Supernova Quilt-Along: Block Planning and Cutting Instructions

Welcome to the first Supernova Quilt-Along weekly post! Let me just say that I am blown away by all of your interest in this quilt-along. I really was not expecting this kind of turn-out. But I have so enjoyed seeing the pictures of the fabric everybody is using, and I can hardly wait for all of your quilts come together.

Anyway, I hope you’re ready to give those rotary cutters a workout. But before we cut a single scrap, we have to do a little planning and strategizing. Don’t worry, it’s more fun than it sounds like it is. : )

Planning Your Blocks

Start by cutting some strips from each of your prints, 3″ wide by the width of fabric. At this point, the length of the strips doesn’t matter, so we can leave them at the width of fabric for now. You’ll cut them down to the correct sizes after you use them to plan out your blocks.

For each of your nine Supernova blocks, lay out your strips to create a progression of color from top to bottom, like I did in the photo above. Your strips could be all one color, progressing from light to dark or dark to light, or you could have more than one color per block. The progression can blend gradually or in more abrupt steps—the choice is yours. There’s no right or wrong answer. Just play around with your strips until you come up with a progression that you like. I decided I liked this one, ranging from a golden yellow at the top to a plummy pink at the bottom.

You want to use a minimum of five prints and a maximum of seven prints for each block. The top print will be in the center of your block and the bottom print will be at the outer edge of the block. Edited to add: You do NOT need to have the same number of prints in each block. I happen to have six in all of my blocks, but there’s no need to be consistent. It won’t be noticeable in the finished quilt.

Repeat this process until you have nine sets of strips that you like—one set for each block. Once I had all nine of my sets, I took pictures of each set. These pictures will serve as my visual record of the prints I’m using in each block. That means I won’t have to keep my strips laid out and in order. I also used the photos to help decide on the block layout (see above).

You now have a detailed plan for your Supernova quilt! Great job! You’re ready to start cutting!

Cutting instructions – prints:
We’re going to cut the prints on a block-by-block basis, so grab the 3″ strips you laid out for your first block, and let’s get cutting.

If you have seven prints in your set:
1. From the top strip in the set, cut (1) 3″ square. This will be the center of the block.
2. From the bottom strip in the set, cut (4) rectangles, 3″ x 5.5″.
3. From one of the middle strips in the set, cut (4) rectangles, 3″ x 5.5″. (I almost always used the strip that was three from the bottom.)
4. From each strip in the set except the top strip, cut (4) 3″ squares.

You should now have (25) 3″ squares and (8) rectangles 3″ x 5.5.” Keep these pieces grouped together and labeled as “Block 1.” (I use ziploc bags to store my pieces, one ziploc for each block). Repeat the cutting process for each of your other eight sets.

If you have six prints in your set:
1. From the top print in the set, cut (1) 3″ square. This will be the center of the block.
2. From the bottom print in the set, cut (4) rectangles, 3″ x 5.5″.
3. From one of the middle prints in the set, cut (4) rectangles, 3″ x 5.5″. (I almost always use the strip three from the bottom.)
4. From each print in the set, including the ones you’ve already cut from, cut (4) 3″ squares.

You should now have (25) 3″ squares and (8) rectangles 3″ x 5.5.” Keep these pieces grouped together and labeled as “Block 1.” (I use ziploc bags to store my pieces, one ziploc for each block). Repeat the cutting process for each of your other eight sets.

If you have five prints in your set:
1. From the top strip in the set, cut (1) 3″ square. This will be the center of the block.
2. From the bottom strip in the set, cut (4) rectangles, 3″ x 5.5″.
3. From one of the middle strips in the set, cut (4) rectangles, 3″ x 5.5″. (I almost always used the strip three from the bottom.)
4. From each strip in the set, including the ones you’ve already cut from, cut (4) 3″ squares.
5. Choose one print from the middle of the set and cut an additional (4) 3″ squares.

You should now have (25) 3″ squares and (8) rectangles 3″ x 5.5.” Keep these pieces grouped together and labeled as “Block 1.” (I use ziploc bags to store my pieces, one ziploc for each block). Repeat the cutting process for each of your other eight sets.

Cutting instructions – background solid:
• Cut 5 strips measuring 5″ by 44″ (width of fabric). From one of these 5″ strips, cut 4 pieces 5″ by 8.” From each of the other 5″ strips, cut 2 pieces that are 5″ by 15.5″, and 1 piece 5″ by 13.” (So you should have a total of 8 pieces 5″ by 15.5,” and 4 pieces 5″ by 13.”)
• Cut 14 strips measuring 3″ by 44″ (width of fabric). From those strips, cut (72) 3″ by 5.5,” and (72) 3″ by 3″ squares.

