth block, it appears in the Friendship Star, which is the second to last part of block #1.  So I feel compelled to try to explain it a bit even though it is a huge hairy topic in quilting, which invokes emotionally charged responses like in discussions of politics or religion.  And a little like religion, everyone is pretty much sure their way of making these little units is the best way.
Making the friendship star

Here are the beauties I sewed for the Friendship Star.  So let’s start with these as an example of the half-square triangle unit.   A half-square triangle is the triangle that happens when a square is divided along its diagonal.  That means that if you cut a triangle like this out of fabric, the long diagonal edge is on the bias.  And bias means STRETCH.  Fabric has the most give (distortion) along the bias.  So if you cut the triangles and sew them back together to make a two-triangle square (don’t worry, here’s where some of the confusion lies — this compound unit is ALSO called a half-square triangle, or HST), the piece will distort as you sew.  If you’ve starched the heck out of it, it might distort only a little.  But if your feed dogs are a little aggressive and the fabric has a lot of give, you’ll wind up with a diamond or trapezoid instead of a square.  WAH.  In the past I’ve trimmed many of these oddly shaped little units down to their more accurate size, but that means you have to start with bigger triangles than the match tells you, to accommodate the accumulation of sewing mistakes.

So here’s one place where I substantially differ from Bonnie Hunter, the genuis behind I don’t cut triangles first, unless it just can’t be helped.  I always sew first, then cut later.  If you sew the diagonal seam while the weave of the fabric is intact, it stabilizes the bias and prevents a lot of the distortion that happens when you sew on bias edges.  The other thing is that although you can mark your own sewing lines, and cut the odd size strips that HST’s call for, I have come to prefer sewing on pre-marked lines on Thangles paper, on normal pre-cut (by me or fabric companies) strip sizes.  It helps me make the most of my limited piecing time.

Making the friendship star

This is where I started for my Friendship Star adventure — by layering two identical size strips over each other, light over dark, and pinning on Thangles paper of the appropriate size.  Then I sewed on the dotted lines, cut on the solids, and after pressing produced the half-square triangles seen above.  Actually in the view of the HSTs above (first picture in post) I haven’t yet removed the paper.  If you leave the paper in when you press, that also stabilizes the bias and prevents distortions from the ironing.

The Friendship Star is a nine-patch block, with five plain squares and four half-square triangles.  The plain squares are divided into four dark squares and one light square (in the center) in this case but you could reverse the color balance and make the star look dark in a light background.  Here it is as a light star in a light background:

Making the friendship star

For a survey of half-square triangle construction methods, try this link: half-square triangle goodies.  Yum!  Lots of great stuff here.  There’s even triangle paper you can print out on your printer if you like that sort of thing!

After the Friendship Star, the only thing left in our Behemoth block #1 is two giant quarter-square triangles, which I’ll tackle in the next post.  And of course I’ll post a photo of the finished block #1.

Say sew happy, all!

Sub-atomic quilting particles: the square

Okay, for those of you who noticed that the quilting ‘atoms’ I’ve mentioned so far — the four-patch and the nine-patch — are they themselves made of smaller units — good job!  You’ve discovered one of the great difficulties of modern science — deciding which are the smallest, indivisible pieces of matter.  You see, every time the scientists think they’ve found the smallest piece, they find that those pieces are made up of even teenier pieces.

Look here to find an educational link about the quest for elementary particles.  You can even click on their section on accelerators and particle detectors if you want to get all geeky and find out how the physicists are doing their detective work.  (As an aside, I used to live near a giant particle accelerator, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, a 2-mile long tunnel made just for atom smashing purposes… check out their link and see what’s happening!  They even have a virtual vistor’s center you can click on.)

But for us in the quilting world, what’s an elementary particle?  Why, something that’s sub-atomic, of course.  The obvious unit in this case that is smaller than the four-patch and nine-patch atoms — the square.  Here, for instance, in the ‘economy’ block of the first Behemoth installment — squares are the fillers at the corners and hold open the vast space in the center.

Assembling the economy block

The economy block consists of four flying geese (those triangle in rectangle thingies), and five squares, one of which is larger than the others.  And even though there are nine pieces to this block — after the flying geese are assembled — it isn’t considered a nine-patch, because the grid of the block is 4 X 4.  So it’s kind of a four-patch.  Or a 16-patch if you want to be more accurate.  The math definitely works out better if the finished dimensions are divisible by four.

