Road Trip Quilt Along: Maryland [Part 1]

Hello road trippers!  Seat belts fastened?  We’re supposed to be heading to Maryland today, however, I’m writing this Thursday night and I’m about to take my sister out to celebrate the last days of her single life over a bottle of wine and it seems I won’t finish the entire block before tomorrow.  I’ll post Monday, but let’s get started today.

Maryland is a little tricky for a 12-inch block because it is essentially divided into a 5×5 grid.  Twelve does not divide very evenly by 5 so there will be a little bit of approximating going on here.  [By the way, if there are any more experienced quilters out there who have a better way of doing this, please let me know!]

[WARNING: Math ahead!  Proceed slowly!]

We are going to pretend that each of the 25 squares that this block breaks down into are 2-7/16 inches, square.  That means, with seam allowances, we will trim to 2-15/16 inches.  Thus, if all seam allowances are correct, the finished block with be 12-11/16 inches.  Since we trim to 12.5 inches, there will be an extra 3/16 inch we have to remove.  If you make your seam allowances just a hair larger than exactly 1/4 inch, the finished block will be even closer to the desired size.

Cutting directions

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.

Part 1 Directions

We are going to make the 4 paper pieces parts of this block today.

To make the template for the paper pieced portion, first draw out a 2-7/16-inch square on freezer paper (or regular paper if you don’t have freezer paper).  Fold the square in half to find the center.  Draw a line from the bottom left corner to the center of the top line.  Draw a line from the bottom right corner to the center of the top line.

Add a 1/4 inch seam allowance all the way around this paper pieced portion.

Iron the freezer paper to the fabric that will be the center of this portion of this section.  [If you don’t have freezer paper and you are using regular paper, you can just pin.]  The wrong side of the fabric will be ironed to the waxy side of the freezer paper.

Fold the paper back along one of the diagonal lines and trim the fabric to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Line up one of the 3-inch x 1.75-inch background pieces with the edge.  Sew very close to the paper without actually piercing the paper with the needle.

Flip the paper back open and iron the background piece open away from the center.

Repeat for the other side.  Fold the paper back along the diagonal line.  Trim to 1/4 inch away fro the fold.  Line up the background fabric with the raw edge.  Sew very close to the paper in the fold without piercing the paper.

Repeat for all four pieces and trim to 2-15/16 inches.

Maryland quilt block part 2 here.

Novelty print charm square patchwork ruffle skirt

How’s that for a mouthful?!  We’ll get to the NPCSPRS in just a moment, meanwhile, welcome to my stop on the Plum and June Let’s Get Acquainted blog hop and [say this next part in a funny British accent] please allow myself to introduce … myself.

My name is Em.  I currently live in Virginia via Illinois, Missouri, and Connecticut.  I’ve been quilting for … let’s call it 2 years, since that’s when I decided my scrap bin from other projects was getting out of hand and needed to be dealt with.  I sew (and quilt) predominately at night (hence the name of this blog) after my two little girls are tucked in to bed.  I often just enjoy the soundtrack of my sewing machine and the absence of small voices yelling from the bathroom, “Mooomm!  WIPE MY BUM!”  But if I’m feeling musical, I usually turn on Pandora and my mood ranges from blue grass to classic rock to club dance music.

My family and I are presently in week one of seven and a half weeks away from home this summer.  We started in Virginia, drove to Illinois, then it’s on to Montana and back home via Colorado and St. Louis.  We will drive through 16 states in total.  It is the Epic Road Trip Adventure that inspired the Road Trip Quilt Along I’m currently hosting.  

Assuming I can keep up between all the events and travel, I will post a tutorial for a new state block each week.  We just started with Virginia last week, and I would love it if you want to play along.  You can join the Road Trip Quilt Along Flickr group here.  We’ll continue on to Maryland tomorrow if I can get the tutorial finished up.  My sister’s wedding is this weekend, though, so it might be Monday.

Okay.  On to today’s tutorial.  It was inspired by Beth’s suggestion to use novelty prints.  And by the great variety of charm packs that are available.  And by my two little girls.

While not technically a quilting project, quilters have charm squares, yes?  And quilters know little girls that love twirly ruffle skirts.  You don’t know any ruffle-skirt loving little girls?  Sure you do: your best friend’s granddaughter, your neighbor’s niece, you co-worker’s sister’s cousin’s kid.  Anyway, I’m sure you can find a recipient for this darling skirt if you don’t have a little girl handy (I have two in my immediate vicinity; three this week since we’re visiting my parents and my niece is here).


[This is for a skirt that will fit a 3-4 year old.  For a smaller child, you could shorten the bottom band or leave it off entirely.  In the latter case, you will just add a hem to the bottom tier of the skirt.  For a larger child, you can add a third tier of charm square.  I recommend 12.]

