Monthly Archives: July 2013

Guild Challenge: Block of the Month 2013

My quilt guild does annual challenges of various sorts.  In years past they’ve done star challenges & design your own stay at home round robins.

This year we chose to do a block of the month that would be taught by a guild member & we would somehow to have to incorporate our focus fabric.  We chose the dark peacock print from Kate Spain’s Cuzco line.

This was our 1st block, Lizard Ridge:

Notice how um, bright it is?  Yeah, surprised me too!  Wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, but it has grown on me overtime.

Our 2nd block was Beacon Light & I tried to go more subtle:

& yeah, I hate it.  Thought I would come to like it, but no.  It’s going to have to be redone.

The 3rd block was Next Door Neighbor:

Now this I like, but I’m not in love with it.

The 4th block was Crown & Star:

As hard as it is to work with these bright of fabrics, I really like this block.

The 5th block was X Quartet:

I like how I used the focus fabric in this block, but the green & pink make me think of watermelons every time I look at it!

The 6th block was Eagle’s Nest:

Now while I’m not a fan of pink or purple or how I used the focus fabric- I really like this block!

Here they are all together:

Not so bad all together, but that Beacon Light is going to be have to be redone ASAP!  It stands out like a nasty sore thumb!

Even though I hem & haw every month over this project, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do- push me beyond my comfort zone.  Not only am I making blocks I wouldn’t typically sew, I’m working with a completely unfamiliar color palate that requires me to look at blocks in a new way.

So while this may not be my favorite quilt (so far, who knows how it will look in the end), this quilt is my challenge to see the ordinary in a new way.  To look at lights & imagine a dark; to change to position of a focus fabric.  And really- if I start to look at blocks this way, I wonder how I will start to see other traditional things in my life.

Tuesday Tip! 4-Patch Trick

Today’s Tip is a quick & easy way to make two 4-patch blocks from two squares!  This is a handy tip to have in your back pocket if you have a charm pack or layer cake laying around or just a lot of square scraps.

Start with two different squares of fabric the same size.  In this example I’m using 5″ squares:

Layer them with their right sides together:

Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance on right & left sides:

Cut the block in half (so I’ll cut it at 2 1/2″) but make sure your cutting line is parallel to your sewing lines!

You now have two separate blocks:

Press the new blocks open.  I pressed both to the green fabric which was my dark:

This is what they look like on the right side, lay them in front of your so that the center seam is horizontal with the dark fabric on top:

Now take the block on the right side & rotate it so that the light fabric is on top:

 
Take the block on the right side & flip it over so that it is on top of the left block, with the right sides together:

You’ll notice that the fabrics are now layered opposite each other & the center seam should nest:

Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance on the right & left sides again.  Your new stitching line should pass through the center seam:

Now cut the block in half again (I’m going to cut at 2 1/2″):

And you’ll have two separate blocks:

Press the seams using the spinning seams trick you now have 2, 4-patches!  If you used 5″ squares like I did, your squares will be 4 1/2″:

I hope you find this tutorial helpful- it’s a great way to use up scraps!

Tuesday Tip! Get a Mouse

Have you ever had that nasty rat’s nest at the beginning of your sewing on the backside?  Maybe it looked something like this?

or this?

This is jumble of threads happens because of too-short threads at the beginning of sewing being pulled into the machine.

One way to avoid this is by using a “mouse”.  (This is what my friend Laurie calls it.  Honestly I have no idea my it’s called a mouse anymore, it’s just a term I use now.)

A mouse is a small piece of fabric folded in half (think a 2″ square size small) that is used at the beginning of your sewing to hold those threads & keep them from being sucked into the machine.  Here is one of my well loved mice:

How it works:
I start with a small piece of fabric that I center under the presser foot so that the needle will enter the fabric about in the center:

Then I start sewing off the mouse & continue until I’ve reached the end:

Now I pick up my presser foot & give a little tug to the mouse to pull it aside:

Now I set my quilting pieces in place to start sewing (Notice I did NOT cut my thread!):

Now it’s business as usual until I’m done sewing when I will end will another mouse.  Next I cut my pieces apart & will trim off the first mouse:

I usually have at least two mice going at any given time- one for the beginning of the sewing & then one for the ending (which is great because then when you’re ready to start again, you’ve already got your beginning mouse!)

