Thursday, June 27, 2013

Playing, Birthday Blocks, and Quilt-Along

I hope everyone has enjoyed the tutorials on The Learning Curve ruler posted thus far.  After posting the tutorial for Method 2 this week, I continued playing and way of preparing for the future tutorials to come.

My new toy (the ruler) is giving me the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.... by learning to use the ruler and making blocks for the online Birthday Block Swap I joined this year at the same time.

I mailed off the blocks last week heading to the two July birthday quilters (both birthdays are in the first part of the month).  One set headed to Texas and the second set headed to Australia.  Can you believe there are no birthdays in the month of August and only one birthday in early September. :)  Guess what!  I finished the birthday blocks for September.  I just hope I don't lose them between now and time to put them in the mail! LOL

I think what amazes me the most about this ruler (besides the fact that I can finally sew curved seams), is the accuracy of size for the finished blocks.  I always square up my finished blocks and if need be, trim off a sliver here and there to make a perfect 12 1/2" unfinished block.  So far, EVERY SINGLE BLOCK I'VE MADE using The Learning Curve Ruler has turned out to be a perfect 12 1/2" square without need of trimming or squaring up.  Simply amazing in my book!!!!

It may be hard to tell in the photos, but the center blocks in each of the finished quilt blocks have curved seams also!!  (The square in a square, and the windmill!)  The curves are subtle because of their small size, but you can definitely see them in person.

On an entirely different subject, if you are participating in the Aiming For Accuracy Quilt-Along, the official first lesson was just released.  I REALLY didn't want to be behind from the start of this, so I pushed myself to cut out the background/neutral pieces this afternoon.

This was our first assignment in preparation for the first lesson.  I posted this photo on the Facebook group page that was set up for everyone participating in this...and literally 15 minutes later the first lesson was officially posted.  Talk about getting caught up in the nick of time! LOL

Here is the link for the first lesson...

If you are reading this post from an email version, the website address is:

I better close for now and work on lesson 1 so I don't get behind.....YET! :) :) :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tutorial - The Learning Curve Ruler - Method 2

This is THE LEARNING CURVE ruler created by Linda Warren of Linda Warren Designs.  If your local quilt/fabric shop does not carry this tool, you can order one directly from the website.

If you are reading this blog post from an e-mail version, the website address is:

Today we will concentrate on METHOD 2 using The Learning Curve Ruler.  METHOD 1 and METHOD 2 create the same 4 1/2" square segment, the difference between the two methods is in the cutting of the fabric pieces you use to do so.

WHY would you choose to use METHOD 2 instead of METHOD 1?  One example would be if you were wanting all of your circles to stand out against a common background.  Remember, in METHOD 1, during the cutting process, we ended up with enough pieces to construct two opposite, yet coordinating blocks.  

To begin METHOD 2, choose two fabrics and cut four - 3 1/4" x 5 1/2" rectangles from each of your fabric choices.  

I now have 4 dark green 3 1/4" x 5 1/2" rectangles and 4 white print 3 1/4" x 5 1/2" rectangles.

Choose the color you want on the "inside" of the curve.  Using the above photo as an example, place the "A" line of the ruler against the left edge of the 3 1/4" x 5 1/2" rectangle.  Cut SLOWLY with a 45 mm (or smaller) rotary cutter.

As you can see, you will not have much wasted fabric.

Now take your second fabric 3 1/4" x 5 1/2" rectangles and using the photo above as an example, place the "C" line against the left edge of the rectangle.  Cut SLOWLY.

Your fabric should now look like this.  (You can save the small curved slice underneath the ruler to use as your "leader scrap" as described in the first tutorial.  Just fold a slice over double and you have a perfect scrap to begin the next curved seam.  :)

Now it's time to sew, press and trim the above pictured pieces just like we did in METHOD 1.  Please refer back to the tutorial for METHOD 1 for complete, detailed photos and in-depth instructions.  Just "click" on the following link:

If you are reading this post from an e-mail, please copy and paste 
the following web address in your browser.

Quick Overview
Sew...set stitch length to 18 stitches per inch, 
sew with approx. 1/8" allowance

Press...use steam, press in direction pieces naturally fall

Trim.... (First 2 sides), line up "Dot 1" & "Dot 2" with curved seam,
trim right side and top

Trim...(Last 2 sides), flip square around, align trimmed left and bottom 
edges with the "C" line on ruler, trip right side and top

Your finished METHOD 2 segments should measure 4 1/2" square and look like this....

