Saturday, March 31, 2012

More on the Machine Binding from the front technique

A couple of people emailed me this week (really 2 people!) and asked me more about the machine binding technique I talked about on Friday.  I searched again for the site I got the idea from and just can't find it.  I try to bookmark these things so I can find them again, but my bookmark list is rather long.  I'm sure the site is out there if you want to find it, or....I figured I had something that needed binding, and I might as well take a little time to take pictures to show you step by step.  I take NO credit for this technique (and let's face it, I'm sure there are at least 1000 people out there that do it this way).

Step 1: Sew your binding onto the front, 1/4 inch from the edge of your quilt top, as you would do if you were going to hand bind your quilt.

Step 2: Trim the edges of your quilt, about 3/8 inch from the stitching of your binding.  Do this from the front so you can see if your binding gets in the way.

Step 3: Press the heck out of it!  This is so you will be able to wrap the binding around to the other side as tightly as possible in step 4....

Step 4: Wrap binding around to the back side of the quilt.  Get it as snug as possible, covering up the stitching line from where you just stitched the binding in place on the front, and pin it like crazy.  The first time I did this method, I only pinned every 4 inches or so, this time I pinned about every 1.5 inches.  Don't forget to pin the corners in place too!

Step 5: Now quilt in-the-ditch from the front of the quilt, right next to the binding, all the way around the quilt.  If you have pulled the binding tight enough and have it pinned in place, the stitching should catch the binding on the back of the quilt.

 The result is a nice, crisp looking front:

And the back doesn't look too badly either:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lincoln UFO (slow) progress

My goal for today was to lay out my blocks and get my flimsy put together so I could say I at least had THAT done by the end of the month.  Somehow, laying out the blocks took me all day!  I just didn't have a good system going into it and I had to start over at least once.  It was harder than I thought to make sure that I didn't have any repeated fabric right next to each other.  Several hours later and I had the layout complete:

But that's all I had time to do.  I labeled and stacked them and they are ready for sewing.  Of course, that won't happen until after the weekend at the earliest!  Maybe Monday...

Machine Binding Technique

I had a chance to try out a new machine binding technique when I finished my placemat for the March Free Motion Challenge.

But first, I guess I should tell you which technique I have been using.  There are a lot of tutorials out there, including one at Pat Sloan's site, and even videos at You Tube. Basically, you trim the backing and batting (cutting from the front, approximately 1/8 inch from the edge of your top) before you sew the binding onto the BACK of your quilt (with a 1/4 inch seam).  You then flip the binding over onto your front and sew it into place using a decorative stitch making sure you cover the stitch line that is there from sewing the binding onto the back.  I used this technique to bind the peacock quilt at the beginning of the year.
this is the view of the binding from the front of the quilt
I liked this technique for speed, and can see how the decorative stitching adds another element to some quilts.  But, I sometimes miss the nice crisp edge that you get from hand sewing the binding in place.  Enter new technique, which I have searched my browser history for over an hour trying to find out where it was I read it one night.

In this technique, you machine stitch your binding onto the front of the quilt as usual, trim the edges as usual (3/8 inch from the stitch line), and then press the heck out of it.  The tutorial I read, said to then wrap the binding around to the back side, using your fingers to hold it in place, and stitch in-the-ditch from the front, making sure you caught the binding on the backside of your backing.  I thought that sounded pretty hard, so I pinned mine in place about every 4 or 5 inches, and especially around the corners.  The result is a nice clean look from the front, and the stitching on the back is no worse than the first technique (for some reason mine is a little wavy in places).  Although....even pinning, I did manage to miss a few spots and had to go back and re-stitch them.  Here are the pics.
In-the-ditch stitching, but see that nice crisp edge!

This is one of the spots I missed even with pinning

I think all in all, I liked this machine binding technique better than the old.  However, I will need to continue to pin the binding in place, and should probably pin closer together in the future.  I just don't see how you could do this with just your hands unless you trimmed closer to the edge and really stretched the binding into place.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Easter baskets!

