Thursday, August 29, 2019

Straightening Panels for a Quilt

Straightening up a Panel for a Quilt

There are many benefits to using panels in quilts. There are so many different printed panels out there, it is just a quick way to making my quilt look awesome!

My first experience with a panel was one I bought online in a local facebook page auction. It was perfect for my nephew; it was the Avengers panel. Luckily for me, I won the bid in the auction and it wasn't until I went to pick up my panel, I realized how warped the panel was.

On any given day, I would have just used the rotary cutter, trimmed up the sides and made it square. But this panel had part of the print outside of the border. It would have looked funny if I had trimmed off the top of Hulk's hair!

Plus, the bottom portion of the panel was straight but the top part had a strong slant to the right. If I tried squaring up that part with a ruler and rotary cutter, I would have a huge section of red on the bottom right and a skinny section of red on the top right. Um. No.

In my search for a solution, it was suggested I try the 'bishop method' of straightening up the panel. I have been unable to find any reference to the "bishop method" other than what the one person who suggested it described, nor have I been unable to find any similar technique for straightening a panel under a different name. Someone did say it was similar to a technique they use in crochet.

Since then, I have used this technique on other panels and I just love the results. In fact, I have only found one panel that I have used that did not need straightening up.

There is some pre-planning needed. This technique requires some time for the panel to air dry. It is best to do this at least a day ahead of when you would like to use it.

At any point in this tutorial, please feel free to click on the images to view them larger and in more detail.

The first thing you need is a wonky/crooked/warped panel.

Lay the panel out on the mat. On this panel, you can see the selvage edge is pretty straight, but the panel does a pot-belly curve about an inch to the right, then it almost lines back up near the top. It is this one inch of a curve that throws the panel off.

Look for a distinctive line near the edges of the panel to line up. This line needs to be in both the top and bottom half of the panel. I decided I am going to line up the thin outside black line.

Fold the panel in half, selvage to selvage. Start with the corners of the black, near the selvage edge.  I stuck a pin through the corner of the black of both layers of fabric. With the two layers together, and the pin straight up and down, insert another pin close by the first pin to secure the alignment of the corners.

Then, I worked my way down the edge of the black towards the fold.

As I went along the black edge, about an inch or so apart from the last pin (depending on how warped your panel is), I continued inserting the pin through both black edges of both layers of fabric. **I'm holding the pin verticle between my two fingers so that the two black edges of both layers of fabric are right above one another.**

Insert another pin close by the vertical pin to secure the alignment. I continued down both edges of the black, starting at the selvage side, working my way to the fold.

Once I pinned the sides, I laid the panel back out on the mat. I noticed the black line along the selvage edge was pretty straight, only the top layer of fabric was wavy. So I gently and evenly spread out the wave between the two corners of the black and I secured the wave with pins.

It was hard to get a picture of the waves, but I sure tried.

So, at my sewing machine, I set my straight stitch length to a 4.0mm (larger stitch length, often called a 'basting stitch', is used so the stitches can easily be removed later). I did a basting stitch around the whole black line. The basting stitch is used so I could secure my alignment and remove the pins. **You may want to stitch closer to the line you are lining up, unlike what I did here.

Can you kinda see the waves better here?

Next, I ran a sink of cool water with a tiny bit of dish soap. I dunked the panel into the water. I did a gentle agitation with my fingers. This is only to relax the fibers of the fabric. When the fabric is made, they use a sizing/stiffener on their fabric. Once you feel good about it being soaked, drain the water and run clean water on the panel to rinse it off. Gently squeeze excess water out. **Do not twist/wring the panel to get the water out. 

Back at the mat (my Fiskars mat likes water), I laid my panel out and used the lines on the mat to line up the black lines of my panel. Some of my black lines in the fabric needed some gentle tugging to get them to line up with the lines of the mat. Some places of my wavy fabric needed some patting to get the waves to lie flat. At some point, you may even need to hold one side of the fabric pull on the other side to stretch the panel.

I've made some tugs, some pulls, some stretches, and did some patting. The 9" line is pretty perpendicular to the black line of the panel.

Same with the other side.

Now it is left to dry. Once it is dry, I will carefully transfer the panel to my pressing board, spray it with starch and press with an iron. Press... I repeat... Press...

Only after it has been starched, will I remove my basting stitch.

With the basting stitch gone, you can unfold the panel, lay it on your pressing board and dry press out the fold. Once you have it mostly flat again from dry pressing, you can spray the fold with starch and press again to remove the fold crimp.
Press... I repeat... Press... Press until your fabric feels dry to the touch.

And once my panel is dry, I will post a photo.
And it is dry, and straight... Very much useable too.

