27 Apr

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 11 — Pau!

Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

Part 7 here.

Part 8 here.

Part 9 here.

Part 10 here.

“Pau” means “finished” or “done” in Hawaiian and that’s pretty much where we are with our Aloha Pineapple quilts! After tying the three quilt layers together, all that’s left is binding. I’ll post photos of the process below, but there’s already a glut of excellent tutorials on the web, so links may suffice. First though — to the quilts!

Mine looks great on daughter’s bed, but I have a family in mind I’d like to give it to.
Aloha Pineapple Quilt -- finished!

Jason’s turned out great and really honors the Aloha shirts that gave their lives for the project. I hope he enjoys many happy years under this quilt. (You gotta click these photos to see them big.)

Katie’s bold man-quilt will be for her guy when he returns from deployment. What a great reminder it will be of their time here in the islands.

Lynn brought her top, but has the backing and batting already laid out at home so I know she’ll be done soon. Her’s is a gift for a friend who loves the soft, country colors. I hope that it too, provides years of enjoyment.

I am so incredibly proud of my students. Deb and Kathleen are still working diligently on their quilts and I can’t wait to see their finished masterpieces. We’re already talking about the next class in September. We are going back to a variation of the last project class. It will probably be a pillow and a tote or table runner. One applique project and one pieced project. Yo-yos will be involved. When I teach these classes, my main goal is to familiarize my students with some basic construction skills so that when they see a pattern in a magazine or store, they can say, “that’s applique and I do/do not like that,” or “I see the half square triangles in that design and am confident I could do that,” or “paper piecing sounds daunting, but I actually like it.” What really excites me is when my students take the skills I’ve taught them and branch out on their own.

Katie and I put our heads together to enlarge the half square triangle pillow and make an Aloha baby quilt for a fellow service member and new mom:
Aloha Baby Quilt

Flush with her baby-quilt-making skills Katie also went off on her own and whipped out this blue pineapple quilt for another baby friend:

Jason’s working on a quilt for his niece who’s about to have a baby too. Pink, brown, and butterflies were his instruction. It’s gonna be adorable when done!

So, on to the binding. I usually just cut 2.5″ wide strips from the width of my fabric and sew them end to end (at a 45° angle to reduce bulk), but I hear anecdotally that bias binding wears better in the long run. Marcia Hohn’s Quilter’s Cache (a great resource in and of itself)  has a nice tutorial for both methods and two ways to sew the binding on as well.

Start with a square of fabric and put two pins in opposite sides. Cut the fabric on one diagonal.
Continuous binding 1

Pin together those two sides with the pins, right sides together, and sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Continuous binding 2

Starting on one long side, mark the wrong side of your fabric with the desired width of your binding (I like 2.5″). I use pencil on light fabric and chalk liner on dark fabric. If you have a skinny strip left at the top, just cut it off.
Continuous binding 3

Pin the two short ends together, lining up your drawn lines, but offset by one row. Also be sure you are lining up the lines not at the edge of teh fabric, but 1/4″ down, where the seam will be sewn. Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Continuous binding 4

Starting with one of the off-set end rows, cut along your marked lines to make a continuous strip of bias binding like magic!
Continuous binding 5

Iron your strip in half and you are ready to sew it on to your quilt.
Continuous binding 6

I like french binding sewn on with mitered corners. It looks good and it pretty much the default method. Heather Bailey has a nice graphic tutorial here. She talks about glamorous corners, and I have to say, I think mine are more glamorous these days, but that’s just years of practice. The more accurate you are at the corners, the more square they will be.

