Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Is it Pickle Dish or Double Wedding Ring? You Decide!

I'm revisiting this topic in order to set the record straight. I have made several Double Wedding Ring (DWR) quilts over the past 25 years and I've shared many of them here on my blog. Just check out the links listed on the right side bar or do a SEARCH.

Pickle Dish gets its name from the cut glass dish used to serve, well, pickles! This was a popular 1930s pattern that was only for those who could stitch accurately and weren't afraid of templates and curved seams. You don't believe me? Ha!
Pickle Dish pattern in Kansas City Star October 28, 1931
Here is my first Pickle Dish quilt using a collection by Windham Fabrics.

Traditional Pickle Dish
Then I made one using some Kaffe Fassett fabrics. (This pattern is coming via Craftsy soon)

My second Pickle Dish quilt
But, let's get back to the Double Wedding Ring version of Pickle Dish. Here is my first block based on my own pattern from several years ago. I have 6 elongated "spokes", a center melon, 4 corner squares and then the curved backgrounds. The SIMILARITIES with the Pickle Dish: corner squares, curved pieced units and a center melon.
Single block that mimics the traditional Pickle Dish, but is closer to the DWR
Here is the 16 Block quilt I finished (just the top) last week. It is 58" x 58" and I love these colors. All of the fabrics are various collections from Windham Fabrics.

58" x 58" Pickle Dish Quilt. 16 blocks!
I have taught this as a workshop for the past several years. I made one using some red, black and white prints and made a four block quilt for my class sample.

Four block quilt. Blocks are 11-1/4" square for a 22-1/2" center (before borders)
Now, to be fair (and nice), I'm not debating the names here. I love all patterns and have designed well over 1,000 of them in the past 25 years. I decided to show the steps for making this DWR pattern using some Kaffe Fassett prints. The 15 page pattern can be found in my Craftsy store with full size templates and the foundations to print as many blocks as you desire! I have several pages of these process shots to help with adding all these parts for a perfect finish!

The Pickle Dish pattern in my Craftsy store has directions for both the four block red and black quilt and for the 16 block quilt, which is a bit more scrappy.

Here is the first arc foundation pieced. Messy looking, but not trimmed yet. Those little pieces of fabric are what I trimmed from each patch before adding the next one.

Foundation pieced arc
Removing papers after trimming along the outside edge. You MUST remove the papers before adding the curved melon and background fabrics. Garment sewing teaches us this with needing the "ease" to work WITH you for setting in sleeves, etc.

Remove the papers to reveal nice, neat seams
Here are all the parts. Don't sweat bullets. These WILL go together very, very nicely. Nothing is too small or too large. We are working with curved pieces. Stay with me!

End squares, paper pieced arcs, center melon and curved background pieces
Adding the curved (concave) background piece. Notice my trick for keeping those straight ends, well, STRAIGHT. An extra pin to make them behave! I pin in the center first, then the two ends. Everything else fits with ease. Don't fight the bias here!

Keep the straight ends STRAIGHT using TWO pins
Then you attach the melon shape to one set of paper pieced arcs. If you mark the tip of the melon at the 1/4", and pin with two pins (as we did above) and sew SLOWLY, this will work like a dream. My Craftsy pattern shows a few more pictures of this process.

Adding the melon shape
Once all the parts are joined, then it's time to trim! While other patterns only give you a scant 1/4" on the outside background pieces, I include another 1/4" so you have something to hold onto when joining the arc to the BG piece.

My blocks finish to 11-1/4", so I check my block and trim to 11-3/4"
This is NOT a pattern for a beginner. You MUST be confident of your 1/4" seam. When in doubt, make a sample block before cutting out your entire quilt!

Here's my final block. Make 3 more and you have the red and black quilt assembly. Make 15 more and you have the 58" x 58" quilt! This is not a fast project, but very satisfying.

Pickle Dish (or Fat Double Wedding Ring) block: 11-3/4" unfinished.
Pickle Dish is a fun way to use up your scraps! Next week I hope to share with you more about my traditional Pickle Dish (with all those points in the arcs). Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Lakeland 2018 Sewing Expo Classes

Year # 11 for teaching with the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo! I love being able to create new workshops annually; it really animates me to do new things with new fabric for old and new students.

What's happening in Lakeland, FL March 15-17, 2018? Well, here are the classes I'm offering.

Big Block Lone Star: Thursday, March 15, 8:30 - 11:30 am


Big Block Lone Star. Block: 29" x 29". Quilt with borders: 40" x 40"
Make a Lone Star Quilt in a day! No need to tediously cut out templates when you can simply rotary cut and strip piece for accuracy with NO y-seams. This is a wonderful BIG block (29”) and makes a great wall or child’s quilt (40” with borders). Bring your own fabric, see supply list for details.

And just to show you that this is one of my "go-to" patterns, a few other quilts made with this VERY easy technique. No y-seams, btw!