About the time I was contemplating how to make Easter baskets for the girls this year, I saw a tutorial on Mamma's Time to Create/Diary of a Flutter Kat.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Sure I could probably figure something out, but Kat had done all the work for me.  So, I used Kat's excellent tutorial to make our Easter baskets.

This is how they turned out:

I followed Kat's instructions with the following exceptions: I used a much heavier interfacing (Peltex) so my baskets would be stiffer, and on the final basket I tried to quilt it before assembly.

The Peltex did make my baskets stiffer and more sturdy, but it also made them a lot harder to turn right side out when the time came in the instructions.  I really struggled with the third basket's handle (it took me almost 30 minutes!), but the fabric was also a little less stretchy than the others.  I also topstitched two lines of stitching around all the edges, just to make it lie flatter.

To make the 3rd basket look quilted, I added an extra step in the very beginning.  I placed one exterior rectangle on my Peltex rectangle (right side up), pinned in place, and quilted a grid (I actually marked the grid directly on the opposite side of the Peltex because no one is going to see it).  I was lazy and just wanted to use my walking foot, thus the grid instead of something more festive.  I repeated for the other exterior rectangle and Peltex rectangle.  THEN, I started with Kat's instructions (Step 1) to layer the interfacing and exterior fabric's together.  I'm sure with a different fabric choice, the results would have been amazing.
given the pattern of the fabric, you can barely see the grid I quilted

Here are the baskets again, all ready to go:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Free Motion Challenge

This month's motif for Sew Cal Gal's Free Motion Challenge was, in a word, "liberating".  After reading some comments on the Facebook page of participants that thought the motif was too easy and "a step back", I was concerned, but once I started practicing I realized it was FUN.  Isn't that what it is supposed to be?  Here's this month's placemat (made from scraps from my Easter baskets which I will post about later this week):
the Front

A close up

the Back

I found that some of the motifs were easier to draw and sew, but I actually had quite a time with the stars.  My brain only wants to draw stars starting and finishing at the bottom, which didn't flow too well with the meandering loops.  Perhaps with more practice, I could train myself to figure out a star from whichever point I started on.

I found these easy, notebook type motifs liberating, especially after last month's feathers, because they were relaxed and allowed the pictures to just flow out of my hands.  Petal on a flower crooked? That's OK, it adds to the whimsy of it!  Line of stitching crossed completely over a flower to get where I was going?  That's OK too!  This month's challenge reminded me that free motion can be relaxing and fun and you don't necessarily have to follow a bunch of rules to get the job done.  I enjoyed it!

I also got a chance to try out my new SewSlip mat, which I will write a review about once I get to try it out on a larger project.  And, I tried out a new method for machine binding, which I will post about later this week.

Quilt On!

Monday, March 26, 2012

A case of the Monday's

I'm not sure if it was all the wet weather we had over the weekend, or the baby being up several times in the middle of the night (unusual for her), but I was absolutely beat today.  I think the 3rd graders could sense it too, because they had a hard time focusing too.  I guess it was a case of the Monday's all around.

I didn't sew much today because I taught my art class to the 3rd graders.  This month's project is based on the works of Georgia O'Keefe and involves making a monoprint out of a Styrofoam sheet, painting it, and transferring the paint to a black piece of paper.  Since Georgia painted beautiful flowers, flowers are our focal point and we were supposed to make them "Larger than Life" and fill the entire paper.  Here is the first one that I completed.

It is supposed to be the center of an orchid.  It didn't quite turn out the way I wanted, so I made another.

I like this one better, but I still wasn't thrilled.

I actually told the students today that I thought the difference between artists and non-artists is that artists create something and say to themselves, "Yeah, I like it! Let's hang it on the wall!", and non-artist are ever-critical of their work.  I could be wrong, but it seems to be true on some days.

