Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop: Steady On {Tutorial}

My favorite colors! Flying geese! Curves! Precision delicately dancing with improv! Yessssss, this block has all of those things and I’m excited to share a detailed tutorial with you today. This new block was designed for the New Block Blog Hop sponsored by Cloud9 Fabrics and hosted by Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl, Cheryl at Meadowmist Designs, and Stephanie at Late Night Quilter. Today is day three of the hop, which means that 46 new block tutorials have already been shared, and 23 more are being shared today. Amazing!

Cloud9 Fabrics new block blog hop tutorial Steady OnI’m calling my block Steady On, which just seemed fitting for such a classic made-by-me block. Those of you who know me know that I cannot keep anything simple, and this is a perfect case in point. This block has double improv curves, twenty (20) tiny flying geese, an hourglass block, and quite a few points that should match *just* so, all in the 12 1/2″ unfinished square block. But fear not, this tutorial has detailed photos and instructions on how to make each component of the block, and breaking it down into manageable chunks makes this block come together quite smoothly (Spoiler: we can make some of the flying geese 4 at a time!). There’s something about the determined light colored geese headed bravely into the dark and improvy unknown that urges me to encourage them… Steady on, now! That same encouragement goes for you, since I would LOVE to see you tackle this block and come out victorious (tag @nightquilter and #steadyonquilt when you do!). This is going to be fun, so let’s get started!

Gather your materials:

2016 cloud9 organic cirrus solids new block blog hop

  • Fat quarter (FQ) of each of the five (5) fabrics generously provided by Cloud9: Amazon, Sky, Shadow, Lilac, and Iris.  (There will be fabric left over–enough for a second block or more depending on how frugally you cut your scraps!).
  • Clover hera marker and/or other fabric marking tool
  • fabric scissors
  • washable school glue (I use Elmers)
  • Fine glue tip (optional but helpful)
  • rotary cutter & mat
  • quilting ruler with 1/4″ and 1/8″ markings (I use Omnigrid rulers)
  • sewing machine (I have a Bernina 560)
  • thread (I use Aurifil 50wt 2600-Dove for nearly all of my piecing)

Press your fabrics and use spray starch or Flatter by Soak to help stabilize them before cutting.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorial
If you are really attune to detail, you may notice that the smallest squares and rectangles are a bit too small in this photo–you’re right, but I corrected the measurements for the tutorial! No worries. Steady on…

Then cut the following pieces from each fabric:

Iris:
– (8) 1 7/8″ squares (for geese 4 at a time)
– (4) 1 1/2″ squares (for single geese)
– (4) 5 1/2″ squares (for curved quadrants)

Lilac: 
– (1) 3 1/4″ square (for geese 4 at a time)
– (6) 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles (for single geese)
– (1) 3 1/4″ square (for hourglass block)

Amazon:
– (8) 1 1/2″ squares (for single geese)
– (4) 5 1/2″ squares (for curved quadrants)

Sky:
– (6) 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles (for single geese)
– (2) 3 1/4″ squares (for hourglass and geese 4 at a time)

Shadow:
– (12) 1 1/2″ squares (for single geese)
– (4) 5 1/2″ squares (for curved quadrants)

Now, we will break down the block into manageable pieces, and make a component at a time. Let’s start with the curved quadrants!

Making Double-Curved Quadrants

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialFor this step, you will need your 5 1/2″ squares of Iris, Amazon, and Sky, washable school glue and tip, a marking pen or pencil, scissors, and an iron and pressing surface. To make the double-curved quadrants for this block, follow my tutorial on easy curved piecing using a visual layering approach and glue basting HERE.  Go ahead and read it now, I’ll wait for you. When you’ve read through it once and have a grasp on the general technique, grab three of your 5 1/2″ squares, one each of Iris, Amazon, and Sky. For this block, the Iris is the bottom layer, the Sky is the middle layer and the Shadow is the top layer.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialSince this method begins from the bottom up, start with Iris and Amazon. Mark the Amazon square 2 1/4″ up along both sides from the bottom right corner. Make sure your mark extends 1/4″ in from the edges before beginning the curve. This will be your sew line, not your cut line, so by measuring the 2 1/4″ we are ensuring our seams will match up, even though the flying geese are exact and the curves can be improv. (Note here that if you are using fabric with a right and wrong side, you want to be marking the wrong side of the fabric. With the Cloud9 Cirrus Solids that’s not important).

