Saturday, March 17, 2018

Skillbuilder 2017-18 - Orange peel blocks by Isabelle Durpas

Orange Peel blocks


*Isabelle a eu la gentillesse de fournir son texte en anglais et en français ... si vous préférez la version française, vous pouvez la trouver ici!

Presentation of the block
The Orange peel is a block consisting of four identical blocks in which are assembled a football shape flanked by two arched shapes that form a square. This block was first described in the 1895 annual catalog of the Ladies Art Company. However, popular legend has it that the block was created much earlier in the 19th century when the Marquis Lafayette came to Philadelphia. This distinguished guest was then offered an orange, a rare delight at the time, that he peeled by cutting the peel into four parts. A maid is said to have stolen the orange skin that would have inspired the quilt block in question. This is also why this block is also known as 'Lafayette orange peel'. This block is also known by other names. The most common being 'Melon patch', 'Joseph's coat' and 'Save a piece'. For more details on the origin of these names and the existing variants of this block, I recommend that you visit the Field Guide to Quilts site.


There are two distinct approaches to making an orange peel block, first by piecing, then by appliqués. This article discusses both techniques and their variations as follows:
  1. Piecing
  2. Appliqués
    1. Raw-edge appliqués
    2. Reversible appliqués with fusible lining
    3. Needle turned appliqués and EPP

The piecing method is the original method dating from 1895. Appliqués later became more popular, in fact, it is easier nowadays to find appliqués method tutorials on the web. The piecing method gives by far the most elegant and satisfying results with sharp curves and perfect points. However, many quilters are reluctant to sew arches and curves and are more interested in the appliqué techniques.

Piecing construction
The piecing construction method requires the use of a template. Click on the link below for one that provides a block of adequate size to contribute to the charity quilt project of the Guild. When printing, make sure that the measurements are accurate with the measurement marks.

Get the Template

Each complete block requires 4 footballs and 8 contours. On each piece, be sure to mark the assembly points with a water soluble marker or any other temporary marking tool.

Before assembling, each piece should be folded in half and the centerline be marked. First you have to assemble a football with a contour, right sides facing each other. The curves require patience and many pins! Match the center marks, then the tip marks and pin.

Then, continue to add pins between each pair of pins to spread the fabric evenly and make the piece stable and easy to handle without the risk of creating unsightly tucks.

Assemble by sewing ¼ inch away from the edges. Take care to reduce the number of stitches per inch when approaching the tips to get one last point directly on the tip of each end before rotating the piece to sew the other side. Personally, I prefer to start to sew on one side of the football shape rather than on a tip, to avoid creating weakness at the tips.

Press the seam allowances to the outside of the football shape.

Repeat for the second contour of the block and press again ​​towards the outside of the football shape.

You must repeat this process for the other 3 parts of the block. Once finished, put the blocks together, first the top blocks together, then the bottom blocks together. To get a perfect orange peel block, it is very important to match the tips of the football shapes and to sew exactly on their edges. Pin more than necessary! The two blocks, once assembled, shall present two footballs whose points are fully visible, but that nearly touch at the center of the blocks. Press the seams ​​of the pair of blocks on either side of the center line: one pair to the right and the other to the left to facilitate the final assembly. As for the half-blocks, once again you must take special care to adjust the tips. Pin again! Iron by opening this last seam.

That's it, you have completed an orange peel!

Appliqués - Raw edge appliqués.
The raw edge appliqués are appliqués where the pieces of fabric are cut exactly to the final size. They are then affixed directly to a quarter of a block. To assemble a block with this technique, you need to cut 4 squares of 6 ½ inches and 4 football shapes without seam allowances.

To facilitate the application of the appliqués, I recommend using a water-soluble spray adhesive, such as 505 adhesive spray. Sewing can be done by a straight stitch very close to the edge or, for a decorative effect or additional protection against fraying, by a decorative stitch. These last ones recall the tradition of the embroidery made on the heirloom crazy quilts and can bring a quirky touch. Be careful not to exaggerate, too many patterns is certainly moving away from modern aesthetics. But you do what you like - this is the most important!

It is then easier to assemble the four parts made with this technique then those made by piecing, because there is much less seam allowance to manage. Again, for a neat finish, take care to match the ends of the footballs and sew exactly on their edges. Pin more than necessary! The two blocks, once open, must have two footballs points fully visible, but almost touching at the center of the block.

