Hand Piecing Workshops!

Although I’ve been quiet on a daily dose, I’ve been working! It’s been a year full of deadlines for classes and workshops. All things that I wanted to do, but it’s kept me very, very busy.

I finally got myself in gear and offered two Summer workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts, where I volunteer. Much to my delight, I got enough students to run the class! I wasn’t at all sure – at present, most of the classes are of the fine art variety and who knew if anyone would be interested in making quilts.

The first workshop I offered was Hand Pieced Quilts – Grandmother’s Flower Garden. This will be no surprise to any of you who have been followers for a while – I love to sew hexies! I had a lot of samples and ideas and it was perhaps a bit much for the five women who hadn’t had much exposure to the world of quilting.

Olivia was a very enthusiastic sewer. She told us that she sewed a lot and enjoyed making dolls to sell. I am confident that she will get a throw made with the speed that she sews.

Sarah designed a very striking flower, didn’t she? It is fun to see how people put together fabrics.

The second workshop was Hand Pieced Quilts: 60 degree diamonds (or tumbling blocks or baby blocks). I have offered this before and wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. Though I like baby blocks, I’ve never enjoyed sewing them.

As I prepared for the class, I perused Pinterest and was reminded that a setting for 60 degree diamonds is called the Seven Sisters pattern. I noodled around with that and discovered that I really liked this version! (Perhaps because it makes a giant hexagon….)

Here is a starry, blocky setting for the diamonds. I like this variation as well.

Just about everything needed is included in my workshops. When working with new sewers, I don’t want them to have to run around and buy a lot of supplies. The quilt patterns I am offering are traditionally scrap quilts and goodness knows that I have a lot of fabrics! It’s been fun sharing my stash and seeing others incorporate the fabric in their own work.

I am very fond of holiday themed quilts so I was delighted to see that Shawn brought a Halloween selection to make baby blocks.

It’s been interesting to offer quilt classes to novices. In the past, I have taught in quilt stores and generally my students have had some sort of experience or exposure to quilting. Most of my students at the Art Center were very, very new! In the Grandmother’s Flower Garden class, I presented way too much material and I am learning to scale back what I initially present and see where the students want to go.

Next up; workshops that I hope to offer this Winter. ;-D

My Design Wall is Full!

Here is what my design wall looks like today! There is a lot going on…

The right hand side has to do with my two upcoming workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts. The first, covering hexies and Grandmother’s Flower Garden is on Saturday. Six pointed stars is in July. Click here to get more info.

At the top right, you can see a quilt emerging, made up of (hand pieced) half hexagons. There are many ways to sew them together, but this is by far my favorite. It’s such a strong graphic design. The two plain colored areas in each block are my hand dyed fabrics and I have them strewn all over the floor as I pick them out.

The black stars in the middle are six pointed stars hand pieced in a Seven Sister sort of design. Below them is a pattern, first published in Godey’s Ladies Book in the mid 1800’s, called bricks. It is also a 60 degree diamond, but the “sides” of the brick shape are elongated.

The left hand side of the board is devoted to a deconstructed lone star. Using Moda precut fabrics, I have cut out stacks of 2.5″ x 5.5″ fabrics to sew on a Quiltsmart base. I hope to be giving a talk about how to make this amazing design at Island Quilters this Fall. Lots more coming about this project!

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A Weekly Dose of Triangles: just the beginning

I have stacks of the leader/ender triangles done. Last weekend, I pressed and cut them to size, and finally it was time to play. (Now that I have finished playing with the triangles, the design wall has to come down. The painters are coming…)

Loads of triangles

I know that many of you who read my blog are not quilters, so I though a little lesson was in order, and if you are new to quilting, perhaps you will enjoy this as well. If I make a quilt using just one shape, it will be called a charm or one block quilt. Many quilters pooh-pooh this sort of simplicity, but wait until you see what these simple shapes can do. Let’s look at some common charm or one square patterns.

These pieces are made up of equilateral triangles. Remember Sophomore Year geometry with Miss Detweiler? If so, then you know that these triangles measure the same on each side.

Equilateral triangles

Back to geometry class, can you see that these shapes are 60 degree triangles? This pattern is called tumbling blocks or baby blocks. They are such fun to play with; to form a block you sew a light a medium and a dark piece together and you get this 3D illusion.

Baby block stack

I call this shape swirling stars and it’s the curvaceous relative of a baby block. Look at the baby block above – can you see where six 60 degree pieces intersect? So these pieces can make the same shapes as their straight-laced cousin.