Thank you for taking a minute to read...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

New Mexico Chili Ristra

So Excited!!!
This year,

Aunt Judy's Attic

is participating
in the 

Row by Row Experience 2019

Taste the Experience!

I must be the luckiest person ever, as I have had the opportunity to design the row for my local quilt shop again!!!

As we thought about this year's theme, Taste the Experience, one thing we all agreed on was chili was a main part of our way of life... Even between the neighboring states; Arizona, Colorado, Texas - our New Mexico Chili Cuisine just 'tastes' different. And for us over here in the southwest, chili is a food staple that is consumed daily!

For our row this year, we decided to make a New Mexico Chili Ristra.
(click on image to view larger)
A chili ristra is an arrangement of drying chili pepper pods to be used later in cooking.
They are said to bring good health and good luck.
They are often used for decoration by hanging them outside.
A chili ristra is a decorative trademark in the state of New Mexico.

A chili ristra is typically constructed with corn husk strings tied to the matured chili pod stem to hold them together.

Our pattern is laid out on a "Short and Sassy" - 27" x 12" vertical layout. We chose to display the chili ristra hanging against an adobe building (which is a mud like brick made from earth and organic materials such as sand, silt, clay, straw or even dung).

For the row display, I made it to look as if the chili ristra was hanging from vigas or rafters and tied with corn husk.
(click on image to view larger)

This year, we have chosen to make fabric kits of the Chili Ristra. Fabric kits with a free pattern will be available starting June 21st. Stop by Aunt Judy's Attic or pre-order your kit online (to be mailed November 1st). Pre-order date starts June 21st.

Check back here on June 21st for the link to pre-order.

Feel free to check out our past Row by Row Experience Patterns

Not sure what the Row By Row Experience is?

As you travel around the United States, Canada AND Europe this summer, take a minute to stop by participating brick and mortar quilt shops and pick up a free pattern for a row. No two quilt shops have the same row pattern!

AND if you have time, make a quilt using eight (8) of those rows and be the first to take your completed quilt to one of the participating quilt shops to win a prize of 25 fat quarters (about $70 worth of fabric)!

Added Bonus: use the row from the quilt shop you take your quilt to and get a BONUS prize!

Starts June 21st, 2019 - Ends October 31st, 2019

Click here to find out:

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Pole Twist - String Block Style!

Yes, I'm still playing around and tinkering with string blocks - if you haven't seen it - check out my other string block post here: String Blocks and More!

One of the quilt layouts I had drawn up was to arrange the string blocks in a pole twist (twisted ribbon) style quilt. This quilt is essentially made with 90 String Block Half Square Triangles.

With a 9 HST across x 10 HST down, three borders: the quilt measures about 84" x 91".

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make simple Half Square Triangles out of String Blocks:

What You Need:
String Blocks made using this tutorial: How to Build a Paper Pieced String Block - by Paco Rich
  • 45 Dark String Blocks - 8 ½” x 8 ½”
  • 45 Light String Blocks - 8 ½” x 8 ½”
Border 2: roughly 40 rectangle String Blocks - 8 ½” x 5 ½”
Border 1 and 3: 1 ¼ yard of neutral fabric (or make it scrappy by piecing together strips from different yardage)

NOTE: If your paper is still on (recommended), remember to shorten your stitch length for easy paper removal.

Sub cut each of the dark string blocks on the diagonal, with the cut running the same direction as the strings.

Sub cut each of the light string blocks on the diagonal, with the cut running the opposite direction as the strings. 

You will end up with 180 triangles; 90 dark and 90 light.

Arrange one dark triangle with one light triangle, right sides together and sew. Press seam towards the dark triangle. Repeat with remaining dark and light triangles.

You will end up with 90 Half Square Triangles. Square up to measure 8" x 8".

Arrange 84 HST string blocks in a 3 across x 2 down block layout shown here. Five of these stacked (ten total) will make up the 2 outside 'Poles' you see in the quilt. Four stacked make up the center 'Pole'.

Arrange the remaining 6 HST string blocks in two 3 across x 1 down layouts show here. These two, when placed on top and bottom of the center 'Pole', they offset the center 'Pole'.

center pole top

center pole bottom

Once you have made each of your poles, sew the 3 poles together to complete your quilt center.

First Border is of Neutral fabric cut at 1 ½” wide. 
Second Border is made up of roughly 40 string rectangles cut at 8 ½” x 5 ½” wide.
Third Border is of Neutral fabric cut at 2 ½” wide.

As we were all stringing along in the group and having fun, I was approached by my friend Wanda. I was asked what it would take to add a black outline to my original string block pole twist... 

