Saturday, August 20, 2016

Spring Bloom Block Tutorial

After I posted pictures the spring blooms quilt I made last spring, I received a lot of requests for a block tutorial.  It's been slow coming, but here it is!

Fabric and Cutting

For a single 10" block you will need:

      4 - 4" squares assorted scraps (A) (I used different prints of one color)
      4 - 2" squares background (B)
      4 -  2" x 4"  background (C)
      4 - 2" x 5 1/2" background (D)
      4 - 2" squares green (E)

I made my flowers from scraps,  but I used just one fabric for all my block backgrounds to make the blooms float on the quilt.  It might be interesting to use a variety of neutral scraps for the background and see how that looks.  If you give that a try, please share a picture!

Pressing instructions

As much as possible, I plan my pressing so that seams will nest when I join units. I find my corners match better when I do this.  If you follow the pressing directions as given, you will be able to nest any seams that meet within the block, as well as when you join blocks together side by side without sashing.  I don't know about you, but I love it when that happens!

Piecing Instructions
1. Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of each 2" square (background and green).

2. Place a background square B on one corner of a color square A, wrong sides together.

3. Sew along the marked line. Cut the corner off 1/4" away from the sewn line. 

4. Fold background fabric back to fill corner.  Press.

5. Position the unit with the triangle at the top right corner.  Sew a background C on the right as shown. Press towards C.

6. Place a green square E on the right end of one background D, with the marked line starting at the top right corner.  Sew along the marked line.  (I find it works best to sew towards the corner rather than starting the seam in the corner. When I start at the corner there are even odds that the corner will get caught up in the needle plate.)

8. Cut the corner off 1/4" away from the sewn line.  Fold background fabric back to fill corner.  Press.

9.  Sew the DE unit to the ABC unit as shown.  Press towards the ABC unit.

10. The quarter block unit should measure 5 1/2" square. Repeat steps 2-9 to make 3 more units.

11. Join pairs of quarter blocks as shown.  Press seam to the side with the green triangle, as indicated by the white arrows in the picture below.

12. Join the two halves to complete the block.

13. Press half the seam towards the green triangle in that half of the seam.  Press the other half in the opposite direction, towards the green triangle in that half.  In the middle, on both sides of the center point, use your fingertips to push gently in the directions that you pressed.  This should open up the seam at the intersection of the four blocks into a little four-patch.  Press. 

You now have a completed Spring Bloom Block!

 Make a few more and decide whether to set them in a straight set or on point, with or without sashing. Just play and have fun with your Spring Blooms.  OK, it's currently late summer, not too long until fall, but if you start soon you can have them for next spring!

This one has blocks set on point with no sashing.

Linking up with
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Friday, August 19, 2016

How I label my quilts

I've been asked recently how I label my quilts.

Answer #1:  Label my quilts?  Oops!  I missed that step on the last few, and more before that...

That earned me a lecture.

Answer#2:  When I do remember to label, I use a square of muslin folded into a triangle sewed into the back corner of the binding.

That answer earned a blank stare, so I thought I'd share a short tutorial.  I don't claim to have come up with this method. I've seen it in various places and I don't remember where I saw it first, but I really like its simplicity.  The simpler it is, the likelier I am to do it!

Start with a square of muslin or other light colored fabric and fold it in half diagonally, right side out, to form a triangle.  Press to get a crisp folded edge, and write whatever information you want to include on one side.  I usually include the name of the quilt, name of the pattern and designer, who made the top and who quilted it, and a date.  If it's a gift I might add a message to the recipient as well, or note the occasion.

The size of the square depends on how much you want to write on the label.  I usually err on the larger side and trim down if needed after I have written what I want to include, leaving at least a half inch beyond any writing, and keeping that bottom point nice and square (90 degrees).

Tuck the triangle into one corner of the quilt, on the back, matching raw edges.

Pin the label in place.  Pin and sew your binding to the front of the quilt as usual.  As you sew around the quilt to sew on the binding, the raw edges of the label will also be sewn to the quilt.

Turn the binding to the back and sew it down as usual.  You can also hand stitch the folded edge of the triangle to the backing if you wish.  (I say if you wish, because if you sew a triangle like this to both top corners of smaller quilts, they can be used as little pockets to slip the ends of a hanging rod into.)

