Quilt for my buddy Brian: you can help, too!

My friend Brian and I go back.

Like, way, way back.

(That’s me on the left, Brian in the middle, and my obnoxious little sister on the right.  Just kidding, Chris.  You’re not obnoxious.  At least not anymore.)

Brian lives in Colorado Springs, and this summer, his home was destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire.  While I want to be able to do something to help him out, I admit to feeling a bit helpless.  There’s not much I can do from Virginia other than offer my good wishes and let him know he can tell me if there’s anything I can do to help him.  Which I’ve done, but I’ve still felt like I would like to offer something more.

It finally occurred to me that I could make him a quilt.  He’s rebuilding his house, and I hope a quilt will be something he can use and that will help make his new house “home.”  This is going to be a large queen sized quilt, composed of 42 16-inch blocks, so if you’d like to contribute a block or two, I will happily accept them.

Here’s what I have planned.

Color scheme:

Blues (especially dark blue), greens, and grays.  “Man colors.”  Nature inspired.  Like rocky mountains covered in trees.  Mix of prints and solids.  Nothing too flowery.


I found a quilt pattern called “Turning 20 Again.”  It is basically a simple patchwork that has various sized patches.  It seems very man friendly, and while I don’t own that pattern specifically, I used the design to come up with some cutting directions for a similar block.

Putting the block together

I’ve been working pretty freely on these, without much forethought before I actually get into cutting the fabric.

I begin by cutting the large square and work out from there, adding fabrics that I feel look nice in that position.  When you have all your pieces cut, lay them out to make sure you are happy with that arrangement.

Use a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance for all seams.  Begin by sewing the four small squares together into a 4-patch block.  Add the short rectangle below that.  Construct the second section by sewing the shortest strip to the large square.  Add the medium strip to the bottom of that piece.  Sew the large rectangle to the medium square to make the bottom strip.

Attach the two middle sections together.  Sew the rows together.  Trim the block to 16.5 inches square.

Here are the blocks I’ve completed so far to give you an idea of the color scheme I have in mind for this project.

When the quilt is finished, the blocks will be turned to different positions to give an all over patchwork pattern.  Fun!

If you’d like to help with Brian’s quilt, you can comment here, or send me an email and I will get back to you with my address.

You can see the colors and fabrics I’m using in the blocks above, but there’s a better view of the fabric (and thus, the color palette) here.

Works in Progress: still more finishes

It’s been a good week.  Finishing my quilts for the Free Form Quilt Robin, the Be Free Bees has been near the top of my priority list and I’m happy to say I’m nearly there.

Here’s what my list looked like last week:

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along Tutorial.  Finished!!  The last block of this QAL is done and that final tutorial will go up Friday.  I’m still leaving this item on The List because now I have to finish the quilt!
1a. Kentucky Chain for Friday.  Finished.  Tutorial is posted.
1b. West Virginia for next week: the last block!!  Finished.  Unlike past week, this is actually finished before Friday.  In other words, early.  What a concept.
2. Gathered clutches.  No progress.  Other priorities.
3.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote.  No progress.  Ditto.
4.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin additions.  Progress.  
4a. For Thea.  Finished.  This will be in the mail tomorrow.
4b.  For Jenny.  Progress.  Jenny’s quilt features several baskets.  I did some improvisational letters to read “A-Tisket A-Tasket.”  I am no longer on speaking terms with the letters “s”, lowercase “e”, and lowercase “a”.
5.  Clean the sewing room.  Some progress.  My goal this week is to get the floor clean enough actually vacuum in there.  Then I’ll call this “finished enough” and remove it from the list.
6.  Quilt for Brian.  No progress.  I had hoped to post details about this project this week, but it just didn’t happen.

Two tutorials that I would like to complete, but are on the back burner right now:  This is really just a place holder/reminder that I want to do this at some point.
7.  Equilateral triangle hexagon quilt block tutorial
8.  Kid’s play oven mitt tutorial

That leaves The List looking like this for next week:

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along: put together quilt top
2. Gathered clutches.
3.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote
4.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin addition for Jenny.
5.  Clean the sewing room.
6.  Quilt for Brian.

Two tutorials that I would like to complete, but are on the back burner right now:
7.  Equilateral triangle hexagon quilt block tutorial
8.  Kid’s play oven mitt tutorial

My list doesn’t have any fewer items, but with the completion of the blocks for the Road Trip Quilt Along and the Be Free Bees addition finish for Thea, it sure feels like it does.  After I finish my Road Trip quilt, I think I will bring back the Skill Builder Sampler I was working on once upon a time.  I have 6 blocks left to finish.