On the sewing table, I managed to finish the rest of the blocks for the Lincoln UFO, but haven't sewn them together into a flimsy yet.  I also finished the top and back of what will become my free motion placemat for this month.  Hopefully, I will get it sandwiched and quilted tomorrow so I can post by the end of the month.  My Easter runner is also partially quilted and I am trying to decide if I want to do more or not.  I think it needs a little more than just in-the-ditch, sure would be nice to just be done with it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Time is a 4 letter word

Time.  It can be long or short, easy or even hard, fleeting, and sweet, but around here time is a four letter word because there is just never enough of it.  I'm not sure if it is the illness of my baby niece, or just a general feeling that one gets as you approach "middle age", but I've come to realize I need more time!  There are simply too many things I want to do and not enough time to do them.  Aside from my ever growing list of quilting projects I would like to do and a vague bucket list, I also want to spend more time with my family, travel, learn guitar and maybe Japanese. The house could use more of my daily time spent cleaning. My golf clubs are crying out for me in the middle of the night.  And then there is the occasional nap or book I want to leisurely read that just never seems to happen.  The problem, of course, is that I don't have enough time.  Which strikes me as odd, because I should have more time than most people.  But somehow it gets sucked up by doctors appointments, grocery shopping, driving the carpool, and a whole bunch gets flittered away by that other (happens to be a four letter) word: life.

Aside from giving up sleep, does anyone have a cure?

I'm off to art training for my next class with the kids.  Will tell you all about it when I have TIME.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A few Easters ago....

Only a couple of years ago, I finished up my intro to quilting class just before spring.  Eager to continue to use my sewing machine to do something. I saw some cute chicks in the Quilts & More magazine, and I decided to make them and also some fabric eggs.

The girls found the basket of eggs and decided to "practice" hunting for eggs

Back then, my eldest was only 2 and didn't quite get the whole Easter egg hunt thing.  I didn't want to fill plastic eggs with candy only to find them in a windowsill or behind the couch weeks later, so I told her for each fabric egg she found I would trade her for a treat.  I admit this hunt wasn't very exciting for anyone, but they are cute.

An added benefit: if Lizzy (#2) decides to chuck one at Olivia (the baby), it will likely result in giggles instead of tears.  Hmm, maybe I should incorporate these into our Easter again this year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Batik Stripe UFO progress

Remember my February UFO, the Batik Stripe?  Well, it resurfaced!  While I cannot say my sewing machine was even turned on yesterday, I did manage to at least get this one sandwiched and pinned.  The marking was done over a week ago on another too lazy to sew day.
Tookie, my "helper"

Inspector Tookie
Because I really like this quilt, I decided to go through the trouble of pinning it.  It takes longer, but I have less trouble with puckers and the quilt layers stay more square than if I use a spray baste.  Something about the smoothing out process in the spray baste gets things all awry.

Now, I just need to quilt the darn thing and call it done!

I spent most of my day driving the family around, but I did start on a project for Easter.  You just have to wait a little longer before I post about it.

Monday, March 19, 2012


As Karen pointed out the other day, sometimes doing something EXTRA is nice during Lent (or other holidays, heck, shouldn't it be any day).  So in that spirit, I have decided to join Sarah's Hands2Help Challenge.  I know I need another challenge like I need a hole in the head, but this one strikes a cord in my heart.  I know I have mentioned my niece that has been having an extended stay at the hospital.  Well, the truth is that she has AML Leukemia and despite just finishing her last round of chemo, has been having a rather rough week.  So she is on my mind almost constantly.  It made the decision to join this challenge rather easy.

Sarah has chosen two different charities that you can make quilts for.  One charity is the NOLA project, which sends quilts to St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans, which despite the time elapsed, is still feeling the effects of Hurricane Katrina.  I know the people in that area could use a little comfort - like the comfort of a quilt wrapped around them.

The second charity is called Happy Chemo, which provides quilts for chemo patients.  I have committed myself to make a quilt for this second charity because I know how much comfort a quilt can be to someone going through chemo, or even a family member watching someone going through chemotherapy.  If I am able, I will also try to make a quilt for the NOLA project as well.

