Thursday, September 24, 2015

Retreat to the 'Hills!'

At the Bennington Quilt Fest, several folks mentioned their interest in joining me for the 99 Bottles of Scrap Therapy retreat at the Strong House Inn in Vergennes, Vermont.

Strong House Inn

Since, I'm running a tight schedule ahead of a couple of travel commitments in the coming weeks, I thought I'd give you a brief 'commercial interruption' to show you around the inn.

Strong House Inn

I visited in June last year, and already the lush greenery was filling in the garden at the entrance to the Inn.

Strong House Inn

Classic. New England. Charm. 'Nuff said.

Strong House Inn

And the food. Yum. And I mean SERIOUS yum! I want Mary to make these EXACT cookies for our retreat. . .

Strong House Inn

And if you don't believe me, these winning ribbons for culinary competitions should confirm the yum-factor.

Strong House Inn

Oh yeah, and we'll do a bit of quilting, too! The Inn has a whole separate wing--lots of light and space--where you can sew all day and all night if you wish.

Strong House Inn Quilting retreat

I checked with Mary, our hostess and Strong House Inn owner yesterday, and the 99 Bottles of ScrapTherapy retreat still has openings. So, you are in luck. Make your reservation before you're sorry you didn't act sooner! Oh, and here's a great idea, add an extra night or two to the end of the retreat and keep sewing!

So you don't have to look it up, you can chat with Mary right now at 802-877-3337.

Get 'er done, make the call, and I'll see you in April!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Under . . . wear?

Brrr. Last year was particularly rough for ice build-up here in central New York state. One morning in March, we were met with a miniature waterfall in the sun room, AKA my office space. Not fun.

With my crazy schedule during the first part of the summer, I'm just getting around to making the necessary repairs. It was determined that when the house was built, 15 years ago, inadequate insulation was used in the cavity between the ceiling and the roof therefore, the roof needed to be removed, new insulation inserted, then the roof was replaced. All this week. More repairs are coming, but this *should* resolve the annual ice build-up and subsequent damages.

Maybe it was because of the repairs going on overhead. Or perhaps it was the side conversations over the weekend when I took a break to spend the day sewing with quilty girlfriends, but something motivated me to look at the top dresser drawer--yup that's where I keep my underwear!--with a new perspective.

I'm too embarrassed to show you the before picture of the drawer. Here it is empty

And here are the contents of that ONE drawer, all of it strewn on my bed. Oy!

And I also needed an empty grocery sack for the things that weren't going back in the drawer.

As I sorted, I thought hard (although not too hard, it's underwear, after all!) about what I should keep and what really doesn't float my boat any more. Oh, and did I tell you I have a 'thing' with fun socks? The decisions were harder with the socks, pair by pair. Then I folded them neatly back into the drawer. Nice! (Added bonus, the drawer closes easily - who knew!)

Found some interesting things along the way. I'm sure there are lots of people reading this that don't even know that this is or how to operate it. Buh-bye!

The bag is about 2/3 full. Not bad! I'm pretty proud of myself at this point.

Then I opened the second drawer. Oh man! More stuff. This drawer isn't quite as messy as the first one. But still, how does this happen?? Some of the socks in this drawer are useless - you know it's bad when you see little shreds of elastic sticking out all along the edge of the sock and the cuff looks like it could fit over your head!

Dump, sort, and organize drawer 2.

I think that's enough purging for one after noon!

The things I found, I tell you what . . . What is WITH all the EMPTY jewelry boxes? Is there some other world where I think I'll actually store necklaces and earrings back in these boxes? The necklaces and earrings are all wadded up on the shelf over by the wall . . .

. . . Rut-roh, maybe, I'm not quite done with this project yet . . .

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

One More Round of 'Furling'

A couple weeks ago, I started a series on the 'furling' technique. If you missed it, you can get up to speed with this article, and then this one from last week.

This week, I'm introducing a new layer (truly) to the discussion. Interfacing. Specifically ScrapTherapy Little, Middle, and Mini Scrap Grid!

Each grid is designed specifically to make 9-patch blocks in clusters of six or nine 9-patches. To make the blocks, add 2", 1-1/2", or 1" (Little, Middle, and Mini, respectively) fabric squares cut from scraps or yardage. The interfacing stabilizes the small scraps for sewing. It's almost like having an extra hand to add stability while you sew. The interfacing is light weight and stays in the project as the fabric squares are fused onto the interfacing, then sewn. It's sold by the panel (about a yard per panel). The smaller the resulting 9-patch, the more 9-patches you get from a panel.

Little Scrap Grid Interfacing

For purposes of this article, I trimmed off two 9-patches-worth of the interfacing panel. I'm not as focused on how to use the interfacing. You can get that in great detail here and here. I want to focus on the furl technique when there is interfacing involved.

First, align the fabrics to form 9-patch blocks on the interfacing, then fuse.

Furling tutorial

Sew the first set of parallel seams. For the Little Scrap Grid, shown, I like to sew across two sets of 9-patches first.

Then snip the interfacing at the cross-hair markings (*) on the interfacing. Be sure to snip through the thread (arrow).

Furling tutorial

Before I sew the cross-wise seams, I nest and oppose the seams. Seams should alternate--towards and away--'innies' and 'outies.' These steps should sound pretty familiar. The only differences between these steps and those we discussed last week is the presence of interfacing and the ability to sew more than one block at a time. We didn't snip anything last week, because the interfacing wasn't there.

