Thursday, April 17, 2014

Decipher Your Quilt - How to decipher a 16 patch

Decipher your quilt

After a bit of a break, Jess from Elven Garden Quilts and I are deciphering quilts again today. Jess will tell you all about how to identify a 16 patch block and I will share the math behind a 16 patch block and a quilt using 16 patch blocks. 

Ocean Waves - top

So you are looking a quilt top, you want to make one like it but don't know how to make it. Let's look at the quilt top above.

First, take a good look at the top. You can see big circles and also big Xs in the pattern. But if you take your eye to a corner and look for a while, you will see that the unique block that makes the pattern has 16 equal squares - that 16 patch repeats throughout the quilt.

Ocean Waves block for me

When you look at this block, you will see that it is made of background squares and then HSTs which are background fabric and feature fabric. This block is called Ocean Waves and is an old traditional block. You can refresh on making the HSTs from our earlier DYQ post here.

I hear some of you saying, "Wait a minute Leanne, how big do we make the 16 pieces of the block? Don't we need a pattern?"

The truth is you don't really need a pattern. You know that you want the block to be 16 equal sized squares, 4 across and 4 down. Given that quilters like easy math, a 16 patch is normally made to be a finished size that divides by 4. So the finished blocks will likely be finished at 4", 8", 12", 16", 20" or 24" block.

The pieces would be as follows:

  • For a 4" finished block, each of the 16 units will finish at 1" (4" divided by 4 = 1"). Remember to add seam allowances of 1/2" per unit after we calculate the block dimensions - so you make 4 x 1.5" squares or HSTs (units) for the example block and then sew them together.
  • For a 8" finished block, each of the 16 units will finish at 2" (8" divided by 4 = 2") - then add seam allowances of 1/2" and make each unit 2.5" and then sew them together in the order you need to make your 16 patch.
  • For a 12" finished block, each of the 16 units will finish at 3" (12" divided by 4 = 3") - then add seam allowances of 1/2" and make each unit 3.5" and then sew them together in the order you need to make your 16 patch.
  • For a 16" finished block, each of the 16 units will finish at 4" (16" divided by 4 = 4") - then add seam allowances of 1/2 and make each unit 4.5" and then sew them together in the order you need to make your 16 patch.
  • For a 20" finished block, your units will finish at 5", for a 24" finished block, your units will finish at 6", and so on. You could make a huge single block to be the whole quilt if you wanted to do so.
But, again I hear one of you with another question: How will we know what size block to make to get a quilt like yours?

Ocean Waves - top

One way to figure out the block size is to take the size of the quilt top and work backwards to the block size.

For example, if you read in my description of my quilt top that it is 72" x 60", then:
  • Look at the quilt top and count the number of blocks. For this quilt we see 6 blocks across and 5 blocks tall.
  • Take the longer side measurement and divide it by the larger number of blocks: 72" divided by 6 = 12.
  • Take the shorter side measurement and divide it by the smaller number of blocks: 60" divided by 5 = 12. 
  • To make a quilt top like mine, you need to make blocks that finish at 12"
Another option is to make the blocks a size that is pleasing to you and then make enough blocks to get the size quilt you want. 

For example, if you want a quilt that is 100" x 120" and uses large blocks:
  • A nice oversize block is a 20" finished block (don't forget, you will be making the block to be 20.5" unfinished, but this math uses the finished block sizes). Make one block to see if you like its look.
  • So if you liked that 20" block, then to make your quilt you need 100" divided by 20" = 5 blocks on one side. The other side is 120" divided by 20" = 6
  • For your quilt, you will need 5 blocks across and 6 blocks down. That means 5 multiplied by 6 blocks = 30 blocks in total.
You can use this math to make quilts of any size. However, again quilters tend to avoid difficult math, so use the number of blocks to reach close to your desired size. For example, if you want to use 12" blocks and want a quilt that is 100" by 120", the math is:
  • 120 divided by 12 = 10 blocks on one side.
  • 100 divided by 12 = 8.33 - so instead either finish this side to 108", which is 108" divided by 12 = 9 blocks on this side, or finish this side to 96", which is 96 divided by 12 = 8 blocks on this side.
The Picnic Quilt

A popular 16 patch quilt on the internet is the St. Louis 16 patch. The clever tutorial for making these quilts quickly is over at Sew with Sass here.

