Darlene's Sparkling Cider Quilt

Darlene has been a dear friend of my mother's for years. She even babysat me when I was little! Unfortunately, she was in a bad car accident over a year ago, and is still struggling to recover. When we found out how hard things have been for her, we knew she needed a quilt.

This was the first time Mom and I have worked together to make a quilt, but it won't be the last. It was so much fun! We had a four-day retreat at the local sewing studio (A Stitch off Seventh), and it took just about the whole time to piece both sides.

We wanted a pattern that would be relatively quick so we could finish at the retreat, and that would be forgiving for having blocks made by two different people. We chose to modify Sparkling Cider by All Washed Up Quilts. We only used the blocks with the small stars, and we split the large rectangles lengthwise to give the quilt more movement. Since none of the seams have to match between the blocks, we could easily trim them all to the same size after we finished piecing.

We are both a little bit crazy when it comes to using up our scraps on the back of the quilt. In this case, I think the back took longer than the front! We both made a pile of blocks, then used the design wall to figure out how we were going to make them all fit together. We tend to have pretty different thought processes when solving this kind of problem, but we made it work. We even still liked each other when we were finished!

We decided to try something a little different this time and pieced the label into the back. We made a star and framed it in yellow to set it apart from everything else. We wrote on the label before quilting. It's much easier to write without the squishiness of the batting, and this way we weren't trying to write over the quilting thread.

I'm a big believer in labels, and this was a fun way to do it. I'm thinking I will do more of this on quilts that get pieced backs. If I'm already piecing it, why not? 

For the quilting, I chose Swinging on a Star by Jessica Schick. It's my all time favorite star design. I love its whimsical, playful feel, and the larger scale of the stars was perfect for the big blocks in this quilt. 

I'm happy to say that Darlene was thrilled to receive the quilt. She was deeply moved by the love that she knew went into it. Quilts make the absolute best hugs, especially for the special people in our lives that are far away. Any time she wraps up in it, she will know there are two ladies in Montana thinking of her and cheering her on.

Have you ever collaborated to make a quilt? I would love to hear about it!

I'm linking up with:
Wednesday Wait Loss
Whoop Whoop Friday
Thank Goodness It's Finally Finished Friday

I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long: Tree Farm

I can't believe it's already time for our second block of I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long! If you're just joining us, you can find the links to the introduction, fabric options, and first block on my quilt along page. I will continue to update that page as we add more blocks.

This week's block is Tree Farm by April Adams of JANDA Bend Quilts. Click here for her post with the block pattern. The pattern is guaranteed to be free until January 16, 2018.

The tree tops in this block are made from a triangle in a square unit. You can use any method you like to make these units. April's pattern includes templates for traditional piecing and foundations for paper piecing. Becca at Pretty Piney wrote up a tutorial on using the Quilt in a Day Triangle in a Square ruler.

Tri-Recs Tutorial

I chose to make the triangle in a square units with the Tri-Recs rulers by EZ Quilting. These rulers are great for both triangle in a square units, and half rectangle triangles. They're pretty slippery, so I put clear bumpy bandage tape on the backs of them.

The Tri-Recs rulers are my favorite method because they make it so easy to line everything up. If you would like to try them, I wrote a tutorial just for you!

Cutting the Background

Cut a 3 1/2" strip of background fabric. I find that my piecing is more accurate if I keep the entire 3 1/2" line of the ruler on the fabric (rather than the edge of the line touching the fabric but the line itself on the cutting mat). Fold the strip in half right sides together and trim off the selvedge.

Note - If your fabric has a right and wrong side, it is essential that the strip is folded in half to produce mirror image background pieces.

Line up the Recs tool with the left and top edges of the fabric. The 3 1/2" line on the ruler will be slightly above the bottom edge of the fabric. Cut along the right side of the ruler and cut off the notch in the top left corner. Removing the notch is essential for lining up the pieces when we sew.

Since we cut with our strip folded right sides together, we now have two mirror image pieces. These will form the background of one tree top.

