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Curve It Up – Finale

At long last, finally, or call it the Finale, my curve it up quilt is completed.  It has been waiting a while for quilting.  The pattern is called “Curve it Up” and also uses the Quick Curve ruler sold by Sew Kind of Wonderful.

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If anyone out there actually followed my blog starting back in March of 2015 you will have seen some of my self-learned tips and tricks while learning to use this ruler.  I highly recommend the sampler pattern as it lets you practice with several curve sizes and layout.  Each of the blocks would make beautiful quilts if used individually in layouts.

I’m looking forward to sharing the ruler and technique at the Fabric Stasher retreat this September.

I hope you will go check out my blog posts if you missed them.  They are all linked to this special page on my blog called “Curve.It.Up”.

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Curve it Up – Block 12 – Spinning Spools

My final block for the Curve it Up sampler quilt is completed.  I’m writing this from an altitude of over 14,000 feet after having about a day to recover from the pain…

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I created this block using the suggested “scrappy” method where the middle of each spool is strip pieced from small scraps at least 5″ wide.   The result was that I misjudged the amount that a long pieced curve stretches while gingerly fed under the pressed foot.  I literally scrapped three spools before I settled on a method that let me trim them to the correct size.

This block requires that you trim to 4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ by lining up the rectangle on points of both curves.   If your sides stretch, at least one of those points does not fit.

Tip1:   Starch everything.

The starch will help limit movement of the fabrics and seams cut on th bias.  I was not successful until I did this.

Tip 2:  Fewer seams = less chances for stretching as the seam bulk goes under the pressed foot.   ( I tried making the spool using a solid middle, and was successful the first time.)

In the future,  if I am in a scrappy spool mood, I have another idea.  I plan to stabilize the center of the spool using a very lightweight fusible stabilizer.   I think this would eliminate my issues with the bias and stretchy seams.

I’m really looking forward to piecing my borders and sashing next.  I hope your spinning spools go smoother than mine did.   Never give up, even if they make your head spin!   They do turn out pretty.

 

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Curve It Up – Block 11 – Temperance?

Who knew that some history of traditional quilt blocks could be found at the National Park Services website?  Check out this Quilt Discovery Booklet posted there.

The Drunkard’s Path from the Curve it Up pattern is the most traditional design in the book (my opinion).  “A Drunkards Path” consists of 16 blocks.

According to the Quilt Discovery Booklet, the Drunkard’s Path was popular during the temperance movement.  The Temperance Union colors were white for purity and blue for water, the “purist” beverage available.  I also made my block in Blue and White.  However, if you know the source and how water is processed in many municipalities, I would not call it pure…   If you live in the wrong place, you might even be drinking Lead.   Maybe we would all be safer drinking Gin and Tonic!

My favorite thing about this block is the fact that there are NO POINTS TO MATCH.   If you can match rows with nesting seams, then this block is for you.  It is a very forgiving curvy block. Temperance is not required.     Cheers!
If you are interested in the math of a drunkards path, read on. 

 

A traditional drunkards path uses a smaller radius of curvature, AND the center of the circle or arc is placed at the corner of the block.

The block created with the Quick Curve Ruler uses a flatter arc, or a larger radius of curvature and the radius is placed further away from the corner of the block.  You could create this same effect by creating your own template, but make sure that you have the arc hitting on equal sides of the square.

Here are some example diagrams.

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When you cut traditional Drunkard’s Path blocks, the curve shown above is NOT your cutting line.  The reason for this is that it doesn’t account for your seam allowance.  Since you are stitching a concave piece to a convex piece, if you do not add additional seam allowance, your outside edges would not match.

The beauty of the Curve It Up pattern is that it suggests you start with a larger square than you need, stitch your curve, then trim the block to size. The method is used for all of the blocks in the pattern. I think this could be used for the traditional curved piecing as well, but you would need to increase your original squares of fabric to accommodate trimming to size and would have to be careful to keep curves centered.

