Spider web block tutorial

Have you seen Heather’s excellent spider web quilt block tutorial from House of a la Mode?  She uses a fabric foundation to create the block, which finishes at 12″ square.  This tutorial is great if you’re going to make an entire project from her tutorial.

However, if you are making a block or two for a quilt bee, or for a sampler quilt, the 12 inch block size is just a teensy bit too small.  You want your block to be 12.5 inches square.  I also wanted to eliminate the fabric foundation and create a template for the center of the block so I wouldn’t end up with so much wasted fabric.

Here is how you can make a template for your block centers and for trimming the quarters of the block, and finished 12.5 inch spider web quilt block.

UPDATE: I made a printable pdf template for the center portion of the spider web block, as well as one for trimming the 1/4 block to the correct size. 

CLICK HERE: Cutting template PDF for spider web quilt block

If you have printed your template, skip to the section called “Cut out your block centers.”  If you’d like to learn how to make your template, keep reading.

Draw a 12-inch square on a large piece of paper (I used freezer paper).

Divide the 12-inch square into quarters by drawing diagonal lines from corner to corner, forming an “x” across the square.

In one of the quarters, mark the center of the square’s edge.  Also make a mark along the diagonal lines 6-inches from each corner.

You will end up with 3 marks, each 6 inches from their closest corners.

Connect the mark on each diagonal line to the mark in the center of the square’s edge.  This is the center portion of your finished block.

To finish up your template, add a seam allowance of 1/4 inch all the way around.

Cut out the shape around the seam allowance and you have a template for the center portion of your spider web block!

Make a trimming template

To ensure your block ends up the correct size, you are going to need to trim up each quarter block before sewing them together.

Guess what?  You already made your trimming template!  It’s the quarter square directly across from the one you used to make the center piece template.

All you have to do is add 1/4 inch seam allowances all the way around and cut it out.

Two templates – easy!

Cut out your block centers

Lay your center template on the fabric you will be using for the center of your block.  Align a ruler with the template and use your rotary cutter to cut out the centers of your block.

(No rotary cutter?  No problem.  Just use a pencil or a fabric mark to draw around your template and cut out with your scissors.)

And since you have this handy template, you can turn it the other direction, lay it along the line you just cut, and cut out the rest of your pieces.  Very little waste.  Yay!

For each block, you will need four (4) center pieces from your template and a pile of strips.    Your longest strips need to be 6 inches long, and I like to cut mine 1-2 inches wide.  You will need between 40-65 strips per block, depending on how wide you cut your strips.

Construct the block

Take one of your center pieces, and align a strip with one of the long edges, right sides together.

Sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Open the strip away from the center piece.  (Gross.  Ignore my yucky ironing board cover, which clearly needs to be replaced.)

Align your next strip with the edge of the first, right sides together.

Again, sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and then open the strip outward.

Continue in this manner until you’ve attached enough strips to reach the edge of your trimming template.

You’ll need 6.5 inches of pieced strips from the center point to the edge, but if you’re not sure, just hold the template up to to check.

Add another series of strips for the other side of the quarter block.  If you have not yet pressed your seams with a hot iron, now is the time.

Align your trimming template with your quarter block and place a ruler along the edge of the template.  Trim around all sides.

Now, make three more quarter blocks in the same way.

With a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew pairs of quarter blocks together.  Press the seam open.

Align the center seams of the two halves, as well as the seams at the edge of the block center.  Sew the halves together with a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Trim the block to 12.5 inches.

Then, go make some more.  Because the beauty in this block is in how it comes together with its friends.  I only made two blocks since they were for a bee, but you can see how the spider web shape begins to appear where the blocks meet.

Road Trip Quilt Along: West Virginia

Well, road trippers, this is THE END.  The very last of 16 state blocks.  It’s been quite a journey.  Finish this one up, and then it time to head home, unpack and sleep in your own bed.  And by that I mean, make something out of these 16 blocks (or however many you finished).

I’ve been looking forward to this last block since the very beginning because I thought that it looked amazing on paper.  It looks pretty awesome in fabric form as well!  I am going to give directions for a method that involves a lot of little half square triangles (1-1/2 inches a side, finished), but there is a different method at Bella Online if you want to check that out as well.

I’ve seen this one with 3 focus fabrics in addition to the background fabric.  That results in the appearance of an on-point square framing the center 8-point star.

I’m going to just use two focus fabrics and continue with my background fabric where the 3rd fabric would be so that the star really stands out.