Haven’t made flying geese before?  No problem.  Click on the picture link below and it will take you to the flickr album of pictures (it’s the last one in the set, so you’ll have to get back to the beginning to see the process) about making flying geese with the ‘Lazy Girls’ No Math Flying Geese x 4 ruler.

Making flying geese for economy block

Flying geese are proportionally twice as wide as they are tall, and the tip of the triangle is at the halfway point.  Well, it will be after it’s sewn in place :).  And I think flying geese are useful enough — and appear often enough — in patterns that we might as well consider them another quilting atom.

Getting back to that sub-atomic square.  You could make a quilt just with squares, and not even bother with the intermediate step of four- or nine-patches.  (But at some point you’ll probably lump groups of them together to make it easier to compose the next step.  You could arrange the colors in diagonal chains of lights and darks — or make no effort to arrange them at all.)

I found a searchable quilt image index site composed by several museums, and have enjoyed looking through their collection.  Try the link — where I’ve already put in the search term ‘postage stamp’ — and you’ll get to see several postage stamp style quilts, made entirely of small squares (often as small as an inch square finished).  Postage stamp quilts were often scrappy — meaning they had more than a few fabrics –and sometimes were even ‘charm’ quilts (where no two fabrics were the same).

See?  It makes everything we’re doing look simple!

Come to the Dark Side (we have cookies)

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM),Quilting tips and techniques by whitelotusquilting on October 14, 2010
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Something I haven’t mentioned in the discussion of basic quilt parts is which way you press the seams and why.  Generally, pattern instructions say something like ‘press toward the dark fabric.’  Perhaps obviously that means the DARKER of the two fabrics joined at the seam.  If you have yellow and white, for instance, yellow is still the darker of the two but isn’t really very dark on its own.

There are a few reasons for this, method to the madness as it were.  The first being that the darker color will shadow up underneath the lighter fabric, so whenever possible, press the seam away from the lights (or toward the darks) to avoid the shadow.  Maybe Luke and the rest of the Jedi would disagree with moving fabric toward the Dark Side but it just makes good quiltmaking sense.

According to the garment makers I know, the reason for pressing a seam to the one side or the other is to protect its thread, especially in circumstances of exceptional wear.  That’s a good strategy for quilts, too, especially the ones that will get sat upon and washed quite a lot (though admittedly they still don’t have the kind of stress on them that the sitting seam of a pair of trousers is under).  But what about the times when the directions say to press a seam open?  That’s to reduce the bulk, to more evenly distribute the pile-ups of layers of seam fabrics on the underside of the quilt top.  I don’t usually resort to pressing a seam open unless there’s a LOT of bulk — like when 8 seams come together in a pinwheel or a hexagon.  There are side-press strategies for pinwheels, too, so it just depends on how heavy the fabrics are and how they are laying.  In general I press a bulkier, compound piece toward a simpler less bulky piece, especially when composing blocks or fitting blocks together, and that trumps the color ‘rule.’  (We don’t use a lot of quilting rules around here and even if we did they’d be ignored so maybe just think of it as a guideline)

I’m going to use block #4, the lighter version, of the current Thangles block of the month, as an example. (and yes, I know, it’s not October’s block, I’m just working ahead here for a sample :))

Nested seams directions

In this case the half-square triangle units area on the corners of this top row of the 3 x 3 block (it’s a nine-patch in disguise for those of you following the atomic quilting thread), so I decided to press them toward the middle plain square.  (But this is toward the lighter fabrics in this case, Obiwan would be very proud) For the middle row, which is all plain squares, I pressed from the center square toward the outer ones, and then reversed it again for the bottom row.  So when you put the rows together to sew, the seams that are going to meet are pressed in opposite directions.  That way, the troughs and cliffs of the side-pressed seams nest into each other, and you can feel it by pressing down on the seam joins with your fingers and thumb.
Nested seams directions

Here you can hopefully see the two seams that are pressed in opposite directions, that will meet when the two rows are sewn together.  You can pin these intersections once you have them seated over each other correctly (nested) if you like but I prefer the non-pinned freedom of adjusting top and/or bottom row if the pieces don’t fit exactly.  You can slightly tug top or bottom to get them to fit better and make some very lovely points where your squares or other components come together.

Nested seams directions

This is the best method I’ve found to match pieced sections, but of course — your yardage (meterage for Canadian readers) may vary :).  If you’re matching very long rows with each other, pins might be useful.  Or you could baste each intersection together with large stitches on your machine and once you’re happy with how the pieces fit together, sew the seam with your normal stitch length.

