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
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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 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 Quiltville.com: 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!

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 Quiltville.com 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!