Appliqués - Reversible appliqués with fusible lining

This technique is very popular on the web and there are many videos and tutorials that demonstrate it.

To make an orange peel block with this technique, you will need 4 squares of 6 ½ inches, 4 football shapes with sewing values and 4 other football shapes with sewing values cut into a fusible interfacing.

It is first necessary to prepare the "sandwiches" by assembling the football in fabric with the one in interfacing, right side of the fabric on the sticky side of interfacing and sew a seam around the contour of the pieces. Again, it is important to take care of sewing beautiful tips to get a nice effect once the piece is reversed.

This sandwich must then be reversed. To do so, it is necessary to cut the fusible interlining in its center. It is good to cut the entire center line of the football, not to facilitate the turning, but to have more control when fusing with the iron. Turn the piece inside out, but do not iron it. The shape is then affixed to the square of fabric. Care is taken to carefully place the fusible lining underneath so that it is perfectly invisible after ironing. Be careful!

It is then recommended to sew the shape with a straight stitch over its entire outline, but some quilters might want to drop that step in order to have football shapes more similar to those obtained by assembly. This is possible only if the planned quilting is to be dense.

Here again, it is easier to assemble the four parts produced by this technique than by piecing because there are seams to manage. For a neat finish, always take care to match the tips of the footballs and sew exactly on their edges. Pin more than necessary! The two blocks, once open, must have two footballs points fully visible, but almost touching at the center of the block.

Appliqués - Needle turned appliqués and EPP

The last technique is a variant of the appliqué technique. If you are familiar with any of these techniques, it may be easy for you to use them to affix the shapes on the squares.

To prepare these appliqués, it is necessary to cut the football shapes with a seam allowance. In the case of needle-turned appliqués, the seam allowance is marked by a basting thread. In the case of English paper piecing, a rigid form allows to folding the seam allowance to the underside of the shape. You must remove the paper at the very end by removing it from the bottom of the entire block. I personally have not experimented this last variant of appliqué for the orange peel, but some people swear by this technique!

The final assembly is identical to the previous appliqués techniques and the same precautions are required.

Modernizing the orange peel
While making this tutorial, I found that the orange peel is a difficult block to modernize in its construction. I found no wonky orange peel! On the other hand, in the composition of a quilt or part of a quilt, it is possible to integrate the aesthetic principles of modern quilts. Here are some suggestions.

Asymmetry / Negative space

Scale / Minimalism / Asymmetry

Colors / Omissions

And finally, I have put together a Pinterest board with some tutorials and inspiration. You can find it here: Orange Peel Pinterest board

We would love to see what you make, so please share your blocks on Facebook or Instagram, and feel free to tag us and use the hashtags: #mtlmqgskills or #mtlmqgskillbuilder

Friday, February 16, 2018

Skillbuilder 2017-18 - HRT blocks by Josée Carrier

I love HRTs (half-rectangle triangles). I guess that is why I was asked to do a demo for our skill builder project. I have used HRTs in few projects my-self. Here are few pictures.

Facets quilt by Josée Carrier

HRT table runner by Josée Carrier

HRT table runner by Josée Carrier

 HRTs offer the same endless layout possibilities as HSTs (half-square triangles). But, the difference in width and height adds another dimension to projects. Further more, you can create curve effects by playing with the proportions of your units. This can really add movement to your designs.

Techniques for HRT units

While working on my projects and preparing for this demo, I have explored different techniques for making HRTs.

The difference with HSTs is the angle at which you need to assemble the two right-angled triangles to form a rectangle. Since it's not a 45° angle, it makes alignement of the two pieces more challenging.  You can't just put two pieces of fabric right side together (with edges aligned) and sew on each side of the diagonal to obtain two units. You need to figure out at which angle to align and sew the pieces of fabric.

The other difficulty with HRTs is that you need to plan the orientation of your unit. With HSTs, you just need to rotate your finished unit by 90° to change the orientation of the diagonal. You can't just flip a HRTs because of the difference of width and height. You need to plan ahead if your design requires a diagonal from upper left corner to lower right corner or a diagonal from upper right corner to lower left corner.

Here is a summary of techniques with some links to great references.

