Friday, May 31, 2019

How to Do Radially Symmetric Pattern Blocks aka Stack and Whack or One Block Wonder

I have been asked to do a presentation to a local quilt guild on my "stack and whack" quilts.  What I have discovered about myself is that I love radial symmetry which is why I was so attracted to this kind of block originally.  Also playing into this was that I don't ever (except in ONE case) do two blocks the same and of course with this type of quilting, you use only one fabric but every block is different.  I have heard differentiation of "stack and whack" and "one block wonders" but they are essentially the same thing but the second having a well defined set.  Even in my dyeing, I am most intrigued by making radially symmetric blocks with ice dyeing.  Below are my steps to making this type of quilt.  This quilt uses six repeats of the fabric and makes hexagons.
Picking the Fabric

The key to making interesting radially symmetric patterns is picking the appropriate fabric which has a reasonably lengthy repeat. You can measure the repeat by looking at the selvedge and look at the cut end of the fabric and search for a definable object and move your eyes up along the selvedge until you see that same object. You can then measure that length and that will give you the repeat length. This can range from 2 inches to 36 inches depending upon the fabric.

The best fabrics are ones with multiple colors and not a lot of background space. The images should be reasonably large but not overwhelmingly so. There are of course exceptions to this. A good tool for this is a folding mirror that you can swing along the edge of the fabric to see whether there is enough variety to make it interesting.

Determining How Much You Need

Any pattern which has some sort of repeating element around a middle point will work for a stack and whack. Good examples are hexagons, octagons (kaleidoscope block), almost any star design and even the lowly four patch. Once you decide which you will do, you need to multiply the number of occurrences of the repeating pattern by the repeat length you determined above. So if your repeat is 12 inches and you are doing a hexagon based design (6 sides), you would multiply the 12 x 6 and decide you need 72 inches or 2 yards. Now you may want to make a much bigger quilt so you might multiply that by 2 or 3. I generally buy just a ¼ yard extra just in case!  The repeat on the above quilt was about 12 inches.

Cutting the Fabric

The first step is to divide the fabric into two lengthwise so that each piece is 22 inches (or so) by the length of the fabric. Then I determine where the repeat is and made a small slit on the selvedge side and after I get them all marked, I tear the fabric (I don't use a rotary cutter as I have found that you get a more even start with tearing). You would do this with each half of the fabric if you want lots of blocks.

Arranging the Stack

This step is the very important one and the reason you divide the fabric to make it manageable. Stack up the fabrics in the pile each fabric going in the same direction. Now start pinning the four (or six or eight) layers carefully together. I do this by starting at one corner and pushing the pin through the exact same spot on each of the fabrics below it. I leave the pin just pushing down and move about 1 ½ to 2 inches down and do the same. I do this down the whole length of the fabric. Then I make sure every thing is parallel and start pinning by taking a separate pin and replacing the first pin. I do this down the length. I repeat this on all four sides. You would be surprised at how wonky the fabric is even after you have pinned three sides. It gets easier each side. It is a perfect thing to do while watching tv. I usually trim away a little bit on either side where it was torn at this point and also get rid of the selvedge.

Cutting the Strips

Well, by now you have decided which pattern you are using. You can either use a predetermined width of fabric or decide now how wide you want to make your strips. I don't like to waste fabric so I tend to go with the second alternative and do some division of the repeat. So if I have a 24 inch repeat, I might do 5 ¾ inch strips (instead of the 6 inch strip as I like to make sure all is even) or a even a 7 ¾ inch strip (this would make an awfully big square or hexi so don't usually go that big). I also look at the pattern of the fabric itself to see how large the elements are and use that as a guideline. I have found if I have a 12 inch repeat that the pattern itself has much smaller elements so tend to go with 2 ¾ inch strips or 3 ¾ (or 7/8) inch strips.

Cutting the Triangles, Diamonds or Squares

I use 45 degree and 60 degree triangles to cut the triangles for an octagonal or hexagonal block. I have also used just a ruler and used the 60 degree and 45 degree angles, made diamonds (and either leave that way) or cut the diamonds in half to make the appropriate triangles.

These hexagons were cut from a very large Hawaiian print that wasn't particularly attractive but certainly made nice blocks!

This was another not very attractive print of vegetables.  I cut two different size triangles for this one and set the whole thing on point.  It uses the familiar kaleidoscope block which is eight sides..

The fabric for the centers of these stars is in the border.  This was an unusual star pattern which we had a class on in QBTS .

This is a One Block Wonder quilt which was unfinished at the time of this pic.  I  have no idea where this quilt is now!!  I must have given it away!

 This was a purchased pattern which used four patches for the repeating pattern, so only needed four repeats of the fabric but again, it was two different sizes of squares.

This was again a pattern from a book called Serendipity Quilts by Sara Nephews.  It uses six pointed stars in the middle of the more complex blocks with simple hexagons surrounding them.  I had to use the size strips that were called for in the book.  I made several of  this type of quilt a number of years ago.  It is not quite done in the pic!  It is about three shades lighter now from all the washings as the cats love to sleep on it!  You'll note that I cannot help myself a so used variations of the block so I didn't have to do the same block 10 times!!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A Special Exhibition by Janet Root

Janet is the person I have known the longest in the Genesee Valley Quilt Club.  She initially told me about the club more than 20 years ago while we attended a class in Albany and found we both lived in the Rochester area.  I then ran into her at Quilting by the Lake right before I retired.  I attended my first club meeting the next month!