There you go.  A nice, tidy, easy label.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Small element, big difference

Isn't it funny how a small thing can make a huge difference? I've had a love-hate relationship with this little quilt.

I loved my fabric choices and loved making the blocks.  I hated the way the fabrics played together IN the blocks. (Blocks are from "Chic Sisters" by Sew Kind of Wonderful.)

The pinwheels didn't pop as much as I had hoped. The white and grey prints seemed to disappear where they met the light aqua and yellow.  These blocks were supposed to be joined to make a table runner for a shop sample, but I thought it just looked like a busy mess.

I toyed with a square layout, and tried to figure out what to put in the middle.  Another pinwheel? An applique? An hourglass block?  In the end the blocks sat in a drawer for a few months.

Over the summer I wasn't very inspired to sew.  It wasn't just because summer activities beckoned.  I just couldn't think of anything that I really wanted to work on, and there were no ideas at all percolating in my brain.  At the same time I missed sewing. I finally decided I needed to just push through and finish a few things and see if "clearing the decks" would spark a bit of inspiration.  This project definitely needed to be "cleared"!

My boss at the shop suggested a 3 x 4 block setting with some sort of diagonal element tying the two halves together, so I played around with a few layouts, with different shapes to fill in the extra 4 blocks.  What I came up with was OK, so I sewed it up. Next I struggled to decide what to quilt.  I wanted something simple that wouldn't compete with the pinwheels.

You can guess that I used my trusty walking foot again.  My first thought was to quilt parallel vertical lines top to bottom, but in the end I decided the quilt needed a little something more so I switched to horizontal lines behind the light pinwheels on the teal/yellow background. Then just a wee bit more: how about diagonal lines in the yellow slash?

By this time I was liking the quilt a bit more, but still wasn't excited about it. I had planned to use "faux piped binding" to bind, just to add a little something extra to a borderless quilt.  The tutorial gave me a wider binding than I usually use and it ended up covering up points on the edge of the quilt.  At 10:30 pm, I was frustrated, back to the "hate" part of the relationship, and I took out the seam ripper to take it off, trim the binding to a narrower width and sew it back on.  But, at 10:31 pm I decided ripping could wait until morning and I went to bed.

In the morning, rested and refreshed, here's what I noticed:

Cute kitty cat faces peeking over the edge of the quilt.  Oh yes!  The binding stayed just as it was!  Those cut off points were really not central to the quilt design anyway.  They were just part of the background.

And there we go.  The kitty cat binding saved the quilt.  It was just the right width and cuteness to pull it all together for me.  I'm back to "love"!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Why is it August already?  Did time steal a few days (weeks)?  I guess I've been too busy enjoying summer and family to notice the time go by.  But it is in fact August.  The profusion of blooming Black-eyed Susans in my gardens proves it.

Black-eyed Susans:  my reliable August bloomers

We made a lovely road trip back to Canada, swinging through southern Ontario, then through Qu├ębec on our way to family in New Brunswick, and since we were up there we thought we might as well go on up to Prince Edward Island since the kids had never been there.  DS got to visit the Stanley Cup in Toronto, DD enjoyed Green Gables and the Anne of Green Gables musical in Charlottetown and DH and I enjoyed the unplugged family time.  I won't give you a stop-by-stop review of our trip.  I'll just say it was fabulous.

Back in the sewing room, I have been uninspired so I worked on clearing my small pile of UFOs.  To start, I finally sewed the binding onto my very yellow quilt and it is now on my bed. I added pillow cases to match.

I like it and DH likes it, but now I have a "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" situation.  (That's a great kids's book, for those of you who haven't had the pleasure!)  The quilt looks great, but the blue walls don't go as well as I thought they would, so I need to repaint.  The blue wall hanging won't look great against the new paint, so maybe I'm thinking about a new quilt for that wall.  Then of course the blue runner on the dresser will be the only touch of blue so maybe that will need to be replaced too... I'll keep the pooch though!

I made a quick little purse to replace my previous one, which had a frayed strap and holes in the corners. It was time!  I'm a fan of small purses, just big enough to carry my wallet, phone and keys, and I like them to have a cross-body strap so I don't set the purse down somewhere and walk away without it.

