Thursday, May 8, 2008

I'm up for a challenge!

Of course, you will probably think I'm nuts - starting a new project when I have so many others in the works. I completely agree. But then that's what we quilters do, right? Nicole at Sister's Choice has issued a two-color quilt challenge. I felt I had to take up her challenge, because I've been collecting red and white fabrics for four years now - ever since I saw this basket quilt at our guild quilt show in 2004. The quilt was made by a very prolific member named Mary Jo, and since we had similar tastes I always loved every quilt she made. Originally I thought I'd do a basket quilt also, but have since realized that I can achieve the same visual impact with many different blocks, and thus needed to take my own red and white path.

I have been in love with the quilt on the cover of Marsha McCloskey's book On to Square Two ever since I bought it in 1992. I loved the way she split this simple star block into dark and light halves, thus creating a new block similar to a log cabin block - a block that could be set together in dozens of ways, each one different. I knew that I wanted to make these blocks someday. So when I accepted Nicole's challenge I immediately thought about this quilt and decided it would be perfect.

The blocks consist of both half-square and quarter-square triangle squares, so I thought this presented a great opportunity for a little tutorial. I love Marsha's method because it creates precise, perfect blocks. I know some people think this method is a lot of work, but I find it fast and easy just because everything goes together so perfectly. The measurements I list are for this particular block. The measurements vary depending on the size of the triangle squares being cut. A good rule of thumb is to make the second and third cut as far from the first cut as the size of the squares being cut. For example, if you are cutting 2 1/2" half square triangle squares then you would make the second and third cuts 2 1/2" on each side of the first cut. The size of your initial square varies also, depending on how many half square triangle squares you need from the specific two fabrics.

Place a dark and a light right sides together, pressing to help them adhere together slightly while cutting. For this block I cut a nine inch square.

Cut the square diagonally from corner to corner. Separate triangles slightly and cut each triangle again 3 1/2" away from the first cut.

Sew the strips together, alternating light and dark. Sew the remaining small triangles together. Press to the dark side.

For this block I need four, 3 7/8" half-square triangle squares. I cut these first from the "strata". I also need three, 3 1/2" square triangle squares. I cut one from each of the small squares and a third from the remaining piece of the larger strata.

To make the four quarter-square triangle squares I match pairs of 3 7/8" half-square triangle squares together, alternating light and dark. Since all the seams were pressed to the dark the square "nestle" together very nicely due to opposing seams. I cut these diagonally, then stitch them back together with a scant 1/4" seam. (If you use a full 1/4" seam they will be slightly too small.) Press the seams to one side. This results in four perfect quarter square triangle squares - or hourglass blocks.

The resulting squares, along with one dark and one light 3 1/2" square make up the blocks. The rest of the construction is a simple nine patch construction. I press the final seams open to lessen bulk.

I love the way these blocks are turning out! I wonder how many more I can get done today?

1. Hot tea with milk
2. A fun day with my grandchildren
3. Sleeping in
4. A happy ending to my daughter's mishap
5. Good health insurance


Sara said...

Thanks for the tutorial! This isn't the way I usually make Hourglass blocks, but perhaps I should try and compare.

And I LOVE red and white quilts, so I like your idea. I used to get hung up on worrying that some of the reds will run--but with the new laundry product "Color Catchers" maybe I don't have to worry and longer.

Anyway a red and white quilt I made for my Secret Sister last fall came through the wash OK.

Vicki W said...

I love your blocks! That will be one awesome quilt!

Andrea said...

Great tutorial - I have never seen this method before I don't think. Will have to give it a try. Lovely blocks.

Sweet P said...

This looks like a great way to make HSTs and QSTs. I'm going to have to try it. Have fun with your red and white quilt.

Nicole said...

Your quilt is going to be spectaular. I am looking forward to sewing along with you!

Lily Boot said...

It's bee-yoo-ti-ful! Gorgeous, gorgeous colours! Amazing construction - but I bet you don't get the dark and lights mixed up this way! Can't wait to see more of your lovely fabrics! :-)

Kathy Wagner said...

I love your quilt idea and I enjoyed reading the tutorial - a fun new way (for me) of piecing the blocks.

ForestJane said...

Oh, cool block. I've got a bunch of indigo and white fabric that I've been collecting... still wondering what kind of a two-color quilt I can do with it.

Thanks for the idea! Wonder what it'd look like in BIG stars to show off my indigo batik prints?

Pam said...

I love the way those blocks are turning out too!! Thanks for the tutorial - I might just have to try that. Those blocks would be great with batiks!

Kristie said...

Red is one of my favorite colors and I have made several red and white quilts, I just think they looks so pretty. I love the pattern that you are going to use! I can't wait to see more of it.

Tanya said...

Ok. You caught me. I'm going to try this. With your instructions it's impossible to not to!

Linda_J said...

I also have a Massachusetts Cross and Crown---as an 11 yr plus UFO started as a pass around project. Mine is in blues as shown in the book. I really don't allow myself to dip into my navy to indigo blue stash too much as I know that they GO in that quilt. Silly, huh? since it is still waiting for me.

I love the red and white version that you are working on, Patti but I don't think I was using the bias strip method of quarter squares as instructed in the book. Hard telling after this length of time, LOL.

Nicole said...

Oh dear, I am one who thinks this method is a lot of work, but I may just give it another try. Your block looks almost as good from the back as it does from the front.
I have been rummaging through my stash of blue and white Civil War reproduction fabrics and after seeing your finished quilt top I may just have to make one too. I just can't tell you how lovely your quilt turned out!

Anonymous said...

wow great quilt, I would love to do this in red and white, and maybe blue and white too lol, (I think I have lost my mind) thanks for sharing, and for adding a couple more "to do" projects to my list lol

gigi said...

love your blog, I never heard of the disappearing 9 patch, so I tried it out, and its works like a charm, thank you for a new way to sew I Spy quilts, great job