Saturday, April 19, 2014

Value Proposition Block 1 Update

Good morning everyone! It appears that my Block 1 instructions are confusing and for that I must apolgize. I've gone back and updated the Value Map by adding letters to the various values so that you can see what goes where. While my original intention was to publish only in black and white I think that perhaps it might be better to show you my blocks to help you out with fabric selections. I'll continue to provide Value Maps but moving forward I will also show you colour pictures of my blocks. So to get started I would like to share a colour picture of my Block 1. I chose to use several medium value fabrics. I could have used less by replace the brown striped hexagons with the brown that circles the middle blue hexagon.

Value Proposition Block 1

You can see parts of the path surrounding my block. On Friday, April 25, 2014 my post will be about cutting the path and constructing the path. You don't have to make the path (or even decide on the path fabric) but I will provide you with the instruction so that if you want to get started you can. If you prefer you could wait until all of the blocks are made to decide on a path. What I did was make the path as I went along and I attached it to my blocks as they were made but that is just how I work.

I did repeat bits and pieces of some fabrics in other blocks. I did this for two reasons: to use up leftover bits and to add some cohesiveness to the quilt. I find that repeating even a little bit of fabric in a few blocks will make the quilt look more pulled together. In particular I repeated many of the light fabrics in my blocks.

If you have questions please feel free to ask - I am more than happy to answer.

My work on Godstone Grannies continues. Here is my next block. If this looks familiar it is because many of the blocks are repeated so this is the second in the pair.

I was asked if I ever sleep and the answer is "yes". I get a lot done because I like to organize my projects and work on them in the most efficient way I can. If anyone is interested in how I do this I would be more than happy to dedicate a post to what I do and how I do it!

Today I'm going to get back to work on my friend's Chinese Coins quilt.  I've quilted swirly teardrop shapes in the coins. I like how it looks!

I think the border is just going to have to be something very simple because the border print is fairly busy and fancy quilting would be lost. Also there's plenty of quilting in the body of the quilt and I want it to be the star!

That's it for today. Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, April 18, 2014

Value Proposition Quilt Along - Introduction and Block 1

Welcome to my second quilt along (QAL), Value Proposition.  Colour is an important design element but value is the first thing the eye sees.  Value is the relative lightness of one colour compared to another. It is important when making a quilt because it can make the difference between a good quilt and a great quilt. I called this QAL Value Proposition because we are going to focus on value and hopefully make some great quilts! Colour is important but look for value first! The quilt is made of 18 blocks and 4 filler blocks. A new pattern will be published every two weeks.

The blocks are made from 1" hexagons. You can find hexagon paper templates for printing and English paper piecing instructions under the tab English Paper Piecing Instructions & Hexagon Fun. The Value Proposition hexagon quilt top will measure 61" by 62" before the borders are added when a triple path is used.

You will need to construct a path to separate the blocks. I wrote about the role of the path that separates the blocks on April 13, 2014 and about fabric selection for the path on  April 16, 2014. If you are an experienced hexie maker you won't need my help making the path but for those of you who are new to hexies I will write about how I construction the path on Apriil 25, 2014.

I love colour and I know you do to. As much as I try to work with colours that aren't in my comfort zone I always end up with the colours I love and that I have in my stash. The quilts made I've made with these colours tend to be my most successful quilts. I want you to love your quilt so use the fabrics you love and have in your stash! If you run short of a fabric add a second (or third) fabric that is a same or similar colour and value. Every two weeks I will share a new block. I'll share three tools to help you make your block: Value Proposition Map, Value Proposition Recipe and My Block.

The Value Proposition Map is your guide to value placement (i.e. where the dark, medium and light hexagons will go in the block). At the top of each Map will be a value key so you can see the relative values used. In Block 1 there is a light, two mediums and one dark. Where there is a dark hexagon in the block, this is where you should use your darkest fabric.  "Dark" doesn't mean you have to use black, dark brown or navy; it just means that this should be the darkest fabric in the block when compared to the other fabrics.The same is true with the mediums and lights.

