Posted on 17 Comments

Craftsy BOM Students

Craftsy blocks 1-4When I agreed to design and teach a Block of the Month class for Craftsy last year, I have to admit that I had no idea what to expect. I have been quilt teacher for decades now. Even though I’ve written many books and had lessons recorded for viewing either online or on TV, most of my teaching has been face to face. I was hoping to get a good response to the Craftsy class but in no way did I ever imagine that well over 60,000 of you would sign up.

While I’m thrilled by your response, I do miss the interaction with my students. I’m fortunate, though, to have the Studio here in Virginia where I get to see several students who are making each month’s blocks and talk to them about their experience with the class.  Here are just two of them and their experiences.

Margot is a frequent customer who brings cheer into the shop when she visits. If you follow us on Facebook, you have often seen her work. She is quite an enthusiastic quilter and we love when she walks in the door to share her work.

Craftsy Margot-1Up until January, Margot had been very busy completing large bed quilts, pillow cases and smaller children’s quilts for donation. She decided to take a break to study, to learn something new, and signed up to take my Craftsy class. She says, “It was just too good an opportunity to miss.”

Hand stitching the first block was difficult for her. The stitches were not uniform; the blocks were not the right size. But she hung in there with the project and completed the block. Each block became easier and her stitches became more regular. Not as small as she would like but acceptable to her.

As she now has the first four blocks completed, hand piecing has become a habit. This success arose from constant work and locating help on Craftsy when needed. She is happy to say that at age 77, she can still learn a new skill.

Cathy is also taking the class. I first met her on a trip to India over a year ago. Just this past month, when she expressed interest in working at the Studio, I quickly hired her.

Her quilting addiction, as she calls it, began a few years ago when visiting her sister and being told they were taking a beginning quilting class together. Having only worked on fairly simple blocks so far, Cathy decided that she needed to step out of her comfort zone and signed up for the BOM class.

“I was apprehensive and was afraid of failure.  I loved the fabric and before I knew it, I was on the website, signed up for the class, ordered the kit and now I was committed. “

Craftsy cathyThe first block appeared to be going well but once the top of the basket was sewn in place there was an issue–it did not match up with the bottom. She soon discovered that she had cut one set of the triangles the wrong size.  After recutting and sewing, she was happy with the results. (Don’t worry. We’ve ALL been there, Cathy!)

Cathy writes: “I have discovered if you watch the video (more than once) and carefully read (and re-read) the instructions for assembling the block, you will be successful.   My fear and hesitation has now turned to excitement and I am anxiously waiting for the new month so I can learn more.  Bring on the appliqué and paper piecing!”

Craftsy BOM final quiltOften we hesitate to try new things when they seem difficult or unfamiliar. Learning new skills can be exciting yet intimidating at the same time.  I have found, though, that with practice, these new skills become easier and, eventually, even natural. As my students have told me, the best thing to do is to just jump right in and give it a try.

Posted on 15 Comments

A Common Mistake – How Not to Let it Happen

Craftsy BOM final quiltI am so pleased with the excitement about the 2015 Block of the Month class with Craftsy and the number of you who have already enrolled! While I will not be answering questions directly or be participating in the class discussions, so many wonderful questions have been raised which can apply to more than just this class that I am going to address them in my blog. The first one I want to look at is why your finished block might be too small.

First of all, the pattern for the Craftsy BOM is correct. The finished size of all the blocks in the quilt is 9″. That means that with the seam allowance your blocks should measure 9 1/2″.

If your block does not measure 9 1/2″ when you finish it, don’t panic. Once all the blocks are finished, I will explain in a later lesson the technique of adding additional strips to the blocks that allows them all to be floating on the background. In that lesson, I will tell you what to do if your blocks do not all measure the correct size. I will explain how to adjust those strips to accommodate blocks that are too small or too large.

