Road Trip Quilt Along: Indiana Puzzle

Indiana! I can’t say that I’ve spent a lot of time in Indiana, but I’ve certainly driven through it enough times. There’s really no way around Indiana when driving from Connecticut (where we used to live) or Virginia (where we currently live) to Illinois (where my parents live.

My good friend Bradley has an unsavory nickname for the state, but I maintain it’s not so bad. It does make me prickle that it is illegal for a certified midwife to practice there, but my husband and I actually considered moving to a little town called Culver.

I found the Indian puzzle block here.  The block itself is pretty easy to put together:  It’s just 8 half square triangle blocks and the center square on point.  The tricky part is matching up the correct fabrics for your half square triangles.

I must admit: I’m surprised by how much I like this block.  I think it turned out really pretty. 

I recommend drawing the block out and labeling which fabric you will use for each part of the block.  You will need 4 fabrics for this one (3 + background color).

Fabric 1: Background (white) = solid gray
Fabric 2: Star points (yellow) = dark gray circles
Fabric 3: Center square + outside 1 (purple) = yellow floral
Fabric 4: Outside 2 (green) = white with yellow flower

Cutting directions for Indiana Puzzle block:

Center square:
Fabric 3: (1) 3-3/8 inch square
Fabric 1: (2) 3.25 inch square, cut on diagonal to make 4 triangles

Half Square Triangles:
From each of the 4 fabrics, cut (2) 5-inch squares

First, let’s construct the center square.  I didn’t take a picture, but it’s exactly the same as the center square on the Pennsylvania Parade block.  Simply place the long edge of one of the triangles along one edge of the 3-3/8 inch square.  Sew with 1/4 inch inseam.  Iron open.  Repeat for the remaining 3 triangles.  Trim the center square to 4.5 inches.

Match up your fabric for your half square triangles:
Fabric 1 + Fabric 3
Fabric 1 + Fabric 4
Fabric 2 + Fabric 3
Fabric 2 + Fabric 4

We’ve made enough half square triangles that you should be an ol’ pro at this point, right?  Draw a line from corner to corner.  Sew a line 1/4 inch from each side of the line.

Cut the squares apart on the line you drew.  Iron open.  Trim each square to 4.5 inches.

Arrange your block as shown below.  Sew the squares into rows.  Sew the rows together.  Ta da!

Indiana joins her friends from the road trip!  Next week: Illinois!

P.S.  I’m thinking of adding an incentive of a fabric prize if you complete all/most of the blocks.  What do you think?  Would that inspire you to join me?

The Civil War Love Letters Quilt

A Year-Long Cooperative Quilting Endeavor

A year ago, I happened across a book called the “Civil War Love Letter Quilt.”  The book features 121 letters, each written during the civil war, by someone who fought in the war.  Associated with every letter is a 6-inch quilt block, and together, those 121 blocks make a queen sized quilt.

My sister and her husband were recently married, and they are civil war reenactors: hoop skirts, wool pants, camping in canvas tent, the whole deal.

When I discovered that book, I had just become interested in quilting, and my mom is also a quilter.  What could be a more perfect wedding gift for my Civil War reenacting sister and her husband than a quilt derived from the Civil War Love Letter book created by her sister and her mother?  I can’t think of a thing.

So last July, when I was visiting my parents, my mom and I ordered two copies of the book and worked out a plan.

We would alternate blocks: she completed the odd numbered blocks, and I completed the even numbers.  We made a schedule so that we could be sure the blocks were completed in time to put the quilt together, and have it quilted and bound before the wedding June 9th.

We began with a few fabrics from Lola’s Posies by Lila Tueller.  We split the fabrics between the two of us and then each added additional coordinating prints and solids as needed.

When I finished my sixty 6-inch blocks, I added the corner stone pieces and sashing and mailed all my blocks to my mother, and she took it from there.

My mom sewed all the blocks together and added the borders on the outside.

She also put the back together, adding in some 9-inch scrap blocks.  I had made several blocks that were just random patchwork from the scraps and Mom had a few that had ended up too small and she had redone those, and added some border to the mistakes so they would match the size of mine.

My mom also asked her cousin to make a dedication block which was also added to the back of the quilt.

The quilting was done by Pat Willis, who is local to my mom out of Menominee, IL.

My mom bound the quilt and we presented it to my sister and her new husband at their wedding reception.  

I’m thrilled with how it turned out, which is a good thing, because after spending an entire year working on a project it would really stink if it turned out terribly!  Ulysses S. Grant likes it, too.