Check out what others have been working on at Freshly Pieced!

FINISHING something new

I’m so happy to have progressed all the way through trying something new to actually finishing something new.

The result of my first ever attempt at embroidery, the hoop I made for the Bee a {Modern} Swapper swap was sent off in the mail early this week.  It took me most of the month to actually finish it, but much of that was simply because I was having a stare-down with the partially completed hoop, not progressing only because I hadn’t done it before.  Once I actually achieved some forward momentum, it actually went pretty smoothly with just a few snafus that resulted in me cutting out my stitches and starting again.

The first part went pretty well because it was essentially quilting at the base, and I’ve done that before.  I traced the inside of my hoop and drew a hexagon.  I divided it so that I was left with six triangles, what I’m calling a split hexagon.

I used osnaburg for the base because it has a nice, natural color and a slightly nubby texture that I thought would work great with the bright colors I used for the triangles.

I matched a similarly colored embroidery floss with each of the triangles and this is where my project sat for a couple week.  I was paralyzed by what I didn’t know how to do next.  I got a tremendous amount of help from the embroidery picture tutorials at Rocksea when I finally started hand stitching.

I started out with a very basic running stitch around each of the triangles.  Above each triangle, I added a lazy daisy with 6 petals.  I wanted to use some French knots in the center and this is where things went awry.  My French knots were all weird and messy looking and coming out cleanly at all.  Frustrating.  I debated whether just to make it work, but eventually, cut them all out, reviewed the French knot tutorial, and tried again.

Much better!

Next up: leaves.  I decided to try a raised fishbone stitch, which resulted in a cute, fat little leaf on each side of my flowers.

To finish off the design, I drew some freehand swirls with my disappearing ink pen on each side of my flowers and used a back stitch to go over them in the color of the adjacent triangle.

Here, you can see all the stitches that I used for this project.

I finished the back with a piece of cardboard covered with batting and fabric.

Hope my partner likes it; I really put a lot of effort into this one!

Road Trip Quilt Along: Kentucky Chain

The Kentucky chain.  I love how this block turned out and, in fact, I would LOVE to make an entire quilt out of this block because that is when the woven pattern of the block would really shine.

Options!  You like options, right?  Well, this block is going to be full of options for its construction.  The Kentucky chain block has an overlapping pattern that looks something like this:

When you deconstruct it in order to put the quilt block together you’ve got a couple of options.  The first is to keep that center line as a singular piece and put together the side portions on either side of the center.

The second option, the one that makes the most sense to me, and thus the one I will use, divides the block into 4 quarters, two of each type.  Each quarter is constructed the same, but the two focus fabrics switch positions.

I mentioned on Wednesday that I had reviewed how others had done the block, and it seemed that paper piecing was involved no matter how you split it.  I hadn’t actually put this block together myself yet, so I just assumed that was the best way.  I began to write the tutorial for this block by showing you how to make a template for the paper pieced portion of the block.  However, after I finished the template, I realized that I could just as easily assemble the block without paper piecing.

Meanwhile, Shena emailed me to let me know that she had put the Kentucky chain block together without paper piecing it.  I suggested she write a tutorial and I could direct you over there for another way to put this block together.  Her method is a bit different than the one I finally settled on.

So here are your options:
1.  Construct the block with the center line as one piece.  If you like the look of that, you can check out the tutorial for the Kentucky chain at Quilter’s Cache.
2.  Use paper piecing to put together the corners of each quarter of the block.  I will direct you in how to make a template below.  The advantage of using paper piecing is that your lines and corners are going to be more crisp and precise, especially when it comes to matching up the points of intersection.
3.  Use my method that does not involve paper piecing.  You’ll find it below the directions for making the paper piecing template.
4.  Use Shena’s method that does not involve paper piecing.  I suggest you read through both and follow whichever makes more sense to you.

How to make a template for paper piecing the Kentucky Chain block

Begin by drawing a square on freezer paper, 6 inches on each side.  Mark 1-1/2 inches away from the corners on each side.

Draw a line from one mark to the farthest mark on the adjacent edge.  Clear as mud?  That’s why there’s a picture.  Repeat, beginning at the mark on the other side of the same corner, to make a bar down the middle of the block (well, quarter-block).  The section you just created in the middle of the square is 2-1/8 inches wide, and 8.5 inches from corner to corner.  When you cut the fabric for this middle section, you will cut a strip 2-5/8 inches x 9-1/4 inches (to give yourself a little wiggle room on the ends for trimming).

