Monday, June 30, 2014

Sewing Curves and Piecing!

Are you ready for the dreaded curves! Ahhh...these curves are not worrisome at all.  The curves on the Flowering Snowball are very gentle and should come together very easily.

Before I begin sewing I attach my 1/4 inch foot and decrease my stitch length to 1.8 for piecing. 

  First, lets look at how your Flowering Snowball pieces will fit together...

I begin by sewing the Blue A/B template on both sides of the center square.  Of course, use a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance and piece with right sides facing.  A scant 1/4 inch is just a couple of threads shy of a true 1/4 inch.  A scant 1/4 inch is used to allow for the fold at the seam once the pieces have been pressed open.  I always use a quarter inch foot so there is no guessing about my seam allowance!

Once this unit is stitched, press seams away from the center square.  Press both seams in the same direction.  By pressing in this manner you will be able to easily butt up the seams when the time comes.  When I began quilting, this was the method always used...then pressing seams open became popular.  I think each method has it's own is just a matter of knowing when to use each one.

Now, it's time to add a C piece to both sides of the A/B piece...

This is where it gets curvy!  The Flowering Snowball has a very gentle curve so I am comfortable with using just two pins.

Because a curve is on the bias there is enough stretch to help you manipulate the fabric so the pieces come together nicely.

It is best to start with the (wrong side) concave piece facing you.  The concave piece is the one that looks like a our Flowering Snowball it is the A/B piece.  

I place a pin at the beginning and at the end.  You can actually do this without pins at all, but I just feel a little more comfortable with 2 pins. Again, right sides facing and you should be looking at the wrong side of the A/B piece.  
Start stitching with the needle down and take a few stitches to anchor your pieces.  

Then as you stitch, be sure to keep the raw edges lined up and just gently pull the curve to straighten it out a bit.  This will help to ease in any fullness.

You might want to use tweezers or a pin or a stiletto to hold the end of the seam. Repeat this on the other side of the A/B piece.

It's a good idea to get into the habit of finger pressing before you press with the iron.  This unit will be pressed with seams in toward the A/B template piece.  

I always flip my work over so the right side is facing me and give one final press into the seams.  This way I am sure to eliminate any ridge or channel at the seam. Those folded areas at the seam will really throw off your accuracy.

There are two of the units above.  Next, those units are added to the first piece we put together (with the center square).

Again, this is a larger curve but still a gentle curve.  The most important part will be matching up the center square seams.  It is a bit easier since we pressed the unit seams in opposite directions.

I match or butt the seams together in the center and pin.

I do not have the forked pins, although, I have heard they work very well.  And I do not glue baste, although, I have heard that works very well, too! It is just a personal preference.  

So match the center seams and then pin at the beginning of the curve and at the end.  Remember to stitch with the concave piece facing you.  

Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch just as you did the other curves.  If you find that the center seams did not match closely enough, try taking out a few stitches before the seam, on the seam and after the seam. Align the seams again and stitch.  Very often I find there is no need to take out the entire seam.  

Press the long curved seam toward the center.

There are a few YouTube videos on curved piecing. That you might want to view. 

Curves really aren't too bad and actually kind of fun to do! I love seeing all the blocks coming together on the Flickr page and on Instagram.  Remember, on Instagram use the hashtag #floweringsnowballalong!!!

The next installment will be July 14th. when we will put the blocks together...easy peasy!

happy monday!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Layout and English Paper Piecing....

Hopefully, you have been pulling out some fabrics for the Flowering Snowball...I know there are a few folks who have not only picked their fabrics but are on to the quilting!  Ahhhhmazing!

Today I will quickly go over pattern layout for cutting the template pieces...and then Clare will share her EPP method for putting together a stunning Flowering Snowball!   

Whether you are using acrylic templates that you purchased or the downloaded template from here...

there are a couple of things to remember when cutting out your templates.

The most important thing to remember is that the straight edge of the template needs to be parallel to the straight of grain on the fabric.

and, again, on the straight of grain...

