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Giveaway Winner, woohoo!

And we have a winner!

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Comment #2 was …. Jenny! Woohoo! Jenny’s holiday story was:

My story involves baking too! Hubby and I were watching the Christmas special from the Great British Bake off show, and hubby gets it into his head that he really wants to make a ‘Yule Log’ like the one they featured. So a few days later after watching the segment a number of times over to catch all the ingredients and method we attempt to make the chocolate sponge roll and the gnache which covers it with…. it turns out rather interestingly, but alas we have no miniature robin to sit on the log. Later when I go to take it out of the fridge (where a lot of the far too thin gnache has run off it) I find that in the absence of the traditional robin, one of the boys has sat an ‘angry bird’ (from the game app Angry Birds) balanced on the Yule log instead. It was a laugh and very yummy dessert in spite of how it looked!

Haha! Jenny, I’ll email you shortly and get your prize right to you!

Thanks everyone for entering and sharing your funny stories – I love when you leave me comments and I get to hear a little about you all, too!

Things have been crazy around here lately, and I’m pooped to the bone and need a little time to do, well, nothing much at all, so I’m going to be on a little blog hiatus for a short while. Don’t go nowheres, I’ll be back soon!

Xmas in July Giveaway – Cotton + Steel Tinsel FQ Mini-Stack!

Yay! Fabric Giveaway!

Peeps! It’s a flippin’ giveaway! Woohoo! This giveaway is now closed – I’ll announce the winner shortly!

Ok, so the Merry Medallion quilt is almost finished (last batch of instructions on Friday!) and I hope some of these quilts will start popping up between now and Christmas! I finished mine today, and photographed it ahead of the final tutorial, and I have to tell you: I LOVE IT SO MUCH. So much that I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO USE ALL CAPS. Seriously, dudes. It is already one of my most favoritest things I’ve EVER MADE. I freaking can’t wait to show you!!

But that’s a couple of days away, so why don’t we pass the time with a little giveaway?! I have to admit, I originally intended on pairing this particular giveaway with another project, but then I went and got a new job (!) and a few of my Christmas in July projects had to go by the wayside. That’s ok, there’s still Christmas in December. BUT, I didn’t want these fabrics to waste away, since I bought them especially for you and everything, and it occurred to me that these four make a might fine starter for a Merry Medallion of your own!

Yay! Fabric Giveaway!

These four fabrics are my favorites from Tinsel by Cotton + Steel, which is my favorite Christmas fabric EVER. It’s just perfect in every way! Here’s a low volume, a red, and a green – and the very same mid-volume (the washi tape print, isn’t it the best?!) I’ve used in my Merry Medallion, as you’ll see on Friday. These four would be a great start to a gathering of Merry Medallion fabrics!

So, to win this little mini-stack of festive pretties, leave a comment and tell me your favorite story about a holiday project. It could be a funny story about the time you tried to make a gingerbread house and it collapsed into smithereens, a touching story about a birthday gift you made that was loved to pieces, or a near-miss story about the costume you just managed to finish at 6pm on Halloween night. Any story, any craft, any holiday!

This giveaway is open to everyone, everywhere, and I’ll close it at midnight (UK time) next Friday, August 7th. The winner will be chosen by Mr. Random Number Generator. Off you go!

Merry Medallion Quilt-Along: Round Two (Flying Geese)

Merry Medallion Round 2 - Flying Geese

This week we’ll work on round two – the section highlighted below:

Merry Medallion Round 2

We won’t worry yet about the border in between the center star and this round – we’ll get to that when we put everything together at the end. We’ll deal with the corner blocks of this round next week.

This will be the round that takes the most work and is most time-consuming. The rest of the quilt will be pretty quick-n-simple compared to this round – but even so, we only need to learn one thing this week: flying geese. Flying geese are absolutely NOT difficult, but they are easy to get a little wonky, especially in the final pressing stage. Why not try one or two on some scraps before working with your Christmas fabrics?