HELPFUL TIP: Most of us have loads of lights and mediums in our stash and relatively few darks. When selecting fabrics for your block it will be much easier if you start with your dark fabrics and then add the mediums and lights.

The Value Recipe  will tell you how many of each value you should cut and where they will be placed in the block. The block stars with a center hexagon which be identified as "Center". "Round" 1" is made of six hexagons that surround the center. "Round 2" is made of 12 hexagons that surround Round 1. "Round 3" is made of 18 hexagons that surround Round 2.

My Block will be a black & white photo of the block I made so you can see what I did and how I used my scraps. I don't want to influence you with my colour choices!

Value Proposition Map for Block 1

Value Recipe for Block 1
UPDATED: I used three different medium fabrics in my block, one medium-dark and light fabric. I've labelled the mediums and the medium-dark on the Map to show the placement.

  *  Cut 7 Medium #1 (1 for Center and 6 for Round 2 identified as A on Map)
  *  Cut 6 Medium #2 (For Round 1 identified as B on Map)
   * Cut 6 Dark-medium (for Round 2 identified as C)
   * Cut 6 Medium #3  (for Round 3 identified as B) NOTE: If you don't want to use a third medium you can
      repeat one of the other two mediums
   * Cut 12 Light (for Round 3) NOTE: If you look at the picture below you will see that I used a variety of         lights

My Block
This is my block! Notice I've used multiple light prints in Round 3.  The recipe calls for 12 light hexagons so I cut 4 from three different fabrics. I stitched them in pairs and each pair was on the opposite side. You could use a single fabric or multiple fabric! Stripes were used in Round 3 to add interest.

I've set up a FLICKR Value Proposition Quilt Along page where you can post pictures of your quit blocks and also see what others are doing!

A new block will be published every two weeks. The next block will be available on Friday, May 2, 2014. If you have questions please feel free to ask and I'll answer them in my next post!

Have fun and get sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Value Finder, Chinese Coins and Another GG Block

Kathy asked a great question. She saw a green value finder and asked when it would be used. The simple answer is that a red value finder doesn't work particularly well on red fabrics so that is when the green tool would be used. And the green doesn't work well on green fabrics but the red does. Green neutralizes red and red neutralizes green. If you have both a red and green value finder you can use them together to determine the value. The view will be brownish (remember my post yesterday about mixing complementary colours to make brown) but it will give you the value. This can be helpful if you have a multi-colour fabric. Thanks for the great question Kathy!

A friend made a Chinese Coins quilt. I was having an overwhelming urge to quilt feathers so I asked if I could quilt it and she said yes!I love all the bright colours in the columns!

The first thing I did was stitch in the ditch on either side of the columns. I used Superior Monopoly on top and Superior The Bottom Line in the bobbin.

I marked the spine of the vine and was off to the races! I used a brown Frixion pen that has a super fine point; it makes a very fine line that can barely be seen and when I quilted the spine it just disappeared!

I started at the top of the column and quilted the spine working towards the bottom of the quilt. When I got there I started quilting the feather. When I got to the top I quilted back down about 1/4" away from the spine. I'm still using The Bottom Line in the bobbin but on top I switched to Superior So Fine! I'm really loving this thread because it is soft and light weight so there is no heavy build-up where I backtrack. In addition it doesn't produce lint and that makes my sewing machine very happy! It also makes me very happy because it is very affordable and it has the look of a lovely cotton thread!

When I got to the bottom I quilted the right side of the feather. From the top I echo quilted back down along the right side of the feather. I still have to do the left side.

There are four beige columns. Once they are quilted I'll fill in the background and then figure out what to do with the pieced columns. My open toe metal FMQ foot does not like quilting near seams as is the case with the echo quilting. I've got a few other FMQ feet so I'm going to try them out and see if they do a better job for me.

I've got another GG (Godstone Grannies) block finished! That outer round of hexagons took a lot of fussy cutting. There are 28 hexies in that border so that's a lot of fabric. Fortunately I had quite a bit of yardage of the fabric and had only paid $3/meter for it so I didn't mind turning it into Swiss cheese!

