Sunday, December 29, 2013

Playing with Blocks: Birds in the Air

I was right! Last week I guessed that Bonnie Hunter might use Birds in the Air as the next unit for us to make in the Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt, and when I opened up Clue #5 last Friday, there it was!

Unfortunately, this step uses those 100 extra Half Square Triangle units that we had to sew in clue #5... and which I never got around to sewing. So, a little extra cutting, and we get...

500 little pieces to make 100 Birds in the Air

So I sewed for a while (have you seen my tutorial on sewing Birds in the Air?), and while I don't have all 100 Birds finished yet, I do have enough sewn to start playing with blocks. Want to play along?

If a bird in hand is worth two in the bush, how much are sixteen birds worth?

Birds in the Air, like Log Cabin, is one of those really versatile blocks that can arranged in a variety of settings with some very different looks. Check our some of these:

Making Birds in the Air

Clue #5 in Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt has us making Birds in the Air units.

Unfortunately, this step uses those 100 extra Half Square Triangle units that we had to sew in clue #5... and which I never got around to sewing. So, a little extra cutting, and we get...

500 little pieces to make 100 Birds in the Air
That's five, stretchy half square triangles to make each unit!

First I got all those pesky HST units sewn together. Then I laid out all the pieces how they need to be sewn. Flip over the first wing, making sure that the edges all align...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt, part 4

Something short this week, I think, because I want to get back to sewing! I seem to be one of those odd ones out, and, now that Christmas week is upon us, I now seem to have extra time, rather than less. Yea!

The kids are occupied on their computers. Husband came down with a 24-hr. stomach bug (but is better now), and Ma Nature decided to deliver a Winter Wonderland snowstorm to the Mid-West, so we weren't going out even if we wanted to. I decided to ignore the housework and sew up my own little storm.
The view outside my sewing room

This week, Bonnie had us making 4-patch units for the Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt. I was so eager to get started, that I forgot that we were supposed to strip-piece these to save time. Oops. Instead I cut my blue and raspberry strips, and then layered them onto my QuiltCut2.

In record time I had stacks of paired squares all ready for sewing.

Soft fabric, warm fabric, makes me want to purr. Put you through my sewing machine. Whir! Whir! Whir!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Quiltus Interruptus

I'm excited to be making Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt with all the thousands of other quilters around the world, but I did have some other projects in the works that have now been put on hold because of it. Please allow me to introduce you to a few of them...

The Maple Leaf Quilt
I'm using the pattern "Meadow Brook" from Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine (May/June 2010). This quilt is very exciting because it's the first quilt that I started to make on my brand new sewing machine, a Husqvarna-Viking 875Q. I would not have been able to get this machine without a HUGE amount of help from my mom. I love you, Mom!!! I've been trying to keep this quilt going as a leader/ender during Celtic Solstice, but I'm falling behind on CE and will have to use bits from earlier steps in CE as the leaders/enders now instead. I need more time to sew!!

Don't Be Koi
My first one-block wonder quilt. My mom sent me "One-Block Wonders Encore!" by Maxine Rosenthal and Joy Pelzmann after I started quilting in 2009. I was so excited to try the one-block technique! I found some great koi fish fabric at my LQS (Sew 'n Sew in Waupaca, Wisconsin -- Hi, Bonnie and Debbie!). The fabric sat on my shelf for another year while I did other things. Then I was finally able to cut my pieces during a Norske Needlers guild retreat in October, 2012. And then the pieces sat on my shelf for another 6 months! I haven't sewn anything together yet, but it's been fun taking out pieces and spinning them around to figure out how I want each block to go together. They've gone back in their box until after Celtic Solstice is done. This quilt will be for my son, Gizmo.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Karma and Celtic Solstice

Well, it looks like Karma (or maybe her brother, Hubris?) caught up with me on Clue #3 in Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt.

Clues #1 and #2 gave us triangle-in-a-square and chevron units to make. While many people seemed to have some problems with these blocks, I've sailed through them pretty easily. Mind you, I haven't finished making the complete number of units for each step, but they've been coming together nicely with pieces flipped only a couple of times, and they're coming out to size. Yea! In fact, I was doing so well, that I even wrote tutorials on those units (see triangle-in-a-square and chevrons) to help others who were struggling.

I was feeling pretty good about myself and my sewing skills.

And then Clue #3 came out: half square triangles and pinwheels! And everyone rejoiced, because HSTs are one of the most common units in quilting, and there are a jillion ways to make them, and most quilters are pretty comfortable and confident when they sew them. Add to that, that pinwheels are such a fun and happy unit, who could be unhappy with this step?