What You’ll Need

– all of your 6.5″ x 3.5″ rectangles (40 green)
– all of your 3.5″ squares (80 low volume)

Making The Pieces

Merry Medallion Round 2 - Flying Geese

Making flying geese is not dissimilar to making half square triangles, which we did last week, except that you will add two low volume triangles to each green rectangle, resulting in a green triangle that is set into the rectangle – see above if that sounds like goobletygook. I really suggest you read through this week’s instructions before you start, because there’s another thing going on at the same time and I don’t want it to be confusing!

First you’ll need to prepare your pieces, just like last week. On each 3.5″ low volume square, mark a diagonal line from one corner to another:

Merry Medallion Round 2

If you were just making flying geese and nothing more, you’d stop there and sew. But we’re going to multi-task and make some more half square triangles from these same pieces, which we’ll use later. On 12 of your low volume squares, mark a second line, a half-inch away from the first:

Merry Medallion Round 2

Pair a low volume square with a green rectangle, and place them right sides together, square aligned at one end with the diagonal as shown:

Merry Medallion Round 2

(My apologies for the time travel – yes, this rectangle is already sewn! I forgot to get a photo of the square placement before everything was sewn! Ignore the stitching and just note the way the marked diagonal lines are arranged.)

Now we’ll sew along the first, corner-to-corner, diagonal – this is the normal flying geese line (i.e., if you weren’t multi-tasking, this would be your only sewing line). Unlike the HSTs last week, for flying geese you sew right on the line – nearly. We actually want to sew just a touch outside the line, which will help us get a neater shape in the end.

Can you see how my needle is hitting the fabric a teensy bit outside the line?

Merry Medallion Round 2

Merry Medallion Round 2

We can chain piece these, same as last week – just be careful to stay just a tiny touch outside that line on each block. Ignore your second marked lines for the moment.

When you’re done with all 40 rectangles, clip them apart (assuming you chain pieced) and gather those with a second marked line. Now sew through those 12 again, right on the second marked line (no need to be outside it this time):

Merry Medallion Round 2

Note: For the Merry Medallion quilt, you only need to mark / sew this second line on 12 pieces, which will give you, in a moment, 12 small half square triangles. OR you could go ahead and do this on all of them and end up with a whole stack of spare HSTs for another project! The fabric that gets trimmed in the next step will go to waste otherwise, so you might want to consider taking the time to mark and sew all of your low volume squares with the second line!

Now we can trim all 40 rectangles. Use your sharp scissors or rotary cutter to cut right between the two lines, if you have them – or 1/4″ outside the line, if you don’t.

Merry Medallion Round 2

Press seams toward the darker side. This is important: flying geese can go wonky very easily during the pressing state and we won’t trim them later, so take your time to press them very carefully. I actually lightly finger press the seam first, then just place my iron (with steam) right on the seam and hold for a moment. Resist the urge to tug on that low volume corner or move your iron around. You’ll get the hang of it after a few, and that’s why I recommend making a scrap goose or two first, just to play with the pressing method that results in the neatest geese for you.

Now you have a half-completed flying geese block and a small half square triangle:

Merry Medallion Round 2

(Actually, there’s no need to press or trim the HSTs now – just set them aside and we’ll come back to them next week.)

To complete the flying geese, simply repeat the same again on the other side, pairing the remaining 3.5″ low volume squares with the half-completed geese:

Merry Medallion Round 2

And sew in just the same way as before! Again, very carefully press to the dark side. You should end up with 40 flying geese, each measuring 6.5″ x 3.5″. And also 12 (or more) unpressed / untrimmed half square triangles, set aside for later.

Round 2 / Flying Geese Assembly

Now we’ll sew our geese into four strips, each ten geese long. Arrange your geese in a way that makes you happy (please pardon my weird-time-of-day photo – I gotta sew at night sometimes!):

Merry Medallion Round 2 - Flying Geese

And then sew them into four long strips, with all the geese pointing in the same direction. Be careful with your seam allowances or you’ll cut the tip off of your geese! Press seams towards the greens.

