August 11, 2011

Discovering Traditional the Modern Way

I suppose you could also discover modern the traditional way. Or discover modern the modern way. Or...well, you get it. But what am i talking about anyway? In this case, it's a beginner quilter (me) exploring the inherent possibilities of the half square triangle. This will make sense by the time you finish reading, i promise.

If you read my blog (thank you), you know how i feel about sewing triangles. I mean there's a bias edge on these things! That alone sends chills down my spine. But fears can be overcome by facing them head-on and that's just what i did when the fabulous people at AccuQuilt asked if i would like to try out their GO!baby fabric cutter. Sorry if that sounded a little infomercial-ish, but this wonder machine is going to have a permanent spot on my cutting table, literally —because it's so cute and compact (and yes, it slices and dices...fabric).
This thing will cut fabric into many shapes depending on which die you use, so i was asked to pick three that i would like to try out. Hmm...i decided to pick ones that would stretch my sewing abilities and confront aforementioned fears. First one into the basket: 4" half square triangle. Gulp. But what could be more intimidating than sewing a hexagon?? Into the basket it went. Panic. And what about a tumbler block?? Done. Time to checkout. When everything arrived, it was obvious that i had been possessed by a daredevil sewist.

But Lou was ready. And if he was, i was. We could take this on together.
For fabric, i decided to use a majority of the prints from the Terrain Designer Select bundle i picked out for the Fat Quarter Shop. Thought it might be fun to play around with — Ooo, and it was! Have you seen it?
The deep iris blues, periwinkles and teals are some of my favorite colors. I don't know why it took me so long to include them in a fabric collection!

So here's the lo-down on using the GO!baby. Pay close attention, it's quick.

First, you cut 5 1/2" strips the width of the fabric. I kept it folded in half and then placed it on the foam die like so:
Then you put the cutting mat on top of the fabric...
...and position the cutting mat/fabric sandwich on the flat surface so the front edge is between the rollers — you may have to turn the handle until the rollers grip the cutting mat. Then simply (and really easily) turn the handle to move the whole thing through:
Did i mention you don't need to plug this in? No cord, no motor, and you don't even need muscles. The first time i did it, i really didn't think there was any way it could have done its cutting thing. But after lifting off the cutting mat...voila! Eight half square triangles. Or are they triangles ready to become half-squares? Either way, they were cut to perfection and ready to sew:
I found that on some passes, you might need to snip single threads that did not get cut through completely — mostly in the 90 degree corners. A small thing to contend with when you think of how long it would take to cut everything out by hand. Otherwise, i love that the bias edge is squared off which makes sewing that 1/4" seam allowance really easy. Not to mention there are no dog ears to snip off when it's pressed open. And ok, it was also really fun and yes, i got carried away. In no time, my work table was covered with piles of triangles. I need to write that again so it sinks in. TRIANGLES!
Now what to make. I guess it's a better idea to know what you're going to make ahead of time, but i did not. Instead, i really wanted to play around with these triangles and see what was possible. It's one thing to design a quilt with the help of a computer, but quite another to handle the fabric and watch things unfold by moving the shapes and colors around. I had never really done this (sad, i know), and especially not with triangles.

So first i started off with keeping the colors and prints together, turn turn turn..and poof! A zig zag. This seems to be quite the trend right now...in quilting, apparel, home d├ęcor, you name it. The zig zag is having its time in the spotlight (what's old is new and will be old again). Now if Lou would've moved, i could have kept going...
Next one, i still kept the prints/colors together, but turned the triangles and alternated lights and darks in diagonal rows. I put all the darks on top and lights on the bottom and came up with this:
Then after mixing everything up and turning the triangles to my heart's content, something familiar started to come into view. I moved things around a little more and AHA! This traditional quilt block came together with the same excitement as finding two puzzle pieces that fit perfectly and with the surprise/disbelief in knowing they were right under my nose the whole time. It made me think, "So that's how this block is made". I'd seen it so many times, but never known how to actually make it. Franny liked it so much she curled up and took a nap:
Does anyone know what this block is called?
I know i'm not inventing anything new here, but as a beginner quilter, i enjoy discovering the traditional aspects of this craft. It helps me look with modern eyes (through modern technologies) into the past wherein the foundation lies. I like to think that we are all laying bricks (or blocks) of our own atop this historic art form with the awareness that there is much to be learned, celebrated, discovered, reinterpreted...and sewn! So let's get on to that part...