Tomorrow will be the launch of my next quilt along, Value Proposition! All of the blocks are made of 1" hexies and they stitch up quite quickly. I hope you'll read along and if you have time sew along with me!

Until tomorrow, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Value Proposition - fabric requirements and fabric selection

Today I'm going to write about the fabric requirements for the Value Proposition QAL. Let's start with the path. There are two path options available to you, a single path or a triple path.

Single Path
If you decide to make a single path then you will need only one fabric and 1.25 yards/meters should suffice.

But this is a scrap quilt so there is another option available to you and that would be to use an assortment of fabrics that are very close in value and colour. That is what I did with my quilt Stars in the Loft quilt. I thought I had enough fabric for the path but a it turns out I ran short so I added several other fabrics and I like the result! Now in the picture below some of the fabrics photographed very light in value and you can see how they advance. I wrote about this yesterday. However, when you see my quilt in person the difference in value is less dramatic.

Detail from  Stars in the Loft
Triple Path
 I chose to use a triple path and I used it to create a design element by using two fabrics. In the picture below the middle row of the path is marked in pink.

If you prefer to use a single fabric for the triple path or an assortment of fabrics of similar value and colour as I did with Stars in the Loft you will need a 3.5 yards/meters of  fabric.

If you choose to use two fabrics, one for the outside edges and one for the center of the path you will need 1.25 yards/meters of fabric for the center path and for the outside path on either side you will need 2.25 yards/meters of fabric.

So what did I do? I chose to use two fabrics that are an oatmeal colour with a grey-green shade. One was slightly lighter in value than the other and although the difference is subtle the final result is, I believe, quite elegant!

I used the darker fabric in the center and the light fabric on the outsides but there is no reason why you couldn't do the reverse. The value difference creates a really nice effect in the quilt. Wish I could show it to you now but I can't because it will spoil the surprise! You might want to use an even darker fabric for the center path to create a very dramatic result. I had considered making a turkey red path but in the end went for the subtle look.

I would not recommend using a dark fabric for the path because there is a great risk that the blocks will bleed into the path however if you are keen to have a dark path I would suggest that you postpone your fabric selection until you've made the blocks. That way you can chose a fabric that will showcase your blocks to their best advantage.

Fabric Selection for the Blocks
Value Proposition is inspired by an antique quilt circa late 1800's so I chose to use many older looking prints. Civil War/reproduction prints would work really well. Smaller prints are easier to work with and larger scale prints tended to be more challenging. Tone on tones and textural fabrics worked a treat.

If I needed 12 hexagons but only had enough fabric for 6 then I looked for a similar fabric so I could cut the extra six needed. So what I am saying is don't discount a fabric because you don't have enough of it - just add another fabric of similar value and colour!

I looked for fabrics that had visual interest. In this assortment you can see light colour fabrics with dots and small repeated designs. I used multiple prints in a single block where a particular value was called for. For example if I needed 12 lights I would select 4 or 6 fabrics and cut equal numbers of each to yield 12 hexagons!

I chose to use stripes in several blocks because they add visual interest and create secondary designs beyond the basic design. So pull out your stripes and plaids! While I only have pulled lighter fabrics for the photo I did use darker stripes as well.

We will be working with 1" hexagons and while they are a good size I did avoid large scale, busy prints. The exception to this rule would be a large scale print that is used for fussy cutting or a large scale print that didn't have much variance in value. I did very little fussy cutting in my quilt but you should feel free to fussy cut if you want! Here are a couple of large scale prints. The top fabric would be great for fussy cuts and the lower fabric was a little easier to use provided I avoided having light and dark in the same patch.

Helpful Tip: To give my quilt a cohesive look I did repeat fabrics. I would cut a 2 1/2" strip of fabric and from that I would cut my hexagons. The leftovers were saved for another block. So if you have scraps that are 2 1/2" x 2" they will be large enough for a hexagon so hang on to those little treasures! They might just be the perfect fit for one of your blocks!