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialDraw an improv curve from marked point to point, or trace a perfect curve using the edge of a small plate or glass. Make sure your curve begins and ends at your marked points 2 1/4″ up from the corner.

Using the drawn line as your sew line, follow the steps in my curved piecing tutorial here to sew your first curve. Beautiful, right!?

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialNext, grab your Shadow 5 1/2″ square and mark 3 1/4″ up both sides from the bottom right corner. Again, draw your curve as desired, connecting from marked point to marked point, and using that line as the sew line.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialMake four quadrants, measuring 2 1/4″ up on the Amazon square and 3 1/4″ up on the Shadow square for two of them, and measuring 3 1/4″ up on the Amazon and 4 1/4″ up on the Shadow square for the other two. Admire your smooth curves, and set those blocks aside for later!

Making Flying Geese 4 at a Time

Next we will crank out as many flying geese as we can, using the technique of making 4 at a time found in the Reference Section of the Quilter’s Planner. I use my Quilter’s Planner daily, and it sure did save some time with this block! Here’s how:

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialPlace two 1 7/8″ Iris squares in the top right and bottom left corners of a 3 1/4″ Sky square as shown. Using your fabric marking tool of choice, draw a diagonal line from the top right corner to the bottom left corner. I love my Hera marker since it doesn’t actually mark the fabric, but makes a clear guide line.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialSew 1/4″ from either side of the drawn line. Press with a hot iron to set the seam (notice that I didn’t do this step? tsk tsk).

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialCut along the drawn line.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialPress the small Iris triangles outward, with seams pressed toward the dark fabric. Then place another 1 7/8″ Iris square in the corner of each unit, and mark a diagonal line as shown above.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialAgain, carefully sew 1/4″ from either side of the drawn line. Cut along drawn line.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialPress open, with seams toward darker fabric.

Cloud9 fabrics new block Steady On tutorialTrim to 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ and set aside.

Repeat instructions above using the remaining 1 7/8″ Iris squares and a 3 1/4″ Lilac square to make four Lilac geese with Iris corners.

Making Single Flying Geese

The remaining flying geese must be made one at a time since the corner colors are mixed up to flow into your improv curved quadrants.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onGrab your 1 1/2″ squares and 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles and lay them out to help plan which corners should be positioned on each rectangle. Use the finished flying geese above to help plan before you start sewing.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onTo make a flying geese block (or would it be flying goose?), position a 1 1/2″ square right sides facing the right top corner of a 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangle. Draw a diagonal line as shown above.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSew along the line and then trim a 1/4″ seam allowance.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onI like to get mine all paired and drawn so that I can chain piece each side.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onRepeat with the other 1 1/2″ square on the top left side of the block. Press seams open or up toward the corner.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onTime saving tip: I cut my 1/4″ seam allowances with scissors while pressing. As long as you are accurate with a pair of scissors, it takes much less time than rotary cutting, at least for me.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSquare your flying geese to 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles, making sure that your goose point is a perfect 1/4″ (or slightly further) from the top edge. Set aside.

Making Center Hourglass Block

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onFinally, let’s make that center hourglass block. Grab your 3 1/4″ Lilac and Sky squares.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPlace right sides together and mark a diagonal line. I like to pin my pieces together since we are working with such a small scale. If you’d prefer some wiggle room, you can begin with 3 1/2″ squares and trim to size when you’re finished!

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSew 1/4″ from either side of the drawn line. Cut along the drawn line.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPress toward darker fabric. You will have two half square triangles (HST).

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPlace HSTs right sides together, with the Lilac half of one facing the Sky half of the other, and nesting the seams.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onDraw a diagonal line perpendicular to the existing seam line, again pinning to keep the pieces in place while you sew.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSew 1/4″ on either side of the drawn line. Then, cut along drawn line.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPress seams open. You will have two hourglass blocks, but will only need one for this block. Save the other one for your next Steady On block!

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onTrim to 2 1/2″ square. Set aside.

