Saturday, January 1, 2011

free piecing study - january - block 1 - mondo bird

catchy title, huh?

this month we are making two blocks - a mondo bird and a log cabin house. next month we will make one block and then continue alternating the number of blocks until the end of the study. today, i will show you how i make a mondo bird. let me remind you that what i share in the blog is how i make blocks, not necessarily the right or only way.

mondo bird? i like to put black and white stripey legs on my birds, and i named them in honor of mondo from season 8 of project runway.

i had a few questions about what fabrics to pick and how many. i picked two plus black and white. molly picked 5 plus black and white. it's up to you. you could go completely scrappy if you want and maybe use one strong color to tie them all together. i picked pinks and oranges with black and white.


with the mondo bird block, i always need the picture in front of me otherwise i forget what i'm doing next. this pattern was originally in a book. i saw a quilt that someone had made from the pattern, and i new that i wanted to make some birds too. simple paper pieced patterns are wonderful for free piecing. it's like a road map. it tells you about how big of fabric pieces you need, where the pieces go and in what order to piece them. kinda like paint by numbers but we're painting outside the lines : )


after you select your fabric (i ended up using two more pinks), you can cut your fabric. i cut out a black and white wing shape roughly in proportion to the size of the block. i would have cut it bigger, but i was limited by the width of the piece of fabric i had. notice that i cut a width of orange background fabric to match the wing. you probably want specific measurements for cutting. sorry. knowing how much to cut is part of the learning curve that will eventually become easier. i often have to cut more fabric because i under estimate how much i need. i always ere on the side of too little and often just squeak out a block. you can ere on the side of too much and then just add the extra to your scraps.


cut two rectangles of "breast" fabric (i used pink) to sew onto the wing. i also cut a black triangle for the beak. what a honkin' beak! but a lot of fabric disappears in the seam allowances of triangles. the pointier the triangle, the more fabric you lose. and now sew! cut off the extra background fabric that will be under the new fabric when you press it up. you might want to check if you sewed on enough fabric first - just turn up the fabric you just sewed on and see if it covers the bottom fabric. if it does, cut off the extra bottom. if it doesn't, seam rip that fabric off and start over with a bigger fabric or adjust where you put it on the wing.


now press your fabric pieces in place.


trim up your pieces. cut a breast piece slightly larger than the wing. sew it on. press.


lay your wing over the background piece you cut to accommodate the wing. cut a rectangle atleast an inch longer than the wing. then with the wing sitting on top of the background fabric, lay your ruler over the wing, line up the edge of the wing with the ruler, cut the background fabric to match the wing. throw the background fabric piece that was under the wing into your scrap pile, and sew the other piece onto your wing.


and press.


now sew your beak on. this is one of the trickier spots. you will either end up with a honkin' beak, a sliver of a beak, or a perfect beak. takes practice. and remember - there is nothing wrong with using your seam ripper. i see the seam ripper like an eraser. nothing wrong with erasing. we're not perfect. i sewed my beak piece on at an angle to put a little wonk into my bird. then i trimmed off the extra. then press.


do you see the top point of the top pink triangle? your seam will be 1/4 inch above that. i keep that in mind when i am placing my beak.


this picture shows where i trimmed everything up to add the top background piece. when i trim, i lay my ruler 1/4 inch from that top point of that top little triangle. before i cut, i pivet my ruler around on that point to see how it affects the size and shape of the beak. when i'm satisfied, i cut. then sew a background piece to the top. and press.


the legs are the next tricky part. only tricky if you are trying not to waste fabric.

when you are free piecing, until it becomes second nature, a lot of thinking is involved. you have to think a step or two ahead. is the part you are sewing now (for example the legs section) big enough to fit the part you have already sewn (for example, is the background fabric long enough to fit the body section of the bird?)? it's always ok to add more fabric, but you don't want lots of smaller pieces sewn together when you could have thought ahead and used a bigger piece. did that make sense?