When finished, your four strips should each measure 6.5″ wide and 30.5″ long.

Merry Medallion Round 2 - Flying Geese

Considering that’s the hardest week, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Next week, we’ll make round 3, which will come together even faster!

Merry Medallion Quilt Week 2: Center Star

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

Alrighty, ready to sew?! This week, we’ll make the center star of the Merry Medallion quilt. That’s the section highlighted below:

Merry Medallion Week 1: Center Star

What You’ll Need

– all of your 7″ squares (five red, three green, eight low volume)
– all of your 6.5″ squares (four low volume)
– general sewing stuff

Making The Pieces

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

First, we’ll make half square triangles from our 7″ squares. (I’m basically repeating this from my Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial, pardon the re-run.) On the wrong side of one low volume square, mark a diagonal line from one corner to the other.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

Pair the marked low volume square with an unmarked colored square (green or red), place right sides together, and sew 1/4″ away from the line, on both sides of the line:

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

(If you have a 1/4″ foot, that’s handy for this step. I use the left side of my foot on this machine, which is exactly 1/4″ away from the needle. You can also mark lines 1/4″ away from the center line if that’s easier.)

Cut down the drawn line with a rotary cutter or sharp fabric scissors, and you’ll end up with two new squares, each made of one light and one dark triangle. Yay!

Press seams towards the darker side.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

Now, you might notice that your new square is a little wonky. Don’t worry, that’s totally part of the magic. We made those squares a teensy bit bigger than they had to be, so that we can trim them nice and perfect before the next step.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

Line up the 45-degree diagonal on your ruler, or your cutting mat, with the diagonal seam, and trim each of these blocks to 6.5″. You’ll only end up shaving a wee bit from each side, but you’ll end up with a nice, neat square.

Chain Piecing

To make the rest of our HSTs, we’re going to chain piece them. This concept is key to making the Merry Medallion doable in a month without difficulty. Chain piecing means that instead of starting and stopping for each individual HST, we’ll feed them right into the machine one after the other.

This technique saves a shocking amount of time (and thread) – chain piece a handful of HSTs and then consider how long the same would take if you’d stopped, removed the fabric, clipped the thread and then started a new one fresh each time. I’m sure you’ll immediately see why this is such a great concept for speedy piecing. (You all know I am not normally one for quik-n-ezee projects, and I’d never choose chain piecing over hand-stitching for most projects. But there is a time and place for breezing through a stack of squares!)

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

So, when you get to the end of one diagonal HST line, don’t lift the presser foot or anything, just feed your next HST pair in right after it (like in the photo above). You’ll probably have a few stitches between the two pieces of fabric, and they’ll connect to each other like bunting. Try it out with a few scraps before your HSTs, if you’re unsure.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

When you’re done, just carefully clip them apart. You will end up with ten red/low volume squares and six green/low volume squares. Trim all squares as described above.

Center Star Layout / Assembly

Now lay out your low volume squares and your HSTs as shown below:

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

You will have extra HSTs (one extra red square and three extra green squares), so you have a little flexibility with your arrangement. Play with the layout until you’re happy!

To assemble the center star, now that you have all the pieces ready, you will simply sew the 16 blocks into four rows, then sew the four rows together to make the star. You can chain piece these rows too, by the way, just take care to keep everything in order!

Press your block seams in alternate directions (top row to the left, second row to the right, and so on) and then the longer row seams all in one direction (it doesn’t really matter which way).

Your finished center star block should measure 24.5″.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

We’re on our way now! Next Friday: round 2 – see you there!