Enter Franny and Lou.
With little to no help from them (as you can see), i sewed five blocks together using that block design.
Some were better than others. I really need to make a design wall (of some sort) because once i stepped back from these...eh hem...completed blocks, i realized that the block "works" better if you position the dark print on the bottom part of the pinwheel. It adds a beveled dimensional appearance to the design. I'm sure someone waaaaay back in the 1800's had already figured this out, but when you learn it the hard way, it sticks. Lou didn't agree. He liked it just the way it was (anywhere it was).
I combined that block with this one because i wanted to contrast the busy-ness with something simpler. The measurements shown are the cutting dimensions for each piece:
AccuQuilt also makes a strip die that would be perfect for a block like this.

I used Moda bella bleached white (9900 97) in the block above as well as for the 2 1/2"sashing. The border is 3 1/2" wide (measurements noted include seam allowances). The lap-sized quilt finishes around 58" x 58" (if my math is correct. That's a big IF). When it's all sewn together it looks like this:
Past meets present, traditional meets modern, i meet half square triangles...and you know what? They're not so scary after all. But now i'm having tumbling hexagonal nightmares. Fortunately, there are techie sewing pioneers of our time who have made some extremely helpful YouTube tutorial videos. I have watched this one over and over and am working up the courage to try it out.

It also occurred to me that the 4" finished half square triangle die would be perfect for the Stepping Stones quilt i designed as a project sheet for Terrain! You can download it free from Fat Quarter Shop, or purchase it if you prefer the printed version. This quilt was on display in the Moda booth last Quilt Market. It was pieced by Sherri and quilted by Judi. Two amazing people who i am very lucky to know.

Thank you AccuQuilt for making such an amazing cutting machine! Oh hey, if you want to sign up for their e-mailing list (and get 22 free patterns) there's a button to click on the right sidebar just for you!

32 comments:

  1. Thank you for showing us how easy this is! I guess I need to break down and buy one.

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  2. I love the two blocks you've paired together--you are right! Traditional meets modern. And I'm in love with your kitties... My quilt cat is forever in my way, but I love the little guy.

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  3. I have seen so many quilters use the Baby Go. One day.

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  4. This is Kool - are you going to give a baby GO! away??

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  5. I like it. A lot. No, I love it :) The colors are perfect and ' tradition meet modern' makes it a really exciting quilt.

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  6. Congratulations, you've discovered the easy way to piece a LeMoyne Star or some variation of it. :)

    I love the colors in that set, too!

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  7. I am soooo jealous!!!! AND you picked two out of the three dies I would pick, I would go for the 2.1/2" strip as well. I love Designer Select and your quilt is really nice.... right can I put my order in now for 500 hexagons pleasse...ROFL. Enjoy!! Hugs Linda

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  8. Jealousy. Pure jealousy. ;) My mom and I have been considering buying one together. It's still so pricey!

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  9. Love the quilts! The Go Bay makes it look so easy. I just ordered the fat quarter collection of Terrain and can't wait to get home since it should be waiting for me when I get there. Not sure how long it will take me to actually cut into them.

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  10. I love your quilt! I love my Go cutter too! The hexagon die has been a life-safer. I haven't tried the tumblers yet, but really want to make a tumbler quilt and think this has to be the easiest way!