If you are a math nerd…
I drew a curve using my Quick Curve Ruler and measured the length of a chord, and the height measured at the midpoint of the arc’s base.  Using those numbers I came up with a rough calculation of my Quick Curve Arc Radius.

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Quick Curve Ruler

Chord Length (W) = 6.5″
Height (H) = .75″

R = (.75/2) + (6.5*6.5)/(8*.75)
R = 7.416″

“To calculate the radius” above is from Math Open Reference Website:  http://www.mathopenref.com/arcradius.html

 

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Curve It Up – Block 9 and 10

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Block 9, Dresden Plate, is the same as block 8, but assembled in a circle rather than fans.  (Fans are more forgiving.)
Marking and matching seams was the most important part of this block.  The seams are not pressed in opposite directions, so you WILL need to pin in order to match the seams perfectly.  I think I used better fabric values in this block and am happy with the outcome.

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Block 10 is the Piece Star Block.  I call it the “wish I squared my pieces up” block!   If I made this block again, I would be sure to square up my center diamond blocks.  I changed this design slightly by turning the corner background blocks into half square triangle blocks to introduce another color into the block.  I should have nudged my diagonal seam over by the width of my thread to make the blocks the perfect size for piecing.  All of these things would have made the block lie flatter when assembled. All of the seams create thick intersections, so I pressed most of the seam open to make them lie flatter.

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Curve it Up – Block 8 – Fancy Fans

Whew… Too bad these fans don’t cool you off!Untitled-1The great thing about fancy fans is that if you make them meet in the center they will make Block 9 too, a curvy Dresden Plate!  Keep tuned for more in November.  It might take me four more to master this set.

The next time around I need to add some additional light fabrics.

Hint:  BE SURE TO MARK FROM YOUR SEAMS ACCURATELY.   (Otherwise you get to make an extra like I had to do.  There is something to be said for not piecing late at night.)  Keep cool!

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Curve it Up – Block 7 – Log Cabin

UnknownIf you can believe what is on the internet (ever) then you might know that the log cabin quilt dates back further than the pioneer days in the United States.  Supposedly, similar designs were found on an ancient Egyptian mummy and in an English quilt predating 1830!  While that is all fine and good, the design makes me think of the pioneer spirit and workmanship and bravery of those who rebuilt their lives in new territories.

I would like nothing more than to built myself a log cabin home as a retreat (complete with a real floor and AC). I’m afraid I would be left sleeping on top of my sewing tables!

logcabinThis curvy log cabin block starts out the same as a traditional log cabin.  Lore says a red center symbolizes the hearth of the home, and yellow a welcoming light in the window, My pink centers represent something else entirely.  For a long time, I hated the color pink.  Don’t ask me why, I just couldn’t mentally handle it.  One day after college, before I became a mother, I decided it was time to “girl up”  and come to terms with what is now one of my favorite colors, though I lean toward the darker pinks.  My centers are not “just pink”, they are built of peony medallion and navy haystack fabric with a hint of traditional navy.  They represent my “inner girl”  that used to hate pink…

I really liked making this block, and may need to build an entire quilt like it.  The only “trick” to the completion was the tapered 1/4″ curve to finish the curved center.  IMG_7298Start your seam  1 3/4″ down on your curve and taper your seam to the normal 1/4″ seam allowance.  Taper back down on the other side.  It took me a couple of tries to get it right, but mistakes were easily corrected.

 

Update (11/2016):  I recently received a bunch of inquiries regarding the pattern for this block.  It is part of the Sew Kind of Wonderful, Curve it Up, pattern.  It is not free.  I think a link to my site was listed under free patterns somewhere incorrectly.  I hope this clears up some confusion.

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Block 6 – Curvy Geese – A Breeze!

I tackled the next block in the Curve it Up series.  It is called Curvy Geese.  Assembly was a breeze and used curved flying geese blocks similar to the Block 2 Sawtooth Star.  I like how the center is a large pinwheel.

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I used some unscented Best Press instead of the Terial Magic today.

bp60034I sprayed it directly on the blocks, and my ironing board when I pressed the seams out.  It worked well and though not as crisp as the Terial, helped maintain shape when squaring the blocks.