Assembling the Block

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onNow that you’ve made all of the components, it’s time to sew the block together! Arrange all of your pieces as shown above, paying careful attention the positioning of the flying geese in relation to the large and small curves on your curved quadrants. There should be two Iris flying geese corners next to small curves and three Iris flying geese corners next to large curves.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSew the top five and bottom five groupings of geese together, and sew the center horizontal strip of geese and center hourglass block together.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPerfect points tip: When sewing the flying geese together, keep the piece with the goose point on top. As you’re sewing, make sure your sewing machine needle sews exactly through the “x” that marks the point of the goose, or if anything, slightly to the right (above) the point. This way you won’t lose any points!

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady oncloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onNext, sew the top left and top right curved quadrants to the top grouping of geese, pinning just after each seam that needs to match.

Press seams toward the less bulky side (toward the curved quadrants).

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onWhen aligned properly, the geese corners should flow into the curved piece perfectly–that’s why we so carefully marked our curve starting distances with our improv curves!

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onFinally, sew the top and bottom panels to the center horizontal strip, again pinning just after each important seam match. Press toward the less bulky sides (the curved quadrants), and viola! Steady on…

steady-on-quilt-block-tutorial-1I am really excited about how this block turned out, and I’m eager to play around with different color placements and curve arrangements. I’d love to see if you sew up this block, too, so please tag me @nightquilter #steadyonquilt when you do!

Thank you for visiting and I hope you found this tutorial helpful! Check out all of the other new block tutorials shared today, all of which will be combined to make one big gorgeous charity quilt:

Host: Stephanie @Late Night Quilter

Kathy @Kathys Kwilts and More
Paige @Quilted Blooms
Mary @Strip Quilts Pass it On
Allison @Woodberry Way
Seven @The Concerned Craft
Olusola @Alice Samuel’s Quilt Co.
Ann @Brown Paws Quilting
Jodie @Persimmon + Pear
Vicki @Orchid Owl Quilts
Kitty @Night Quilter <———————You’re here!
Francine @Mocha Wild Child
Shelley @The Carpenter’s Daughter who Quilts
Jayne @Twiggy and Opal
Geraldine @Living Water Quilter
Shannon @Shannon Fraser Designs
Lisa @Sunlight In Winter Quilts
Jessica @Quilty Habit
Cassandra @The (not so) Dramatic Life
Deanna @Stitches Quilting
Denise @Craft Traditions

Also, be sure to visit each host’s blog to find out how to enter to win one of three fabric bundle giveaways. The giving doesn’t stop!

5 Steps to Sewing Perfect Curves

I am so excited to finally share this technique with you, since it makes sewing curves SO simple. I especially love that it can be used on both improv and exact curves, even circles. Mastering curves was on the top of my list this year in terms of quilting goals, and I’ve been working hard at it! While my traditional curve sewing still needs about 900 hours to hit the 10,000 hours that will result in mastery, I’ve found that this method results in perfect curves in five (that’s right–5!) easy steps.

5 steps to sewing perfect curves tutorial nightquilterI first saw this method being used by Hillary from Entropy Always Wins, Stephanie from Spontaneous Threads, and the other #beesewcial-ites, and was intrigued by the way they created such flat-laying, wildly curving improv pieces again and again and again. With some extra guidance from Stephanie, I was able to figure out the technique and have been using it on most of my sewn curves since. You can see where I’ve used it here, here, and here. This technique is derived from the six-minute circle method, but can be applied to any curve.  I love using the technique, and so I thought I would share it with you.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterSo let’s get started! First, gather your supplies. You will need:

  • your fabric pieces (I used three approx 5″ square pieces of fabric to help demonstrate the stacking of the layers, but you can use any scrap that fits the shape you’re trying to sew!)
  • fabric scissors
  • washable school glue – Elmer’s works great
  • fine glue tip (optional but helpful! I use the Fineline regular tip from Pile O’ Fabric)
  • zipper foot for your sewing machine (optional but makes sewing the curve much easier)
  • iron and pressing surface
  • pencil or other fabric marking tool for drawing your line
  • paper on which to draw your desired curves (only needed if you are sewing an exact curve–you can free draw or cut improv curves, too)

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterBefore you begin, decide generally how you want your curves to look. I like to sketch mine out on paper more for a visual than for an exact plan. Think of your fabrics in terms of layers: the bottom is the inside of the curve, moving upward and outward. Keep in mind that if you want to have a convex curve next to a concave curve, simply switch the way you view your “top” and “bottom” layers. The inside of the curve is always the bottom, and work from the bottom up.

