• 22Mar

    It’s the beginning of a new season and that means a new block for my Facebook page A Quilt Block A Day!  The page is fun to follow.  The idea is that even if you’re too busy to make a new quilt, you should be able to find time to make at least one quilt block a day.  At the end of the quarter, you’ll have about 90 quilt blocks!  Not everyone makes a block a day.  Some do seven a week, or a handful when they find the time, but it’s still fun.  I always do a tutorial for the new block and during the quarter I post lots of inspiration—and so do those who follow the page.  So, click on over to the Facebook page and click “Like” so you can follow all the fun, too!

    This time, the block is the Chevron.  There are many ways to make a chevron quilt.  You can do it with triangles or rectangles, it can be scrappy or planned, the rows can be the same width or different widths.  This is my favorite way–with a skinnier accent row and triangles, and it couldn’t be easier!  It’s easy to do with scraps or yardage.  I had a lot of Halloween fat quarters that I’ve collected over the years, so that’s what I’ve used here, and that’s how the tutorial is written.  At the bottom, I’ll give additional instructions for scraps.


    You will need an assortment of fat quarters and an accent fabric.

    From the fat quarter, cut a 4-1/2″ x 22″ strip.

    From the accent fabric, cut a few 2-1/2″ x 44″ strips.  Cut them in half to match your fat quarters.

    Stitch them together with a 1/4″ seam.  Press.


    Cut into 6-1/2″ segments.


    Lay your blocks out so they form a zigzag design.  That’s it!  I told you it was easy!


    Since these blocks are set on point, you’ll eventually need side-setting and corner triangles.  This can be the same as the accent fabric or a different fabric.

    For the side setting triangles, cut squares 9-3/4″ and cut them in half twice diagonally.

    For the corner triangles, cut squares 5-1/4″ and cut them in half once diagonally.


    You can make your zigzags vertical, like I did in my Halloween quilt, or horizontal, like the quilt below that I did for our local Loyalty Day celebration.  You’ll also notice that the Halloween quilt is “controlled scrappy,” meaning I used many different prints, but kept the colors the same in each row.  The Loyalty Day quilt uses the same fabric in each row.  Oh, the possibilities!


    I hope you’ll try this, join the Facebook group and post pictures of your progress!

    If you’re not using fat quarters, cut your accent pieces 2-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ inches and your main fabrics 4-1/2″ x 6-1/2″.

    For the Loyalty Day quilt, I used two 4-1/2″ x 42″ strips for each row.

  • 01Jan

    It’s time for another Quilt Block A Month.  You can join the fun by ‘liking” the page on Facebook.

    The block for this quarter is the Spool Block.  It offers a lot of options and is quick and easy to piece.  If you do just one block a day, you’ll have a 78 blocks finished before the first day of spring!


    This is a great way to use your scraps.  All you need is: 2) 2-1/2″ x 7-1/2″ brown rectangles, 4) 1-1/2″ light squares, 2) 1-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ light rectangles and a 5-1/2″ center square—either plain or pieced.  I like using a stripe because it looks like thread wrapped around the spool.


    Some people like to mark their squares with a diagonal pencil line when doing sew-and-flip corners, but I just finger press them–quick and easy!

    Add a square to opposite ends of the brown rectangle.

    Stitch, trim and press.  Note:  I didn’t trim the background fabric away.  It makes it a bit bulky, but I also think it stabilizes it.  Your choice!  Do this with both brown rectangles.

    Add the white rectangles to the sides of the 5-1/2″ square.

    Now add the brown rectangles to the top and bottom, making sure the light areas match up.  Voila!  You have a spool block!  The unfinished block is 7-1/2″ x 9-1/2″.

    Now, here’s where the fun comes in.  You can do all kinds of things with the center square.  You could sew 5) 1-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ strips together to make it look like thread wrapped around your spool.


    How about using random width strips on an angle to represent the thread?  I foundation pieced this.


    Do you save selvedges?  This is a great place to use them!

    Here are the four sample blocks I made.  I’ll play with setting possibilities when I have more finished.


    They do make an interesting design when set next to each other.  You get some secondary action going on!


    I hope you’ll join us!


  • 20Sep
    Categories: brilliant ideas Comments Off on Tessellating Cross Tutorial

    It’s time again for a new round of quilts at A Quilt Block A Day.  That is the Facebook page I have where a group of us does a block a day for three months, four times a year!  We change blocks with the seasons, and, since tomorrow is the first day of fall, it’s time for a new block!