Unfortunately, it left residue on my iron, so will I need to clean it off before switching projects.  The residue did not leave any discoloration on the fabrics.  Has anyone else run into this with Best Press?

  • Do press your seams out to reduce bulk.  I even pressed the seams out between rows, otherwise my intersections were too bulky.
  • Use a stylus to help with the end of your curves.
  • While fabrics is pulled through by the feed dogs, hold your top layer of fabric up slightly to encourage less puckering of the curved seam.
  • Don’t try to sew fast!  Slow and steady makes the most even seam.

Take a look at a real time video of one flying goose – slow & solo!

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Curve it Up – Block 4 – Four Patch

After a month of stormy weather, broken arm blues, and family “vacation”, I sat down to complete the fourth block in the Curve it Up series.

The four patch block was one of the earliest “block” styles used by quilters.  It enabled them to use small “scraps” of fabric in their designs.  I could see this lending itself to the use of old clothing, especially dresses or shirts that were not being up cycled to other clothing use.  Can you imagine what early generations would think of our tag of “up cycling”.  They would think it is funny how much we simply dispose of!

The curved four patch is certainly not a simple stitching design due to potential stretching of the curves.   Attention to detail for matching your corners is important, as is pressing and squaring the final blocks.

No fear, the pattern designer did leave enough “extra” on the background sashing to allow you to square up the wonky final shape.  (Whew!)

Color Selection:
I selected colors from my previous block, turquoise/blue and purple, to help tie the designs together.  Funny, I must have picked colors for my mood, but even those are beautiful, life can’t always be rainbow!

Fabric Sizes:
The squares in the pattern are 4 1/2″ and the strips are 2 1/2″ wide.  This could be easily adjusted to be “charm pack” and “Jelly Roll” friendly. A whole quilt of this block would have sashing that looks like flower petals or leaves!
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Step One:  Cut your fabrics.  You will need 8 focus squares, and 8 background fabric squares.  You will also need 16 of the 2 1/2″ wide sashing background fabric.

IMG_6978  There are lot of ways to lay these out.  Pick oneyou like and stitch them together like four regular four patch blocks.

Step 2:  Sew the four patches and trim each edge of the blocks using the curve it up ruler.

IMG_6979IMG_6980 This is a great time to use a spinning rotary mat, the lazy “susan” of quilting.   Several manufacturers sell these, Olfa, Fiskars, Martelli to name a few.  I love them while working with small pieces and when cutting multiple directions. I used it for the initial curve trimming shown here and for squaring my blocks after stitching the sashing.

Step 3: Sew the sashing…

IMG_6983 Your block will not look like this (After trimming it will).

It will probably look like this!  IMG_6984  Breath!  You are fine.

It is important to sew the opposing edges (left/right , top/bottom) to help keep the curve edges stabilized. After each curve is sewn, press the seams open to help reduce the bulk at the points.

Step 4:  Trim each curved four patch with a squaring template. Use your seams to help center and align the block with the ruler.

Step 5:  Make a larger four patch with your new blocks!
Note:  I again used the Terial Arts – Terial Magic to give my blocks better shape hold and to help prevent fraying as I store them for the rest of the year!

Give this one a try!

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Curve it Up – Block 3 – Rail Fence

I promised my mom that I would finish a block a month of the curve it up project.  Fitting for May, I kept my promise.

A traditional rail fence quilt block is a simple design, typically consisting of three to four uniform strips of contrasting colors sewn together.

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Quick “history” reviews state that it was usually one of the first blocks taught to new quilters, but it remains a versatile favorite!

Patterns from pinwheels to chevrons can be created depending on how the pieces are assembled.

Now, let me “rail” on the curved rail fence!  This is definitely not a beginners block.  There are so many ways to go wrong.  Hopefully my tips and tricks below will keep you on the right track with a beautifully uniform curved rail!

