Sunday, May 27, 2012

33 - Mini Lone Star

Tutorial for a 12 inch finished Mini Lone Star 
 Sorry it took so long to get this Skill Builder Sampler tutorial up.  It has been one of the most busy weeks of the year around here, but things have officially calmed down for now.   Knock on wood.  :)

 I really like how this mini Lone Star block turned out - Mine's not perfect, but still, oh so cute.  I think a whole quilt of these would be beautiful.  If you do not wish to piece the diamonds, you can use this tutorial for a LeMoyne Star block and get the same look with less piecing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival - The Chicken Quilt

Blogger's Quilt Festival time has come around again and I wanted to show my Chicken Quilt.  I finished it in December but I am still as in love with it as ever!

I made this quilt for my friend Becca (ok, for her new baby, but really for her).  She loves all things vintage, is an avid reader and baker and keeps twenty plus chickens - it makes our flock of six look wimpy.  :)

I had been wanting to make a red and white quilt since I saw pictures of the the red and white quilt exhibit in NYC last year and the bow-tie block made for a clean classic vintage-y quilt.

I raw edge appliqued two chickens onto the front and another on the back.  It was my first time doing a lot of raw edge applique and I was surprised at how well it went.  This chicken is my favorite!

I machine quilted it with a basic meandering stitch.  It is the first quilt that I had a hard time giving away and I must admit that it lived in my living room for a few weeks before it finally got sent to her.  :)

To read more about Becca and her Chicken quilt check out my original post and be sure to stop in and see all of the other great quilts in the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day!

Giveaway Closed.  Thanks for stopping by!
The winners are #83 and #484

yummy fabric! I recommend Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs detective novels, set in the inter war years and wonderfully written
Thank you for making the giveaway open to internationals xx

Have you read anything by Jennifer McMahon? Her books are a little dark, part fairy tale, part ghost story, and hard to put down!

I decided to jump aboard and participate in the Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day.  It is so much fun to see new blogs - not to mention the possibility of winning some great stuff!

In this giveaway, two lucky people will receive a mini layer cake of Echino fabrics (twelve 9 inch squares of various Spring 2011 Echino prints.)   Perfect for small projects, bags and zipper pouches!

To be entered to win just leave a comment.   If you don't know what to say, recommend a good book.  I am in desperate need of some new reading material!  :)  I love sci-fi, historical fiction and good young adult reads and I have exhausted the supply of decent reading material in our tiny small town library.

Some of the things that I have made recently
Yup, I live in small town Iowa (the corn is just starting to come up!) with my husband, four little girls, cat and six chickens.  I love staying home with my four girls (and another on the way) but quilting provides a welcome creative break from the everyday mom stuff.  I am rather obsessively obsessed.  Somehow quilting is much more fun than washing dishes.  :)

Last year I decided that I need to expand my quilting skills and started the We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler.  The Skill Builder Sampler is a series of quilt block tutorials that teach basic to advanced quilting skills.  The Sampler started last year with basic blocks and skills and we will be making "There-is-no-way-I-can-make-that! Blocks" in June to finish off the sampler.   What a journey!  Feel free to join in at anytime and check out the amazing blocks people have made in the Skill Builder Sampler Flickr Group.

For a second chance to win, hop on over and check out the We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler and tell me what your favorite block tutorial is or what quilting skill you would like to learn.  I would like to continue to post skill building quilt blocks tutorials in the future.

PS.  Giveaway is open to anyone anywhere - just make sure I can contact you!  I will pick two winners on Friday.

Friday, May 18, 2012


I made the next block in the Skill Builder Sampler yesterday and it didn't end up working well.  eek!  I have come up with an alternate block - even better looking - but it won't be up today.  It probably won't be up until Monday or Tuesday.  Sorry.

Amy's Creative Side

But you can drown your sorrows by perusing the Bloggers' Quilt Festival.  Becky has entered her Skill Builder Samplers as an entry!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WIP Wednesday

I have been cutting a lot this week.  I decided to jump into the Patchwork Prism QAL and this is what I have on my design wall so far.  I think I need a bigger wall...  ;)  I was originally going to have the quilt be dark in the center and fade out to light, but it just didn't look good when I laid it out.  I am rather nervous about starting to sew this one.  I have a huge mix of fabrics: 100% cotton, cotton/poly blends, linens and muslins and some of them are going to be hard to sew with, esp. as they are cut on the bias and prone to distortion.  Let's not even mention the fact that I used a template to cut them and template cutting is notoriously inaccurate (well, at least when I am doing the cutting).

Last night I also cut out a huge pile of white squares to alternate with my vintage eye-spy charms.  I have discovered that I need to be listening to something if I am doing a lot of cutting and I have been listening to the Harry Potter series this week while I cut fabric, do laundry, wash the stacks of pots and pans that have built up...  Somehow, listening to Harry Potter makes everything more enjoyable.

