Cutting the Meadowland with an Accuquilt

Anyone who knows me knows that I am just creative enough that I can’t follow instructions. Recipes? I always add something or put in a little more of this or that. So, knowing this about myself, I decided last month that I was going to do Then Came June’s Meadowland Quilt-A-Long 2.0.

I bought the pattern.

I found the fabric. I am using a fat quarter bundle of Lori Holt’s Granny Chic from Riley Blake. It is much more “old-fashioned” looking than my normal fare, but one day last fall I was at The Quilting Basket in American Fork and this fabric sample sang to me. Seriously. I just had to buy it. And it has been mocking me ever since.

So here we are at today. The first day of the QAL. I am supposed to iron and cut my fabrics. I think. I didn’t get the e-mail newsletter that I thought I had signed up for, so I signed up again. Anyway. . . it is cutting day. I was stressing about this part because I am not super accurate with my assortment of Olfa rotary cutters. It’s not their fault. Despite having tried every fix known to man, my ruler sometimes slips just a little and things get wonky.

And then. . . I saw that some quilt store in Omaha was having a “Cut your Meadowland with an Accuquilt” day last weekend. Several people had offered to pay the cutting fee to get the list of dies needed for the quilt, but there had been no response that I could see. I immediately thought, “I can do this myself!” (Right now my husband would be muttering “Of course she can. . .” if he were not at work.)

Traditionally cut block according to the measurements in the Then Came June pattern. Came out a bit small. Finished size should be 16.5″

I started figuring out how to make the block with the 9″ Qube dies that I own. I bought my Accuquilt last spring at our local quilt show and I love it, but I haven’t really used it enough. I have been struggling with “quilting elbow” lately from cutting those 391 pillowcases, so I have been dreading cutting out Meadowland.I had just figured it all out when I got a message from Stephanie Jacobson. She figured out how to cut this pattern with the 8″ Qube and some other Accuquilt dies and put together a great handout. Contact information for her will be found below.

You need to understand that unless you have the 8” block set, your blocks are not going to come out to the 16.5” blocks that have been designed lovingly by Meghan for you. You can NOT use the 9”, 10” or 12” dies with the prescribed fat quarters, but if you wanted to buy extra yardage, you could do it.

This block was cut using (mostly) my Accuquilt 9″ Qube dies. It should be 18.5″ but came out about 1/4″ small. Clearly I sew generous quarter inch seams. Please ignore the ugly scrap fabrics!!!

If you have the 8” Qube set and you OWN THE MEADOWLAND PATTERN, you should contact stephjacobsondesigns through Instagram. Make sure you like her page. She came up with a brilliant list of how to cut the Meadowland using Accuquilt.

If you have a 6”, 9”, 10”, or 12” set, send a selfie of you and your pattern to me at OhKayeQuilting@gmail.com and I will send you my tips for cutting this awesome pattern with the Accuquilt. Please understand that I have only tested the 9” Qube blocks, but the instructions should work for the other sizes.  

Here’s the naked truth. . . when it came down to the rubber meeting the road, I really wanted to use my fat quarter pack, so I chose to use the cutting diagram that came with the pattern. And it wasn’t that hard. Just a little scary. My rulers stuck like glue and my new Olfa blade cut through that fabric (even 6 layers) like a hot knife through butter. (impressed with that over usage of similes? Just you wait. . .)

They are cut! It was much easier than I thought. Tomorrow, we sort!

Wrapping Up Pillowcase Palooza

These lovely ladies responded to the newspaper article.

On January 1 I started my birthday service project of making pillowcases to be donated to Utah Foster Care. My first goal was that I would personally sew 62 pillowcases- two for each day of the month. Then I started thinking a little bigger and mused that maybe I could get some of my friends to sew we could get 100 pillowcases done. My secret goal was 200 pillowcases. . . but I didn’t dare utter that craziness to anyone!

The project grew beyond my wildest dreams and we have done some serious good.

