Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dottie Dresden {a finished quilt}


In the beginning of November, Rachel of Stitched in Color announced a scrap challenge from one of her sponsors, Lark Cottons.  The fabric was a sweet fat eighth bundle of polka dot fabrics.  The only rules were the project had to be finished by November 30 and you had to use all the fabrics in the bundle (you could add your own fabric). 

I wrote a tutorial detailing how I made the dresdens.  The blocks each measured 15” unfinished.  Then I decided to sew up the rest of the scraps to make wonky sashing to go between the blocks.  That’s my favorite part of the quilt!  I tried a new fmq design called “Ribbon Candy” by Angela Walters and it is magical!  It was easy to do and looks so good.  The light was coming into my sewing room so brightly and just illuminated the stitching in this photo.

photo (7)

Deciding how to quilt everything was the hardest part, because I still always want to just stipple everything and not try a lot of new things.  But I really went out of control on this quilt.  I used Aurifil cone thread in Dove.  Love!!!


I stitched flowers in the center of each plate, several sections of pebbles, and some teardrop shapes.  Then I tried to make scales in the negative space.  I’m not sure if I like how the scales turned out, but overall I’m happy with the texture of the quilt.  It is surprising that the quilt is not stiff at all, but still nice and soft.  I haven’t washed it yet, but I bet it will be even softer!


The back of the quilt is one of the bird prints from Heather Bailey’s line Up Parasol.  The fabric reminds me so much of our cockatiel, so of course I had to use it for something!  The binding is an unidentified light solid pink fabric I found in my stash. 


I had a slight problem putting the binding on the quilt…I couldn’t find my Clover Wonder Clips anywhere!  Finally I remembered they were in a tote bag.  We were asked to share fun quilting gadgets at the last guild meeting and I never emptied out the bag.  After I found the Wonder Clips, binding was a breeze!

photo (6)

I’ve been using the Wonder Clips for over a year, but just a few weeks ago I figured out that I could clip the mitered corner and sew a continuous line all around the binding without backstitching and stopping at each corner.  Duh!

photo (7)

Tada!  A pretty good looking corner!

photo (2)

The finished quilt is 30” x 30”.  Originally I was going to use this quilt as a wall-hanging, but now I can’t make a decision.  It’s so soft and has a lot of fun fabrics, so I think it might make a nice baby quilt. 


Thanks for visiting and I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to make a dresden plate block {a tutorial}

 photo (6)

Ever wonder how a dresden plate block is sewn together?  A couple years ago I had the pleasure of making a few dresdens for an online bee.  Now I am working on my own dresden quilt, so I took some pics to show one way to make a dresden block.



Press and starch (optional) your fabric.  Cut strips the width of how tall you want your unfinished dresden wedges.  In this case I opted for 5 1/2” tall wedges, so I cut my strip 5 1/2” wide.  But you can make your wedges as big or small as you want.  The directions are still the same.


You will need 20 wedges total for each dresden block.  I needed 80 for 4 blocks, so I cut and counted, then counted again, and sure enough, when I was ready to sew my blocks together I had just 61 wedges!  Maybe counting three times would have been the charm? 


Now for the transformation!  Press your wedges in half longwise with the right side on the inside.

photo (1)

Sew a 1/4” seam along the wider side of the folded wedge.


You can quickly chain piece all the wedges.  They look so pretty, maybe you’ll stop here and use them as a decoration across your fireplace.

photo (1)

Or if it’s cold out (obviously it wasn’t even though it was the middle of November) you can give your daughter a fancy new scarf!

photo (2)

Then, take your kids to the pool since they have the day off from school. 

photo (1)

In between handing out snacks, switching out goggles & toys nonstop , and taking one-kid-at-a-time to the disgusting lovely bathroom facilities every ten minutes, cut apart your wedges from your long chain and turn them right side out.  A chopstick or stylus comes in handy for poking out the pointy part, gently of course.

photo (3)

Now you will need to press your dresdens really flat.  I used the longwise fold line to make sure everything was lined up and pressed from the reverse first. 

photo (4)

Then I flipped the wedge over and gave it another press.  You should double check that you have 20 wedges for each dresden block.

photo (3)

You can lay out your wedges now.  I arranged the top half first (10 wedges).

photo (2)

You’ll sew the wedges together as pairs.  I pinned mine to keep them lined up perfectly.  You want to align the top corners together and the bottom edges together as accurately as possible.  Sew them right sides together.  I thought it was beneficial to start your seam at the top of the wedge so that if your fabric shifts at all, the unevenness will not be noticeable in the center of the dresden where it will eventually be covered by a circle.


Press your seams open.  Keep sewing them together until you have the top half of your wedge.  Then sew the bottom half the same way.  Seriously, that’s all there is to it.  Now sew the top half and bottom half together and you’ll end up with a beautiful dresden wreath.  At this point I pressed my dresden really flat and used starch, which  is totally optional.

photo (4)

My wedges were 5 1/2” tall, so I cut my background fabric 15” square (14 1/2” finished size).  I used a ruler to center my dresden by measuring the distance from the edge of the background fabric to the top, bottom, left, and right dresden points until all the measurements were the same.  When I was happy with its position, I poked one pin through every single wedge to hold the wreath securely to the background fabric.

photo (3)

Now you simply sew as close to the edge of the wreath as possible.  I used a really short straight stitch, 2.2 on my Janome.  Make sure you are right up near the edge of the wreath, but don’t sew over onto the background fabric because your wreath won’t be attached there.  Take your time and sew this part slowly.  You can use any color thread you want.  I used white for mine.