So then, there is the question of why sometimes blocks do not come out the correct size.

gauge for block size1.  First and foremost it could be the set up of your printer. As you set up the printing, make sure that it is set to print the actual size (100%, no scaling) not “fit to page.” Once you have printed it out, please note the gauge on the template page of your pattern and make sure to use an accurate ruler to see that the pattern has printed in the correct size. I downloaded the pattern and printed it and found that it did not print to the correct scale. It was a bit too small. When there is a pattern with so many seams, even a small deviation can cause the finished block to be off by as must as half an inch. All printers are different and while most do a fine job, not all print accurately. In my computer, I went to “page set-up” and fiddled with the numbers and found when I printed the pattern I had to scale the printing up to 101%. Your printer will be different from mine and if your pattern is off you will have to play around with the scaling until you get the correct size.

2.  If your block came out the wrong size with the proper scaling, did you rotary cut the pieces or use the templates for the lesson? The blocks in the quilt are drafted from a variety of different “grids.” May Basket uses a grid with five equal divisions. For a 9″ block, each of those divisions should be 1.8″.  This means that the “finished” size of the short sides of the half square triangles in May Basket should measure 1.8″. It is pretty difficult to accurately rotary cut 1.8″ which is why templates are used for this particular lesson. Other lessons have blocks that are drafted with grids that are friendlier to rotary cutting. If your ruler does not measure these divisions accurately, your templates/foundations will not be the correct size.

The various blocks for the 2015 BOM are drafted on a variety of grids. For instance the first block "May Basket" is drafted in a 5 x 5 grid. If the block finished at 5, 7.5 or 10 inches, each division would be 1, 1.5 or 2 inches, respectively. However, since the blocks in the quilt finish at 9 inches, each division is 1.8 inches. Once seam allowances are added, this is not an easy cut using a rotary cutter. This block will be much more accurate if templates are used to cut the pieces.
The various blocks for the 2015 BOM are drafted on a variety of grids. For instance the first block “May Basket” is drafted in a 5 x 5 grid. If the block finished at 5, 7.5 or 10 inches, each division would be 1, 1.5 or 2 inches, respectively. However, since the blocks in the quilt finish at 9 inches, each division is 1.8 inches. Once seam allowances are added, this is not an easy cut using a rotary cutter. This block will be much more accurate if templates are used to cut the pieces.
Basket of fruit is drafted from a grid of 6 x 6. Therefore the pieces in this block could be accurately cut using either template or rotary cutting techniques.
Basket of fruit is drafted from a grid of 6 x 6. Therefore the pieces in this block could be accurately cut using either template or rotary cutting techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ash Basket is drafted on a grid of 20 x 20 squares. It will be much more accurate to cut using templates.
Ash Basket is drafted on a grid of 20 x 20 squares. It will be much more accurate to cut using templates.
Like "Basket of Fruit", "Cherry Basket" is also drafted from a 6 x 6 grid, so either rotary cutting or using templates will work.
Like “Basket of Fruit”, “Cherry Basket” is also drafted from a 6 x 6 grid, so either rotary cutting or using templates will work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on how to determine the grids that are used for drafting blocks, see my book “The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.”

3.  Make sure the pieces are cut accurately and that you take the exact quarter inch seam allowance when you sew.

I have loved seeing all the blocks which have already been finished…..keep them coming!

Posted on 15 Comments

Hand vs. Machine – There’s Room for Both

titleCardWe are approaching the third month in the Craftsy 2015 Block of the Month. This is a project I have been working on for almost a year. It has been exciting to see the level of enthusiasm and how prolific the students are. I developed the design to cover a wide variety of quilting techniques. These include both hand and machine piecing, foundation piecing, two different methods of applique, working with border prints, mitering corners and so much more. It has been interesting to hear some of the comments.

Craftsy block 1 (1)In the first month, I introduced hand piecing. Some were confused, thinking the quilt is made all by hand. We just hadn’t gotten to some of the machine techniques. Those who gave hand piecing a try, though, seemed pleasantly surprised. One student, Tracy, seemed so thrilled with her completed block that she posted this photo of it on my Facebook page with the note, “My first ever hand pieced block; this is going to be a great challenge. Thanks Jinny!” You’re welcome, Tracy. This is just the reaction a teacher loves to see.