 I also finished these improv. fans last week (tutorial here) and sewed them together.  At last!  Do you think it needs a narrow white border on the sides or should I just quilt it up?  I am very tempted just to quilt it and get it done with at this point.  :)

What have you been working on this week?

Friday, May 11, 2012

32 - Hexagon Flower

Tutorial for a finished 12 inch block
 This week in the Skill Builder Sampler we are going to use English paper piecing to make our block.  English paper piecing is a great way to deal with shapes that require inset seams.  Of course, it does mean sewing by hand, but I think English paper piecing is the perfect project to bring to soccer games, the beach or to work on while you are waiting for all of those end of year concerts and school assemblies to start.

When you English paper piece, you baste the fabric to a piece of paper and then whip stitch the edges together.  There are many ways to baste and sew, but I will show you my personal favorite way to English paper piece - perfected in the piecing of this quilt (80 inches square now!!!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Girl and Her Japanese Quilt

Last week we went in for an ultrasound and found out that we are having a healthy baby girl!  This will be girl #5 for us.  My husband is hopelessly outnumbered with all his little girls, wife, 6 hens and a female cat.  Poor guy.  ;)

But now that we know that it is a girl, I can officially start sewing baby things!  The only problem is that I am not in the mood for sewing with a bunch of pink.  I want to use all the special fabric that I have been saving.  Great idea, huh?  Only it happens to be gender neutral/boyish.  Oh well, people never seem to pick up on gender clues anyway.  I don't know how many times I have taken my baby girls out all dressed in pink and someone congratulates me on my baby boy.  ?!? is baby quilt #1.  I made it with about half of the 5 inch Japanese Charms I received in two swaps last year.  It is made out of 4 super-sized granny square blocks.  It was relatively fast and easy to piece.  The slowest/funnest part was laying out the squares and rearranging them until I was pleased with the layout.

 The blue block.  I love the frogs, fruit and owls!

 The red block.  I tried a lot of different fabrics and placements for this block.  I ended up cutting some of my own Japanese fabric to have enough red to make the outer round.  I think the fabric placement/contrast worked out well.

 The green block.  This block layout came together fast, except for the pesky center square.  I'm still not sold on it, but it was the best looking option.  I am loving the Echino cars and blue Scandinavian inspired prints.

 The pink block.  At first pink was going to be the outer round in this block, but it just didn't play well with the other block colors.  I like the final layout and the pop of brown in the center.  The pig and reindeer fabric are too cute for words.

And there it is!  Baby Girl #5's Japanese Squares blanket!

I'm linking up with Amy's One Thing, One Week Challenge.  My goal was to finish this quilt top and I did it!

Friday, May 4, 2012

31 - Cactus Flower

 Cactus Flower - a 12 inch finished block.
  This week's block in the Skill Builder Sampler will allow us to practice inset or y-seams.  I had never tried inset seams before this block and I have to say that they aren't as bad as I thought.  With a bit of marking, pinning and careful sewing inset seams are not a problem.

Inset or y-seams are used when three pieces of fabric need to be sewn together and a simple straight seam won't do.  Faith from Fresh Lemons wrote an excellent tutorial about y-seams.  Her pictures and explanations are very clear and I would encourage you to read her post before starting this block.


Background Fabric (white):
3 - 2.25 inch squares
2 - 2.75 inch squares cut on the diagonal
1 - 5.25 inch square cut on the diagonal

Flower Fabric (reds):
4 - 1.75 inch diamonds

To cut a 1.75 inch diamond, cut a 1.75 inch wide strip of fabric.  Make sure that the side is cut at a right angle to the top and bottom

Line up the 45 degree angle mark with the side of the strip.  Cut along the ruler.

Move the ruler over so that the 1.75 inch line is even with the edge of the fabric and cut.  Repeat the process for all 4 diamond petals.

Leaf and Stem Fabric (green):
2 - 1.75 inch diamonds (use the process outlined above)
1 strip of fabric 1.25 x 6 inches cut on the bias

The straight of the fabric or grain runs parallel to the selvage.  Cutting on the bias mean cutting the fabric at a 45 degree angle to the straight of the fabric.  In this case, the exactness of the angle isn't too important.  Simply cut the corner off of the stem fabric at an angle, move the ruler over 1.25 inches and cut the stem strip. Cutting this strip on the bias allows the stem to be easily curved and shaped.

Inner border fabric (red):
4 - 2x7 inch strips

Border Corner Pieces (green):
2 - 4 inch squares cut on the diagonal


 Mark each of the 2.25 inch squares in one corner, the 2.75 inch triangles at the right angle and all of the diamonds.  I marked all 4 corners on my diamonds, but you really only need to mark the obtuse/large angles.