then sew the rest of your background on. i always make my blocks a little bigger and cut the extra off. i try not to be too wasteful. some of you might be cringing at the thought of waste. here is my reasoning: if the part you cut off is big enough to use, put it in your scrap bin. if the part you cut off is too small, then i call that piece of mind. it's the "price" i pay for not driving myself crazy trying to be perfect. it's a price i will gladly pay.

as i sew along, i keep checking the size of my block to the size i want it to be finished. again, this is part of the learning curve. to me, the bird i made is too small for the block. and his legs are too short. i don't like how he floats in the middle of the block with so much background around him.


so i did a little seam ripping and a little cutting, and added a "wonky" border of pink. i find it more visually appealing. i always make my blocks a little larger and cut the extra off. i don't have to worry if my block is big enough.


here is the back. i wanted to show you that even though we are free piecing, we still should sew good 1/4 inch seams, press well, and trim threads! we're free piecers not sloppy sewers!

now make one for you and one for your partner. or two for you if you don't have a partner. need a partner? check out the flickr group in the study partner thread. i would love to see the blocks you make using this tutorial! please post them to the flickr group!

i'm not going to write a book or sell patterns. i'm offering these tutorials free for you to use. but my big ego does like credit, so please link to this tutorial if you share about it. and please don't sell my tutorials. this should be a community of sharing and learning not a few quilters making a buck at the expense of others. gee, did i just get out my soap box?

hopefully the other tutorials wont be so long. the bird block is a trickier block to make. the other block we are making this month is the log cabin house. i have a tutorial on flickr for that already. check the sidebar for the link. i do plan on blogging about that block with some more tips about free piecing if you want a little more guidance.

have fun! let me know if you have any questions!


edyB said...

Oh goodie ~ a cute free from bird. Thanks for the tut!

susan said...

Thanks so much sarah. Im really excited to make my first bird!!

Bec Clarke said...

How wonderful, I am so looking forward to this project. I have trouble free piecing as I feel that everything just looks wrong so hopefully I can just do and not critisise myself.

Teresa Rawson said...

God I love these birds...I have a bad cold and they make me happy just looking at them.


In stitches,
Teresa :o)

Hope said...

Can not wait to make this! I hope I get time this week!

Turid said...

Thank you very much for this. Tomorrow I'll start sewing this block. Fun.

Quilty Conscience said...

I did two today. Totally fun! Different sizes, different colors. Tomorrow I'll see if I can do one facing the other direction. I don't like the leg placement on my redwing blackbird. Haven't decided yet if I'm going to redo. Thanks for the study and great tut! Toni

Michele Bilyeu said...

Cute bird, Sarah! I am adding it to my ongoing list of Liberated Blocks, Letters and Tutorials.I've got a great collection going with quite a few animals, but we needed another bird and this one is different enough from Lynne's birds that it deserves its own little nest...Mondo is stylin' for sure! It will be fun to see what else the group comes up with!

Unknown said...

Sarah, is there any way I can contact you privately? I'd like to join this study group but can't yet.

Sarah said...

sure priscilla, just leave your email as a comment. since i moderate the comments before they are published, i won't publish your email. i'll email you.

Unknown said...

"LOVE your mondo bird!" I am a big bird lover and I want to make a quilt with different coloured birds of the garden. Thanks for the inspriration. I'm going up to my "quilting room" right now and pick out colours for my birds. Thank you.

Laney said...

What a cure block! Thanks for the tutorial.

jovaliquilts said...

Love the bird, and especially love your fabric choices! Thanks for sharing just how you did it.

eileensideways said...

i love the bird tutorial. i am addicted to twitter so i am anxious to make a "twitter" bird.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pjwould said...

Hey Sarah,

Oops -- just saw that my message containing my e-mail address was added to these comments. Would you mind deleting that comment, or at least my e-mail address? I can't do it, alas.

tartankiwi said...

Just a quick note to say thank you! I had great fun following your tutorial. If you are interested I blogged about it here:

Jodi said...

I love this little bird! As a matter of fact, I made one for a mini quilt for Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative but I need your permission to send it in. I can't seem to find a way to email you but I did send you a private message via Flickr in hopes of you granting me permission to use your design for the sale of the mini quilt. Please let me know if there is a better way to contact you. Thanks!