Paper piecing

Paper piecing is one solution. It is the most precise technique. However, it's probably not the fastest one. And you'll probably end-up with more fabric lost. If you do love paper piecing,  here is a great tutorial by Wayne Kollinger for making HRTs.

Cutting with rulers

You can also use rulers to cut your triangles at the right angle. There are a variety of rulers available. Here are a few: Split Rects ruler, Recs tool and Perfect Rectangle ruler. All rulers I have seen allows to create HRTs for which the height of the finished unit is twice the width (2 to 1 ratio). In most "traditional" blocks, the HRTs have that proportion. Here is a tutorial by Wayne Kollinger and a video by Deb Tucker (Split Rects) explaining how to use them.

Cutting without rulers

Here is another tutorial by Wayne Kollinger explaining how to cut the triangles without the rulers. Again this applies to HRTs with a finished height that is twice its width (2:1 ratio). The main disadvantage with the last two techniques is that you need to sew on bias cut edges.

Alignement using templates

One solution to this is to make your HRTs like HSTs: by sewing on the two sides of a diagonal and by cutting it in half on the diagonal. In that case you end up with two units with the same orientation.  To do so, you need to find at which angle to align the two rectangles. In previous projects,  I had prepared alignement templates for different sizes of finished HRTs. I had written a tutorial on Sew Mama Sew explaining that technique. The limitation of this technique is that you are limited to sizes (proportions) for which the templates were built for.

Alignement using marks

You can also align the rectangles using a technique proposed by Latifaah Saafir. She marks dots on both pieces at two opposite corners to form a diagonal. She marks her dots at 1/4" from each edges. This works great for finished HRTs with a 3:2 ratio (like HRTs with finished sized 4"x 6"). You can find the tutorial on The Modern Quilt Guild blog and you'll find a demo in an Episode of Fresh Quilting. I have found however that the HRT's finished size is less predictable for other proportions as the rectangle is not sewn at the right angle. 


Here is a small variation on the technique shown by Latifah Saafir to make it work with units of different proportions.


First, cut your 2 rectangles one inch wider and longer than the HRT's finished size. So for a finished HRT of 4" x 6" (unfinished: 4 1/2" x 6 1/2"), cut your 2 rectangles 5" x 7".


Mark dots for the diagonal at 1/2" from edges at opposite corners on the wrong side of each rectangle (with the same orientation).

Mark the diagonal by tracing a line passing by both dots on one of the rectangle.


To align the rectangles, place them right side together with the one with the diagonal on top. Use a needle to pass though the dots of a marked corner on both pieces.

Repeat for the second corner.

Sewing and cutting

Sew on each side of the diagonal at 1/4" from the line. Then cut on the diagonal.


Open-up your unit and press.  Then proceed with trimming, which is the key to good points. The HRT's unfinished size (or cutting size) is 1/2 inch wider and longer than the HRT's finished size. So, for a finished HRT of 4" x 6", you need to trim it to 4 1/2" x 6 1/2". 

For trimming, I find helpful to mark circles on the ruler to see the end-points of the diagonal on the finished HRT. For a HRT with a diagonal from upper right corner to lower left corner, I'll draw a first circle at 1/4" from each edges (to account for seam allowance). And I'll draw a second circle at 4 1/4" from the right edge of the ruler and at 6 1/4" from the top edge of the ruler.

Then position the ruler on your assembled unit to have the diagonal seam running through both circles and trim a first corner.

Then turn around and trim the second corner in the same manner. Just a note, the longer and narrower HRTs offer less room to trim in width.

That is it! With this technique, you end up with two units in the same direction. I invite you to try the different techniques and find the one what works best for you and the project you'll be working on.


Now I leave you with some inspiration for your future projects. Here is a Pinterest board I created with ideas on how to use HRTs in your quilts and other great resources. My favorite quilts using HRTs to date are the following:


Also, here is a few blocks I have prepared for the demo with links to instructions for each of them.

She Bear Block by Deb Tucker with instructions

Liberty Star Block by from Piece N Quilt

HRT With A Twist ~ Block by Jayne from Twiggy & Opal

A more 'improv' one playing with block proportions. I think this would make an interesting border.

