Millennium Falcon Patchwork Block

MillenialFalcons.JPG

 

Or as a young co-worker of mine said, “I don’t know what a Millenial Falcon is.” aaawwww… I gave her a fist bump. Should I just call it a “Rebel Spaceship” block? I mean, am I going to get sued? ok, *what*ever… It’s a humble little block in homage to one of our favorite scifi/family-problems drama series, right? Also, Han is hot.

For this block, you’ll need a 45 degree ruler or template. The body of the Millennium Falcon is basically a classic kaleidoscope/octagon quilt block. My favorite ruler for this is Creative Grids’ Spider Web ruler by Karla Alexander. Admittedly, I’m generally a fan of her rulers as she makes an effort to indicate so many cutting options and sizes, always, *and* in such a way that you don’t end up with bias edges on the outside of your blocks (more about that at a later date). When you cut your triangles, the ruler has a little black triangle marking at its tip that extends beyond your fabric strip – indicated with the lime green circle here (some might call this a “smart corner”):

SpiderWebRulerTip

 

Maybe you have a different ruler. The Squedge 45 degree ruler has a flat top that will line up with the top of a rectangle or strip as does the smaller Creative Grids Kaleidoscope and Dresden 45 degree ruler, CGRTKAL45. If you use another 45 degree or kaleidoscope ruler that includes the triangle tip but it’s not blacked out or marked in some way to eliminate the excess fabric, you will need to cut your kaleidoscope triangles at 4 ⅞” (or even 5″ but you’ll trim more) when the sharpest point is included.

I used up scraps for my fabrics and even did a block with mostly upcycled shirts from my father and from my husband. Since Star Wars is at least in part about father *and* husband issues, I think it’s appropriate! You could easily get the (8) kaleidoscope triangles out of a fat quarter but I’d recommend pulling scraps – a single 5″ by 4 ¼” rectangle would give you one kaleidoscope triangle, a 4 ½” tall strip (as in my picture above) longer than 4 ¼” will get you more triangles. If you can throw in some red bits at the tips of your triangles too, the original Millennium Falcon does have some red panels on its hull but I did not include specific directions for those.

I also use Karla’s Straight Out of Line ruler to make the wedge blocks here. It’s a gentle angle and could be done without the ruler but I like the consistency of having a ruler – I’m much less likely to mess up my cuts.

A scant ¼” seam allowance is what I want you working with here. This means your needle and therefore your seam will fall at *not quite* a quarter of an inch. Your seam should be a thread or two less than a quarter inch. This way when you press open, material that is lost in the fold (it is just the mechanics of it) will not impact your final size.

Fabrics and cuts:

(8) 45 degree triangles from lights/grays, 4 ½” tall with flat top, 4 ⅞” with point

(2) 3 ¾” squares of black or darks, cut once diagonally to make a total of (4) half square triangles

(2) 4 ½” squares of lights/grays* for wedges/”mandibles”

(2) 4 ½” squares blacks/darks* for wedges

(1) 2” square light/gray

(1) 2″ x 3″ dark rectangle

(1) 2 ¼” square light/gray

Assembly:

Piece your (8) 45 degree triangles into a kaleidoscope center. I usually do (4) pairs proceeding around the kaleidoscope, then pairs of pairs to get half the kaleidoscope, then the (2) halves together.

Each half should have a good ¼” seam allowance above the points. Here’s a pretty good one:

QrtrInchSeamKaleidHalf

 

I press in one direction around my kaleidoscope. Here’s the back of the same half:

KaleidHalfBack.JPG

Sew the (2) halves together to create your octagon/kaleidoscope. I press this seam open:

BackKaleidWhole.JPG

“Square” the octagon (Octagon the octagon?) at 8 ½” wide all the way around. Your 4 ¼” point should be roughly the center from both directions as indicated with the pink arrow. I made a couple of my 45 degree triangles from 5″ strips so I have more to trim off of those but even the triangles made from 4 ½” tall strips or pieces may have a little to trim off. :

SquareKaleido8pt5.JPG

 

Decide on the orientation of the MF’s (Millennium Falcon’s!) main body, sew a black half square triangle to each of the upper-left, lower-left, and lower right corners.

