Sunday, March 18, 2018

60 Degree Shapes

Cut from 2.5" Strips

A 60 Degree Play Day

Today was a catch up with laundry and ironing. But when the stack of shirts was done, I switched over to some scraps I keep at the house. I've wanted to play with some shapes to make stars based on 60 degrees angles. Though I've made a 60 degree triangle quilt, I've never pieced with diamonds, and was curious how hard it could be. 

The Lone Star is based on 60 degree diamonds as well as many other vintage quilts I've been itching to make. See, I do have a carrot dangling out in front of me! As soon as those PUPs are done, I have big plans. Well, at least one good one.

Using a Basic Ruler from Creative Grids
with a 30/60 Degree Line

The block at the top was my first so I used 2.5" strips to cut the diamonds. Working large is usually easier to start. You can see the bottom corners of the lowest triangles are trimmed off , but I didn't use a template. Using only a 6.5" x 12.5" ruler, I simply cut the diamond off 1/4" below the center of the diamond to create a half diamond. This proved to be helpful as everything lined up with those little cut-offs. A happy accident!

2" Strips

I went from 2.5" to 2" strips for this block, and added another row. This block came out the same size as the first one. Interesting, isn't it?

1.5" Strips

In my head, it made sense that if I went down another 1/2" while adding an additional row it would continue the pattern.

Just so you can visualize with me, it doesn't work that way.

1.5" Strips 

But add two additional rows, and it is exactly the same size.

Right (Pink with blue): 2.5" strips, 2 full rows
Left (Brown, pink, green, grey): 2" strips,3 full rows
Middle (Pink, green, white): 1.5" strips, 5 full rows

You might be asking yourself why I find this significant or even interesting. We see this used often as a border treatment in older quilts, and it makes figuring out the math a bit easier if we want to reproduce it. Maybe we would choose to modify one with many pieces into one with less to make it easier. I know it can be done now, and so do you!

Other Methods for Intricate Piecing

I know EPP, English paper piecing is very popular, including for stars, but hard as I try, I can't fall in love with it. I've tried the hexagon patterns that everyone else is so crazy about. I certainly can't knock the whole method of cutting paper, gluing, hand stitching, and so on. It's extremely accurate, but it's too much work for me. 

12.5" Foundation Pieced Block

I also tried paper piecing with a foundation, but used it by folding the paper back instead of sewing through. (It puts my teeth on edge to tear and pick the paper away from the block at the end.) This scrappy block took some time for me to make sure I sewed, folded, pressed, checked, and whew! I have great respect for sewists who foundation paper piece as well as EPP, but it's not something that I think, "Oh, I can't wait to do that!" 

I Like the Challenge of Machine 
Piecing Little Pieces

I know there will be things I'll run into that cannot be pieced with the traditional method of rotary cutting and machine sewing. When the time comes, I'll cross that bridge. Until then, I'll keep working on cutting and stitching as accurately as possible. 

Tips & Helps for Accurate Piecing

Needles & Thread: I use 60/3 Presencia thread, and a size 70 or 80 needle. I change my needle often. I find both a finer thread and smaller needle give me greater precision. A Microtex point is helpful, but not crucial.

Starch: I spray starch my fabric before I cut. I don't excessively pin, and often simply use my finger tips to apply pressure to hold the pieces together. 

Measure Seams: I test my 1/4" seam visually each time I line up pieces, and physically if I'm having problems. 

Rip & Resew: I carefully rip when things don't line up, and resew. 

Press: I press without steam while piecing, but steam at the end of sewing the block. Sometimes they will need a bit of straightening one way or the next, and the steam helps to set it. 

Rulers & Templates: I love rulers and templates for cutting. I handle cut pieces carefully as they can stretch. I also use my ruler to check measurements as the block progresses so I don't have a surprise at the end.

I Practice: I make test runs of blocks before I every cut into good fabric. It's easier to work out the wrinkles of new piecing before the stakes are high. If I mess it up, there's little loss. If it turns out great, I've got a good block to add to my orphan block quilt pile. Lots of practice makes us better (without having to say perfect.)

And that let's us dream of doing new quilts like this beauty above. Check out my new Pinterest board of quilts that use 60 degree pieces. 60 Degree Stars & Diamonds and also my Vintage Quilts. Enjoy!

Come on, Doxie girls.


Angie in SoCal said...

There are so many ways to piece. I hope to try them all in the future. Thanks for the info.

KaHolly said...

I love that you play. And share. It’s so refreshing, as well as motivational. That said, I wouldn’t know where to begin piecing diamond. They intimidate me!

Stitchin At Home said...

I'm with you on the EPP, I don't get it! If I can do it bu machine I'm a happy quilter. I do like paper piecing. I use freezer paper.

SandraC said...

Interesting about the different sizes and how they fit together. One of my favourite quilts to construct is the Lone Star / Broken Star. I haven't done one in a long time but this year I will use the pattern to make a new Christmas tree skirt. As to EPP....I am so NOT interested in the hexie craze, but, funnily enough, quite enjoy the process for other quilts. Hand-sewing the pieces together was a great take-along for me in my years as a hockey mom. I have four kids, so that meant for lots of sitting thru' practices. Paper-piecing, though...not my bag, man! I will only do it as a means to an end.

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Oh those triangle blocks!! I have seen so many quilts with them - but have never tried~ Yours looks great!~

Bonnie said...

I'm with you on the EPP but I don't mind doing some paper piecing. It isn't my first choice but it does have some benefits. Thanks for all of the great tips. I think I bought the wrong style (point) needle a while ago. Saddest part is there are 100 needles in that box. Well, probably only 85 by now. I think I'll try a microsharp again and see how that does. Great post today.

Arlyn Parker said...

If you really want to have fun with your 60 degree ruler, find a copy of "Sensational 6-Pointed Stars" by Sara Nephew. She gives formulas to mix and match center and outside rings to make a variety of star blocks, all sewed by machine. (It's an old book and the quilts are definitely dated, but the patterns are great!)

time4stitchn said...

I am impressed by how precise your piecing is WoW! Thank for the notes. It will be a good reminder for me.

Judy Hansen said...

I feel the same way about loving machine piecing with small pieces - haven't tried very much EPP, as I might love it too, and where would that put me? The foundation paper piecing involes me trying to think backwards and upside down, and I'm not very good at that. I so enjoyed your post this week, and I would love to make a quilt like the antique one you pictured. Hope you make one!

audrey said...

Ok, I didn't totally understand how you cut those tricky little diamonds, but it all looks scrumptious. I have wanted to make a pyramid sort of quilt for ages. Well, Not wanted to make it, but wanted to have one? lol I actually sewed one practice block together about 2 months ago and contemplated it for my next serious challenge-to-myself sort of quilt. Course I was thinking about doing every other solid fabric triangles so that my less than perfect piecing wouldn't be so obvious. Still contemplating. Diamonds are not my friend.

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

Interesting experiment. I really like the blocks. I'm not a fan of paper piecing, but I do a tiny bit each year to maintain my limited skills. I do a little EPP. I just not a fan of hand work.

evaj said...

Thank you very much for the inspiration you give us on Show and Tell Monday !! Bambi hug