To mark the fabric pieces, line up the 1/4 inch line on the ruler with the edge of the piece.  Make a mark with a pen or pencil at the corners.  Move the ruler to the other edge of the piece.  Again line up the 1/4 inch  line with the edge of the fabric and make lines near the corners.  This line should make an X with the previous line.  If it does not, go back and lengthen the lines until they cross.

 Lay out the pieces as shown.

 Sew the 4 diamond "flower petals" together.  Pin two adjoining pieces together.  Sew from the quarter inch line on the obtuse angle to the edge of the fabric on the acute/pointy angle.

 To sew, place the needle down right where the marking lines cross.  Take two slow stitches forward.  Back stitch two stitches, then proceed forward to the end of the diamond.

 Take the pieces out of the machine and trim the threads.  You should be able to open up the top of the seam.  Repeat this process until all 4 flower petals are sewn together.  All of the top seams should start 1/4 inch in and all the petal diamonds should all be sewn together where they come together to a point.

 Trim off the excess fabric at the point.  Now we are ready to sew the background square and triangles to the petals.

 To sew the middle square in, open up the petals and wiggle the marked corner of the square down into the seam allowance, keeping the edge of the square lined up with the edge of one of the diamond petals.  The goal is to line up the middle of the X on the square and the middle of the X on one of the petal diamonds.  To make sure that the X's line up, poke a pin straight through the X on the square.  If the pin comes out in the middle of the X on the diamond, the pieces are lined up.  If it doesn't, keep adjusting until it does.  Sew from the X (remembering to back stitch) to the end of the fabric.

 Open up the seam.  Line up the other side of the square with the adjacent petal.

Move the excess fabric out of the way, and pin to the adjoining petal.  Sew from the X to the edge of the fabric.

Do as I say - not as I do.
Repeat this process and add the two triangles to the two remaining spaces between the petals.  Refer often to the layout so that you don't end up doing this!

 To make the stem, press the edges of the 1.25 x 6 inch strip under so that the strip is approx. 1/2 inch wide.

 Sew the edge of one of the leaf diamonds to the left long edge of a 2.75 inch background triangle.  Sew from edge to edge.  Press open.  Pin the stem to the opposite side side of the triangle, parallel to the leaf diamond.  (I left a space between the stem and the leaf diamond, but if I was to redo it I would butt the stem right up to the leaf diamond.  I think my stem looks rather silly.)

 Sew the other leaf diamond to the other long edge of the triangle, catching the stem in the seam.  Sew from edge to edge on this seam also.

 Next, sew the leaf unit to the bottom of the petal unit.  Sew from X to X as marked above.

 Sew the side squares between the petal and leaf unit using your inset seam skills.  These are the last inset seams of the block!

 Once the side squares are set in, sew the large background triangle to the bottom of the flower unit.  Be sure to move the stem out of the way so it isn't caught in the seam.

 Press the large background triangle away from the flower unit, and press the stem so that it forms a nice curve that ends just to the side of the bottom corner.  Pin the stem in place.

 Using a small zig zag, stitch along each edge of the stem to attach it to the background.  Make sure the thread blends decently well with the color of the stem.

 Trim off the excess stem.  Wow!  The hardest part is done!  The block should measure 6.5 inches at this point.  If it doesn't, don't worry, we will be adding borders and can make up for any size problems in the final border.

 Sew the 2x7 inch inner border strips to all 4 sides of the block.  Make sure that the excess fabric is even on each side of the block.  The border fabric will stick out by about 1/4 inch on each side.

 Next stitch the 4 inch half square triangles to the corners of the blocks.  The first time I sewed on a corner, I just laid the fabric a 1/4 inch above the corner of the main block with the corners overlapping the border and sewed it didn't work that well.  It is very easy to get a crooked triangle this way.

 I would suggest trimming off the excess corner fabric before sewing on the corner triangles.  To do this, line up the corner of the main block with the 1/4 inch vertical mark and a horizontal inch mark.  Lining up the corner 1/4 inch away from the edge of the ruler makes sure there is enough room for the 1/4 inch seam.

 Make sure the ruler is at the correct angle by lining up the inch line from this corner, through the middle of the block and to the opposite corner.  Cut off excess fabric.  Center the border triangle along the newly cut edge and sew.  Repeat for all four corners.  Press towards the border triangles.  This square should measure 9.5 inches square.

If your block measures 9.5 inches square, cut strips of  fabric 2.5 inches wide and sew them to all four sides of the block. If your block is smaller than 9.5 inches square, cut the strips of fabric 3 inches wide.

Trim the block to exactly 12.5 inches square and give yourself a pat on the back!

Ahh.... I love it!

Please let me know if there are any steps that aren't completely clear.  This is quite an involved block and tutorial.  It is very possible I might have overlooked some detail.  Enjoy!  I can't wait to see your blocks!