Places to Party

Saturday, December 7, 2019

BOM: FINAL BLOCK!!! Candycanes for the Kids!

Can you believe we are on our final block? Wow, a year seems to have passed within a blink of an eye.

If you read the last post, you now should have all the half square triangles (HST) and then some that you need for this block. This block is REALLY easy to piece and a nice one to finish on.

I mean, if there was any type of "sewing torture" that would be it. Sewing on the bias is horrible. They rarely come in right, you have to do lots of trimming and, at least for me, they always end up wonky.

Which is not my intent.

We are going to start with our pile of freshly pressed HST's. and go from there. This block is really quick after we have those. We simply need to cut about three more pieces. A large rectangle and two small squares.

When we put them together they start to look like our candy cane!


Take three of your HST and add one of your rectangles as shown. Sew the three HST together to form one piece and sew this to the rectangle set with the shortside to the top to run parallel to the now pieced three HST. This creates the bottom unit of our candy cane.

For the top, we do have to snowball one corner. Taking one HST situate it so that the "stripe" portion is facing in the lower left hand side. Mark one background piece on the diagnal and place it on your pieced HST.

Sew directly on the marked line. Cut off the area above the diagonal line and press.

Creating this:

Now position that with two more HST to form the stripes and the top row. Then add two more HST with a background square in the middle and your top portion of the candy cane is all set!

I do love how fast this block comes together!

Add your finished top portion to your finished bottom portion.

Ta da! Your block is finished.

Make four more and you have all you need for the quilt top.

In my next post we can start putting the top together and see how a year of work has turned out...

Now, on a completely unrelated note...

How cool is this? I pulled out this Aunt Lydia's sewing thread. This had to be from my husband's aunt's collection I inherited. I went to use it but it was really too thick to go thorough my machine. Too bad though because it matched really well..

Fun stuff you find when you inherit other women's sewing items. I think it's nice to use them. It honors the person that originally had the sewing kit as her items aren't just being tossed in the trash but goes forward to make something useful or beautiful or both.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Half Square Triangle Technique

This blogpost started as a tuitorial for the last block the more I tried to explain how I made it, the more it became apparent that the focus was more on the technique. Here is how to make a boatload of half square triangles (HST) in one setting.

This technique is found in my first quilting book I ever bought - a veritable quilt bible, Quilts! Quilts! Quilts!. They had an awesome way to do a huge amount of blocks in one setting. Also, because these blocks are done all at once with a whole cloth, you don't have the inevitable stretching of these individual blocks because they are all sewn on the bias. This is the original technique that eventually lead someone to make the half square triangle paper sold by Fat Quarter Shop. If I was doing hundreds of these squares like a future "Tree of Life" block, I would simply purchase that paper (and have), but with five little candy canes and something like 21 blocks, I'll use this technique instead.

1. First determine your final block measurement and add 1/2" measurement to that.

For example, if you needed your square to finish at 1 1/2, you would add the 1/2 measurement to get a final measurement of 2"(1/2 brings us to 2").

The double line at the top was a mistake.

This will be your grid size. On the back of your light fabric mark this grid. Your grid can be two or three across by whatever height you determine. Once the fabric is marked, place your two fabrics that will make up your half square triangles together, right sides facing with the marked grided fabric facing up.

2. Once the grid is marked, mark through your grid corner to corner across all three squares where indicated. Some grids that are in the corner will only have one mark, some will have it going through all three diagonal squares as shown. Then mark in the other direction. You are creating big squares set on point. Hopefully this picture will make it more clear:

3. Pin the fabrics together making sure to avoid the diagonal lines. Use LOTS of pins!

4. Sew 1/4" on either side of the diagonal lines but DO NOT sew near or on the straight lines in either direction.

5.  Sew on one side of the diagonal line pivoting when we come to a corner and sew down the other side. Do this all the way around. This is why we make it 1/2" larger, it will be taken up by the 1/4" each line.

6. When completely sewn, it should look like this:

7. Cut all the outside borders and then cut on all the straight lines, then the diagonals.

8. Separate each half square triangle and press it. Measure the final size of the HST and if it needs any trimming do so, as you will have "dogears" to trim. You now have a ton of finished HST to use in whatever block you are building.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Sewing Room Helpers Part 2

Oh my! My life is in pieces....
...whatever should I do???

When we last left you, our heroin Pretty Polly, her skirt was being filled and she just felt like her life was in pieces! 

(Dramatic pause, I've been listening to a lot of old radio programs lately).

When the skirt is filled, gather the top with the gathering thread and make sure it's pulled tightly enough to form a small "cone" at the top that will fit inside your half doll. Thread your gathering thread into a needle and use this to sew the top portion of the skirt into a tight "cone".

Tie a little gathered knot.