Don't worry if you don't have just the right fabric! I might have some tricks to allow you to work with your stash to create something new and interesting!

Well I hope I've given you some food for thought! On Friday I will post the first block pattern. Each block is made up of 37 1" hexagons. If you don't have 1" hexagons you will find a master template on my blog under English Paper Piecing & Hexagon Fun. If you are new to English paper piecing (EPP) I have published a booklet that provides the hexie basics. It is under the same tab and the title is Easier Than Pie - English Paper Piecing for Beginners.

Until I post again, have fun looking through your fabric and happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Value Proposition - value and colour

I'm not an expert on colour of value but I know what I like and what sits well with me based upon my colour preferences. I like muddy, earthy colours. I tend to avoid brights and whites not because I dislike them but rather I have difficulty working with them. I've started a few quilts with the idea that they would be bright and they end up back in the earth tone spectrum . It is just what I like! My latest GG (Godstone Grannies) block is an example of that preference!

Heather Stewart, an award winning quilt teacher, spoke at my quilt Guild last week. Her talk focused on colour and value. According to Heather the secret to a successful quilt is the use of a minimum of 7 values. Now not all of those seven values will be the same colour but rather there should be a good mix of lights, mediums and darks. Value and colour are not the same thing!

Value is the first thing that the eye sees, even before colour, so it is an important factor to consider when making a quilt.For a quilter value is the relative lightness or darkness of a fabric compared to another. Heather had a large colour wheel on which she demonstrated value on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being black, 10 being white and 2 through 9 were the grey shades in between. That is not to say that there are only ten values but rather that this is the scale that was used to demonstrate value. Between each value there are of course many other values, particularly in the lighter range.

We are all familiar with the colour wheel. The primary colours (red, yellow and blue) are in the 12, 4 and 8 o'clock positions on the wheel below. You cannot make a primary colour. The secondary colours are made by combining two primary colours and the colours that are created are orange, green and violet  which are in the 2, 6 and 10 o'clock positions. Tertiary colours are a combination of a primary colour and a secondary colour. The tertiary colours are red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet and red-violet. The tertiary colours are in the 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 o'clock positions.

The colours on a colour wheel are described as "pure colours". This term is related to the physical spectrum but for our purposes lets just say nothing has been added to them. When black, white or grey is added the terms shade, tint and tone are used respectively to describe the resultant colours. I'll bet you have a natural preference for one of these. I've often said I am drawn the the muddier colours and those are tones (colours that have had grey added to them). What about you? I'll bet a quick look at your stash will give you the answer!

Complementary colours are those that are opposite one another on the colour wheel (e.g. red and green, blue and orange, yellow and violet). Do you know how to make brown? Easy - you combine complementary colours. Depending upon the quantity of colour used the brown could be a warm brown (it would have more red, orange or yellow) or it could be a cool brown (it would have more blue, green or violet). When you make a quilt it can be very effective to use a complementary colour scheme however one colour would be used simply as an accent. A blue quilt with a little bit of orange will sparkle!

Heather spoke about the concepts of base and tone. The eye sees white-base colours first and brown-base colours second. When a white-base colour is used it appears to advance because the eye sees it first. Try a simple experiment - place white fabric next to cream fabric of the same size and the white fabric will appear larger because the eye sees it first!  You can repeat this experiment with any colour and the results will be the same. If you make a scrap quilt and use both white an brown base fabrics the white-base fabrics will appear to jump out at you. This is fine if that is the effect you want but if not the white may detract from the overall appearance of your quilt. A quilt made entirely with white-base colours will be vibrant and lively whereas a quilt made with brown-base colours will be softer, more muted and very much like an antique quilt.

