Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Sundrop Critter: Vicuna

The newest critter to the Sundrop zoo is Val the Vicuna (also spelled vicugna).  (The "n" in vicuna is the Spanish letter en-yay but I can't find a symbol for it on Blogger.) Vicunas are the smallest member of the camelid family, weighing about 150 pounds when full grown.  They are native to South America where they live wild in the higher alpine regions of the Andes Mountains.  Their coats come in a variety of shades of brown, with white bellies and inner legs, and a white "bib" of hair that is longer than that on most of the body.  Some have legs that are all light in color, especially the lower half of the leg.  And most have white muzzles and white throats.  Some have other white markings on the face or on their sides.  I chose to simplify this pattern and focused on the most important attributes.  (Maybe someday I'll design a more realistic version.)  They also have long, dark eyelashes - the kind we girls envy!

Vicuna fleece makes some of the finest and warmest yarn in the world and is therefore very high-priced, making the vicuna susceptible to poaching.  In the 1970's, their numbers were so low that the vicuna was listed as an endangered species.  Efforts through local people and several organizations worldwide curbed the poaching enough that the vicuna population has grown and is no longer considered endangered.  Organized round-ups are conducted every few years to shear the fleece.  It is then sold, with most of the profits going back to the local communities.

This pattern is free through May 31, 2017 on my website:

Coloring B - perhaps a little more true to nature

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Viruses! Yuck!

Several nasty viruses were going around my area this winter.  I thought I had managed to escape them all, but one of the nastier ones got me near the end of March.  People who had suffered through it before me said that it lasted three weeks and had a horrible way of rebounding if you tried to do too much too soon.  They were right.

I'm over the worst of it now, but the rebounding effect seems to be quite strong so I'm taking my time getting back to work, doing just a little each day.  I have most of April's blocks done, it's just a matter of finishing up the details and doing all the computer work that comes after.  So don't give up on me!  They are coming, with May's blocks hot on their trail!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

New Sundrop Critter: Umbrellabird

I'm a few days late getting the new Sundrop critter up on my website.  Besides the usual internet issues, my mom has been in the hospital for a week so I'm a tad behind on things.  Anyways, Ula and Ulysses, the Sundrop Umbrellabirds, are now ready to greet you.

There are three species of umbrellabirds and they all live in the rain forests of Central and South America.  They have a crest on top of their heads that resembles an umbrella.  If I lived in a rain forest, I'd want a handy umbrella atop my head, too!  Two of the three species are totally black, so I chose the third species, the Bare-Necked Umbrellabird, as my model because this species has a bright red wattle.  The Long-Wattled and Amazonian species have black wattles.  Like the name implies, the Long-Wattled Umbrellabird has a very long wattle, almost as long as its body.

One interesting fact about the bare-necked umbrellabird is that it migrates vertically.  During the warmer months, it lives in high, mountainous elevations.  During the colder months, it moves down to lower elevations.

I may be guilty of exaggerating the crest just a tiny bit to make it look more umbrella-like.
The pattern is free on my web site until April 15.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

3-Dimensional Flying Geese

There's one more method of making flying geese that's fast, fun and super easy, but it does create more bulk and could therefore be a royal pain to hand-quilt.  This method is often referred to as the one-seam method because it only requires one sewn seam to make.  It's fun because the "goose" makes little pockets if not stitched down by quilting.  I think children especially would have fun with a quilt made from these flying geese.

The Missouri Star Quilt Co. has a video showing how to make these units using a fabric layer cake (10-inch squares) collection:
Jenny Doan's One-Seam Flying Geese

In this video by The Quilt Show, Ricky Tims gives more detailed instructions for making smaller flying geese units:
Ricky Tims' One-Seam Flying Geese

If videos are difficult to access, here's a web site that gives step-by-step photos and the basic math formula for making these in any size:
Dimensional Flying Geese
This site also provides a handy pdf version:
pdf for Dimensional Flying Geese

I tried this method using 5" charms and found that two charms make two flying geese with an unfinished size of 2.5" x 4.5".  As noted in the videos, one edge tends to come out a little wonky but it's easily trimmed.  I usually press my seams to one side, but for this method pressing the seam open (for the two "sky" squares) seemed to make more sense.

my test results for one-seam flying geese
I'm excited to play with this method some more as soon as I get the instructions finished for the first block of the For the Birds BOM.  It's taking longer than expected because I've forgotten my way around the software program I use.  Use it or lose it, as the saying goes.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

For the Birds BOM: Flying Geese Units

All of the blocks in this BOM use flying geese units.  My block instructions show the method of making these one at a time, as this is generally the best method when using scraps.  But there are several other methods for making multiple units.  If you decide to use just two or three fabrics in your For the Birds project, you might like one of these methods better.