To sew your binding on, first mark or trim your edges nice and straight and make sure your corners are square. I was confident that the edges and corners of my quilt top were where they wanted, so they are my guide. The batting and backing are left rough so that they don’t accidentally pull back and not get sewn into the binding on the back of the quilt. If I do have to trim the top of a quilt, I tend to cut all three layers since, in general, your quilting will hold everything in place. Align the raw edges of your binding strip with the raw edges, or marked line, of your quilt top. Start somewhere in the center of one side. Leave about a 6″ “tail” and sew 1/4″ from the edge. I’d basted my border 1/4″ from the edge, so I moved my needle position a few clicks to the left to make sure I would hide that basting in the seam allowance. Oh, and if you have a walking foot for your machine, now is the time to use it! Stop sewing 1/4″ from the corner (see my pin). The more accurate this stop is, the more glamorous your corner will be.
Sewing Binding 1

Pull the quilt out from under your needle, but you don’t necessarily have to cut the thread — just give yourself a little room to work. Fold the binding away from the quilt making a 45° angled fold. The raw edges of the binding will now continue the line of the next edge of the quilt.
Sewing Binding 2

Fold that binding back onto the next side of your quilt, making sure the fold aligns with the raw edges of the first side. It will cover up that pretty little 45° fold underneath.
Sewing Binding 3

Rotate your quilt 90° and continue sewing your binding, starting from the fold, along this next side of the quilt.
Sewing Binding 4

Continue around your quilt like this until you approach where you started. Stop about 10,” or even a bit more, from where you started and remove the quilt from your sewing machine — this time cutting the threads. Lay your binding tails smooth on your quilt top and overlap them. Cut the end of one tail square, and cut the other one so that their overlap is the width of your unfolded binding (in this case 2.5″).
Sewing Binding 5

Pin those squared binding ends, right sides together, at right angles.
Sewing Binding 6

Sew corner to corner across that overlapped box of binding. Test it to make sure you sewed across the correct diagonal before you cut off the excess fabric!
Sewing Binding 7

Trim excess fabric 1/4″ from your seam line and finger press the seam open.
Sewing Binding 8

Fold the biding back in half and sew this last section onto the quilt. You’re now done with the sewing machine work.
Sewing Binding 9

Cut off any excess batting and backing, leaving a nice 1/4″-ish of quilt material in the binding seam allowance. Fold the folded edge of the binding over to the back side of your quilt and sew it down by hand near or on the machine stitched seam using a blind stitch. Some people machine stitch this too, and Ricky Tims has a very schamncy way of doing this, but I like the clean, invisible hand sewn method and find it a quiet way to spend and evening or two on the couch.
Sewing Binding 10

When you get to the corners, sew your first side down all the way out into the seam allowance of the next side, making that boat-like angle fold as close to 45° as possible. Folding over the next side will bring that angle over what you’ve just sewn down and should make a nice mitered look both on the front and on the back. Tack that fold down and then continue on blind stitching the next side. I think that traditional quilt show competitions want that miter tacked down on the front side too, but I never bother since they seem to hold up just as well for me this way and I like to just power away at sewing the back side down.

Your quilt has been handled a lot at this point and might want to be washed. I use the gentle cycle on my top-load machine, cold water, and a textile friendly soap like Eucalan. A bed quilt I will more often than not put in the dryer too, on a low-ish heat and finish off the drying outside on the rack. An art quilt that has surface design that can’t handle the stress of the machines, I will soak in the tub and dry flat on towels on the floor.

Enjoy your quilt — you are PAU!

18 Apr

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 10

 

Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

Part 7 here.

Part 8 here.

Part 9 here.

Oops, I skipped ahead to the tying without covering borders as I had promised. After all your pineapple blocks are finished and sewn together, and the foundation paper is removed, give the whole thing a good press. Now you can add borders if you’d like. These pineapple blocks are pretty intense, and though I don’t always add a border to everything I sew, I think this really calls for something to finish it off.

Katie’s was pretty straightforward. The solid color in her pineapple blocks is black, and the background in her border print is black. All the colors coordinate, and the scale of her border fabric is a nice contrast to the scale of the pineapple blocks. So a nice wide border was all she needed.

The rest of us liked the look of a thin border of our solid fabric, followed by something that pulls it all together. I used the last scraps of my fabric to piece this piano key border. I made four strips of “keys,” each long enough to lap at the corners.

Almost done!

Remember Deb’s plan with the thin red and then a border of the fabric she’d been using within the blocks? She’s still looking for the right fabric, but I love the this idea of showing in the border what’s been hinted at in the blocks. I also think that this bold leaf design will compliment her bold colors.