Once you have an idea of generally (or exactly) how you want your curves to look, it’s time to get started. Five easy steps, I promise! Ready?!

Step 1:
Draw desired curve on the wrong side of top fabric piece.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterDraw your curve on the wrong side of your top (or in this case, middle) fabric with a pencil or other light fabric marking pen. If you want your curve to be exact, you can trace the line from your paper sketch by holding the fabric and paper up to a window or other light source. Be sure that the right sides of both the paper and fabric are facing away from you, since you want the line drawn on the wrong side of your fabric, but also want the curve to go in the proper direction.

Step 2:
Cut 1/4″ away from the inside edge of your drawn line.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterNext, cut between 1/4″ and 3/8″ away from the inside edge of your drawn line. This is your seam allowance.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterClip your curves to help make your curve smooth. Be sure to cut only halfway to the drawn line, not all the way to the drawn line.

Step 3:
Press seam allowance.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterNext, carefully press the seam allowance along your drawn line. Take your time here to make sure your curve is pressed smoothly and exactly along your drawn curve.

Step 4:
Glue baste to bottom layer.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterNow it’s time to glue baste this curve onto your bottom layer. Using a fine glue tip and washable school glue, create a small beaded line of glue along the seam allowance. Carefully lining up the outer corners of your squares, layer the middle fabric (with right side facing up and your cut, pressed, and glued seam allowance tucked under) on top of the bottom piece of fabric. This step is why I like to begin with three squares that are the same size. It makes positioning my curves as easy as pie!

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterPress with your fingers, making sure the seam allowance is in the right spot and fully folded under. Press with a hot iron to set the glue. Admire your perfect curve… but it’s not sewn yet! Just one more step.

Step 5:
Sew along drawn line.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterOnce the glue has been set and fabric cooled off, carefully lift up the top layer of fabric to expose the seam allowance. I use my zipper foot with my needle moved all the way to the left, since the narrow foot helps ease around tight turns. Carefully and slowly sew along your drawn line.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterAs you sew around the curves, carefully move the top fabric out of the way, being sure not to allow folds or puckers to form under the needle. Backstitch a bit at the beginning and end of your sewn line to secure the stitches.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterViola! Press again and you have a perfectly sewn curve!

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterTrim away the bottom fabric that extends beyond the seam allowance, and save for your next scrappy project.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterRepeat those five easy steps for your other layers: Draw, Cut, Press, Glue Baste, Sew.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterThere you have it. Smooth curves, either traced and perfect, or free cut and improv.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful! I know I can’t stop sewing crazy curves now that I know I can sew them like this. Next week I’ll be sharing a block tutorial for the Cloud9 New Block Hop, and *hint hint* part of it will use this method! Get your practice in now!

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social, and will link up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday when Stephanie & Yvonne get it started again in a couple weeks!

Friday Giveaway & Back to School Pattern Sale

Like it or not, the final days of summer are here. The kids are heading back to school, the nights are getting cooler, and leaves are already beginning to change. Back to school time means that some of us may have more time for sewing, so I thought I’d kick off this Labor Day weekend with a double giveaway sponsored by the Fat Quarter Shop AND a pattern sale of all of my quilt patterns, both foundation paper pieced and traditionally pieced.

night quilter back to school sale patterns All of my quilt patterns are 20% off for one week only! Now is your chance to restock your pattern library so you’re sure not to run out of projects once the kids are in school.  Sale prices are already reflected in my Craftsy shop, and if you are in the EU, please use code BACK2SCHOOL to get 20% off any and all pattern purchases in my Payhip shop.

Giveaway #1 Nightfall fabric by maureen cracknell for art gallery fabrics fat quarter shopOn top of that, Fat Quarter Shop is generously sponsoring a double giveaway! Two lucky readers will win a bundle of Nightfall fabrics from Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery Fabrics. Both the Moonrise and Moonset fat quarter bundles of 10 fat quarters each are up for grabs this week.

