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Lady of the Lake Blocks from Sister Sampler Quilts

Happy Monday! I hope all of you out East have managed to dig out a bit, but I hope in the meantime you got some good stay-in-and-sew time. : ) We didn’t get any snow at all (much to my kids’ disappointment), but I got in some quality time with my machine yesterday anyway. And the results of my afternoon’s work: These Lady of the Lake blocks, with which I am now totally obsessed.

Lady of the Lake is a classic block from the new book, Sister Sampler Quilts: 3 Modern Sampler Quilts with Paired Sister Blocks,
by AnneMarie Chaney of Gen X Quilters. I love the flexibility of a good sampler book—make one block, make them all, or mix-and-match to your heart’s content! Sampler books are always a good resource to add to your library, and give you a lot of bang for your buck. (If I do say so myself, having co-written one of my own!)
And AnneMarie’s book is even more flexible than most, offering up instructions for 24 blocks, each in two different sizes (9″ and 12″ finished). I made my Lady of the Lake blocks in the 9″ size. Check those cute little half-square triangles. : ) AnneMarie’s method of making the blocks in “sister pairs” makes things go quickly and efficiently.
Another feature that makes this book a great resource are the fun and creative layout ideas for each of the three samplers. This one, the Bonfire Sampler, is my favorite!
I found the instructions for the Lady of the Lake block to be straightforward and easy to follow. As usually happens when I try to make just one or two blocks, I’m now dying to make a bunch more of these. All out of this fabulous Blueberry Park fabric, like the first two!

Click here to purchase from Amazon. And go visit the other stops on the Sister Sampler Quilts Blog Tour, listed below!

Monday, January 18  
AnneMarie Chany / Gen X Quilters – Introduction
Sara Lawson / Sew Sweetness
Tuesday, January 19 
Leah Day / Free Motion Project
Brenda Ratliff / Just A Bit Frayed
Wednesday, January 20
Faith Jones / Fresh Lemons Quilts
Angela Pingel / Cut To Pieces
Thursday, January 21
Lynne Goldsworthy / Lily’s Quilts
Amy Friend / During Quiet Time
Friday, January 22
Christa Watson / Christa Quilts
Violet Craft
Monday, January 25
Lee Heinrich / Freshly Pieced
Melissa Corry / Happy Quilting
Tuesday, January 26
Karen Lewis / Karen Lewis Textiles
Wednesday, January 27
Sherri McConnell / A Quilting Life
Melissa Mortensen / Polka Dot Chair
Thursday, January 28
Friday, January 29
Cindy Wiens / Live A Colorful Life
AnneMarie Chany / Gen X Quilters – Wrap Up
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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 2: Poinsettia Blocks

Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! How did all of you do with your cutting? I saw some fun pictures on Instagram of highly organized fabric piles, so it looks like you all did pretty well! : ) Check the #fairislequilt hashtag to see! (Want to join in and make the Fair Isle quilt? Click here to purchase the pattern!)

So this week, we’re making the Poinsettia blocks. This, along with the Reindeer row, is one of the two most time-consuming portions of the quilt. So my recommendation this week is: Chain piece, chain piece, chain piece. : ) I LOVE chain-piecing—when done right, it saves loads of time.

In fact, you may notice that I oversize the cutting for half-square triangles in my patterns and have people trim a bit more off their HSTs than is strictly necessary. I originally started doing that because I appreciated the ability to trim more off when I first started quilting—some of my early HST attempts were, um, a bit wonky. LOL. So the extra trimming room is great for beginners.

But you know what else these oversize squares are great for? Chain piecing! With slightly oversized HST squares, you don’t need to pair up your squares so precisely for sewing. After all, you’re going to trim them down later anyway—so you might as well add a little additional fabric, so that you don’t have to take the time to line everything up so carefully. Check out the picture above—you can see that I don’t bother lining up my squares at all, really. As a result, I can run 20 pairs of squares (two sewing lines apiece) through my machine in well under 5 minutes. Success with a quilt like this is often about being efficient, and this is one way to speed things up significantly.

My other tip this week involves cross-cutting the strip sets. You have to cut up a lot of strip sets in this pattern, so it’s worth taking a minute or two right now to figure out the best way to do it.

