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?

Road Trip Quilt Along: Illinois

Sorry, road trippers.  I’m a little bit late on the tutorial this week.  Looks like we had a leisurely breakfast, and we’re getting on the road late!

This week, we’re heading to Illinois, which is my home state, so of course I have a fondness for it.  When my husband and I were still dating, this is what he said the first time he came to visit me, driving north through Illinois: “Corn!  All I saw for 5 hours was corn!”  I promise there is a lot more to the state than corn, though that definitely dominates the landscape in much of the state.

There are several variations of the Illinois quilt block, I found this one at Quilter’s Cache.  Looking at it now, it seems I reversed the direction of the half square triangle pieces in the corners, but the beauty of quilting is that is open to your creative interpretation!

Cutting directions for Illinois quilt block

For the center:
(1) 3-3/8 inch square [Fabric 1]
(2) 3 inch squares, cut on the diagonal to make (4) triangles [Background fabric]

Flying Geese:
(2) 5.25 inch squares [Fabric 1]
(8) 3 inch squares [Background fabric]

Half square triangles:
(2) 5 inch squares [Fabric 2]
(2) 5 inch squares [Background fabric]

Since we have already made the three components of this block in our other state blocks, I’m not going to go in to detail about how to construct them.

1.  Put the center square in a square together.

Simply sew the long edge of each of the triangles to one side of the 3-3/8 inch square.  The center of this block is the same has the Pennsylvania Parade block. Trim to 4.5 inches.

2.  Construct (8) Flying geese pieces.

If you need a refresher, head on back to that Pennsylvania block for directions. Trim each flying goose to 4.5 x 2.5 inches.

3.  Construct (4) corner squares of half square triangles.

If you don’t recall how to make half square triangles, head back to Maryland when we first made them.

And that’s it!  Arrange the pieces as shown below.  Sew the pieces into rows.  Sew the rows together.  Trim the block to 12.5 inches.

Illinois joins her other friendly state blocks: Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

 

 

Road Trip Quilt Along: Indiana Puzzle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cutting directions for Indiana Puzzle block:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Road Trip Quilt Along: Ohio Star

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

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

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

Cutting Directions:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Road Trip Quilt Along: Pennsylvania Parade

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

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

Cutting directions:

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

Flying geese:

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

Corners:

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

Center Square:

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

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

How to construct the flying geese

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

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

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

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

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

How to construct the corner squares

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

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

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

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

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

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

Road Trip Quilt Along: Maryland [Part 2]

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

Here are the cutting directions copied from Part 1:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cut down the line and iron the HST open.

Trim to 2-15/16 inches.

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia and Maryland together.

Road Trip Quilt Along: Maryland [Part 1]

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

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

[WARNING: Math ahead!  Proceed slowly!]

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

Cutting directions

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1 Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maryland quilt block part 2 here.

Novelty print charm square patchwork ruffle skirt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supplies

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

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

Ruffle skirt tutorial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Road Trip Quilt Along: Virginia

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

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

Supplies for the Virginia Star block:

Working from the inside of the block to the outside:

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

Before we begin, a note about seam allowances:

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

Directions for constructing the Virginia Star

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

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

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

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

Sew along the line you drew.

Repeat for the opposite side and press pieces open.

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

Now to make the flying geese.

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

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

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

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

Cut the square apart on the line.

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

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

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

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

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

Ooh aaahh!  So pretty!!  

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

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

We’ll miss you Virginia!

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

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

Ruffled curtain tie backs tutorial

I mentioned in my works in progress post that I did not make any progress on making curtain tie backs, as requested by a friend.  Well, now I have.

But seriously.  They’re tie backs.  For curtains.  They have ruffles.  It’s not really very interesting.  Functional, sure.  But interesting?  Notsomuch.  However, I thought maybe you have curtains (perhaps you made them?) and you want to make some pretty ruffled tie backs to match.  Maybe you’re just not sure how to go about it.  Well, I can help.

Here ya go.

Alright.  First up: construct the top part.

Here’s what I did.

Fold the fabric along the length and then in half so there are 2 folded edges.  Then cut out the shape.  In this case, the patterns was 12 inches wide, so when the tie back is unfolded, the fabric is 24 inches long across the length.  The pattern tapers across the length from 4 inches at the fold on the short side to 2.5 inches.  The curve is very gradual near the fold and increases in steepness about halfway across the length.

When the fabric is unfolded, you’ll have a shape that looks like this.

Fold that in half lengthwise and iron along the fold to make a nice crease.  Carefully fold the edges in about 1/2 inch along the curve on each side and press.  Do the same with the two straight ends.  Fold the shape along the center crease.  Set this piece aside and make the ruffle.

For my ruffle, I wanted a piece that was twice the length of the top portion of the curtain tie backs, in this case, 48 inches.  Since I didn’t have enough fabric for a piece 48 inches long, I cut 2 shorter pieces, 24 inches long x 4 inches wide and connected them.  You could cut them wider than 4 inches if you wanted a larger ruffle.  I pressed the seam open and then zig-zag stitched along each side of the seam so that I would not have any unfinished edges.

Now, fold the lower edge up about 1/4 inch and press.  Fold it up once more to enclose the raw edge and press again.  Stitch close to the folded edge to complete the hem of the ruffle.

Do the same with the two short sides.  Fold inward twice to enclose the raw edge, then stitch close to the fold.  You now have a long piece of fabric with three finished edges.

Time to ruffle the ruffle.  Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to the longest setting.  Increase the thread tension as high as it will go.  Place your ruffle piece in your sewing machine and sew along the length, about 1/4 inch from the remaining raw edge.

Return your machine tension and stitch length to normal.  When you removed your ruffle piece from the machine, leave the thread trails about 6 inches long.  With one hand grasp the bobbin thread only and slide the fabric so it continues to gather the ruffle.  You can slide from the opposite side as well, if you need to.  Continue gathering the fabric until the ruffle piece is the length of the top portion of your curtain tie back.

Place the ruffle between the two layers of the top portion of the tie back, tucked inside about 1/2 inch (it works well to line the raw edge of the ruffle up with the raw edge of the top portion that was folded in and pressed).  Pin all the layers together, catching the top layer, the ruffle and the lower layer with your pins.

I used a lot of pins, placing one every 2 inches or less.  I wanted to make sure the layers didn’t shift as I was sewing them together.

Beginning along one short side near the fold, sew very close to the edge to close the opening.  When your needle gets close to the lower edge, stop with your needle down in the fabric, lift the presser foot, and turn the tie back to sew along the length of the curve to enclose the ruffle, again stopping with your needle down when it arrives near the final open edge.  Lift the presser foot again, turn the fabric, then sew the final open edge closed.

Time to finish this off!  I was making these for a friend and she bought these little plastic rings to attach to the tie back.  If you don’t have them and don’t want to go buy them, you could use a small loop of fabric, or a piece of strong string, or a little loop of thin elastic.

I attached them by setting my zig zag stitch to a wide width and no length and going back and forth several times.  Do the same thing on the other side.

Now do the same thing and make another one.

Ruffle-y!

And look: no unfinished edges.  All looks very professional, yes?  You can do it!

So, was this useful?  This project was a special request from a friend, and I honestly do not even know if people are using tie backs in their decor.  This is what happens when you don’t have cable and no longer get to watch HGTV!