I know this is exciting stuff!  But it is important to have the outside edges of the block on the straight of grain.  That pesky bias on the outside edge makes for a wiggly block!

If you are cutting acrylic templates with a may be easier to use a smaller rotary.  I used my 45mm rotary because I was too lazy to look for the smaller one, but I do think it would help.   If you prefer to trace around templates {and I often do}... you can simply use a sharp pencil.  And for dark fabric, if you can't see your pencil mark, you can use a silver gel pen or a chalk pencil.  The templates are cut on the drawn line, so no need to worry about the mark.  

 Before I turn this over to Clare....I wanted to share with you a couple of amazing Flowering Snowballs!

Have a peek here and here!
and you can follow the entire group here!

So now, please pop over to Clare's place! Clare is the go-to girl for EPP!  And you can't even imagine how beautiful her Flowering Snowball quilt is!  Well, maybe you can....because everything Clare does at Selfsewn is amazing!

You will find Clare here....   
happy monday!
keep posting those pictures...these quilts are fabulous!

Post schedule- June 11th.
Yardage - June 13th.
Templates and options for making Templates - June 15th.
Choosing Fabrics::with a special guest Susan@PatchworknPlay- June 20th.
Cutting Fabric using the templates or choosing to make an English Paper Piecing Version::with a special guest Clare@Selfsewn- June 23rd.
Sewing Curves and Piecing - June 30th.
Putting the Top Together - July 14th.
Quilting and Binding - July 18th.
Show Off your Finished or Almost Finished Flowering Snowball - Aug. 8th.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Fabric....

Today on the Flowering Snowball-along schedule, I will talk about choosing fabrics.  And even better yet...Susan from PatchworknPlay is here to share her insights about fabric.  She is amazing at choosing the perfect fabrics for her projects. Susan never disappoints!  I love the fabrics she puts together.  They are  exciting, appropriate for the quilt pattern and always thoughtfully chosen.
So head over to Susan's and then pop back here for my thoughts on color and design...


  As a quilt teacher, there are often discussions about how to choose the right fabric.  

As much as I would like to say there is a formula for choosing the right fabrics...I just don't buy into this notion that there is a right and wrong way to choose fabric.  Other than, choose what makes you happy and don't buy the stuff you don't really like....even if everyone else is ga-ga over it!  If it isn't your cup of tea just wait.  Sometimes things grow on you and they become irresistible! 

All too often, people just don't trust their instincts when it comes to fabric.  Listen to what your gut tells you...if you place two fabrics next to each other and they make you happy...go for it! I often find choosing fabrics a trial and error process.  I pull a pile of fabric for a quilt and then edit from there.  Sometimes I have to go back into my stash and grab a few other choices.  But usually I just have a small box or bag with the 'working' fabrics.

When I began quilting...there were rules for the number of fabrics and the scale of the design, the value, the hue, etc, etc, etc...
it just made my head want to explode!  That's probably why all my early quilting was navy and raspberry!
So for my part today, I just want to show you the different effects to think about as you work with this design.

To begin...let's just refresh our memories about color - you know this without even having to explain it...

Primary Colors are pure, yellow and blue

Secondary Colors are produced by mixing two primary colors in equal amounts...such as: violet, green and orange

Tertiary Colors are between Primary and Secondary...such as: red-violet or yellow-orange

If you are making an 'exciting' quilt, you will most likely pull warm and cool colors.  Warm colors are those associated with fire and Cool colors are the colors associated with water or the ocean.
Alternate warm and cool colors next to each other to create excitement!

stash buster...pattern by Sarah Fielke

And then there are the neutrals....neutral colors don't appear on the color wheel.  They are black, grey, white and some beige/browns.  Neutrals will not dominate...they go together and can be layered.  This is probably why neutral colors are often chosen as a background.

So how does color affect the Flowering Snowball?
Let's look at the parts...
If you choose to have the A/B template advance...simply use a lighter or neutral color for the C template.  The visual effect you get is a series of floating circles.  My scrappy version is like this.  I see dead people circles...hehe!