Big Block Lone Star appeared in my Supersize 'Em Quilts book (2009)
And, of course, the Four Patch Star can have a different look based on the way you piece the units together! This 9 Block quilt (Farmhouse West Stars) shows the possibilities. Your choice!

Farmhouse West Stars
And a few smaller ones (same technique) made into large table mats.
Single Lone Star blocks



Waterwheels Quilt: Thursday, March 15, 1-4 pm

Black and Red Waterwheels Quilt. 36 blocks
 And just 16 blocks demonstrate my "When Four Becomes Five Blocks" assembly.

Black and Red Waterwheels center
Red, black and white is a timeless color combination for quilts, as we can see in this updated Waterwheels quilt – we first saw the original in 2001. Learn to create those awesome, sharp points (which spin in two directions) using paper piecing techniques. You’ll also learn about accurate 1/4” seams and working with curved units. Of course, you can make this quilt in any color combination you desire! All patches can be pre-cut ahead of time so you begin sewing right away! Detailed supply list at the OSQE website includes a coloring chart for you to audition your own fabrics!

The Gretchen Quilt: Friday, March 16: 8:30 - 11:30 am
This is such an easy block to sew!

The Gretchen Quilt. Block Size: 9"
It’s hard to believe this traditional block, Gretchen, can be sewn without a single template. Everything is cut from two sizes of simple squares; the magic arrives with a quick rotary cutting trick. Debby chose a bright collection of florals and deep hued blenders for this quilt, but you can choose any of your own colors with good contrast to show off the lines of the block. As always, Debby’s classes provide all the hints and helpful tips that make them so much better than a simple pattern or kit. And they’re fun, too! Bring your own fabric; Detailed pdf supply list at the OSQE web site.

And a few other color ways to get your ideas swirling.


My first Gretchen quilt made 10+ years ago
Some indigo blues I bought when I lived in Africa 40+ years ago!

Four Gretchen blocks in blue and white 
And these reds are also from Africa!

Four Gretchen blocks in red and white
And one in very girlie colors of pink and green - my favorite!
Pinks and greens
Double Hexie Star: Friday, March 16: 1-4 pm

There are NO y-seams; everything is rotary cut. You can fussy cut your center hexagon (info given in supply list on what to consider).

Hexagons branch out into double stars with this easy-to-piece block with NO y-seams! No kidding! You’ll create a block with the illusion of intricate piecing and the bonus of a large space in the center to showcase an awesome motif. All patches are cut with a 60 degree ruler, assembly is a dream! Bring your own fabric, 2 page pdf supply list has a planning sheet for you to audition your fabrics!

Double Hexie Star Block: 16" x 18"
 My two block Double Hexie Star quilt:

28" x 42"
 And one more block to show how the center can feature a lush, large floral motif.

Fussy cut the center motif
Machine Quilting: Basics and Beyond: Saturday, March 17: 8:30 - 11:30 am

Using Debby's KISS Method (Keep It Small & Simple), discover how liberating free-motion machine quilting can be. Discuss appropriate threads, various batting choices and basting your layers, then use your time for lots of PRACTICE. Play with doodles, swirls, curves and other simple shapes, as you are coached and gently guided into this exciting world. A perennial favorite at the Expo, this workshop is perfect for both beginning and intermediate level free-motion quilters.

We cover a variety of free motion "doodles"
 I include my Love Dove for you to doodle inside

Love Dove to outline, then doodle inside
 And, of course, Fat Cat! What's not to love?

Fat Cat
I have so many samples to inspire you.



So many ways to fill in your space

Friday, January 12, 2018

Happy Friday Finish!

Do you remember this block? I made it last year using The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar by Katja Marek (published by Martingale).  This is the January 13 block:

January 13 block from the calendar using Kaffe Fassett fabrics
Wow. That's a lot of funky angles. How did I sew it? For my years working on the editorial staff of Quilt Magazine, we were advised to always "look for the long seams." Allow me to show you.

Step 1: Sew the center two triangles together
Sew two triangles together
 Step 2: Sew one half-hexagon to the bottom triangle
Adding one half-hexagon to the bottom triangle
 Step 3: Sew one half-hexagon to the other side of the bottom triangle
Second half-hexagon sewn to bottom triangle
 Step 4: Sew a diamond to a half-hexagon twice and then join to the top triangle.
Adding the last half-hexagons and diamonds
See?! No y-seams. All straight seam sewing. And each of those patches were cut using a rotary cutter and my 60 degree ruler!

Then, in a show of how much of a renegade I am (because these are NOT EPP - English Paper Pieced), I chose to add setting triangles to each of the six blocks instead of appliqueing each block to a huge background triangle. Saves a lot of fabric, btw.

Simple triangles added to 3 sides of the hexagon block
And my version of the January project:
January wreath of six January 13 blocks. Mine is a bit larger at 18" tall.
And the FINISHED table topper is perfectly bordered using a Brandon Mably print called Brandon's Brocade. I added a blue inner border (which picks up the bits of blue in some of the patches and the blue in the border print). I quilted it on my HandiQuilter Sweet 16.

