Camp Quilting Arts has moved indoors. It has been a wet New England summer.
I remember when my kids were young and we were living in Northern California. I would hope and pray for a rainy June day, knowing it would never come. Although we all enjoy the fleeting sunshine months, chronically good weather leads to a long list of undone chores. Who wants to clean the closet when the sun is shining?
Sewing time also seems to be put on hold when the weather is good. If you are going to work on your fiber art during the warm weather, the obvious choice is to set up a wet studio and dye your own fabric. Creating your own hand dyed fabric for quilt projects, whether art quilts or traditional block patterns, is a luxury. Wasting a perfectly good dyeing day on cutting and piecing seems like… well, a waste!
But this year, Mother Nature has obliged us with plenty of great “inside studio” days. And this last session of Camp Quilting Arts benefited from a veritable monsoon outside.
When I began planning for our camp sessions, I made sure to schedule a day of community sewing (using all of those gorgeous fabrics we had dyed the week before!) to benefit a local charity. The art quilt group I belong to has a long history of making quilts for those in need, and we always seem to have one or two in the works. Frequently, we make quick quilts using the disappearing 9 patch technique but this time we wanted to try something different. Why not revisit the Half Square Triangle (HST) and make something a bit more challenging?
I immediately thought of the “Hearts on Fire” quilt from Jemima Flendt’s new book, Weekend Quilting. This 60” square project would come together quickly with 10 experienced quilters pitching in.
This easy quilt was a breeze to make, especially when we deviated from the book’s instructions and used this quick trick for making multiple HSTs at once. First, we cut a 10” square from 10 hand dyes and 10 coordinating prints, and before we knew it, more than half of the blocks we needed for the quilt were stitched.
Here’s how we did it:
1. Using a ruler, draw diagonal lines on the lighter square from the upper left to lower right and from the upper right to the lower left.
2. Draw center vertical and horizontal lines
3. With right sides together, pair a dark square with the marked light square.
4. Stitch 1/4” on each side of the diagonal lines only.
5. Cut along the drawn diagonal lines, and again at the center vertical and horizontal line, creating 8 HSTs.
6. Press the seam allowances either open or toward the darker fabric. Trim the dog ears.
In addition, we made lots and LOTS of HSTs the traditional way using 5” squares of contrasting light and dark solids.
Last but not least, we trimmed each of the finished blocks to 4” and arranged them on my design wall.
Many hands make light work! The resulting quilt top is beautiful, reflecting the hearts of the makers in the graphic heart of the quilt. We know that it will be appreciated by someone in need! Thankfully the sun was shining when we photographed the quilt in the garden.
It is always challenging to keep a group of quilters on track, no matter how straightforward the project. Here are a few tips from our Camp Quilting Arts community quilting session.
1. Choose a color palette with coordinating solids and prints that don’t compete. We eliminated the yellow “bully” hand dyed fabrics that were too bright for the project.
2. Set up sewing, cutting, ironing, and design wall stations and rotate the participants through each job.
3. Designate one person as a floater who also helps the rest of the workers: finding scissors, winding bobbins, and keeping track of finished blocks is a full-time job.
4. Acknowledge that every quilter has a different idea of what a quarter-inch seam is… and plan for it. We purposefully made our HSTs oversized then trimmed them down to 4”, thus eliminating the variation between quilters. We also designated one person to sew the top together, again eliminating the variation and creating an accurately pieced quilt.
5. Make extra blocks… we had several mishaps while sewing and cutting, so having extras on hand was a must.
6. And don’t forget to have fun!
Camp Quilting Arts has been a blast to host and to participate in. We’d love to hear what you’re doing this summer: are you playing along and hosting your own camp? Let us know!