Jason has really got the concept of borders down. He’s used a thin orange-ish border on his quilt front, followed by the turquoise fabric he used for the center of each block (ties it all together). The backing fabric he wanted to use wasn’t big enough, so what did he do? Added borders until it was large enough, of course! I like how the skinny inner borders mimic the borders on the front of the quilt.

Adding borders is relatively simple. There’s just a few tips to keep in mind. If the sides of your quilt are different lengths, then simply adding borders the same length as each side will only emphasize the wonkiness. The solution is to ease opposite sides to the same length.

If you are confident that your blocks are accurate, then you would know, for example, that a side with 9 blocks that finish at 7″ each, would mean your border strip would need to be 63″ long, plus 1/4″ seam allowance at each end, for a total of 63.5″ long.

If your blocks aren’t quite such an easy number, or you think your seams aren’t very consistent, then you need to measure the quilt top. I like to start with the long sides, so measure the longer dimension of your quilt on each side and down the middle. The measurements should be within an inch of each other — less if it’s a smallish quilt and if you are a consistent sewer. Take the average of those three measurements and cut two strips of your border fabric to that length and your desired width for that border (we chose 1.5″ for our skinny borders, and 3.5″ to 7.5″ for wider ones).

Pin each end of your borders to your quilt and then add more pins along the length, gently easing in any discrepancies. Sew, using a 1/4″ seam allowance, with the puffier fabric underneath (whether that’s the border fabric or the pineapple blocks). The feed dogs on your machine will help take up a little extra fabric, making it easier to sew a smooth seam.

Now measure, average, cut, pin, and sew the shorter sides. Voila, you have a border. If you want several borders, like Deb’s proposed thin and wide ones, sew the first (thin) border on all four sides, then repeat the process and sew on the second (wider) border. For my piano key border, I sewed four strips of piano keys longer than I needed them, then trimmed the length to size when I was ready to sew them on, as if they were one solid fabric. I made mitered corners, which I won’t explain here, but can write up separately if requested (a tutorial can probably be googled, and instructions are in many quilting books).

Lynn is working on half square triangles for a border. Because you don’t necessarily want to cut a triangle off willy-nilly (it will look markedly different than all the others in the row), a pieced border like that will require a little advance planning. I like to add a thin border first that will take the quilt to an easily divisible number, like two (which will be the finished size, in inches, of the half square triangles). Then divide the length of the sides by that number and you’ll know how many to make. plus four for the corners.

Happy bordering!

11 Apr

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 9

 

Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

Part 7 here.

Part 8 here.

Since it had been two weeks since the last installment, and we worked on two phases of our quilt construction, I’m posting TWO parts. The basting probably went pretty quick, so the next task is to hold teh layers of the quilt together permanently.

These pineapple blocks have a lot of seams in them, which could be difficult to hand quilt over. They are also visually quite busy, so free motion or pantograph designs could get lost and therefore not be worthy of the time spent creating them. I’d suggest simple straight line machine quilting, like diagonal lines X-ing through the centers of the blocks, or in-the-ditch quilting.

Almost done!

OR, you could tie the layers together like was often done on old utilitarian quilts. I’ve decided to continue my scrappy theme and use up some of my embroidery floss bits and bobs. Jason plans on using deep blue for his, and Katie will use black to match the solid color in her quilt.

Tie 1

Use a large eye needle embroidery or chenille (and a threader to make life easier) and thread it will a long length of floss. Stitch from the front of the quilt, through all three layers, and back out the front, about 1/4″ away. Pull the floss almost all the way through, but leave a tail 1″ to 2″ long.

Tie 2

Put the needle back into the quilt right next to where you did the first time and, again, back out 1/4″ away, near where you came out the first time.

Tie 3

Pull it taught, but not so tight it puckers or pulls the floss all the way out (then you’d have to start over).

Tie 4

Tie a square knot with the ends.

Tie 5

Looks good!

Tie 6

Cut the tails (mine are on the long side, but don’t cut them so short they could pull out of the knot) and move on to the next tie. I tied my top in the center of each block and at the intersections of the blocks.