If you prefer the C template to advance, giving you a strong melon flower effect, choose a color and value for C that makes that template advance...

    There are a few other helpful truths about color to keep in mind...

Complementary colors are colors that are opposite on the color wheel.  They elicite a lively, spirited feel!

Analogous colors are next to one another on the color wheel and give a harmonious feel!

 Accent color is a color used in small bits to create a pop!  I always think of this as a very sophisticated strategy.

 Then there are tones and shades of color.  These are values depending on the amount of grey, white and black added to the color.  You can vary the value so no one element stand out from the rest...

I hope this helps a little if you struggle with color.  But, honestly, I think we all tend to over-think it!  Go with what you like. 

On Monday, I am going to talk about laying out your fabrics for cutting.  You will need to consider the straight of grain.  And Clare of Selfsewn will walk us through doing this quilt using English Paper Piecing.  Yay!
Have a great weekend and keep posting those pictures on Flickr and  Instagram #floweringsnowballalong


Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Templates!

Well, today is the day to make templates! have nearly a week to work on the templates...

The templates I have in my tutorials are a jpg file.  I did the first tutorial several years ago and that was the best way I had to post templates.  It helps to print at 100% and I uncheck the box 'fit to frame'.  Still I have found I need to fiddle with it a bit to increase the size to a 12 inch block. 

Hopefully, now, I have successfully saved these templates in Google Docs and you will be able to access them.
So here are the TEMPLATES 

If anyone has another method of sharing templates and would like to share that with everyone...I would love to hear.  I do not have a photoshop program and I don't know if that would help with this issue, but I would be more than willing to invest in the program if I thought it would help.  So let me know....

Once you have copied the templates...and you can adjust them to any size on your printer.  Increase or decrease the % they are copied. I know this can be a bit of trial and error, but the templates should work together at any size.  With my 12 inch template the center square is 1 inch (finished) or 1 1/2 inches with seam allowances.

If you plan on making your own templates, I have a couple of options to make them a little more substantial than paper templates.  Although, paper works too!

Here are some supplies you may want to gather...

 I have some plastic template sheets...for making templates from quilter's plastic.
There is a cardboard box {no I wasn't hungry}....this is to make templates from cardboard.
Scissors for paper and an X-acto knife
A glue stick
the pins are just to look pretty!!!

        To make templates out of plastic, I first copied the template {remember to have your printer or computer set to copy at 100% not fit to page} then cut the template out along the dashed line...leaving your 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Use double sticky tape to secure the paper on the plastic and trace around with a sharp pencil.

  Carefully, cut with the x-acto may need to go over it a couple of times.  And make sure you work on a mat.

For any templates, purchased or homemade, you can easily add hole-punched sandpaper circles to the underneath side to keep them from slipping.

The other option and the one I use most often is cardboard.  I take my paper template and a glue stick.  Cover the wrong side of the template with glue and stick it to a piece of cardboard.

Then I carefully cut out along the edge of the paper with my knife.  Again, you may have to do this a few times to go all the way through the cardboard.  

I use my Electric Quilt program quite often and if I am not paper foundation piecing...I usually make cardboard templates...very old school!

You can see my templates are a bit chewed from using the rotary to cut and not being terribly careful...

Also, remember I did have a list of vendors for the acrylic templates.  I did order a set and they are very nice, although, I found that the center square is just a wee bit smaller than I would like, but it is easy enough to cut a square without the template.

You can see here...the templates I have always used, the center square is the same size as the straight edge on templates A and B.


I hope these templates work out for you...the link at Google Docs or the old jpg image I have on the right hand side of my blog under TUTORIALS.

Let me know if you need any help...and Happy Father's Day to all those celebrating!  Hope you are having a great cook out!

ps....on friday we will talk about fabrics and Susan will help me out! Yay!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Planning the yardage...

I don't know about you, but I rarely purchase fabric just for a quilt pattern.  Rather, I just purchase fabric - lots of it - and usually have enough for a quilt pattern....or two...or three! LOL!