New purse

I also finished up a variation of Sew Kind of Wonderful's  "Chic Sisters" pattern.  Last spring I offered to make shop samples using the Quick Curve Ruler for the shop where I work. I finished the runner and table topper a couple of months ago, but this Chic Sisters one stalled at the block stage.  My boss didn't want the full quilt, just something to show the curved blocks.  The original plan was to make a runner, but the blocks didn't pop in that so they just sat for months. We finally decided to turn them into a baby quilt, I played around with a couple of layouts, and I finally have a finish. Looking at my pictures I see that most didn't turn out very well, so I'll leave you with a small taste and go take more pictures to share tomorrow.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Blooms finished and gifted

Now that the blooms quilt has safely arrived at its destination (and 3 days earlier than I often does that happen?)  I can share the finished quilt.  Ta da!

I bet you didn't see the elephant coming! Apparently, when you administer CPR and you do it right, you leave the lucky person feeling like an elephant ran over their chest (which is good even though it sounds awful, because it means the person is still alive to feel).  That is why the person who performed CPR last January gets an elephant on her quilt.


Most of this quilt was quilted with my trusty walking foot.  I considered trying freemotion in the sashing, but in the end I preferred crisp straight lines that remind me of a trellis.  Next I considered freemotion in the petals.  That was the part I picked out several time before settling on straight lines radiating from the flower centers.  I'm sure in some other hands FMQ could have worked out beautifully, but it just wasn't soaring in my hands!  Have I mentioned I love my walking foot?

The only part of the quilt that has free-motion on it is the elephant, and I forgot to take pictures of that.  Ooops!  Trust me, the paisley pattern is gorgeous and flawless...

Now I'm off to do something with this little guy:

Gotta have backyard security to chase the rabbits away from the blooms!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Still working on blooms

I'm still working on the flower quilt.  Let's just say that this quilt did not have any strong suggestions about how it wanted to be quilted so I spent a lot of time staring at it, thinking and drawing a blank.  The quilt didn't start talking until after I had quilted a few blooms.  Then it had very strong opinions about what it didn't like.

I didn't quilt all the blooms before listening to the quilt's protests, otherwise I might have just pitched this whole thing out the window.  I did try about 4 designs on various blooms that ended up being picked out.  I really hate picking out quilting stitches, especially the really tiny tight ones I get when  my foot on the foot pedal and my hands moving the quilt around aren't working together very well for even freemotion quilting

In the end I decided less was more and that the walking foot is my friend, despite the quilt wrestling involved to change directions.  Lots of walking foot quilting happening over here!  The sashing is all done and I think about 1/4 of the blooms are quilted as well.  Now that I have a plan that I can live with I think it will go more quickly.  I hope so!  I am ready for this one to be done!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

More blooms

As usual, it is taking me longer to finish a quilt top than I anticipated.  However, today I finally finished all the blocks for this flower quilt.

I work tomorrow, so this will sit on the design wall for a few days.  That's probably a good thing.  It will give me time to ponder the color distribution. There are a few blooms I would like to move, but then that bumps something else, which results in two blooms of the same color being side by side....  In the end, I might leave it as is...or I might have a stroke of inspiration and change something around.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying more blooms in the garden.

I do not know why the trumpets of the daffodils are three different colorations.  They were all the same last year and the year before!

Also a few scattered tulips.  We have lots of greens, but the bulbs are on their last year, I think, with many producing leaves but no blooms. We lost track of time last fall and didn't get new bulbs planted.

Then we have the volunteer blooms.  Oops.  I'm sure there were not this many last year!  Part of me says "Oooh, pretty yellow carpet!".  The other part of me says "Give it a day or two and the blooms will wilt and all you'll see is UGLY!"  So we have started pulling dandelions, one small section at a time.  We hesitate to use weed killer since the Rosie dog roams free in the fenced back yard.

We have a lot of these pretty violets in the lawn too.  And you can see the clover there too...Sigh.  Individually it's all pretty.  Take it all together and it looks a messs :(

Maybe I'll stick to looking at each individually!