Nested seams directions

The finished light and dark versions of block #4, after pressing.  Rock n roll!  Onto the next blocks :).

Rayon scarf day in the studio

Posted in Arts n Crafts,gadgets,Sheltie staff by whitelotusquilting on October 13, 2010
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Well, we finally did it.  After two years of talking about it, we got a quorum of stitchers together, sliced and diced a whole bucket of rayon, and viola!  A whole deck-railing full of rayon scarves.  Which the dog is admiring.  Mostly.

Day of rayon scarf production

These scarves are fun and easy, if a bit time-consuming.  Always more fun with fellow sewists!

A few years ago I got a kit to make one, then made a bunch for my friends, who always wanted to know how I did it, so I posted a tutorial on flickr to try to show them.  The photo above and below are both a part of the same set so click on either one, and stroll on through the album if you want to see more about these super fluffy — and warmer than expected — scarves.  They drape beautifully, and it doesn’t matter so much if they shrink, which rayon tends to do.  Plus it’s a great way to recycle rayon sarongs and other clothing you might be done with.

If you plan to try a few on your own, I highly recommend investing in a chenille cutter first.  I love the Olfa one but everyone swears by their favorite brand.  You need one with a channel guide — preferably an adjustable or interchangeable one — and a way to rotate the blade angle when the blade gets dull.  Which it will do, quite quickly.
cutting chenille channels

They look so different before and after washing, yes?  Maybe that’s what Kona is staring at in the first picture :).

Here’s one more pic, of Margret’s Juki set up on my worktable, getting ready to finish the channel stitching on the teal and orange scarf draped on the table.  Gotta love those Jukis — they stitch super straight and fast, and have a thread-cutter built into the food pedal.  We had the walking feet on both of them — and boy was it loud in the studio with both of them cranking!

Rayon scarf production day

You can see my longarm in the background, holding a multitude of things (including some freshly minted scarves) on its frames while I ignored it for the day.  Oh, well, even if I didn’t get any quilting done, I did get some Christmas gifts made!  Hope your day was just as fun — or productive — or both!

More Atomic Quilting: the nine-patch

Posted in Atomic quilting,Block of the Month (BOM),Quilting tips and techniques by whitelotusquilting on October 13, 2010
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No discussion of the fundamental units of quilting would be complete without the mighty nine-patch.  In fact when my daughter and I made our first quilt together, we sought advice about patterns and were led to the nine-patch, perfect in its simplicity and beauty.  It’s where we began our quilting journey.

Nine-patch construction

Of course the nine-patch atom is a little more complicated than the four-patches in the foreground of this picture, in that the nine-patch is a three-by-three grid construction compared to a two-by-two.  It is a useful quilting unit: it can easily be scaled up and down, and can be substituted for plain squares, just like the four-patch, and will similarly make chains if placed in alternating locations.  And likewise there are related ways to build a nine-patch.

(As an aside, the kind of nine-patches we are talking about here vary in specific ways in light and dark, just as the four-patchies do, and come in two distinct varieties, one with light corners and center, and one with dark corners and centers, as in the blue examples above)

You could cut individual squares and sew them together, but because I’m an impatient and not terribly accurate sewer, I prefer to start with strips that I cross-cut and then sew back together.  This gives me both more speed and accuracy — more efficient overall.  But of course your yardage may vary :).

You’ll need two strip sets — one with dark, light, dark and the other with light, dark light, as in the photo below.  The blues are for the nine-patches, the yellow and blue strip above is for four-patches.

Making of 9-patches

Press the seams toward the dark (more on this in a later post) for both sets and then cross-cut in the same strip width that you began with.  Assemble in  alternating sets for lights and darks to complete nine-patches of both varieties and then finish by pressing in whichever direction helps the block lay the flattest.

Making of 9-patches

Here’s another trick I learned from Bonnie Hunter at you can also make a nine-patch from four-patch halves and pieces.  Using the yellow and blue strip set, I cross-cut into four-patch halves and then arranged them into most of a nine-patch — you just need a plain square to complete it.  So depending on which strips you have available, and what sizes, and how many sets you want to sew together — and how many nine-patches you need to make — now you have a few choices of how to approach it.

Nine-patch construction

The top right nine-patch was made with four-patch units and a plain yellow square; I hope you can see the spaces between the pieces.