If you have ever thought to yourself, "Hey, I'd like to make a charity quilt, but I don't know who to give it to", or even if you have a few finished quilts lying around that don't have homes....I invite you all to visit Sarah's Blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict to learn more about the Hands2Help Challenge.

Quilt on!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lincoln UFO progress

As promised, here are pics of what I have been working on in my free moments.

It doesn't look like much from this angle, but...

I've already made a boatload of them.  Unfortunately, this is only about half of what I am supposed to make.

This gives you a very rough idea of what they are supposed to look like together.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

No Leprechauns were harmed in the making of this trap

Here are some final pictures of our Leprechaun trap before I took it to my daughter's kindergarten class.
The view from the front

It was widely publicized that leprechauns don't obey signs

The "bait" included fake diamonds and rubies inside

Part 1 of my elaborate locking device

Full view of my "engineering"
Our trap worked!  Well, the trapping mechanism worked, we didn't actually catch a leprechaun.  I had one string going from some balloon weights to the giant paper clip to lock the door and prevent escape, and another string laid into the treasure chest.also tied to the weights.  If he opened the chest, the weights would fall, thus drawing up the lock.  I can't quite believe that it worked, but it did!

No one actually caught a leprechaun today; although, it was rumored that a few visited the classroom and left behind some gold wrapped candies for the kids.

Honestly, the best part was watching Ashley explain to the class how it worked, and show all the materials that we used to make each item in the house.  She was quite proud of how "authentic" everything was for a fairy house.  She learned the word, "authentic", a few days ago and I know has just been waiting for a chance to use it.  All the girls in the class wanted a fairy house of their own, and even a few of the boys!

I haven't just been playing around with dollhouses this week.  I have found a little time here and there to complete a few blocks for my Lincoln UFO.  I am not fond of the piecing process that the pattern calls for, but I am too far along to change it now.  I will take some pics tomorrow and post them.  The kids are all out of school tomorrow, so I doubt I will get any additional sewing done, but a few pictures shouldn't be a problem.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What was I thinking? Lent

While I am not Catholic, I did marry one and I like to support him by participating in Lent.  Which just means that we don't eat meat on Friday's and I usually give something up.  In past years I have given up alcohol, but since I rarely drink anymore it is pretty much cheating if I give up that now.  I've also given up chocolate, which was hard but not impossible.  Cheese was really difficult!  Not because I wanted it all the time, but because it is everywhere!  Anyhow, I struggled with what to give up this year. Then I realized, I should give up buying fabric.

It was a good choice from what little I know about the Lent criteria. It was something I enjoyed, a luxury, I did it often, and was definitely a hardship!  But what was I thinking?  Since making the decision to give up buying fabric, I have found myself in the cutting line at least twice (I did walk away), and have had an almost daily conversation with myself about how to justify/rationalize a purchase.  For instance, I have just started piecing together my UFO for March, and I realized that I don't have the fabric for the borders.  Now, how am I going to finish that?  And everywhere I read, I hear about that darn Flea Market Fancy fabric I've had my eye on selling out of pre-orders everywhere.  I guess I can just kiss that goodbye!  Oh, and I wanted to make the girls new Easter baskets; well, I guess I could use my stash for that.  But, but, but.....

I'm not even Catholic, but I've got the Catholic guilt thing down!

Monday, March 12, 2012

To Catch a Leprechaun

Not much sewing happened today.  I did sew this:

What the heck is that, you ask?  It's a table cloth of course!  For this tiny table:

The table is made from an empty spool of thread and an empty spool of ribbon.  The chairs were caps from my daughters applesauce and a few lollipop sticks cut in half.  Why, oh why, you ask?

Well my daughter's kindergarten homework this week is to build a leprechaun trap.  Why do they need to be trapped?  I'm sure if she were older, we would be organizing rallys to free the leprechauns against unjust treatment, but she is in kindergarten.  Trapping one of those little men is said to be possible, but they are very tricky!  We spent all weekend formulating our plan (READ "my plan"), we would build a fairy house, complete with treasure, and just when he goes to take it, the trap will snap shut!  Here is our house:
Leprechans like green.  Notice the sky lights!