I'm still in the "playing mode" and haven't decided how I want to construct my final 12 1/2" unfinished block. Decisions, decisions, decisions. :)

The above possible layout uses METHOD 2, METHOD 5 and a plain 4 1/2" square in the center.

Check back later to see how I decide to complete my quilt block.

Until next time.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mystery Quilt - Arranging the Blocks

For several months, the Broome County Night Guild has offered it's members the opportunity to participate in a mystery quilt designed by member, Candy Beardsley.  During this month's meeting a couple of nights ago, we were given the final clue.

Now we have all the information we need to finish the center of the quilt top and apply the inner border. When I bought my new (1st ever) design wall two days ago, I hadn't thought about how handy it would be when working on the final instructions for this mystery quilt top.  I can't believe I've functioned this long without a design wall!!

Update: 11/12/2014....per a request from the designer, I must remove the photo of the constructed blocks on my design wall.  So there will no longer be a photo below.

 How we choose to completely finish it is up to us individually.  We can leave it at this point, with a narrow border added and it will be a perfect lap size...or add additional border/blocks, etc.  I'm debating about possibly adding borders to make it a little bigger.  I've got time to think about it since we won't be asked to bring them to the guild meeting for a few months to show off. :)

I'm really happy with the big reveal!  I had no idea it would turn out so pretty.  Candy did a GREAT job designing!!!!  She named this design "TIED TO A STAR".

One last thing....if you happen to be participating in the Aiming For Accuracy Quilt-Along and don't already have the first set of cutting is the link to learn what you need to do next.

Keep sewing!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Playing With My New Ruler - Birthday Blocks

I've been having fun playing with my new Learning Curve Ruler while putting together birthday blocks for quilters in the online birthday block swap group.

The first birthday quilter (whose birthday is early July) lives in Texas.  She requested blocks in turquoise, bright pinks and purples.  Using the new ruler, first I made 4 - 4 1/2" squares (the pink/purple blocks with the curved seam), the I cut 1 - 4 1/2" turquoise square and 4 - 4 1/2" floral prints squares.  My thought was to make a basic 9-patch block "with a twist"....or in this case "with a curve". :)  I think it's cute...simple and easy, but different in a good way.

I used one of the blocks assembled in my tutorial for Method 1 as the second block to send her.

I think she will be very happy with her birthday blocks!

There are two quilters with birthdays close together so I'm mailing both of their packages at the same time.  The second set of birthday blocks are headed to Australia!!!  This birthday quilter requested ANYTHING bright, not too dark, VERY BRIGHT....especially turquoise, hot pinks, purples, lime greens, etc., etc. are the blocks I'm sending to her....

The block on the left is called Wind-Surfing, designed by Nan Baker.  You should recognize the block on the right from my Method 1 tutorial. :)

One more thing before I close this post.  Can you believe I've been quilting for two decades and I've never had a design wall?  I've always used my floor...but that's getting harder and harder to reach these days! heehee

Looky, looky at my new toy! :)

Of course I would like one bigger....but hey, this is better than nothing!  It is 60" x 72" (I think! :) :)  Maybe one day, when I'm a REAL quilter I will have a design wall that stretches across an entire wall! LOL

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tutorial - Learning Curve Ruler - Method 1

This is THE LEARNING CURVE ruler created by Linda Warren of Linda Warren Designs.  If your local quilt/fabric shop does not carry this tool, you can order one directly from the website.

If you are reading this blog post from an e-mail version, the website address is:

The endless uses of this ruler, and the amazing, limitless possibilities are mind blowing!  The following photos are just a teensy, tiny peek into what you can do with this ruler.....

Linda Warren, the designer, has broken down the basic "instructions" into what she calls "METHODS".  The  combination of "methods" appear to be never ending.  The above blocks (measuring 12 1/2" unfinished) are a result of using METHOD 1 and METHOD 4.

The construction of the above pictured blocks are as follows:
METHOD 1 - Top, Bottom, Left & Right middle/center "squares"
METHOD 4 - All four corner "squares"
Center section is a basic 4 1/2" square

Today's tutorial will focus on METHOD 1

Choose a dark fabric and a lighter fabric.  If working with Fat Quarters, cut 2 strips that are 5 1/2" wide from each fat quarter.  Then sub-cut into 5 1/2" squares.  You will need FOUR - 5 1/2" squares from each fabric for a total of EIGHT - 5 1/2" squares (this will actually result in enough pieces to make the required METHOD 1 sections for two separate coordinating 12 1/2" blocks.)