Take your 2 ¼” light square and place it right sides together with the last black half square triangle, lining up at the square corner of the black/dark triangle. Stitch your ¼” seam as indicated:

CockpitTriangle.JPG

Press this unit open, trim away the excess light and dark to make a half square triangle again the same size as the original dark triangle was. Sew it to the last remaining corner of the MF, the upper right, to get your “cockpit” corner.

Trim ¾” from the front edge of the MF (where the “mandibles” or wedge pieces will be sticking out) , like so:

TrimBodyMF

 

Cut (1) light 4 ½” square into 2 wedges using the Straight Out of Line ruler (alternately cut across the middle of the square at a slight diagonal, not a deep angle) and flip the other light 4 ½” square upside down and cut it into 2 wedges to get your reverse or “mirror” cut wedges also either with the ruler or with a gentle angle using a straight ruler. (* This is where if you are using solids or wovens or other fabric that is easily reversible as some batiks are, you will only need (1) 4 ½” square each of light and dark because you can just flip your wedges into whatever orientation you need.) Repeat with your dark 4 ½” squares.

mirroredWedges

Sew (1) light wedge and (1) dark wedge together to form one mandible unit and (1) mirror light wedge and (1) mirror dark wedge to get your other mandible unit. When you put your wedges right sides together along the angled edge, there will be small dog ears at the ends and they should meet where your quarter inch seam allowance will fall:

dogearIllus

 

When pressed open, your mandibles should basically look like this:

MFMandibles.JPG

 

Trim each of these units, by taking off some of the long edge of the light wedge, to 3 ¾” wide (they should still be 4 ½” tall but if not, trim each of them to be the same height also, 4 ⅛” or 4″ tall will be okay, it will just change your final size):

TrimMandible

Sew your 2” square light/gray to your 2″ x 3″ dark rectangle to get a 4 ½” long piece to go between the mandibles. If your mandible blocks are shorter than 4 ½”, just trim this long piece to be the same length, taking a little off both ends as needed to get the right proportion.

Stitch this last strip to the long light edge of a mandible unit, then stitch on the other mandible unit. Take care to make sure when you open everybody up they are oriented this way:

MandibleUnit.JPG

(I noticed these same shapes in Jurassic Park last night.)

Lastly, sew this mandible unit to the front of the body unit to make your completed Patchwork Millennium Falcon! It should measure 8 ½” wide by 11 ½” tall unless your mandibles were a little shorter… This one’s my upcycled one which I *do* really love the striped fabrics in it.

UpcycledMillenialFalcon.JPG

Feel free to send me your questions and comments at jill [at] materiella.com

Thanks!

Fastest Seam Ripping in the West!

Did you know a seam ripper could be used this way?!? I had *no* idea until my boss showed me one day a couple years ago at the shop. I used to pick out every 3rd or 4th stitch – So SLOW!! This is so much better when I have to unsew a 90″ seam or something. Obviously, be careful because as with *most* sewing tools, there is some danger, but I haven’t poked myself or ripped any fabric yet. Happy Sewing!

 

Making Antelope Canyon Quilt

Quilt Nerd Alert!

AntCynFlimsy
My Antelope Canyon flimsy

The first time I saw Laurie Schifrin’s “Antelope Canyon” quilt I was struck by it. I collected as many photos of it that I could find – which isn’t very many as far as I’m concerned, get your finished quilt photos out there people! – and I marvelled at how the different colorways and value settings change its look. OK, that’s true of most quilts but Antelope Canyon has such GIANT blocks that it really gives you a bold modern graphic, even some optical illusion potential.

When Gruber’s Quilt Shop needed a model of it made – and I just happen to clerk there a few times a week – I signed up for it. They have the version for the “Texture Graphix” line of fabrics by Jason Yenter for In the Beginning fabrics. I am spelling that all out for you because I just helped open and shelve a *new* line of Texture Graphix by Jason Yenter in starker whites, blacks, and greys and they would ALSO make a great Antelope Canyon quilt! or any quilt – they’re just gorgeous.  Of course, Laurie Schifrin’s already done another cool strippy design called “Mirage” and you can see it at that link too. And truly I don’t mean to sound like an advert, I just try to share all the details since sometimes a quilt maker wants *exactly the fabric* or pattern or whatever but doesn’t know the name.