I think it is smart to use a batting with some polyester in it when you are tying a quilt. You want something that doesn’t need to be stitched too closely. If you want to use a more delicate batting, that might clump over time, then machine stitching closer together would be the way to go.

All that’s left is to bind the quilt!

Just for fun, here’s a real pineapple. After more than two years, the pineapple top in my back yard has finally decided to fruit. At this young stage, I can almost see how it inspired the quilt block.

Real Pineapple (baby)

11 Apr

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 8

 

Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

Part 7 here.

Our progress is really showing now! Most of us have pieced our tops together (pineapple blocks + borders), and are at some stage of getting our three layers together.

Deb’s pile of blocks is looking wonderfully colorful and Hawaiian. Once the blocks are done, then they need to be laid out in a pleasing arrangement.

Laying out the blocks

Here Jason helps Kathleen lay out her beachy blocks. She’ll label the backs and then sew them together (see Part 7 for a tutorial).

Basting 1

Then comes the layering and basting. Here’s Katie’s backing laid out, face down, on the floor. Tape the fabric smooth, but not so taught it’s pulled out of shape.

Basting 1.5

Taping works well on a smooth floor like this, but you can use straight pins to secure your layers if you have a carpeted surface.

Basting 2

Lay the batting on top and smooth it out, starting in the center and working out towards the edges. Depending on how well your batting “sticks” to the backing fabric you may or may not want to tape it to the floor too.

Basting 3

Center the quilt top, face up, on top of the batting. Smooth it out, again from the center, and tape the edges in place.

Basting 4

Use safety pins (curved ones are easiest to use) to pin all three layers together, spacing them about a hand’s width apart. Start in the center and work your way out to the edges. You could also baste with needle and thread using very big stitches and a thread color that contrasts with your top. Once the layers are basted together you can remove and dispose of the tape. Now you can take your quilt anywhere to stitch or tie the layers more permanently.

Here’s Jason’s basted quilt, showing off his pieced backing that is dramatic enough to be a quilt on it’s own.

Katie’s color just glow!

And here’s Deb’s blocks — almost ready to be sewn together!

My friend Kim has found an effective way to baste quilts without crawling around on the floor. Click here for the video she learned from and a tutorial with her own adjustments to the method.

30 Mar

Another Quilt Along!

First off, thank you all so much for the lovely comments on my book giveaway post! I love reading each and every one. And, there’s still time to comment on that post, if you haven’t done so already, and get a chance to win “my” book and a lovely bundle of Hawaiian fabrics.

On to other fun stuff. I’ve been having my own little quilt along here with the Aloha Pineapple quilt, but I also found another quilt along I couldn’t resist. Cherry House Quilts was making a simple, striking, small, quilt that just plain appealed to me. The small size meant that if I could find appropriate fabrics in my stash, I could join the quilt along without disrupting all my other projects (too much).

Cherry House Quilt Along

All the little squares are from my scrap bins — I just kept grabbing pieces until I had enough, not paying tooooooo much attention which, or how many, colors I had. Only one square from each fabric though, so it’s kinda like a charm quilt. Then I laid all the squares out and rearranged them until I liked the columns. There’s some stuff in there you wouldn’t intentionally put together.

Cherry House Quilt Along

Cherrie’s example had straight line quilting, which looks great, but I knew I could do that. So, I decided i’d try something still geometric, but with a little contrast. I drew the center circles (sort of evenly distributed all over the quilt) with a water soluble marking pen and then carefully followed the line with the walking foot. For each successive circle, I lined up the edge of the foot with the previous line. As the circles got bigger, and the curve less extreme, the quilting went easier. Of course, pulling the quilt, even gently, around those curves resulted in some distortion. I basted with safety pins, so maybe this would be the kind of situation where spray-baste would be more appropriate. I switched thread colors every 3 to 5 rounds. I also worked on all the circles at once, adding rings all over until I liked the sizes and overlaps. I did not plan at the outset how large each one would be. So, there’s some puffs and a few unsightly tucks, but it’s all part of the learning process.