At first, we were thinking we would only need to add a dark string down the center of the half square triangle, but upon drawing it out, we also realized we needed to add a black tip to the dark string blocks too!

Oh! What a beautiful sight this is!!!

Making the quilt should translate over easily from the string block pole twist quilt above, right?

Not quite so...

Adding a black strip to the dark string blocks increases the block size, so we need to increase the size of the Neutral String Blocks. 

Also, adding a tip seems like it should be simple, just sew on the same size of strip as the center string to the tip... 

Well, not so much... 

And of course, we square up our blocks the same...

Well, wait a minute... That's not the same either!! 

And with larger blocks our quilt size increases too!

The most super, important part about adding the black and getting the seams to line up around the 'Pole' is to remember:

“… the size of your seam is not as important as
the measurement of the finished unit …”
– Rhoda Forbes

So, with all this in mind, I have typed up a little one page tutorial. 

Please do not copy or reproduce this tutorial in any way,
either digitally or printed.
This tutorial is for your own personal use.
If you wish to share with your friends,
PLEASE send them the link to my blog so they can
download a copy of their own:

Click here to download a copy for you...
Black Outlined String Block Pole Twist - by Paco Rich

And because it is sometimes hard to see the images on printouts, I thought I would add the image of Step #3: how to cut off the top of the dark string triangle.
Click on image to view larger.

Monday, May 13, 2019

String Blocks AND More!

My first string block swap I participated in was back in 2015, when Rhoda Forbes hosted the exchange for the quilting group: JUQ. I finally finished my quilt with all those blocks!!! Yay!

I really like how the blocks pop with the black sashing.
Makes the blocks seem like they are on point.

I have the pleasure of hosting my first ever String Block Swap in our online group: Life's A Quilt. We started in April of 2019, and string blocks will be flying across the world until the end of June! We have members from United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand keeping the postal service busy!!

My first set of string blocks I received in the mail...

A tutorial was provided for everyone to use, and a few guidelines were set up in order for everyone to have fun.

We were to use 100% quilter's cotton and a paper foundation. Group members requested to sign up and once they were approved, address exchanges commenced!

Not only was it super fun to meet people and swap blocks with them, sewing on string blocks has been a great SCRAP buster!

We all talked about the fun ideas we had for displaying our string blocks in quilts. Here are a few ideas I came up with using String Blocks in Half Square Triangles:


To make this version, Click here: Pole Twist - String Block Style!

I cannot wait to see what the group does with their blocks!!!

Because I was having so much fun sewing these blocks and using up my scraps, I ended up with sixty-five blocks in just a matter of 5 days!
And my tote full of strings does not even look like there was a dent made.

I was telling my friend how much fun we were having, and she suggested I show a little demo at her quilt shop for May's Terrific Tuesday (May 14, 2019) - And to see if we can entice a few local quilters to make string blocks for a little Charity String Block Mixer. I'm thinking I am due for a couple of charity quilts - This would be perfect to use all my scraps up.

Aunt Judy's Attic Charity String Block Mixer

Dates and Deadlines -

So they can be mixed, volunteers will have until July 4th (7 weeks) to make the blocks and drop them off at Aunt Judy's Attic, OR Show up with their blocks ready to make quilts for the Charity Quilt Sew Days in July!

On July 5th and 6th, sewers for the Charity Sew Days at Aunt Judy's Attic will assemble the blocks into quilts using the Sashed String Block pattern by Yours Truly!

This pattern uses 37 String Blocks AND 1-1/2 yards of a blender/solid.
Quilt Top Finishes at: 58 1/2" x 58 1/2"

UPDATE: During the Charity String Block Mixer at Aunt Judy's Attic,
we were able to pick out errors in my pattern.
**update includes, one additional string block for a 6 x 6 layout instead of a 5 x 7 block layout.**

Here are some examples of what the quilt top will look like:

Of course, there is no stopping one from making it larger!

For my charity quilt, I will be using the turquoise fabric I had leftover from the backing on my other string block quilt from 2015. I am loving the fact that I can get a COOL looking quilt top made using 100% SCRAPS!

UPDATE: The charity mixer went great! We had over 180 string blocks donated. We were able to get everything going for 5 quilts!

I did pass along my turquoise blocks to my friend Carol. Jude cut strings for more string blocks, while Nancy and I made a couple more string blocks to finish off set of blocks for the 5th string block quilt.

We had some good food, fun chatting and a whole lotta sewing!

Bonnie chose to use purple glitter fabric for her sashing. By the end of the 2nd day, she had her quilt center finished.

Daun chose black, Gail chose three different yellows, I went with two different blues (there wasn't enough of any one scrap of fabric, so we mixed fabrics!).

I can't wait to see them all finished and quilted! What a grand photo that would be!