New to Quilting?

If you are brand new to quilting and don't know where to begin, start with the posts in September 2011 (look in the blog archive). The first four posts cover basics such as choosing equipment, choosing colors, how to sew 1/4" seams, how to use a rotary cutter, and how to press (not iron) your block during construction.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Quilt Top Done

I finally finished the quilt top that I've been making the blocks for. I couldn't find a pattern I liked until I found the book, "Traditions from Elm Creek Quilts" by Jennifer Chiaverini.

The setting pattern is called Cornucopia of Thanks and you can find it on page 43 of the book. Since it is a copyrighted pattern, I can't share it here. I didn't use the block patterns found in the book, I used the blocks I made with our Neighborhood Quilt Club. The blocks are all 12" finished squares.

I love the way it turned out!

Hopefully I can get it to the quilter tomorrow along with another Christmas quilt top made this year.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Combination Star - Quilt Block Tutorial

"Combination Star" from Ladies Art Company, 1898
Fons and Porter also call this block "Night and Day"
Cut from background fabric (A)
(A1) two 5 1/2" squares*
(A2) eight 2 7/8" squares

Cut from medium fabric (B) 
These pieces may be 'fussy cut' so that the picture is in the center. The B2 pieces should be centered on point to look best in the finished block.
(B1) one 4 1/2" square
(B2) four 3 3/8" squares)

Cut from dark fabric (C)
two 5 1/2" squares*

*If you already made the Quarter-square triangles, then you don't need to cut A1 and C pieces.

If you haven't made the Quarter-square triangle pieces, please visit this post first and make your quarter-square triangles.

Cut all A2 pieces in half along the diagonal.

Finger press a crease through the center of each B2 piece.

Line up the point of an A2 piece with the crease on the B2 piece to center the triangle on the side of the square.

Sew an A2 piece onto opposite sides of each B1 piece. Press towards the triangle.
Again, fold each B1 piece in half and finger press to form a crease.

Sew an A2 piece onto each of the remaining sides. Trim each unit to 4 1/2".

Lay out each piece for your block.

Sew into rows (or columns) and press the top and bottom rows towards the outside, press the middle row towards the middle square.

Sew the rows together and press!
This is my 12th block for Amy's Christmas Sampler quilt. I haven't quite decided on the layout for the final quilt, but I've got some great ideas!

Stay tuned!

This should be done by Thanksgiving! Yay!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quarter-Square Triangle Tutorial

I'm going to use four Quarter-square triangle blocks in the next block.

Another good tutorial can be found at

To find the size to cut your squares, add 1 1/2" to the finished size of the block. I need a 4" finished (already sewn into the block) for the next block, so I cut my squares 5 1/2". Since I need four quarter-square triangles, I cut two light and two dark 5 1/2" squares.

Two light 5 1/2" squares right sides together on two dark 5 1/2" squares. Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner. Pin in two places so the squares won't shift while you are sewing.

Sew a scant 1/4" seam along each side of the drawn line on both pairs. Cut along the diagonal line.

Press the seam towards the darker fabric. These are called 'half-square triangles' and we've learned two other ways to make them here and here.

Place two half-square triangle units together with the light and dark opposite sides opposite each other. Draw a line diagonally (perpendicular to the seam line). Pin. The bottom square in the photo shows the top unit pulled back so you can see how the two units match up.

Sew a scant 1/4" seam on each side of the drawn line.

Cut along the diagonal. The bottom right unit in the photo above shows the seam 'fanned' out to reduce the bulk. You don't have to open the seams this way if you don't want to, you can press the whole seam to one side instead.

You can use either a 6 1/2" square ruler (left side of photo) or a Quilt in a Day Triangle Square Up Ruler to square up your blocks. In either case, match the diagonal line on the ruler with the diagonal line on your block and the 4 1/2" marking on the ruler. Trim both sides. Turn the block around so the untrimmed edges are on the top, match up the ruler again, and trim the edges.

You can see the ruler better in this photo. The diagonal line in the center of the ruler is lined up with the vertical seam and the horizontal seam is lined up with the 4 1/2" ruler marking. This works on either type of ruler, but this ruler has fewer lines so it's easier to line up and trim the blocks.

All four blocks trimmed and ready to be put into the block.