    This is an easy block with a lot of impact—the Tessellating Cross.  This is one I made for my book Fat Quarter Fun.

    In this quilt you have the same design in the light and dark areas.  In other words, you have light crosses, the white, and dark crosses—the black in the sample above and the red in the sample below.

    I’ve chosen to use a bunch of my lavender scraps for my quilt.  Here’s how I did it.  I grabbed my bin of lavender scraps.  I pulled out several hunks that were still full width, i.e. from selvedge to selvedge.  From each of those I cut a 2-1/2″ strip.  Then I cut 2-1/2″ strips of a cream-on-white print. (*See below if you don’t want to use strips.)


    Stitch the two strips together along the long sides.  Set the seam with your iron.


    Fold back the dark strip and press.  Do you know that if you have your dark fabric on top, when you lift and press it, the seam below will always be pressed toward the darker fabric?


    From your strip, cut eight 4-1/2″ segments.  This is enough for two blocks.



    You should have a little more left, so cut two 2-1/2″ segments.  You can use these later in the border, if you want, or use them to make four-patches for another project.


    Take your 4-1/2″ segments and lay them out as shown below.


    Stitch the top half, then the bottom half.  Press toward the long dark strip and stitch the two halves together.


    From the back, you can see that I pressed that last seam in two different directions.  On the left, I pressed it up (toward the lavender print) and on the right, I pressed it down (toward the lavender print).  To do this, you have to wiggle the seam in the middle a bit.  It will open up and everything will lay nice and flat!


    The finished block!  There are only four seams here—three if you strip pieced the first part!


    When I put four of them up on the design wall, you can see the white cross in the center!


    So, won’t you come on over the A Quilt Block A Day, click “Like” and enjoy the progress of the rest of the group?  If you make just one block a day (three seams!), you’ll have 90 blocks by the time winter rolls around!

    You can CLICK HERE for the tutorials for previous A Quilt Block A Day tutorials.

    *If you don’t want to use strips, you can use scraps for your blocks.  You will need four 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ of light and the same of dark fabric for each block.

  • 22Jun
    Categories: brilliant ideas, quilting Comments Off on String Piecing Tutorial

    Got scraps????  I’ve got the perfect block for you, then–STRINGS!

    These things are like potato chips–I bet you can’t make just one!  They’re a great way to use up strips and scraps from old projects.

    I keep a bin (well, two) on the bookshelf behind my cutting table.  Every time I need to straighten the edge of a bolt of fabric (or a hunk of fabric), I toss the resulting strip into the bin.  If I’ve been using strips for a project and have leftovers, into the bin they go.  And what about those 2 or 3 or 4 inches of fabric left after cutting out the pieces of a project.  ZIP!  Into a strip and into a bin!

    I like to use a fabric foundation when I do string blocks.  You can use paper, but I hate to tear away paper if I don’t have to!  So, if you’re ready to begin, follow along.  Layer four pieces of your foundation fabric–anything goes!

    Cut into 10″ squares.  I like 10″ because you get the best use of your fabric.  You could do any size.

    String pieced blocks are simple, easy, forgiving even!

    Grab a handful of strings.  I like mine to be between 1″ and 3″.  I like the look of narrower strings in my blocks, but the wider ones come in handy for corners.  More on that below.  The don’t have to be straight.  In fact, some slight angles make the blocks look better!

    Take a string of fabric and place it right side up, diagonally, on one square.

    Now place a second string, right side down, on top of the first string, aligning the right edges, then stitch down that right side with a 1/4″ seam allowance–or not!  It doesn’t really matter!

    Press the top strip over–and repeat until you have covered up your square!

    You don’t have to use white fabric, and you don’t have to use yardage.  Do you have some “ugly” fabric that you are never, ever, ever going to use in a quilt?  It’s perfect for the foundation for your string blocks.  When I do this, I use the back, as it’s usually a bit lighter.  Here’s and example.  This is the back of a red print fabric.  The red was just a bit “off” and didn’t seem to work with other reds in my stash.

    I did my string piecing on it, just like I did on the white foundation.

    When you’re piecing these blocks, it works great just to feed a whole stack of them through your machine, one after another.