I really had a great time working on this with my mom; I think it made the project a lot more fun for me because we had one another to keep us motivated.  We would have conversations on Skype and share the blocks we had recently completed, and we would check in to make sure we were staying on task to finish on schedule.

Christine and Patrick were thrilled with the gift, and I’m so happy Mom and I were able to give them something they can appreciate for a long time to come.

[The photos of this quilt were taken in Grant Park, Galena IL.  Galena is my home town and the home of Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant from 1860 until he was elected president in 1868.   The buildings of this historic town, as well as the Soldier’s Memorial and Civil War cannons in Grant Park provided the perfect backdrop for photographing this particular quilt.]

Trixie’s Travels: Westbound

Trixie is the Janome Sew Mini I purchased to take on our road trip this summer so that I can still do some sewing away from home.  With Trixie along for the ride, I’ll take you along on our summer road trip from Virginia to Illinois, then westward to Bozeman, Montana. From there, we head to Glacier National Park, and then Rocky Mountain National Park. We’ll finish our trip with some friends in Denver and then finally a stop in St. Louis before heading home to Virginia the end of July.

I’ve been posting Trixie’s Travels on Tuesdays (the alliteration is a nice bonus), but this Tuesday, I was disconnected at a campground in South Dakota, so you get to see what we’ve been up to for the last 10 days.  I’m still camping.  In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting in a camp chair at a KOA campground in Wyoming starring at Devil’s Tower National Monument.  It’s amazing.  Here’s my view as of 30 minutes ago:

We spent the rest of last week at my parents’, basically just relaxing and recovering from the wedding craziness.  Sierra had her second and final week of swimming lessons each morning, and I got to spend some time with some good friends that week.

We headed west on Sunday, and the first day was a long-ish day in the car.  When I had used up all of my tricks for entertaining the girls, I amused them for awhile by taking pictures of funny faces and then showing them the pictures, which would result in laughter all around.

We stayed in a cabin in a KOA campground in Mitchell, South Dakota (home of the Corn Palace, which we did not visit!) and then headed the next day to Badlands National Park.  Trixie enjoyed the scenery immensely.  We did not, however, enjoy the heavy sustained winds which blew our tent sideways and resulted in a broken tent pole the next morning.

We spent the next two nights camping at Custer State Park.  When we drove the Wildlife Loop Road, we saw bison, elk, pronghorn antelope, a number of birds, including a mother duck with 14 DUCKLINGS, as well as burrows and prairie dogs.

While there, we visited Wind Cave, which is drier than most caves and supposedly has over 90% of the world’s boxwork, which is a formation resulting from mineral deposits in the cracks of the cave.

We took a trip to Mount Rushmore and walked the very easy 1/2 mile Presidential Trail.

Before moving on to Devil’s Tower yesterday, we went to a Ranger Program about how people in the area used to pan for gold.  Now, we are here, with unbeatable views!

Road Trip Quilt Along: Ohio Star

I have been scarce on the interwebs this week, and that’s pretty clear as indicated by how few visitors I have had to my little blog space this week.  If I’m not here, though, I can’t really expect anyone else to be, can I?

This week, our block for the Road Trip Quilt Along is the Ohio Star, which is actually pretty easy.  A welcome change from the last couple weeks, right?

On our real life road trip, Ohio was my family’s first overnight stop.  We visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park and hiked to the lovely Brandywine Falls.

Cutting Directions:

Center: (1) 4.5 inch square
Corners: (4) 4.5 squares (background fabric)
Quarter square triangles: (2) 5.25 inch squares (background fabric)
(2) 5.25 inch squares (star points)


The only part of this block that requires additional instruction are the quarter square triangles, but they shouldn’t give you much trouble.

Place one of the 5.25 inch squares of background fabric right sides together with one of the 5.25 inch squares for your star points.  Do the same with the other pair.

Draw a line from corner to corner.  Sew a line 1/4 inch from each side of your drawn line

Cut the piece apart on the line you drew.  You will have four squares composed of half square triangles.  Iron the squares open.

Cut the squares in half perpendicular to the line between the two fabrics.

Rearrange the halves so that the two colors in each square are up against the other color.

Sew the two pieces back together.  Trim the squares to 4.5 inches.

Arrange your block as shown below.  Sew the pieces into rows, then sew the rows together.

Easy, right?  You should probably make two!  And now we are 1/4 of the way through our 16 block quilt along!  Here’s Ohio with Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.


Mei tai on a Monday: argyle awhile

When I entered my Earth Science class my freshman year in high school, I sat next to a great girl named Amanda.  While we weren’t super close in high school, we did have honors classes together and we were both in the Concert Choir.  We were friendly in those teen years, but lost touch after graduation, reconnecting several years ago on Facebook.  Ah, the digital age.

