Friday, February 28, 2014

Hive 6 - March Block Tutorial

Hive 6 March-madness... or my turn! :D

Hello Hive 6 and Stash Bee ladies! my name is Melodee Bourdeau.

I live with my awesome family in Ypsilanti Michigan (that's IP-sa-lan-tee). You can find my town in Michigan by holding up your right hand with your palm facing you and in the lower right side, in the fat part of your palm, is my home.

Here I live the glorious life of a stay at home mom (I know I am seriously blessed)! I am married to the man of my dreams :) Tall, dark, and handsome... washes dishes, does laundry, grills a mean steak, has a job...all the important stuff! Ok, so he is a bit of a goof ball but that's my thing ;)

sporting the Michigan winter beard

We have four children. My eldest is 20, in college, and basically all grown up. The younger 3 are 11, 10, and 7. When we are not outside geocaching, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, going
"up north", camping, sledding...we are inside homeschooling, or doing some really awesome crafting, cooking, board games, video games...!! boredom is not an issue in this house! We also have a family fur baby (miniature schnauzer) named Rosie.

I have been sewing for as long as I can recall. I began as a little girl making doll and Barbie clothes (hand stitching) with my mom's and my neighbor friends mom's scraps. I learned to sew from my grandmothers, my mother, and aunt who were all into sewing and crafting and "keeping a home". I then moved into cross-stitching. When my first child was born I began clothes making and quilting. I really got serious about quilting in 2002 when I purchased my first "good" machine. I have a Husqvarna and just love it!

I don't really have a good way of organizing my fabric. My stash grows and shrinks all the time! I have sectioned off...heck I have taken over the living room and do commit to keeping it all in one shelf in one corner of said room. for the most part I have remained successful! My area has spilled out a bit but I am spring cleaning my way back into the organized corner...sort of :)

I don't really have any favorite designers per se. I am frankly terrible with names and instead tend to pick fabrics that play well with each other and are not always from the same line. I just love finding a main print of some kind then wandering around the quilt shop looking for "matching" fabrics. It's like treasure hunt and I love it!
I also tend to pick my fabrics based on a specific project. My stash has recently grown from my work on The Farmer's Wife Quilt I am making for myself. I made a sewing rule to make each block its own individual fabric choices. The plan was to not repeat any fabric. What I failed to think through is this quilt is made up of 111 blocks! I have since changed this rule a bit to mean that each block needs to be its own look and while I am repeating fabrics I am not making two blocks with exactly the same fabrics. mischief managed!
Farmer's wife progress
I don't really have a one thing I wish is would have known from the beginning of quilting. Rather, I have an "I wish knew how to now"! I really really want to force myself to commit to learning how to machine quilt! From the beginning I have hand quilted all of my quilts. And, while I love the look, the time it takes to quilt by hand is really overwhelming! I now have a serious pile of  finished quilt tops that need to get quilted and loved! Although, I am totally in love with hand quilting with Pearl cotton and this does help make the stitches larger and larger stitches means less stitches and that means getting a quilt to the loving in use part all that much faster!
I do not really have a favorite tool but rather I did make (myself!!) a 4 feet by 8 feet pressing board! I just seriously love this thing! for oh so many years I used the typical ironing board. While an ironing board is functional the area this gives to iron something is oh so ever tiny! my board is perfect for what I need!!
I don't really have a favorite fictional character but will say that if a thing is seen as nerdy I LOVE it! I will not even get into the books I love...see me on good reads for that!! Because this post is seriously long enough!
Currently I am really into all things BBC (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Downton Abbey) and a splash of CBC (Continuum)...we don't have cable in the house but we do have devices that play Netflix and there is where you will find me most nights :) Curled up on my big chair with some kind of sewing project in the works! 
And now onto my block for this month: Super Scrappy Sunny quilt!!
I was over on Pinterest (imagine that! ha) a while back and saw a folded up quilt in the background of a picture, yeah I'm that nit picky! I took out my sketch pad and fashioned up what I thought would be a good pattern to achieve the look of the quilt.
Now the quilt hidden in the depths of this picture was all matchy-matchy and totally not me! I decided to go the super scrappy route and .....all-la peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...!!!! here is what I came up with :)
P.S. I'd love to put a link in right here to the original picture but I can't even believe it!!! I did not pin the picture!!!! I have now spent really far too much time looking back through my likes and pinterest in general to find this picture but alas I am now saying, I give up! trust me it's out there somewhere!