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

Today I’m going to share a little tutorial for a really big Churn Dash block – I like to call it the Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial. :) This is really for my peeps in the Bee Europa quilting bee – this is the block I’ve assigned them for my turn at the wheel – but I figured I might as well share it for anyone else thinking that Churn Dashes would be even better if they were, like, quite large.

This block is a totally traditional Churn Dash, nothing tricksy going on, but finishes at 18.5″ (18″ when assembled into a quilt). I will end up with 16 blocks in total, which will be arranged in a four-by-four grid to end up with a 72″ x 72″ finished quilt.

If you’d like to use this tutorial to make a full quilt, you will essentially need two contrasting FQs per block. You’ll have lots of scraps, but a FQ isn’t quite large enough to get multiple blocks out of. You may want to do some math with half-metre cuts, but I liked the idea of having no repeating fabrics combined with a fairly strict color scheme, so I stuck with FQs.

Notes: Everything in this tutorial is sewn with 1/4″ seam. I pay special attention below to how to handle directional prints, because almost all of the packages sent out to my bee pals have directional prints in them. Just skim over those bits if they don’t apply to your fabrics!

What You’ll Need

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

Each block will have a background fabric and a, erm, Dash fabric. (Reminder to bee peeps: the background fabric is the larger piece in your package!) Cut the following pieces:

Background Fabric:

– two 7″ squares
– one 6.5″ square
– four 6.5″ x 3.5″ rectangles (NOTE: if your fabric is directional, cut two vertically and two horizontally!)

Dash Fabric:

– two 7″ squares
– four 6.5″ x 3.5″ rectangles (NOTE: if your fabric is directional, cut two vertically and two horizontally!)

You’ll also need a ruler, a fabric marking pen, and keep your rotary cutter (or fabric scissors) handy.

Making The Pieces

First, we’ll sew our rectangles together in pairs. Make pairs like this, keeping the direction of the print(s) in mind:

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

The background fabric on the outside, the dash fabric on the inside.

Sew these pairs together, press seams towards the dark side (ha!) and set aside.

Next, we’ll make half square triangles with the 7″ squares. Take one pair of 7″ squares – the lighter is easiest, unless one print is directional, then choose that one. On the wrong side of each square, mark a diagonal line from one corner to the other. On directional prints, mark them this way:

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

And you will end up with the fabric going the right direction on all resulting triangles!

Pair each marked square with an unmarked square (in the other fabric), place right sides together, and sew 1/4″ away from the line, on both sides of the line:

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

(If you have a 1/4″ foot, that’s handy for this step. I use the left side of my foot on this machine, which is exactly 1/4″ away from the needle. You can also mark lines 1/4″ away from the center line if that’s easier.)

You’ll end up with two pairs, both with a line drawn down the center and two sewn lines on either side of it. Cut down the drawn line with a rotary cutter or sharp fabric scissors, and you’ll end up with four new squares, each made of one light and one dark triangle. IT’S MAGICS!

Press seams towards the darker side.

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

Now, you might notice that your new squares a little wonky. Don’t worry, that’s totally part of the magic. We made those squares a teensy bit bigger than they had to be, so that we can trim them nice and perfect before the next step.

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

Line up the diagonal on your ruler, or your cutting mat, with the diagonal seam, and trim each of these blocks to 6.5″. You’ll only end up shaving a wee bit from each side, but you’ll end up with a nice, neat square.

Assembling The Block

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

Now, lay out all of your pieces as seen above – again, minding the direction of the prints. Nobody likes an upside-down bunny, am I right?!

Piece the three top blocks together, then the three middle, then the three bottom. Press the middle row seams outward, and the others inward. Then sew the three rows together and press those seams towards the center.

Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial

Hurrah! A great big honking Churn Dash! Isn’t it lovely?! This is the perfect size to turn into a throw pillow or a mini-quilt, as is, or you can make 15 more and have a great big honking quilt.

OR, you can get your bee-mates to do it for you! :) Thanks, peeps! I’m so excited about this quilt, I can hardly contain myself!

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