Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Whirligig Tip-bits

New tools are great. Finding justification for having bought them is even better.  And size does not matter. Here are two tools I've been using to work on my Sandy Klop pattern Flying Circles, which is basically trisected triangles involving a lot of 60° and 120° angles.  My eye is not used to judging those degrees so I am using some tools - a BIG hex tool Hex N More and a tiny multi-angled quarter seam allowance tool Quilters Quarter Marker™.

The pattern is composed of three squatty triangles that join by Y-seams to form equilateral triangles. Six of these equilateral triangles join to make  hexagon blocks. Although this quilt will be chock full of color, I am concentrating on the grey and white blocks for now to develop a consistency in seaming sequence, trimming accuracy, and pressing direction without distracting and confusing myself with color combinations and placement.

The hex ruler worked very well for cutting out the squatty triangles that make up the pieced equilateral triangle blocks.

The small quarter marker tool was great for placing my stop dots for the Y-seams using a fine tip lead pencil and the 120° corner C.

Used with my Olfa turntable, the 60° corner D was very handy for trimming those dog tails off the trio of seamed squatty triangles. I could align the marking access hole along the seam and get accurate corners for the next stage of assembling those six triangles into a hexagon.

I did try aligning several triangles at once and trimming the corners but the effort to re-align them three times, once for each corner, was more trouble than it was worth. Doing them one at a time with the turntable and the quarter marker ruler was more accurate for equal effort.

I do not normally use leader and enders when I sew. I know it is good practice but I usually forget until a corner edge is sucked down into the needle hole of my machine throat plate. Leaders are a good habit with this block assembly though because of the pointy corner lead in. After two or three "down the rabbit hole adventures" at this stage of the block, I was trained.

Pressing direction is a big deal with these blocks. I used a consistent swirl direction for within the triangle subassemblies and a consistent direction for joining those triangle subassemblies to make the whirligig. The center bulk is not so bad since each half-whirligig has been pressed consistently so the seams are in opposite direction in the center. Please notice my white-on-white heart fabric pieces all face the same way. Yay! They may face a different way in another block but the direction will be self-consistent. I've been keeping point-facing hearts (those shown) in a separate pile from opposite flat-side-facing hearts so I do not mix them up within a block.

After seaming the half-hexagons, I used the Quilters Quarter Marker™tool again, this time the 120° corner D to trim the outer corners of the half-whirligigs. This tool has been sitting in my machine cabinet drawer probably for years but I have resurrected it for constant use on this project.

A glimpse of my design wall reveals four complementary pairs of grey hexagons I've completed in the various grey patterns of Moda's line Putting on the Ritz.

I have made an effort to keep myself stocked with a supply of those squatty triangles cut out in multiples of three or six. With cut stock on hand, I can sit down and sew, or press, or trim a bit with random snatches of time throughout the day.

A 2½" strip will make nine squatty triangles but my greys come from a fat quarter bundle. A fat quarter will yield seven 2½" strips but since each strip is only half a width of fabric, it will yield only four squatty triangles. This still gives 28 – a multiple of three with 1 extra – and a whole bunch of half-rectangles that must be good for something.

Linking up with this week's Let's Bee Social #112 ...


  1. thanks for the tip, Your blocks look great!

  2. I don't think it will be long before you'll be the teacher in your quilting classes, instead of the student!

    1. Teaching? Hmmm. At least there would be no test or homework papers to grade, the bane of every teacher's existence.

  3. Hah - after that one class we took at alden lane, I am totally trained to use enders - I love them. Those pinwheel hexagons look great, and I'm glad to see you experimenting in greyscale! It really makes for a sharp quilt, I think, and it's always fun to expand one's palette. Although upon further inspection, is that other colors I see on the horizon....?

    1. Of course there are other colors! Also I am still not brave enough to use solids - even my neutral greys are prints!