Rotate the Recs tool so the angled side is lined up with the newly cut left edge of the fabric, and the blunt tip is lined up with the bottom of the strip. Cut along the right edge of the ruler and remove the notch at the bottom right.

Continue cutting in the same way until you have 8 pairs of background triangles.

Cutting the Tree Tops

To make a bunch of trees from the same fabric, cut a 3 1/2" strip of fabric. If you want only 1 tree from a particular fabric, you need a 3 1/2" by 4" rectangle. If you want 2 trees from a fabric, cut a 3 1/2" by 6 1/2" rectangle.

Line up the blunt tip of the Tri tool with the top of the tree fabric. The 3 1/2" line on the ruler will be slightly above the bottom of the strip. Make sure this line is straight.

Cut along the left and right sides of the Tri tool. The small triangle scrap on the left can be discarded.

Rotate the Tri tool so the left side is lined up with the newly cut left edge of the fabric, and the blunt tip is lined up with the bottom of the strip. Cut along the right edge of the ruler.

Continue cutting until you have 8 tree top triangles.

Sewing the Tree Top Units

I recommend starting by sewing just one unit so you can be sure it comes out correctly. Once you are satisfied with your results, the rest of the units can be chain pieced.

Line up a background triangle along the right edge of a tree triangle right sides together as shown. The notch in the background triangle should be lined up with the bottom of the tree triangle. The background will extend past the top of the tree triangle.

Sew with a scant 1/4" seam allowance. I find that I need a scanter than usual seam allowance when sewing these units.

Finger press only towards the background triangle. Pressing with an iron before both sides are sewn tends to distort the unit.

Line up the other background triangle right sides together with the left edge of the tree triangle. The notch in the background triangle should be lined up with the bottom of the tree triangle.

Sew with a scant 1/4" seam allowance and press with a dry iron towards the background triangle. Be careful not to slide the iron on the fabric so as not to stretch the bias edges.

Trim the dog ears and check that your tree top unit measures 3 1/2" square.

Finishing the Trees

Remember to cut 1/2" off the bottom of the triangle in a square units to make room for the trunks. After you cut off the bottom, the unfinished tree top units will be 3 1/2" wide by 3" high.

I strip pieced my trunks per April's instructions, then sewed them to the tree tops. To reduce bulk, I pressed towards the trunks.

I couldn't be happier with how this block came out. The little bitty trees are just so cute!

My Lovely Comrades

I am joined by 10 wonderful ladies that are also hosting this quilt along. They have each created their own tree farm blocks, and the blocks are all so unique! I can't get over this one by Laura Piland of Slice of Pi Quilts. She has chosen a limited color pallet for her quilt, and I just love the whimsy that her colors add to the trees.

I'm sure Laura would love it if you visited her post and let her know what you think of her block. While you're at it, don't forget to check out the rest of the hosts' blocks. While you're being inspired by the wide variety of fabric choices, you'll also get lots of tips and tricks for making the block.

Abbie at Sparkle On
April at JANDA Bend Quilts
Becca at Pretty Piney
Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting <---- That's me!
Diane at Cwilt
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts
Sandy at SandyStar Designs
Sherry at Powered by Quilting
Vanda at Quilt in Piece

Prizes

We have another lovely set of prizes this week! To be eligible to win, share your completed tree farm block before block 3 is released. The official deadline for submissions is 11:59 pm Eastern Time on August 28, 2017. Enter by sharing your block in our Facebook group, on Instagram with the hashtag #iwishyouamerryqal, or by joining the linkup on April's post.

Our lucky winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop provided by Jan Altomare of Cocoa Quilts, along with a pdf version of the Geese in Flower Pots pattern by April Adams of JANDA Bend Quilts. The giveaway is open to participants worldwide.

I can't wait to see what you make! Leave a comment to let me know what your favorite method is for making triangle in a square units. One of the best parts about quilting is how many ways there are to make a block.

I Wish You A Merry Quilt-A-Long: Snowflake Block

I'm so excited to reveal the very first block for I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long today! If you haven't heard of the quilt along, my introduction post will tell you everything you need to know. I also set up a quilt along page that has all of the links you could possibly want. I'll be adding to that page as we go along.