Cherry House Quilt Along

Overall, I like this quilt very much. When I was mostly done with it, Cherrie put out a call to quilters for baby quilts for the Early Head Start program in Boston where one of her daughters is a nurse in training. I was happy to send this perfectly baby-sized quilt in response. I hope that it gets spit-up on a and dragged around and loved and no one will care that the quilting is not perfect because it’s just a nice warm place to be swaddled in. I didn’t put a label or name on it because I just wanted it to go out into the world and be. But here, I think I’ll call it “Charming Puddle.”

27 Mar

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: quilting along!

Intro here.

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

Part 6 here.

Not exactly Part 7, but I wanted to share some more pineapple blocks.

Commenter DianeY was actually the one who encouraged me to take on this project. She thought Aloha print Pineapple blocks would be fun, and while she couldn’t make it to my side of the island for morning classes, she was definitely up for some sort of group push. So, following along with her stash of red and neutrals, here’s a taste of what DianeY’s been up to:

I like how the limited color palette allows her to mix up the arrangement of the lights and darks in each block and have it still look very cohesive.

On the other end of the spectrum is Laura’s free pieced and polka dotted Loco Piña! If Betsy Johnson and Freddie Moran made a quilted collaboration, this might be it! Laura was a little apprehensive in including her version with the rest of the group, but I just love how it shows that there’s a lot of leeway in these traditional blocks. You can be as controlled or as crazy as you want. It’s all good!

Mahalo DianeY and Laura for Quilting Along with us, and for allowing me to share your quilts in progress!

25 Mar

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 7

 

Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

63 Aloha Pineapple Blocks

Oops, it’s been another long stretch, but perhaps that’s been enough time to complete the pineapple blocks. I had a big push this last week and completed the last two this morning.

As of last Monday, my students had the finish in sight as well. Jason had completed the 80 he wanted to make, Katie only needed to make a dozen more, and Lynn was completing her final two.

This is a good time to put a new needle in the sewing machine. All that sewing on paper foundations dulls a needle. Once the blocks are done, sewing them together and adding borders will go much smoother with a sharp needle.

With all the pineapple blocks done, the next step is to sew them together.

1: Layout

First, lay them all out on a design wall (big piece of batting or flannel pinned, or otherwise attached to the wall) or on the floor. Make sure you like the placement of your blocks, rearranging or rotating them as necessary to make sure the colors are evenly distributed (like mine and Jason’s), or that you have a regular pattern (like Katie’s and Lynn’s). Flip all the blocks over and mark the paper on the backs alphanumerically so you can keep track of the rows (A, B, C, etc), and the columns (1, 2, 3, etc.). Now you can make each column a stack with the As on top.

2: label

I like to chain sew my blocks together because: a) not cutting the threads between blocks makes for tidier sewing and less thread wastage; and b) leaving the blocks linked makes it easier to keep track of their order and makes sewing the rows together a snap.

At this point, I gently tear off the large corner pieces of the foundations just before I sew each block. I do this so that the blocks feed more smoothly through the sewing machine and so I don’t have so much of that little seam allowance bit of foundation to tear off later. Do keep the rest of the foundation though as it has your numbering system on it, and it keeps the blocks stable as you are sewing.

3: chain sew

Place block A2 face down on top of A1 and sew them together with the usual 1/4″ seam allowance and a slightly smaller than usual stitch size. Without cutting your thread, sew off the end of the A blocks and continue sewing onto blocks B1 and B2 (right sides together). Continue chain piecing with blocks C1 to C2, D1 to D2, etc. until you’ve sewn all your 1s to all your 2s. Now you can remove the chain from the sewing machine, or sew onto a scrap and then cut the chain from the back of the scrap. Backstitch at the start and end of each column for more stability. No need to backstitch on each and every block.

4: end on a scrap

The paper foundations do have two drawbacks: they are heavy and stiff. This makes them a bit cumbersome to sew. The benefits outweigh the hassle though. Just keep your chain in your lap and support the blocks on your sewing table if gravity takes over and they pull against your sewing.