I had fun playing with the layout for this one. Hope they can inspire you!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Warm and Cool Charm Swap

As mentioned at the January meeting, we will be hosting a charm (5" fabric square) swap at the March meeting. If you are participating in the swap, you will bring 2 charms (1 warm, 1 cool) for each other participant (We will have a final count at the February meeting). As participant, you will be leaving with a varied stack of charms, half warm colours and half cool colours! Sign up for the swap here!

Colour theory is something that sounds a bit scary at first. What it does is help explain and sort colours by using a colour wheel. The colour wheel can also be used to choice a colour scheme!

There are a bunch of different website and apps out there to help you choose or create different colour palettes, such as Adobe Color, Canva and Paletton Wikipedia's entry about warm versus cool colours:

The distinction between "warm" and "cool" colors has been important since at least the late 18th century.[2] The contrast, as traced by etymologies in the Oxford English Dictionary, seems related to the observed contrast in landscape light, between the "warm" colors associated with daylight or sunset, and the "cool" colors associated with a gray or overcast day. Warm colors are often said to be hues from red through yellow, browns and tans included; cool colors are often said to be the hues from blue green through blue violet, most grays included. There is historical disagreement about the colors that anchor the polarity, but 19th-century sources put the peak contrast between red orange and greenish blue.Color theory has described perceptual and psychological effects to this contrast. Warm colors are said to advance or appear more active in a painting, while cool colors tend to recede; used in interior design or fashion, warm colors are said to arouse or stimulate the viewer, while cool colors calm and relax. Most of these effects, to the extent they are real, can be attributed to the higher saturation and lighter value of warm pigments in contrast to cool pigments. Thus, brown is a dark, unsaturated warm color that few people think of as visually active or psychologically arousing.

Pinterest can be a bit misleading (saw a bunch of pins that had warm and cool a bit mixed up...) But I did create a board with a few good visual explanations and some effective uses for warm and cool fabrics.

Sign up for the swap here The deadline for signing up is February 13. We will do a "last call" at the February meeting!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Sew-In reminder

Just a quick reminder... our Sew-In is this coming Saturday, January 27th from 10am to 4pm.

Image courtesy of The Spruce

Remember we are back at the CRCS St-Zotique for the sew-ins. We should be in room 215, but please check the board at the entrance to be sure. Bring along your project and whatever you need to work on it, as well as a lunch or snack. We will have coffee, tea and hot chocolate available... please bring your travel mug if you'd like to partake.

For anyone interested in helping, we will be starting to put together quilt tops for the charity project. You just need to bring your sewing machine (or hand sewing toolkit if you prefer), some thread, and everything else will be provided.

See you on Saturday. :)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

January 2018 Mtl MQG Meeting Minutes

January 2018 Mtl MQG Meeting Minutes
January 9, 2018 at 7pm SouthWest Mission, Verdun, QC

Introductions and Welcome

  • Sew-ins are back at CRCS St Zotique in St. Henri 
    • Sew in Jan 27 10:00-16:00 - Debby will do a demo of walking foot attachment as a quilting tool.
  • Next meeting Feb 13th at the Verdun SouthWest Mission as usual

  • Quilting week/semaine de la courtepointe at Club Tissue January 21 – 28.
    • There should be lectures and quilt products featured but we do not have a lot of info yet, we will share it on social media when we do.

  • Twist Festival in August
    • We have been approached by the Twist Festival to see if we would be willing to display some modern quilts at the next installment of the festival in August 2018. Space is limited, they have room for approximately 6 quilts, and due to the way they would be hung, the quilts would need to be lap size (approximately 54"x54") or larger. If you think you would be interested, please let us know.

  • Charm Swap
    • This year's charm swap palette will be: Warm and Cool 
    • Due at the March meeting, participants will bring two sets of 5"x5" charm squares, one cool and one warm. Stacy will be posting details to the blog soon. 
    • If you are interested in participating, please sign up here

  • Skillbuilder presentation - Nathalie presenting Flying Geese (see blog post for details)

Skillbuilder 2017-18 - Flying Geese blocks by Nathalie Forget

The Flying Geese is an easily recognizable simple block that consist of a large triangle (the goose), flanked by two smaller contrasting triangles (the sky). The traditional blocks are usually twice as wide as they are tall.

A similar block can also be created using HST blocks. The Flying Geese block can be substituted by two HST blocks sewn together in a mirror image to form the goose.

