Teaching Again!

Hooray! The pandemic is finally well enough controlled around here for Studio Stitch to start offering classes again!  We’ll still all wear masks, which means classes will be scheduled for half days so we won’t have to figure out lunch.  But it is SO encouraging to have the opportunity to be with other quilters again and feel a little bit normal.  Most of us have now been vaccinated, so it feels much safer, though we will continue to take care!

Here’s what I’ll be teaching in the next couple of months.

Better Binding Painlessly, May 11. This is a basic binding class that teaches techniques and answers common questions about how to bind a quilt without going crazy doing it.

Little Landscapes, June 1 in the afternoon and June 2 in the morning.  This is an introduction to landscape quilting.  We make little landscapes in class to learn the basics so you’ll be ready to make landscape quilts of any size on your own.

Plaidish, June 10 afternoon and June 11 morning. This is a free pattern available from Kitchen Table Quilting. It’s a great way to learn about color, value, and matching the corners on tiny pieces.There’s more information about all of these classes, plus many others, on the Studio Stitch website.  If you’re near Greensboro, I hope to see you 🙂

An Unusual Fabric Find

It has been our privilege for the past 15 years to live in the woods on land that backs up to a national forest. Even better, there is a waterfall just a mile above the house and we hike there often. The mountain is rocky, so there are numerous other small cataracts everywhere.

We love it, so we hike often (especially now, when we know we’ll be moving away).

Although we do see signs of other people on the trail, we have never in all this time met anyone in the woods! Recently we saw another sign of someone on the trail:
Since it appeared to be fabric, I picked it up and turned it over.

And took it home and washed and dried it.Now it will be part of a quilt. I’m still thinking, but it may be an art quilt commemorating that trail.

A Fun Fabric Bowl

Recently C&T sent the book shown below for my review, and included a package of Fast2Fuse in the same shipment. What’s a girl to do? I made a bowl!

Photo courtesy of C&T

Here’s how it went, in case you’d like to do the same.

The first thing I did was read the book, and this was important because the organization of the chapters is unique.  Each step in the process of bowl making has its own chapter; e.g., one chapter tells how to make the outer shell, another chapter gives instruction for the inside of the bowl.  There are multiple options for several types of bowls, which adds another layer of complexity and many more options.  

The instructions are clear, but it’s important to have a handle on where the various types of instructions are before starting.  Of course, with any project it’s important to read the instructions through first, so this is nothing new.

The author discusses options for various materials to stiffen the bowl.  She discusses different fabric options as well, including special instructions so you can use directional fabric successfully. 

I thought I’d better do the first one with non-directional fabric!  Fast2Fuse worked great as the base for the fabrics.  I hadn’t tried it before, and it made a significant improvement on my previous bowl making attempts.

The whole thing went together without difficulty in about half a day.  This is the 9″ size, but the book has options for multiple sizes including an 18 inch bowl!

I enjoyed this project and, as noted above, it was easier to get right than my previous bowl-making attempts.  

Here are links to information on the book and on Fast2Fuse:

Modern Fabric Art Bowls

Fast2Fuse heavy double-sided fusible.  This comes in several sizes and in light, medium, or heavy weight.  I used the heavy weight and it worked well for this project. I would choose it for structured bags in the future.

Note: The links in this post do not provide income for me; they are for your convenience only.  C&T provides books and products for me to review, and I choose the ones I like best to present here.

 

Designing Your Own Tessellations

Now that most of us have access to the internet, there’s a ton of good information out there about tessellations, so I’m not going to repeat it here.  Rather, here are just a couple of examples and then some references you can use on the internet or get at a book store.  With regard to the printed material, I have great luck finding used books to order online, mostly through AbeBooks.

The book I used most in learning about tessellations is Introduction to Tessellations by Dale Seymour and Jill Britton.  It’s an old book, but math doesn’t change much and it should be available second hand.  The take-home from this book is that tessellations are easier to design if you use graph paper of various kinds to guide your drawing.  Options include regular graph paper with squares, dot paper, and triangle paper, as well as paper pre-printed with hexagons.  If you check the internet, you can find places to print any of these, or there are samples in the back of the book for you to reproduce. The links above go to places that allow you to print various dot or triangle papers, but full disclosure: I haven’t tried them, since I have the book!

Another common way to make tessellations is to start with a piece of paper, cut a hunk out of it, and move the hunk to another edge.  There are many variations on this, and I suggest you get some index cards and just go for it.

Here are some tessellations I have made to illustrate various possibilities.