You’ll need to make the circles to applique in the center of the dresdens.  I read quite a few tutorials on how to do this, but I don’t have any rulers to cut circles and I don’t have the interest in measuring and drawing circles with a string and pencil.  So, I did what I thought was easiest:  I kept getting things from my kitchen to eyeball the right size circle.  First I started with a few glasses, but none were the right size.  I tried a candle.  A mason jar.  And then I saw the cashews next to my sewing machine.  Bingo!  The bottom of the can was just the right size for the center of my dresdens.

photo (5)

Trace the circles onto the non-glue dot size of the interfacing.  Roughly cut out (not on the line, but about 1/2” on the outside of the line you traced) the circles.

Sew down the interfacing, glue dots facing the right side of the fabric.

photo (4)

Trim about 1/8” on the outside of the stitching line.

photo (6)

Cut a slit through the interfacing only.  Now you can turn the circle right side out.  Use your chopstick or stylus to gently smooth out the edges.  I have no idea what this technique is called, but I once saw a woman demonstrate how to make leaves for applique using this method.  The nice thing is there are no raw edges anywhere on your dresden if you do it this way.  And it’s pretty fast, too.

Center the circles in the middle of your dresden wreath, glue dots down.  I didn’t measure this time, but just eye-balled the placement. 

photo (1)

Press the circle in place.  The glue dots will hold the circle down pretty firmly, but I went ahead and used 4 pins just to make sure it stayed in place while stitching.  Stitch about 1/8” from the edge to secure your circle in place.

photo (5)

It was very fast and easy to make 4 of these blocks for my challenge quilt for Stitched in Color.  A special thanks to Lark Cottons for providing all the dotty fabrics!  Here’s a little sneak peak of the dresden quilted. (Fyi, I had no problem quilting through the dresden or interfacing.)

photo (5)

If you have any questions about the process or tutorial, please email me and I’ll get back to you right away. 

I always wondered where the name “dresden” came from (that’s when I realized I needed to add “plate” to the tutorial name).  Apparently the block is named after a kind of porcelain from Dresden, Germany that was popular during the 1800’s.  So that’s why it’s always capitalized…

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Another Triangle Quilt {a finished quilt}

In the spring I participated in the Triangle Quilt Along and made a sweet Lizzy House Constellations triangle quilt that turned out amazing!  The pattern is simple, yet striking enough, so I decided to make my brother-in-law a Ravens quilt with the same pattern for the football season so he can cheer his team on in style!


My brother-in-law is 6’ 6” tall, so I had to make this quilt HUGE!  It’s the biggest quilt I’ve ever made, measuring 70” x 97” and it’s just big enough for a couch quilt.  I wish I had time to take photos of the quilt up close, but it was raining the day I finished it and he was only visiting for the day, so we took pics during a lull in the storm.  The fabrics in the quilt are really awesome—Julianna Horner prints in purple and slate, gold honeycomb dots and metro circles, and a large assortment of “manly” low volume prints. 

The quilt is so big it almost didn’t fit on our living room floor!


I like that the quilt doesn’t scream sports fan on the front.

But it does on the back!  I ordered this Ravens fabric from the Fat Quarter Shop.   He was pretty thrilled to get this quilt and had been hinting at wanting one for a while.  He said all his friends are going to be jealous, which is the best compliment a quilter can get!


Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blocks and blocks…

And more blocks.  Piecing blocks is my favorite part of quilting.  I like doing the actual quilting, too, but the steps in between (sewing the blocks together, piecing the backing) are by far my least favorite parts of making a quilt.


This block is an installment on another baby quilt being made for an expectant mom in the DC Modern Quilt Guild.  I just LOVE how it turned out!  The request was for blues and greens with plenty of graphic black & white.  Granted, it’s not the most creative quilt block  design I could have come up with, but I was able to use some 2.5” square scraps and I mailed this block the day after the request came out.  So for what I lacked in imagination, I made up for in timeliness!


I’ve also been slowly working on some other projects over the past few weeks.  These are all the foxes I’ve sewn so far for a quilt made with Elizabeth Hartman’s Fancy Fox pattern.  I don’t have any more pieces cut out, so I need to find some time to cut more fabric for this project.


And I started a quilt using Anna Maria Horner’s free pattern Spinning Stars.  I have 5 of these blocks finished now and am excited where this is going.  Remember these improv slab blocks I made in the end of the summer?  I am thinking of using them as an  asymmetrical border for the quilt once I have all the blocks made.

Do you use a design wall?  I’ve tried to use one, but it’s always too tantalizing for the kids and the cats to leave alone, a breeze just from opening the door would make blocks fly off, and I can’t stand all the threads stuck on it after  a while.  So after I moved sewing rooms earlier this year, I figured out a good way to make a temporary design wall that can’t be messed up…just use Washi tape to stick your blocks to the wall!


It’s not quite as easy to use as just sticking a block to batting, but it works for me, plus it’s nice to know I can just take everything down and the wall still looks pristine.

Thanks for stopping by!