Snowflakes Keep Falling

December, 2015 wall hanging is machine embroidered snowflakes. December is mom’s birthday month which often means lots of snow and cold but it also reminds me of the December when the school busload of kids was stranded at the house because of the snowstorm that came so fast and hard. Was that 1963? I can’t remember for sure. It was just before Christmas as I recall and I’m sure we didn’t have the weather reporting equipment that is very useful today so schools let out early enough to avoid being stranded. That busload of kids at our house did not include my brother, sister and I as we were stranded at another house about three miles away with another bus. Lots of snowflakes and snowbanks that winter!!

Snowflakes also remind me of the winter games we played as kids—fox and goose, snow angels, snowmen and just playing on the snow drifts, hoping they would hold us up as we climbed around and about on them. Snow was fun as kids, not so fun when, as an adult, there is work associated with it–scooping, shoveling, driving,etc.  Perhaps we should take some time to enjoy the beauty of it and recall the simplicity of it as seen through the eyes of children.

texas snowflakesHoffman fabric, Anita Goodesign embroidery pattern (Snowflakes of Rohan)

How wide is your binding?

As I am finishing the November wall hanging, Turkey Tracks, for my mother’s room at the care center I am thinking about the width of binding that I use compared to many instructions that I see for commercial patterns. Many patterns direct quilters to cut binding strips 2 ½” wide, folding in half and then stitching to the quilt.   Seldom if ever have I seen what seam allowance is being used to accommodate that width of binding or what thickness of batting is being used that may cause more or less bulk. I cut my binding 1 7/8” wide, fold it in half and then attach with a ¼” seam allowance. For me that yields a 3/8 inch finish width. After the machine stitching is done by applying the binding strip to the front side of the quilt I fold it over and stitch by hand for the final step. The binding just covers the machine stitching and “fills” the binding for a nicely finished edge that I understand is desirable for contest/show quilts. Photos below show the stitching line using a quarter inch presser foot and then the corners mitered to match the mitered border.  I make sure the binding follows the same straight line as the quilt edge as it extends beyond the finished edge, in the second photo. I also diagonally trim the corners of the sandwich, not the binding, so there is less bulk in the corner as I miter. I don’t know who made the “rule” for the width of binding strips but I liken it to the “ham in the pan” story. Moral of the story: cut binding strips to the width needed for the seam allowance you create and the type of batting that you use, whatever that may be.

binding onebinding twobinding three

Turkey Tracks

November block for my mother’s room at the care center is Turkey Tracks, the pieced version.  It is another easy block and I used some older Jinny Beyer prints and stripe for a fall-like color scheme.  I love mitering borders and it seemed the perfect thing to make this block a little more special.  Photos below show the progress for constructing the block.  It really helps to have a rectangular template.  I used Margaret Miller’s Angle Play templates.  Finished wall hanging is 26 inches square, just right for the bulletin board in her room.

Most often the turkey tracks block involves some curved piecing but this angular version is from the Ladies Art Company published in 1897.

turkey one turkey two turkey three turkey four turkey five

June BOM-Farmer’s Daughter

farmers daughter  My apologies for being so late with the June BOM.  Just as we need to clean our sewing machines we need to also “clean” our computers and mine was apparently overdue.

The block this month is called the Farmer’s Daughter. Depending on how the colors are arranged it may take on different looks. I really wanted to use the fruit and vegetable fabric I have collected and used in other quilts and wall hangings. I can remember when I didn’t like strawberries, I think it was the seeds that I didn’t like and now I wish I had my own bed to pick from. This tablemat can be a reminder of healthy choices but also a reminder of the work it takes to raise the food we eat. The block was probably first published in the early 1900’s in a magazine called Ladies Art Company but is referred to even earlier in other documentation.

The block is extremely fast and simple to make. The striped border took the longest as I wanted to miter so needed to cut the stripes on the same lines on each of the four pieces.