Interior view, prefurnishings.  Fairy's have hardwood floors, nice!

Treasure in one corner, lit fire in the other.  Hmm, looks a little cramped, much like my first apartment.

oversized bed, and an artist's easel, because DD insisted the fairy was an artist!

Yes, I made the bedspread yesterday during naptime.

I haven't quite figured out how the trap will "snap shut" yet, but we have until Thursday.  My daughter has a lot of work of her own to do decorating the house with art, and the outside with flowers, etc.  If you were a leprechan, would you go in this house?

leprechaun's view thru front door

I will post additional pictures of the finished details in a few days.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Whale of a Day

Not much sewing happens around here on the weekends, so I thought I would tell you about the fun festival I took the kids to last weekend.  My DH was out of town, and I always struggle with what to do with the kids when he is gone.  A friend heard about this lovely festival and we made a playdate out of it.  It was called a Whale of a Day in Point Vicente (near Palos Verdes), and it was awesome!  And Free!!!

The festival is to celebrate the migrating gray whales and Point Vicente is a good place to spot them.  Of course, we didn't see any that day, but plenty of "professional" whale watchers were camped out with their binoculars looking to the ocean.  The festival had all kinds of activities for the kids, including the favorite bouncy house, also face painting, various crafts, a marching band, a fire truck, etc.  Two of my favorite activities were the Mobile Aquarium from the Aquarium of the Pacific, and seeing the different wildlife on exhibit from one of the nature centers.  The wildlife was amazing.  They had a real wolf (surrounded by two fences, in case you were wondering), a beautiful brown eagle, some llamas (not sure where they are "wild" in California), a desert tortoise, several snakes, a red tailed hawk, I could go on and on!  It was really neat to see these creatures so close and try to teach my kids about them.  I am a little worried that they are doomed to be "city kids", and not understand the importance of nature.  I guess I will just have to keep trying.

I can't believe I didn't take any pictures.  I had my hands pretty full though!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Liebster Blog Award

My blog was awarded the Liebster Blog Award, which is totally neat!  The Liebster is awarded to a fellow blogger and means "Dear", "Beloved" or Favorite", it is then passed along to more "Dear", "Beloved", or "Favorite" Blogs.  Quite cool.

This award was given to me by the lovely, talented, and very humorous Tina of Holy Scrap!  Even the name of her blog makes me smile!  Thank you, Tina, for noticing my blog and your lovely comments.

Now it is my turn to tell you about some of my my Favorites, but first I should mention the rules...

The Rules: (Of course, there are rules. What's an award without rules?)
1. First off, it is for up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers
2. You gotta thank and link back to the person who gave it to you.
3. You copy-past the award and blog about it.
4. You pass it on to 5 other deserving blogs and leave a comment letting them know and hope the love keeps going around.

Normally, I tend to ignore emails, etc. that require sending it on, but this one is purely fun and all about just getting the word out about a blogger you already love, so.....Here are my 5 picks and I hope you check them out:

  • Emily at Keeping Time - not a quilting blog, but I love her voice.  She has a real talent for writing, and I love hearing about her "scenes" from her life and tales of motherhood
  • Clare at Selfsewn - I love her fresh look.  Her tutorials are great, and I'm looking forward to seeing more paper piecing and handwork on her blog.
  • Elisa at Postpartum Quilter - Elisa participates in several swaps and I love to see what she has created and received.  She is also a kindred spirit, quilting to alleviate the chaos of that kids can sometimes bring.
  • Sarah at Narcoleptic in a Cupboard - this is a new blog I just found this week, but I am already in love with her witty/humorous writing style.  And, she is talented to boot!  A perfect combination!
  • Laura at Pine Ridge Quilter - Laura puts all of herself into her quilts and is quite honest about it.  I appreciate that.  I also loved her 25 days of Christmas; over the holidays she posted a picture of a 
So feel free to check out these lovely blogs when you get a chance.  Who knows, you might fall in love with them as I have.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How now brown cow?