Here are some stats from the project:

  • 52 people come to my house during the month to help sew pillowcases.
  • 5-6 people sewed at home and donated completed pillowcases.
  • 12 people donated fabric. A couple of people donated a LOT of fabric. And I used EVERYTHING in my stash that was not specifically earmarked for a project that was over 27″ long.
  • 6 people donated money to the project equaling $440.00.
Some of the young women from my church came and sewed.
They (with a little help from their leaders) made 43 pillowcases

I am pretty good at organizing events, but I did learn some things that could help someone else who is interested in sponsoring a similar event. This is a good place for me to collect my thoughts in case I need (or want) to do this again!

  • Before you start, contact the charity and make sure there is a need. I had two groups who were interested. It may end up that both groups get pillowcases since we made so many!!!
  • Set your schedule and use Sign Up Genius to allow people to sign up for specific time slots. I used both 1 and 1.5 hour slots depending on the day. I had sewing days on different days of the week and at different times throughout the day so that people had more opportunities to find a good fit. I collected e-mails so I could send out a reminder complete with directions to my home on the day before the shift.
  • Post about the event on social media. We had an article in the local newspaper and that brought in five volunteers that I didn’t know. Post links to your website and to the sign-up page.
  • About 20 minutes before the end of the shift announce that it is time to shift the focus into finishing all the pillowcases that are already in the pipeline. That may mean that people need to help at a different station. Do not run long. Volunteer time is valuable. If they are having fun they will probably sign up for another shift.
  • I had 5 machines set up on my 14′ dining room table (yup. . .it is big.) There was plenty of room for additional machines on the days when people brought their own machines. I covered the table with felt backed vinyl tablecloths and had extension cords and power strips in the middle of the table. We used two sergers, two domestic machines (that had zigzag stitches) and one Singer Featherweight that only does straight line stitching. Most of the time we were only using 3-4 machines.
  • We had the ironing station on my kitchen counter and the trimming station on a folding table in the middle of the kitchen. A full-time pressing person is really helpful.
  • It is best to have the fabric ready to go. The main part of the pillowcase was cut to 27″ x WOF. The cuff was 9″ x WOF and ironed in half the long way so that it appears to be 4.5″. I had coordinating main pieces and cuffs folded up together and standing in a Rubbermaid tote so that people could grab a few and take them to their machine. I did not let anyone take “kits” home because I didn’t need to and because I didn’t want to have to chase people down.
  • I used shopping bags from JoAnn to organize the completed pillowcases. 50 fit nicely in a bag. I was a little neurotic about how the pillowcases were folded (I refolded after the shift) because it made it much easier to count and store the pillowcases. At the end of the event, I packed them into boxes so that they were stackable.
  • Try to keep yourself free- you may need to give sewing lessons, thread machines and fill bobbins.

My First New York Beauty Blocks

A couple of months ago I was issued a challenge at Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild. We were given a vintage quilt block and the only rule was that we need to use the block in a new project. We can use the block as is or deconstruct it. Even though the block is super wonky, I want to use it as it is because I am partial to LeMoyne Star blocks.

I spent a few weeks thinking about how I wanted to incorporate Mr. LeMoyne, and then I started playing in Electric Quilt 8. Somehow I ended up hitting upon this design that uses New York Beauty blocks. One would think that I was confident about curves and foundation paper piecing, but no… I haven’t really done much paper piecing and absolutely no curves.

I printed this out of EQ8 and I have had it hanging up in my quilt room for over a month. I gathered the fabrics that I thought I wanted to use, based on the fabrics in Mr. LeMoyne. And then I did nothing. I was so intimidated that I just couldn’t get out of my own way to get started.

Finally last week I printed the patterns and got them photocopied. (For some reason I could only print one in EQ8. I must not understand how to use that option.) On Wednesday I finally mustered up the courage to begin.

