Saturday, February 25, 2012

Danish Stars for the Folk School

In just a week I'll be on my way to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, No.Carolina!
The class I'm teaching is a sampler quilt that I designed to tell the story of John and Olive Campbell and the founding of the school. There are eight traditional 12" blocks with a space in the center for your own part of the story.
Ever since I made the first one five years ago, I have been adding to the collection of blocks because there are so many that can refer to Folk School activities.
And I am always looking for a new and easy method to sew any block! Danish Stars is one.

SCALE is an important part of good design, so the fewer, simpler shapes in a block, the better it looks in a small size. Danish Stars is much better as a 6" block than a 12" one. This pattern has been included since the beginning, but as an applique block. Lately I saw a version that was pieced, and decided to add that, too.
A pieced 6" block has units that are 2" finished.
(listen carefully, and you can already hear Cherry-cherry laughing at me working with such tiny pieces)
I had some idea about avoiding bias edges by just laying on some shapes by eye and doing a sew & flip method...pretty much what Free Form Quilting is all about.
Not exactly as nice as hoped for!
OK, time to balance laziness with a bit of helpful work...if I cut the triangle, then maybe I can still just slap on a background and trim the thing to square. But it better be a good I actually went to my collection of rulers and got out this set:
The Tri Tool set from EZ Quilting by Wrights
Designed by Darlene Zimmerman and  Joy Hoffman
I've had these for years, and so far the only use they've had is to be loaned to C.C.
At least it didn't take a lot of studying to use them...all I wanted to do was cut the "big" triangle. The side wasn't necessary. Heaven forbid I not use some little pieces I'd already cut!
This picture is worth all the words to describe the process
No, you can't use the cut-off sides for making another unit. You could use them on something smaller, but I just can't go there.
I just matched up the edges and sewed.
Whenever you add a piece to each side of something to create a triangle shape (like  Flying Goose) you must finish one side before doing the and press it into place.
Plenty to trim to make this square soon!
Add the second piece and square up the entire unit to 2 1/2". It seems like a no-brainer.
Even more space to trim!
 Sorry about the glare
You can see the 2 1/2" line at the bottom of the triangle. The most important part is the dot at the top of the triangle. That dotted line means when I cut there will be 1/4" seam allowance over the top of the triangle. Since you can't see that when the unit is sewn into a quilt, it's easy to make the mistake of cutting right at the point.
You trim two sides, then turn the unit and trim the other two.
Blocks are sewn as rows first
It's looking better. The center unit is easy, but I'll have to describe that another time.
Better but not good yet!
Darn. It takes so much work to be lazy....
I guess I'll have to use the other part of the Tri Tool set after all!
The side piece has a nice pre-trimmed point for matching
I really don't like tiny pieces. And I was amazed to find I could turn this around and cut another piece from the original rectangle!
Of course, there are 2 layers of fabric there. The only thing worse that cutting tiny things is cutting them one at a time!

A NOTE TO MINIATURISTS: Thank you for making miniature quilts. I wouldn't try one in 1,000 years, but that only increases my awe and fascination at your skills!
Wonky to almost perfect
Alright, I give in...I have to use the rulers to get this straight.
Even though I love the wonky ones, people tend to look at what I'm doing and wonder if I'm a good teacher when things don't match up too well! So the rulers are going with me to Campbell...
...and if anyone in the class likes wonky, that's OK by me! 
In my classes, the only person you need to please is YOU.

I'll try to do some blogging from the Folk School, but there will still be lots to show & tell when I get back. 
One of the things I'll be using these blocks for is to show how to make pieced borders, and how to arrange a quilt top with blocks of different sizes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not laughing at you. I'm laughing with you since we are both allergic to those tiny pieces. And I just love how the edges are all straight on grain when I use both parts of the Tri-Recs.