Saturday, January 14, 2017

You've Got Mail! - Block Lottery for February 2017

Hi!  This is Wendi and I'm this month's guest presenter for the ECMQG Block Lottery.  This month we'll be making this You've Got Mail block.  The block is a simple paper-pieced affair, and is super easy. 

It.  Is.  NOT.  Hard. 


I'm not a huge fan of paper-piecing, but I admit that it has its place - and this is one of them.  Paper piecing is great when you want to create a block with some crazy intricate shapes that don't lend themselves very well to the geometric shapes we quilters usually piece.

This version of the pattern is called You've Got Mail! (which actually made me want to fire up the old VCR and pull out the flick with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.)  Other versions of the pattern are called Envelope Block and Love Letters.  I'm sure it has other names.  Some of them may be free, but this one is not. The pattern is available here on Craftsy at a cost of $3.00. 

Prepare and print the pattern: 

The pattern is available in both 10" and 6" sizes and both come with your purchase. Having the blocks available in two sizes makes it possible for us to play with scale.  The 6" block would naturally lend itself to smaller fussy cut designs than the 10" block, right?

Oh - what is fussy cutting?  I'm glad you asked.  Fussy cutting is when you use only the graphic portion of the fabric design you choose, rather than cutting your design randomly.  That way, you can use the exact image you wish.  It's a little wasteful (says the fabric miser), but it's super fun!

So, decide which size you want to make - or make both.  The 6" size will print on one sheet of paper.  You will have to join the sections of the 10" pattern, which will print on 2 sheets of paper.  If you haven't had experience with printing your own patterns, here's a brief run-down.

Your pattern will print on two sheets of paper with about a 1/2" margin on both the right side of page one and the left side of page two.  Cut away the margin on one of the sheets.

Match up the markings on the pattern and tape the pieces together.  Since we are going to be ironing the paper as we create our block, I recommend you don't use regular tape because it will melt.  If you have some masking or painter's tape, I recommend you use that.  I used regular tape because painter's tape is ugly and I wanted you to be able to read the markings on the pattern in this tutorial, but it is not the best choice - it melted when the iron touched it and then left a sticky residue on my presser foot.  =(

Choose your fabrics:

 The photos below are of the 10" block I made, but the instructions are exactly the same regardless of which block you choose to make.

You will need four fabrics to create this design.  You may use scraps, but be sure that the pieces fully cover the entire section of the pattern they are to cover, with a bit to spare.  I am descended from a long line of fabric misers, but I have learned the hard way that the smaller the piece, the more likely it is that your fabric won't cover the area, and then you will become very friendly with your seam ripper.  Don't try to skimp on fabric when you are paper piecing - you will only cause yourself grief.

I suggest that you first choose the fabric you want to fussy cut for the center of your envelope.  I chose Mermaids from the Heather Ross Mendocino reprint for my large block. 

Next, notice that each section of your pattern is numbered.  You will construct your envelope in the order of the numbers.  First, the seamline between A1 and A2, then between A2 and A3, etc.  Now, choose coordinating fabrics for the "glue" (sections A4 and A2), and the "outside of the envelope" (sections A3, A5, A6, A7 and A8.)  Please use Kona White or Bella White (#98) for the borders (Sections A9, A10, A11, and A12.)

Make the block:

Locate the area of the pattern that says A1 (the large area in the center of the pattern).  This is the area your fussy cut fabric must cover, with a 1/4" margin all the way around. 

Now locate the area of the block that says A2 (the "glue" area on the right side of the envelope.)  The line between A1 and A2 will be your first seam line.

Make sure your fussy cut fabric fits in the area marked A1 with at least 1/4" all the way around.  Place your pattern face down on your sewing table.  Place the WRONG side of your fabric on top of Section A1.

I used pins here to help me take the picture, but unless you need them, I don't recommend using pins because they can distort your seams.  If you need pins, make sure they are on the printed side of your pattern.  Some people like to use a bit of glue stick to hold their fabrics in place, but that does have the disadvantage of making the paper harder to remove. 

Holding your pattern and fabric up to the light may help you to position your fabric more easily.

Take a strip of your second fabric (the part that would be the "glue" on a regular envelope) and position it so that the RIGHT side of fabric 2 is facing the RIGHT side of your fussy cut fabric.  The printed side of the pattern should be facing you, with the two fabrics RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER underneath.  Place the straight edge of fabric #2 along the seam line carefully so that there is at least a 1/4" SEAM ALLOWANCE inside section A2.  Also, make sure you have enough fabric toward the center of the pattern that when it is folded over, the fabric will ENTIRELY COVER Section A2.  [I can't stress this enough - this step is where I continually make headaches for myself:  if it's capitalized, I've messed it up.]

Once again, looking at the fabric and pattern through a bright light may help you see that the fabrics are in the correct position.

Move your fabric "sandwich" to your sewing machine, being careful to keep all the pieces in place.  Most people recommend reducing your stitch length to 2.00 cm or 8 stitches per inch. 

Begin sewing at the point where the line begins.  You may wish to lower your needle with the hand wheel to ensure proper placement of the needle. 

Sew to the end of the line and stop.  Remove the sandwich from your machine and make sure it is sewn correctly.

