Saturday, August 31, 2013

Foundation Stitching for Half-Square Triangle Units

Using a paper foundation to layer and stitch following guidelines
is the most accurate way to create the square divided in half on the diagonal,
also known as "half-square triangles".
New foundations in three finished square sizes will soon be available
from SnapDragon Snippets through the
Silhouette America online store.

The half-square triangle unit is one of the most versatile there is. There are several methods to create the patch, but using a paper foundation is fast and very accurate. Here are just a few of the blocks that can be created with half-square triangle patches (ignore the oak leaf applique block, please).

Paper foundations are available commercially, but using the Silhouette Cameo (and others) to print and then trim to size means you can make your own foundations at home as you need them.

The three sizes of units available in the print and cut file are shown in the opening image above. These are FINISHED SIZES of 1 1/2", 2" and 2 1/2" squares. The construction steps for any of the sizes is the same. This tutorial will be using the smallest size for illustration.

Step 1. Print and cut your foundation. The 1 1/2" size printed foundation yields 8 units that can then be joined or combined into patchwork blocks and borders. Print the foundations one by one, or see how many you can load onto your regular type weight paper (card stock is NOT recommended).

Cut a "light" strip and an "accent" or colored strip slightly larger than the CUT paper foundation. Then layer as shown: "accent" on the bottom face up, "light" next face together with the accent fabric strip, on top is the foundation, print side up

 With the layers arranged, use straight pins to secure, inserted where the stitching will not be interfered with. 

Step 2. Use neutral thread. Adjust stitching to slightly shorter than regular quilt piecing.

Begin at the arrow head at end corner. Stitch onto the paper exactly on the dashed stitching line. Continue across the first diagonal stitching line to the opposite size of the foundation.

At the end of the first "run", sew off the paper, but leave the thread attached and simply pull a short length of thread through needle and bobbin so the foundation can be realigned to continue stitching the next diagonal. 

Continue on the left of the solid trim line, as before. Sew onto the paper edge, continue EXACTLY on the dashed stitching line, sew across to the opposite cut edge.

Step 3. At the end of the first "run", either pull foundation away from the machine and clip threads, or pull enough thread through as before so that the foundation can be re-oriented to start the second half of the stitching. Begin at the "hollow" arrow head, and proceed as for the first half.

Step 4. After all the stitching has been completed (only on the dashed lines), place the layered section on a rotary cutting mat. 

Lay rotary ruler exactly on the outer solid lines and trim away all layers. Repeat for all four side edges.

Step 5. Position rotary ruler exactly on the perpendicular lines to cut the section into squares. Be exact in aligning ruler and cutting.

Step 6. Position the ruler and cut exactly on the diagonal of the cut squares to divide them into the two triangle halves.

Step 7.  Turn the units over so that the print side is face down on the iron board. Open up and press the "accent" side away from the "light" half.


Step 8. Tear the foundation away along the perforations created by the stitching.

Step 9. Use scissors to trim away the seam allowance end extensions (sometimes called "ears" or "tails"). 

As you can see, this 1 1/2" foundation produces a 2" unit cut edge to cut edge. This size includes a 1/4" seam allowance on each edge, the standard for patchwork piecing.

The units are now ready for piecing into a wonderful patchwork project.

Here are the units aspiring to be in stitched together. Following are a handful more of fun projects that use this unit. Others were featured in a Quilter's Puzzle Box design collection in this tutorial. Find it by clicking here.

 These images were taken from a book project that I was involved with several years ago. Here is a "Thousand Triangles" overall patchwork pattern using a 4" half square triangle size unit, but the pattern would work for any size. 

This miniature churn dash uses the half square triangle patches in a 1" finished size.

Here is the half square triangle blocks sampler that the color and line drawing blocks from the beginning of the tutorial were illustrating.

This block is a pinecone block that is a variation of the bearpaw block.