As you can see, I am using the dark turquoise and lighter pink.  Stack the 5 1/2" squares for cutting.  You may want to begin with cutting two squares at a time.  As you feel more comfortable with the ruler you can increase the amount of squares you are comfortable cutting at one time.  Also, it does not matter what "side" of the fabric is facing up or down for this part (right sides can be facing the same direction, or not).

Line up the left edge of your 5 1/2" squares with the "A" marked line on The Learning Curve ruler.

Helpful Hint:  Because you will be making a curved cut, it is best to use a medium (45mm) or smaller rotary cutter rather than a larger 65mm, etc.

Make the cut SLOWLY, and remain focused on following the curve of the ruler.  It really is not difficult at all, but if you go too fast, or lose focus, you will more than likely start out beautifully and by the end of the curve your rotary cutter may "straighten out" the curve on it's own accord and not result in the nice, clean curved cut that is needed.

(Helpful Hint:  Shorten your stitch length to approximately 18 stitches per extremely slow and using a "needle down" option is nice if your machine offers that feature.)

Notice how the pink piece looks like the letter "D".....and the turquoise piece looks like the letter "C" (a backwards "C' anyway. :) :)  The "D" piece will be on the bottom, and the "C" piece will be the top piece (rights side together of course!) will look strange and look like there is no way you can sew the two pieces together. :)

****Prior to sewing the block prevent the machine "eating" the pointy ends of your pieces, or the strings getting caught....always start the seam with a scrap piece of fabric (or leader/ender project).  This will save you a lot of headaches!

When you prepare to sew, the "C" piece (turquoise) should extend past or overlap the "D" piece (pink) approximately 1/4".  It does not have to be precise, just approximate.

Also, notice in the above picture that the bottom piece (pink) is visible and I don't have my two pieces of fabric perfectly aligned, edge to edge like we do when piecing other quilt blocks.  Because we are sewing a "curve", it is wise to keep that bottom fabric visible so you can be confident it hasn't accidentally slid away as you sew the seam.

Helpful Hint:  We've always been taught to sew a "scant" 1/4" seam allowance whenever piecing our blocks. But for this we will BREAK THE RULES and use anywhere from 1/8" - 1/4" seam allowance.  We also have the luxury of not having to be perfect....meaning, you may find that you start the seam with 1/8" seam, by the middle of the seam you have slowly increased to closer to 1/4", then by the end of the seam you have slowly gravitated back to 1/8".  That's okay!!  To quote Linda Warren - "That's Perfect Enough!"  

I'm working on a video to demonstrate actually sewing this together and will add the link to this tutorial when finished....but until then, looking at the above photo, envision holding the top "C" piece with your right hand, and holding the bottom "D" piece with your left hand (my left hand was holding the camera so pretend you see my left hand in the picture. :)  Holding both pieces in this fashion will allow you to gently sew, easing the curved sides SLOWLY!!!!!  

Linda Warren pointed out to me that she actually instructs others to do this completely opposite from what I described.  She uses her left hand to hold and guide the top "C" pieces and then uses her right hand, underneath, to hold and guide the "D" piece.  

I think my mind works on a different frequency than most at even though I attempted the way she natural tendency is to always have my right hand on top, guiding.  My advice would be to do as Linda suggests...and if you have difficulty, maybe your brain is crooked like mine, so give my way a whirl! :)

After pieces are sewn, place them face down on your ironing surface.  You will be able to see how the seams will naturally "lean"....

We get to BREAK THE RULES once again.  Typically we are taught to press our quilt blocks with dry heat...never using steam.  BUT, when piecing curves, we will use steam!

From the back side of the block, gently steam press the seam in the direction it naturally wants to lay.  Don't pull tightly or distort the block.

Now flip the block over to the front and gently steam press down once more.

Now it's time to go back to your cutting mat....

Place the ruler with the curved edge pointing towards your stomach.  Do you see where my fingers are pointing to the "#1 Dot" on the left and the #2 Dot" on the right?  Simply align the center black dots on the CURVED SEAM.

Using your rotary cutter, trim the fabric overage from the right and top sides.

Now flip the block around, keeping the curved edge of the ruler pointing towards your body.