    When you’re finished, they’ll look like this!  Notice that I used wider strips on the ends.  You don’t want to end up with a teeny tiny strip at the end.  It makes it bulky when you’re putting your blocks together.

    Just take them to your cutting mat and lay them upside down.

    You can either use your foundation square as a guide for trimming, or measure and trim.  If you use your foundation square as a guide, your blocks may be a little smaller that the 10″ you started with, as the stitching tends to draw the fabric up a bit.  No matter, just make them all the same size.

    There’s a lot you can do with string pieced squares.  Here are a couple of great examples.  This is a vintage quilt I saw on Ebay.

    Here’s one from Em’s Scrapbag.

    But my favorites look like they have sashing like this one from Quilting Board.  Guess, what?  They don’t!  It’s faux sashing!

    Here’s how it’s done.  On your foundation block, mark a diagonal guide that’s 1-1/2″ – 2″ wide, centering it with the points on your square.

    You aren’t going to sew on these lines, you’re going to line your fabric up with them.  If you marked line is 1-12″ wide, your “sashing” will be 1″ wide.

    Lay your first string down along the edge of the line and stitch.

    Press your string over…

    …and keep going!

    Arrange your squares and, magically, you have sashing!

    It’s fun to play around with your squares, arranging them in different ways.

    You can get creative, like this quilt I found from Blue Ridge Girl on Flickr.

    And, oh!  Your  “squares” don’t have to be square.  They could be rectangles, like this one from Leedle Deedle Quilts.

    And your sashing doesn’t have to be white!  Check out the controlled color palette and black “sashing” in this example from Angelina79.

    So, are you ready to try string piecing?  I hope you do.  And I hope you’ll join my Facebook page, A Quilt Block A Day, and share your photos.



  • 20Mar
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on A Quilt Block A Day Tutorial – Pyramids!

    Spring 2012 has arrived.  Whoop, whoop!  That means it’s time for the next Quilt Block A Day project.  This time, we’re doing Pyramids, also known as 60 Degree Triangles.  The quilt top pictured here is one I remade from a vintage top……but that’s another story!

    You can achieve many different looks with 60 degree triangles.  One of my favorites is using scraps and a solid, like I did here.  I’ll give you lots of ideas as we go along, but here’s a tutorial to get you started making your own Pyramid Quilt!

    I highly recommend a 60 Degree Ruler for this project.  I like this one by EZ.  It will make your life sooooo much easier!  If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of rulers.  Check them out.  Maybe one of the is a 60 degree ruler.  The important thing is the flat spot at the top of this ruler.

    Yes, I know that there is a 60 degree angle mark on most 24″ rulers and I even know how to use it to cut 60 degree triangles!  You could certainly use one for this project.  BUT, there’s a huge advantage with a 60 degree ruler like this one that will let you nip off the ends  It will help you align everything perfectly–no guessing needed.

    You can make finished blocks from 1″ to 5″ with this ruler.  I did 4″ finished blocks.  If you want to do 4″ finished blocks, too, you’ll need to cut 4-1/2″ strips from your fabric or scraps.  You’ll notice that the top of this ruler doesn’t quite come to a point.  Place this little flat end along the top of your strip.  The bottom of the strip should be under the 4-1/4″ line on the ruler.

    My fabric is doubled.  You could stack four to six layers if you’re confident about your cutting.  Make a cut on each side of the ruler.

    Now turn the ruler and cut again.  This time, that little flat edge is at the bottom of the strip.  Continue cutting along your strip.

    You’re not quite finished with the cutting of your triangles, but this next step is what makes these pieces go together perfectly.  The triangle pieces that you just cut will have two pointy ends and one flat one.  You need to make them all flat.  If you do this, it will make it so easy to line up your blocks and find your proper seam allowance.  Place the blunt and of the ruler on your fabric so you can nip off the points.

    A quick swipe with your rotary cutter and it’s done!  Do this to the remaining point.  Do ALL your triangles this way.

    When you’re ready to stitch, just place two triangles, right sides together…

    …and stitch along one edge, using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

    Press.  This quilt is assembled in rows.  I press all the seams in one row to the right, the next row to the left, and so on.

    Keep adding triangles…

    …pressing after each addition.  Finger pressing is okay.

    Since we don’t really have a pieced block, if you do eight triangles a day each day this spring, you’ll have enough for a quilt that’s 56″ wide and 62″ long!