I hope you enjoy this & that you find using a mouse as helpful as I have!

Quilting Class: Strip Pieced Table Runner

Can you believe it’s time to start quilting for fall?  It may seem early, but September is going to be here in only a month and a half!

Next Monday, July 15 at 6pm at A Quilting Place, I will be teaching this strip pieced table runner:

This is a fantastic piece that comes to together easily with a few tricks, but looks like you put much more work into it!

Don’t particularly want a seasonal table runner?  No problem!  This also looks great with a variety of different fabrics for a design to match your decor. 

In this beginner’s class, you will learn tips for successful strip piecing as well as working with bias.  Call Jackie at 402.884.2096 to sign up & receive your supply list!

Check out my classes for more upcoming events!  I look forward to working with you!

Tuesday Tip: String Quilts, Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of the String Quilt Tutorial!  (Part 1 is over here.) Do you have your blocks ready to be trimmed?

We are going to trim the 7″ blocks down to 6 1/2″ & the 13″ down to 12 1/2″.  That way you can combine the blocks for a great scrappy quilt!

The example I will show you here is for the 7″ blocks- but the same theory will hold for the 13″ blocks.

Start with turning your string block upside down, with the strings going from the top right corner to the bottom left corner (that is if you’re right handed):

Now we are going to setup our ruler for trimming.  Right handed quilters will want to first trim the square on the right side & top.  Place a square ruler (my favorite is the 9 1/2″ square by either Omnigrid or Creative Grids), on top of the muslin foundation with the numbers starting a 0 in the top right corner.  Make sure the muslin base extends far enough to the left & bottom to pass the 6 1/2″ mark:

Go ahead & with your rotary cutter, cut the right side & top.  Remember to always cut away from yourself.  Your block should now look like this:

Next you will take the ruler off so you can rotate your block to trim the other two sides.  Take the newly trimmed corner & place it so that it is now in the bottom left corner.  Place your ruler on top of the block & now you will align the 6 1/2″ markings to the left & bottom sides.  You should have muslin extending from the top & right of the ruler:

Now go ahead & now trim the right & top sides:

Congratulations!  You have a completed string block!

To get an idea of what they look like together, here’s a pic of a string quilt I quilted last year for Quilts from the Bluffs.  I love the scrappy goodness:

Lastly, please consider making some of these blocks for Quilts from the Bluffs: Children’s Square String Block Collection.  These blocks will be made into quilts that children will given immediately upon entering their new temporary home at Children’s Square.  Our members have seen firsthand what receiving a quilt can do to these children’s spirits- join Quilts from the Bluffs as we work to help enwrap these children in love.

Hearts a Flutter Longarm Quilting Designs


Some of the quilting designs I use just make me so happy!  This pattern is called “Hearts a Flutter,” by Lisa Calle & it looks beautiful on quilts! 

I love the movement, the flowy hearts, the curls- it’s a great design for feminine quilts that isn’t too formal.

(Also, here’s the front, just a simple panel quilt, but the pattern makes it lovely!  This is for Quilts from the Bluffs.)

Quilting for Good: Quilts from the Bluffs String Quilts for Children’s Square

Happy Friday everyone!

I’m very excited to start a new series called “Quilting for Good.”  Quilters are a giving people.  We’re always making things for others whether that be quilts, sewn items, or the food we make.  (example, have you ever been to a quilter’s potluck?  Seriously they have the best food!)

So in this series, I want to highlight some of the great service projects quilters around the world are organizing so you can also be a part of helping others.

The Project:
Quilts from the Bluffs (a local quilting ministry) has taken on the project of making string quilts for the Children’s Square home in Council Bluffs, Iowa (just across the river from Omaha).  These quilts will be given to the children who live there to have as there own.

