In My Neighborhood…There are Pinwheels in the Garden

pinwheelgardenFor the most part, I have enjoyed living in every neighborhood.  Growing up, I lived on a street with many kids, in Bountiful, Utah.  It was a great place to be a kid. Summer nights were always filled with “night games” of Red Rover, Kick the Can and Mother May I.  Days were spent running across the un-fenced backyards playing everything from Cowboys and Indians to Superhero/Six-Million Dollar Man and even the occasional football game.  Life was good.

When I was starting 6th grade, my family moved to Denver Colorado.  Again, we lived in a great neighborhood.  Close enough to school that we could walk.  As kids we thought we had hit the jackpot, when we realized there was a 7-Eleven just a few streets away.  We could enjoy Slurpees just about anytime we wanted.  A few years after we moved in, the cities of the Denver Metro Area worked co-operatively to build an extensive bicycle/pedestrian path.  We could get on this path less than a 1/4 mile from our home and go for miles in almost any direction…even all the way downtown, if we wanted.  Life in Denver was good during my teen-aged years.

When I was a single, 30-something, I found myself working in Phoenix, quite by accident.  But a happier accident there has never been.  I loved living in Phoenix…warm winters, delightful springs and autumns, and of course, HOT summers.  But hey, as I often told my friends and family…you never have to shovel sunshine.  When you live in Arizona, you just choose to stay indoors for a different 3 months of the year than those who live in the north.  Even here, I lucked into a great neighborhood.  It was such a great neighborhood, that when our next door neighbors in Layton found themselves relocating to Phoenix, we steered them toward the same neighborhood…and they love it too!

A few years later, I accepted a position in Murray, Utah.  It was time for my wife and I to purchase our first home together, and  neighborhood was an important consideration. Since we were just starting a family, we wanted some place safe, with good schools, and children for our kids to make their friends.  We found it in Layton, Utah, despite the fact that it was nearly a 45-minute drive each way for work.  But the neighborhood was perfect.  Great neighbors, home at the end of a dead-end street leading to nothing but corn fields.  It was so relaxing  to watch our kids play in the front yard with their neighborhood friends and watching the cornstalks sway in the breeze.  But, as so often happens, the fields were soon replaced by a new subdivision, and our dead-end street became the main route to the freeway, and good friends move away (to a great neighborhood in Mesa, AZ).  Not so ideal any more.

We got the bug to move, so we did.  Now we live on a fairly busy street, but in home that is just about as close to perfect as we could have hoped for.  It was still in the same school boundaries, so the move was easy on the children.  The home is a rambler, which is easy on my wife’s bad knees and hips.  And, best of all, it has the perfect room for my Nolting Long Arm Quilting Machine.  No more quilting in the garage for me, now I get to quilt in the climate-controlled perfection of my basement quilting studio.  Life in my neighborhood is good.

flower-appliqueI hope you find life with my pattern, Pinwheels in the Garden, equally good.  In coming up with this pattern, I took some of my favorite elements of previously published quilt patterns and made something new and fresh.  As I was creating the row, my wife said that it would be perfect for a co-worker who is having her first child, a little girl, this spring.  So, rather than incorporate it into the “In My Neighborhood” quilt, this row got drafted for another cause.  If you want to make a similar quilt with the row, I made 3 rows of the pieced and appliques blocks, joined them with 8 1/2″ strips of background fabric and then a small 3″ border all the way around.  Very simple, but it made for some fun “play space” for me to stretch my quilting comfort zone.

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

Get the pattern and instructions for the row here –>pinwheels-in-the-garden-row-quilt

Finished Quilt – 3 rows of Pinwheels in the Garden
All over quilting
Close-up Quilting

Secret to Success: Trimming and Pressing

You will often hear the phrase “There are no quilting police”.  While this is true there are still some basic rules that will definitely help you have a better finished product.  Choose to follow them or not, but the results are worth a little extra effort.

When I was teaching my wife to quilt it was a trying experience for a newly married couple to endure.  She was very interested in learning.  She had picked her fabric and her pattern and was ready to go.  I reviewed the instructions prior to her starting.  I noted that there was no trimming or pressing instructions included within the pattern.  I suggested she trim her Half-Square Triangles after certain steps.  She said if it was important it would be included.  Well, when it was time to start putting blocks together, she was a bit frustrated when things didn’t go together quite right.  For her next quilt she realized the value in trimming and pressing.

Here I present some tips to help you trim and press better.

  1.  Use the right ruler for the job.  One of my favorites is a 6″ x 14″.  Line the edge of the ruler with the points, which should provide a 1/4″ seam allowance.20170207_190924
  2. The other #1 tip is to always be sure to use a sharp blade.  The Olfa Deluxe rotary cutter is one of my favorite and super safe if you have little ones in the house.  It always closes.20170207_190942
  3. Pressing is very important, and it is a two-step process.  Press once, with the piece flat, to set the stitches in the seam.  20170207_191158
  4. Then open the HST and press the piece open.  Here I chose to press toward the dark side.  It helps the allowance to not show through quite as much.  BTW, I love my OlisoPro Iron.  It is great for quilters as it will stay on for 30 minutes.20170207_191212
  5. Just like chain piecing, I like to “chain” press.  20170207_191337
  6. Trimming as you go is a key to success.  Here I am using a 6 1/2″ square ruler.  The 45-degree line is a quilter’s best friend when it comes to squaring-up quilt units.  20170207_191436
  7. When trimming 3-triangle units or Quarter-Square Triangle units, you need to use the measurements within ruler, along with the 45-degree line of the ruler.  Notice how the 2 1/2″ mark is centered in the block along with the 45-degree mark is aligned with the diagonal seam.20170207_194442
  8. Flip the unit and use the same 2 1/2″ marking to square up the unit.20170207_194501
  9. While the trimmings don’t seem like much, they can add up.  Imagine the extra bulk that would have been added to my finished product if this had not been trimmed away.  But the extra effort paid off with blocks that fit together nicely in the finished product that will be unveiled in a future post.20170207_200856