Furling tutorial

With all the seams sewn, I cut apart the blocks. Notice that I've only done finger-pressing to this point. Now, it's time to press---and furl!

Furling tutorial

Like last week, I pull out the last two or three stitches of the shorter seam at the seam intersection. . .

Furling tutorial

. . . Place the block right side down on the ironing board . . . and this is where it gets a little tricky. I push the seams to make the clockwise rotation, giving an extra push at the little green dots, creating a little cup-shaped seam at the intersection. . . .

Furling tutorial

. . . Then I pres the sides of the cup toward the center, forming two tiny triangles, one on each side of the intersection.

Furling tutorial

Two steps back, at the cup shape, I could have snipped the tiny line on the interfacing, and the result would have been a mini 4-patch at the intersection, a lot like last week's furl. However, this extra step feels unnecessary when the flattened triangles are just as compressed.

Furling tutorial

Complete the furl at all four intersections. . .

Furling tutorial

. . . and the result is a 9-patch block with two sets of 'innies' and two sets of 'outies' . . .

Furling tutorial

. . .Perfectly flat from the right side too!

Furling tutorial

I like when my 9-patch blocks have to sets of innies and outies, because. . .

Furling tutorial

. . . all I have to do is rotate one and the adjoining seams will nest--throughout my quilt! Of course, this rotation thing needs a little more planning if your blocks aren't symmetrical.

Furling tutorial

How about going one last step further? The ribbon star block is essentially a 9-patch block made with one 2" square and four 2" half-square triangles. Like before, fuse the pieced elements to the interfacing, and sew, snip, and sew again.

Furling tutorial

The furling process is exactly the same, except that the pieced half-square triangles may resist a little more than the flat squares. I guess I have the same approach here as I have when I quilt. I am the boss of my quilt (or in this case, my quilt block!). If my quilt and I disagree, the quilt does not get to win!.

Furling tutorial

Furling victory!

Furling tutorial

Those who follow these notes on a regular basis, will likely recognize that the Ribbon Star Swap is a current Swap project available through the Hummingbird Highway. (You can still join in the fun! As of September 2015, there is no established end date!) Those in the swap are making fantastic, consistent blocks! Just for fun, I pieced a few of the blocks I've received in the swap together. And, of course, I furled the seams in between blocks, too!  I'm just a furling fool!

Furling tutorial

Pretty from the front, too!

Ribbon Star Quilt block

And if you think I'm a little (or a lot) crazy, maybe you're right! Here's the wrong side of a 5" square Mini Mug Mat, made with 1" scraps and the ScrapTherapy Mini Scrap Grid. Furling to die for!

Furling tutorial

Will you be furling your next 9-patch block along with me?

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

"Upping" the Furling Game

A couple weeks ago, I started a series of posts on the 'furling' technique. If you missed it, you can get up to speed here.

This week, the second installment of the series, we're moving into slightly new territory with the same concept. . . 9-patch blocks.

You see, furling (or whatever label you want to give this technique) isn't just for 4-patch blocks and variations of the 4-patchs block (like pinwheels).

However, there is a key to success for blocks with more elements: the seams between elements need to be pressed alternately in each row. Away (from each other)/toward (each other)/away (from each other). Or, as I like to say "outie"/"innie"/"outie"--seams pressed out from the center, then in toward the center of the block, then out again.

When you have alternating seams, each seam intersection behaves just like a 4-patch that just happens to be attached to five other elements. 

See, here's a close up of one intersection. Just like for the 4-patch in the last blog entry, remove the last two or three stitches to release the short end of the seam, then twist.

Repeat the process for all four seam intersections. If you pressed alternately within the rows, each intersection will furl like a champion.

Then press from the front. Notice in the photo above and below, you need to let go of the 'press toward the darker fabric.' When you furl, seams don't discriminate about the dark and light fabric stuff.

The bonus is perfectly flat blocks, with minimal bulk where the seams come together

Rotate one of the blocks 90˚and these blocks will nest beautifully with each other. And guess what, where the blocks come together you've created
another furling opportunity! (It never ends, right?)

See, here's a close-up. If I were to sew these two blocks to each other, the seams would nest and oppose, and I could furl once more!

By the way, don't limit yourself to the furled 9-patch, as long as seams within rows are pressed alternately in each row, the seams will furl like a charm in 16-patches (4x4 elements), 25-patches (5x5 elements), 36-patches (6x6 elements), etc. Rectangles, too. For this discussion, I've limited the conversation to 90˚angles, but other angles would work, too! 60˚ triangles, anyone?

Notice how the seam rotation alternates from one to the next.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, a few things, actually. For starters, if you press the block rows all to one side, then all to the other side in alternating rows, they will nest and oppose just fine as you sew the rows into the block. But they won't furl. You'll start out thinking that things are just dandy and that Hummingbird Highway Nut (i.e. me!) doesn't know diddle. But then you get the seam that wants to be pressed in both directions in between two perfectly wonderful furled intersections. Bummer.

Also, furling doesn't like when your seam intersections aren't nicely nested. Even if there's a little gap where the seams nest or a little overlap, no-can-furl-do. . . just sayn!

And, it should be noted, that not EVERY block with seam intersections should be furled. Sometimes block elements have extra seam intersections. When furling creates MORE bulk in the seams than it eliminates, then maybe furling isn't the ticket!

We'll add another little twist next time. In the meantime, . . .

Happy Stitching!