She is a wonderful artist/quilter who works in a variety of styles and is always helping others.  She is one of the founding members of the Rochester Area Fiber Artists as well as a frequent contributor to programs at GVQC.

These are just a few of the pieces she has on display at GoArt in Batavia, New York.  The exhibit will be up for the next month or so and well worth a visit!

These were all taken the night of her opening reception which had a huge crowd!!

I love to go out to her house and take pictures of all the wonderful birds that come to her feeders!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Best Laid Plans Quilt

There is a reason for the name of this quilt.  It has turned into one very weird experience!  I am supposed to speak on stack and whacks at a local quilt club this month.  I have made about every variation of this quilt except or a new one I have seen on the internet. To me, it is one of the nicest of the genre.  It is made from a scenic panel and then the stack and whacks that were made from obviously six additional copies of the panel surrounded this central image.  I wasn't going to buy any more fabric but found this vase in my stash and I had 16 repeats of it so thought - what the heck!!  It was difficult to stack as I usually pin along the edge and the edge had no definable objects to pin through the layers.  I did do the pinning and got a very even stack.  I then cut it up into 4 inch wide triangles -- 6 of each (or so I thought).  As I was auditioning which sides of the 60 degree triangles I would use, I noticed that every other one in the stack was different -- I had three of one triangle and three of the other.  I thought I must have put in some of the panels upside down. When I looked a little more closely I noticed -- uh oh.  On each width of the fabric, there were two vases and one was the mirror image of the other!!  So inadvertently I managed to a unique new stack and whack!!  This picture shows the two versions of the vase and the beginnings of sewing the blocks together.

So here all the blocks are done and there is the perfect amount to do this arrangement.  At this point I thought it was going to take some math to figure out how to get everything to line up and how much additional fabric I would need surrounding the hexies to have them match up with the center panels.

First I had to decide which fabrics to use for the finishing triangles though.  I assumed I would use the green that was surrounding the panels in the yardage -- there were four to five inch strips on either side of the panels.

No, that is just awful!!  So won't use the green but may see if I have enough for an outside border or binding -- far away from the hexies!

Next I thought black as that is the background color in the panels.  No, definitely not!!  The gold in the frame is what the problem is with whatever I decide to do as it doesn't match with any of the flowers in the panel and yet is very outstanding.

I finally decided that this off-white subtle print would work the best.  I randomly decided that I wanted about 1 1/2 inches between the hexies and the top and bottom of the panels.  It just looked right somehow.

Imagine my shock when I also discovered that I needed 1 1/2 inches between the vertical hexies so that they fit right next to the panel.  Furthermore, when I placed the line of hexies next to the panel with its edge pieces, they also fit exactly!!  So I ended up not having to doing any subtle fixing to make everything turn out even.  I have no idea why this worked but I am not complaining!  Now just need to add some stuff to the sides and a border all around and consider the top done.  It will probably end up about 44 x 60 when completed.  It will definitely be a giveaway one!!  It will be a good show and tell for my talk though.

The hexie blocks are three-peats and are certainly different from any other stack and whack I have done!

Friday, May 10, 2019

May GVQC Meeting with Speaker Tina Somerset

Today was my first meeting back since back in September.  This quilt is the raffle quilt for this year and is just stunning.  This club certainly has some master quilters as evidenced by the prizes they have received at various very large shows.

I thought the back was super interesting as well as it was obviously put together a block at a time.

 There were 32 Comfort Quilts handed into today and many were just lovely.  I just got pics of a few and they are not very good quality so that is why they re smaller than usual.  Of course, I ran out of battery before the meeting was over as well so had to resort to my cellphone which just isn't up to long distance pics!!

 I got my camera under a bit better control for "show and tell" so these are a bit bigger.

 This was actually a smaller wall hanging but I could get a closeup.

This was a stunner done by Claire Welch.  I loved it!!

 This was a result of the Bonnie Hunter class back in the fall although this quilter chose to do her own thing with the palette.  A lovely quilt!

This and the next one were done by the same quilter only she squished the blocks on the second one!

 Nancy Levant did this stunning quilt!!  It uses Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

This quilt has pictures of cats and dogs all through it and will be used as a fund raiser for one of the humane societies!

Another lovely quilt! 
Nice little art quilt.

 Tina Somerset was our speaker this month and did a talk on the various elements of design and how she incorporated them into her quilts.  It was very dark and she was far away!!  The first few pictures were also taken from a distance but shows all the different types of quilts she has created.  She is basically a hand quilter and considers herself a traditional quilter turned art quilter.  She lives locally  and belong to our club.

This was a stunning applique quilt but awfully far away but you get the idea.  Tina does a lot of painting on fabric and loads of different kinds of embellishment as well.  She hand quilts most  but I believe she machine quilted this one. 
She did a lot of painting on this one. 
The rest of these were taken close up but sitting on a table so I didn't get full images for most but you get the idea!! 

This one was English paper pieced.  Sounds like she won't be doing any more of that kind!  She uses  color tools consistently to choose her palettes.  She was a lovely speaker.  I don't know whether she taught a class as well as I wasn't here but know she teaches and has been well represented in major shows as well as on the AQS Calendar and Quilt Life magazine.