 

Small table mat measures 24” square:

Block:

Cut four 3 ½” squares of green, red, yellow and black/white print fabrics

Cut four 4” squares of red and black/white print fabrics

 Inner border: Cut two 1 ½” x 15 ½” strips of black and two 1 ½” x 17 ½” strips of black

 Outer border: Cut four 6 ½” x 24 ½” vertical striped fabric

 Use 4” squares to make half square triangle blocks, sewing ¼” on either side of diagonal center, trim to 3 ½” square.

Sew blocks in rows to form design as shown in photo.

Add inner border strips to sides and then top and bottom.

Sew outer striped border mitering corners.

 

My favorite way to miter borders is to center strip on a side stopping ¼” from each end of the block, leaving a “tail”. Match “tails” of adjoining corners, mark a 45 degree line from last stitch to the outside corner of the border strip, sew on the marked line and press seam open.

Enjoy this summertime project.

 

 

April Tea for Two

April Tea for Two

April’s “T” block is a popular alphabet block. I especially like the versions that are arranged as tessellations so chose the block called “tea time”. I am not fond of tea but do remember my first drink of the beverage at a very young age. I was in the church basement with the quilting ladies as they took their break to enjoy an afternoon dessert and glass of tea before wrapping up the day. I was feeling very grown up to be able to partake with the ladies at the big table instead of the smaller Sunday School table for kids. I have no memory of what the dessert was but the beverage was tea. Kool-Aid was the afternoon beverage of my choice at age seven but not an option that day and I was thirsty so I took a long drink of the tea and nearly spit it out. That would have been impolite and I certainly did not want to seem ill-mannered. I saw some ladies putting sugar in their tea (sugar cubes it was back then) so I helped myself to make my drink more palatable. It seems my taste buds have a preference for the sweet but no amount of sugar could rid my mouth of that bitter taste. Teapots and tea cups were part of my grandmother’s home décor but “tea time” was usually “coffee time”. I still have some of the collection of tea cups brought back as souvenirs of travel displayed in the guest bedroom. I will cherish the memories of tea time but will never acquire a taste for the beverage.

As I worked with the drafting of this block and project I played with colorations that might also be fun for “trick and treat”. Maybe it will be repeated for the October project! The block is easy sewing but does require attention to arrangement to get the “T” formation. I preferred the look of two stacked blocks to make a vertical wall hanging so this finishes 24” x 39”.

Fabric:
“T” block: 1/3 yd each of two contrasting prints
Inner border: 1/8 yd
Outer border and binding: 5/8 yd
Backing: ¾ yd
Batting: 27” x 45”

45 degree cut
cut 45 degree angle, 4 1/8″ on long side, 2 1/8″ on short side

 

Cutting:
“T” prints: 9 each 3 ½” x 5 ½” rectangles; 24 each 2” x 6 ¼” rectangles.
Further cut the 2” x 6 ¼” rectangles as pictured below, 12 of each print:
——- 4 1/8”—————

— 2 1/8”—

The cut is a 45 degree angle with long side 4 1/8 “ and the short side 2 1/8”.
(Tip: If you keep wrong sides together of matching prints you need make only one directional cut on all the rectangles rather than the two shown Use the photos as a guide.)
Inner border: 2 -15 ½” x 1” for top and bottom and 2 – 31 ½” x 1” strips for long sides.
Outer border: 2- 16 ½” x 4 ½” for top and bottom and 2 – 39 ½” x 4 ½” strips for sides.
Binding: 3 – 1 7/8” strips joined (If you like wider binding allow ¾ yd for yardage requirement instead of 5/8 yd).

Construction:
Join the 45 degree angle pieces to make a 2” x 5 ½” rectangle.

rectangles
cut rectangles at 45 degree angle

 

 

seam
1/4 inch seam
last step
sew pieced rectangle to 3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ rectangle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

piecing
piece rows, alternating blocks, make six rows of three blocks each

 

 

Follow the photos for sewing and arrangement. Add narrow border strips top and bottom and then sides. Do the same for the wider outer border. Layer top, backing and batting, quilt and bind. Sit down and enjoy a cup of tea (or kool-aid).

A design wall/board is useful to arrange the blocks in the proper configuration before sewing.