Fold the paper away from the seam.

Place your ruler with the 1/4" mark at the fold in the paper.  I use the Add-a-Quarter ruler, but honestly, any ruler with a 1/4" mark will do.

Cut along the ruler edge to remove the excess fabric, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.

Fold the paper back in place. 

Fold the strip of fabric back so that it covers section A2.

Press flat.

Repeat these steps for each section, following the section numbers in order:  the seam between A1 and A3, then A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8.

Please use Kona White or Bella White for the borders - Sections A9, A10, A11, and A12.   

Trim the blocks around the dotted line, but leave the paper on when you turn in your blocks.

Have fun!  

 I can't wait to see all the fun You've Got Mail Blocks everyone creates!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sew Day: We do. What about you?

Sew Day.  It happens after our regular meeting. 

Lots of space * Conversation * Immediate Feedback * Friends * 

Sharing * Hands on learning * Color * Inspiration * Design *

Group Projects * Uninterrupted Sewing Time*

With our busy go-go-go lives, it's treat to find dedicated time to sew, quilt, and create.  Even sweeter though, is spending a half a day with people who totally "get" you.  

Your tribe.  The other introverts or highly-likely-to-be introverts who prefer a personal craft space to almost anything else.  You know, the people like you who usually have a handwork project ready to go, to keep you occupied in meetings, waiting rooms, after school activities, or simply when you want to tune out the world.

Sew day is for you.  Trust us.

We would love to sew with you, be inspired by you, spend time with you in 2017.  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone who has been a part of ECMQG the best in 2017!  Thank you for your creativity and inspiration!  Have a wonderful and creative New Year!

~ This year's Executive Board
    - Cindy, Wendi, Roxie, Bobbi, and Natalie

Saturday, December 31, 2016

60° Triangles - Block Lottery January 2017

For the month of January, we are sewing with a shape that we haven't tried before - the 60° triangle, aka the equilateral triangle.  

It's not as scary as it looks, thanks to Amy, the fourth volunteer to help with the block lottery.

To our members who were anxiously waiting these photos and instructions, THANK YOU for your patience.  The holidays got the best of us. 

Unlike any previous block lottery, we are asking each unit (it's hard to call a triangle a block) to use a specific fabric.  It is the Rose Border Print in Aqua from Melody Miller's first collection, Mustang, for Cotton + Steel.  

Using a multicolored focus fabric allows for many color combinations that either compliment or contrast.  In the photo below, the fabric chosen are all complimentary and are also Cotton + Steel, but from lines other than Mustang.    

16 triangles are needed for construction.  Use as much (or as little) of the Rose Border Print in Aqua as you want.  However, each 16 triangle unit MUST contain at least one piece.  


There are multiple ways to cut 60° triangles using specialty rulers such as this one or this one.  If you prefer templates, a pdf is available for downloading and printing here.

The method I used for these photos is simply done with the 60° angle lines on my regular ruler.  A tutorial with clear instructions and pictures can be found here.  (No need to reinvent the wheel; Thanks Faith!)  


Whichever method you go with for cutting your 16 triangles, remember these things:

1)   Starch is your friend, as in before cutting, because you'll be making bias cuts. 
2)   Bias edges s-t-r-e-t-c-h.  Do not use steam or starch after cutting.
3)   Accurate sewing with a .25" seam is crucial.  I can't say it enough, do     not stretch your fabric as you sew.  Let your machine and feed dogs do the work.  If your machine's presser foot has a seam guide, use it.   

4)   Press all seams open.  Be gentle.
    5)  Two triangles sewn together with the seams pressed OPEN will have ears.          Do not chop them off.  They are used to line up triangles.


Sew each row individually, left to right.  

Flip the left triangle onto the triangle to its right.  Line up the only two points (upper right hand side in pic.)  The other two points should have a point side and the cut off tip side.  Stitch a ¼ inch seam from circle to circle.

Continue sewing from left to right.  Pay attention to the side you need to sew or you will make a half hexie.  (Ask me how I know!)

Pin the rows together by placing a pin at the point where the seams of the triangle intersect in the upper row.  

Put the pin through the seam intersection in the row underneath.

When pinning, if one triangles edge is a little stretched, don’t pull the other side to line points up.  It can be eased into place by positioning the smaller triangle over your finger and the larger one on top.  It should curve around your finger just enough to ease in the fullness.  Be gentle.  Do not stretch.

Your sewing machine needle should pierce the fabric exactly at the intersection where the seams meet.  Accuracy is the goal.  

Sew all 4 rows in same manner.  Note how the seams all intersect at the same point.

Once all rows are sewn, the finished 16 triangle unit should measure 12.25" from the base to the top point.  

Remember first one always takes longer.  Enjoy and have fun!  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Par-TAY!

 The annual ECMQG Christmas party and handmade ornament swap was held on December 10, 2016 at at 10:00 am at First Baptist Church of Crestview.  Twelve members attended, although only 11 participated in the ornament swap.  Photos will tell the story.

Linda picked first.

Then, Cindy.  After that, it was a typically snatch and grab Dirty Santa game.

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!  We'll see you in January!