Spinning star

Here is my favorite shape – a hexagon. Not only does its six-sided shape make many, many lovely designs, it can be divided in half, in thirds and even in sixths, if you want to do some really nasty piecing. Handy hexagons

If you are interested in starting a charm quilt, Pat Yamin has loads of templates for all of these fun shapes and more.

Please stop by next Friday to see some of what the humble half square triangles can do! It’s quite amazing.

Library Quilt Class!

Where did January go??? It’s hard to believe that February starts this week. Saturday was the day that Peter and I took down my quilt show. It was a few days early, but he is away this week on a business trip and he’s my main man for quilt show assistance.

And as part of my agreement with the Morton Grove Public Library, I taught a quilting class there on Saturday. I provide each student with a kit, so I started cutting fabrics on Tuesday. The class limit is 20, so even though I used a rotary cutter, it was a lot of cutting. (Normally I make all the fabrics the same, but I didn’t have enough of  any one fabric, so there were a variety of fabric combinations to choose from.) Then the sewing lines need to be marked, which is a good job to do while watching T.V. An important part of the kit is a piece of felt with a few pins and a threaded needle, so there is a lot to prepare.

Here is the room, set up for 20 students. 20 is a big class…

Thanks so much to Nancy, coordinator of programs, (standing in red and black) for asking me to have a show and teach a class. She plans many fun and interesting activities and makes the library an important part of many people’s lives.

After making the rounds of both tables and showing each person how to sew a seam, it’s wonderful to take a moment and see everyone working away – – – before someone needs help.

It’s fun to see the ladies interact with each other, and perhaps some new “quilty” friends are being made!

As the ladies finished piecing their hexes, they pressed the seams at the pressing table in the back of the picture.

And then the real fun begins! I usually teach just a plain Grandmother’s Flower Garden sort of shape, but the library has a devoted following for this monthly crafts class and I figured that some of the ladies I taught several years ago would come, so I needed to tweak my project. I decided on a half hexagon, which is a fun variation.

How to put the pieced pieces together??? And should she choose a different middle fabric? I usually cut middles out and then have each person choose the one they like and then mark the sewing lines. This gives them some idea of the piecing process and makes their project unique.

And just when I thought I had seen all the combinations for half hex designs, someone came up with a new one!

It often happens in a class like this that there are Nervous Nellys  who moan and people saying “I can’t sew” or “that looks complicated”. I was a bit worried that sewing the two seams together to make a hexagon and then sewing a flower shape might be too much for a 2 hour session. But wow – most of the ladies completed their flower or came close too it. And there were some very lovely seams sewn, with even and small stitches. I had some extra packets, which were snapped up and I wish I’d made more. Thanks to all you MGPL ladies – you were great!!!

Half Hexagon Class

On Saturday, Peter and I drove to the Johnsburg IL Public Library. He headed off on his bike in the drizzle and I unpacked my kits and supplies. Nine ladies joined me for a class on how to hand piece half hexagons, which is a new class. You know that I love hexagons, but did you know that the shape can be divided in several ways which will make lots of interesting variations? I have so many fun pictures of the class that I won’t put my class sample on here, but you can see it on my website.

I like to ask the ladies what their sewing experience is (like- have they ever held a needle before?!?!?) One lady took the cake. She said, “I thought it would be good to learn hand sewing. My husband and I camp a lot and I thought he would appreciate it if I had something to do rather than saying “Aren’t you too close to the car ahead ?” or “We’re awfully close to the side of the road!””  Isn’t that too funny?

Each student got a baggy with some of the pieces cut out and marked, a piece of felt with a threaded needle (;-D) and a few pins as well as the templates on a piece of paper. They were quite nervous about sewing the two hexagon halves together; I don’t know why!

Two ladies had taken the grandmother’s flower garden class I had taught at the library a year or so ago, so I knew they could sew and there were several (machine) quilters as well. While I demonstrated for half of the group, the other went over to the supply table and chose and cut out middles for their piece.

There are quite a few ways you can put the half hexes together after you sew them and I showed the ladies some examples that I had sewn. As I walked around the tables, I watched them move their pieces around to make different designs…

This was a variation I had not thought of – isn’t it fun? It occurred to me then that you could use a limited amount of fabrics for this quilt and then arrange the half hexes in many, many patterns.

I really like teaching at public libraries. They usually charge $5 for supplies and such a variety of people take the classes. And this was a fun group. They talked and laughed and I hope that some of them have caught the hexagon bug.

Thanks to Maria and everyone at the library for having me!