Spring Daffodils, March Block of Month

Spring Daffodils, March Block of Month

spring daffodil blog

Since March is my birthday month I looked for a block that represented birthdays. My first thought was “cake stand” but I also found “Happy Birthday”, “Birthday Cake” and “Birthday Parties”. Spring Daffodil is adapted from “Happy Birthday” as identified in Jinny Beyer’s book, The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns. Daffodils were always one of the first harbingers of spring growing up and a spring favorite of my mother’s. Also a favorite of mine but I’m just not much of a cultivator of flowers in the ground. I do love them large and bold in fabrics however!
This block was made using scraps from other projects so dig down in your stash and pick out your favorite spring blues or choose your own color palette.

Various blue prints: twelve 3 ½” x 6 ½” rectangles and four 3 ½” corner squares.
Dark blue: fat quarter (two 10” squares cut in half diagonally)
Neutral: ½ yard or 14” square
Scraps of yellows and greens for daffodil applique (my contribution to the block).
You can find simple line drawings online of daffodils or draw your own. If you leave me a note on the blog I can send you a pdf of the drawing I made and used for mine. You might also search through your patterns and books. I found it pretty easy to sketch the flower and then just added leaves.

Step 1: Use your favorite method to applique the daffodil to the neutral center square. I used a machine buttonhole stitch after fusing the raw edge applique to the background. Trim to 13 ¼” square.
Step 2: Sew dark blue half squares to each side of the applique center. Trim to 18 ½” square.
Step 3: Join three 3 ½” x 6 ½” rectangles and sew to either side of the center square. Join three rectangles and two corner squares for the top and bottom of the block.
Step 4: Layer, quilt, and bind.

I quilted a few snowflakes and added a few beads on the gray polka dot background as March blooming daffodils may experience some snow after peeking through on the south side of our house.

A very fast and simple project. Hope you enjoy trying this one in your favorite spring colors and favorite spring flower.

 

 

“You Are My Sunshine”

feb bom

February Block of the Month

You Are My Sunshine

This block was inspired by the month of February—Valentine’s Day, anniversary of my parents marriage and of several of their siblings and probably many others out there. It is named for my parents song, “You Are My Sunshine” as designated by their school yearbook, next to my dad’s picture. The block is known as Bowtie but also as Lover’s Knot. I use the block in the dimensional form with ombre borders and a few prairie points to resemble rays of sunshine. While I mitered my borders I give instructions for a blocked border. It can be made with scraps of different pinks or one fat quarter and same for yellow background. For an ombre border you will need ¾ yard to cut vertically, otherwise 1/3 yard of 42” fabric will work.

 

Instructions:

Cut three 4 ½” squares from each of four pink fabrics.

Cut eight 4 ½” squares from yellow background fabric.

Cut two 4 ½” x 16 ½” side borders.

Cut two 4 ½” x 24 ½” top and bottom borders.

Prairie Points: Cut seven squares varying from 4 ½” to 3”.

 

Dimensional lover’s knot: (there are many You tube videos on this method)

Fold one pink square in half and sandwich between a pink and a yellow square with all raw edges even. Stitch a ¼” seam on the right side edge.

Sandwich a yellow and pink square on the left side of the folded square (just opposite of the right side, see photo) and stitch.

four patch one

I prefer to press the seams open to reduce bulk for the next step of sewing the four patch.

Pin right side yellow to left side pink. Open the folded square to match the center seams and continue to form the four patch. It will a little difficult to get the folded patch open and folded edge out of the ¼” seam allowance.

four patch two

Dimensional four patch done! Sew four and arrange so “knots” form a ring. Add two side borders and then top and bottom borders.

 

After quilting, before adding binding, place prairie points along bottom and side borders then bind as usual.

 

Prairie points are made by folding the squares in half diagonally and then in half again.

Remember these small projects are a wonderful way to practice your quilting skills.

 

Circle of Prosperity, January 2015

Circle of Prosperity, January 2015

Circle of Prosperity, January, 2015

I have titled this small quilt “Circle of Prosperity”. It may be recognizable to readers as Burgoyne’s Quilt but was also identified by other names one of which was Wheel of Fortune. It seemed a likely candidate for sending a prosperous new year wish to all.

