Monday, January 19, 2015

Twisted Ribbon Rainbow Tutorial Part One

Welcome to my first tutorial, on the piece below, which I call Twisted Ribbon Rainbow.  Bear with me, since it's my first attempt at a tutorial, and of course, please ask questions if something isn't clear.   

First, I want to talk a little about the design.  This is based on an art print, Bauhaus-style that I saw online.  I wish I could find more information about it, but I've been unable to do so. I just looked up Bauhaus art, images, and it is one of the things that popped up.  The print uses only two shades of blue and two shades of red.  To me, it's as much about exploring light and dark versions of color as it is about having a sort of optical illusion effect that resembles, to me (hence the quilt's name) ribbons twisting in the wind. 

I like this design for several reasons, one of which is that it seems pretty versatile.  It can be simply a contrast of two colors, it could use various numbers of prints and solids, for example, using a mainly red print and a red solid for one row, then a blue print/solid combo for the next row - still using the same seven colors, or using two shades of a color, then two shades of gray, or (my friend Karen thought of this one) using the front and back of a bright fabric (a la Kafe Fasset).  Really, the sky's the limit. The only thing that I think is really important is to have two different shades or iterations of the same colors/fabrics in a diagonal row of "ribbon."  

But in order to keep it simple, I am going to give the directions to make one just like mine because once you understand how to set it up, you can then do whatever you want with it! 

One last point - this is more of a recipe than a pattern, I think, as the entire piece consists of only two shapes: squares and half-square triangles.  What's really tricky isn't the piecing of this quilt, but the order in which the many squares must be sewn.  I spent some frustrating hours figuring it out, even with my sketch,  so I'll attempt to make the order as clear as possible when we get to that point.  

I was able to make this with scraps from my stash, as you only need between 1/4 and 1/3 yard for each color, except the white, of which you'll need 1 1/2 yards.  The squares are cut to 2 1/2 inches, and the squares for the half-square triangles are cut 2 7/8.

Cutting Instructions: 

From the white/neutral:  112   2 7/8" squares
                                          2    2 1//2" by width of fabric strips
                                          4     2 1/4" inch by width of fabric strips for binding

Cut the colored fabrics as follows, cutting the 2 7/8" pieces first.  Remember, each 2 7/8" square makes two (2) 2 1/2" half-square triangles (HST'S).  The bold number is how many 2 7/8" squares you cut, and the number in parenthesis is the total number of 2 7/8" HST's you'll need for that color. 

                      2.5 INCH SQUARES           2 7/8 SQUARES
Light Blue                   15                                       8 (16)
Dark Blue                   15                                       7 (14)
Light Green                16                                       9 (17)
Dark Green                15                                       7 (14)
Light Orange              16                                       7 (14)
Dark Orange              17                                       9 (18)
Light Purple (PP)        15                                     13 (26)
Dark Purple (PP)        18                                       4 (7)
Light Red                    16                                       7 (14)
Dark Red                    17                                       9 (18)
Light Yellow                16                                       9 (17)
Dark Yellow                 16                                      8 (15)
Light Pink (Pi)              15                                      8 (15)
Dark Pink (Pi)              16                                      8 (16)

I don't want to insult anyone's knowledge, but I'm going to go ahead and show how to make the half-square triangles, just in case there is someone who hasn't done it before. If this is old news to you by all means,skip it and get to cutting and sewing!  

1. Take a colored 2 7/8" square and a white 2 7/8" square and put them right sides together. 

2. Take a fabric marker or pencil (I use a micron sharpie for this because you won't see the mark after it's sewn and I can see it better) and a small ruler and make a diagonal line down the center of the wrong side of the white square from corner to corner.

3. If you have a quarter inch foot on your machine, place the square so that the line you marked is on the quarter inch mark on your foot.  Sew along that side, as straight as possible. (If you don't have a quarter inch foot, then you have to mark the middle line and then draw sew lines 1/4 inch to the left and to the right of the middle line and sew along them.

4. Flip the square over and put the drawn line under the quarter inch foot again.  Sew the other side of the square.  You will now have a square that has two sewn lines 1/4 inch away from the center line.  

A good trick for sewing a bunch of these at once is to match all the colored 2 7/8" squares with white and mark them all before sewing. I stack them, kitty-corner, on top of each other so they are easier to pick up and keep organized.)f Then sew one after the other in a chain, down the first side.  Cut them apart and sew in a chain again down the second side.  It goes a lot faster and even saves thread, if you are a thrifty type. 

5. Cut along the drawn line, open out the half-square and trim the little pieces off the sides.  I trim at an angle so there isn't as much bulk at the seams,  and then I  press the seams open for the same reason. 

So there is the cutting and the making of the HST's.  It only took me a couple of hours to get it all cut out, which made me happy.  The sewing takes a little longer...but with good music on, it's quite pleasant.  

Please let me know if there you have any questions on any of the how-to's on this post.  

In part two, I explain the order of sewing - this will be very helpful; you will have a list and you can just follow it.  Otherwise you will have to spend a lot of time figuring the sewing order out yourself (I did this because I was making the pattern up and believe me, you'll like it when you have the directions in front of you...). 

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