The block is a versatile one that is often incorporated in other traditional blocks (e.g. Louisiana block) or is the foundation piece for other traditional blocks (e.g. Dutchman Puzzle block).

Block Assembly

There are many methods for assembling the block and many tutorials available online. Below is a summary of criteria I found for five methods available. This should help you select the most suitable method for your projects. I also include cutting guidelines for the two most commonly used methods and links to tutorials for all of them.

Method 1 - Single Block Construction

  • Traditional method 
  • Can use small fabric scraps with this method 
  • Suitable for directional fabric use and fussy cutting 
  • Best if small number of blocks is required i.e. less than four identical blocks 
  • Some waste of fabric 
  • Good for making improv/wonky versions
Click to enlarge

See the first method of "Flying Geese - Make 'em fast - two methods" by Connecting Threads.

There is a tutorial for a modern wonky version of Method 1 entitled "Modern Monday - Block 18" by Jenifer Dick of 42 Quilts.

Method 2 - Four Unit No Waste Method
  • Newer and most commonly used method 
  • Yields four identical blocks 
  • Cannot make use of small fabric scraps 
  • Can only be used with non-directional fabrics. Not suitable for fussy cutting 
  • Best if a large number of blocks is required i.e. more than four or multiples of four identical blocks required 
  • No waste of fabric
Click to enlarge

Scroll down to the favorite quick method that yields 4 flying geese blocks with no waste of of "Flying Geese - Make 'em fast - two methods" by Connecting Threads.

There are excellent simple diagrams for Method 1 and 2 available in the "Super Simple Flying Geese Quilt Tutorial" by Suzy Quilts.

Method 3 - Four Unit Some Waste Method
  • Similar to Method 2 but with less up-front cutting
  • Helpful if you're not confident in your precision with your 1/4" seams
  • Cannot make use of small fabric scraps
  • Can only be used with non-directional fabrics. Not suitable for fussy cutting
  • Best if a large number of blocks is required i.e. more than four or multiples of four identical blocks required
  • Small amount of waste but more than for Method 2
See Method Three of "Flying Geese - Make 'em fast - two more methods" by Connecting Threads .

Method 4 - Dimensional One Seam (Folded Pocket or 3-D Method)
  • Fastest method to sew
  • Creates a dimensional effect that may be desirable for your design
  • Can use small fabric scraps for the sky
  • Most waste of fabric (double thickness of the goose)
  • The crispness of the point can be difficult to achieve with the double thickness of the goose fabric.
  • The double layer goose may also make the quilting more challenging
Scroll down to Method Four - Dimensional One Seam Flying Geese of "Flying Geese - Make 'em fast - two more methods" by Connecting Threads .

Method 5 - Paper Pieced Method

  • Used for precision for perfect points for traditional blocks
  • Used for curved or wonky setting of the geese
  • Can use small fabric scraps with this method

Flying Geese ~ Perfect Points” by Fresh Lemons Quilts (including downloadable templates)

"Drafting Your Own Paper Pieced Pattern ... Wonky Flying Geese Tutorial" by Why Not Sew

"Release the Geese" by Sarah Bond, Quilt Maker, PhillyMQG

I also include below links to a couple of interesting tutorials for HST Versions:

"Scrap Bin Geese block tutorial" by A Bright Corner.

HST Challenge - Block Two - Dutchman's Puzzle/Wild Goose Chase” by Premium Precuts.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The following design components may be used and combined to give the quilt a more modern esthetic.
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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For more examples and for inspiration, please refer to my Flying Geese Pinterest board

We would love to see what you make, so please share your blocks on Facebook or Instagram, and feel free to tag us and use the hashtags: #mtlmqgskills or #mtlmqgskillbuilder

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Meeting reminder

The holiday sugar high is wearing off and the arctic deep freeze is thankfully easing a bit, just in time to venture outside for our January meeting!

Our meeting is Tuesday January 9th at 7pm in our usual space, the SouthWest Mission Verdun at the corner of Rue Melrose and Rue de Verdun.

We will be announcing our next swap and Nathalie will be presenting the next skillbuilder block, Flying Geese. We will have lots of time for Show and Tell, so feel free to bring the project you've been working on to avoid going out in the cold, or even the awesome quilty item you got as a gift over the holidays.

We will have fresh coffee available so if you'd like to partake, please bring your reusable mug. :) See you on Tuesday!