I spent nearly the whole day yesterday cutting for my March UFO.  Today in between volunteering at the elementary school and driving the carpool, I was able to sew the first step together.  Here's an idea of what will be at the center of the quilt.

I told you it was all blues and browns!  The center is much bigger than I expected, but it is a little hard to picture a queen size layout without the rest of the quilt around it!

Tomorrow, the piecing will really begin.  Most of the quilts I have made in the past consisted of small shapes chain pieced together one at a time, but this pattern calls for an interesting way of putting everything together by sewing strips, then cutting them on a 45 degree angle, adding a rectangle, splitting it, and somehow I am supposed to end up with square blocks.  We shall see.....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Name Game Quilt Received by my partner!!

Yeah!  I finally get to share with you my creation.  I got word via the flickr group that my partner received her quilt. The border is all 2 inch mini's, and the center was something I put together by machine appliqué.  Here are the pics!

My partner's online name is the Patchwork Queen and her daughter is known as the Cupcake Princess.  Too cute!!

You can't really tell from the picture above, but I even managed to quilt a bit of a gold crown on the queen and am rather proud of myself.  However, there were some lessons learned.....look for a new addition to that page in a few days.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What a nice surprise!

The finalist for the Modern Mini Challenge at Ellison Lane have been announced and my itty bitty mug rug was chosen!  I can't believe it!  I am so excited I could almost pee my pants!
Anyhow, get on over there to vote.  Vote for me, vote for someone else, just vote!  You'll make someone's day!  I know just being chosen has totally made my month!

I really hope Jennifer at Ellison Lane hosts another mini challenge sometime in the future; it was so much fun to participate.

To Be or Not to Be (doing something)?

Not much sewing happened today as I was busy starting my spring cleaning.  Ugh!  But that is not what I want to write about today.

Why isn't there enough time to do everything you want to do?  I know I am not alone in wondering this.  Lately, I feel like I must be going in slow motion because when I take an inventory of what I have done at the end of the day, the list is never as long as I think it should be.  Which brings me to my next question - should I take on fewer tasks or just lower my expectations about actually getting anything done?  This question plagues me!  Especially since it seems like each week there is something new and cool going on in Blogland.  My list of "want to's" grows and grows!  Yet, I know I cannot possibly do it all.  Heck, I can't even seem to start and finish one UFO per month!

Tell me, how do you decide what to participate in?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Itty Bitty Mini Mug Rug

It's super fun if you say it fast, "Itty Bitty Mini Mug Rug, Itty Bitty Mini Mug Rug.."

I was right in the middle of sewing my Name Game Swap Quilt when I saw there was a Modern Mini Challenge at Ellison Lane.  I thought I might enter that quilt in the challenge, but I haven't heard word yet that my partner has received it (it had quite a way to go).  So, I decided to finally make myself a mug rug using some of the same mini blocks, the spools of thread and the sewing machines.  I added a half square triangle border and when all was said and done it is about 6.5 by 6.5 inches square!  Just big enough for a cup of coffee.

Now, I know what you are thinking, why brown??  Well, I supposed I should have chosen some more modern colors, but I tend to frequently spill my coffee.  Do you see where I am going with this?  Plus, the UFO that I am supposed to be working on for March is all blues and browns.  After all those bright colors in the Name Game quilt, I thought I would ease myself back into other colors.

If you want to make your own mini spools and sewing machines, click HERE for the patterns.  More free stuff from me to you!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Desperate Housewives Block - Rollercoaster

Introducing my "Rollercoaster" Block, because sometimes life is like a rollercoaster.  You've got ups, you've got downs, but it's one hell of a ride!

I feel like I had barely started this blog, when Jane of Want it, Need it, Quilt it asked me if I was interested in designing a block for her Desperate Housewives Quilt.  "Sure", I said, "I'll give it a go!"  Mind you, I never really designed a block before.  And most of Jane's blocks thus far have a more modern feel to them.  I have never even made a modern quilt before.  Did that stop me?  Absolutely not!