The key here is to always cross-cut perpendicular to the seam. See how the 2-1/2″ ruler mark is aligned with the seam in the picture above? That’s what you should worry about. Don’t pay as much attention to the raw edges of the strip set—pay attention to the seam, and cross-cut based on that. If the raw edges are really off after cross-cutting perpendicular to the seam, you can always attempt to even them up later, but as long as the seam is perpendicular to the cross-cut edges, you’ll be in good shape. And as you go along the strip set, keep adjusting for alignment with the seam. So if the seam curves a little, just keep adjusting your ruler accordingly.

I hope these tips help you out as you make your Poinsettia blocks! All told, it took me about 9 hours to make all 10 of my Poinsettia blocks. But I’m pretty familiar with this block by now, so budget at least 9-10 hours for piecing this week, depending on how fast you generally sew. Next week, we’ll be making the Fir Tree blocks, which come together much more quickly than the Poinsettia blocks, so if you fall behind a little this week, no worries. You’ll probably be able to catch back up soon.

Just a reminder, if you’re on Instagram, hashtag #fairislequilt so we can all share each other’s progress! (This goes for whether you’re making it “on time” or much later.) And if you do a blog post about the Sew Along, you can also link up your blog post below.

Can’t wait to see everyone’s Poinsettia blocks! Now get chain-piecing. : )

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

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Chandelier Quilt

I know lots of you have been looking forward to this, and I sure have too—today’s the day that my Chandelier Quilt-Along starts on the Bernina website!
I really love this quilt and am so happy with how it turned out. And I promise it’s easier than it looks. : ) It uses the Emmy Grace fabric line by Bari J. This quilt has a lot of half-square triangles and the square-in-square piecing technique, but I’ve got a few tips to make that easier. And all the instructions are completely free on the Bernina blog!
Here’s the schedule:
Oct. 20 Making the blocks
I’ve also got a really fun and easy technique for getting the scallop quilting I used on this quilt—no free-motion required! So follow along over on We All Sew, and have a wonderful Monday!
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WIP Wednesday: Convergence

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Happy Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening in my studio this week.

I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my next We All Sew project for Bernina’s blog—a quilt-along using Bari J.’s lovely Emmy Grace fabric line.

You know, sometimes a fabric line and a quilt design converge in the best possible way, so that each compliments the other perfectly, and I think this is one of those times. I can’t wait to unveil the completed quilt. I’ll be posting the full pattern in three installments over on We All Sew, starting next Monday. I hope you’ll follow along and make this beauty!

And my first Sew-Off garment is coming along nicely! (Click here to read about the clothing-making challenge I’m doing with my friend Jemellia during the month of October.) My Tiny Pocket Tank is almost done, I just have to add the binding to the neck and armholes (which admittedly might be the trickiest part). So far, I think I really like it. But I’m reserving judgment until that binding is on!

I can’t wait to see what YOU’RE working on this week! Here’s how to link up:
1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @lee.a.heinrich.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
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Diamond Tread Quilt

Diamond Tread quilt

My Diamond Tread quilt is complete! And the pattern for this quilt is now available as well! Woot!

Click here to buy Diamond Tread as a PDF pattern

Click here to buy Diamond Tread as a hard-copy paper pattern

I created this design a few months ago for my post on the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool blog hop. I was excited about the block that I came up with using the Design Tool—but not so excited about the 9 million half-square triangles an all-over design would have required. I realized that this type of design is where negative space really becomes your friend. : ) It looks great, and it rescues you from making so many HSTs that you start seeing them in your sleep. Who wouldn’t love that?

Diamond Tread quilt
I was so in love with the resulting design that I had to drop everything and make it immediately. When I blogged about it, someone suggested in a blog comment that this design resembles the diamond tread pattern that is sometimes stamped into metal. Sure enough, that’s exactly what it looks like to me. I also like how the long, narrow section of Diamond Tread blocks looks a little like a tire track. So “Diamond Tread” was the perfect name for this pattern.

I was pleased with this design right from the start, and I love the finished quilt even more, so I’m extra thrilled to be making the Diamond Tread pattern available now too. The PDF version of the pattern is now for sale via my pattern shop and Craftsy.

Diamond Tread - All-Over design

This 8-page, full-color pattern is perfect for beginners, since it’s just half-square triangle units and squares. As always, I’ve included plenty of diagrams and illustrations to take you through every step in the process. And of course, I know not everyone is as big a fan of negative space as I am, so my pattern includes full instructions for two design variations: One variation features the negative space (as shown in all my quilt photos on this post), while the other is an all-over pattern, shown in the digital mock-up above. One pattern, two designs, three sizes (Crib, Lap, and Twin)—how’s that for bang for your buck?