Although I am truly not an expert at these techniques, I have learned some things that might help you if you decide to try New York Beauty blocks. You should search YouTube and watch several tutorials on paper piecing. I won’t go into the basics here- just my impressions of struggling and finding work arounds.

  1. I like to keep some extra paper around the cut lines of the pattern. It doesn’t have to be a lot- I typically had about 1/2 inch. It gives you some room to hold on to things and you end up with a nice clean line when you trim the block at the end.

2. I begin sewing at the cut line, down the printed line and to the next cut line. If you don’t do this you may end up with some holes in your blocks. When you flip the piece to trim it, you will have to gently tug the paper away from the 5-6 extra stitches but that is no big deal- you are done with that line anyway. BTW- make sure you set your stitches a bit smaller than usual. On my Brother Innovis I use the 2mm stitch length.

3. I think it is important to press EVERY. SINGLE. SEAM. I know. . . I know. This seems like overkill, but it makes your blocks come out so beautifully. This would be a big pain if you have to keep getting up and down. I rearranged my space to the left of my machine so that I could sew, press, and cut without having to move. That said. . . GET UP AND MOVE once in a while. Walk and stretch- it is important for your neck and arm muscles.

My paper piecing set up. Everything is close together. Make sure you do NOT iron on your cutting mat. And keep the remote control close.
When you sew all the way to the cutting line you will have to ease the paper down gently by tugging it away from the stitches before you trim.
I really enjoy using the Add-A-Quarter ruler when I am paper piecing. I have it in two lengths.

4. There is no secret to piecing the curves. The little ones are tight and a bit tough. I pin the center and both sides and then ease the fabric together. I made the mistake of trying to start the edge with the pin still in, but my machine was not happy about that, so when I put the fabric on my machine I take out that first pin. The others can be removed as you go. By the time I got to the 15th and 16th blocks, I did not pin the outermost band on the blocks- and they eased in beautifully. In fact, I think they look better than the ones I pinned.

Here’s what I know- these will not be my last New York Beauty blocks. It was fun to do the paper piecing and I am excited to finish the outside piece of the blocks- once I decide what color I want. I expect that this wall-hanging sized quilt top will be finished today or tomorrow. Stay tuned to see the top as soon as I am done!

Day 1

Allyson, Becky and I had a great time sewing together!

The first day of Pillowcase Palooza was a BLAST.

For the first session there were only three of us, but it gave me a chance to get in the groove of how to explain things and how to have things set up. We made 7 pillowcases in about 50 minutes.

At the afternoon session there were five of us sewing for about an hour. Becky came back because she had sew much fun and we added Nicole, Wendy, and Kami (who is here visiting from New York). We knocked out 18 pillowcases and further refined the process by starting to do some assembly line work. Wendy spent most of her time trying to make one of my sergers (the poor thing is at least 17 years old) work, but we never did have success-despite the fact that it had been sewing like a champ for the three weeks previous. Oh well.

Becky, Wendy, Nicole, and Kami working on pillowcases during the afternoon session.

Kami and her mom Teressa helped out between session cutting more fabric because choices were running short. Can’t have THAT! I was so grateful to the ladies who brought fabric with them. Your choices were adorable.

Things really ramped up during the evening session as Carey, Melia, Moriah, Lisa, Janene, Teressa, Julie and I got down to business. Although we were down a serger, we persevered. Several of the ladies became professionsal Burrito Pillowcase makers. That made the seam at the cuff have no raw edges and then we used the serger to go down the side and bottom of the cases. Except Julie. . . who is a dynamite seamstress and managed to do beautiful French seams on my little 1939 Singer Featherweight.

The funniest part of the night was that ladies who are usually calm and laid back were all of a sudden competitive and wanted to make sure we had beat the afternoon session before they could pack up and leave. My heart was warmed by the two teenagers who came and did a beautiful job sewing and adding to the joviality of the evening.

I am so grateful for each of these ladies who cam and gave of themselves to add a little sunshine in a child’s life. You immensely brightened my day, as well. At the end of the evening the tally was 49!