Kaleidoscope Quilt Blocks

Yesterday, I teased you with this image, telling you that it was used in my recent seminar at the University of Kentucky. Probably some folks have already figured this out – either by looking at my Events Calendar, or because you recognized the elements of a Kaleidoscope block from your own work.

For those who don’t know what a Kaleidoscope block is – here’s a very simple explanation: It is a block that works just like the toys we’ve probably all played with at one point or another. One view of a piece of fabric is ‘mirrored’ 8 times to create an octagon of that pattern. And the repeated image gives you a completely different view of the fabric than you had when you looked at the full piece of fabric uncut.

Now, if that sounds frightening to you – don’t worry. As always I have some hints and tips that will make creating such a block MUCH easier for you. And those of you who have made such blocks in the past may want to consider trying these tricks, they will probably save you some serious frustration! And we all want quilting to be more about fun than frustration.

My first suggestion – use a quilt template that is designed for making Kaleidoscope blocks. Yes, there are many triangle templates on the market, and you can probably get away with using one of those – but there is a certain simplicity to the work when the tool you are using is designed for the job you want to do.

I use the Marti Michelle Quilt Sense ruler – called the Triangle Kaleidoscope ruler.

As you can see, it has markings on it for various size blocks and the 90º angle is perfectly designed for the corners of a traditional kaleidoscope.

It’s a bit hard to see in this image, but the lines tell you what size the BLOCK will be, not how tall each triangle will be, so you don’t have to stop and use your calculator (mental or physical) to determine what size triangle you need to cut to create the finished block size you want. This makes preparation so much easier. The blue lines on the bottom of the triangle (as it is facing in this picture) are designed for measuring the width of the strips you will be cutting before you start your triangle cuts that will be sewn on the corners of your block (burgandy fabric).

All in all – a great tool, and a wonderful time saver. As I said earlier, the right tool can make a big difference in your project.

Now, on to the basics of the cuts.

Step one, carefully cut eight strips of your fabric so you can line the design up on each piece of fabric so it lays directly over the one below it. (This way, when you cut your triangles, you will have eight triangles that have the exact same fabric repeat showing.) Lining the repeats up is probably the most time-consuming part of cutting the fabric, but the end results make it well worth the effort.

Step two, now that your fabric is aligned, pin the fabrics together using a flat quilting pin (such as the flat flower pins from Dritz that I mentioned in an earlier post). This will allow your ruler to lay right on top of the pin without rocking because of the pin head (thus making your cuts straight).

Step three, line the template ruler up so you get the proper repeat showing through the ruler, and trim away the excess. After this is done, with the template still in place, cut your triangles. You will now have eight triangles of the same image – just as in the teaser picture I showed you (see top of this post).

Step four, cut your corner blocks – there will be four of these for each kaleidoscope. After you have cut these, you can sew them to your triangles. On the end of for of the repeat triangles, add your corners.

Step five, begin to sew your block together, start by making one half of the block, sewing each triangle into place separately.

Once you have half of the block sewn together, sew another half block together, and then sew the two halves together to create a full block.

And here you see the completed block (not nearly so much yellow in the picture this time), and the paisley block that will be it’s companion in the quilt. I’m very pleased with the way these turned out!

See? It’s really not that difficult when you have a few hints to guide you. If any of you are thinking about purchasing the Kaleidoscope ruler by Marti Michell, I recommend that you take a look at this book as well, it was made as a companion to the ruler – and has some wonderful patterns and eye-candy of the quilt variety!

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing
Sheila

Tips on Using Photo Print Fabrics

Today, I’d like to expand a bit on one of the products used in yesterday’s DYK post on June Tailor printer fabrics.

I have been making photo fabric quilts, pillows, purses, etc. for about 6 years now, and I have always been impressed with the Colorfast product from June Tailor. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with this product.

I have told so many people that if you want to encourage a young person to start sewing, just use a printer fabric to include a picture in the project and they will love sewing. It is so easy to put a picture of their dog, favorite friend, first car, etc. Personalize their project and you won’t be able to stop them from making more projects.

Since I started my daughter with the pictures she has made 5 queen size photo quilts with 48 pictures each as well as lots of other smaller quilts. She makes almost all her gifts, and several projects are sewn. Next week you will see a quilt she is making to give to a friend.

I was on the road traveling so I asked her to take some pictures of the process of putting a photo onto the colorfast product. Her response was why not create a label she will add to the back of the quilt she is currently making? Great idea!!