Happy Hexie Table Topper
And, yes, I did put a label on the back using my method of NO hand sewing. I folded a square in half and then trimmed it to 120 degrees and tucked it into the binding (before it was stitched on). And, also yes: I stitch my binding on from the back and then sew it down from the front (reverse of what is "traditional." Didn't I tell you I was a renegade?  What do you think about that?



Thanks for stopping by. I love to finish my quilts. That Brandon's Brocade was a perfect finish for that Hexie Wreath I made one year ago. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Technique Tuesday: Fun with 10" Layer Cakes

Are you looking for a creative way to use a stack of 10" squares? Often referred to Layer Cakes (yum, yum), we often wish there was some icing to go along with them, right? (I'm just kidding)

Benartex sent me this beautiful Essence of Pearl Layer Cake in the Purple colorway.
I asked for a companion fabric to go with these, one yard of the light lavender Tossed Sprigs.

Essence of Pearl 10" Squares
I was aiming for hexagons (surprise, huh?)  Hexagons are wider than they are high, so I cut 2-1/2" strips from each of the 10" squares. This gives me 7-1/2" x 10" rectangles to work with for my next steps.
2-1/2" strips cut off each square
There were 42 squares in the pack, so I ended up with 42 strips 2-1/2" x 10". Trust me: I will use these later on. Nothing is EVER wasted in my quilting (even if I have no clue where I'm going!) You can see the Purple Tossed Sprigs fabric that I'm going to use to tie all this together.
Beautiful strips cut from the Essence of Pearl Purple pack
I'm going to cut hexagons from each of the squares. I used my Creative Grids 60 degree ruler to do this (this will NOT work with rulers that have a pointy tip; only those that simplify the cutting and have a blunted tip).

My 7-1/2" hexagon will finish to 7". Half of 7" is 3-1/2". I fold my 7-1/2" x 10" strip with the fold at the BOTTOM, align the 3-1/2" line on the ruler with the top cut edges as shown, and then slice on both sides of the ruler. GASP! Really?

Cutting my hexagons
I can tell you don't believe me. Sigh! Take a look, ok?

Perfect hexagon with remaining (and usable) triangles

I didn't use the 6 lightest fabrics, so I ended up with 36 hexagons (not all shown here):

Hexagons cut from the 10" squares
Now, what was my plan? First, I need triangles to set with the hexagons. These will enable me to sew straight seams (ie, no y-seams). Take a look:

I cut 4" strips. Why? These will finish to 3-1/2" (which is half the finished height of the hexagons). Flip flop the ruler up and down to get the needed triangles. The end patch I will use on the quilt rows. It is called a 30 degree triangle.

4" strips cut into triangles
 Triangles are joined in this manner:
Joining triangles to the hexagons
 Join the triangles to the hexagons as shown.
Join triangles to opposing ends of the hexagons
An end hexagon uses one of the 30 degree triangles at the far left. Notice that my seams will be diagonal, yet straight, when I join the hexagons into a horizontal row!

Partial horizontal row
 More triangles and hexagons. Notice the right hexagon, which will be the right end of my row. It also will have a 30 degree "straightening" triangle.
Another row
 Let's see the rows. It's always a good idea to lay out your hexagons to see where you want them to appear in the quilt. Then, identify the rows and then join the triangles (as in the pic above).

I decided to have rows of 5 hexagons alternate with rows of 4. Those large 30 degree triangles are cut from 11" strips (7" plus 3-1/2" plus 1/2" seams = 11")

11" strip is folded, wrong sides together. You are cutting mirror image triangles (one for each side of a row). Many of us don't have a larger ruler, but you can still cut this. Use the 30 degree side angle and extend it along the height of the 11" strip. Practice with construction paper first if you're nervous!

Side setting triangles
 Mirror image triangles.
Large 30 degree triangles
And here are my first 3 rows.

Three horizontal rows
Row 1 is sewn as follows:
Row 1 sewing
Row 2 is sewn as follows. It is then sewn to another Row 1 with the large 30 degree triangle.

Rows 2 & 3
Then they get repeated again, twice more.

Now, let's see the whole quilt center. It measures 40" wide and 50" high:
Essence of Pearl quilt center: 40" x 50"
Remember those large triangle pieces leftover from cutting the hexagons? I had a plan. I put them together with some of that light background fabric and created a traditional Whirling Hexagon.

These are the 30 degree triangles leftover from the hexagon cutting:

Each set has a left and right side angle
And here's my first Whirling Hexagon block (also called Spinning Star). I have so many more stars to create. What fun! (This is the only room in my house that celebrates leftovers!)

Spinning Star/Whirling Hexagon
And just for a variation, I can straighten up the sides using another pair of the triangles:

Spinning Star with side triangles
Oh, and those 2-1/2" x 10" strips? They will work perfectly as a pieced inner border. Clever, huh?

Hope you enjoyed seeing how easy it is to cut whole hexagons from a stack of 10" squares. I think I will use a single piece of border fabric in order to cut down on all that stitching!