The Lily Pad: The Journal of White Lotus Quilting

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!

Gadget Hound Demo

Posted in gadgets,Quilting tips and techniques by whitelotusquilting on August 19, 2009
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Gayle Bong donated a ‘Thirty-Something Too’ book and a companion square-up ruler to the guild, so I thought I’d start the gadget demos with her ruler tool.  I made two sizes of thirty-something blocks, both the 3.5 and the 4.5 inches.  They’re both marked clearly on the ruler.

Thirty-something ruler

Thirty-something ruler

If you’re new to quilting then it’s a good time to remind you that most rulers are hard plastic and will slide on the fabric unless you add a non-skid aid onto the ruler.  I usually add little rounds of fine-grit sandpaper but little pieces of sticky-back felt on the ruler would also work to hold itself in place nicely, especially on fabrics that sandpaper would be too rough on.

The square-up tool is my favorite kind of ruler.  You sew the patchwork according to the directions and then line the block up underneath the markings on the ruler — and then just lop off the edges of the block so that they are the correct size.  Any time you can sew first then cut afterwards makes the blocks — and subsequent patchwork — more accurate

Trimming block with ruler (on my favorite Fiskars rotating cutting mat)

Trimming block with ruler (on my favorite Fiskars rotating cutting mat)

Gayle’s directions are great and as long as you remember to always sew the longest part of the triangle to its neighbors it’s easy enough to accomplish.  For both sets of the blocks I sewed, I added narrow sashings and cornerstones as I really liked how these brought the larger blocks together.  In one size I sewed pink and black pieces, and in the other, pink and white, so I could see the difference between having a light and a dark background in the same pattern.

Two thirty-something composite blocks with sashing

Two thirty-something composite blocks with sashing

I will say I’m not a fan of cutting or sewing triangles, in part because I’m not very good at it.  Unless I kill the piece with starch, the bias edge distorts too much in sewing for me to be pleased with the accuracy of the results.  I think it’s always better to sew while the bias is stabilized and then cut the triangles after sewing.  For example, I always sew half-square triangles in some sort of grid before cutting them apart.  But that said, a trimming tool is wonderful compensation for less-than-perfect sewers like me.  I found I could sew the thirty-something blocks together accurately enough to use the trimming lines and assemble them into larger blocks without much difficulty.

The interesting part of Gayle’s idea is that it gives you a 30-60-90 ‘cone’ shape that can be replicated in many unusual ways.  I love all the star blocks that result.  Plus there are some great pine-cone style patterns that emerge when you stagger the blocks and place the colors carefully.

To see the whole set of pictures I took while sewing the thirty-something blocks, click here.

You can find Gayle here at her website and here at her blog.  If you want to try out her book and tool, it’s here in the gadget library for borrowing.  I did notice that some of her patterns call for the use of a ‘Clearview Triangle’ which cuts 60 degree angles, which we also have in the gadget library, so you can check both tools out if you don’t already have at least one Clearview Triangle  in your gadget stash.

Coming up next: how lazy can a girl be and still use the ‘Lazy Angle’ by Lazy Girl????

Coming soon: quilting gadgets central :)

Posted in gadgets,news,Quilting tips and techniques by whitelotusquilting on July 29, 2009

I just became the gadget librarian for our local quilt guild — the Kitsap Quilters Guild — and figured it was about time that I let everyone in on a little secret — I LOVE quilting gadgets.  I don’t buy them all, even though I’d love to.  But I do have quite a few in the studio and there are several that I rely on.  And some I don’t use at all, even though I thought I would.  Maybe those will get donated to the guild :).

What are quilting gadgets?  They are the tools that make the quilting task at hand easier and more pleasant to complete.  And for the bonus plan: they make the task more accurate.  Maybe it’s the engineer in me (that’s my technical training) but I do love efficiency of design as well as a pleasing aesthetic.

So over the coming weeks I’ll feature various gadgets available in our guild’s library for checking out, as well as the ones I have in the studio.  I’ll show you how I use them as well as give you the references on the Web for further help and instruction.

Think of my studio as a quilting laboratory where discoveries are made every day (which they are).  So much goes on here every week that it’s hard to chronicle but I’ll do my best in the spirit of expanding the boundaries of quilting into the ordinary world.

And whatever tools help puts more finished quilts on beds, tables and walls, I’ll count as a successful gadget.

Kendra Allen’s ‘Global Warming’ quilt

Posted in news,Quilts,White Lotus Quilting studio by whitelotusquilting on April 10, 2007
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Kendras global warming quilt

Kendra's global warming quilt



It might not be news to any of you local quilters but I thought I’d pass along the good news to our farther-flung friends.  Kendra Allen’s ‘Global Warming’ quilt, about the plight of drowning polar bears, won the blue ribbon for its category, group art quilt, in the Kitsap Quilter’s Guild show this past February.
I feel like a proud parent because Kendra laid this quilt top out in my studio before she pieced it together; and I had the privilege of quilting it when she was done.  To me this is a wonderful confirmation of the value of collaboration.  As artists we inspire and reanimate each other with excitement for our medium and perhaps even encourage each other to try new mediums of expression.
If you haven’t discovered Gwen Marston or Freddy Moran yet, why not try their joint book, called ‘Collaborative Quilting’?  It’s a great exploration of how quilt artists influence each other and a great reference book for Gwen’s and Freddy’s designs.  And of course it’s a great coffee table book, a book of bright colorful designs to leaf through on a rainy day.  Not that we have many of those in the Northwest or anything. 🙂