Sunday, February 24, 2013

Circle Wedge Tree Skirt, Part 2

Cutting the Wedges. You need to cut at least 8 wedges from each of your strip sets to obtain the correct number of wedges for the tree skirt. You need 40 wedges to create one tree skirt.

If you're using a 10-degree wedge ruler, you'll need 36 wedges, which means you'll have 4 wedges left over. Extra wedges can be set aside for later use in a scrappy tree skirt.

Place the circle wedge ruler on your first strip set with the narrow end at the top of your strips. This is an "up cut". All the up cuts will be used to make Tree Skirt #1.

Align the 45 degree marking on your ruler with one of the seams in your strip set. Slide the ruler as close to the end of your strip set as you can, and make sure your fabric strips extend beyond the upper and lower edges of your ruler.

Every time you make an up cut, you'll need to place the ruler in the same position on all 10 strip sets. You might want to make yourself a note as a reminder.
If you are unable to place the 45 degree marking of your ruler on a seam line, align the 45 degree mark parallel to one of your seams. Then place a piece of painter's tape along one of the seam lines and make a note to yourself where to line up the tape on the next cut. Remember, every up cut must be cut the same way.
After you have cut the first wedge, flip the ruler around so that the narrow end is at the bottom of the strip set. This is a "down cut". Again, align the 45 degree marking on the ruler with one of the seam lines in the strip set. The long edge of your ruler may or may not line up with the edge of the wedge you just cut. It is more important to have the 45 line on one of your seam lines or parallel to one of them.  

Make a note of the placement if necessary so you can repeat the exact placement on all 10 strip sets.

All the down cuts will be used to make Tree Skirt #2.

Continue cutting wedges from your strip sets, flipping the ruler after every cut. You should have at least 4 up cuts and 4 down cuts.

If you are able to cut 9 wedges from your strip sets, you can use the extra wedges from several different strip sets to make a scrappy tree skirt.

Up Cut and Down Cut

Using either the up cut wedges or the down cut wedges, start sewing wedges together in pairs, matching the top and bottom edges of the wedges. No other matching of seams is required along the length of the seam. Remember these are bias edges, so place as many pins as necessary along the seam line.

Continue sewing pairs of strips together until all 40 wedges are sewn together in a circle. Do not sew the last two wedges together because you'll need an opening to go around your Christmas tree. 

Press all of your seams in one direction. Press (up and down), don't iron (back and forth)!

Now make your second tree skirt. 

Quilting. I used a regular weight batting for my tree skirt, probably Warm and Natural, but you could use a thinner batting, like Thermore or Pellon fleece, or maybe even a flannel if you wanted. If you plan to quilt your tree skirt yourself on a domestic sewing machine, quilting in the ditch will suffice. You'll want to use a walking foot. You can start by quilting in the ditch every 5 or 6 wedges to secure the layers, then go back and quilt in the ditch along every seam line. I have a long arm, and I loaded my skirt on a square backing and used a pantograph to quilt my skirt. 

Binding.  Because the outer edge of your tree skirt is a curved edge, you must use a bias binding. According to the original directions that I had, about a yard of binding is required for one tree skirt. I did not add ties to my skirt; but if you wanted to, you could use extra binding or ribbon.There is a good tutorial illustrating a method for cutting bias binding strips here.

Circle Wedge Tree Skirt, Part 1

We're having another snowstorm today, with another 8-12 inches of wet, heavy snow predicted.  A perfect day to be inside quilting, knitting, and blogging.

I've hardly sewed at all the last week or two, so virtually no progress has been made on my Easy Street mystery. I'm too busy taking classes at my local yarn shop. Homework is required, so I've been very busy knitting--a scarf, a shawlette, a vest, an intarsia pillow, and a pair of socks. I decided to give two socks on two circulars another try, and I'm liking it much better.

Late last year several readers asked where they could find the pattern for the Christmas tree skirts I made for my two sons for Christmas. I took that class online at Quilt University, and one of the readers told me that the woman who authored those lessons passed away. I contacted Carol Miller, owner of QU, and was told that Nyla Morrison did indeed pass away four or five years ago. Because the Fingers of Fire Tree Skirt class is no longer offered at QU, I asked for and received permission to write a blog tutorial for those who were interested.

Circle Wedge Tree Skirt

*** Please read all of the instructions for Parts 1 and 2 before you begin.

These instructions will produce two 50" tree skirts with the fabric order reversed in the second skirt. In the example at left, the white fabric is in the center of one skirt, and the same fabric appears around the outer edge of the second skirt. 

Supplies. The only item required for construction of the tree skirts, other than your normal sewing items, is a 9- or 10-degree circle wedge ruler in a 25" length. 

You can buy a 9-degree ruler directly from Marilyn Doheny, the inventor of the ruler:
Amazon also has them.
I think Amazon also has the 10-degree rulers, and I believe they're less expensive than the 9-degree rulers. 

The directions are the same for either ruler.  

These rulers used to be made by Omnigrid, so my ruler will look a little different from yours, if you have to purchase a new one. 

You will probably have to add sandpaper dots, felt dots, True Grips or something similar to the underside of your ruler to keep it from sliding around when you're cutting out the wedges. True Grips work better than anything else I've tried. If you're unable to find them in your LQS, you can buy them here.