16 charm squares
5-inch x 37-inch strip for bottom band
3-inch x 26-inch strip for waist band
21 inches of elastic (or thereabouts, measure the wearer of the skirt)

Ruffle skirt tutorial

Lay out your charm squares in the order you would like them.  Seven charms for the upper tier of the skirt, 9 charms for the lower tier.
 Using seam allowances of 1/2 inch, (I only emphasize that because most of you are quilters and quilters usually use 1/4 inch seam allowances.  You need more here.) sew each tier together into a ring.
 Within each seam allowance, trim off excess with pinking shears and zig zag stitch along the edge so that your skirt does not fray when you wash it.  If you have a serger, use it here.  Iron all the seam allowanced to one side.
 Sew both your waist band strip and your bottom strip together along the short ends into a ring.  Iron the seam of each open and then fold each ring in half and press.
 Open the folded-in-half ring back up and then fold one edge over 1/2 inch and press.

[This next part is slightly tricky, so read carefully.]  Line up the raw edge of the bottom band with the bottom edge of the lower tier of the skirt.  The right side of the bottom band should be against the wrong side of the skirt.  (I know it seems unnatural.  Just trust me here.)  Sew the bottom band to the skirt with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Iron the band out away from the skirt, flip it up on the fold line to cover the raw edge and the line of stitches you just made and then top stitch down, very close to the edge.  Ta da!  Lovely bottom band.
 Time to ruffle.  Do not backstitch at the beginning and end!!  With a basting stitch (sewing machine set to longest stitch length), sew a line of stitches about 1/4 inch below the top edge of the bottom tier of the skirt.  (Some say to add a second line of basting stitches in case a thread breaks, but I usually just sew one line.) Firmly grasp the bobbin thread with one hand and slide the fabric along the thread to gather.  You will gather it until it is the same length as the top tier of the skirt (28 inches).
 Line up the top the edge of the bottom tier (that you just gathered) with the bottom edge of the top tier, right sides together.  Sew together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Use pinking shears to trim the seam allowance and zig zag stitch along the raw edge.

Iron the seam toward the top.  Turn the skirt to the right side and top stitch along the bottom edge of the top tier, catching the seam you just ironed up.  This will keep the seam in place and help the skirt to lie nicely when it’s worn.
 Using the same technique as you used for the bottom tier, gather the top tier so that it is the same length as the waist band.

Line up the gathered top edge with the raw edge of the waist band.  As with the bottom band, the right side of the waist band will be against the wrong side of the skirt.  [I inserted a 3 inch piece of ribbon, folded in half, between the layers in the back of the skirt before I sewed them together.  This is optional, but my daughter looks for the “tag” in her clothes.]
 Iron the waist band away from the skirt, flip it down along the fold and top stitch very close to the edge.  Leave about 2 inches open to insert the elastic.
Attach a large safety pin to one end of the elastic, and thread it through the waist band.  Sew the two ends of the elastic together.  Sew the hole shut.
 Phew!  Did you make it all the way to the end?  Are you going to make a patchwork ruffle skirt?  Who is on your list?
 Be sure to check out my blog hop buddy today, Taryn at Pixels to Patchwork.

And if you missed them on Tuesday, go visit Cinzia at Deux Petites Souris and check out Kristy’s Red Herring blocks at Quiet Play.

You can find all the blog hop participants on Beth’s blog at Plum and June.


Trixie’s travels: leaving home

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.

We left in the wee hours Saturday morning.  The girls were set up in the back with blankets and granola bars (and sunglasses for the little one.  At 5am.).  Trixie was nestled in her spot in the back between the overnight bags.

We planned our overnight stop in Hudson, Ohio, specifically so that we could visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  We had a picnic and then did a short hike to a great waterfall.  

The next day, it was on to Illinois, where we have been settling in and enjoying time with family.  Trixie offered to pitch in and do some weeding in my mother’s flower garden.  

Mei tai on a Monday: Forest life and flowers

My friend Emily was the leader of the babywearing group in Culpeper when it was active.  She taught me a whole a lot about babywearing when we first moved to Virginia, and I had a tiny Sierra and had no idea what I was doing.

Sadly, life got in the way, Emily started working full time again, and she could no longer make the time commitment to run the babywearing group.  It was 3 years ago, Emily reminded me when she came to pick up this carrier, that I first made a mei tai for her.

Early this spring, another friend, Erin, stopped me to tell me that a woman had stopped her in Target to ask about her mei tai.  When Erin replied that a friend had made it, this woman asked, “Was it Em?” and expressed that she had mei tai that I made, and would like another one, but didn’t want to bother me about it.  It really could have been only one of two people who would have been in Target in Culpeper that Erin didn’t already know.

I emailed Emily and asked if it had been her who talked to my friend, and it was.  She did want a mei tai, with bright straps.  We decided on this turquoise canvas and Emily chose this Michael Miller Forest Life print to go along with it.  I just LOVE those owls (big surprise, right?).