One final bit of information Heather shared was four colour recipes for successful quilts. They are:
  • neutral and colour;
  • light and dark (the most common recipe in quilts);
  • warm and cool (a very effective combination) and
  • colour and colour (e.g. yellow and red)
So why am I telling you all this? It to help you think about my Value Proposition QAL. I will not be showing you colour pictures of the hexagon blocks I made. Instead I will provide the block pattern and what I will show is the value rather than the colour. Work with the colours and prints that you have in your stash. The trick to making effective blocks will be to select dark fabrics where I show the darkest value(s), mid-value fabrics where I show mid-value and light where I show light. Just remember the term "dark" is relative which is to say the darkest patch must be the darkest of the fabrics you use in that block - it does not mean black or the deepest darkest of fabrics.

Finally it can be difficult to determine value when you are looking at two fabrics in different colours. If you have a red value finder this will be the time to use it! If you don't have one read my April 3, 2014 post for instructions on making your own value finder.

Tomorrow I'll talk about my fabric choices for the path in my Value Proposition quilt and fabric requirements for the path. I'll also talk a little about my fabric choices for the blocks. Until then, happy sewing!
Karen H

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Value Proposition Quilt Along (QAL) - The Path

If you are considering sewing along in my next QAL, Value Proposition, you will want to start thinking about the layout. You don't have to do anything at this point other than think!

The inspiration for the quilt is an antique quilt made up of hexagon flowers (or rosettes if you prefer) and each of the flowers was surrounded by the background fabric. This meant each flower was exactly the same size so when stitched together it was the same as no path at all.  In the picture below the hexagon flowers on the left are of an identical size. When stitched together you can see what happens...a slope develops. The flowers on the right have a single path in between and when sewn together the rows and columns are straight. In order for a path to do what it is intended to do it must be made up of an odd number.

The flowers in Value Proposition will have a path.  It will be up to you to decide whether you want a single path or a triple path. I chose to use a triple path for two reasons: I felt that it showcased the blocks and I used the center of thee triple path as an additional design element that is not part of the original quilt. If a triple path seems like a lot of work or does not appeal to you then a single path can be used but it will result in a smaller quilt.
Single path

Triple path

You will need many hexagons for whichever path you choose. I baste mine as I go along. Every time I have a few moments I basted a few and then put them into a bag. If I'm sewing hexagons together and I have a little thread left over I use it to baste another hexagon.  If I don't feel like basting I stitch the path hexagons into pairs so that they are ready to sew together into larger elements. I used two fabrics for my path and it created a lovely and interesting accent. I'll write more about what I did, the colours I chose and why I chose them in the next few days. I will also provide information on fabric requirements for the path For now all you need to do is consider which layout holds greater appeal. If you prefer to postpone the decision that will be fine. You can wait until you have a few blocks under your belt!

The snow is finally gone and the Spring flowers are starting to come up. We have oodles of snowdrops which have naturalized. I love these little Himalayan flowers!

The crocuses are popping up all over the place! They are such jolly little flowers.

The colours of the snowdrops and crocuses are reflected in this Godstone Grannies (GG) diamond hexagon block which is cut out but not yet basted!  The taupe fabric is a scrap that I rescued from the freebie table at my Guild's meeting earlier this week. It fits perfectly with the colour scheme of my GG quilt!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How about another QAL and another GG Block

Who is up for my second quilt along (QAL)? I will launch my next QAL, Value Proposition on Friday, April 18, 2014. It is a hexagon quilt made entirely of 1" hexagons. Over the next several days I'll provide information leading up to the launch so you'll be ready to start sewing next weekend! Thereafter I'll post the block patterns every two weeks. Are you excited? I am!

This is my next GG (Godstone Grannies) diamond block. I quite like the lacy feel of this one and I am satisfied with the colours so there will be no alterations to the fabric unlike the block I showed you yesterday! This diamond will be one of a pair. I will make some slight alterations to the layout of some of the hexagons in the second diamond so that the second one will have a slightly different look. The hexies are 3/4" in size so they stitch up a little slower than the 1" size but they are a nice size for fussy cuts!

It is a beautiful day today so I'm off to help my Mom with her garden. When that is done I'll cut out the April block from Julia's Hexie BOM. The April block is a basket and I know what I'm going to do! You can see the April block here. I'm making each block out of blue fabrics (I've always wanted a blue and white quilt). I'll post pictures when it is done!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H