Cutting directions for West Virginia quilt block

(4) 3.5 squares [background fabric][or fabric 3, if you’re using the first design option]
(8) 2 inch squares [background fabric]
(16) 2.5 inch squares [background fabric]

(12) 2.5 inch squares [fabric 1]

(12) 2.5 inch squares [fabric 2]

Constructing West Virginia quilt block

Begin by making a whole pile of HSTs, using all the 2.5 inch squares.  Match 8 of the 2.5 inch squares of background fabric with eight 2.5 inch squares of fabric 1.  Match the other eight 2.5 inch squares of background fabric with eight 2.5 inch squares of fabric 2.

The remaining 4 squares of [fabric 1] will each be matched with one of the remaining 4 squares of [fabric 2].

Sew the squares together as we’ve done in the past to make HSTs, cut them apart on the center line, iron open (directions for half square triangles in the Maryland block, if you need a refresher).  Trim each of the FORTY half square triangles to 2 inches.  Phew!

Okay.  Now lay out all the pieces of your block in the correct arrangement and begin sewing pairs of 2-inch squares together.  This is an excellent opportunity for chain piecing! Just pair the squares, line them up, and run them through your sewing machine!

I forgot to take a picture before I began sewing the squares together, but here’s what my block looked like after the first pass of chain piecing pairs.

I’m not going to tell you the exact order in which to put your pieces together at this point because there are about a bajillion different ways it could be done.  I am going to recommend this: since there are so many seams, sew the block together in several sections.  Trim the sections to the correct size and then sew the sections together.  This will prevent little discrepancies in your seam allowances from multiplying into big discrepancies at the whole block level.

I trimmed when I had 6 sections.  The four corner sections were trimmed to 6.5 inches x 5 inches.  The two center sections were trimmed to to 6.5 inches x 3.5 inches

Sew the sections together and trim your block to 12.5 inches.

And hey!  Look at that!  We have finished ALL 16 STATE BLOCKS!

I made 4 of my blocks with a yellow background, so I think that my final arrangement will have them going across the quilt from corner to corner.  Also, I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up re-doing Pennsylvania.  I already re-did it once because version one was just way too busy.  I thought that the toned down version (which I still didn’t love, even from when I first made it) would grow on me, and/or be fine as part of the whole quilt, but it’s not the case.  It still makes me cringe a little.  Third time’s the charm?

Come back next week for a little giveaway for anyone who has completed 8 blocks.  Extra entry if you’ve finished all 16.  I’ll leave the giveaway open for a week, so you have two weeks from now to finish everything up.


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?

Kid’s sports bag/cinch sac: a tutorial

My 4-year-old daughter is signed up to play soccer for the first time this fall.  She was in need of a little bag to carry her cleats and shin guards to and from practice and games.  She looked at fabric with me and we found this great soccer monkey fabric (she’s thrilled there are GIRL monkeys on the fabric) in green (her favorite color).  Thank you Michael Miller!

This tutorial is for a soccer or sports bag for a child.  It has a cinch top and the straps can be used as a backpack.  The measurements I will give you are for a small bag; just large enough for a 4-year-old’s cleats and shin guards.  If you have an older child (with larger gear) or you want to fit more in the bag, you’ll have to size up accordingly.

Cutting directions:

Straps: Cut two strips of fabric, 3 inches x width of fabric.  I actually would have preferred my straps just a couple inches longer, but I didn’t feel like piecing the strips for just a couple inches.  If you are making a larger bag, you will need to add some length to your straps.  

Bag body:  Cut on the fold.  Cut one  rectangle of fabric, 9 inches x 13 inches with the fold along one of the 9 inch sides.  When you open the fabric along the fold, your piece will be 9 inches x 26 inches.

Pocket:  My daughter requested a pocket with a button.  So that is what she got.  I figure it will be good for hair ties.  Maybe a granola bar.  You’re welcome to leave it off if you don’t want/need a pocket.  Cut on the fold.  I made my pocket 8 inches x 5.5 inches with the fold along the 8 inch side.  When opened, the pocket piece is 8 inches x 11 inches.  Pocket flap: I simply moved my ruler up from the cut I made for the pocket and cut TWO pieces 8 inches x 2.5 inches.

Constructing the straps

Fold each strip in half, lengthwise.  Press the fold.  Open the strip back up.  Fold one raw edge to the center and press.  Then fold the second raw edge to the center and press.  Fold the strip in half again, enclosing both raw edges in the center.