First, I decided that each "block" will contain lights and darks of varying and not too matchy prints, and that any ole print will do, going super scrappy on this one!

The block is made up of 4 units that are sewn individually then pieced together to form the one big block seen above.

To achieve this I had to cut from 8 different fabrics, 4 dark and 4 light. In the picture above you can see my darks as being the majority fabric and the light being really small triangles in each section.

So I cut: please note that this picture just shows one of the sections cut out. You would need to cut our four sets of light and four sets of dark.

one 4.5 x 4.5 square from each  dark fabric
two 2.5 x 6.5 rectangles from each dark fabric
one 2.5 x 4.5 rectangle from each dark fabric
one 2.5 x 8.5 rectangle from each dark fabric

one 4.5 x 4.5 square from each light fabric
two 2.5 x 2.5 squares from each light fabric

First we need to prepare a few of the blocks for making triangles. To do this I took the 4.5 x 4.5 fabrics and placed right sides together and with my Ticonderoga pencil (the best on the planet I swear!) I used my ruler and made a straight line from corner to corner on the light fabric. This will be our sewing line.
Now we sew along that drawn line. Literally I did a straight stitch right over the line I drew.
Using your rotary cutter and blade, or if you are adventurous I suppose, cut a quarter inch seam creating a triangle.

I then pressed this to the dark. I did this step for each of the segments, assembly style.
Now we move onto the 2.5 pieces. Taking both 2.5 x 2.5 light squares we set them onto the dark (exactly as shown below) onto the 2.5 x 8.5 and one of the 2.5 x 6.5 pieces.
 We then draw a diagonal line in the exact direction as shown. This ensures that the final triangle will be in the desired direction. Sew on top of this drawn line.
cut the seam allowance to 1/4 inch.
You will then need to press this seam up to make a complete rectangle. Now the blocks are all ready for final assembly. I like to lay out the blocks in their final placement to ensure that I will sew them in the correct direction.
Taking the 4.5 x 4.5 center square I place a 2.5 x 4.5 dark rectangle along the top edge and sew using a 1/4 inch scant seam.
I then press to dark.
Next, I take a 2.5 x 6.5 plain (the one without the light triangle) and sew that to the right edge. I pressed the seam out toward the 2.5 x 6.5 rectangle.
Next take the 2.5 x 6.5 piece with the light triangle on the end and sew that to the bottom. I pressed this seam out.
Finally, take the 2.5 x 8.5 with the light triangle and sew it to the far left side. I then pressed this seam out.
Here is a picture of my first segment done. You will have four different segments done at this tpoint before moving on to the next step.
When it came time to sew and iron the 4 pieces together I did iron the center seams open. I felt this helped me achieve a more "flat" effect. you don't have to, I'm cool with what you like best :)
However, when I sewed the final two halves together I left the seam closed and pressed to one side.
And here we have it! My first block completed for the Super Scrappy Sunny quilt :)
And some final words for my Hive Mates...I am ok with what ever color you choose or what ever motif you choose. you pick what you think is scrappy best!
I am also ok with a finished block size that passes the stretch test. Meaning, that when it lays flat on its own and is a wee bit off but I can pull a bit to make it 16.5 x 16.5 when I sew it all together, I am totally cool with that!
And lookie here! I also am totally ok with stuff just not lining up so much...check out this seam...

Zoinks! what happened there! all's good in the end...this totally passes the stretch test :)
And I really did my utmost best to make this an easy to follow tutorial but as my husband says you just don't want to get into the labyrinth that is my brain!
So, if this tutorial leaves you with a bald head please feel completely free to "bug me" with a ton of questions or heck if you want to give up I would be ok with just mailing off your I tried but you are nuts lady this ain't gunna happen parts :)

I can't wait to see what rolls in!!
Any questions please ask!!
Happy Sewing!
Melodee :)


Hive 7 March Tutorial and Introduction

Hello all!
Hopefully March comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb as the old saying goes.

February in my house was a month of sick and more sick. Living in Florida, it is all but impossible to convince the boys that yes indeed it does get cold, so you should put on a coat and hat so you don’t get sick. But their response is, “It doesn’t get cold in Florida.” For us that may be true, since we are originally from Portland, Oregon, lived for three years in Russia, and came back for another two years in the Pacific Northwest before coming to Florida. So my kids do know cold; in comparison to the North, it really isn’t cold here (just chilly). But they should still listen to mom and wear a hat and coat at 55 degrees on the way to the bus stop.