Repeat with the marks on each side of the other two corners, skipping over the bar you just made, to create an “x” through the quarter block.

Two of the corner will now be composed of three sections.  The middle section will be one of your focus fabrics, the side pieces will be your background fabric.  Add 1/4 inch seam allowances around one of these pieces.  Cut this out and use it to paper piece your corners.  You will end up with eight corner pieces, 4 using [fabric 1] and 4 using [fabric 2].

Cutting directions for Kentucky Chain block

(8) 3.5 inch squares, cut on the diagonal to make 16 triangles [background fabric]

(2) 2-5/8 inch x 9-1/4 inch rectangles [fabric 1]
(2) 2-5/8 inch x 9-1/4 inch rectangles [fabric 2]

(4) 2-5/8 inch x 4 inch rectangles [fabric 1]
(4) 2-5/8 inch x 4 inch rectangles [fabric 2]

Construct the Kentucky Chain block

Take each of your 2-5/8 inch x 4 inch squares of fabric and place it right sides together with a triangle of background fabric.  The corners and two sides of the pieces should line up.  Sew along the long edge of the rectangle.

This is an excellent opportunity for chain piecing.  Just line up each of those background triangles with one of your short rectangles and put them through your machine one after the other without stopping to trim threads.

Snip the threads between the pieces, iron the piece open and repeat on the other side, lining up a triangle of background fabric with the corner of each short rectangle.

You now have eight 3-parted pieces, four with each of your two focus fabrics.  Take two of these pieces with [fabric 1] and two with [fabric 2] and center each one along the long edge of one of the 2-5/8 x 9-1/4 inch rectangles of the opposite fabric.

Flip the rectangles so the right sides are together and the long edges are aligned.  Sew along this long edge.

Iron the piece open and add a second 3-parted pieces (same fabric as the first in that quarter) to the other side.

Flip the piece up so right sides are together and check that the edges of the center fabric line up.

Sew along the long edge, iron the pieces open and trim the quarter to 6.5 inches.  This works best if you have a 6.5 inch square ruler, but even if you don’t, square up the block from the corners.  By this, I mean that the focus fabrics in the corners should end the same distance from the corner on each side of a corner.

Complete the remaining three quarters in the same way.  Arrange the quarters as below.

Even though it wouldn’t technically be a Kentucky Chain with this alternate arrangement, I still think it looks pretty great if two opposite quarters are turned so that the colors alternate.

Sew the quarters together and trim the block to 12.5 inches.

Only one block to go!!!


Works in Progress Wednesday

Quick!  Before Wednesday’s over!  What have I managed to accomplish this week?  I was feeling like I really got a lot done last week, but this week, even though I’ve had some big finishes, I’m not feeling like I was as productive.

Here’s The List from last week:

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along Tutorial
1a. Missouri for Friday.  Finished.  But it was late, and I’m kicking myself about that.  I’ve been posting my tutorials on Friday, but it didn’t happen until Monday this week.  I hadn’t begun it Wednesday, and then Thursday and Friday I tried to go to bed a little earlier since I had a race Saturday morning.  Then Saturday night, my husband had “the boys” over for campfire and cigars, and I usually say hello and then stay out of their hair, but they’re all teachers, and I hadn’t seen them all summer, so I stayed up and chatted.  Excuses, excuses.

1b. Kentucky for next week.  No progress.  Other than revisiting the block to figure out how I would write the tutorial.  I am sorry for my “I don’t like paper piecing” quilt along-ers, but there are 2 basic methods of putting this one together and they both involve paper piecing.

2. Gathered clutches.  No progress.  

3.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote.  No progress.  Blargh.  I want to finish some of these!

4.  Hoopie swap project.  Finished!  Hooray!  And mailed!  Extra hooray!
 5.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin additions.

5a. For Thea.  Some progress.  Half done with this one.
5b.  For Jenny.  No progress.  One at a time.  When I finish Thea’s, I’ll start on this one.

6.  Skirt for myself.  Finished.  Finished mere hours before the party I wanted to wear it to, but finished nonetheless.  Also took in my husband’s pants the day of the party.  Go me.
 7.  Clean the sewing room.  Er … Limited progress.  But enough that my 4-year-old noticed and commented about it being cleaner in there.  Ha!