Return to the top of the 1 and 2 columns you’ve just sewn together and add the 3s. Sew A3 to A2, keep the chain intact and sew B3 to B2, continue sewing, adding C3 to C2, and so on until you’ve added all the 3 blocks. Snip the scrap from the top of the column and now sew onto it at the bottom. Snip the column from the scrap and return to the top of your growing quilt and sew on the column of 4s. Continue on this way until you’ve sewn on all your blocks. I had seven columns in all. Depending on the layout you’ve chosen, you might have more, or less.

With all the columns sewn together, you end up with tidy rows of blocks like the photo above. Look closely at the photo below to see the thread “chain” holding the rows together (now you can’t accidentally swap the rows or flip them over!).

When I’m sewing rows together, I like to press the seams of one row in the opposite direction of the next row. The problem with these foundations though, is that all that toner from the foundations will end up on the bottom of your iron. Blech! You could remove the paper now, since everything is in place and you no longer need the alphanumeric prompts, but all those scraps can have stretchy bias bits, and with this many blocks, the quilt wants to throw it’s weight around. I found that it was enough to pin mindfully and keep the stability of the paper.

8: nest seams

So, fold row A face down over Row B and pin where the seams between blocks meet (ignore the seams within a block). Make sure that all your A seams face in one direction and all your B seams face in the other. Note that the seams nest against each other to make a tidy and not-too-bulky join. Place the pins at an angle so that you can sew all the way onto the intersection before you need to remove each pin.

Once Row A is sewn to Row B, fold B onto Row C and pin and sew again. Continue until all your rows are sewn. A little backstitch at the beginning and end of each row is good to keep the ends from pulling apart.

And, voilá! Here’s what the back of your quilt top should look like now. Put on a good movie, turn on the radio, or fire up a book on tape, and pull off the rest of the foundation papers. This can be tedious, but it’s not hard. I think I’ll take mine to class and pull out paper while I’m talking to my students.

The next installment will be about borders. We’ve got some good stuff in the works which I hope will be far enough along to show after Monday.

07 Mar

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 6

 

Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

It’s been a few weeks since the last check in and everyone except me has been very industrious.

Today we talked a bit about borders. Borders are an interesting thing. Many a traditional quilter thinks that a quilt is not complete without a border. And many quilts are not. But borders are not always necessary. With our traditional Pineapple Log Cabin design, borders are a nice way to enhance the colors, frame the design, and add a little size if needed! I brought examples of quilts with no borders, plain borders, thin and thick multiple borders, borders of half square triangles (since most of my students are already familiar with this block), and piano key borders. My idea in presenting all these options is to get us thinking about what we each want for the next step in our project. Our next class is in two weeks and I’m excited to see what ideas (and fabrics) everyone comes back with after mulling this over for a while.

I’ve been very lethargic, and not made any blocks. However, Deb and Kathleen previously of one block each, now have quite respectable piles!

 

Deb is aiming towards a slightly smaller 5 block by 7 block quilt with a large border. She loves the hawaiian laua’e design and has featured it strongly in her fabrics, so I thought it was natural to showcase the design in the border. The white fabric is what she had on hand to test the idea. She’ll be shopping around for the perfect fabric — maybe a yellow one….

 

Kathleen is going to push herself to make the intended 63 blocks. Here’s what she had last week, and she had twice as many today, so we’re confident she’ll make her goal. She’s got a nice watery feel going on here, like a tank of tropical fish.

 

Jason is powering away on his 8 x 10 block Ode to the Aloha Shirt. He’s over half way there. We auditioned multiple borders for him. He likes the way the butterscotch border extends the pineapple design, and we’re excited about the possibilities of the turquoise fabric that he’s used for his block centers. I could also see a wonderful, scrappy piano key border on this one with more of the shirt fabrics.

Katie’s jewel of a man quilt is progressing as well, but I don’t have any new photos.

 

Lynne stopped by for a few minutes but didn’t stay to sew, so I’m not sure where she stands. Though, last week she was having fun using cute little bunnies and kitties in her centers! Her quilt is going to be such a warm and wonderful gift.