The Green of Kentucky and the Stash

The green in Kentucky comes with rain! And there has been little wild weather too. The thunderstorms have been coming in the night, which makes for an unsettled sleep. Since we live in the country, the weather ‘warning’ sirens are very few, as in none. Which means having a ‘weather radio’ in the house. Of course, the moment it even resembles trouble it goes off… We could unplug it and take the batteries out, but then it would defeat the purpose and unsettled sleep is better than dead! Rainfall for the month of May is over 4 inches already. So the pond is full.

Green turtle sunning on a log
a green turtle sunning on a log

Abundance at the Pond

The best thing about the greening is that the temperatures are getting warmer and that allows us to spend some time every afternoon at the edge of the pond… Watching… all kinds of things from the turtles sunning or swimming, the redwing blackbirds building nests in the willows or reeds, the clouds drifting, to frogs coming up for a visit. We have various names for this time of the day, “Pond O’clock”, “Turtle-time” or “Beer O’clock”. On sunny days we sit in the shade and on the cooler days we sit in the sun.

Pop up toad in the green pond grass
Pop up toad visiting at the pond edge

The abundance of rain has brought forth a dense layer of leaves on the trees. We have a forest behind the house beyond the backyard fence. When the trees are bare we can see our little cabin. Once the trees begin to leaf all traces of the cabin disappear. The roof of the cabin is green tin, the walls are cedar brown and the window frames are white. Even if you know where to look it is invisible.

Green trees
The trees this spring are very green in Kentucky

Stash Secrets

Green is my favorite color. From the palest celery to the deepest darkest forest green, and every shade and tint in between. Have you ever looked at your fabric stash and are surprised to discover that you have more of certain colors? I like green, no doubt. In my stash of fabric, the green outnumbers the other colors. But I never would’ve thought that brown/tan and blues would be tied for second place.

Green is a favorite color of mine
Fabric stash

If you had asked me, (without looking), what colors I had the most of, I might have said pinks and reds or yellows and oranges, because they add such a nice warm glow. However, I have discovered that for a spark in my composition, I generally look in the direction of ‘Lime’ green! Yeah, I know.

Sparks of Green

I never really looked at a ‘spark’ color until my friend, Susara mentioned that when she creates a piece that appears to be flat or uninteresting, she would add a bit of purple and the problem was solved. This doesn’t always work of course, but I would never have guessed that my spark was a bright lime color! I used it quite accidentally when I was participating in the Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society Quilt Artists of Kentucky “Quiltography Challenge”. The wheel was created first, followed by the leopard. For the leopard, I auditioned several colors for the eyes and lime green, was it! Of course, the whiskers had to be sparkly green! For the Arcadia, the Dew Drop, Vineyard, and Jeep lime green appeared naturally. By the time I got to the last two, Red Lamps and Arches, I had to figure out how and where I could actually add any green!

Do you have a favorite color? Is it obvious in your stash. Do you have a surprise affinity for another color too?

Squaring UP: using Quilters Select Ruler

Now that all the blocks have been sewn, cut and pressed open, it was time to start squaring up and trimming the blocks. I used the 5 inch Quilter Select Ruler, the same one I used in the blog post about Using the Tools, when the squares were originally subcut from the fabric strips.

3 reasons to use Quilters Select Ruler for squaring up

Reason 1- picking it up

The 5″ square Quilters Select ruler is just the right size; since the blocks are to be squared at 4 1/2” and it is easily picked up and moved about with just one hand. As I get older I find that my hands do not want to work any harder than they have to.

Picking up with one hand
Using the ruler with one hand

Reason 2- non-slip

The Quilters Select non-slip coating makes accurate cut easier. One of the things that often takes the joy out of creating is when my ruler slips. It makes me feel frustrated and inadequate, especially, when I have ruined a piece of fabric or a block because the ruler slipped. I have found that the coating on these rulers really helps them stay in place, especially when squaring up a block.

The 5" Square Quilters Select tint
The non-slip coating is yellow and lends a frosted look to the ruler

Reason 3- squaring up made simple

One of the most helpful aspects of the Quilters Select Rulers is the angle guidelines (30°, 45°, and 60°) and most of the rulers have 2 sets of the angle guidelines. You can see (in the photo below), the first set of angle lines, where the blue meets the white and the second set at the bottom of the block in the white.

showing the 2 sets of angle lines on 5 inch Quilters Select ruler
The 2 sets of Angle Lines on the Quilters Select ruler

Once, all the blocks were pressed, next came squaring up the half-square triangle blocks. To square up, I lined the 45°line up on the diagonal seam line, very close to the top edge of the square, and trimmed the first two sides, (the right side and the top). I then took ruler off; turned the block and trimmed the other two sides, by again lining up the 45° line on the diagonal seam and the 4 1/2 inch dashed lines on the 2 previously trimmed sides. There were 8 colors, plus the white and a bit of black, and each combination had 32 squares for a total of 256 half triangle blocks!