With a new piece of thread, run the first stitch through the skirt portion.
Thread it through one of the holes in your half doll. At this point, I also
put a little bit of Crazy glue inside to hold the doll securely.

Sew from front to back through all the holes. This doll had three. Sew several times until you feel the base is secure to the skirt portion.

Tie a square knot or slip it under your stitching and double knot it.

Here is our pretty lady all completed.

From the back.

Joining her new sister.

I do think this one will be my cross stitch companion. She's small enough to fit in my work caddy for my needlework and will be perfect for errant needles.

Hope you enjoyed this blogpost. Please leave a comment below on what you are working on.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Sewing Room Helpers Part 1

Confession here. I'm a chronic loser of needles. And finder of them. As in, "Ouch, is that a needle I stepped on/sat on?" On occasion so has my husband/kid/father. Yep, it's a problem.

My sewing room is no exception. Typically it's clean for about a New York minute before there is scraps and thread on the floor, coupled with the random chicken feed and various basket/glass/framing/painting projects.

And we like our crafting rooms to be pretty too. Mine is a spring green with an Arts and Crafts stencil around the top of the ceiling. While there are things I don't like and need to be repaired, it's a sanctuary and I can spend hours in there.

A while back I purchased two half dolls on eBay. I didn't check their sizes and while the one was large as I expected her to be, the other was tiny, I mean really tiny. I put them aside as I've been frantically attempting to finish the BOM and do yet another project that I'll show you later. Because my workplace has been demanding so much of my time lately, I haven't gotten a chance to do too much sewing or crafting as of late so I really wanted to make something that could be done quickly to take that "crafty edge" off.

Do you ever feel that "crafting edge"? When you just need to make SOMETHING or you'll be a horrible grouch all day because you feel that you haven't accomplished anything creatively? That's where I found myself, just thinking, if I could make something quick I'd feel so much better.

Then these half dolls came to mind. That was the answer.

I'm almost embarrassed to show you how I made them because the process was so haphazard. I basically choose a cotton fabric that had been washed, dried and ironed and cut a rectangle that fit around the doll's waist. The smaller doll I made about 3" x 5" ( I forget what side I did the larger doll) and I should have made the height bigger. I tapered off the top of the rectangle to bring it in more at the waist.  

After cutting my rectangle, I ran a seam of zigzag stitching at the very top to prevent as much fraying as I could. I followed this about 1/8" below with a straight gathering stitch at it's widest setting and back-stitched at the end so I wouldn't be pulling the thread out.

Then I sewed on three sides making sure I didn't go over my gathering thread.

We need to make the doll stand and that is relatively simple. Fold your skirt piece out and sew across the corners like so.

Trim off the excess.

Turn out and fill. Ideally, I would fill this with chopped up walnut shells or something similar that would sharpen my needles but I have some plastic pellets I bought about 20 years ago that need to be used up so that is what I used.

Apparently there is a limit to a blog post so we'll continue in the next installment....

Monday, October 21, 2019

BOM: October: Mittens for a Crisp Fall Day

As mentioned in the beginning of this BOM endeavor, I really was not fond of the 2nd month block, I believe it is supposed to represent a gingerbread house but it just didn't float my boat. Apparently I'm not alone as I found someone else doing the same quilt as I and she put in a Santa face for this same block.

I wanted to do something a little different. I have a fondness for mittens (I always am finding one random "magic glove" somewhere in the house-even in summer!) and so I decided to jump books and go to the "Vintage Christmas" book by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet. Page 61 contains the mitten block and it is so cute!

                     Grab your rotary cutter and mat and let's do this!

First let me just tell you that there is no getting around it, there are a lot of snowballing blocks in this quilt too. ::Sigh::

Don't you just love the snappy little snowman fabric out this year from Moda. I even got a "That is really neat, reminds me of my childhood" comment from my husband. 

 The cut sizes are in her book but as you can see above, it's not too extensive.

We start at the cuff which is simply straight squares and rectangles. I already sewed that in the picture above.

We work our way down to the shoulder of the mitten and here we encounter the first of many "snowballing". Luckily, the pieces are fairly big at this point so not too bad.

Now we have a choice. The pattern calls for four different fabrics for a scrappy heart. I considered just doing a red heart in the middle but decided that may be too plain. I didn't really want to do a scrappy heart only because I would have to dig through my scraps and as I was working on this midnightish-1am'ish, that really didn't appeal at that moment. So I ended up just keeping it as 2 fabrics.

Snowball the top and the bottom blocks to make the heart portion and add the side panels.

Consider fabric placement carefully! I wanted to get the snowman faces
and as you can see it makes the upper right panel look almost square.
I would have been better off if I had put the aqua portion of the fabric there.

The rest is just cropping corners with the snowballing technique for both the bottom and the thumb part of the mitten. Sew everything together and it comes out really cute.

One more block and we can begin putting this together just in time for the holiday season!