Hope these foundations give you lots of scope for your patchwork imagination!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

PepperMint Pathway Newest Hearthsewn Pattern

Who can resist the magic of a colorful candy cottage?
Cover the “tiles” day by day along the numbered arch pathway
with magnet-backed peppermint candies, and before you know it,  
Christmas has arrived!
Numbers can be applied as vinyl heat-transfers or as stitched appliqu├ęs.
Swirl designs can be stencil-painted or applied as adhesive vinyl shapes.
Metal washers hide behind the numbers 
(glued in place then enclosed with stitching).
Finishing touches include quick machine quilting, 
stripe bias binding with or without accent piping.
Finished size: approx. 27” x 27” 

Available after Sept. 1st, 2013. Retail mail order: $12.90 plus $1.25 S&H

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pineapple Paper Foundation Quilt Block Tutorial

Available for purchase and download
from SnapDragon Snippets, in the Silhouette American online store:
"Print & Cut" paper foundation to stitch a 4" pineapple block.
(NOTE: you can just print it and rotary cutter or scissor trim, if preferred.)
This tutorial will assist with construction of this block,
which is a machine paper foundation (MPF) technique
wherein fabrics are stitched in a prescribed order to a printed paper diagram,
then the paper is removed before the rest of the project construction.
Basics of the process can be found in a separate tutorial
in this blog for the Log Cabin and the Square In A Square blocks.
Here is a preview of the stitched and trimmed block.
(I left the thread clippings in place for realism, of course.)

This is the foundation as it is printed. You will need one printed foundation for each block you will completed. Print (or photocopy multiples) onto regular weight type or copy paper. NOTE that the diagram will cut (Print & Cut) just beyond the outer bolder line. That line is the FINAL TRIM line. Trim photocopies the same way, with about a scant 1/8" margin.

NOTE that each space or "patch" area has a number and a color VALUE designation. Use the light background fabric scraps in "light" areas, and the colored scraps in the "dark" areas.

Measure the "log" or strip finished width for one of the #10 or #11 logs, then add 1/4" seam allowance to inner line edge, and measure to beyond the outer trim line. (Then add a little or round up to a reasonable, regular measurement.) The gauge indicates that 1" strip width will work for this block.

Measure for the center square #1 patches by adding a seam allowance to each side of the drawn square. The gauge indicates that 2 1/4" to 2 1/2" squares will work for this block.

Measure for the corner triangle patches that will be used in the #12 and #13 areas. The triangles needed will be "right angle triangles", so these can be cut in pairs by determining the required triangle size, then enlarging slightly, then cutting the square with sides determined by the "legs" that meet in the right angle corner.

The gauge indicates about 2 1/4" here, but to make the positioning and stitching easier, cut the squares at 2 3/4" x 2 3/4", then rotary cut in half on the diagonal.

This project will be "scrappy" so I am selecting 7-10 fabrics for each color grouping from my collection, then cutting strips, squares and rectangles according to the measurements determined in the previous frames.
Here are the "log" strips and center #1 squares. Check the first image on this tut to see that I will use the brown "darks" on two corner runs diagonally from each other, and the orange "darks" on the opposite corners.

I will use the cream for all "lights".

Here are the corner patches. Note that all corners will be "dark" in the layout following the prinited diagram. For my selected block layout, opposite corner pair will be from my "orange" group, and the other corner pair will be from my "taupe brown" group.

Step 1. Use a straight edge (here, a book mark) laid along the corners lines only for this block, and crease the corners back toward the print side of the diagram. This will assist with corner placement in the final construction steps. NOTE that the diagram is print side up as the folding of the paper takes place.

Step 2. "See thru the paper" to identify where the center squares #1 is, then use a dab of fabric glue to temporarily hold the patch in place. I have highlighted the outline of the #1 patch for visibility in this photo.

Place the cut fabric patch with backside of fabric to the backside of the paper diagram. 

Step 3. Identify patch #2 and the color of the fabric strip that will be used.

NOTE that with the Pineapple block, the numbering sequence can be set up with pairs of numbers. Here, I am pointing to the two #2 patch areas. On opposite sides of the construction so joining doesn't interfere, these can be stitched one after the other, before pressing, so the process is somewhat more efficient.

Step 3. Place the light strip to be added FACE UP on your cabinet or sewing table. Turn the paper diagram over to be PRINT SIDE UP so the lines you will stitch on are completely visible as you prepare to sew. As you do that, the center patch will also be FACE TOGETHER with the strip being added.

You will stitch on the solid line BETWEEN patch #1 and patch #2. Position that line approx. 1/4" from the RIGHT HAND cut edge, as this image shows. The strip will be laying mostly under the center #1 patch, and only the seam allowance is under patch #2 -- the place where the strip will eventually end up, once it is STITCHED and then PRESSED BACK.