A few months ago, Amanda emailed me to let me know that she was expecting her first child, and she was interested in one of the mei tais that I make.  I was happy to add her to the “mei tai list” (which was 5 or 6 mei tais long at the time!).  When she told me she wanted something that “orange, green, blue and/or brown,” I sent her links to several different fabrics, but I was secretly hoping she would pick this argyle print, part of the Remix line by Ann Kelle.

I was thrilled when this is what Amanda decided on because I just think the print is fabulous.  It’s bright and fun without being completely in-your-face about it!

The straps are brown twill, nice and smooth.

And the reverse is a stripe with many of the same colors that appear in the argyle print.  I’m kind of amazed that I was able to so closely match the hood print to the body print on both sides of the carrier.

This carrier is already at its new home, waiting for a new baby to snuggle.

Road Trip Quilt Along: Pennsylvania Parade

Pennsylvania is a long state and the Pennsylvania Turnpike is rather expensive.  And why is there always construction in Pennsylvania?  Always!  Also, the Penguins totally choked in the Stanley Cup playoffs this year.  But let’s make the Pennsylvania Parade quilt block, shall we?

Note: I used a checked fabric instead of the gray background fabric when I wrote the tutorial.  I decided the block was “too busy” so I redid it using the gray.

Cutting directions:

Fabric 1: (4) 2.5 inch x 4.5 inch rectangles

Flying geese:

Fabric 1: (1) 5.25 inch square
Fabric 2 (background): (4) 3-inch squares


Fabric 1: (1) 5.25 inch square
Fabric 2: (1) 5.25 inch square
Fabric 3: (2) 5-inch square, cut once on diagonal

Center Square:

Fabric 3: (1) 3-3/8 inch square
Fabric 2: (2) 3.25 inch square, cut on diagonal

First create the center square.  This is pretty self explanatory, so I’m just going to sum up.  Send me an email or leave a comment if you have specific questions.  You have four triangles (the two squares you cut on the diagonal) and one 3-3/8 inch square.  Line up the long side of a triangle with an edge of the square and sew with 1/4 inch inseam.  Repeat on the opposite side.  Iron the triangles open.  Sew the two remaining triangles to the two remaining edges of the square.  Trim the center square to 4.5 inches.

How to construct the flying geese

We will use the same method to construct the flying geese as we did for the Virginia Star.

Place two of the smaller squares on top of the larger square, right sides together.  Line up the small squares in opposite corners of the larger square.  Draw a line from point to point through the small squares.

Sew a line of stitches 1/4 inch away from the center line on each side of the line.  Cut the pieces apart on the line,  Iron the small triangles away from the larger piece.

Line up each of the two remaining small squares on one of the remaining corners of the large square.  Draw a line from corner to corner on the small square, beginning between the two small triangles.  Stitch a line of stitches 1/4 inch to each side of the line, cut apart on the line.

Iron open the final small triangle.  Trim the geese to 2.5 inches x 4.5 inches.  Attach one of the 2.5 inch x 4.5 inch rectangles to each of the flying geese (not pictured).

How to construct the corner squares

Begin as you would for a half square triangle.  Place two of the 5.25 inch squares right sides together.  Draw a line from corner to corner.

Sew a line 1/4 inch on each side of the line.  Cut the piece apart on the line.  Iron the square open.  Cut in half on the diagonal, in the opposite direction of the line that divided the two fabrics.

You now have (4) triangles composed of two fabrics each.  Match each one with one of the triangles that resulted from cutting the 5-inch squares apart.

Place right sides together and sew along the long edge.  Iron open.  Trim to 4.5 inches.

Arrange the pieces as shown below.  Sew the blocks into rows, then sew the rows together.

As I mentioned, the block above is too busy.  Here’s the redo, with her friends Virginia and Maryland.

WiP Wednesday: Vacation edition

Hey there!  I didn’t post my works in progress last week.  The only work in progress I was working on was helping my sister get ready for her wedding.

So here I am, my second of eight weeks away from home and I still manage to have half a dozen projects “in the works.”  No idea how that happened!  In the past, I’ve posted The List (the “to do” list) from the last week and talked about what I was able to complete.  The List is on hold until I return, however, here’s what I have been working on.

Be Free Bees Quilts for May and June

The Be Free Bees is my online free form quilt robin.  Each month, we get a new quilt to add to and then we pass it on.  These are actually finishes rather than in progress right now.  I sent out May’s quilt a little late, had a mix up with the mailing of June’s, but it arrived and I was quickly inspired and after a trip to the fabric store, I went right to work.