Giveaway #2 Nightfall fabric by maureen cracknell for art gallery fabrics fat quarter shopTo enter the giveaway today, tell me which bundle would be your first choice: Moonrise (Giveaway #2) or Moonset (Giveaway #1). I will select two winners, and will be sure to give the first choice to the first winner! Leave a comment and make sure I’m able to get ahold of you if you win.  For an additional entry, leave another comment telling me how you follow Night Quilter (email list, instagram, facebook, twitter, blog follower, etc.) Tell me how you follow Fat Quarter Shop (facebook,twitter, Instagramtheir blog Jolly Jabber, etc.) in a third comment for a third entry.

This giveaway is open to US and international participants.  The giveaway will be open until Friday September 9th at 8pm EST when I’ll select the winner randomly with random.org. Good luck, happy shopping, and enjoy your Labor Day weekend for those of you stateside! This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations Julianne and Rose!

Color Inspiration Thursday {77}

“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.”
Rudyard Kipling, Complete Verse

Today’s color inspiration brings us into my vegetable garden. From afar it looks like a fenced in plot of weeds and wildflowers. Pass through the gate, wade through the grasses and clover, though, and you will see three little somewhat tended garden beds, gleefully holding a bunch of delicious veggies. Get a little bit closer, and you have the photos shared here today. Want to sing “oh, how beautiful!” while we sit in the shade and enjoy today’s color inspiration? Let’s! This year my garden is severely neglected, but has been weeded just enough for it to do its job: produce food for our family. Balance and nurture, right? Color palettes are made using Play Crafts’ Palette Builder 2.1 and my photographs, craftily taken at such a scale so as to crop out the weeds!

kale color paletteCorresponding solids from left to right:
Kona Limestone, Bella Clover, Bella Terrain Cactus, Kona Basil, Kona Grass Green, Kona Black

Corresponding Aurifil thread from left to right:
2324 – Stone
5010 – Beige
5024 – Dark Brown
5021 – Light Grey
5018 – Grass Green
2692 – Black

Our first stop is with the hardy, delicious, and dare I say–GIANT–kale. We eat kale in egg scrambles, as kale chips, in soups and stews, stir-fries, and more. Kale does amazingly well in our garden and climate, so each plant grows about 3 1/2 feet tall and 2 feet across. Each leaf is as big as my son’s head. One of these years, I’ll realize that even with our family of five, we only need two kale plants, not eight. In the meantime, kale abounds! I love how intricately frilly each leaf is! The range of greens is amazing, too, including everything from earthy subdued to vibrant and fresh. Mmm!

yarrow soft pink paletteCorresponding solids from left to right:
Kona Forest, Bella Dill, Bella Thistle, Kona Smoke, Bella Parfait Pink, Kona Pearl Pink

Corresponding Aurifil thread from left to right:
2892 – Pine
2890 – Dk Grass Green
1140 – Bark
2606 – Mist
2515 – Lt Orchid
2405 – Oyster

Next up we have Yarrow. Honestly, when I ordered these seeds from our local organic seed company Johnny’s Seeds, I thought the yarrow would be white or yellow. To my pleasant surprise, it bloomed this beautiful pink! Yarrow is a great companion plant to many vegetables and is one of those plants you should feel free to plant all over your garden. It repels soil nematodes, aphids, bean beetles, and many more. I planted mine near my brussel sprouts, kohrabi, and kale and it is doing its job well so far!

onions earthy color paletteCorresponding solids from left to right:
Kona Hunter Green, Bella Betty’s Teal, Bella Green Tea, Bella Fig Tree Cream, Bella Paper Bag, Bella Etchings Charcoal

Corresponding Aurifil thread from left to right:
4026 – Forest Green
2850 – Med Juniper
5014 – Marine Water
5020 – Light Military Green
2375 – Antique Blush
1140 – Bark

Finally, onions. Onions are my garden pride and joy (very quickly followed by carrots!). After experimenting with a few different varieties of onions, trying seeds vs. sets, I finally discovered the type of onion that thrives well in our area: Copra onions. These are storage onions that I will soon pull, cure in the dry, sunny garden bed, then braid to hang in my kitchen. I learned all of this from a local friend, since I saw a braid of huge gorgeous onions hanging in her kitchen a few years ago and asked if she would teach me everything she knew. She did, and I’m so grateful. I grew less onions this year than last, but they should still last me far into the frigid snowy days of winter. And that earthy color palette that results just embraces the richness of a garden, doesn’t it!?

How does your garden grow?