Notice the "C" lines on the ruler (where my fingers are pointing, left and bottom), align the left and bottom edge of the block with the "C" lines.

Trim the fabric overage from the top and right sides.

The result is a perfect 4 1/2" square.  Now you have mastered METHOD 1. 

This photo shows the layout I chose to sew my blocks together.  As long as you use an accurate 1/4" seam when sewing the block sections together, the curved seams of the circle line up perfectly in the finished block!  I must say, my finished blocks are MORE than "perfect enough"...they truly ARE perfect! :)

I plan to continue providing a tutorial for each METHOD (there are six) and then additional tutorials are planned as we learn to mix and match the different METHOD segments to produce an endless array of finished block designs.

Doesn't this look fun and easy?  You know you really want this ruler, so go ahead and make the splurge and order one.  And just in case you are wondering....NO...I have no affiliation to the product, nor do I benefit monetarily from any purchases you may make. :) :)  I'm just excited to share what I've learned with you!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tutorial - Union Square 12 1/2" Block

Block will measure 12 1/2" Unfinished and 12" Finished
It's time again for me to piece together a couple of blocks for the online Birthday Block Swap I'm participating in this year.  These block will be heading to Wisconsin.  Since this first block is an old, public domain design, I thought that I'd make a picture tutorial of the steps needed to complete this block, the Union Square.

As you can see from the photo, this block uses three different fabrics.  I used three Fat Quarters in the colors requested by the "birthday quilter".

If you don't know already, I like to use the Easy Angle Ruler whenever possible. 

First I cut a 4 1/2" wide strip of brown and a 4 1/2" wide strip of purple.

Place the two coordinating strips together, rights sides together.

Using the Easy Angle Ruler, line up the top of the strips with the 4 1/2" marker and cut.

Make a total of four sets of triangles.

(Helpful Hint:  If you do not own an Easy Angle Ruler, you can get the same results by cutting two squares measuring 4 7/8" from both fabrics.  Then cut the four squares (2 brown & 2 purple) on the diagonal which will leave you with 4 triangles of each color.)

Chain piece your four triangle sets.  At this point, I set my four sewn triangle units aside to start the next step.

Next I cut strips of fabric that were 2 1/2" wide, using the purple and green fabrics.

Lay these strips together face to face as described earlier.

Again using the Easy Angle Ruler, line up the ruler using the 2 1/2" mark.

Pivot ruler and continue making triangle sets.

You will need a total of 16 matched 2 1/2" triangle sets.

(Helpful Hint:  You can get the same size triangle sets by cutting eight 2 7/8" squares from both fabric choices, then cutting all 16 squares (8 purple and 8 green) on the diagonal.  This will give you 16 sets of triangle units to sew into blocks.)

While still at the cutting mat, using the remainder of the 2 1/2" strip of green fabric, cut 2 1/2" squares.

You will need a total of four 2 1/2" squares.

Now head back to your sewing machine and chain piece the sixteen sets of 2 1/2" triangles together.

At this point, I trimmed all the dog ears off all the pieced triangle sets (16 - 2 1/2" sets, and 4 - 4 1/2" sets).

Set your seams.

Press your triangle units open, towards the darker fabric.

Puzzle time! :)  Lay out all the pieces in the correct order.

Using your "puzzle" as a guide, sew pairs of the 2 1/2" triangle square units together first.

Now your puzzle should look like the above photo.

We will now think of the block as being sub-divided into four sections as we continue sewing the pieces together.

Sew the top corner 2 1/2" square to the pair of triangle squares next to it.  (Do the same with all corner squares.)  Then sew the center  4 1/2" triangle squares to the strip of 2 1/2" triangle squares laying beside them.  Until it looks like the above photo.

Still envisioning the "puzzle" subdivided into four equal groups, sew top sections to each bottom section until it looks like the photo above.

We're almost finished!  Sew left top section to right top section.  Then sew left bottom section to right bottom section.  Your "puzzle" should look like the picture above.

ONE LAST SEAM!!!!!  Sew top half to bottom half!  Now you have a Union Square block that should measure 12 1/2" square at this point!!!!

Of course, the Birthday Block Swap requires us to send two blocks to each birthday quilter.  The second block I made is called "Tulip Lady Fingers"...........

Here are the two birthday blocks side-by-side.  Now I need to get them mailed before the post office closes today.

Until next time.