Road Trip Quilt Along

I’m working on the tutorial for this week’s block: Pennsylvania.  And I would like to get Ohio made and the tutorial written for next week as well since we will be camping next week and I don’t know if I will have internet access.

Be a {modern} swapper angel blocks

In another Flickr group, Be a {modern} swapper, a group member stopped communicating so the group leaders asked for volunteers to make “angel blocks.”  Basically what that means is that I make two blocks for someone who was supposed to receive them from them from the missing person, but I don’t receive any in return.  The recipient requested blocks with triangles.

Penguin and Purple mug rug

My cousin requested a mug rug for a friend as part of wedding shower present.  We picked out fabric when she was here for my sister’s wedding.  It arrived today.

Trixie’s travels: at Grandma’s house

Trixie is the Janome Sew Mini I purchased to take on our road trip this summer so that I can still do some sewing away from home.  With Trixie along for the ride, I’ll take you along on our summer road trip from Virginia to Illinois, then westward to Bozeman, Montana. From there, we head to Glacier National Park, and then Rocky Mountain National Park. We’ll finish our trip with some friends in Denver and then finally a stop in St. Louis before heading home to Virginia the end of July.

No actual traveling has been going on this week.  We spent the end of last week preparing for my sister’s wedding, which happened on Saturday.

Sierra celebrated her 4th birthday Sunday with a few “Illinois friends.”

We’ve been attending swimming lessons on the weekday mornings, but I can’t persuade Trixie to swim.  She insists that the water would not be good for her electrical components.

She does however, enjoy the playground.  My parents live across the street from a city park with a great playground, so we’ve been spending quite a bit of time over there.

Road Trip Quilt Along: Maryland [Part 2]

Let’s finish up that quilt block for Maryland.  I originally came across this design at Quilters Corner Club.  The color placement is a bit different there than my finished block, so you can check that out for another option.  We started with the four paper pieced sections in Maryland Part 1.  Now, let’s finish the block!

Here are the cutting directions copied from Part 1:

You can start out by cutting out (8) squares from your background fabric that are 2-15/16 inches.

Center: (1) 2-15/16 inch square

For the four (4) paper pieced sections: middle piece: (4) 2-15/16 squares
For the background: (8) 3-inch x 1.75-inch rectangles.

Half square triangles: Four (4), 3.5-inch squares background fabric
Four (4), 3.5 inch squares, accent fabric (the outer star points).

Quarter square triangles: (1) 3.75-inch square (to match center); (1) 3.75-inch square to match the star points; (2) 3.75-inch square.

The half square triangles (HSTs) are located around each corner and come together really easily.

Place the two 3.5 inch squares of fabric for the HSTs right sides together and draw a line from corner to corner.

Sew a line of stitches 1/4 inches to each side of that drawn line.

Cut down the line and iron the HST open.

Trim to 2-15/16 inches.

The quarter square triangles that surround the center of the block being the same way as the HSTs.  Place the 3.75-inch squares right sides together.  Draw a line from corner to corner.  Sew a line of stitches 1/4 inch away from the line on each side.  Cut down the line.  Iron open.

Now, line up your ruler perpendicular to the sewn line and cut from corner to corner.

Arrange your pieces so that the quarter square triangles look as they do in my picture below.

Sew the quarter square triangles together and trim to 2-15/16 inches.

All pieces are complete.  Arrange your block.  Sew the pieces together into rows and then sew the rows together.

Virginia and Maryland together.

Mei tai on a Monday: a walk in the woods

Kim and I went to graduate school together.  We were in the same stats class and were both part of a class group on Facebook.  When I saw that her profile picture featured her rock climbing, I sent her note.  We found each other in class the next time it met and bonded over our mutual love of rock climbing and things outdoors-y and our mutual disdain for the necessary evil that is statistical analysis.

Kim studied coral reef fishes in graduate school and I have already purchased fabric with an awesome fish print to make her a mei tai when/if she and her husband decide to venture down the terrifying and rocky path that is parenthood.  This is not that mei tai.

Kim asked me to make this one as a gift for her sister, who recently had a baby.  The fabric is called “Fresh Meadows” and has a great variety of acorns and flowers and leaves and what not.

I used canvas for the straps, the same type I used for Emily’s carrier I showed you last week, but in brown this time.  It’s a nice sturdy fabric for the straps and will continue to be nice and supportive as baby gets bigger.

We kept it simple for the back with a solid green in a shade that coordinates with the print on the front.

I added the stop stitching in a contrasting brown for a little bit of extra interest.

I hope baby and new parents get a whole lot of love and use out of this carrier!