Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Word games

Are you in the mood for a little word association game? Just say the first word that comes to your mind when you read the following list. Ready?





Isn’t it interesting how one event can change our mental associations?

Whether the flight attendant on JetBlue was in the right—or the wrong—haven’t we all been there? Although most days we are able to slide smoothly through every crisis, sometimes we run across a day that is just too much! Too much to do. Too much going wrong. Too much unfinished. Too much of too much!

At times we even reach the breaking point with our quilting. The needle won’t stay threaded, or the thread keeps breaking. The directions don’t make sense, or we happen to read them wrong. There isn’t enough fabric, or we made a mistake while cutting. As our attitudes slip and our fists begin to clench it might be wise to tell ourselves, “Step away from the rotary cutter!”

Most of us have projects tucked away that have rubbed us the wrong way at one time or another. Rather than doing what we really wanted to do—rip it to pieces—we did what any mature quilter would do and put it away for a calmer, clearer moment. Will we ever finish them? Who knows? But what can you do when a project is pushing all of your buttons, and your only choice is to finish?

Frustration can be a tricky thing. Although sometimes it is possible to power through and finish a difficult project, sheer determination might also undermine our ability to look for help. As internal tension mounts it becomes more and more difficult for us to think clearly—and impossible to explain our problem to anyone else.

Every once in a while we hear from someone who has reached that tipping point. How do we know? THEIR EMAIL IS WRITTEN ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS AS THEY SHOUT AT US THROUGH CYBERSPACE. A phone call is focused on what we’ve done wrong rather than how we can make things right.

Make a mistake? Please let us know. We’ll try to track down the pattern you forgot to order, the cloth that you accidentally mis-cut, or the additional yardage you realized you need. When we make a mistake? Have a few facts ready to share such as: the name of the program or kit, the date the order was placed, what you received vs. what you expected.

Perhaps things would have gone more smoothly for the JetBlue flight attendant if everyone on the plane would have been living by the Golden Rule. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” There is a real person behind each uniform, on the other end of the phone, and reading each email. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.

And make plenty of time for the enjoyment of simpler times.

The gang at Homestead Hearth

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tricks for Half-square Triangles

If you’re like most of us, your quilting days began with straight seams. Remember how excited you were to complete your first block? Was it a four-patch? A nine-patch? Or perhaps you were an advanced student cutting your quilting teeth on appliqué? Wherever you began, your quilting journey eventually brought you to the land of triangles and the building block of quilting—the half-square triangle.

Unless you use templates and cut your triangles one-by-one, your half-square triangles (HSTs) will probably begin as squares. How do you take a square and turn it into a pair of triangles? The mystery is solved by using a little math, your ruler, and a quick swipe of the rotary cutter.

First the math:
To calculate the size square you will need to begin your process, just remember this rule of thumb: add 7/8” to the size of your finished HST.

3” finished HST (3 ½” w/seam allowance) = crosscut a 3 7/8” square
2 ½” finished HST (3” w/seam allowance) = crosscut a 3 1/8” square

Next the ruler and rotary cutter:
Once you have the measurements of your squares finalized, there are several ways to proceed in turning squares into triangles. When we create our quilts we prefer to use old-fashioned piecing methods. We crosscut each square on the diagonal, use a point trimmer to ensure accurate piecing, and then we stitch a scant ¼” from the bias edge being careful not to stretch the triangle out of shape.

Don’t want to crosscut until later? Prefer to stitch on a square rather than a triangle? Not a problem. Just mark the diagonal on each square. Some stitchers prefer to draw each diagonal, others choose to press and use the fold as their guide. Whichever marking method you choose, once the diagonal has been marked, stitch a scant ¼” on either side of the marking, and then crosscut on the marking.

Want an even faster method? Then you may want to choose one of the HST piecing products on the market today. There are several preprinted paper products to choose from, but what if your quilt takes a variety of sizes? Do you really want to buy a roll of foundation paper for each? No worries, we have just what you need!

Triangulations2.0 by Brenda Henning, allows you to print all of the sizes you need from your own computer. If your Mac or PC runs Adobe Acrobat Reader, then Triangulations 2.0 will soon have you printing foundations from ½” to 7 ½” on paper you already own. We sell Triangulations on our website here.

If you follow our designs, you know that many of our quilts are full of HSTs. Like you, we love the versatility and visual complexity of these simple units. Thanks to extensive piecing, our heirloom-quality projects such as Civil War Tribute and Civil War Chronicles require you to be persistent (and accurate!) in your piecing, and we believe the results are worth the challenges of the journey.

Ready for a new challenge? Excited about creating something generations after you will enjoy? Then brush up on your math, dust off your ruler, and put a new blade in your rotary cutter as you join us on the next installment of our Civil War series.

Civil War Chronicles features Judie Rothermel's outstanding fabrics and another heirloom-quality design. Pattern improvements include finished-unit sizes so you can easily select what size triangle to make if you want to use papers or Triangulations. And, we've included lots of quick piecing tricks too. You can sign up for this program that starts in January 2011 now.

We’re honored to have you join us in our travels to simpler times.

Sue & the gang at Homestead Hearth