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.   (scroll down for instructions)

Edited (4/15):  The Skill Builder Sampler will soon be available for purchase in book form!  It has been renamed "You Can Quilt!  Building Skills for Beginners" but covers the same skills with the easy, medium and challenging blocks and is a million times better than the original quilt along.  It is perfect for the beginning quilter or the experienced quilter who wants to branch out and learn new skills.  Find more information and pre-order a signed copy in my Etsy shop or pre-order on Amazon.  The Skill Builder Sampler tutorials will remain up until the book is released.  After release, some will be removed.

Cut four strips of fabric 1.75 inches wide and 23 inches long.  Cut two of the same color.  This color will be the middle ring of diamonds.

Out of background fabric, cut four 4 inch squares and one 6.25 inch square.  Cut the 6.25 inch square on the diagonal to form 4 triangles.

Sew the two strips that are the same color to the other two strips with a scant 1/4 inch seam.  Press.  Measure.  The strips should be 3 inches wide.

Cut the end of the strip off at a 45 degree angle.  Move the ruler over and cut at the 1.75 inch line.  Repeat down the length of the strip until you have cut eight units.  Repeat the process for the other strip.

The diamonds strips now need to be pieced together as shown above.

Lay the two diamond segments right sides together with the points overlapping the edge of the fabric.  They should overlap 1/4 inch in from the edge (see picture below).  Also, if you hold the unit up to the light, the seams should cross 1/4 inch below the edge of the fabric.

Sew all eight units together.  Notice how I will start sewing at the V formed by the fabric 1/4 inch from the edge.

Press the units open.  Take a second to measure your diamonds.  If laid on their side they should be 3 inches tall and the length of each side should be 4.25 inches.  Trim to size if necessary.

Mark each obtuse/large angle with an X one quarter inch from the edge.

Mark the background fabric triangles on the 90 degree corner and mark one corner of each of the squares 1/4 inch in.

Lay out the fabric as shown.  Sew two of the diamond units together.  Sew from the 1/4 inch X at the obtuse angle of the diamond to the end of the fabric at the point.  Remember to back stitch at the beginning of the seam.   Repeat for all four units.

Next sew a large triangle to the diamond unit.

Fold one of the diamonds down to expose the 1/4 inch gap.

Lay the triangle on top of the diamond.  The points of the triangle and diamonds should line up and the quarter inch Xs at the base should also line up. Sew from the point of the diamond down to the X.  Back stitch.  (If you have to choose, line up the Xs.)

Adjust the diamonds and line up the other side of the background triangle with the opposite diamond.  Again sew from the quarter inch X at the base (back stitch) to the point.

Repeat for all four diamond pairs.  This is what your block should look like at this point.  Next sew two of the two diamond units together to form a four diamond unit.  Remember to start sewing at the quarter inch  X.

The next step is to sew in the square.

Again, open up the seam and sew from the point of the star down to the quarter inch X and back stitch.  Bring the square fabric over to the other edge of the diamond, move any extra fabric and seam allowances out of the way and sew from the edge of the fabric down to the X again.  Repeat on the other half of the block.

Next sew a square to the side of one of the diamonds.  Start at the 1/4 inch X and sew out to the edge.  Press.

Repeat for the other side of the star.  The block should look like this now.

Lay the two sides right sides together and sew along the star from one 1/4 inch X to the other back stitching on both ends.

Bring the edge of the square over to the diamond and sew from the 1/4 inch X to the edge.  Repeat and press.

If the block is larger than 12.5 inches trim down to size.  (Thankfully some of my wobbly edges could be trimmed off!)  This is a time consuming block so just take your time and remember...

You Can Do It!  :)

One June 8th we will start on our three weeks of "There-is-no-way-I-Can-Make-That!" blocks.  Does anyone have any blocks they would like to nominate?  We will definitely make a Mariner's Compass style block.  My husband thinks they look cool and has been telling me I should make one for years and I have been responding with, "No way!  Too hard!  You make it."   :)

What have you put off making because it was too hard?  

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!