There’s a nine-patch block in the first of the Behemoth blocks, so by now you should be able to make the plain strip, the checkerboard strip, the Thrifty block, and the nine-patch.  Steaming right ahead there!

The Atom-smasher’s Guide to Quilting

Posted in Atomic quilting,Block of the Month (BOM) by whitelotusquilting on October 6, 2010
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The word atom comes from the Greek word ‘atomos’ meaning ‘indivisible,’ or what it has become in science, the smallest unit of matter.  (the fact that modern science has gone beyond atoms and studies strange new sub-atomic particles like ‘charmed quarks’ we’ll ignore for the moment).  So maybe it’s no surprise that I approach quilting with an atomic sort of point of view, considering I have a strong grounding in science and engineering.  I break every quilt block down into its smaller units, into units that are bite-sized and manageable — quilting ‘atoms’ as it were.

A great example is the ‘Thrifty’ block, a key element of the first block of the Behemoth.  Its components are squares and four-patchies, arranged in a nine-patch layout.

Thrifty block completion

In my last post I talked about making four-patchies, and here’s a splendid use of them.  A block beautiful in its simplicity and utility.  This makes fantastic diagonal chains when set alternately.  Also provided you keep the same proportions, the block is very easy to resize.

Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville has some great tips on making four-patchies in her free scrap pattern Four-Patch and Furrows.  She uses her four-patchies to make into larger 16-patch checkerboards, definitely worth checking out.  She has a simpler kids’ pattern, too, just with four-patchies and squares, called I Spy a Four-Patch.  Here you can definitely see how four-patchies make great chains when you line up their colors and/or values.

So there you have it.  Four-patchies are one of my favorite quilting atoms, and are among the most versatile quilting units there are.  They are easy to make — easy to vary in color and size — and easy to compose with.  In any pattern when you see a fairly large-sized square you can use your favorite large-scale print — or substitute a four-patchie instead.

And by just using simple four-patchie skills, we’ve been able to build two components of the first Behemoth block: the checkerboard strip and the Thrifty block.  I’m sew happy!  🙂

Quilty Pleasures

Posted in Atomic quilting,gadgets,Quilting tips and techniques by whitelotusquilting on October 3, 2010
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If you’re new to quilting and don’t know where to start on a pattern like the Beige Behemoth — just begin with small easy-to-manage units.  One of my ‘quilty’ pleasures is just sewing up a stack of four-patches or nine-patches from my stash of pre-cut strips (that I’ve cut down from my scraps — look at Bonnie Hunter’s advice on scrap management at for some great ideas) without much regard for color or scale of print.  I always have a bucket of ‘spare parts’ going (something I learned from the Collaborative Quilting book, yum) and just keep filling it with small usable quilty units in common sizes.  You can constrain the color palette as much or as little as you want, depending on how ‘scrappy’ you want the quilt to look.  In any case paying attention to value — where there is two lights and two darks in the four-patch, diagonally opposite — gives you a chance  to make a terrific checkerboard without having to cut individual squares.  Clear as mud?  I’ll use the Behemoth as an example.

The first block of the Behemoth has a checkerboard rectangle that I constructed out of four-patches, as well as the ‘Thrifty’ block that also uses four-patches.  There’s also a nine-patch block, which is constructed similarly.  Here’s what I started with for the checkerboard: two identically-sized strips, one lightish and one darkish (sizing details in the pattern, go to Big Horn Quilts to get your copy) sewn together along the length, pressed toward the dark.

Making 4 patches for checkerboard

Then I cross-cut the strip combination into the same width I started with.  In this case I used Linda Laney’s brilliant Log Cabin ruler, which itself is the width of the strip, so you don’t need to read any measuring lines for this cut.  You can find Linda and her wonderful rulers (and custom-cut templates if you need them) at Baycreek Quilting.  I’m always pleasantly surprised by how much cutting time the right size template saves, and it happens because you don’t have to take time to measure.  Maybe that’s why I’m such a gadget geek :).

Sew the cross-cut pieces together with right sides together, and light against dark, and then press toward either side, or open if you like, and voila!  Four-patches.  Or four-patchies as I wind up calling them.
Making 4 patches for checkerboard
In this case I used a solid that graded in color from a dark to a light, so one end of my checkerboard will have a lot of contrast, and the other side will have low contrast.  I like the movement that produces.  Clothworks makes these wonderful graded solids — they do all the work of color shading for  you!  I paired the solid with a mottled hand-dyed fabric in a similar color family, so, no prints this time — unusual for me.  I have to admit a love for huge garish botanical prints — and teeny weeny uneven polka dots — but I restrained myself this time :).