The second month, some people were surprised that I was introducing machine techniques. Since I do all my piecing by hand, some wondered if I have “sold out” to the machine sewers.  No, no, no. Not to worry. I still hand piece and hand quilt all of my quilts. That does not mean that I can’t sew by machine. I learned to sew on my mother’s treadle machine when I was five. I have pieced by machine but find that it takes a block of time at home to do that. I never seem to have that time. I have time when I am in a doctor’s office, on a plane, in a hotel room, on a long car ride…..or watching a baseball game with my family.

Jinny piecing1I have always found handwork relaxing, and that is why I love quilting by hand. I think my very first quilt is still the one I enjoyed making the most and it was all by hand.

flower garden quiltPeople have also wondered about the durability of machine piecing versus hand piecing. I personally think hand piecing can be more durable. Machine stitching is very “tight”. If the quilt gets stretched it is possible for a stitch to break and then several stitches either side of the break unravel as well. Hand stitching is a “softer” line and the thread is less apt to break when the fabric is stretched. Just look at all of the hand pieced antique quilts around us which have survived a few generations of use.

But you know, where quilting is concerned there is no “this” or “that”, but what each individual wants or likes to do. It is still nice to be introduced to different techniques because you never know if you might find something new that you will enjoy!

If you have not signed up for this free program you can still do so. Just follow this link from our home page. You can access all of the past lessons and replay them whenever you want. New lessons will come at the beginning of each month.

First 3 blocks

Posted on 15 Comments

So now the best kept secret is out!

Craftsy BOM final quilt
Craftsy 2015 BOM Quilt

So now the best kept secret is out. Craftsy, RJR Fabrics and I have just announced our partnership in presenting the 2015 Craftsy Block of the month. During all my blogs these last eight months it was very difficult for me not to mention this project that was consuming a major amount of my time.

We worked very hard to present a program that covered a wide variety of quilting skills and each month students learn a different technique. We will cover hand and machine piecing, paper piecing, two methods of applique, mitering, working with border prints and more.

All of my summer and the better part of three more months was spent on developing this Craftsy 2015 Block of the Month. We began with preparing the outline and what would happen each month. Then there was the task of making the quilt, making all the stepouts, writing the pattern.

And finally, the production. I spent a week at the Craftsy studios in Denver and was extremely impressed with every aspect of the production and the professional way everything was handled. There were long days filming, refilming, dealing with a power outage, thunderstorms that pelted the roof so we had to stop filming because it interfered with the sound and lots more!

It was an exhilarating week and now that I see the final product I’m even more impressed.

Craftsy workshop1I’ve had so many requests the past few years to do online classes for those of you who can’t travel to the Studio here in Virginia. I’m so happy to be able to present this for you. The class is free so I encourage all of you to sign up for it through this link.

http://www.craftsy.com/ext/JinnyBeyer_4816_Free

Blog image1Craftsy is the exclusive source for the kit. You can find all the information you need by visiting our site by clicking here. They have been overwhelmed by the response to the class and kit and sold out of their first order of kits within two days of announcing the class. If you receive that notice, keep checking this link periodically to see when they have restocked.

I hope you enjoy the class and I want to see photos of your quilt in progress!

Now about my sewing room situation which I shared with you last week. I’ve made a bit of progress……..I cleaned out one drawer. Hey, you have to start somewhere.

We love the “before” photos we’ve gotten from you on Facebook and the blog. Keep them coming. Staffer Diane shared her sewing room pics, and I realized now why I like her so much. Here are a couple of photos.

Diane's Workroom

Posted on 4 Comments

A Star is Born: More on the birth of our 2014 Block of the Month quilt

Starstruck quilt with light background
Starstruck quilt with light background

In my last post I talked about how the design elements for Starstruck, our 2014 Block of the Month quilt, changed along the way to completion. Today I thought I would share how I arrived at the rich color ways upon which the quilt was produced.