My new machine isn't working right now. It's 17 and feeling its age. So I'm using my trusty Featherweight for my blocks! It's tiny and out of the way and so much fun to sew on!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mistake Star - Quilt Block Tutorial

Mistake Star? You've never heard of it before? That's because I made a mistake in the original pattern and ended up with a different star than I planned!

Crystal and my niece decided that they liked the accidental version and voted that I leave it as is instead of ripping it out and starting again. So the tutorial is for the Mistake Star instead of Hope of Hartford, which is what I was planning.

Hope of Hartford (or in this tutorial: Mistake Star) is a block that is relatively easy. A few skills you will build while sewing this block include:
  • reading 1/8" marks on your ruler 
  • sewing on the bias (a little Magic Sizing helps) 
  • and one partial seam (just follow the photos and it will be easy!)

Since I've never seen this block before I thought I'd name it. I couldn't think of a better than Mistake Star, which is a cousin of Hope of Hartford! However, if you've seen it before, please let me know it's real name and I'll post it!

Mistake Star
12" finished block, 12 1/2" unfinished.

Hope of Hartford (the block I was planning on sewing): directions can be found at Delaware Quilts
Delaware Quilts also has a great Block of the Month photo index if you are interested in finding more of their tutorial but want to see a photo of the block, not just a list of block names, which is usually what you find at other sites.

Before you cut the pieces on the diagonal, press the square of fabric with Magic Sizing to give the fabric more body and help reduce or prevent the bias edge from stretching during sewing.

Cut from background fabric
(A1) four 2 7/8"  x 5 1/4" rectangles
(A2) one 6" x 6" square (cut in half diagonally twice)

Cut from medium fabric (mine is red)
(B1) one 6" x 6" square (cut in half diagonally twice)
(B2) one 2 7/8" square

Cut from dark fabric (mine is green)
(C) two 5 5/8" squares (cut each square in half diagonally once)

I pressed all the pieces with Magic Sizing because I'll be sewing on bias edges on (A2), (B1), and (C). The Magic Sizing gives enough body to the fabric that it is easier to work with and less likely to stretch while I'm sewing it. I buy Magic Sizing at my local grocery store right next to the starch (which I don't use in quilting). Press with Magic Sizing *before* cutting each piece along the diagonal.

(A2) cut in half diagonally twice, (B1) cut in half diagonally twice, and two (C) cut in half diagonally once.
Ready to sew!

Here's where my mistake started! I lined everything up just right for Hope of Hartford, but I when I placed the pieces right sides together I forgot to pin the edge that I was sewing......
.... and sewed the wrong edge! After I sewed the first seam the sub-units looked like this. I just kept going because I hadn't noticed something was wrong, yet! Follow *this photo* to line up your triangles, pin along the edge you should sew, then sew and press towards the dark side. Make sure all four sub-units turn out the same!
Lay (C) on top of (A2+B1) sub-unit and sew along the long edge of the triangle. Be careful, this is a bias edge and if you stretch it while you are sewing, your block won't turn out well. The top two units have (C) laid over the top, the bottom two show what the first triangle sub-units look like underneath.
Sew each (C) to a (A2+B1) sub-unit, press open with the seam towards (C).

Pin and sew one (A1) piece to each triangle sub-unit as shown in the photo.

Press towards the rectangle (A1) to reduce bulk.
Here's where we sew a partial seam. Don't worry, it isn't hard, just different.

Pin (B2) to one unit as shown. (The rectangle piece (A1) is at the bottom.) Match the center (B2) to the red (B1) corner. Sew along the yellow dotted line leaving about 1" of the square unsewn.
During each step you will be lining up the red triangle (B1) with the red center square (B2).

You can see the white seam and how much is left unsewn. Yep! I started off at the top a little wonky. I fixed it after I took the photo.
You can finger press the seam open, but don't press it with the iron yet.

Next, lay the piece that you just sewed on top of another unit with the reds (fabric B) matching in the corner. The pink dotted line shows the first partial seam sewn. Pin and sew along the yellow arrow.

Finger press open. The arrow is pointing to the partial seam.

Lay another unit on top of the part of the block that is already sewn. In the photo above, I left the orientation of the block from the previous photo and laid another unit on top with the (A1) rectangle to the left. Pin and sew along the yellow arrow.