Diamond Tread pattern cover

Pattern Stats
Name: Diamond Tread Pattern
Skill level: Easy
Finished sizes: Crib (45″ x 60″), Lap (52-1/2″ x 75″), Twin (76″ x 90″); two design varitations
Price: $8.99
Available: My pattern shop and Craftsy

Diamond Tread quilt
Hope you all enjoy the pattern. Have a wonderful Tuesday—see you back here tomorrow for WIP Wednesday!

 

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WIP Wednesday: HSTs Everywhere

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What I’m working on this week ….

HSTs
HSTs for the quilt I designed with the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool. I used Thangles to churn these babies out. And speaking of the Quilt Design Tool, my giveaway of a free one-month pass to use the tool is still open!

Bloom Bloom Pow blocks
And I’m working ahead a bit on my Bloom Bloom Pow quilt-along. Tomorrow we’ll be talking about design strategy, but we still have another whole week until we start cutting fabric! That means there’s plenty of time left to pick up a Bloom Bloom Pow throw-size or baby-size bundle from Westwood Acres and quilt along with the rest of us. Come on, you know you want those Pearl Bracelets. : )

What have you been working on? Link up your works-in-progress. Here are the rules:

1. Link up any post from the past week that features at least one unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog. (Or grab my WIP Wednesday button for your sidebar.)
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links. Because what fun is a linky party without comments?

 

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Fat Quarter Gang Pillow Tutorial and Giveaway

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I’ve got another Art Gallery Fat Quarter Gang tutorial over on the Art Gallery blog today! This time I’m showing you how to make a jumbo floor pillow using Art Gallery’s Carnaby Street line. And as always, we’re giving away a bundle of the fabric I used in this project! Just comment here for a chance to win, and make sure you follow Art Gallery on your favorite social media platform in order to qualify. I’ll announce a winner at the end of the week. Happy Monday!

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Modern Mirage Quilt

Modern Mirage

Well, I made it! I completed my new quilt in time to enter it into the Quilt Con show, and with a few hours to spare, no less.

Quilt Con quilt
It was not without its challenges. This quilt fought me tooth and nail into existence. First of all, piecing it was a BEAST. I knew extreme accuracy was going to be crucial, so I paper-pieced some of the small units, but when it came time to do the traditional piecing, it was still tough to get all those seams and points lined up. I didn’t count the number of times I had to tear out stitches and re-do, but I can assure you it was a lot. The top took forever!

Modern Mirage
Then, I started quilting it by outlining the vertical wavy pattern the design makes between the stars. But straight-line quilting isn’t my strong suit, and this type of quilting was kind of straight-line plus. Straight enough to require a walking foot, but with some turns that were so slight, it was hard to decide whether to turn as sharply as possible or to make it more curvy and flowing. And it ended up looking like a mish-mash of both. : ) So after four rows, I decided to change strategies and do loose wavy lines instead. That meant all the previous quilting stitches had to come out. You should have seen my family room yesterday. It was seriously covered in all these tiny little pieces of thread! Ugh!

Then, just because I apparently needed an extra challenge, when I finished my wavy line quilting yesterday morning, I turned over the quilt and found this—a huge crease on the back! Really??? The feeling when you work your butt off and then discover something like that is The. Worst.

This was my first real spray-basting fail. For some reason the 505 I use just didn’t seem all that sticky this time around. After basting, I noticed I didn’t have to clean up nearly as much overspray residue as I usually do—I guess that should have been a warning sign. Then the whole back of the quilt seemed to come loose during quilting. It’s totally weird, I’ve never had that happen with 505. Maybe I didn’t shake the can enough? It was a new can, so I hope the entire thing isn’t defective. Or worse yet, that there’s been some sort of formula change. Anybody have a similar problem with 505 lately?

(Updated to add: I just heard from my friend Katie at Swim Bike Quilt that she often has basting problems with Art Gallery fabric—and that is exactly what I used on the back of this quilt. Ironically, I think it’s the fact that Art Gallery is so high-quality and has such a nice sheen to it that accounts for this problem—spray-basting doesn’t work on voiles either, probably for the same reason. But at any rate, if you’re using a lot of Art Gallery fabric in a quilt, be aware that you may want to pin-baste.)