Cutting instructions – contrasting solid for borders:
• Cut 12 pieces 3″ by 5.”

That’s it! Hopefully this post didn’t scare you off—believe it or not, I think this is the most complicated part of the quilt-along. Next week, we’ll be piecing the sub-units that start to make up the blocks. Happy cutting, and don’t forget to post your progress in the Supernova Flickr group!

P.S. If you are using a jelly roll, I’ve posted modified cutting instructions in the Flickr group.


Supernova Quilt-Along: Fabric Requirements

Welcome to the Supernova Quilt-Along! I hope you are all as excited as I am to get started!

First, a little about how we’ll be piecing this quilt. My original design was made up almost entirely of 2.5″ squares, including quite a few half-square triangles. This time around, you will not have to piece a single HST. I can promise you that much! There is an easier way (which, of course, didn’t occur to me until after I finished the original Supernova top). It includes a little strip-piecing as well as some standard piecing.

The finished quilt will measure about 62″ square, and is made up of 9 asterisk-type blocks that I’m calling Supernova blocks. Each of those 9 blocks is made up of smaller sub-units. So we’ll be piecing the top in three stages, over three weeks—first the sub-units, then completing the blocks, and then assembling the top and borders. See, I told you the pace would be doable!

Material Requirements
• 2-1/4 yards total of various prints (see below for specifics on choosing your prints)
• 2 yards solid for the background and borders
• a fat-eighth of a contrasting solid for the pieced strips in the borders

• 1/2 yard

• A total of 3.25 yards

March 24: Cutting instructions
March 31: Piecing the sub-units
April 7: Completing the Supernova blocks
April 14: Assembling the top and adding the borders
April 21: Making the back
April 28: Quilting and finishing (with final link-up – you will have two weeks to link up your completed quilt)
May 12: Prize winner drawn (winner gets a FQ bundle of Castle Peeps)

My fabric selections for my new version

Fabric Selection
One of my favorite things about a quilt-along is seeing how everybody takes the same design and really makes it their own. I love my original Hope Valley version of this quilt, so I’ll be thrilled to see more versions made with that fabric line. But at the same time, I give you all my blessing to go crazy with your fabric selections and colors. I can’t wait to see what you all do with this!

If you would like a little guidance, here are some tips for choosing your fabric:
• You will want a minimum of 5 prints in each of the 9 Supernova blocks. Six or 7 prints per block would be even better.
• I used a total of 20 prints in the original Hope Valley version of this quilt, and I have 22 prints lined up for the new version. Fat-eighth or fat-quarter bundles would be ideal for this design.
• This would also make a great scrap quilt. However, for some of the prints, you should have at least 9″ by 12″ worth of fabric. For other prints, you’ll be able to get away with a little less. (I wish I could be more specific about this, but it will depend on which prints you choose to put where, whether you repeat prints within the quilt, etc.)
• In the original version of this quilt, I kept each Supernova block in one color family. I also tried to arrange the prints so that the darker ones were in the center of the Supernova and the lighter ones were toward the outside, or vice versa. (This wasn’t always possible, but I tried to stick to that scheme as much as I could.) So if you want to achieve a look similar to the original quilt, keep those two things in mind.

Okay. You’ve got a little over a week to make fabric decisions and get that fabric in hand. What are you waiting for? Don’t forget: If you post about your quilt-along plans by March 23, I’ll include your blog on the blogroll in my sidebar. And please join the Supernova Quilt-Along Flickr group, where you can post pictures of your fabric selections and ask questions. Looking forward to seeing you all there!


Supernova Quilt-Along: Join Me!

One of my quilts that has gotten the most attention since I started blogging is this one. I’ve been amazed by the number of people who have asked for a pattern or a quilt-along based on this design. I had no idea people would take such a liking to it. I am truly flattered. I have to admit, I’m a teensy bit intimidated by the idea of hosting a quilt-along. But I’m willing to give it a try—I can’t pass up a chance to quilt with all you wonderful bloggy people!

