A Touch o’ the Irish–Quilting, that is!

I’ve been a bit behind on the blogging lately. I have all these pictures that I’ve taken, and things stored up in the back of my head to blog about, and then life gets in the way, and the stuff never makes it to the keyboard and thence to the screen. One of the most exciting things happened at the beginning of June:

Irish Quilting Magazine, Where the Inchies Are

One of my Inchie Quilts called Where the Inchies Are appeared in Irish Quilting Magazine! Cool, right? Now take a look at the picture of the quilt in the magazine: Continue reading

HST’s & QST’s: It’s Not You, It’s the Math

Have you ever wondered why points are so difficult to match up when you’re making a block with half-square or quarter-square triangles? It’s not so bad if the entire block is HST’s or QST’s by themselves (except that the block will most likely not finish to exactly the expected size), but pair either one with squares or rectangles and expect the corners and points to match up and everything to be sized right in the end, and you’re likely to be disappointed, no matter how carefully you’ve sewn or how accurate your 1/4″ seam allowance is.

Half Square Triangles

Well, I’ve got a news flash for you: it’s not you or your sewing skills, it’s the math. And I don’t mean that you or the pattern designer have miscalculated the cutting sizes either. What I mean is that mathematically, when you calculate the size of square to cut for a certain finished size of half-square or quarter-square triangle, you won’t get a size that’s rotary cutter friendly. It’s some algebraic formula like Asquared+Bsquared=Csquaredyaddayadda, and I did actually do the math a couple of years back though I don’t remember the formula at the moment.

This whole issue can be proven with graph paper as well. Try this: draw HST#1 with 2″ straight sides on graph paper, and then add 1/4″ seam allowances all the way around. Then draw HST#2 at the universally accepted cut size, with 2 7/8″ straight sides (the formula to determine the cut size for a HST is finished size + 7/8″). Measure the straight sides on the HST#1, which should be 2 7/8″, but they’re not. Sure, it’s not THAT far off, but when a block contains 8 or 16 HST’s, or when those HST’s are supposed to fit together with a 2 1/2″ square patch, this can cause issues down the road.

The bias edge across the middle of the HST adds its own measure of instability and inaccuracy, and it all equals wonkyness that’s not likely to be the right size in the end. What to do? I’ve gotten to the point where I cut large and trim down after the HST’s or QST’s are sewn, so that I know I’m getting the right size and everything is really square. I use the formula, then add 1/2″ or 3/4″ to the squares when I cut them. I dislike doing this for two reasons: one, it’s an extra step, and in multiples no less, since how many quilts need just one or two HST’s or QST’s, and two, it’s a fabric waster which is really not okay. There is a silver lining though (see, I can find one in this morass!): when you trim the HST’s or QST’s down to size, you’re trimming away the “dog ears” at the same time, so that’s a bonus.

Some patterns these days may just tell you to do that from the beginning, cut large and trim to the right size after piecing, but I’m basing all this on my personal experience with patterns and books, which is probably old since I don’t generally buy patterns or make quilts out of books anymore, preferring to tumble over the cliff of my own creativity into the scrappy mess of UFO’s and failed fabric experiments at the bottom. When I was buying books and patterns a few years ago, patterns were written based on cutting the “exact” size you need, and expecting the HST’s and QST’s to be the right size in the end and they never were, and the edges were curvy and wonky in the bargain.

So what’s your solution to the HST and QST finished size/cutting size quandary? Do you have these issues with patterns these days? Do you cut bigger and trim, or just deal with the fallout on the fly when piecing blocks?