So I ripped out 5 more rows of quilting and re-did it all, and finally finished the quilt with no further incidents at around 3 p.m. Whew. So here it is—I’m calling it Modern Mirage. I entered it in the “Modern Traditionalism” category, which is the category I was most excited to see included in the show.

Modern Mirage
The design originally started with a variation on a traditional star block. I set that on point and liked the vaguely “Storm at Sea” feel it gave to the quilt. To modernize it, I gave the design some negative space on each side, but off-center (because I love me some off-center designs!). Then, when I was playing around with the colors, I came up with this palette, which gives it sort of a transparency effect, and I loved it! And I thought the wavy line quilting added sort of a “heat-haze” feeling, so that’s where the “Mirage” name came from.

For those who have asked about a pattern—um, we’ll see. : ) I have to admit, I’m a little sick of this design at the moment! It would be quite the complicated pattern to write up, with all the strategic color placement and what-not. And I don’t know how many people want to buy a pattern with such nit-picky piecing! But give me a few months, and then maybe I’ll want to revisit it.

As far as Quilt Con, since we were allowed up to three entries, I decided to throw two older quilts into the mix as well.

Shattered Spectrum
I’m now calling this one “Shattered Spectrum,” since “HST Mini” didn’t quite have that show ring to it. I entered it in the Modern In Miniature Challenge sponsored by Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine. I gave this little quilt to the lovely Susanne earlier this year as a thank-you for driving all the way from Madison to take my headshots and pictures of my family. But she was nice enough to give me permission to enter it and said she would ship it back to me if it gets accepted into the show. Thanks again, Susanne! Here’s the full blog post about this quilt.

Third Quilt Con entry
And I’m also entering my Lifesavers mini, since that one did so well for me in the EZ Dresden Challenge. I entered Lifesavers in the “Minimalist Design” category. Honestly, I’m not sure if it really qualifies as minimalist, but since I’d already entered something in the mini challenge, it seemed like the best fit for this one. Here’s the full blog post with more information on Lifesavers.

I was quilter #435 to enter the show, and my quilts were #587, #595, and lucky number #600! Wow! That’s a lot of competition for this show. I’m just hoping that at least one of mine gets accepted, and I cannot wait to see the entire show in Austin in February. Good luck to everybody who entered!

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WIP Wednesday: WIP Candy

Happy Halloween, and I hope all of you that were in Hurricane Sandy’s path are now safe and sound and dry. Talk about scary!

I’m planning a bee quilt this week. My bee mates will be getting charm squares in these yummy colors …

Palette for Sew Beautiful block

… and they will be using them to make this block ….
Sew Beautiful sample block

…. which I will then make into this quilt. The design is by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts—you can see her beautiful version in Chicopee right here.

What have you been working on? Here are the rules for linking up:
1. Link up any post from the past week that features at least one unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog. (Or grab my WIP Wednesday button for your sidebar.)
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links. Because what fun is a linky party without comments?

Have a great week!

 

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Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial

It was 102 degrees yesterday, the air conditioning was cranked, and I got too much sun at the pool. Christmas is pretty much the last thing that should be on my mind, right? Except that somehow, December 25 always manages to sneak up on me. And with the inevitable gift buying/making rush, Christmas decor projects tend to take a back seat. So really, why not make a Christmas tree skirt on a 102-degree day in July?

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With that in mind, welcome to my stop on the Christmas in July Blog Hop, hosted by Elizabeth of Don’t Call Me Betsy! Every year since I started sewing, I’ve been saying I would make a Christmas tree skirt for my family, and this year, we will finally have one. A few months ago, I pinned this half-square-rectangle tutorial from the Modern Quilt Guild’s “100 Days of Modern Quilting” series. When I went to design this tree skirt, it called out to me. Here’s how to make the tree skirt, using the MQG’s tutorial.