I actually started by brainstorming things that went with a "Desperate Housewives" theme - car pool, ballet class, potluck supper.  Problem was that most of these design inspirations appeared in my head as somewhat complicated applique blocks, and I didn't want to make them.

Then I started looking around for modern designs to inspire me.  My friend that has a flair for modern style gave me a tip, "Keep it simple".  Sounded easy enough.  This block all started with a modern style lamp hanging in our local sushi restaurant.  It was wavy.  I like wavy, I live at the beach!  Sketching it was simple enough; but that was where the simplicity ended.  And somehow, I was back at a housewife type of theme - simplicity isn't always simple.

Without getting too much into it, I think we can agree that sometimes the simplest "looking" things are often actually difficult.  Marriage - hey, how hard can that be?  All those people getting divorces aren't as smart or as in love as us, right?  Kids - oh come on! Feed them, love them, occasionally wipe a nose or two.  Isn't motherhood inherent?  Souffle - enough said.

Sewing curves can be tricky and this block has not one, but two curves, going in opposite directions!  Well, as I said before, not having a clue what I am doing hasn't stopped me in the past, why should it now?  I made a sample block using the only way I know how to sew curves, by pinning it to death.  There had to be an easier way.  Paper piecing - DID NOT work.  I did not have time to try the freezer paper method.  So I went back to pinning, and got some decent results.

Here are the directions:

Step 1: Print out the template. Cut to size.  Click Here for template.  Solid lines are cut lines, dotted are sew lines.

Step 2:  Cut a 8.5 inch by 6.5 inch rectangle of fabric one, and another 8.5 inch by 6.5 inch rectangle of fabric two, and using your favorite marking took, mark the curve (the cut line) on the backside of each fabric using the template.  TIP: If you are going to make more than one block, cut your rectangle 8.5 inches by 9 inches and nestle the templates.

Step 3: cut each fabric on the solid cut lines (the dotted lines are the sew lines, remember):

Step 4:  At this point I found it helpful to overlap the fabrics by approximately 1/8 inch and mark small hash lines to aid with lining up the curves later when pinning.

Step 5: Starting with the straight side edges, start pinning right sides together.  Work from the outside edges in.  Ease in the fabric around the curvy parts.  Why outside edges in?  Because the middle of the block has more of a bias edge, thus more stretchiness.  It will be easier to sew the middle because of this stretchiness than the curves near the edges of the block.

Step 6: When you think you have a few pins, add a few more!  TIP: I find that the fabric near the curves wants to bend between my fingers a bit when pinning, go with it!  I get fewer puckers.  Do not try to make your fabric lie straight.  Pin as liberally as you like!  The fabric might be puckered in places, but as long as it is NOT puckered where the 1/4 inch seam is going to be sewn, you will be OK. It will look something like this mess.
got enough pins?  Sometimes you don't need this many.

Step 7: Start sewing with a 1/4 inch seam.

Step 8: Press seams toward the dark, and you are done!

Step 9: Decide how to finish??
Rollercoaster anyone?

Perhaps riding a wave?

Step 10:  Add blocks together if you choose.  I wanted to show you what they might look like together - kind of a wavy modern zigzag.  I started making this table runner for Easter, using a 4 inch version of the block.  But, with my deadline for posting upon me, haven't finished yet.  Hint: I did use the mirror image of the template to get the waves to meet up.
Tookie, inspecting the progress

More tips:

  • The bigger block was easier than the smaller one, probably because there was less curve to try to stretch into the fabric.
  • I found that if I gently pulled the fabric against the pull of the sewing machine, it helped me ease any puckers I didn't pin properly.
  • Press the block before you decide to rip out any seams.  Unless it is a dart with two stitches or more, frequently the iron will smooth out any wrinkles near the seam.  Also, depending on which direction your seam is pressed, the seam itself will absorb a small amount of fullness too.

If for some reason you have trouble downloading the template, email me and I will be happy to send you the PDF that way.  I am new to this, remember!

I'll also be saving this post on a new page called "Free stuff from me to you"