You may also need a walking foot if you plan to quilt your skirt on a domestic sewing machine. 

Choosing Fabric. You can use 6 to 10 fabrics in your tree skirt. I used 9 in the tree skirts I've made. You can use all different fabrics or you can repeat one or more if you wish. Tone on tones and small prints seem to work better than large scale prints. In this photo, I used a medium scale floral with red flowers and white flowers. It appears in the middle of the wedges. I like it, but I wouldn't use a print larger than this. You can decide if you like the effect or if you'd prefer to stick with a smaller scale print. 

I also added a stripe to my fabric set because I thought it was interesting. You can also use washable satin or gold lame, but you might have to back any specialty fabrics with fusible interfacing. 

Yardages and Cutting Requirements. Once you've selected your fabrics, you'll need to choose the order in which they appear in your tree skirt. I found it very helpful to make a fabric layout chart with small pieces of my fabrics taped to a sheet of paper. Next to the fabrics, I annotated how wide to cut my strips. 

You will be cutting 10 identical strips from each of your fabrics, and you'll be sewing 10 identical strip sets. You can choose what widths you'd like to cut your strips, but the width of your strip set must measure at least 19" finished.  

Here are the measurements I used for my tree skirt. If you change the number of fabrics used or the widths of any of the strips from my set of measurements, you will need to recalculate your yardages.

Fabric #1:  3-1/2" finished, cut 10 strips 4" wide, 1-1/4 yard required
Fabric #2:  2" finished, cut 10 strips 2-1/2" wide, 3/4 yard required  
Fabric #3:  1-1/2" finished, cut 10 strips 2" wide, 2/3 yard required
Fabric #4:  1-1/2" finished, cut 10 strips 2" wide, 2/3 yard required
Fabric #5:  2-1/2" finished, cut 10 strips 3" wide, 1 yard required
Fabric #6:  1-1/2" finished, cut 10 strips 2" wide, 2/3 yard required
Fabric #7:  1-1/2" finished, cut 10 strips 2" wide, 2/3 yard required
Fabric #8   2" finished, cut 10 strips 2-1/2" wide, 3/4 yard required
Fabric #9:  3-1/2" finished, cut 10 strips 4" wide, 1-1/4 yard required

In my chart, notice that the total of all the "finished" measurements adds up to 19-1/2", which is fine. Remember, the strip set must measure at least 19" finished. 

The yardage requirements assume a fabric width of 42" across the bolt. If your strips are 40" or shorter, you may need to piece some of your strips to get the correct length. My suggestion is to cut and sew one strip set first and cut out the wedges to see if your strips will be long enough. 

Making the Strip Sets.  To make a strip set, fold one end of your first strip at a 45 degree angle. Place your second strip right sides together, aligning the top edge of Strip 2 with the bottom of the folded end of Strip 1, and sew the length of the seam.

Fold over the top end of Strip 2, add Strip 3 right sides together, and sew the seam. 

Continue adding the remaining strips in the same manner, remembering to fold each of the preceding ends at a 45 degree angle. Because the circle wedge ruler is placed at an angle on the strip sets, staggering the strips in this manner conserves fabric.

Press all the seams in the same direction. Ensure that each strip is pressed out completely and that you don't have a small fold next to the seams. 

Once you have completed your first strip set, make 9 more exactly like the first.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Still On Easy Street

We had a doozie of a blizzard over the weekend. It started snowing very early Friday morning and finally wound down about 4:00 Saturday afternoon. Hubby was released at noontime on Friday, so he got home before the worst of the storm hit. I was surprised we never lost power, even with 40 mph winds throughout the storm.  

Today was Monday Sew Day, and the girls came over but didn't stay past lunch time. It started snowing a little before noon, so they were anxious to get home. We wound up getting another two inches of heavy, wet snow on top of the 2 feet or whatever it was from the blizzard. Then Mother Nature topped it all off with a little freezing rain.

I finished a couple more blocks for the Easy Street quilt. That's 5 blocks done, and only 20 more to go! I've had all the block units and setting triangles made since the mystery ended, but I'm taking my time building the blocks because I'm busy with other things. 
Bonnie Hunter has a new mystery quilt called Lazy Sunday starting in the latest issue of Quiltmaker magazine that colors similar to Easy Street, with the addition of hot pink and orange. I've already pulled fabric for it and hope to get started some time in the next couple weeks. I'm glad the next issue isn't for two months.

The last of the 6 little jelly roll quilts got done over the weekend. I was glad to get them out of my hair, but I might pick up some more to do on Wednesday.

I've also been doing a lot of knitting since the beginning of the year. Last August a new yarn shop called Hook Yarn and Stitcher opened in the next town over, and I've been a frequent visitor. I am working on this entrelac scarf from a class I took there. This is an interesting technique to work with, but it took a while to get the hang of it. I ripped it out a bunch of times before I finally got it. I bought 4 skeins of yarn to make a 60" scarf, so I have quite a ways to go. There are no color changes in the scarf, that's just the way the variegated yarn is working up.

Tomorrow I begin a shawlette class, which I'll be giving to my daughter-in-law for her birthday. It has a lace edging which I haven't done before, and I'll learn how to read a chart. More learning opportunities.