Topstitch along the length of the strap, very close to the open edge.  I like to topstitch along the opposite edge as well so that the strap looks more even.

Creating the pocket

With a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew along each of the 5.5 inch edges of your pocket piece.  Clip the corners.  Turn the pocket right side out, poking out the corners.  Press.  Topstitch about 1/4 inch or less away from the fold.  This will be the top of your pocket.

Center the pocket on the bag, with the bottom edge of the pocket 3-1/4 inches from the bottom of the bag (the fold along the 9-inch edge will be the bottom of the bag).  The pocket and the bag should be right sides together, so the inside of the pocket will be facing up.  The pocket will be placed upside down on the bag, so the bottom of the pocket (the raw edge) will be nearer the top of the bag, and the top of the pocket (the folded edge) will extend below the bottom of the bag.  

Unfold the bag and sew the pocket to the bag, 1/4 inch below the raw edge of the pocket.  Fold the pocket up over the raw edge, enclosing it inside the pocket and press.  Topstitch along the two sides of the pocket, close to the edge, to attach the pocket to the bag.

Creating the pocket flap

With right sides together, sew the two 8 inch x 2.5 inch pieces together along three sides.  You can see in the photos below, I decided to angle the edges of my pocket flap.  To do this, I simply measured 1 inch from the end of each line of stitching and drew a line connecting the adjacent sides.  I sewed along the line, and then trimmed to about 1/4 inch outside the stitches.

Turn the pocket flap right side out and press.  Topstitch around the sewn edges.  Decide on the placement of your button and mark for the button hole.  All sewing machines are different, so you will have to check your manual for directions on how to create a buttonhole to fit where you marked.  Carefully cut the buttonhole open.

Pin the pocket flap on the bag, right sides together, about 1/4 inch above the top edge of the pocket.  The raw edge of the pocket flap will be near the top of the pocket and the bottom of the pocket flap will be up toward the top of the bag.  Sew the pocket flap to the bag, just under 1/4 inch from the raw edge of the flap.  Press the flap down toward the pocket.  Sew along top of the pocket flap, just over 1/4 inch from the fold, enclosing the raw edge.

Mark where the buttonhole falls on your pocket.  Attach the button.  I ordered the monkey buttons ages ago from this Etsy shop.  Her buttons are darling and well made, and I just clicked over there and her selection is even better than when I ordered.

Sewing the bag

Fold the bag in half, right sides together, along the same fold you used when you cut out the fabric.  Place a pin 1-3/4 inches from the top edge of the bag, and another pin 3 inches from the top of the bag.  Do this on both edges of the bag.  Sew along each side of the bag from top to bottom, ending at the first pin with a backstitch and leaving a space between the two pins.  Leave about 1-1/2 inches at the bottom of the bag open as well

Iron each of the side seams open and sew the seam allowances to the bag from the top of the bag to the bottom of the upper gap in the seam.  (My gap in the pictures below is higher than it should be.  You gap will begin 1-3/4 inches from the top of the bag and end 3 inches from the top of the bag.)  

Fold the top of the bag down 1/2 inch all the way around.  Press.  Fold down an additional 1-1/4 inches (to the top of the gap).  Press.  This will position the gap you left on the outside of the bag, and it will allow the straps to pass through the casing to the outside of the bag.  Do not stitch down the casing just yet.

Attaching the straps

Fold each strap in half, placing them in opposite directions above the bag.  Tuck each strap under the casing, maintaining their respective positions.  Push the loose ends of one strap through the gap in the right side of the bag.  The strap will circle the bag under the casing, with one loose end entering the gap from the front and the other loose end entering the gap from the back.  Push the loose ends of the other strap through the gap in the left side of the bag.

Tuck both straps fully under the casing.  Be careful not to catch the straps in your stitching, and sew the casing down, very close to the edge.

Turn the bag right side out.  Pull each strap to make the ends even and insert them back into the gap you left at the bottom of the bag.  I placed a pin on each strap just to keep it in place until I was ready to sew.  Once again, turn the bag inside out.  Sew up the last bit of the bottom of the side seam, catching the loose ends of the strap in your stitching.  (In the last photo, I drew in the approximate position of the straps as they would appear on the opposite side of the bag.)

Trim the seam allowances with pinking shears to prevent unnecessary fraying.

One soccer cinch sac/backpack!

And a very happy little soccer player!


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.