I cut a triangle out of the left side of the square and added it to the right side. Then I colored alternate squares differently so the pattern would be obvious
In this example, I have cut a square out, moved it to the other side, AND slid it down. The shapes still interlock just fine, but my head begins to spin at this point.
In this example, two squares were cut from each block and both moved directly across. We’ve all seen “puzzle block” quilts made like this.

It’s also possible to cut off a piece, move it to another location on the block, and then rotate it. At this point things become much more complex, and lead to the kind of tessellations that make almost anybody’s head spin! Luckily, there is an excellent step-by-step tutorial on how to do that at http://mathengaged.org/resources/activities/art-projects/tessellations/.

For a detailed lesson on how to make more complex tessellations (more like M. C. Escher), look at artist Juliana Kunstler’s website.

And here are a few of the many books available about tessellations:

Introduction to Tessellations by Dale Seymour and Jill Britton. This one is practical and relatively easy to understand.

Designing Tessellations by Jinny Beyer. This book goes into a lot of detail on how to make complex tessellations, but is easy to understand despite this. She has some beautiful examples of tessellated quilt patterns.

Tessellation Quilts by Christine Porter

For those in the Greensboro MQG, I hope you will design some tessellations and bring them for show-and-share in April! See you there!

Please note: As always, the links in this post are provided for your convenience only; they are not affiliate links that pay me if you click on them.

What Shapes Tesselate?

In addition to the practical way of designing tessellations presented last week by Jean Larson, there is a whole field of mathematical theory and practice related to tessellations.  I loved geometry in high school, but the theoretical stuff quickly gets beyond me.  Here is a summary of more practical implications.

A shape is said to tessellate if it can cover a plane without gaps, extending to infinity in all directions.

The regular polygons that will tesselate are:

  • Triangles.  All triangles will tessellate.
  • Quadrilaterals (4-sided shapes) all tessellate, and all can be divided into triangles, just by drawing from corner to corner.
  • Hexagons (regular hexagons) will tessellate, as we know well from English paper piecing.

From there it gets complicated as to which figures will tessellate and which will not, but to go on with practical information:

It’s perfectly OK to draw lines inside your tessellating shapes, which may mean they don’t all look alike anymore.  An excellent example is this pattern by Alison Glass.  The design is composed entirely of equilateral triangles, all the same size, BUT she has drawn lines within some of the triangles to create secondary designs.

Illustration from AlisonGlass.com

It’s OK to use more than one shape to cover a surface, or more than one size of the same shape, as long as the whole pattern can be continued to infinity.  (Who knew?)  Here’s are examples, drawn in EQ8:

This tessellating design is composed of squares of 2 different sizes

This tessellating design is composed of 2 different shapes.

Many of our traditional quilt patterns are actually tessellating designs.  The second example above is just a recoloring of Tumbling Blocks.

There are many, many ways to create tessellating designs, and I’ll direct you to some additional resources next week.  Meanwhile, one of my favorite easy ways to create tessellating designs is something called “pattern blocks“.  The link takes you to a fun site where you can develop patterns consisting of one or more shapes.  This works because the angles of all the pieces are either 30, 60, 90, or 120 degrees.  I just love that the site is intended for kids–it’s all I can do to wrap my head around it!  And I have no idea how to tell which combinations will tessellate except to try.  Here’s one I made on the site that I think will tessellate:

And FYI, the MQG published a brief article on tessellations back in January.  Access it here.  You’ll have to log in with your usual password first.

Next week: more resources to help you create tessellating designs.

Tessellations again!

In a moment of madness, I agreed to do a program on tessellations for my MQG in Greensboro.  I’ll be posting the same information here so we can all share it and so that these blogs can serve as “handouts” for my presentation.  To start, here’s a blog written by my friend Jean Larson, who has designed and made several award-winning tessellation quilts.  To view some of Jean’s quilts, click HERE.  –MJP

Tessellating designs make me happy.  Tweaking those designs is even more fun.   I want to share the joy of starting with a very, very simple design and watching it blossom.  

Start with a simple gridded block and create a light/dark design.  Here, I’ve started with a 3 x 3 grid.  Then re-color the same block with the lights and darks reversed

.The grid lines are only for design purposes, and each block can be constructed with a single square block with 2 corner triangles attached using any method you prefer.

Here are some design possibilities…Quilt_1A simple “cat head” quilt using only 2 colors.

Different looks can be achieved with variations in the color placement.

Blocks can be inverted and turned for even more quilt designs.

Just imagine all the possibilities with color in these!!!!!

It’s even more complex when you design with a 6×6 grid.  Here are the positive and negative versions of another block.

These blocks can be constructed using half-square triangles integrated with larger fabric pieces.  If these blocks were to finish at 6 inches by 6 inches.  The center column on each block would be a single 3.5 inch wide by 6.5 in long piece of fabric.  The side strips would include some half-square triangles.