Edit: Crazy Accuracy Freak Girl wrote this while I was having breakfast. ;) I try to keep her penned up and away from the blog, but sometimes she sneaks out and adds her two cents…or two dollars, as the case may be. Thanks for putting up with her.—Nadine

Copyright law and the quilter

Quilting pattern

I’ve been mulling over the issues of copyright as it relates to quilting in my mind lately. In recent years, there have been some pretty loud rumblings in the quilt world about this issue, as more and more quilters, artists, designers and companies become aware of the law. To me, most of the interpretation of copyright law has been pretty self explanatory and logical really, at least for my purposes. It’s the oft repeated “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” thing. When you purchase a quilt pattern or book you’ve purchased the right to make that project for personal use, or as gifts. Selling the project is generally not allowed, though in some cases, designers have expressly granted permission to make a certain number of projects to sell (sometimes up to ten) for profit at craft fairs and shows.

All that being said, I really feel that if I have made a quilt from a pattern in a book, and I want to sell that quilt, I should be able give credit to the designer and price the work accordingly, taking into account only the time and materials I put into the project. In other words, I would be charging for my time and materials, not for the originality of the design itself. If I sell a quilt that is my own design, I would charge for my time, the materials, and for the originality of the design as well. I would happily grant that privilege to anyone who purchased one of my patterns as well. That is not what the law says, though, so that’s not what we are allowed to do.

Recently I’ve seen more and more questions and issues about showing quilts made from commercial copyrighted patterns. This is where it gets sticky and mean sometimes, I think, Continue reading

A quick project

Folded Mini Star Ornament

These Folded Star Mini Ornaments were just too cute not to make. Takes about 10 minutes to make one, and you can use 2″ leftover strips from another project, should you have any around (and who doesn’t?). Perfect for tie-ons for gift packages as well. Visit Acorn Hill Quilts for the free instructions for these cute ornaments and there’s also a larger version made from fat quarters that makes the perfect last minute gift for quilters! What quilter doesn’t need more fabric? ;)

Free quilt patterns galore!

I was surfing the web today (feeling a bit ill, so not doing much else really) and found this absolutely wonderful site: FreeQuilt.com. It’s a collection of links to other quilting and sewing sites around the Internet with free patterns for download. In other words, mega legwork already done by someone else, and nothing to do but click and enjoy! I love all the cat quilts that can be found there, but I’d already found another that isn’t listed there: Cats in the Attic at Pam Bono Designs (you have to register there to download the pattern). This one might even make good placemats, if you just make the four blocks singly instead of putting them together into one quilt.

So now I’ve got ideas for more quilts! This is what happens when your body doesn’t feel like doing much, I guess. Your brain and creativity start up, and then you’re in trouble when you do feel better!

The promised pics of the UFO quilt from Quilt Retreat

Okay, here are the pics, finally. It’s almost done, well, it’s done really, except for taking out the last bit of quilting that I didn’t like after I did it. Yes, I really do pick out quilting every once in a while, if I don’t like how it looks! I started this quilt as a project for a book I thought I’d write, and then the publisher didn’t want the book, so I still had this quilt as a UFO.

Winter Windmills

One of the things this publisher (AQS if anyone wants to know) always says about my quilts is that they’re too difficult for the majority of their market due to the complexity of the patterns, too many points to match, too many borders and other things like that. I designed this quilt in response to some of that, but then they still said there were too many points to match up, and therefore too difficult. Frankly, careful pressing makes this a not-so-difficult quilt to master, and with only the one border, it’s pretty quick to make.

Winter Windmills detail

I debated with myself while I was quilting this quilt about the fabric for the binding. The original plan was to use the same fabric as I used in the cornerstones of the sashing, but I really thought that was too predictable and boring. When decision time came around, I pulled a couple of other fabrics from my stash, then took a quick tour through my plaids looking for a red/green/black plaid that I’ve used for other bindings and been happy with. On the way, I ran across this lovely yarn-dyed plaid in shades of cocoa, tan, and off-white, with just one thread of just the right shade of burgundy in it. Perfect. I love plaid bindings!

Winter Windmills back

And the back? You may remember that it was a brushed cotton, and it is so, so cozy feeling. All in all, I’m very happy with this quilt, and happy to be back in my traditional box after the Grasping Reality quilt! I’m thinking of publishing the pattern for this quilt with all those tips and tricks for getting the triangle points to match easily. What do you think?