Monday, November 18, 2013

Twisting Around on a Monday....

I decided to take a 1/2-day off from my work on Esther's quilt yesterday and try my hand at a technique that has fascinated me:  the Twister template.  We finished this quilt for one of our clients and I thought a Christmas table runner might be nice.  I've detailed what I did below and thought you might like some comments on my experience.

I picked out some fat quarters that were in my Christmas "box of goodies" that didn't marry too well with anything else I had (I couldn't figure out any particular patterns for them), and I made the basic "grid" of 6 across/4 down, with 4-inch borders, using the sample pattern included with the Template.

 The colors look pretty dull in this photo, but the golds are rich, the green and red stripe is nice, and I thought the multi-colored stripe was interesting.  I added a Christmas beige for contrast. I added the 4-inch border from some border scraps I had left from a previous project.

I got out the Midi-Twister ruler that I bought a few weeks ago.  This ruler uses 6-1/2 inch blocks to end with 4 1/4-inch blocks.  The Midi-Twister is heavy-weight, marked plastic, with round fixed ball feet, that rests securely on the cutting mat, and raises the template a few millimeters above the fabric.  It doesn't shift like lightweight template plastics that you might cut out yourself, and I'm sure it's infinitely safer for your fingers.

An hour or so of (mostly careful) cutting and sewing, and I ended up with this:

Now I need to add a gold border, and get my hubby to get it quilted.  I thought I would share some "lessons learned" with you.

1.  Since I didn't have much in the way of directions, I found a few tutorials on YouTube and used them to think about how to organize my basic block layout.  I settled on a modified diagonal design with 4 fabrics in a a 6 x 4 grid.  I wish I had substituted a bright red for the "blah" cream....this really doesn't say "Christmas" to me unless you get pretty close to it.  The tutorials did a good job of emphasizing how to organize the blocks after they were cut....which is critical to keep the "twisting" pattern, and not so easy to figure out if you mix the blocks up after cutting them.

2.  I was halfway through cutting when I decided to add some spray starch to my basic fabric grid.  I used Maryellen's Best Press and  I wish I had done it earlier.  It kept the fabric much more stable and less prone to modest wrinkling along the seams.

3.  I believe that a rotating cutting mat might be useful here.  I could get three cuts down pretty well using my left hand (I'm left-handed), but had to shift the cutter to my right hand for the last cut. That is always a somewhat risky move.......

4.  I switched from a 45-mm rotary cutter to a 60-mm blade after the first row was cut.  The 60-mm blade had enough height to avoid getting caught on the raised template surface.  The 45-mm blade housing kept bumping into the template and my hand would swerve...that did not make for a "pretty" cut block......

5.  I will have to think about doing another one of these.  It was fun, and fairly interesting to see how my design would come out, but I haven't quite got tons of enthusiasm for sewing a fairly substantial piecing effort together, cutting it apart, and then sewing it again, plus the waste material is about 30% or so...not that I'm complaining--I knew that.  I also read one blogger's comments that she had so much trouble cutting with her rotary cutter around the template that she drew in pencil and then cut everything out with scissors.  Seems to defeat the cost of the raised template for me.

I would be happy to hear some other's comments about doing a Twister quilt, or using a Twister template.  Here's a sneak peak at Esther's "Woodlands" quilt...the design is from Modern Quilts Illustrated #2.....I'm almost done with the more long seam to sew, pressing, and borders.

Hopefully I'll have photos to share tomorrow.  Have a fun-day Monday!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Playing Around......or "Monday Fun Day"......

I decided today was a good day to play in my sewing room.  I gave myself "permission" to forget about my "must do" list and did some fun things.
When we were in Richmond this weekend, Tracey told me that Watson, their cat, was very disappointed when they moved him off of the "baby quilt" that she bought from me for a little nephew that's due pretty soon.  I've made lots of quilts for Tracey, but I decided that Watson needed his own...and I knew I had some kitty fabric somewhere.  So this morning, I went digging around in my stash and here's the result:

 We've been around Watson so long that I think it's time we did something nice for him.....he's a pretty cool cat.  Here's a picture of him I took a few months ago in Paper Artist---he deserves his own quilt, don't you think?

Tracey and I had a fun time shopping on Saturday at Quilting Adventures in Richmond. I will probably live to regret this, but I decided to start gathering up fabrics for Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery, which starts around Thanksgiving.  Her theme this year is Celtic Solstice, and you can find all the information about it at

Bonnie used these paint chips to  guide her selections:

The addition of the shamrock fabric is totally mine.....but this fabric is definitely going to find its way into my quilt.  I want to do this quilt primarily in batiks, but I've decided that solids, mottles, and hand-dyes are allowed in, as long as they play well with others.  Here's what I've assembled so far. 

I really like the thought of using primary colors in a quilt for a change.  The only time I tend to stay this bold is when I am doing a children's or baby quilt, and I can imagine that this color palette will be fun to work with if the weather turns dreary in December.  I bought a few 1/2-yard cuts of fabric in Richmond, as well as a few fat quarters, and this morning I started pulling fabrics.  Who KNEW I had so much solid yellow and yellow batik?

I've found a home for these in a storage box, and I can't wait for the first clue to be released on November 29th.  "Easy Street" from last winter's challenge has finally found a home with my niece in Los Angeles......about time. 

Have a great week.....take some time to play.......Kathy