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  11. Oh, I must have one! It looks like SO much fun! I like Bow Tie blocks and Maple Leaf blocks are fun too!
    ~Amy H, Littleton, Colorado

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  12. I'm so excited to discover that you have a blog - I'd somehow missed it and only noticed it when you tweeted about the giveaway you were running on it (which I would enter, but happily Accuquilt gave me a Go Baby too - isn't it a wonderful time-saver).

    I've now added you to my feedreader and look forward to reading about your fabric and feline filled adventures from now on.

    Florence x

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  13. Kate I can sit and look at Terrain all day and never get tired of those color combinations...they just really do it for me and your quilt really showcases your beautiful fabrics. I'm in the process of making my first zig zag quilt but with blocks rather than half-square triangles although I think I will try one with the HST's as well. The Go! Baby looks like so much fun.

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  14. I love HSTs! They're so versatile and fun to play with. Love your blocks!

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  15. That's a gorgeous quilt! And your fabrics, mmmmm yummy! Love them!

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  16. BTW - your kitties are SOOOOOO cute! They are the ONLY thing cuter than your fabrics ;)

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  17. That is such a beautiful quilt and congratulations on Terrain - another AMAZING line from you...I`m not normally a pinwheel girl but I love yours and mixed with the modern blocks, I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

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  18. Lovely Kate! I'm glad you conquered your HST fears.

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  19. Looks as though you had a heap of fun with this wonderful gadget!!! It certainly cuts down on the cutting time!!!!

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  20. Beautiful quilt! I love it. And BTW, I believe that pinwheel-y block is called "Lucky Pieces." Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts did a tutorial on it a few weeks ago as part of the Summer Sampler Series quilt-along, which is all about traditional piecing for modern quilters. (The QA finished last week.)

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  21. Love your blocks. Looks like you had a lot of fun.

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  22. Way to conquer HST anxiety! Your quilt is gorgeous. Love your fabrics.

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  23. I was going to comment just about how much I liked the periwinkle - beautiful colour and love the dots - but as I read further of course who should appeared - my two favourite cuties franny and lou - I love the shot of them helping you on the sewing machine but I'm a bit concerned about franny's short attention span - she seems to like sleeping more than helping you - at least Lou is interested :)

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  24. I love pinwheels, and I would never believe you are new to quilting. You have done a fantastic job on that quilt. Love your cats too! I have two of my own. P.S. Terrain is beautiful - keep up the good work.

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  25. I love your quilt! I think to play with the fabrics and the patterns is one of the best ways to creat a quilt. And I also know how much 'help' a cat can be;-)
    Hildy

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  26. Gorgeous colors in that quilt. And patterns, too. Love it!

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  27. Sounds like you had so much fun! And your little helpers are so sweet. Your new fabric is just gorgeous. I've spent all kind of time over the last couple weeks trying to decide exactly what I will make with it, so I'll be ready when the yardage comes out. Just love the beautiful jewel tones of Terrain!

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  28. Hi Kate what a great new Designer group of PURPLE I LOVE IT!!! I would love to win a GO BABY sure would make my quilts come together faster. thasnks to you and to Accu Quilt for doing a give away. I think I would do something like a log cabin as there are so many strips for that block and it surely looks good in all kinds of fabrics be they old or new . Have agreat day I sure am

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  29. I want a Go so bad but I keep talking myself out of it. I loved the colors in the group of fabric you were using. I thought the quilt was so sweet and I have to get some of those fabric.
    your kitties are growing, that is exactly where
    Zeus lies when I am sewing, I think if her could help somehow he would his paw is right up there They are so cute.

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  30. Your fabrics are so...happy! It is fun to think how much YOU must enjoy putting them to use!
    And the quilt is wonderful!

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  31. gorgeous blocks!! your kitties are ADORABLE! I love the one where the cat is laying on the sewing machine. ah to have a kitty again! Our cat is 10 yrs old but still acts like a baby. she still snuggles in my long hair, purrs and smacks her mouth. I made some cute ornaments using Flurry last weekend. I will have to send you the link once I upload them!

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