Monday, November 24, 2014

How do you ... Test Blocks

I'm a firm believer in test blocks. No matter what. Test block test block test block.

Test blocks are a way for me to try out the pattern without committing to a full quilt. If I'm using someone else's pattern, it's a way for me to make sure I fully understand the directions. I also like to audition colors to see what's a match and what, ahem, only looked good in my head (hello design wall!). Everything looks good in my head!

After I've sketched out a quilt design on paper or by computer, I find it absolutely crucial to make a test block. By making the block, I can see what challenges may arise as I'm actually cutting and piecing fabric back together. Through the test block, I answer what's the best way to make this block (and often there are several!).


If the quilt sketch is a map, then the block is the walking of the trail.

The test blocks pictured here are from my Hexy Plus quilt pattern. I made the solid ones first, allll the way back in June! Then feeling confident, I excitedly made some "real" blocks from some Anna Maria Horner fabric and Denyse Schmidt fabric.

Hexy Plus Test Blocks

My "real" blocks quickly became a second round of test blocks. Can you see my error yet? This is a classic example of why I make test blocks!

So, yes, the error is in how I lined up my cutting template with my block. I lined up the plus sign the wrong way and ended up with a slightly tilted plus sign. Whoops.

Here's the correct version...

Hexy Plus Test blocks

And here's the incorrect version...

Hexy Plus Test Blocks

And all that time while I was making my "real" blocks, I wondered why I was missing a bit of fabric. Mistakes are such great teaching tools. I guess. And it's only fabric. I guess.

So what about you? Are you a firm believer in test blocks? Or is that what improv is for?

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Bryan House {A history lesson}

The name of my blog "Bryan House Quilts" has been with me for quite a while - long enough that I forget it's origin and significance. Today I thought I'd share where I got the idea for the name.

Once you know that my last name is "Bryan", you may hear Bryan House Quilts and not think any more of it. But there's a wee story behind how I got the name - nothing crazy - but a story none the less.

Once upon a time there was an enormous battle over an enormous issue. That battle was The Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War and of course the issue was slavery in America.

Amidst that enormous battle was one man - a widower with five children. Abraham Bryan (Brian), a free black man and farmer to land that would one day be commandeered by war. During the battle, on July 3, 1863 his house, the Bryan House, was occupied by Union Forces and Abraham Bryan was not on the premises. Though his property was significantly damaged, he rebuilt his farm in the years after and lived there until 1879.

(source: Library of Congress)

Fast forward a century, a few decades, and a few years and you will find me and my husband along with my dad and stepmom and half-brothers exploring Gettysburg for a family vacation. I, being newly pregnant, was quite sick and it was so so so hot. Thus, I had little comprehension of anything other than my deep, visceral desire to find a spot to lay down. So I didn't know anything about this simple, white house, other than the fact that outside the house stood a quaint little placard. The placard read in simple lettering "BRYAN HOUSE."


And me being the complete girl I am, pondered in my nauseated and overheated misery, the potential family my husband and I were building. Instead of a Bryan House affected by war, I could only see a Bryan House filled with the echoes of my prayers for our family.

And so fast forward a few more years to when I started this little blog, I could only think to name it Bryan House Quilts. Because the name (still) represents my hopes and prayers for my family. Coming from a family of divorce, I truly wanted (and still desire!) a strong family for me and my husband and my kids. One of my deepest desires is a strong and secure family, THE Bryan House. :)

So that's where I got the idea for the name of my blog and what it means to me.

In writing this post,  I've learned the history behind the actual Bryan House (it's about time!). And I thank you for reading!

Now if the smallest residents of The Bryan House would be quiet and go to sleep...


Thursday, November 13, 2014

300 Posts! {Thank you Sale}

I've reached a milestone on my blog! 300 blog posts! Woo hoo! What a strange way to feel old!


To celebrate I'm offering 25% off patterns in my shop now through the weekend. Just enter "300POSTS" at checkout in my shop.

Collecting fall leaves. I love the red ones!

I also just want to say thank you for following my blog and reading my posts. About 6 years ago, I moved from St. Louis to Houston. I didn't know many people and didn't have my group. It was a pretty lonely and unhappy time as I struggled to find my people. Now, moving from Houston back to St. Louis, the transition has been less lonely. I think a large part of that is this little community here.

And? If we ever chance to meet IRL (that's in real life for all of us not up on the digital speak) this is me in a nutshell:

Look I'm in a nutshell! (Filling out a survey and I've found myself, finally.)

And also remember "witty" is a loose description of the jokes I try to crack. :/

So thank you! And remember, enter "300POSTS" when you check out at my shop.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

An update on my Pickledish Quilt {WIP Wednesday}

Since moving into our temporary apartment (If you haven't heard, we are moving from Houston to St. Louis.), I haven't been able to get my sewing machine out at all. But I have been working on my pickledish quilt.

I wasn't sure if I was going to machine or hand stitch it, but the move kind of decided for me. I knew I would have a nice chunk of time to do hand work.

Pickledish quilting

Instead of basting the quilt with my normal pin basting method, I decided to have my friend Pam baste it on her long-arm machine using water soluble thread. Once I'm finished quilting and binding it, I will soak it in the washer and (hopefully) all the basting stitches will dissolve. Or something like that!

So these pictures are deceptive because you can see the meandering basting stitches. But if you look carefully you may see my hand quilted stitches in some pictures. Can you see them in this picture?

Stitching under a quilt is quite cozy! #handquilting #quilt #denyseschmidt

I wasn't sure I had the skills to bind this quilt because of the crazy inside corners. And since the quilt is so well basted, I decided to bind the quilt before I invested too much hand quilting.

Before I quilt this #pickledish baby in it's entirety, I want to make sure I can bind the durn thing. Since its basted so well (essentially its meandered with water soluble thread) I think it won't be a problem.


Coming up on a pivot. I love bias binding. #pickledish #denyseschmidt #quilt

Double Yikes!

As with a regular inside corner, I snipped the inside corner to 1/4'' to better manipulate the pivot. With a regular inside corner, you can pull the edges straight when you snip the corner. But not with this quilt. Needless to say, it took some wrestling.

So to bind the inverted corners on my #pickledish #quilt I snipped each inside corner by about 1/4 inch. (Can you see where I did it?) This makes it easier to manipulate under the walking foot.

Happily it worked pretty well. Here's a preview of how the corner will look when it's finished.

This is the rough draft of what the fold/miter thingy will look like. I'll take more pics of what I did mañana. #quilt #pickledish #denyseschmidt

Yah! I finished the binding. This is probably the longest binding I've ever attached by hand. Here's a preview of how the quilt will look all finished (this picture still has the basting stitches!).

Pickledish quilting

Ok, now I can get back to hand quilting this beauty without worrying if I'll be able to bind it. I was really kinda nervous; but I'd gotten this far I was going to bind it one way or another!

Pickledish quilting

There's nothing like hand quilting under a snug quilt in cooler weather. And I cannot tell you how much I love floppy, curved edges on quilts. Love it!

Pickledish quilting

Thanks for reading!

I'll be linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

You may be interested in...