Adjust machine stitching to about HALF the length of regular piecing straight stitches.

Begin 2 stitches before the actual beginning of the line, stitch across exactly on the line, then stitch 2 stitches beyond the end of the line.

Don't back stitch. 
Do clip threads away close.

Turn the foundation over. It should look something like this.

Press the strip that was attached back, away from the orange squares that is patch #1.

You can trim the strip straight across 1/4" beyond the end of the stitching just completed. You can also trim  any extra seam allowance to a scant 1/4".

Step 4.  Repeat the strip positioning, foundation positioning, stitching, trimming and pressing process for the other patch #2.

Steps 5 & 6.  Add the #3 strips, one at a time, and press back. Your foundation will now look like this.

Step 7. Identify the fabric to be used for the first patch #4. Here my "dark" is rusty brown (part of my orange "half" selection; the other color selection for my block is a taupe darker brown). Follow the same positioning, stitching, trimming and pressing back process as for strips #2 and strips #3.

Step 8. Identify the fabric strip for the other patch #4 and add it.

Step 9. Identify the strips for patches #5, then add them to the construction.

Step 10. Continue adding the light strips for patches #6 and #7. As each strip is joined, the excess corners of the previous "rows" can be trimmed to be the same 1/4" seam allowance, even with added strip's seam allowance.

Step 11. Continue adding strips in ordered pairs following the color notations on the diagram. Here the block has been completed through patches #9.

Step 12. Add the final light rows, patches #10 and #11. These strips fall at the straight side edges of the foundation, as you can see. As these are pressed back into their final position, the outer raw edges should extend beyond the final trim line of the diagram (which can be seen from the print side of the diagram better than here).

Step 13. Identify the areas for patches #12. These will be corners. Instead of the STRIPS previously being joined. Select a cut triangle (see the image and text before Step 1) then add as shown in the following few images.

Fold the triangle back over the diagram print as shown. I have highlighted the actual stitch and trim lines of the triangle on the backside of the diagram for clarity here.

Place fabric triangle FACE UP on work surface. Position the construction FACE SIDE TOGETHER over the triangle, then adjust the exposed paper triangle area so that the fold edge is approx. 1/4" from the triangle cut long edge, with the remainder of the triangle shape (red lines) falling within the perimeter of the fabric triangle edges.
(This image is in process of positioning.)

Here is the final positioning.

Now carefully UNFOLD - that is, return the corner to its flat position, but don't allow anything to shift.

Pick up and carry the work to the machine throat plate ...

... and stitch the seam. 

Step 14.  Begin the stitching at the paper's edge, stitch across exactly on the line ...

... then sew OFF the other edge of the paper.  Final or edge seams are completed this way because no other seam in the sequence will stitch across the end of the line to secure it. This way, the stitching will be complete through the edge seam allowance, too, which is better for the joining of blocks to blocks process.

Press the corner triangle back into its final position. The fabric edges should extend beyond the paper diagram edges.

 Step 15. Add the appropriate color triangle to the other three corner positions to complete the construction of this block.

The fabric edge shape of the completed block should appear somewhat ragged.

Place the completed block FACE SIDE DOWN on rotary cutting mat. Use rotary ruler and cutter to trim excess away by cutting EXACTLY on the bolder outer solid FINAL TRIM line.

Here is one block trimmed.

Step 16. Remove the paper sections by working in reverse. Fold a corner patch #13 back on its stitching line, then tear corner away along perforation. Continue to remove all paper, working in same reversed order.

Here is a four-block candle mat that I completed using this foundation. With added 3/8" and 1" borders, plus binding, it measures approx. 10 3/4" finished.

Finished candle mat just the right size to host my antique orange glass grapes. Won't be hard to find a place to feature this little quilt in my decor this autumn! Certainly you can conjure a perfect scrappy color scheme for your decorating needs come Autumn, Christmas, Valentine's Day, 4th of July, or whenever.

Here is another pineapple foundation project, though the foundation for this wall quilt uses as 6" block (may be available at a later date through Silhouette America) which has more "log" rows.

Hope this has been a fun paper piecing experience for you. Watch for other foundation block patterns available through SnapDragon Snippets and Silhouette America's online store. Also check for other foundation piecing tutorials on this blog.

Happy piecing!