I’ll keep adding pictures of the smaller components of block #1 as I add them, and then show you the finished block later in the month so stay tuned!

Introducing the ‘Behemoth’ Quilt-Along BOM

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM),news,White Lotus Quilting studio by whitelotusquilting on September 30, 2010
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We had so much fun with the 2009 Block of the Month (BOM) by Thangles that we’ve decided to do it again this year!  Times two!

Starting in October 2010 we’ll have the 2010 BOM by Thangles as well as a quilt pattern for more experienced sewers called ‘Beige Behemoth’ by Julie Owens of Big Horn Quilts.  Okay, I have to admit I haven’t finished either sample yet but it’s sure been a busy summer (you can tell by how infrequently I’ve been updating this blog — very busy means no updates!).

The Thangles BOM’s patterns are released month by month and cost $1.00 (plus sales tax) for the pattern AND fabric.  This year I’m using beautiful batik sprays for the fabrics.  You need to be local to the Puget Sound area to pick these up each month here at the studio; their exclusive BOM is not offered via mail or online.  This is a great pattern for beginners and a fabulous way to get your feet wet with Thangles if you haven’t tried them before.  I use them all the time for my middle-school students and in almost all of my projects.

The ‘Beige Behemoth’ BOM will work a bit differently — we’re going to do it as a quilt-along.  Here’s a picture of Julie’s awesome pattern, surrounded by fabrics that might make it into my quilt (obviously mine is more or less in aquas, not beiges!):

Beige Behemoth BOM pattern

Here’s a link to the pattern at her Big Horn Quilts on-line shop: Beige Behemoth.  Julie is a former engineer — like me — and I just think her pattern is pure genius.  All 12 months of the BOM are included in the one pattern so at $14.00 it’s a total deal.  The twin-sized quilt as shown is 70″ by 90″ but you can easily enlarge it to queen size 96″ by 96″ if you want a bigger quilt.  She suggests starting with 10 fat quarters — in the same color family if you’re doing a monochromatic version — with an assortment of light, mediums, and darks.  The twin size as shown takes about 30 fat quarters in total; the larger queen-size will take about 40 fat quarters.

I asked Julie for permission to blog about my adventures making up her pattern and she graciously agreed, provided I did not include any sizing details.  I’ve started a photostream on flickr that documents the steps I’m going through for each block, which you can get to by clicking on the picture above.  Remember that I won’t include any of the sizes in the descriptions, so if you would like to sew this quilt and join us in the quilt-along, you need to buy the pattern for the specific details, and reward the designer for her hard work.  Also because I’m a Thangles and other gadgets geek I’m not always completing the blocks according to her directions, but I wind up with the same results.  If you have any questions about what I’ve done just e-mail me.

The Behemoth has large blocks made up of several smaller component blocks.  Each month I’ll post a photo with a link to the flickr photostream with that month’s blocks.  If you’d like me to include pics of your blocks, too, just send them to me in e-mail and I’ll post those too.  It will be fun to see how all the different colors develop!

During the course of the Behemoth I’ll be using 2″, 3″, 4″ and 6″ finished Thangles.  I’ll also be using the Lazy Girls Flying Goose X4 ruler, the Lazy Angle ruler, the Square in Square ruler, and a few rulers I’ve had custom cut for me.  I’ll also be using standard rulers 6″ by 24″ , 6.5″ by 24″, 6.5″ by 13″, and 2.5″, 3.5″, 4.5″, 5.5″ and 6.5″ squares.

If you’re local to the Puget Sound area, I have several copies of the pattern on hand, just e-mail me.  If you want the 4 sizes of Thangles to go with the pattern, I’ll toss in one pack for free.  If you want any of the rulers I’ve used and can’t find them at your local store let me know and I’ll see what I can bring in for you.

Remember that I’m the ‘gadget’ librarian for the Kitsap Quilters Guild, which most months meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month in Poulsbo.  We have most of these rulers in the library if you’re a member and would like to check them out.

I’ve updated the gadget library page on the blog here, so now it reflects the guild’s holdings.  Also I’ll be adding pages for basic quilt units construction, so be sure to check for new pages, especially if you’re unsure about how to sew a particular component.  There will also be a page here for each BOM.  If you’re local to the Puget Sound area and want to come and sew here in the studio, check the BOM page for open studio sewing dates.

Happy sewing all!

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