DSCN0028Ocean Walk 12/25/2013Garret's Birthday at Paris DisneylandLouvreRussia's May 9th CelebrationFerryboat
Outside 2/23ZackDSCN1434Beach 6/09Winter 2008
2007_0929russiavacation09070209Winter 2008PICT0007Beach 6/09102_0585
DSCF5149Outside 2/23Bauhaus Viking CastleDSCF3942Russia's May 9th Celebration
About Me, a set on Flickr. Flickr won't let me put a slideshow in anymore.

And when I say boys, I have my own gaggle. Hubby and I will have our 15th wedding anniversary this year, and we have three boys. Zack, 13, Garret, 11, and Lucius, 6 and I am Andi. I am incredibly outnumbered and sewing keeps me sane.

I have always been interested in sewing. My mom would sit me on her knee and sew when I was little. I thought it was impossible, but my youngest sat on my knee at the age of three. I hoped by that age he would know better than to stick his hand in a machine; he did and still does watch me piece blocks. My mom was always sewing, she got her first sewing room in our first house when I was five. She made my barbies wonderful clothes, and my version of an American doll and I had a matching wardrobe. I got a cabbage patch doll in 1984, when I woke up the next morning she was in matching jammies. All through high school my mom kept me in amazing dresses. I always wanted to be like my mom, grandma, and aunt when it came to sewing. We would always go to the Sewing Expo and have a girl’s weekend. I have been doing that since I was in junior high. I am going to the one in Lakeland next month if anybody wants to join me.

When it came time to really start sewing, my mom and I didn’t mesh. She would end up doing a lot herself or get frustrated that I was going so slowly. I get it now. I hate having my boys in the kitchen with me; it just mucks up my rhythm. But I am aware of it and try hard to keep them interested and do a lot of counting to ten. I ended up being self taught and if I needed help I would check in with my mom. But clothes are so much harder than nice flat quilts.

We always made baby quilts when I was growing up. They were simple squares, stitched in the ditch and bound with store bought bias. When I was about 20, my mom pulled our group of sewers into quilting. We actually started block swapping on They used magazine blocks -- you were supposed to make 12 or 20 or however many, keep one, and send the rest.  They shipped you back the swap blocks. It meant you didn’t have to have a lot of fabric. I finished all but one of the swap blocks into quilts. I must have 100 or so of the first McCall’s 30’s cat and bonus Picket block. It was the first cat block and we were so excited, until the next block came out and was so much cuter.  Nonetheless, it was fun and a way to get into quilting, which is what I am doing again right now.  I have taken a two year break from sewing and am getting back into the swing of things.

It is a hard thing to say I owned a quilt shop, my dream came true for two years. But I admit to getting burnt out being there 6 days a week and doing most the samples and all the horrible paperwork. And lots of stress outside the shop too, which is part of the reason we are in Florida now. These are my first blocks since the shop closed. I did end up selling most the fabric. I need to go through and see what I still have.
You can’t handle a picture of my stash. I am going to say I am a fourth generation fabric hoarder. My great grandmother gave my mother her 30s quilt tops to finish once upon a time. My grandmother has recently been passing her stash down, and I grew up with at least a dozen (or so many more hidden that I can’t tell you) boxes of fabric in closets and under sewing tables. Eventually my yet-to-be-husband and I finished my mom’s attic for more fabric boxes.  I learned stashing at the foot of a master and have fabric boxes in my closet, the guest closet, under the computer tables, under my cutting table, and fill up a storage space under the stairs. They are not all quilt fabrics… I have wool and flannel and all things silky, knits, etc – you name it, I’ve got it.  Clothes sewers have it worse than pure quilters; we buy all types of different fabrics.

There’s no particular fabric designer with a collection I just must have all of. Urban Grey is sometimes fun, and Tula Pink is hilarious, but I am more into quality of fabric than design. I won’t buy Moda Marbles anymore since they really dropped the quality back in 2010. I tend to buy Northcott because it has a great weight. Stonehenge makes me drool. I also really like most of the tonals from South Seas Import. There is always a perfect tonal and Thousands of Bolts carries them all.