Stayed tuned for next week to see her complete finished project, but here are the images she sent me in making her lable.

  1. Decide on pictures or writing you want.
  2. Use email, file transfer, scanner, (you get the idea) or create the image you want on your computer. (Just because I am calling it photo fabric, don’t forget that anything you can print on your printer at home can be printed onto this fabric.)
  3. Resize the image to the size you want the finished product to be.
  4. Put sheet of fabric photo sheet with paper on the back into your printer. IMPORTANT: Needs to be an inkjet printer – most current home printers are inkjet, but double check if you aren’t sure what you have. Optional – you may want to do a test print of your finished image before printing onto the colorfast sheet.
  5. Print the image.
  6. Let the ink dry.
  7. Peel paper backing off
  8. Rinse fabric with design under water.
  9. Let dry – (I let dry on a terry cloth towel)
  10. Press
  11. It’s now ready to sew into your project!

Give this a try – you’ll love it and the results!

Here are some other projects I’ve seen recently using photo printer fabrics

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Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing
Sheila

DYK (Did You Know) – June Tailor Print Fabrics

D.Y.K. – Did You Know? icons

You want to personalize your project with pictures and/or words, but what June Tailor product do you buy? There are symbols to help you on the package – In the upper right corner, look for an iron or sewing machine, telling you how the product is applied.

Colorfast Printer Fabrics

  • Some Available Colors/Styles
    • White, 3 sheets (JT-900)
    • Cream, 3 sheets (JT-980)
    • White, 10 sheets (JT-9610
  • 100% Cotton Fabric
  • Sew into project
  • Print on Ink-Jet Printer
  • Great for memory quilting projects because it’s washable

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Computer Printer Fabric

  • Some Available Colors/Styles:
    • White, 4 sheets (JT-901)
    • Cream, 4 sheets (JT-902)
  • Fabric is not as thick as the Colorfast Printer Fabric, more like quilting cotton fabric weight
  • Sew into project
  • Print on Ink-Jet Printer
  • Great for memory quilting projects but it is dry clean only

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Quick Fuse Inkjet Fabric

  • Some Available Colors/Styles:
    • White, 3 sheets (JT-930)
    • Cream, 3 sheets (JT-940)
  • 100% Cotton Fabric
  • Iron-On
  • Great as an embellishment such as on sweatshirts, school bags, purses, etc.
  • Print on Ink-Jet Printer
  • Recommended Care – Hand Wash

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Print ‘n Press – (Transfer Product)

  • Some Available Styles:
    • 3 sheets (JT-908)
    • 10 sheets (JT-909)
  • Iron-on
  • Must mirror image your design
  • Print on Ink-Jet Printer
  • Great for embellishing on clothing, purses, aprons, etc. – it is machine washable

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Copy ‘n Press – (Transfer Product)

  • One Available Style: 3 sheets (JT-907)
  • Great for light colored projects
  • Can be used with color copiers
  • Copy photos, drawings and more

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Art-Wear Design Sheets

  • One Available Style: 3 sheets (JT-903)
  • Print on Color Ink-Jet Printer or can be colored with Markers or Crayons
  • Iron-ON
  • Machine Wash

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You’ve Been Framed

  • Some Available Styles (2 per pack):
    • Sports (JT-886)
    • Hugs/Kisses (JT-887)
    • Rectangle (JT-888)
    • Oval (JT-879)
  • 100% Cotton Fabric
  • Iron-ON
  • Color Inkjet Printer
  • Hand Wash

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Which products produce mirror images? – the transfer products: Print ‘n’ Press and Copy ‘n’ Press. To avoid a backwards image on your final project with these products, have the copier or printer ‘flip’ the image.

Can I print on a Laser Printer? – Laser printers use too much heat for fusible papers and fabrics. Your backing may be activated by the use of a laser printer, jaming the machine or ruining your print-out.

What is the best way to wash Colorfast printer fabric? – Machine wash, gentle cycle, with cold water and fabric softener. The fabric softener will act as a cleaning agent. This will allow the fabric to maintain the coating that protects the printed image.

Does Computer Printer Fabric have to be dry-cleaned? – Yes, the fabric is dry-clean only and is sensative to water, because your ink is a water based ink.

How can I avoid paper jams with Computer Printer Fabric? – load one sheet at a time into the printer.
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing
Sheila