Stack of trimmed and squared half-square triangle blocks
Pressed, trimmed and stacked half-square triangle blocks

A note about “The Trick”

I discovered while squaring up these blocks, that the ability to turn the ruler and the fabric together (the trick)only happens on the Quilters Select Mat. If using any other brand of mat that is not as smooth as the Quilters Select mat, (like the Olfa and Fiskars mats that seem to have a slightly rougher texture), “The Trick” doesn’t work.  But I like the non-slip aspect of the ruler, more than the ability to turn the block or squaring up!!!

Designing the Quilt Top

After squaring up all the half-square triangle blocks, I took them to the design wall… Originally what little plan I had when I began this project, has almost come together. I chose the colors after going to QuiltCon 2019. I blogged here and here about the what I saw at Quiltcon. However, I was not happy with any of the experimental designs I played with on the design wall.

I played

Four Block Ideas
4 possible ideas

and played a bit more

Three Alternative Block Ideas
3 More possible ideas

But I finally landed on a design. I discovered, on Facebook, a subtle hourglass quilt created by a friend, (Betty Elliott), and thought “That’s IT!” An hourglass quilt. Isn’t it beautiful?

Inspirational Hour Glass Quilt
The inspiration quilt B Elliotts Hourglass Quilt

Next up the question of the borders. Do you plan everything before you start a project, or do you just start with a thought and grow from there? I think you can guess how I start… most of my projects… How do you start yours?


The 3 Benefits of Pressing with a Wool Mat

Taking a slight detour to talk about another amazing tool for the sewing room. Aside from accurate cuts and seam allowances, another place accuracy counts is when pressing. I have been using a Wool Pressing Mat recently and I LOVE it. I can’t believe we thought the ironing board, with a foam pad or a pressing board with cotton batting, was good enough!

Seams pressed on a Wool Pressing Mat
Pressed on Wool

Pressing Matters

The Wool Pressing Mat is a game changer when pressing seams for quilting, and well just about any other seam you need to press; whether quilting, crafting or creating garments. It makes those seams behave beautifully.

Since this quilt is primarily half square triangles, there was plenty of room for error when pressing them open. So this was the perfect time to document how well the pressing mat does when pressing a bias seam.

Nice and Flat Seams
A pile of nice flatly pressed seams

When you use a wool pressing mat several things come in to play. The most difficult seam to press is a bias seam, like the one in a half square triangle block. How many times have you pressed a half square triangle block open, (or any block), on an ironing board, only to discover that you have pressed inaccurately? Maybe not you, but that the block moved and so did the bias of the square. Then when trying to correct the seam, it will not press out or it has stretched the block, or… well is just not right! I know it is difficult to tell when you are pressing a seam or ironing a seam… add steam and it could be worse!

Before you ask, I almost always use steam. I like it.

So to test the wool pressing mat I pressed every single seam of this top using a wool pressing mat. The half square triangle blocks pressed beautifully. Flat and crisp without any distortion.

Bias pressed without distortion
Flat pressed bias seam on a Wool Pressing Mat

Three ways a Wool Pressing Mat makes for a great pressing surface

1. A Wool Mat has a grip-naturally

When you press on a wool mat, the wool holds the fabric in place, while you gently press. The fabric or block does not slide or slip while pressing. In this case, the white half was on the mat while I opened the color side to press flat.

2. A Wool Mat has moisture-naturally

Wool naturally has a bit of moisture in it, so you get a slight benefit even without pressing with steam. However, if you like steam, it absorbs the steam so the heat and moisture from steam work from the top and the bottom. The pressing mat may become warm and or damp, and if pressing on a cutting mat or on other sensitive surfaces, may cause damage.

3. A Wool Mat gives-naturally

The reason you get such a crisply pressed seam is that the wool gives a bit, unlike pressing on a padded ironing board or pressing board, (cotton batting compress firmer than wool). And if you are a turned applique fan, you won’t believe how nicely your applique flattens without creating puckers and tucks!!

** Tip-

If you have a preference to which side to press the seam to, place the block (half square triangle block in this case), on the pressing surface with the light fabric on the bottom, (or the side you want to press the seam ‘away’ from). Set the seam, (before opening the block, press the line of stitching), next gently lift open the block and using light pressure nudge along the entire seam to open with the iron. You always have better control of the seam when you press from the top.

Pressing a bias seam on a Wool Pressing Mat
Lay the side you want to press the seam allowance away from on the Wool Pressing Mat

I also pressed all the joining seams on the wool mat and it lays perfectly flat! Do I like a pressing mat? Absolutely! And so will YOU! It solves several pressing issues, such as stretching and distortion, adds padding for pressing turned edge applique or embroidery, and enhances the power of the iron with or without steam. The wool pressing mat is 100% natural, felted wool. Environmentally friendly and even more, helps you to create with even better results. Several sizes of Wool Pressing Mats are in stock. Look for your favorite sizes 4 1/2″ Square, 8 1/2″ Square, 13 1/2″ Square and the 14×19″ Rectangle Pressing Mats at I Have A Notion™.

Have you tried a Wool Pressing Mat? Did you like it? Did you have the same experience as I? Please share your opinion in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts.

This post is a continuation from “Using the Tools” and where this quilt top started.