This project is not only close to home for me in terms of location, but the true heart of the project is dear to me because of my time working at the Boys & Girls Club of Alaska.  I worked in a clubhouse in Anchorage that mostly supported foster children.  This led to me work first hand with children who had just been separated from everything they knew (parents, siblings, extended family, village life) & dropped into city life with new people and unfamiliar customs.  Most of them also came only with the clothes they were wearing.  Working with these children and helping them transition into their new lives made me see how the most vulnerable in our society can be ignored and how their individuality can easily be put aside.

These quilts for Children’s Square will be given to those children in transition.  A quilt they can take with them as they navigate the foster care system and life.  We may not be able to work directly with those children, but we can give them a quilt made from love- a patchwork quilt made of many blocks from many quilters. 

How to Help:
To assist in this effort, you can make string blocks using the String Block tutorial using 7″ and 13″ foundations (please leave them untrimmed) and send them to:

Quilts from the Bluffs
3118 Gold Rush Road
Council Bluffs, IA 51501
Or bring them to the monthly quilt day the second Saturday of each month.
20794 Iowa Hwy 92
Council Bluffs, IA 51503

Please consider giving some time for this project, this project is unique because Quilts from the Bluffs isn’t asked for a whole quilt- just blocks.  We quilters are very busy with many obligations, but we can find the time to make a block or two for these children.  Volunteers with Quilts from the Bluffs will trim these squares, piece and complete these into 72×84 quilts for this project.
To see some quilts they have already made, check out these posts from Quilts from the Bluffs:
Another String Quilt Top
Delivery to Children’s Square
February 2013 Quilt Day Reminder
String Quilts in the Making
String Quilts for Children’s Square

Thank you so much!

Tuesday Tip! What to do with those Leftover Strips, Part 1

Because you all have been so wonderful & patient with me missing the last two Tuesday Tips- the next two weeks are special ones!   A quilt block tutorial on how to use those random leftover strips!

String Quilt Tutorial

You know those strips you have leftover after finishing a project?  Where the directions told you to cut a 2 1/2″ strip to subcut for only 5, 2 1/2″ squares?  And you needed to do that for all five fabrics in the quilt?  This is a great way to use those strips & thereby creating a “free” quilt top!

First start with pre-washed muslin as your foundation base.  Cut this into either 7″ or 13″ squares. (I’ll explain why these measurements later):

String Quilt Tutorial

Now take your first strip & lay it right side UP across the middle diagonal of the block.  The strip should be long enough to cover both points.  Note that this is the ONLY time you will place the strip right side UP:

String Quilt Tutorial

Now take your next string & place it right side DOWN on top of the first strip, making sure the long edges of the strip match.  Notice that the second strip is long enough to over the muslin:

String Quilt Tutorial

Now sew that with a 1/4″ seam allowance and press open.  Next you are going to lay a strip on the other side of the center strip:

String Quilt Tutorial

Sew that strip down & this is what your block should look like:

String Quilt Tutorial

Pick a side to continue building upon.  I chose the “left” side:

String Quilt Tutorial

Now what do you do if your strip is a little long, like this one:

String Quilt Tutorial

Very easy!  Just give the strip a little trim to make it the size you need!  But don’t throw away that excess, you may be able to use it in the end:

String Quilt Tutorial

Now continue along, adding strips to both sides of the block as shown in these photos:

String Quilt TutorialString Quilt Tutorial
String Quilt Tutorial

And ta-da!  You have a string block!

String Quilt Tutorial

Here is a 13″ block complete:

String Quilt Tutorial

And here is a block that uses strips at random.  It may look odd here, but in a quilt full of these, it has a great scrappy look!

String Quilt Tutorial

So go make lots of string blocks!  Also consider making some for Quilts from the Bluffs Children’s Square Project!

Next week I’ll show you how to square up the blocks & I’ll hopefully have some pictures of completed string quilts!  Enjoy!

*Update*
Here are other other String Quilt posts:
String Quilt Tutorial Part 2
Quilting for Good: String Quilts for Children’s Square

Linking up with:

Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom