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!!!


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?!

Road Trip Quilt Along: Rocky Road to Kansas

I was getting ready to show you how to make a template for the Rocky Road to Kansas block, when I noticed the template for my Iowa Star, slightly crumpled, lying on the floor near by (like I said, my sewing room is in desperate need of a good cleaning!)

As it turns out, Rocky Road to Kansas is almost exactly the same template as the Iowa Star.  The only difference is that the Iowa Star star points feature a large triangle composed of 4 smaller triangles, and the star points in Rocky Road to Kansas are string pieced.  If you made a freezer paper template for the Iowa Star, and you still have it, you can reuse it here.  If you need to make another, you can review the directions for making the template for the Iowa Star.  Just don’t add the lines to divided the large triangle.

I mentioned the star points for this block are string pieced, so this is a great chance to use up some of the scraps you’ve accumulated making some of the other blocks.  I used 7-9 strips for each of the 4 sections of the block, depending on the width of the strips.

Let’s start by putting together our strip pieces.  You’ll need 30-35 strips of fabric that are 5-6 inches in length and 1 to 1-3/4 inches in width.  Different widths are better, so trim up some of your scraps to make that happen.

Arrange 7-9 strips in a manner that looks appealing to you and sew them together along the length.  You’ll want the finished piece to be 5 inches x 7.5 inches.  Press seams open.

Repeat this 3 more times so that you have a total of 4 strip pieced sections of fabric.

Cutting directions for Rocky Road to Kansas

In addition to the (4) strip pieced sections for the star points you just created, you will also need:

(8) 4 inch x 7.5 inch rectangles [background fabric]

(2) 4 inch squares, cut on the diagonal to make 4 triangles

Constructing the block

Begin by placing your template on one of the strip pieced sections, with the waxy side of the freezer paper against the wrong side of the fabric.  The center triangle of the template should be fully on the fabric.  Press.

Fold back the template along one of the lines between the center triangle and the background.  Trim the fabric to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Line up one of the rectangles of background fabric along the edge you just cut.  Flip the piece so the paper is up again.  Sew the two pieces of fabric together, allowing the needle as close to the fold in the paper as possible, without piercing the paper.  (I didn’t include a photo of this since we’ve done this method of paper piecing before.  If you need a review, check out the photos in the Maryland tutorial.)  Unfold the paper and press the fabric open.

Repeat for the other side.  Fold the paper back along the line between the triangle and the background fabric.  Trim the strip pieced section to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.  Line up a rectangle of background fabric along the edge you just trimmed.  Sew as close to the fold as possible without piercing the paper.  Iron the section open.

Now all we have left is the triangle that will be center of the block.  Fold the paper template back along the final line between the base of the large triangle and the center section of the block.  Trim to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Line up one of the center triangles with the edge you just cut.  Sew very close to the fold, and then unfold the paper and iron the piece open.

Trim the section to 6.5 inches.

Repeat 3 more times to make 4 section of the block.  Sew together.  Trim to 12.5 inches.  Rocky Road to Kansas!

Here’s Kansas with her buddy, Iowa.  Only 3 blocks to go.  How are you doing?

Road Trip Quilt Along: Colorado Pass

Ah, Colorado!  How I love that state.  Every time I visit, I want to move there.  On our travels this summer, we spent a couple days in Rocky Mountain National Park (not nearly long enough) and then headed on to Denver, where we met up with 4 of my college cross country teammates.  What fun!

We woke up early one morning to find about half a dozen young mule deer bucks right outside the tent!

I don’t have a lot of pictures of the actual construction of this block because it’s easy as pie.  Bonus: it looks awesome!  I loved making it.  Though, I kind of have a crush on half square triangles.  If you don’t like making and trimming HSTs, you will not feel the same way as I do about this block.  That’s all it is.  A whole pile of HSTs and a handful of squares.

The tricky part is orienting all the HSTs in the proper direction to make up the pattern of the block.  Fear not, though.  I made a handy graphic for you.  Just click on the picture, print it out and you have a guide when you put this block together.  In color or black and white.

Cutting directions for Colorado Pass quilt block

Fabric 1:
(2) 2.5 inch squares
(6) 3 inch squares

Fabric 2:
(2) 2.5 inch squares
(6) 3 inch squares

Fabric 3:
(4) 3 inch squares

Background Fabric:
(16) 3 inch squares

Assembly direction for Colorado Pass quilt block:

Set aside the 2.5 inch squares.  You will use those for the corner of the finished block.

Make 32 half square triangles.  Match each 3 inch square of background fabric with a 3 inch square of one of your accent fabrics.  For a review of how to make HSTs, head on back to the Maryland quilt block.  This is an excellent place for chain piecing.  I just fed each pair of squares through my machine one at a time, sewing a line 1/4 inch to the right of my center diagonal line.  Then I flipped the whole line of squares over and stitched a line 1/4 inch to the other side of my center line.

Cut the HSTs apart on the center line and then trim each one to 2.5 inches. 

Now it’s just a matter of arranging the blocks in the correct layout and sewing them together.

I used chain piecing here as well, and it went together pretty quickly.  I was a little too “scant” with my 1/4 inch seam allowance, so when I trimmed my block to 12.5 inches, I don’t have 1/4 inch above those outside points, so I will lose a little bit of the point when I put the quilt together, but it doesn’t bother me enough to redo the entire block.  Do you strive to make everything “just so,” or are you a “make it work” type of quilter?

Road Trip Quilt Along: Montana

Ah, Montana.  No place I’d rather be in the summer than Bozeman, Montana.  My husband and I stayed out there for 7 weeks 2 years ago when he was beginning his Masters degree.  This year, he was finishing up and we spent another two weeks staying in Bozeman.

Being in one place for bit gave some time to explore, and we did a bit of hiking in the area.  My 4-year-old hiked the very steep M Trail (up to a large letter “M” on the side of a mountain) all by herself.

Quite the intrepid hiker, this one is!

We also visited Hyalite Canyon, which is just gorgeous: reservoir nestled between the mountains, wooded trails, hidden mountain lakes.  It’s a treasure.

We hiked a 4 miles trail that gave us views of 5 different waterfalls, and we have taken the trail for its entire 10 miles, we would have seen 11 in total, according to our guide book.

I took some creative license and slightly redesigned this block from the original source.  The source tutorial for the Montana block gives instructions to finish a 9-inch block.  For a block of this size, this 9-patch design works well.  For the patches that are divided in thirds, each third finishes at 1 inch.

However, I am writing these instructions for a 12-inch finished quilt block.  Thus, each of the 9 patches are 4 inches and those that are divided into thirds finish at somewhere between 1-5/16 and 1-3/8.  More complicated quilt math.  Not to mention, with the original design, the 4 flying geese are not the standard size, so they would have to be paper pieced.

If you care to stick with the original plan, 9 equal square patch, you go for it.  However, for some simpler quilt math and to finish this block without paper piecing, I just made one little change.  I decreased the center square from 4-inches finished to 3-inches finished.  Each of the corner half square triangles will now be 4.5 inches square and the sections even with the center piece finish at 3 inches x 4.5 inches.

Cutting direction for Montana quilt block

Center 9 patch
(5) 1.5 inch squares [fabric 1]
(4) 1.5 inch squares [fabric 2]

Flying Geese
(1) 4.25 inch square [fabric 1]
(4) 2.5 inch squares [fabric 2]

Extension from flying geese
(4) 3.5 inch x 2 inch rectangles [fabric 3]
(4) 3.5 inch x 2 inch rectangles [background fabric]

Half square triangles
(2) 5.5 inch squares [fabric 1]
(2) 5.5 inch squares [background fabric]

Assembly instructions for Montana quilt block

Create the half square triangles.  Use the four 5.5 inch squares.  More detailed directions for half square triangles can be found with the Maryland block.  Trim these HSTs to 5 inches.

Create four flying geese.  Use the 4.25 inch square of [fabric 1] and the four 2.5 inch squares of [fabric 2].  More detailed instructions for my preferred method of making flying geese can be found in the Virginia block tutorial.  Trim these geese to 3.5 inches x 2 inches.

Create the center 9 patch block.  Use the 1.5 inch squares.  Trim the finished piece to 3.5 inches square.

Put together the extensions of the flying geese.  Sew each of your flying geese together with one each of a 3.5 inch x 2 inch rectangle of [fabric 3] and one 3.5 inch x 2 inch rectangles of [background fabric].  Trim the piece to 3.5 inches x 5 inches.

Assemble the block.  Arrange your nine sections as shown below.  Sew the pieces into rows.  Sew the rows together.

Montana quilt block!  I apologize for the poor lighting in my sewing room at night, but this is all I have for now since I just finished this a little while ago.  I’ll try to get a better picture tomorrow as well as a photo of all the blocks we’ve finished so far.  It’s raining, though, so that depends on whether I can find a dry spot outside or not.

Road Trip Quilt Along: Wyoming

Ah!  Wyoming!  That was a fun stop on our road trip.  Wyoming is the home of Devil’s Tower, which is where we stopped right after leaving South Dakota.

Wyoming is also the home of one of my most favorite places, Yellowstone National Park, which we had the pleasure of visiting on two different occasions while we stayed in Bozeman.

Now, when I first decided to embark on this quit along, the block I chose for Wyoming was one called Wyoming Valley.  However, when I posted my sketches and introduced the quilt along for Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day, Jenelle let me know in her comment that The Wyoming Valley is in Pennsylvania!  Who knew!  (Jenelle did, obviously!)  So, to stay accurate and not look ridiculous to those who do know of Wyoming Valley, I found another block for Wyoming here.

This block should come together really easily for you.  There are half square triangles, and flying geese, both of which we’ve already practiced.  As such, I’m not going to go into detailed instruction on how to do those.  You can always check out the tutorials from the previous states, or feel free to send me an email if you have questions.

So, without further ado, let’s make a quilt block for Wyoming!

Cutting directions for Wyoming quilt block

You will need four fabrics for this block.

Center square: (1) 4.5 inch square [Fabric 1]

First round: (4) 4.5 x 2.5 inch rectangles [Fabric 2]
(4) 2.5 inch squares [Background fabric]

Second round: Half square triangles: (4) 3 inch squares [Fabric 3]
(4) 3 inch square [Background fabric]
Flying geese:  (1) 5.25 inch square [Background fabric]
(4) 3 inch squares [Fabric 2]
Corners:  (4) 2.5 inch squares [Fabric 1]

Let’s start out by using the 5.25 inch square of background fabric and (4) 3 inch square of fabric 2 to construct the flying geese.  Trim the geese to 4.5 x 2.5 inch.

Next, we’ll use (4) 3 inch squares of fabric 3 and (4) 3 inch squares of background fabric to put together eight half square triangle pieces.

When those two components are finished, it’s just a matter of lying out the pieces correctly and putting the block together.  You could sew your pieces into 5 rows and then sew the rows together to finish the block.

I chose to work from the inside out.  If you work from this angle, first sew together the center 9-patch block.

Trim the center square to 8.5 inches and sew the side pieces into rows.  Then add the side pieces to the center row you created.  Finish the block, and trim to 12.5 inches square.


Road Trip Quilt Along: South Dakota

South Dakota.  I really have mixed feelings about South Dakota, both the state and the quilt block.  We actually spent quite a bit of time in South Dakota on our trip west, and it was lovely:  Badlandlands National Park, Custer State Park, Wind Cave, Mount Rushmore.  But the heavy sustained winds all night long finally broke our tent pole, which was a pain to deal with.

The quilt block is a little complicated because of the on-point center 9-patch portion.  I posted about my difficulties figuring it out, and my mom linked to the directions on bellaonline, which is where I found the block originally.  Those directions do make it seem a little more simple than it is.  Or maybe I’m just a little bit of a perfectionist, but I did the math: Pythagorean theorum, square roots, seam allowances and all.  I did the math, though, so that means you don’t have to!  Hooray!

I actually made this block twice (Grrrr).  That center square finishes at 8.5 inches and I trimmed it to 8.5 inches and didn’t leave room for seam allowances.  Then I didn’t realize it until the block was all put together and too small!  Note: trim center 9-patch to 9 INCHES!!

 Cutting directions for South Dakota quilt block:

Center 9-patch
Pinwheels: (5) 3.25-inch squares [fabric 1: background]
(5) 3.25-inch squares [fabric 2: yellow + gray]
9-patch spacers: (4) 3-3/8 inch squares [fabric 3: gray houndstooth]

Corner triangles
Corner HSTs: (2) 3-inch squares [fabric 1: background]
(2) 3-inch squares [fabric 2]
(8) 2.5-inch squares [fabric 1: background]
Edge triangles: (6) 3-inch squares [fabric 3], cut on diagonal to make 12 triangles

Construct the center 9-patch block.

We are going to try a new method of half square triangles, which we will use to make the pinwheels.

Place 1, 3.25-inch square of background fabric, right sides together with 1, 3.25-inch square of fabric 2.  Sew a line all the way around, a scant 1/4 inch from the edge.

Cut 2 diagonal lines across the piece you just sewed together, splitting it into 4 triangles.

Iron the triangles open into 4 half square triangle squares!  Trim each piece to 1-15/16 inches.  (Sorry about the small fraction, but this will prevent you from having to trim off a lot of excess in the end and will preserve the shapt of your pinwheels.)

Sew the 4 squares together into a pinwheel.

Repeat with the remaining 3.25-inch squares to make 5 pinwheels in total.  Because of how you trimmed the half square triangle pieces, your finished pinwheels should be 3-3/8 inches, square.

Alternate your pinwheels with the 3-3/8 inch squares of fabric 3 to create a 9-patch block.  Trim the entire 9-patch to 9 inches, square.

Construct the triangle portions for the 4 corners

Each of the 4 corners is constructed in the same.  We will start by making some more half square triangles for the corners, this time using the more traditional method.  Place a 3-inch square of background fabric and a 3-inch square of fabric 2 right sides together.  Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.  Sew a line of stitches 1/4 inch to each side of the line.  Cut the squares apart on the line you drew.

Iron the pieces open.  Trim to 2.5 inches.

Lay out your corner sections as shown below.

Sew the pieces into rows.  Then sew the rows together to make a large triangle.

Trim the longest edge of the corner piece so that it is 1/4 inch beyond the points of the squares.  This will help you line up the pieces when you sew them to the center.

Arrange the triangles around the center 9-patch piece.  Sew two opposite sides to the center square.  Iron them open, then sew on the two remaining sides.  Trim the block o 12.5 inches.

With 9 blocks, the quilt right now would make a nice sized baby quilt.  Just add sashing between the blocks and a border!  Five states to go until our road trip is complete!

Road Trip Quilt Along: Minnesota

Hey Minnesota!  This block was actually familiar to me because I made a Minnesota block with Leila’s Skill Builder Sampler awhile back.  In Leila’s post, she links to the Minnesota paper piecing instructions written by Lee of Freshly Pieced.  So, the link is there, if you’d like to use it.  Lee uses the traditional sew-through-the-paper method of paper piecing, but I will use my preferred fold-the-paper-sew next-to-the-fold method.  There are templates for the paper pieced portions in Lee’s post, if you’d like to print them out.  Just make sure they print to the correct size or your finished block size will be off.  However, I will show you how to draw your own on freezer paper.  It’s super fast and easy.

You will need a template for the diamond parts of the block, both the rectangle diamonds, and the square diamond.

Draw two shaps on freezer paper: (1) a 2-inch square and (2) a 2-inch x 5-inch rectangle.

Find the center points of the sides of your shapes.  Connect the center point of one side to the center point of each adjacent side with a diagonal line.  Add 1/4 inch seam allowances around each shape.  That’s it.  Easy, right?

Cutting directions for Minnesota quilt block

For the quarter square triangle (QST) portions:
(2) 6.25-inch squares [fabric 1]
(2) 6.25-inch squares [fabric 2]

For the paper pieced rectangle diamonds:
(4) 6-inch x 3-inch rectangles [fabric 3]
(8) 4-inch x 2.5-inch rectangles, each cut on the diagonal to make (16) triangles [fabric 4]

For the paper pieced square diamond:
(1) 3 x 3 inch square [fabric 3]
(2) 2 x 2 inch squares, cut on the diagonal to make (4) triangles [fabric 4]

Make the Quarter Square Triangle pieces

We made quarter square triangles for the Maryland block, and I will review here.

Begin as if you were making half square triangles, placing your two fabrics right sides together and drawing a line from one corner to the opposite corner.

Sew a line 1/4 inch to each side of the line you just drew, then cut the squares apart on the drawn line. 

Iron the squares open, then cut them in half again on the diagonal, in the opposite direction of the split between the two fabrics.

Rearrange the halfs so that the two fabrics alternate, and sew the squares back together.  Trim to 5.5 inches.  Make 4 QST pieces.

Make the paper pieced portions

Maryland was also the first block we used paper piecing for this quilt along.

Begin with your template for the rectangle diamond.  Iron the wrong side of one of the rectangles [fabric 3] to the template (right side away from the paper).

Fold the paper back along one of the diagonal lines for the diamond so that the line is just barely to the top side of the fold.  Trim off excess fabric 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Place the long edge of one of your half-rectangle triangles [fabric 4] so that it is even with the edge you just trimmed.

Sew the two pieces of fabric together as close to the fold line as possible without piercing the paper with your needle.

Open the paper.  Iron the fabric open.  Flip the piece over and repeat the fold-trim-sew-iron open sequence with the remanining 3 sides.

Trim the finished rectangle to 2.5 x 5.5 inches.  Make 3 more diamonds within rectangles.  Complete the same steps using your square template.  Trim the finished square to 2.5 inches.

Arrange the portions of your block as shown below.  Sew the pieces in to rows; sew the rows together.

Trim the finished block to 12.5 inches.  MINNESOTA!!

And hey!  We’re 1/2 way finished with the quilt along.  I have decided that I will have a small fabric giveaway at the end for anyone who has complete any 8 blocks.  So you can win if you’ve completed them all so far, or if you’re just beginning.  I hope to decide on the prize by next week.

Speaking of next week, the block is South Dakota, and it is really giving me a load of trouble with quilt math + how to best construct it.  South Dakota was lovely when we visited: Badlands, Custer State Park, Wind Cave, Mount Rushmore; but the winds in the Badlands also snapped one of our tent poles, so I have mixed feelings about South Dakota.  This quilt block doesn’t help!  You’re up for the challenge, though, aren’t you?

Trixie’s Travels: Digitally Disconnected

aka: The last leg of the journey

aka: The one without any pictures

I am so sorry to inform you that there will not be any photos associated with this post.  They are currently all trapped in my camera, which is locked in the car, and it’s late and dark and I would have to go retrieve the camera and then convince my husband to give up his laptop for long enough for me to extract them from the camera and upload them to the internet.

The last travel update I gave you, we were in Bozeman, Montana.  We were very sad to leave; we love that town!

Here’s what we’ve been up to since then:

*Jason successfully defended his Master’s thesis after waiting all week since his presentation time was the second to the last, at 3:00 Saturday afternoon.  We went out for dinner and left early the next morning.
*We visited the Great Falls of the Missouri, which were a site to see.  We had been to the headwaters of the Missouri River two years ago, and Jason is from St. Louis, where the Missouri empties into the Mississippi, so we thought it fitting that we see this other significant part of that river.
*A campground just outside Glacier National Park was our home for most of a week.  We did quite a bit of hiking, including an impressive five miles on her own by my 4-year-old.  We saw elk, mountain goats, glaciers, snow, some amazing waterfalls, and two big horn sheep from very far away.  Kaia lost one of her tiny Keen sandals in the parking lot of a grocery store in Columbia Falls, Montana, but a very nice woman said she will mail it to Virginia for me.
*Next, we had a brief overnight in Billings, MT, followed by two nights in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We could have spent a lot more time in that park.  One day for exploring was just not enough!
*We are now in Denver, and will leave at way-too-early tomorrow morning for one night in Kansas City before moving on to St. Louis.  The first day here, we explored a local regional park, played in the lake, and spent some time in the visitors’ center.  After lunch, we swam in the hotel pool and then spent the evening with a dear friend who moved to Japan, and whom we haven’t seen in 10 years.  Today, we met up with 4 of my former college cross country teammates, all of whom had their first baby within the 18 months following Kaia’s birth.  It was happy and chaotic, and I miss those girls so very, very much.  It was great to see them, but definitely too brief!!

Road Trip Quilt Along Update: I had these grand intentions of sewing in my parents’ camper while were camping in Glacier, but it just didn’t happen.  Guess the intentions were a little too grand.  The Quilt Along portion of the road trip is moving on to Minnesota this week, but I won’t have the tutorial up by Friday.  I hope to have it up by Saturday afternoon, so look for it then!

Road Trip Quilt Along: Iowa

Hey there! I have been basically “off the grid” for most of this week. We left Bozeman Sunday morning, after Jason successfully defended his Master’s thesis on Saturday afternoon. We have spent the week in Glacier National Park and internet access has been sparse at best, and usually non-existent. Of course, this would be the week that something important came up with my daughter’s preschool, of which I am president of the board. Thankfully, a wonderful and highly competent parent is taking care of that for me!

I am presently in a cabin at a KOA campground in Billings, Montana. Tomorrow we have an entirely too long drive to Rocky Mountain National Park, where I will again be completely digitally detached for another couple days. Before that happens, though, let’s make quilt block for Iowa!

I found this block at Block Central. That site has a template, for the block, but it is for an 8-inch block.  Since we are making 12-inch blocks, I will show you how to draw the template yourself (it’s really pretty easy!).  There is a very similar Iowa star at Quilter’s Cache, with a smaller center square and thinner star points, but this one seemed like it would make for an easier template.

We will make a template for 1/4 of the star block, and paper piece four of them to sew together.

1.  Begin by drawing a 6-inch square on the “paper-y” side (as opposed to the waxy side) of some freezer paper.
2.  Draw a center grid through the 6-inch square, from the center point of one side, to the center point of the opposite side, dividing it into 4 equal portions.

3.  Draw a diagonal line across the upper left portion (from the center of one side of your larger 6-inch square to the center of the adjacent side).
4.  Create an isosoles triangle (two sides are equal) by extending lines from each edge of that diagonal line you just drew all the way to the point at the opposite corner of the 6-inch square (clear as mud?  A picture is worth a thousand words here).

5.  The sides of that isosoles triangle you just drew cross the inner grid at one point.  Connect those points from each side of the isosoles triangles with a diagonal line.
6.  From each end point of the line you just drew, extend a line to the center of the diagonal line you drew in Step 3, creating a smaller, inner isosoles triangle.  (To find the center of that diagonal from Step 3, draw a second line in the opposite direction across the upper left portion of the grid, creating an “x”.)

7.  That’s it!  You just made your template.  Add a 1/4 inch seam allowance all the way around the 6-inch square and fill in your “quilt by number” number for the paper piecing.  Number one is the small, center isosles triangle.  Numbers 2 and 3 are the triangles to either side of that center one.  The tip of the large isosoles triangle is Number 4.  The background pieces to the sides of the large isosoles triangle are Numbers 5 and 6.  The pieces that will be the center square of the finished block is Number 7.

Cutting directions

For each quarter of the finished block:

(2) 8 x 4 inch rectangles [background fabric]: (8) total for the block
(1) 4.5 x 3.25 inch rectangle [center triangle of star points]: (4) total for the block
(3) 4.5 x 3.25 inch rectangles [outside triangles of star points]: (12) total for the block
(1) 5.5 x 3.25 inch rectangle [center square of finished block]: (4) total for the block

Place the fabric for the center of the star point right side up on the waxy side of the freezer paper.  Be sure that the fabric covers the portion of the template that represents the center triangle of the star point.

Flip the paper over.  Apply a hot iron to stick the fabric to the freezer paper.  Fold back the paper along the line between Number 1 and Number 2 so that the drawn line is just barely showing on the upper side of the fold.

Trim the fabric to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Line up the fabric for Number 2 with the edge you just trimmed.

Sew the two pieces together, allowing your needled to be as close to the fold as possible without piercing the paper.

Unfold the paper and iron the fabric open with the tip of your iron.

 Flip the paper over, iron the paper over Number 2.  Fold back the paper along the line between Number 1 and Number 3.  Repeat as you did for the first piece.  Trim the fabric to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.  Line up the fabric for Number 3 with the edge you just cut.  Sew the pieces together as close to the fold as possible without piercing the paper.

Unfold the paper.  Iron the piece open with the tip of your iron.  Look!  You can already see the star point taking shape.

Continue paper piecing the rest of the block in number order.  Fold back the paper between Number 1 and Number 4, trim, sew close to the fold.  Fold back the paper along the line between the long edge of the isosles triangle and the background pieces (Number 5 and Number 6).

Finally, create your final fold along the line between the bottom of the large isosoles triangle and the center square of the block (Number 7).

Unfold the paper and iron the entire piece.

Trim to 6.5 inches.  Gently peel off the freezer paper.

Here is one section of the block.

You will need to paper piece 3 additional sections.  If you used this fold-the-paper-back method, you can use the same freezer paper template.  It will continue to stick to fabric with a hot iron for several more uses.

Sew the four sections together.  Trim the block to 12.5 inches.

Hey look!  Seven state blocks!  How are you doing?