Then add to that, that they're fairly quick to make, so I might even have some time to catch up on my sewing for the first two clues. Or getting ready for Christmas. Or finally getting around to checking out that crazy new health insurance exchange. Y'know, those pesky things that interfere with our quilting lives...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Playing with Celtic Solstice 2.5

This post comes in between clue #2 and clue#3 in Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt, thus the '2.5' identifier.

For Clue #1 we made these V-blocks in two color combinations:

Can you spot the 'Ooops' block?  ;-)

For Clue #2 we made chevron units:

All the units have a cut size of 3-1/2" x 3-1/2", so once they're sewn into a quilt, they'll measure 3" x 3". I've got no idea what other units Bonnie is going to have us make, but let's see what fun we can have with just these...

Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt, Part 2

Last Friday, Bonnie Hunter released clue #2 for her mystery quilt Celtic Solstice. This week we're making chevron units!

To make each chevron unit, she says we'll need:
  • 2 green 2" x 3-1/2" rectangles
  • 2 yellow 2" x 2" squares, and
  • 2 white (background) 2" x 2" squares.

Except I've changed my colors from what Bonnie's using, so instead I have:
  • 2 turquoise rectangles
  • 2 coral squares, and
  • 2 black (background) squares.

I found a nice trick to the cutting for this step. I cut my turquoise strips at 3-1/2", and then I layered two turquoise strips, two coral strips, and two black strips.

I subcut my stacked strips at 2" intervals.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Using the Wonder Triangle Ruler

 Wonder TrianglesThis post is a tutorial on using Marti Michell's Wonder Triangle ruler to make the Triangle-In-A-Square units in Bonnie. K. Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt. If you're not making Celtic Solstice, then you'll still get some useful tips on using the Wonder Triangles ruler, so please read on!

Tri-Recs ruler
Bonnie designed the Celtic Solstice mystery quilt using the Tri-Recs ruler, and she wrote her instructions assuming that ruler would be the one that people used. Those instructions still work just fine if you're instead using the Wonder Triangle ruler (W.T. from now on in this post). However, there are a couple of differences between the two rulers that you should be aware of for things to work out right.

The Triangle-In-A-Square (TIAS) unit
The first little kink comes with Bonnie's cutting instructions. The rulers (Tri-Recs and W.T. both) come as a paired set: one ruler is for cutting the larger, center triangle (the 'triangle' part of the Triangle-In-A-Square), and the second, thinner ruler is for cutting the smaller triangle 'wings' on each side of the center triangle. Once these are all sewn together, you've made a Triangle-In-A-Square (TIAS) unit. Cute, right?

With the Tri-Recs ruler, you can cut the fabric strips for both the center and wing triangles 1/2" wider than the finished size of the unit. Since the unit we're making in Celtic Solstice will finish at 3", Bonnie tells us cut all of the strips for this clue at 3-1/2".

In the W.R. instructions, however, we are told to cut strips for the center triangle 1/2" wider than the finished size, but strips for the wing triangles should be 5/8" wider than the finished size. It wants the wing triangle strips cut wider than the center triangle strips!

DON'T WORRY!! You CAN actually use the same width strip for each of the triangles if you are using the W.T. ruler! So cut all the strips you'll need for clue #1 at 3-1/2" (per Bonnie's instructions), and I'll show you how it works out.

Take a deep breath. Everything is O.K.!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt, Part 1

Hello! This is my first real post on this shiny, new blog, and I thought I'd start it off with a shiny, new quilt to match. The quilt is Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt, going on now at Bonnie's Quiltville blog.

So what is a mystery quilt, you ask? Basically, one person writes up the instructions to make a quilt. Then, without showing what the final quilt is supposed to look like, the instructions are released to the quilt makers one step at a time. That's right, we have no idea what the finished quilt is going to look like! That's the mystery! It's also a great leap of faith, trusting that the other person has designed something that you'll like, and that the fabrics you've chosen (almost) blindly will work out. It's one great big exercise in releasing control and just enjoying the process, no matter what the end product looks like.

Quilting: Easy! Releasing control: Eeek!

But, with Bonnie Hunter in the lead role, I also know this will be be an experience where I'll get to learn and grow as a quilter too. In fact, for our first 'clue' Bonnie has us using the TriRecs ruler to make triangle-in-a-square units. I've never used it before, but by the time I finish the 188 units I have to make in this step, I'm sure I'll be feeling right at home with it!