So, welcome to my Supernova Quilt-Along. I think this quilt-along is suitable for all skill levels. It’s fairly simple, straightforward piecing. You can join the quilt-along at any time, and feel free to follow along at your own pace. However, I am selfishly hoping that at least a few of you will want to do it along with me, in real-time! So, to convince you to keep pace, I’m offering a few fringe benefits:

Blog roll
See that Supernova Blog Roll over there in my sidebar? If you plan to quilt-along concurrently with me, I’ll add your blog to it. Just post about your Supernova Quilt-Along plans on your blog, and be sure to include my Supernova Quilt-Along button in the post. Then either comment on my blog that you’ve done that, or email me, no later than March 23, and I’ll add your blog to the blog roll.

That’s right, I’ve got a full FQ bundle of Castle Peeps to give away. Everyone who links up a completed quilt at the end of the quilt-along will be eligible for the drawing. How’s that for incentive?

So what do you think? Are you all with me? Tune in tomorrow, when I’ll post fabric requirements, the schedule (which I promise will be very doable), and a few tips for selecting fabric. You can also join the Supernova Quilt-Along Flickr group, where you can post photos of your fabric selections and your progress.

I am looking forward to quilting along with you all!

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Wrapped in Hope Quilt

My quilt for “Wrapped In Hope” is now complete.

This quilt is a birthday gift for Alissa, who is turning 12 on March 4. Like all “Wrapped In Hope” participants, Alissa has a parent who is in prison. I’ll be sending this quilt directly to Alissa … along with a birthday card that I’ll sign from her absent mom.

Alissa loves dogs, horses, art, and the color blue. I hope that means she will love this quilt. The blue solid I used for the sashing, borders, and binding is Moda Bella Solids in Blue Raspberry.

I adore all the little surprises when you look closely at these prints—this little hedgehog is my absolute favorite.

I almost like the back more than the front. I hope Alissa won’t mind the dark gray solid that I used (Kona Coal), but I just couldn’t resist, it looked so sharp with the leftover blue Pips prints. And I love how the white quilting shows up so well back there (although, admittedly, that means you can really see the flaws, too!).

All in all, everything about this quilt just says “12-year-old girl” to me, from the Sherbet Pips prints and the modern, blocky design to the fun wavy-line quilting. Thank you to my wonderful bloggy friend Elizabeth—her Sliced Coins quilt-along provided the perfect design.

And happy birthday, Alissa. I hope you have as much fun on your birthday as I had making this quilt for you.

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Fall Equinox Quilt

Second finish of 2011: My Fall Equinox quilt. I made the top as part of the Fat Quarterly quilt-along last year. I finished the top on the day of the Fall Equinox, so what better name for it? And now here it is, completed well before the spring equinox. : ) (Small victories, small victories.) The fabric is Wildwood by Erin McMorris, along with a smattering of Moda Bella Solids (Willow, Celery, Clover, Baby Yellow, Goldenrod, and Golden Wheat).

The back is a random collection of some Wildwood yardage that I had on hand, plus an attempt to echo the pattern on the front. And finally, the quilting is the easy wavy-line quilting which I learned about from the quilt-along, and I’ve raved about it here and here.

And I realized that all the green in this quilt matches my family room wall color, so I finally have a cuddly couch quilt that matches my decor.

And finally, what you’re really here for: The giveaway winner! The winner of the Wonderland fat-eighths is … #64, Heather! Heather said:

“I’m fairly new to quilting, but I have always been drawn to the quirky Alexander Henry stuff (especially if there are birds involved), and a line called Boutique by Chez Moi. So girly (unlike myself!)”

But guess what? Heather is a no-reply blogger. All comments made on my blog are automatically emailed to me, and if you have the correct settings in your Blogger profile, your email address comes with it, allowing me to reply directly to you via email. If your settings aren’t correct, you are a no-reply blogger, and I have no way of contacting you. So Heather, please email me by noon tomorrow to claim your prize, or I will have to draw another winner.
And while we’re on the subject, I enjoy replying to the comments made on my blog—I can’t always reply to them all, but I usually spend time at least once a week replying to comments. So if you haven’t received any replies to your comments on my blog or on others, that probably means you’re a no-reply blogger. Here’s how to fix it, if you’re so inclined:

  1. In, click on Dashboard.
  2. Select Edit Profile.
  3. Check the box for “Show my Email Address.”
  4. Save changes.

How easy is that? Happy Valentine’s Day, bloggy peeps! I love you all. : )

P.S. Linking up to Sew Modern Monday. Go check it out, it’s one of my favorite linkies.

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Juliet’s Quilt

My Urban Lattice quilt is complete. This quilt makes me very, very happy. Very.