Two tutorials that I would like to complete, but are on the back burner right now:  No progress.  
8.  Equilateral triangle hexagon quilt block tutorial
9.  Kid’s play oven mitt tutorial

I also made three 16 inch blocks for a quilt I will be making for my friend Brian.  He lost his home in the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs this summer, and I feel like making a quilt is something useful I can do to show him I care and help him settle into a new place when he gets to that point again.  I’ll post more details about this in a few days.  I’m hoping to get some of my quilt-y friends to help me out with this project.

So, here’s what The List is looking like now:

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along Tutorial
1a. Kentucky Chain for Friday
1b. West Virginia for next week: the last block!!
2. Gathered clutches.
3.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote
4.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin additions.
4a. For Thea.
4b.  For Jenny.
5.  Clean the sewing room.
6.  Quilt for Brian.

Two tutorials that I would like to complete, but are on the back burner right now:
7.  Equilateral triangle hexagon quilt block tutorial
8.  Kid’s play oven mitt tutorial

You can see what others are up to by visiting Works in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Road Trip Quilt Along: Missouri Star

As I’ve been in the habit of posting our Road Trip Quilt Along tutorials on Friday, I must apologize for the delay. I hadn’t yet begun this one when I posted my Work in Progress Wednesday, and the end of the week just sort of got away from me.

Missouri is where my husband’s parents’ live, so this was a significant stop on our road trip this summer. We actually stayed one night with my cousin on the western side of the state and then drove to St. Louis, where we hung out with Grandma and Grandpa for several days before finishing our journey home to Virginia.

And our Road Trip Quilt Along journey is almost over as well. Only two block remain after this one!

I found the Missouri Star block at Quilter’s Cache, and it looks something like this:

I wanted to have a focal point in the center of my block, though. So I modified this star a bit. I exchanged the negative space (background fabric) in the center with a third fabric and swapped the corners of that center piece back to my background fabric. So these directions will result in a Missouri star that looks something like this:

Feel free to use either version.

Cutting directions for modified Missouri star

Center square
(1) 4.75 inch square (on point) [fabric 1]
(2) 4 inch squares, cut once on the diagonal to make 4 triangles [background fabric]

Flying geese/star points
Since the sides of these flying geese are composed of two fabrics, we can’t use the short cut method I’ve used in the past. Each one will have to be sewn individually.

(1) 7.25 inch triangle, cut twice on the diagonal, to make 4 triangles [background fabric]
(2) 4.25 inch squares [fabric 2]
(2) 4.25 inch squares [fabric 3]

Ignore the fact that I have (4) squares of each of fabric 2 and 3 in the picture below. I wasn’t paying attention and made extra.

(4) 3.5 inch squares [background fabric]

Make the center square

Take your 4.75 inch square. Line up 1 of the triangles made from the 4 inch square of background fabric with one edge. Sew in place and repeat for the opposite edge. Iron those pieces open. Repeat these steps, sewing the last two triangles from the 4 inch squares to the two remaining sides of the 4.75 inch center square. Iron the pieces open. Trim the center square to 6.5 inches.

Make the flying geese/star points

Begin by using your 4.25 inch squares to make 4 half square triangles. Match one square of fabric 2 with one square of fabric 3 and create the HSTs as we’ve done for past blocks. You will end up with 4 HSTs (again, ignore the fact that I have twice as many as I need!).

Take each of your HSTs and cut it in half on the diagonal, in the opposite direction of the line between the two fabrics. You now have 8 triangles, each composed of two fabrics.

Line up one of those two tone triangles along a short edge of one of the 1/4 triangles created from the 7.25 inch square.

Flip the two tone triangle so the right sides of the two triangles are together. When you line up the two triangles, do it so that the two parallel edges are lined up. Do not center the two tone triangle along the edge of the 1/4 square triangle. See all those little threads? I centered and didn’t realize until I had done it incorrectly 5 times and had to rip all my seams out. Grrrrr …

Iron open.  Repeat for the other side, again lining up the parallel edges and allowing the “extra” fabric to all extend above the upper point.  Iron the piece open and trim to 3.5 inches x 6.5 inches.

Repeat the process to make 3 more flying geese/star points.

Arrange your pieces to for the Missouri star.

Sew the pieces into row.  Sew the rows together.  Trim the block to 12.5 inches.

Can you believe that there are only TWO state blocks left and we will have finished all the blocks for the quilt along?!