{Double staircase}: A quilt block tutorial

This tutorial first appeared on A Girl in Paradise back in May for her Building Blocks with Friends series.  I thought it was time to bring it back to this space as well!

You will need:

Focus fabric:
Eight (8) 1.5-inch x 5-inch rectangles

Background fabric:
Eight (8)  1-inch x 5-inch rectangles
Four (4) 2-inch x 8-inch rectangles
Four (4) 2-inch x 5.5-inch rectangles
Four (4) 2-inch x 3-inch rectangles

Choose your focus fabric and cut out eight (8) rectangles, 1.5-inches x 5-inches.  You might choose 8 different fabrics or a combination of a few fabrics in your desired colors.  Since these pieces are 5 inches wide, this is great project to use some charm squares.

Now, cut out the fabric for your background.  For each 12.5-inch block, you will need 2 strips of background fabric 2-inches x width of fabric (WOF).

Iron the fabric (you can still see wrinkles in mine, but trust me, it lies flat) and fold it in half so the selvedges line up.  You might have to slide the fabric along the selvedge a bit so that the fold is even.  Place the background fabric on your cutting mat, lining up the fold with one of the guide marks.  Trim off any uneven excess perpendicular to the fold.

Now line up your clear ruler with the horizontal guide marks and cut two, 2-inch strips of background fabric.

Lie the two folded strips of background fabric on top of one another so that you now have 4 layers of fabric (two stacked strips, each folded in half).

Cut the stack of strips in the following lengths (you will have 4 rectangles of each size): 8 inches, 5.5 inches, 3 inches, 5 inches.  I love this block because with these two 2-inch strips, you get all the pieces you need with very little waste.  This is all that’s left at the end of the strips:

Cut the 5-inch strips in half lengthwise, so that you have eight rectangles that are 1-inch x 5-inches.

Now you have all your background pieces cut.  This is what you will end up with (the leftover is the little bit in the bottom right of this photo):

Match each of the eight 1-inch x 5-inch background pieces with one of the 1.5-inch x 5-inch rectangles of focus fabric and sew them together along the length.

When you’re finished, iron the seams either open or to the side.

Decide on the arrangement of your steps.  You can construct the block so it appears to have the same structure right side up or upside down.  In this case, the lower four steps will be arranged so that the background fabric is toward the bottom.  The upper four steps will be arranged so that the background fabric is toward the top.

Alternately, you can arrange the steps so that the background fabric on the steps is always to the same side.  With this arrangement, you will have the effect of a continuous staircase across several blocks, should you choose to put more than one together.

Add the rectangles of background fabric to the focus fabric.

I usually only pin the pieces with a rectangle of background fabric on either side so that all the pieces stay together.

Line up your pieces and chain piece them together.

When you’re finished, you will have to attach the other side of background fabric to those pieces with background on both sides of the “step”.

Iron the seam open or to the side and sew the rows together.

Between rows, I actually prefer to iron seams open for this block.  It makes the block lie flatter and you don’t have to worry about the direction of the seam if you are putting more than one block together.  I sew the rows together in pairs, then sew sets of pairs together, then sew the top half of the block to the bottom.  Trim to 12.5-inches.  Finished!

In the block I used to take the photos for this tutorial, I arranged it so that the background fabric with each step (the “space” between the steps) was toward the outside of the block.  The block has the same look  right side up or upside down.

In the blocks I made for this baby quilt, I wanted the steps to continue across the quilt, so the space between the blocks is always on the lower side of the focus fabric.

I made a mistake when I was putting the blocks together for this quilt.  Did you notice right away?  Can you see it now that I mentioned it?  (I’ll show you in a minute.)

I think I like the back of this quilt as much as I like the front.  Each piece of the rainbow solid has the addition of two charm squares in that color.

I quilted it by following the step pattern above and below as well as 1/4 inch into the white space in the border pieces.

Remember that mistake I mentioned?  Here it is.  On one block, I accidentally flipped the bottom half of the block so that there is no white space between those two steps when the quilt is put together.  I didn’t notice when I put the block together and I didn’t even notice when I put the quilt together.  I didn’t see it until I was actually quilting it, and there was no way I was going to take all that stitching out!

I love it.  I love it so much I almost want to have another baby who will use it.  Ha!  In any case, I don’t think I can give this one away.  I still need to bind it, though.  I’m thinking red.  What do you think?

If you’d like to see more photos of this delicious quilt, click back to May!

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: 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?