As much as I adore the owls, I think I might like the reverse of this carrier even better.  The turquoise in the middle of the flowers is almost a perfect match for the strap color.  This print is from Botanical Pop by Windham Fabrics and I found it in the sale section at a local quilt shop.  It was a great find, especially since the selection in the sale area at that shop can be questionable at times.

I stuck with white for the top stitching because I didn’t want to take anything away from either of the prints by using turquoise thread.  Good thing, too, as I ran out of turquoise thread and had to use a slightly different color for the last two lines of support stitching through the waist band.  But, shhhh!  No one will ever know!

Road Trip Quilt Along: Virginia

Ah!  The Virginia star!  The block of that state we currently call home, and the state that we are saying good-bye to for 2 months tomorrow!!!  We will never be ready in time!

The Virginia star is pretty basic as far as star blocks go, but I think it is quite pretty.  When I was researching a state block for Virginia, I discovered there are quite a lot of variations of this block out there.  I was inspired by this one at Scraps and Threadtales, with a square set on point in the center of the block.

Supplies for the Virginia Star block:

Working from the inside of the block to the outside:

1. Center fabric:
(1) 6.5 inch square.  I cut the square at 6.5 inches and then trimmed the corners, but if you want, you could just cut a 4-7/8 square.
2.   Background fabric for the center:
(2) 4.25-inch squares, cut on the diagonal to make 4 triangles.  These are larger than you need, but I prefer to cut a bit larger and then trim to size.
3.  Flying geese:
(1) 7.25-inch square for the middle of the geese.  I used my background fabric (the solid gray)
(4)  4-inch squares for the star points
4.  Corners of the block:
(4) 3.5-inch squares of background fabric.

Before we begin, a note about seam allowances:

This is important.  All seam allowances are 1/4-inch.  Do not be generous with your seam allowances.  If you make your seam allowance too wide, you will get to the end and find that your block is smaller than the desired 12.5 inches.  That would be a bummer.  So, check your seam allowances with a ruler and make sure they are 1/4-inch, or just a hair smaller.  ‘Tis easier to trim off a bit of extra fabric than to rip out a seam and start over.

Directions for constructing the Virginia Star

On the reverse side of the 6.5-inch square of fabric for the middle of the star, draw a line with chalk pencil or disappearing marker 1/4-inch to the inside of the square.  This line represents the finished size of the center of the star.

Find the mid-point of each side and draw a diagonal line to the mid-point of the adjacent side, forming the on point square that will be the center of the block.

Trim off the corner 1/4 inch to the outside of the 4 diagonal lines you drew.

With the right sides of the fabric together, line up the edge of one of those diagonal you just cut with the long side of one of the triangles of background fabric for the center of the star.

Sew along the line you drew.

Repeat for the opposite side and press pieces open.

Line up the two remaining triangles with the two remaining exposed edges.  Sew along the diagonal lines you drew.  Press the pieces open and trim your center piece to 6.5-inches square.

Now to make the flying geese.

When making four geese for a star block such as this, I prefer to use the “magic method” I learned in the Skill Builder Sampler.

With right sides of fabric together, lay out (2) of the squares of fabric you will be using for the star points with opposite corners of the 7.25-inch square of background fabric for the center of the flying geese.

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.  You can put a pin in each square if you want, but I just held them in place.

Sew a line of stitches 1/4-inch on each side of the line you drew.

Cut the square apart on the line.

Iron the smaller triangles to the side.  I like to just lift the tip with my iron and press them out of the way.

Line up one of the remaining square for the star points with the remaining exposed corners of the background square (now a triangle).  Again, draw a line from corner to corner and sew a line of stitches 1/4-inch away from the line on each side.  Cut the pieces apart on the line.

Iron the remaining triangle open and trim the 4 geese to 3.5 x 6.5 inches.

Lay out your block using the center piece, the flying geese you just made and the 4 corner blocks.  Sew the rows together and then put the block together.

Caution: Because of the extra square in the center, the seams at those points where the on point square meets the flying geese are rather bulky.  Just go slowly and it will work out!

Ooh aaahh!  So pretty!!  

Hey look! Remember how I said those seams were a little bulky?  Yep, my block doesn’t lay quilt flat.  That’s okay.  I’m sure you won’t even notice in the finished product.

Also, my points don’t line up perfectly.  I don’t really mind.  I LOVE how this block turned out.

We’ll miss you Virginia!

So, are you going to try this block?  I hope you do!  Go post yours in the Road Trip Quilt Along Flickr Group!

The journey continues next week as we head to Maryland.  If you have freezer paper, we’re going to use it to make a template for a tiny paper pieced portion of the block.  We only need a 3-inch square, so if you don’t have it, we’ll just use regular paper and pin it to the fabric.