On to today's block. I just love this one! You can make it like I did, with a big crystal at the top of the snowflake, or you can rotate it so a small crystal is at the top. Both styles are equally beautiful. I will be describing my approach in the tips to follow, but you can adjust if you want to make the rotated version.

The snowflake pattern is by Vanda Chittenden of Quilt In Piece. Click here for her blog post and tutorial. Remember, all of the block patterns for the quilt along are free until January 16, 2018.

My Tips

I have a slew of tips to help you out with this block, especially if fusible applique is new to you. First, make sure your pattern printed to scale. Once you've confirmed that, you're ready to start tracing on the paper side of your fusible web (I used HeatnBond Lite).

It really helps to trace with a pencil so you can erase any mistakes. I used a ruler to ensure I kept a straight edge on the crystals, and I carefully traced around the circles freehand. I labeled each piece as I went.

I was able to fit all of my pieces on a sheet of fusible that was approximately 8" by 10 1/2". It's important for the fabric to be larger than the fusible web, so I cut my white fabric at 8 1/2" by 11". Since circle C is made from the background fabric, I made sure to trace it in a corner so I could easily remove it before fusing. A 3" square of background fabric was plenty for that circle.

Once I had fused the fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric, it was time to cut out the pieces. I found that it was much easier to cut the pieces precisely if I roughly cut between them first. That way I wasn't fighting the fabric as I went around the corners.

Once your pieces are cut, it's time to remove the paper. This can be difficult, especially on the circles. It really helps if you use a pin to score the paper. Then you can fold along the scored line and easily pull it back.

I prepared my background fabric by folding the square in half vertically, horizontally, and on both diagonals, then carefully pressing each fold. This really helps to line things up. I also folded my white circle in half two directions, but don't press this! If you do, it will fuse to itself. I just folded it with my fingers to get enough of a crease to line it up with the background.

I laid down all of my pieces before I fused any of them. This allowed me to fuss and get my placement perfect. I started by placing the circles, then the small crystals. The pressed lines in my background block made it easy to keep the crystals evenly spaced around the circles.

When I added the large crystals, I lined up the top and bottom points directly on the creases. 

Once all of the pieces were in position, I carefully pressed to fuse them to the background. It's important to just press the iron down on top of the fabric without sliding it back and forth. If you slide the iron, your pieces will shift.

And here is my finished block! I still need to secure the pieces with stitching. My plan is to quilt just inside the edges. If that's not your quilting plan, you will want to stitch the edges now. The most popular stitches for fusible applique are a blanket stitch, or a small zigzag stitch.

My Fellow Hosts

I am just one of 11 fabulous ladies that are hosting this quilt along! Each of us has posted our own snowflake blocks along with any tips or tricks we have to share.

Here's a sneak peak of just one of the many great blocks made by my fellow quilt along hosts. Don't you just love those Christmas trees!? Click here to see how April made this amazing fussy cut snowflake.

I highly encourage you to check out all of the hosts' posts. Each of our snowflakes is unique, and it might give you some fresh ideas of what you would like to do for your own. Here's the full list with links to their posts:

Abbie at Sparkle On
April at JANDA Bend Quilts
Becca at Pretty Piney
Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting <---- That's me!
Dianne at Cwilt
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts
Sandy at SandyStar Designs
Sherry at Powered by Quilting
Vanda at Quilt in Piece

Prizes

And now for the prizes! To be eligible to win, you just have to share your completed snowflake before the next block is released. The official deadline for submissions is 11:59 pm Eastern Time on August 14, 2017. Enter by sharing your block in our Facebook group, on Instagram with the hashtag #iwishyouamerryqal, or by joining the linkup on Vanda's post.

Our lucky winner will receive the Sugar Plum Christmas thread collection from Aurifil, and a digital pattern from Quilt in Piece. The giveaway is open to participants worldwide.

I can't wait to see your snowflakes! In the meantime, I would love to hear what you think of the block, and what colors you're thinking about using. I'm also here to answer any questions you might have. I always try to respond to each comment personally, as long as you provide your email address when you submit it.