    Here are a couple of other Pyramid Quilts for inspiration.

    I’m in love with the bright colors and the quilting in this quilt.  It’s from the Armchair Quilter.

    I love the clean, crisp look of this scrappy quilt set with white.  I found it on Ebay.

    This one is delightfully scrappy.  I found it on Quilting Adventures.

    Whatever you decide to do, I hope you’ll share your photos with us on the A Quilt Block A Day page on Facebook.


  • 28Dec
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on Flying Geese Tutorial

    It’s time to start another A-Quilt-Block-A-Day project.  This time, it’s the versatile Flying Geese block!

    Oh, did I just hear groaning?  At one time, I might have groaned right along with you.  I used to use a couple of different methods to make flying geese–the Sew-and-Flip and the traditional cutting of two sizes of triangles.  No matter how I tried, my goose always looked like he had one shoulder hunched up in the air.

    Then I discovered a method where you use one large square and four small ones, do some stitching and slicing, and end up with four perfect geese every time!  Now you can make perfect flying geese, too!  These geese are going to finish 2-1/2″ x 5″, but I’ll give you a formula at the end so you can make them any size you want.

    Here’s what you do:

    Cut one 6-1/4″ square of “goose” fabric and four 3-3/8″ squares of sky fabric.

    Did I hear more groaning about having to cut something that ends in 3/8″?  Here’s a little trick.  Get a role of blue masking tape, also known as painter’s tape.  Roll off a chunk and put it on your ruler at the 3-3/8″ mark.

    Pile up some “sky” fabrics and trim the left edge.  Now, just align the tape on your ruler with the freshly cut edge.  In fact, because of the thickness of the tape, you can “feel” when the tape is against the edge of your fabric.  This is so slick anytime you have a lot of strips to cut.

    Once you’ve cut your strips, just rotate them and cut again, letting the tape be your guide.

    Take a minute and draw diagonal lines on your “sky” fabric.  Yes, I have an orange pen AND an orange cutting mat!!

    Place two of your “sky” squares on opposite corners of the “goose” square.  Make sure the drawn lines make one continuous line across the diagonal.  Your small squares will overlap a bit at the middle.

    Now, take this to your sewing machine and sew a scant 1/4″ on both sides of the drawn lines.

    Before cutting, I like to touch the iron to the fabric to set the stitches.  Once that’s done, slice along the diagonal line.

    Finger press the “sky” triangles away from the “goose” triangles.

    Do it with both pieces. (At this point, they remind me of hearts–if you turn them, that is!)

    Place the two remaining “sky” squares as shown and sew a scant 1/4″ on both sides of the drawn lines.

    Press with the iron and slice on the drawn lines.

    Believe it or not, you now have four perfect flying geese!  Just press the “sky” fabrics over, and there they are!

    Voila!  Trim the little ears off and you’re done!  At this point, each block will measure 3″ x 5-1/2″ and will give you a 2-1/2″ x 5″ finished block.

    Be sure to follow the fun on A Quilt Block A Day by clicking “Like” on the Facebook page.  I’ll be showing you lots and lots of ways to arrange flying geese blocks for a variety of quilts.

    And here’s that formula.  Note: A Flying Geese unit is always twice as long as it is tall.

    Decide on the finished width you want your block and add 1-1/4″.  That’s the size you need to cut your “geese” fabric, or the large square.

    To the height (which is half the width), or your “sky” fabric, add 7/8″.

    Now you can make any size block you want!

    For tutorials on other methods for making Flying Geese, check out Quilter’s Cache.

    P.S.  I HATE drawing diagonal lines on the back of my squares.  This is what I do in real life—press them with my iron which, of course, is orange!

  • 15Sep
    Categories: brilliant ideas, Everything!, musings, quilting Comments Off on New Block Challenge – Hour Glass

    We had so much fun with the Summer Bow Tie blocks that people are clamoring (well, at least asking) if we’re going to do another block for fall.  Well, of course we are!

    What was the Summer Bow Tie Block Challenge all about?  It was about making a quilt block a day.  It was about getting into your sewing room if even for just a few minutes.  It was about using up some scraps!