Finger press open. The blue arrow shows the last seam sewn, the yellow arrow shows the partial seam that is still open.
Lay the final piece on top of the previously sewn block. Sew along the yellow line. It's usually easier to flip the block over and sew as shown in the next photo.

If you sew from this side you can lift the block away from the partial seam so you don't accidentally sew it.
This is what your block should look like now. You should have one seam left that will include the partial seam on the center square (B2). This is the last seam you will sew in the block.
Place right sides together, matching the unsewn edges of the block. The blue arrow shows the partial seam that was sewn first. The yellow arrow shows where you will sew the final seam to finish the block.

Press the block with a hot iron. Here's a photo of the finished block: Mistake Star.
If you have any questions, *please* leave me a comment. This block is probably easier to show in a video than step-by-step photos and I'm not sure if my directions are clear enough.

If they aren't, chances are you aren't the only one that's confused!

Sharing this post at Not Just a Housewife

Update: 8 February 2015
I just read a post on Barbara Brackman's block that has this same block. The link will give you the history of the block and a little more about it.

It's name was published as "Hope of Hartford" by the Farm Journal in 1945.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Windblown Square - Quilt Block Tutorial

This block is called 'Windblown Square'. It's fairly easy, but has one new technique (sort of) for you.

Windblown Square
If you sewed the Tree Block you can sew the parallelogram unit! If you did any of the blocks with Flying Geese units in them, you can complete the Windblown Square. (Flying Geese Method 1, Flying Geese Method 2).

You can also make this block using only Half-square triangles! My niece, who was learning how to quilt, wanted to try something new so we chose to use Flying Geese units and parallelogram units.

I'll be using Flying Geese Method 2 to make my Flying Geese Units. If you choose another method, please be sure to adjust your fabric cutting!

Cut from background fabric
(A1) eight 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" squares
(A2) one 9" x 9" square

Cut from fabric 1 (green)
(B) one 7 1/2" square

Cut from fabric 2 (red)
(C) four 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangles

From background fabric (A) cut eight 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" squares. From fabric 1 (B) cut one 7 1/2" squares. From fabric 2 (C) cut four 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangles.
Draw a diagonal line on (A1) squares and (B) square.

Pin the (A1) squares to one end of the (C) rectangles with the diagonal line going from top left to bottom right. Pin in place.

Sew just to the right of the diagonal line.

Line any ruler that has a 1/4" seam marking with the 1/4" marking ON the diagonal line. In this photo the dotted line is the 1/4" seam line and it is on the diagonal line.

Trim the corner off and either throw it away or save it for a future project.

The top two units are pressed open towards the light fabric. The bottom two units have the next (A1) squares in place with the diagonal lines parallel to the first seam (the diagonal line is laid out from top left to bottom right).

Sew the second diagonal line the same way you sewed the first diagonal line.

Again, line up a ruler with the 1/4" seam line on the diagonal line......

and trim off the extra fabric triangle.

Press open. I pressed this seam towards the red fabric because later on it makes one seam less bulky.
One seam pressed towards light, one seam pressed towards dark. However, you can press them both towards the light or dark. This block will have a few bulky seams no matter how you press it. This unit should measure 6 1/2" x 3 1/2" unfinished.

Using (A2) and (B) fabrics make four Flying Geese units. I used Method 2, but you can use whatever method you are most comfortable with. Each Flying Geese unit should measure 6 1/2" x 3 1/2" unfinished.

Sew one Flying Geese unit to one parallelogram unit as shown. The seams on the Flying Geese units are pressed towards the light. Match the seam on the parallelogram unit that is pressed towards the red with the point on the Flying Geese unit.

Press towards the Flying Geese unit (or which ever way gives you the least bulk and the nicer point).

Sew all four units and lay them out as shown.

Sew into rows.....
Then sew the two rows together to form your block.

One the back you will probably be able to open the seams in the center of the square. This reduces bulk in the seam. It isn't a 'must do', it just makes the block lay flatter when you are trimming it and later putting it into a quilt.

The finished block!

And here is my niece! She helped me sew this block (and pick the colors!) While she was visiting she made quite a few beautiful blocks. This is her first experience with quilting and I think she really enjoyed it!