I envy people who are more disciplined and purchase only what they need when they need it.  

I am hoping this post will help those who are planning to pull from their stash and those who need an excuse to buy more!  Really, does anyone need an excuse???

the template that I will post on Sunday is a finished 12 inch block.

As I said before, there are several companies who make Flowering Snowball templates and the list is growing...
if you come across a company I have not listed, either include it in the comments or email the name to me to be added to the list.  I will add the list to the end of this post.

Yardage for a 12 inch block and a 48 X 48 inch quilt....good lap or baby size.

Fabric A and B (same template)....1 1/8 yards of each.  If you are making a scrappy quilt, I would add these two amounts 1.125 + 1.125= 2.25 yards total

Fabric C ....1 3/8 yards

Fabric D ....1/8 yard

Out of a yard and an eighth of fabric you should be able to get 32 of template A cut....there are 4 of these per block...  of course the same for template B  

Out of a yard and three-eighths of fabric you should be able to get 64 of template C cut and there are 4 of these per block

If you plan on making a different size you should be able to adjust the fabric requirements fairly easily.  I have not seen if any of the manufactured templates include fabric yardage requirements....I am still waiting for my templates to be delivered.

But if you are making a different size block and/or a different size quilt and need help deciding what the yardage should can email me and I will try to help.  I use the Electric Quilt program and have really enjoyed using it over the years.  I would recommend a software program for anyone who does a lot of quilting and would like to design their own quilts or just work with different blocks and techniques.  The EQ program has a block library and you can adjust the block size and the quilt size to suit your needs.  

So here is the list for the manufactured templates...

 Okay!  I will see you Sunday with templates that you can print out on your own printer!
happy friday!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Schedule of Events....

I am more than halfway finished quilting my Flowering Snowball!  And I am loving every stitch!

When my kids were little, I would sit at the park or in a lawn chair in my yard, quilting...
These days when I quilt I am usually listening to night watching a movie.
      Do you have an activity while you sew?  Listen to books?  Something I should do... Drink a glass of wine?  I don't have much luck with that....  What is your routine?

Here is the schedule for the Flowering Snowball-along...
You can hop in anytime you like and you can do as much or as little as you like.  Make a large quilt or just a block...

and as we work our way through it, you can post your pictures here 
and on Instagram use the hashtag #floweringsnowballalong you can find me on Instagram at marysdugan

Post schedule- June 11th.
Yardage - June 13th.
Templates and options for making Templates - June 15th.
Choosing Fabrics::with a special guest Susan@PatchworknPlay- June 20th.
Cutting Fabric using the templates or choosing to make an English Paper Piecing Version::with a special guest Clare@Selfsewn- June 23rd.
Sewing Curves and Piecing - June 30th.
Putting the Top Together - July 14th.
Quilting and Binding - July 18th.
Show Off your Finished or Almost Finished Flowering Snowball - Aug. 8th.

Again...this is a fun quilt and I think you will be surprised at how easy it is!



Sunday, June 8, 2014

It's Coming!

Hold on...I am working out the details...
soon I will have a schedule together and we can get started...
In the meantime...I have formed a Molly Flanders Makerie :: Flowering Snowball-along Flickr page here


I will also have a Linky party or two, so if you want to sew along, but don't want to commit to a Flickr can join in that way as well...

Finally, I have had a few people ask me about templates. The block in my quilt is a finished 12". I will post the templates on the blog for you to print out and we will discuss different options for making templates. 

But there are a couple of sites selling Flowering Snowball acrylic templates.  I do not have acrylic templates, but I did place an order today for a set. Of course, it is much more economical to use the templates I post on the blog and make your own.  
If you would like to look at the templates for purchase you can find them at: - they have several sizes available
and an etsy shop called ModernQuilter - they have only a 9" block size available...

Okay...I think that is it for now.  I will be back in the next few days with a schedule and fabric requirements!


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wordless Wednesday....

flowering snowball....anyone interested in a flowering snowball-along?

xo mary