If you are looking for another 16 patch tutorial, you can check out the Ocean Waves tutorial on my blog here.

As always, if you have any questions on this post - it is about math after all - just leave them in the comments or email me at shecanquilt [at] gmail [dot] com.

I hope you will head over to read Jess's post at Elven Garden Quilts, which will help you to identify more 16 patch blocks. Next time on Decipher Your Quilt we will be deciphering 25 patch blocks.

By the way, I am home from Sew Down Nashville and I had the best time. I hope to get my pictures sorted so I can tell you all about it tomorrow.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sewdown Nashville - the day before


I went for a long walk today in Nashville. After strolling through a beautiful university campus, I came to this small little enclave, Hillsboro Village.


After spending an entire day travelling here on Wednesday (I had to make a stop in Toronto), I was glad of the beautiful spring day to just walk for miles.


This sign, together with a vague statement from my husband, about having had the best ice cream ever somewhere in this area, led me inside.


It was lovely, and indeed, Jenis Splendid Ice Cream was splendid - best ever I think. I had one scoop of Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Cherries and one scoop of Yazoo Sue with Rosemary Bar Nuts (Yazoo Sue is a Nashville brewing company and the ice cream was made with wood smoked porter). If you live in the USA, you can get this ice cream delivered by courier, truly.


There are quilt inspirations everywhere - look at the bricks. Oh, and also pancakes - I had sweet potato pancakes which were recommended, and also fantastic.


This store was amazing. A 40 year family business, cluttered and full of wonderful stuff.


Beautiful old buildings, some with decorative ceiling tiles. More quilting inspiration.


You don't see signs like that one in Canada. Made me think.


Seriously, more quilting inspiration.


Old signs.


And yet more quilt ideas, look at those windows.

Wednesday night I enjoyed conversation and wine in person with one of my internet quilting friends - Jen - also knows as BettyCrockerAss. Tomorrow I get to go to Anna Maria Horner's house for a studio tour and social with the whole Sewdown Nashville group. And on the way home, a stop at a new fabric shop.

And then, the weekend includes classes from Anna Maria Horner, Carolyn Freidlander, Victoria Findlay Woofe, and Angela Walters. Lectures from Alexia Abegg, Elizabeth Dackson, and Maddie Kertay. In between times there will be time to meet a lot of quilters, some of whom I have met on the internet. I will do my best to report back after it is done on Sunday - the Modern Quilt Guild has put together a fantastic plan for the Sewdown.

You might have noticed Jess and I deferred Decipher Your Quilt for one more week. Jess is up to her armpits with sick kids and a wedding quilt deadline, and I am in Nashville, so look for deciphering 16 patches next week.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Q2 FAL and AYOLF lists

Finish Along 2014

It's Q2 already in the 2014 FAL - time to make and link up our lists of works in progress that we hope to finish this quarter. Again, I have a very long list, but it is in part because I just cannot pick which things I want to work on the most. I hope you are making your list too, it is time to link it up over at Katy's blog, the Littlest Thistle.

A number of these are carry forwards from last quarter. Here is my list:

Modern Stitching Bee top

1. Modern Blocks Bee quilt - The top is done, but for a couple of mistakes in the bottom right to fix. She needs a back and some quilting.

Pickle dish progress

2. Pickle Dish - This quilt was a big factor in getting my new long arm machine. So it is time to get it finished.

Asterix and other symbols - in progress

3. Asterix and other symbols quilt - I have all the blocks back from the talented quilters in Always Bee Learning, and have made no more progress. Time to make a quilt.

Improv Sampler - in progress

4. These Free Bee blocks have now been sewn together. I pieced this top but now I am going to take it apart and add a few bits of background. Then to finish it off.

Stonehenge block quilt - in progress

5. This block is called Stonehenge from the 99 Modern Blocks book and was made for me in the now finished Modern Blocks Bee. The top is now pieced, so it just needs quilting and binding.

No - for the No quilt

6. The No quilt is a project near to my heart, and has sat mostly stalled. I am putting it on the list because I really, really want this quilt finished.

Emerald Irish Chain

7. Emerald Irish Chain - Truly should be done already. Enough said.

Placemat in progress

8. Placemats - There should be four finished, not just one.

Mystery Quilt - basted

9. Mystery quilt - This is the most beautiful quilt top I have made - Sheila's pattern and teaching have a lot to do with that. I have been too scared to quilt it, but now I have the long arm. Time to finish this one off.