I started with my Renaissance Garden fabric collection, selecting the rich, warm tones of black, cinnabar and cream, which feel right at home next to a fireplace on a chilly evening. Although the effect is quite different, the quilt’s individual blocks look equally at home nestled against the dark or light background.

Last year we saw that our customers really enjoy being able to choose from several different color ways, so decided that this year we would give you that option again in our Block of the Month quilt.  If you’re looking for a more vibrant color scheme, I reworked the Starstruck design using cool blues and vivid yellows with teal accents, with either a blue border and light background, blue border and dark background, yellow border with light background or yellow border with dark background.

 

Cool blues add new vibrancy to the pattern
Cool blues add new vibrancy to the pattern
Brilliant yellows give a whole new feel.
Brilliant yellows give a whole new feel.

 

Each of these color variations really brings the quilt an energetic feel that will have you ready for Spring!

One thing you’ll notice about the design for this quilt is the fussy cut border. All 13 blocks have a fussy cut border print that really takes advantage of the convergence of the design elements to create a kaleidoscope effect.

My pattern includes helpful tips on how to work with fussy cuts. For example, if you’re working with your own fabric, make sure your fabric has a stripe that is 1 and 3/8 wide to use in your alternate blocks.

The inspiration for the paisley fabric and border print came from artwork of a paisley shawl design from the late 1800’s that I found in a design house. My border print came from manipulating that shawl pattern in new ways.

 

My border print was inspired by this drawing of a shawl.
My border print was inspired by this drawing of a shawl.

Happy Quilting!

signature Jinny


 

Posted on 28 Comments

Introducing Starstruck, Our 2014 Block of the Month Quilt

Starstruck quilt, dark and light backgrounds
Starstruck quilt, dark and light backgrounds

I’m really excited to introduce our 2014 Block of the Month quilt, called Starstruck, and thought I’d share how this particular quilt came to be.

Designing my quilts is an iterative process. Often, what I envision at the start takes on a life of its own, and by the time my design is completed it looks very different from how I thought it would look. I enjoy the journey, and when the design is finished I have learned along the way.

When I first created the blocks for Starstruck, I wanted 12 star blocks alternated with a “setting” block. The setting blocks were completed filled in. The blocks looked lovely by themselves but when I put them together with the stars in a repeated pattern, they looked choppy.

 

Original setting block
Original setting block
Original setting block with star blocks
Original setting block with star blocks

 

Wanting more flow to my design, I changed  the alternate block. I experimented with different options and finally took some of the small squares away from the setting block so that more background showed. That improved the design tremendously.

 

Final setting block
Final setting block
Dark quilt
Final Setting Block with Dark Quilt

 

Next I changed the dark background to a cream to give you variety.  But when I added the light background I lost the design continuity I had with the deeper color, and the blocks again looked too “individual” and static.

 

Quilt with light background loses continuity
Quilt with light background loses continuity

 

This time I consulted with my staff, and together we added small dark corner triangles to each of the stars.

 

Adding corner points to the stars is a subtle but effective change.
Adding corner points to the stars is a subtle but effective change.

What a difference! Now the squares harmonize and look great together and the overall effect is just what I had hoped for.

 

Light quilt with revised corners has continuity
Light quilt with revised corners has continuity

 

What makes this quilt so enjoyable to make is that each alternating block is different to give you added variety and a new challenge each month!

In my next post I’ll talk about how the Starstruck quilt’s color ways came to be.

Happy Quilting!

signature Jinny

Posted on 16 Comments

Free 2014 block-of-the-month quilt pattern launched

Jinny Beyer has designed a brand-new BOM quilt for 2014.

The patterns for the quilt, dubbed Starstruck, are free for subscribers to her monthly email newsletter. The first pattern was released on February 1 and patterns for new blocks will follow each month during 2014.

The quilt features twelve different original star blocks, set off with a beautifully shaded alternating block. Jinny shows the quilt with both a light and dark background, and in an alterative colorway (while supplies last). Quilt kits are available exclusively from Jinny Beyer Studio.

To receive the free patterns, subscribe to Jinny’s free monthly email newsletter at the link below.

Subscribe Me!