Things I like or would change: it was fast; the color contrast makes the design obvious (love those Grunge fabrics from Moda); quilting motif was easy to develop (draw) by dividing a square into 8 parts and then free form drawing flower petals in each section; border would have better proportion if wider by about 1 ½ inches each side. Below are the general directions for making the block with borders.

Fabric:

Block: ¼ yd dark; ½ yd light

Border and binding: ½ yd if horizontal stripe, ¾ yd if vertical stripe (I cut my binding 1 7/8” wide, if you use different width you may need more)

Backing: ¾ yd

Batting: 28” square

Cutting Dark:

3 strips 1 ½” by width of fabric (wof), cut one strip into 3- 13” pieces;

4 squares 2 ½”;

1 square 1 ½”

Cutting Light:

3 strips 1 ½” by wof, cut one strip into 3- 13” pieces;

3 strips 2 ½”, subcut into 4 pieces 15 ½” x 2 ½”, 4 pieces 1 ½” x 2 ½” and 8 pieces

3 ½” x 2 ½”;

1 strip 3 ½”, subcut into 4 pieces 5 ½” x 3 ½”

Cutting mitered border and binding:

4 pieces 3” x 24 ½” (or wait and measure finished edge after block is constructed);

3 strips 1 7/8” by width of fabric.

Construction:

Use ¼” seam allowance; press seams toward dark or toward the larger unseamed piece

 Sew each dark 1 ½” x wof strip to the corresponding light 1 ½” x wof strip; cut into 20- 1 ½” x 2 ½” sections and 8- 2 ½” x 2 ½” sections. Sew 16 pairs of 1 ½” x 2 ½” sections to make 2 ½” square (figure 1). Sew 2 ½” x 2 ½” to either side of remaining 1 ½” sections.

Sew 13” strips together to form a dark, light, dark strip set and a light, dark, light strip set; cut d,l,d set into 8- 1 ½” sections and the l,d,l set into 4- 1 ½” sections. Sew 2 d,l,d with one l,d,l in the center ( figure 2). Make 4

Make center square using the four 2 ½” dark squares, four 1 ½” x 2 ½” light sections and one1 ½” square as shown in figure 3.

Use four 9-patch and four 3 ½” x 5 ½” rectangles to add the second round as shown in figure 4.

 

Figure 1
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 4

Follow finished photo to complete the third and fourth round. Add mitered borders by stitching each side from corner to corner but stopping and starting stitching ¼” from edge of block. After stitching all four borders line up two adjacent sides of border pieces (folding excess fabric from block out of the way), mark and stitch a 45 degree angle from stitching line at inner corner (block) to outer corner. Check for accuracy before pressing and trimming off excess. Baste backing, batting and finished block together. I quilted a flower in the center and then did a meandering stipple. Geometric quilting lines following the block design could be used. This is also a good time to practice any design you would like.

 

 

Block of the month

For the next year I will share directions for making a 20″-24” table mat or small wall hanging once a month. Each will be based on a single block. The first reason for doing this is to provide my mother, who is in a care center, a bright spot in her room. When she first moved in for rehab I brought one of my small wall hangings once a month to brighten her room. I found they were a good stimulus for her to have conversations with staff and visitors and they also engaged her mind to examine how they were made, what patterns were used and patterns that emerged at the different angles from which they were viewed. She likes seasonal things and also bright colors—I think because her eyesight is failing and the brightness and strong contrast is easier to discern. She also likes to hear the stories behind why they were made. After going through the few small things I had in my closet I found myself scrambling to make sure she had a new and different one. Thus, a plan to insure there is a new one each month for the next year.

 

This effort also fits well with my desire to try different blocks that are of interest to me but that I do not necessarily want to use to make a larger quilt. Of course, it also feeds my addiction to try new fabrics and color combinations that may not fit any specific home décor needs. I hope that others may choose to use the directions in whatever way it fits with their need to create something from fabric.  (All will be fast and easy so would also make great gifts to have on hand for housewarming and other occasions.)

 

The first project will be posted next week on whatever day I have a strong enough internet connection to enable pictures to upload.  I hope you enjoy and will share this site with others.