My tool wish list is very long and includes sewing machines, but the tools I consider must-own are: June Taylor’s Perfect half square and quarter square ruler – video below, and a 12 inch turning cutting mat (don’t leave in your car; it warps in the sun and heat!), and a friction pen - cheap at Staples.

The video doesn’t do the ruler justice; when you have those wonky blocks and trim them so they are perfect it is so satisfying. I cut instead of the standard 7/8 I go to the next ¼, so for a 2 inch finished instead of cutting a 2 7/8 triangle I cut a 3 ¼ square. I always get perfect cuts with this ruler.  You must have the turning mat to go with it; I used it to cut the Dresden pieces. As for friction pens, they were made to be able to erase with friction, but friction makes heat. The pen marks disappear with heat, so iron the fabric and the marks go away. They only come back below freezing, and if your fabric gets frozen, you can just iron the marks away again.

I am also an avid reader, crochet gal (aka yarn hoarder), computer nerd, Boy Scout Mom/Tiger leader, Band Mom, movie aficionado, embroiderer, cross stitcher, and I like to make cards, but no scrapbooking. My favorite fictional character is Queen Besty from the Besty the Vampire series by Mary Janice Davidson. Betsy is very different from me, and extraordinarily blunt. The books are very funny. She always has me laughing. Lastly, I wish I had known that 30s were not going to keep my interest as quilting caught on and more modern designs took over. I have so many 30s in fat quarters, which are never enough fabric, and I don’t know what to do with them.

Now the fun stuff. The inspiration:

I chose a very simple block, although I see so many I want to do in the other hives and last year.  Still, I fell in love with this quilt and thought it would be a great swapper.  Plus, since most of us buy one or two colors, I was hoping you would have a gradient of colors in your stash.

My color palate is a light grey background -- not a muddy grey and not too dark. Tonals, solids, I don’t care…  just light grey that doesn’t go too brown. The darkest in the picture is actually Kona Ash.

Next, for the colors:  50s palate: three of one color in a light, a medium, and a bright. If you need a reference to 50s, it is always that weird color palate of that one Christmas print that they do every year.

Some of my colorways:

I need the third color for these. A light for the blue, and either light or dark for the green. 

Actual 50’s paint chips:

South Seas did it this year:
South Seas Imports Winter Warmth quilters flannel fabric

And they skipped the yellow, and salmon.

The block:

Cutting instructions:
F Strip      4 – 2 ½ x 6 ½
Block A    4 – 3 ½ x 3 ½

Block C    2  - 3 ½ x 6 ½
Block A    2 – 3 ½ x 3 ½

Block C    2  - 3 ½ x 6 ½
Block A    2 – 3 ½ x 3 ½

J Block      1 – 2 ½ x 2 ½

 Here is a link to a pdf cutting chart. It would not copy nicely. And EQ7 seems to think my lines are not straight so it didn't identify all the blocks are the same size. Which is why I go from A to C to J....

 I am using a coral colorway.

Assembly - Always read the entire instructions first. 

These are written if you need a little help. Of course chain piece at will!
Starting with your dark fabric.

Sew one block A of Background to block A of Dark fabric. Press seams. Repeat.

Using one unit of block A’s sew to a C block of Dark Fabric. Press seams. Repeat. Making a V Block. 

Repeat the above for light fabrics and background. 

When I set the blocks up for sewing I try to make sure the strip is on the bottom and the seams I am sewing toward are pressed down so I don't have to fight them. 

Take one background  F strip and sew to one side of J block, medium color center block. Press to F.
Take another F strip and sew to the opposite side of J. Press to F.

I like to lay my blocks out at this point before assembling to make sure they go the right way. Unsewing a finished block is rough. 

Using one unit of the light V block, sew to a F strip as seen in the block picture above. Press to F.

Using the unit you just sewed, take a dark fabric unit V block and sew to the F strip according to the picture above. Press to F.
Repeat for the remaining  V blocks.

You now have three strips, two identical and the middle with center square J. If you followed my pressing instructions you should be able to nest the seams and match the strips. This is the only time you absolutely should pin and match the center block to the background strip. I know I don't pin as much as I should, but I use lots of starch and hold tight while sewing smaller sections. Large units I pin. 

Sew one of the identical units to the center square strip. Press.

12 - 14 inch blocks, on point should make a nice queen size. And I will add random grey for the background, when I get all the blocks I will see if I end up piecing 7 inch squares or 14.