    If you’d made one quilt block each day from the beginning of summer until the end of summer, you would have made 94 blocks!  I’m not sure anyone managed the one-a-day approach, but it still kept many people sewing.  Lots of people are finishing up their quilts now and posting them on the Facebook page.  Here’s Toni’s that she posted today.  There are lots of photos on the Facebook page.  Feel free to check them out.

    Ready for the next challenge?  How about Hour Glass blocks for fall?  Did I hear a moan?  Really, they’re easy.  It’s just a twice sewn half-square triangle–kind of like biscotti–twice baked cookies!  If you make one block each day during fall, you will have 91 blocks made before the first day of winter even sets in!  Here’s what an Hour Glass block looks like.

    A few minutes ago I decided to make a few blocks and takes photos so I could post this tutorial  Since I have shelves full of fabric bolts, it’s really tempting to just pull a few down and start cutting.  But, I really need to do something with all my scraps.  So, I pulled out one of my scrap bins.

    I cut a bunch of 4-1/4″ squares.  These will make a 3″ unfinished Hour Glass block.  Note: You can make any size blocks.  The formula is this–add 1-1/4″ to the finished size you desire.

    I cut some cream solid to go with them.  You can get ten 4-1/4″  squares from a strip.  Mark a diagonal line on the solid squares.

    Pair a solid square with a print square, right sides together.  I used two matching solids and two matching prints.  This will yield four Hour Glass blocks.

    Stitch 1/4″ on each side of the drawn line.

    Cut apart on the drawn line.

    Press to the print fabric.  (Yes, I have an orange iron!)  You’ve made a half-square triangle–and you’re half way finished!

    Now take two of your half-square triangles and put them together, light against dark, dark against light.  Snug up the center seam.

    Draw a diagonal line that passes through your stitched seam.

    Stitch 1/4″ on either side of the line and cut apart.

    Voila!  An Hour Glass block.  Wasn’t that easy?

    Here’s a little pressing tip.  Wiggle the intersection a bit to loosen a stitch or two.

    Finger press seams in opposite directions.  This really eliminates bulk in you seams.  A teeny tiny four patch will show up in the middle if you do this correctly.  Your seams will press to the light, but that’s okay.

    Turn it over and give it a press.  Trim away the dog ears.  There it is–your first Hour Glass block.  Actually, you’ll get two blocks from each pair of fabric.

    Since I did two pair, I ended up with four blocks.  This is a very traditional way to put Hour Glass blocks together, but there are lots of possibilities with this block.

    Use two different prints when sewing your half-square triangles together.

    Much more scrappy.

    If you put your four blocks together with all the browns facing in, it forms a pinwheel.  Magic!

    Or you can just mix them up for a scrappy effect.

    You don’t even have to use a solid if you want to go totally scrappy, like this.

    I hope you’ll join in the fun.  Come to the new Facebook Page, A Quilt Block A Day.  Even if you don’t make blocks, it’s fun to watch everyone’s progress.


  • 19Jun
    Categories: brilliant ideas, quilting Comments Off on Summer Bow Tie Quilt Blocks

    Last summer, we had such fun making a Nine-Patch block everyday.  Well, summer is upon us again.  This summer, let’s do Bow Tie blocks! These are soooo simple.  It’s basically a four-patch.  What could be easier?!?

    I’ve set up a Facebook page so you can share your progress, post photos and get more ideas on what to do with your blocks.  CLICK HERE to become a fan!

    Now for a quick tutorial for a 6″ Bow Tie block

    For each block you will need:

    1) 3-1/2″ x 7″ light fabric

    1) 3-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ dark fabric

    Cut the light fabric into 2) 3-1/2″ squares.

    Cut the dark fabric into 2) 3-1/2″ squares and 2) 1-1/2″ squares.

    Put the two small dark squares on a corner of the light squares.

    Sew diagonally from corner to corner on the dark squares.  These are so small, you don’t really need to mark them.  If you’re not comfortable eyeballing them, you can finger press the small squares in half and sew down the crease.

    Trim 1/4″ away from the stitching.

    Press the little dark squares over.  Now, all you have to do is piece your four-patch!

    Stitch along the vertical seams.  Press toward the dark fabric.

    Join the horizontal seams and you’re done!

    I do like to press the last seam open to reduce bulk in the center.

    If you want to make 3″ finished blocks, cut your “large” squares 2″ and your “small” squares 1″.  In fact, you might want to make some of both sizes.  They can be very cute in the same quilt!