The Lily Pad: The Journal of White Lotus Quilting


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!

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Behemoth, month 2, continued: End of Day block

Posted in Atomic quilting,Block of the Month (BOM) by whitelotusquilting on December 23, 2010
Tags: , , ,

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!

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 Quiltville.com: 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!