Ocean Waves - top

10. Ocean Waves - these are the blocks are from my bee mates in Always Bee Learning and I made a few more to finish this top. As I look at this photo I am wondering if I should add another row at the top. Whether I do or not, it is time to get it all finished.

Colour Study pillows in progress

11. Colour Study Pillows: one front is quilted and the other has the quilting half done. They will be 20" pillows when they are done.

Colour Study in progress

12. Not solid, industrial look Colour Study: Her borders will be expresso brown Essex Linen. I hope to have the pattern done soon too. This version of the Colour Study quilt and also finishing the pattern for it are on both my Q2 FAL list and also my April goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes.

Hopefully I can get all of these done, at least more than four like Q1. And I am spiffing up the blog, if you are reading in a reader, click through and let me know if you like the new look - which is coming together so nicely wholly due to the assistance of my friend Kat.



Friday, April 4, 2014

Finish A Long Q1 wrap up

Finish Along 2014

Well, I managed 4 finishes, which makes me very happy, and despite having put 14 items on my Q1 list, I am considering the quarter successful.

Triangle City

My first finish was Triangle City. You can read more about her here. She was selected as one of the Modern Quilt Guild top ten from the Riley Blake challenge too, you can see all the finalists here and the fantastic winners are here.


I finished Reflection, more on her is here. A tutorial showing how to make this simple but lovely quilt block is here. I have started another quilt like this already, I think it will go on my Q2 list.

Nordika Giant Plus

My Nordika Giant Plus quilt makes me smile. I had fun quilting her as a sampler and my Ta Da post is here.


I am very pleased and proud to have finished Snowfall too. Her Ta Da post is here. Snowfall is the fourth quilt in my cycles series and I have to say that the next one is in my head too. I hope to get a start on the new quilt this weekend so she can go on my Q2 list as well.

And for the rest of the Q1 list, most or all of it will be on my FAL Q2 list as I am keen to get them all done. I have been busy this quarter learning to use my new Millenium Long Arm quilting machine and so finishing more quilts is in order.

However, I am also on the road a lot this spring, so time is at a premium. But it is not all work, next week I head off to Nashville for the MQG Sewdown Nashville - are any of you going to be there too?

I am writing this as I sit in an airport for the fourth time this week, so it is a short and sweet post. If you have not yet posted your Q1 FAL finishes, head over to Katy's blog - The Littlest Thistle - to get them posted, the prizes from the fantastic sponsors are wonderful, the Q1 tutorials look lovel and time is running out to get your finishes posted - and there is so much inspiration linked there too.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nordika Giant Plus - Ta Da!

Nordika Giant Plus

This is my Nordika Giant Plus. She was made with Kona white and a set of fat quarters from the Nordika fabric line. I finished her a while ago now, at the beginning of March but somehow I kept putting off showing her off here.

Nordika Giant Plus

These first pictures are after a wash and dry. One of my worries getting the long arm machine was that the detailed quilting would disappear into the after washing bumps. I am so pleased to see that it does not do that.

Nordika Giant Plus

This quilt was the first one I quilted with my own new long arm. She is a sampler of quilting patterns I know or wanted to try.

Nordika Giant Plus

I learned that I am better at some designs than others.

Nordika Giant Plus

I am totally sold on wavy lines as a quick and easy filler for backgrounds. You are going to see them on a lot of my quilts.

Nordika Giant Plus - back

I so pleased that the quilting shows so well on the tea dyed text print on the back.

Nordika Giant Plus - back

It also shows up nicely when the quilt is being held up.

Giant Plus - before washing

These next photos are before washing. The quilt is "flatter" and more cardboard like but you can certainly see the quilting better.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

I really like that double loopy loop, and of course the dense matchsticking quilting in the grey plus.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

That is supposed to be flowers in the black background flowers. That design needs work.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

It will  be a while yet before I tire of showing off my beginning quilting. I hope you don't mind.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

The square stipple is another favourite of mine.

Nordika Giant Plus

And one last photo after the wash. These were taken a few weeks ago, we have less snow on the ground today. I am still planning to make a pattern for my version of this simple quilt, I really like the layout where you don't fill in all the pluses.

Finish Along 2014

This quilt is my fourth finish from my Q1 FAL list (which is here). I hope you are getting your last finishes in too - I can't believe that March is just about done, it will be spring soon.