If you’re still working on an Antelope Canyon quilt or plan to, here are my few tips:

  • Label your pieces yes but just as importantly, to me, is underline *any* letter that could be mistaken for another letter upside down or sideways, this way you know which way is up for that letter. Pictured below is L and M, not 7 and W, or L and W. But *do not* let your masking tape (if that’s what you use) get onto the edge like my L tag here – it will make the fabric fray more than it might be inclined to. ugh! Do as I say not as I do, OK? Back to the letters, I recommend you underline at least H, I, M, N, P, W, Z. Then put sections of your pieces into plastic baggies or something to protect them until you sew with them. I just stacked mine into sections of the alphabet and then bagged each section and labelled the bag.eAntelopeCynLabelling

 

  • Check your blocks regularly. It’s easy math with this one: the strips either finish at 1″ or 2″, so add ’em up and then on the outermost round add 1/2″ for your seam allowance. This way you will catch any BIG stitching errors before they get compounded. Here you can see a 4″ check on the middle of a block:AntelopeCyn4InchCHeck The center square plus the first row are looking pretty good in this one. Then my 10″ check starts showing that my seam allowance was getting too big by a thread or two (which was *weird* because in some patterns my scant 1/4″ is too narrow since I use a 1/4″ blade foot for my Pfaff and then can adjust my needle to make it even a bit more scant):AntelopeCyn10InchCheck I did do some unsewing on the blocks a couple of times.

 

  • Fraying along the way… In my initial pile O’pieces from chain piecing (where I always had my first and last pieces of any given set labelled) you can see that I don’t have much fraying, that’s a pretty good sign that I had the strips squared up decently – or so I thought. PileOPieces Whereas by the time I had my blocks together, I had a fairly hairy back! FrayOnBack Some fabrics are just this way, but also a couple of spots are due to my masking tape hitting the edge. This really isn’t *too* bad (Not like wovens, I love wovens/homespun but talk about fray potential!) but I did try to trim and clean up most of this before giving the flimsy (top) to a long-arm quilter to baste and do some preliminary stitching for me before I do some handquilting. If it really bugs you, you could use some Fray Check on your edges and/or zig-zag baste or serge your edges.

 

  • Lastly, I did not follow the general instructions to “try to get a good balance of colors and values”. I purposefully tried to get more lights on one side of the block and more dark fabrics on the other. This so far gave me what I see as a little more “movement” on the top:
    AntCynFlimsy
    My Antelope Canyon flimsy

    So does this top look a little more off-balance to you than some other Antelope Canyon quilts? I am hoping to emphasize the “spiral” effect that I see on it with some big stitch quilting.

Tell me if you see what else I did differently than the actual pattern. I will be interested to know who notices!!

(There are still a few kits of this version of the quilt at Gruber’s online store )

I hope this helps some of you out there in the quilting world! Let’s see those Antelope Canyon quilts!

Medora and friends

MedoraCover300dp This is my quilt pattern “Medora”. It currently is written for 2 sizes. (hardcopy available at Gruber’s webshop) It all started because I like to play with what I think is a really underutilized ruler for all the things it can do – Straight Out of Line ruler from Creative Grids (CGRKA3).  It can do these basic wedge shapes starting with squares in sizes from 10″ down to 4″, plus it does a “paddle wheel” shape which is basically a twister type block without cutting away so much fabric, and it also does an “optical illusion” cut that is super fun and I have some more plans for that too. Truly the best thing about the ruler is teaching it and showing other quilters the many, many blocks you can do with it!

I made a runner pattern with it using the optical illusion cut, Flexible Floe:

FlexibleFloe

…and of course I had to do fun wonky pinwheel quilts with wonky borders:

IMG_0305.jpg

I called it “Twurtle”:

Twurtle

If you like them, you can get any of the patterns and the ruler by calling Gruber’s Quilt Shop at (320) 259-4360. They have a couple of Flexible Floe kits left, and maybe one Twurtle kit with the light blue and green turtle print.

There is only one Paddle Wheel kit in Batiks left, it’s on the website (we’re working on the website, don’t you worry!) There are no more particular kits of this one left but the pattern is “Paddle Wheel” from Cut Loose Press and you get a really gorgeous result with neutral and blue batiks:

PaddleWheel

As I get back up to speed on WordPress (it’s been a few years for me), I will get more info and links up. Hope you have a lovely weekend – here it will be snowing which means a lot of sewing.