My sister “commissioned” me to make a quilt for her long-time best friend, who was having her first baby. But the parents-to-be weren’t finding out the baby’s gender ahead of time—and neither were some friends of ours who are due in March. Since I wanted to make two baby quilts, and I didn’t want to make both of them gender-neutral, why not take a chance and make one boy quilt and one girl quilt? My Modern Meadow quilt was the boy version, and this one, made via Cara’s excellent Urban Lattice quilt-along, would be the girly version.

One of the babies is here now, and she’s a girl, so little Juliet gets the Urban Lattice quilt. It’s all done, it’s washed and dried and crinkly soft, and it will be in the mail later today, headed to its new home.

The quilting is a long-arm pattern called “Wind Swirls,” and I can’t imagine a more perfect quilting design for these Far Far Away prints. It’s like a magical breeze just picked you up and dropped you into a fantasy fairy-tale world. You see? It’s just happy. : )

The back is mostly Kona Stone, with an angled strip of half-square triangles in the FFA prints. I thought about just piecing a straight strip down the back, but with all the angles lines on the front, I thought this would be more fun. (More work too, but worth it.)

I’ll be sad to see this one go. But since my sister was paying me to make one of these quilts for her friend, and that was the first baby due anyway, I designed both quilts with this particular baby and mommy in mind. And this Urban Lattice quilt, especially, strikes me as just perfect for them. I’ve known the mother for many years myself, since she’s so close to my sister, and I’ve done a fair amount of design work for her—I even designed her wedding invitations and her baby shower invites. She’s got a great sense of style and I think she genuinely appreciates beautiful handmade things. So I know this quilt is headed to a good home and that it will be right where it belongs. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Here are the specifics:
Design: Paper-pieced via Cara’s Urban Lattice quilt-along (thank you, Cara, for a great quilt-along!)
Fabric: Kona Bone, Kona Stone, Far Far Away II by Heather Ross
Binding: Kona Stone
Size: 48″ by 57″
Quilting: “Wind Swirls” pattern in Parchment thread, done by long-arm quilter at LQS

P.S. Linking up to Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations.


Weekend Quilting

You know, I don’t particularly enjoy the quilting part of quilting. It’s definitely my least favorite part of the process. I always feel like I’m wrestling with the quilt. Like I’m trying to make it do something it doesn’t want to do. It reminds me of trying to get my almost-2-year-old to sit in her high chair when she doesn’t want to eat. My tops don’t want to be quilted, you guys! “Now get in that sewing machine, and stay there! Allow yourself to be quilted or you’re going for a time-out, young lady! Why do you have to be quilted? Because I said so!”

That being said, I spent the weekend quilting my Fall Equinox top, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s far from perfect, but I think it’s my best home-machine quilting effort to date.

No, I’m still not over the wavy line quilting. : ) I really love how it softens up such a geometric design. And actually, I feel like this squiggly quilting is a baby step toward free motion quilting. Even though I was using my walking foot, I still needed to have some control over how fast I was pushing the quilt through the machine. The slower I went, the more dramatically the lines wiggled. So I think (at least, I hope) I started to get a feel for the rhythm of it, more easily recognizing when the quilt is dragging too much, etc.

But don’t worry, you won’t see this wavy line quilting on everything I do. My machine has a lot of decorative stitches—so I have plenty of other available reasons to avoid free motion quilting for some time to come!

Edited to add: This post includes an explanation of how I did the wavy line quilting (scroll to the bottom of the post). Just use your machine’s wavy line decorative stitch – so simple! Love it!

I’m linking up to Sew Modern Monday – go check out Megan’s blog to see what everybody else is up to.


Urban Lattice Complete

My Urban Lattice quilt top is done.

This was one of those quilts that drove me crazy when I was trying to decide on a layout. I must have spent a combined total of several hours just moving blocks around on my design wall. And wouldn’t you know it, once I finally settled on a layout I liked, I got it mixed up when I sewed the blocks together. Cara suggested a great method for labeling them to keep this from happening, but did I follow that? Of course not. I wanted to tear the paper off before I decided on a layout, because the blocks wouldn’t stick to my design wall with the paper still on them. Then I was too lazy to get out the masking tape. And I really didn’t think it was necessary anyway, since it’s all of about three feet from my design wall to my machine. How could they get mixed up from there to here? Apparently, they could. And now it’s making me crazy enough that I’m actually thinking of trying to un-sew one particular block and put in something different. We’ll see how motivated I am to do that a few days from now.