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This is an example where I didn’t follow the pointers below!
It is possible to mess up this block! 
In this case, I cut the fabric the same as all of my real blocks, but stitched them together with a poor seam allowance, in two directions, in the wrong order, and pressed it wrong.  What “wonky” work! 🙂

Note:  For those that like pre-cuts, this block is Layer Cake friendly!

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IMG_6589You will need 2, IMG_661110″ squares of your background fabric and 4, 10″ squares of your focus fabrics.  Once you have these, you utilize the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR), by Sew Kind of Wonderful, to trim the squares into the curved pieces.

The instructions for lining up the ruler for the cuts are very good.
Pointer 1:  The slot in the ruler is fairly wide. To keep your strip width even, try to hug either one side of the slot or the other, but keep it the same each time.
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Pointer 2:  Sew the strips from left to right.  Do not stitch all of the inner curves together first.  Errors made by accidentally stretching the curves, compound as you move across the pieces.  The white backing with a straight edge helps stabilize the curve shape.

Seam allowance is important for this block.  I found a scant 1/4″ seam allowance to work best.  I tried sewing the curves using two different quarter inch feet.  The foot without the guide worked best for me and allowed me to keep my seam more uniform.

Do not start in the middle of the block and work to each side.  Start at one end, and leave a quarter inch “dog ear” like we have done on the other blocks. Don’t worry if one edge is more even than the other.

These are the two presser feet I tried.

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Once you have sewn all six pieces together, it is time to PRESS!  Using a starch helps keep a block crisp, but I did not find I needed it for next assembly.

IMG_6622The block will not lay very flat until after pressing.  It might look something like this before pressing.

Pointer 3: This block is interesting, and with all of the curves needs  pressed from the back, gingerly.  DO NOT IRON!  The movement back and forth will distort your block.  Press all of the seams in the same direction, one at a time. I liked starting from the first seam sewn to the last.

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After pressing, we will trim the block using a traditional square template. The template needs at least 1/2″ increment markings.  The “wonky” block I made could not be “fixed” by squaring it up since the curves are so far off!
By completing four of these, you can then piece them together just like a four square block.

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Curve It Up – Block 2 Sawtooth Star

I finished Block 2, Sawtooth Star, in the Curve It Up pattern by Sew Kind of Wonderful.

Assembly of the sawtooth star was very traditional.  If I wanted to complete a whole quilt of this design, I would definitely change the cutting and assembly of the half square triangles and center checkerboard block.  Half square triangles can be assemblIMG_6462ed two  – four at a time, and the checkerboard would be easier to work in strips.

The QCR (Quick Curve Ruler) allowed me to cut gentle concave and convex curves for the curved half square triangle blocks.  Notice how the pattern had me cut the tips of the triangle off?  IMG_6459

This allowed me to align the curved slot to a corner on the fabric.

Just like block 1, the fabric for the curved pieces is oversized so that it can be squared up after sewing.

The curves on these blocks do not lie as flat as I IMG_6464would like after pressing.  If I clipped the curve, they would, but I wanted to leave the edge alone.

I “resorted” to a new product I had been meaning to try, Terial Magic by Terial Arts.  This product is meant to replace stabilizers and fusible for quilters and embroiderers.  It also can help keep fraying in check.  Best of all, it is water soluble and can be washed out.  I can’t wait to try it for cutting appliqué items using my Silhouette Cameo!  IMG_6482

When used by itself per manufacturer directions, It makes fabric VERY stiff and paper- like.  However, I diluted the solution 1:1 with tap water in a small, fine mist spray bottle.  I gently sprayed the back seam, and then pressed it.  This made my seam lie perfectly flat, and gave the blocks a slightly firmer hand. As an added bonus, my blocks will not stretch out of shape now when handled!

Good news: I sprayed this over my fabric and let some of it get on my new ironing board cover.  After I was finished, I damp wiped the surface of the cover, and there was no indication of staining or residues!  I’ve ironed on the board since, and there is no scorching or discoloration which you tend to see over time with other starch sprays.

I’ve sent an email request to the manufacturer for the SDS.  I am interested to compare it to starch.  Bonus, my regular starch is in an aerosol can and this is not!

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