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????

Patriotic colors for Presidents’ Day

Posted in Quilting tips and techniques,Quilts by whitelotusquilting on February 19, 2007
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Carden quilt in process

One of the best investments I’ve made in my studio so far is the 8’ by 10’ design wall.  Made of insulation foam board, affixed to the wall and covered with batting, it provides a sticky surface for pieced cotton blocks, and an opportunity to stand back from your work and notice how it works at a distance.

Above is a composition in progress designed by the homeschoolers I teach.  They’re studying quilting as both an art and a mathematics class and if you’re a quilter you know you use both in everything you make.

The curvy striped blocks made by the homeschoolers look plain by themselves but when laid out with the funky stack-and-shuffle stars they sewed, a whole new energy emerges.  When seen close-up the stripes don’t match, but from far away the center blocks take on a kind of pinwheel effect that you can’t really see up close.  The stars almost look as if they’re being flung away from the center, or maybe being spun by a sharp wind, shimmering like salmon scales as they twirl.

It’s said that sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees in our own lives.  Maybe all we need is a design wall to get a little distance, and see things in perspective.