A couple of the quilts that can be made:

Looks like spools, some gray, some white, all standing up.  Same quilt with alternate blocks turned a quarter turn yields a different  clearly recognizable tessellation.  Reminds me of tessellating doggie rawhide chews 😉

Now back to the spool quilt from above.  The “thread” areas have been colored in.  No blocks have been turned.

Jean spool 5This shows the power of color and value (lightness and darkness).   The colored part, being next to the gray and being closer in value to the gray, unites those parts of the block, and gives the illusion that we have all gray spools on a white background, some standing up, some lying down.

I hope these examples can be the seeds to sprout some design experimentation with tessellating shapes.

  1. Start with 2 square grids
  2. Create a positive design, and its negative design
  3. Alternate them in a quilt layout
  4. PLAY!
  5. And play more with color!

Happy Quilting (and Designing)!!   –Jean Larson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tula Update

After finishing the first 100 Tula blocks, I tried out various layouts using EQ8. There are, of course, multiple layout options in the book, but I wanted MANY options. Also, I wanted a queen sized quilt for the bed in our new house, which will be finished some time.

I searched the internet and found a number of ideas.  Here are the options I drew in EQ8, obviously with EQ’s standard blocks instead of my Tula blocks.  It’s so easy to audition various layouts with EQ that I just played for a while.

And here is a start on the layout I selected.

I love this layout, but it’s turning out to be a bear to piece!

I decided to assemble the quilt top in 4 quadrants then join them to avoid those loooong rows that would have to be assembled if I did the whole thing a row at a time.

Here’s a start on the first quadrant, shown on the makeshift design wall:

It will be done some time, maybe before the house is done and maybe not!  A race, perhaps?

More Exercise and a Swap Top

After laying out the blocks for my second swap quilt on the living room floor, I had to move them to the spare bedroom upstairs to make room for people to walk.  (Some people just don’t understand that it’s a design floor, not a walkway!)

That led to more trips up and down stairs as I sewed the blocks into rows and returned each row to the layout so as to keep them in order.  That’s where the exercise came in 😀

Finally I added borders, so here’s the finished top (twin size), ready to go to the quilter.  (Are you reading this, Julia?)

This is the second quilt made from blocks I’ve swapped with friends when we couldn’t get together to quilt due to you-know-what.

What have you been up to lately?

Extra Tula Blocks

Tula Pink is clear in the intro to her City Sampler book that users should modify or skip blocks as desired.  I’m not a big fan of tiny blocks with many, many pieces, so I’ve skipped some of hers and invented my own as well as modified some of hers.  Here are a few of mine, just in case you want some alternatives, too.

These are slight modifications of her designs:

And here are some that I made just for the sake of using novelty fabric:

Here are a couple I made from other patterns:

Finally, here are some I made improvisationally, mostly from scraps left from the other blocks:

 

Show me yours?

A New Toy!

Photo courtesy of Electric Quilt

I’m a fan of Electric Quilt (EQ) software, having used it for many years. It allows me to design my own blocks and quilts, try out layouts and color combinations, and print yardage requirements. And star blocks of all sorts are just about my favorites, so when I saw recently that EQ has a new add-on featuring star quilts, I was sold!

The “Star Power” add-on is based on an out-of-print book by Judy Martin. I’m not sure how I missed this book, but I do not own it. (Are you hearing another excuse to buy the add-on?) The add-on includes all the blocks AND quilt designs from the book. Once the add-on is part of your own EQ you can edit the blocks and quilt designs or make your own quilt designs using Judy’s blocks.

The add-on includes many beautiful star blocks.  (In fairness, the basic EQ program has a lot of star blocks as well.)  I gravitated immediately to Judy’s collection of “simple stars” because I’ve never made stars like this!  Here’s an example, exported from EQ (with a few color changes by me, of course).

Block by Judy Martin, modified in EQ8 by me

And once I’d seen those blocks, I integrated them with a chain block that came standard with my EQ8 software, changed colors a few times, added some borders, and generally fooled around with it until I had this:

Quilt design in EQ8 by me; star blocks designed by Judy Martin; chain block is part of EQ8 block library

The add-on includes a number of stunning designs by Judy, most of them more dramatic than my simple design. Here’s an example:

Example courtesy of Electric Quilt

I’m looking forward to making more star designs in EQ8 and then some quilts from those designs! 

Do you use EQ?  Other design software?  I’d be interested to know.

Please note:  This post is NOT sponsored by EQ; I choose products to review for this blog based solely on my own opinion.