You will need:
– 1.5 yards solid white (or other background fabric)
– 3/4 yard of red prints or scraps
– 3/4 yard green prints or scraps
– about two yards of fabric for the back
– 3/4 yard of solid red for binding

Cutting:
– Cut (18) 5″ x 7″ rectangles from green prints
– Cut (18) 5″ x 7″ rectangles from red prints
– Cut (36) 5″ x 7″ rectangles from solid white
– Cut (4) 8.5″ x 12.5″ rectangles from solid white
– Cut (4) 8.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles from solid white

How to make it:

1. Start by going to The Modern Quilt Guild’s blog for their tutorial on making half-square rectangles. For this tree skirt, you’ll want 24 red half-square rectangles going in one direction, and 12 red half-square rectangles going in the opposite direction. For green, you’ll want to swap that—so you need 24 green half-square rectangles going in the opposite direction of the 24 reds, and 12 greens going in the opposite direction of the 12 reds. Clear as mud? Great. Moving on. : )

2. So you should now have a total of 72 finished half-square rectangles. Again, following the instructions from the MQG’s tutorial, make those 72 units into 18 diamond blocks.

3. Lay out your completed diamond blocks as shown above. The first three rows are staggered, followed by a row that isn’t staggered, followed by two more staggered rows. The 8.5″ x 12.5″ white pieces go in each corner, and the 8.5″ x 6.5″ pieces are in the second row in from each side, at the top and bottom.

4. Once I completed the top, I decided to baste the skirt before trimming it into an octagon shape. (I figured it would be easier to baste while the skirt was still square, but I didn’t want to spend time quilting areas that would eventually be trimmed off. So trimming after basting but before quilting was my solution—but you could really trim at any point in the process.) To create the octagon, measure along the edges of the basted skirt, 16.25″ from each corner, and make a mark.

5. Then lay your ruler diagonally across the corner, from mark to mark, and trim. Voila, it’s an octagon! Oh, and save the corner pieces that you cut off—they’re great for practicing your FMQ!

6. Now you’re ready to quilt. Since this was the first project I quilted on my new Horizon, I wanted to try a free-motion design that I’d never done before—and since I’ve never done anything but stippling, I had lots of options. : ) I went with loopy squiggles.
7. Now comes the scary part: Cutting into an almost-completed quilt to make space for the tree trunk! I used a cereal bowl to trace a circle in the dead-center of my skirt (dead center is easy to find thanks to the block seams).

8. Once the circle was traced, I used a ruler and my rotary cutter to cut right down the center seam of the quilt, starting at the top edge and stopping once you’ve cut into the traced circle.

9. Then I used my scissors to cut out the center hole.

Looks more like a tree skirt now, right?

10. That just leaves binding. With the octagon’s odd angles and the circular hole in the center, bias binding is a must here. I always make continuous binding when I use bias—click here for a great tutorial on how to do this from Julie of Jaybird Quilts (scroll down to Method #2). It’s a convenient way to make bias binding, and results in less waste. I made my binding from a 27″ square and had plenty left over.

11. To bind around the odd angles of the octagon, I used this tutorial by Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka’s Treasures. It’s more or less the same concept as binding 90-degree corners. Once you’ve gone around the octagon, keep going down one of the long cut edges, around the inner circle and back up the other cut edge, right back to where you started, like a normal square quilt.

Christmas in July
And there you have it! One bright, modern Christmas tree skirt, and I already have one less thing on my holiday to-do list! Woo hoo!

But wait, here’s the best part: Now I get to give away a big ol’ bundle of fabric to one of you, to get a head start on your own Christmas projects! The Intrepid Thread is sending one lucky winner an FQ bundle of the entire “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” line by Creative Thursday. How adorable are those little cardinals?? Just leave a comment on this post telling me how you would celebrate Christmas … in July. Margaritas? Trip to the beach? Lying in the hammock all day? : ) (THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.)

Oh, and just in case you don’t win that lovely bundle, Manda of Manda Made Quilts is hosting a Christmas in July Charm Swap and needs about 15 more swappers. Sounds like a good way to get a variety of holiday prints—all the details are here.

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Thank you to The Intrepid Tread for sponsoring today’s giveaway! And don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog hop—the full schedule is below. Now, off to the pool! : )

Monday 7/16 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Tuesday 7/17 – Sew Crafty Jess
Wednesday 7/18 – Pink Penguin
Thursday 7/19 – Freshly Pieced
Friday 7/20 – Sew Sweetness
Monday 7/23 – Happy Quilting
Tuesday 7/24 – Comfort Stitching
Wednesday 7/25 – Diary of a Quilter
Thursday 7/26 – Felicity Quilts