1. For a handy 1-page pdf that shows three methods for making flying geese units and has the math formulas for making them any side you want, try this link:

2. QuiltersCache also has instructions and formulas for three methods.  There isn't a pdf but the web page prints nicely (on my printer, anyway) as two pages without excessive unnecessary web site stuff.  There's also a link on the page for printable paper piecing patterns in four sizes of flying geese.

3. This site shows detailed, step-by-step instructions for making four flying geese units at a time:
no-waste method to make 4 flying geese

4. Mary Hickey has an ingenious way of making multiple flying geese units using Seminole piecing techniques. Great for making borders, sashing or blocks that require lots of flying geese.

5. Here's another video that shows how to make 20 flying geese units using strip-piecing methods.  Another great method when you need lots and lots of flying geese.

I haven't tried these super-duper methods yet, but I will when the weather warms up enough for me to work in my sewing shed. Right now, I'm still working in my tiny winter sewing station - one corner of my kitchen table.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

For the Birds BOM: Layouts and Fabric Requirements

It's time to restart my For the Birds BOM!  Here's what I posted in 2017 when I started it the first time:

It's time to start a new BOM!  During the two years when nothing seemed to be going right with my health, I frequently found myself muttering, "This is for the birds!"  After a while, my mind naturally started translating that common phrase into a quilt idea that I worked on now and then when I felt well enough to do something.  The time has finally come to take it from paper to fabric!

Like my kitten and puppy BOMs, this one is a combination of piecing and applique.  This time, however, the appliques are on separate blocks.  If you absolutely, positively do not like applique, you can substitute a simple pieced block.  But these appliques are simple silhouettes, so I hope you'll give them a try.

The patterns will include cutting measurements for 6" and 12" blocks for the pieced blocks, and the projects have different layout designs for each size.  In the illustrations below, the rotary cutter represents pieced blocks and the fabric patches represent applique blocks.  Both designs work well as 2 or 3 color quilts or as scrappy quilts with light and dark colors that contrast well.  If making a 2-color quilt, choose a second dark for the medium.

Wall Quilt with 6" and 4" Blocks

This small project uses 6" pieced blocks and 4" applique blocks.  The top (without borders) measures 24" x 26".  You will need:
          light: 1-1/8 yards
          medium: 3/8 yard
          dark: 3/4 yard

Twin Bed Quilt with 12" Blocks 

This design uses 12" pieced blocks with the appliques on 12 of the 6" cornerstones. The top, without borders,measures 60" x 98".

For the 12" blocks you will need:
          light: 2-3/8 yards
          medium: 3/4 yard
          dark: 1-3/4 yard

For the sashing and cornerstones you will need:
            light: 2-1/2 yards
            dark: 1-1/2 yards


I didn't include borders in the layouts above because there are so many ways to do them.  Below is one possibility for the twin quilt.  I colored the borders green and purple to make it easier to get separate fabric requirements in EQ -- I would use colors consistent with the sashing in the actual quilt.

This border is comprised of a 6" rail fence (three 2" strips) sandwiched between two 3" strips.  To make a border like this without piecing the long strips, you will need:
          light: 9-1/2 yards
          dark: 2 yards

However, if you don't mind piecing WOF strips to make the borders, you will need much less:
          light: 3-1/2 yards
          dark: 1 yard

Throughout the year, I  will post other border ideas that are more scrap-friendly and therefore more economical.  You might like one of them better.  Or you can always create your own layout and border ideas.  Let the creative juices flow!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sundrop Critter BOM Returns

Meet Ned, Nora and Nicky, the Narwhal family!

Ned, Nora and Nicky Narwhal

I'm picking things up on the critter blocks right where I left off when I became ill.  Although the first few blocks came out in 2013 and one block in 2014, the complete set of 12 blocks will be called the 2017 set of Sundrop Critters. You can download a free pdf pattern for the narwhals on my website until March 15.  After March 15, the pattern will be available for purchase only.

Adult male narwhals have a large, overgrown left canine tooth that grows through the upper lip into a long tusk.  This tusk has earned them the nickname "unicorn of the sea."  About 15% of adult females also grow a tusk.  Very rarely (like 1 in 500), an adult male will grow two tusks with the right one being shorter than the left.  Unlike other animals that grow tusks, the narwhals tusks are spiral like a screw and have sensory receptors on the outside.

Alternate layout.  The same tusk pattern can be used for the female narwhal.

Most of the articles I read described baby narwhals as being a dark blue-gray color, but they appear to be light colored in the one photo I found online.  I guess we'll have to take our pick and claim poetic license if we get it wrong.  😺