But aside from those few blocks sticking in my craw, I really am loving this quilt and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s probably one of my favorite quilts I’ve done so far. Thank you, Cara, for a wonderful quilt-along. It will pain me to give this one away.

And now all I have to do is piece together a couple of backs, and this and its boy counterpart, my Modern Meadow baby quilt, are ready to be quilted. Any thoughts for some cool backs, for either of these quilts? And I’m linking up to Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story and Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations—head over there to see more modern sewing projects.

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Lattice Work

I’m finally making some progress on my Urban Lattice Quilt-Along quilt!

Last week I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I changed the proportions of the original block design, so I had no idea how it would turn out.

But this week? Completely. Loving. This quilt.

Loving the fairy tale theme of the Far Far Away 2 prints. Loving the muted colors. (I eliminated a few of the deeper FFA prints.) Loving the Kona Stone I chose for the lattice strips. I think it’s all absolutely perfect for the mother and baby I had in mind when designing it.

I made the modifications to Cara’s block design because I wanted to really play up the FFA prints. So these blocks will be 8″ square finished, instead of 12″. The lattice is 0.75″ wide instead of 1″, and the cream background strips are 1.25″ finished.

And while I can understand why Cara paper-pieced this quilt the way she did (with reference lines instead of sewing lines), I did a few blocks that way and wasn’t thrilled with the results. My presser foot was somehow flipping up the edge of the fabric a little, and it was screwing me up. (Did this happen to anybody else?) So my seams were a little wavy instead of nice and straight. It drove me crazy. After some experimentation, I decided to paper-piece it the traditional way instead, sewing directly onto the lines.

This meant I had to adjust the placement of the lines to where I wanted the seams to be. It also meant I needed to glue the lattice pieces to the unmarked side of the paper. As a result, I marked my lines on the printed side of the paper, so the printing wouldn’t show through where bits of the paper remained stuck to the fabric. Marking on the printed side wasn’t ideal, but I do like Cara’s idea of using scrapbook paper, since it’s already square. Plus, I had a book of 8″ scrapbook paper on hand that I hadn’t touched in five years, so might as well put it to use!

After marking the printed side and gluing the lattice piece to the opposite unprinted side, I flipped the whole thing over to sew directly onto the lines. There’s something satisfyingly assured and concrete about sewing on the lines—you know it’s going to be pretty darn accurate, regardless of how wonky your cutting was. I like that about this method!

Of course, the drawback is that this method works best when you cut your fabric a bit larger than what you actually need. So there is substantially more waste than with Cara’s method. I’m kind of anal, so I’ll take the accuracy, even if it means wasting some fabric. But that’s just me. : )

I’ve done 12 blocks, so I have 30 more to go. Can’t wait to finish this one up—I’m thinking it’s going to be a tough one to give away!

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WIP Wednesday Link-Up

Welcome back to Work-In-Progress Wednesday! What have you got for me this week, ladies? Link up below to show off your WIPs!

New Projects:
Mystery Gift Project, times 12
This is my scrappy project that I’m making as small gifts for, like, half the people I’ve ever met. Three are done, nine left to go. My goal is to make one per day until they’re done, which means, come next week’s WIP Wednesday, I should only have two left. Hold me to that!

Ongoing Projects:
Urban Lattice Quilt Along at Me? A Mom?
I love this quilt! And all I’ve done so far is mark my scrapbooking paper! : ) But seriously, even just marking the paper was kinda fun, in its own weird, tedious way. I really, really, really hope to have more time for this one in the coming week.

That Girl … That Quilt Along quilt
Well. I wonked my blocks. And I don’t know—I think I may have under-wonked. When you think about it, that might be the worst thing that could happen when you’re doing a wonky quilt. Because people might not realize the wonkiness is intentional, and will instead think I’m just a really crappy sewer.

But at least I may have set a new world record for most use of the word “wonky” in a single paragraph (and in some very creative new forms, at that).

STILL didn’t do anything with these:
Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

Completed tops STILL awaiting quilting:
Hope Valley quilt
Modern Meadow Baby Quilt
Fall Equinox (Fat Quarterly Quilt Along quilt)

This week’s stats:
New projects – 1. But it’s a gift! That makes it okay!
Completed projects – 0 sewing projects completed. HOWEVER, I did design a blog header and three buttons, put up my Christmas tree, decorated the rest of my house for Christmas, and do some serious shopping. So there. : )
Currently in progress – 8, up 1 from last week.