Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Courthouse Steps on Point {A Quilt Block Tutorial}

Several months ago I ran across a photo of a vintage quilt that had Courthouse Steps blocks and I fell in love.  The blocks appear to be on point and after a quick search came back empty I took the easy route and made up my own measurements.  Having the blocks on point makes them easier to square up and faster to sew than having a few more layers of strips, so this makes a great bee block.

My plan for August #havendgs quilt block and backing fabric.  I'll be mailing out the green squares (Juliana Horner from Joann's) this week so you just need navy and white fabric.  #dogoodstitches tutorial for block will be on the blog soon

It's my turn to be quilter for Haven Do. Good Stitches in August, and this block fell perfectly into my plan to make a Kate Spade-esque quilt with this awesome Michael Miller backing fabric.

Here's what you need to make your own 12.5" (unfinished) block:

Haven DGS August

Fabric A - a pair of 1.5" strips in each size (3.5", 5.5" and 7.5") and one 8" square, cut on the diagonal
Fabric B - a pair of 1.5" strips in each size (5.5", 7.5" and 9.5") and one 8" square, cut on the diagonal
Fabric C - One 3.5" square for center

Haven DGS August

Begin by attaching the strips to your center block, starting with the shortest strips (3.5x1.5").  Unlike in a Log Cabin Block, where you move clockwise around the central block, you attach the strips on opposite sides. I found it helpful to press seams out from the center.

Haven DGS August

Now it's time to attache the triangles and put this baby on point.  Start with the triangles in fabric A (the navy hearts in the photo). line them up so the point is centered on the central square. Pin, sew, press and repeat on the opposite side.

Haven DGS August

Now we will trim the points off so that there is a clean line to sew on for the remaining two sides.  Sew the triangles on in the same manner as the first two.

Haven DGS August

All finished with the sewing, now we just need to square it up and trim.

Haven DGS August

Place a 12.5" square ruler over the block.  The center of the green square should intersect the 6.25" vertical and horizontal lines on the ruler (you can use washi tape on your ruler if you need a more defined line).  Can you see the spot I am pointing to above?  The ruler should also line up with this point on all four sides, or pretty close.  Hold your ruler down firmly so that it does not shift as you trim the four sides.

August #havendgs #dogoodstitches

I love how they look together!  I can't wait until the bee blocks start to  arrive from my Haven Hivemates. 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you make something from it, I'd love to see it in my flickr group.  Thanks!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pretty Perfect Pinwheels {Tutorial for My Small World QAL}

 If you're following along with the My Small World QAL from Jen Kingwell's amazing pattern, you've had to make a lot of teeny, tiny pinwheels!  These can be really, really fun and addictive to make.  Here's how I've been making mine.

*Makes 1 2.5" Pinwheel (2" finished)*

First I cut (2) 2.5" squares from 2 fabrics.  You can technically use smaller, 2" squares, but I tend to cut scraps into 2.5" squares so I have them available, and you have more room for fussy cutting.

I make two sets of the squares with right sides facing and then I mark on the diagonal with this awesome ruler from Fons & Porter for Omnigrid that I got at JoAnn's.  I make my marks with a Pilot Frixion marker.  I know people have had problems with these, but this isn't a mark you will see later if the ink comes back.


Now you simply sew on each diagonal line and cut the block down the middle.


Press with seams going toward the darker side.


Now I get out my next favorite tool, the trusty bloc loc!  


The block loc locks into your fabric with the ridge on the diagonal.  You simply trim the top and right and then flip it around to get the other two sides at 1.5"  A rotating cutting mat makes this step even faster if you are making more than a few.  Repeat for all of your HST blocks.


Now arrange your four pieces of the pinwheel.  The nice thing about having the seams going toward the darker edges is that they nest nicely when you pair up squares.  Here's the tricky part, you want to leave 1/4" of your seam open where they will join in the center.  Simply begin sewing your top pair of blocks as usual and then stop, needle down when you reach the 1/4" mark before the bottom and back tack, no need to mark it's right where the diagonal seam line is.  On the bottom pair of blocks, you start at this point and sew all the way to the bottom.


Finger press the top seams going to the right and the bottom seams going to the left and then sew all the way across to join them.  When you press them with your iron you just move it in a circular motion so the seams open like so:

#mysmallworldqal wee little pinwheels with #spunseams

This spun seam really reduces the bulk you would get in the center if you pressed seams open or just to one side.  Flat is good!

Before you know it, you'll have a pretty little collection of pinwheels.


I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial!  If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them.  Thanks, Courtney

My Small World QAL {Panels 3 and 4}

Amazingly, I am still keeping up with the My Small World QAL.  If you missed my first two posts, this is from the Jen Kingwell pattern in Quiltmania.

All finished with panel 4! #mysmallworldqal

Sections 3 and 4 came together pretty quickly, although I do feel like I am spending half my life cutting low volume 1.5" squares.  I probably should have cut all 800 I needed before I started the whole project.  But, I wanted a really big variety and then I probably never would have started!

Getting a little better at these orange peels, but still a lot of room for improvement! #mysmallworldqal

Here's a detail of one of the orange peel blocks from section 4.  I was thinking I am getting better at these, but then the photograph always shows little mistakes you didn't notice in real life.  I do love the fabrics in this one.  They are from a random charm pack of Amy Butler fabrics, no idea which line, but something fairly recent. Oh, and one random petal of Anna Maria Horner's Misguided Gingham.

The cutest part of tonight's #mysmallworldqal work #wildandcrazysaturdaynight

I'm still continuing to draft little paper piecing patterns for these itty bitty blocks.  Below is a picture of how I do it, using my cutting mats and rulers.

This is how I draw my paper piecing templates @flourishingpalms I use my cutting mat and grid rulers to measure everything

I'll be writing a post soon on making those little 2.5" pinwheel blocks with spun seams.  This helps reduce the bulk in the seam allowances greatly.

#mysmallworldqal wee little pinwheels with #spunseams

How's your summer going?  We have some kind of bug travelling through our household.  First Sean got it, then me, and now Will.  Hopefully it ends there.  Sean and I are still coughing, but feeling a lot better than we were last week.  

Panel 3 finished! #mysmallworldqal
My Small World, Sections 1-3

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Framed Floral Quilt for do. Good Stitches ::A Finished Quilt::


I finally finished the March quilt for the Haven Circle of do. Good Stitches this weekend, but it's been so gloomy I put off taking pictures.  Today was not much brighter, but I want to get this in the mail this morning!

March haven quilt

My beemates made blocks with floral centers following this tutorial in springy, bright colors.  I worried about the cohesiveness when I had the blocks together and also about the size.  I hemmed and hawed over borders and finally decided on sashing and cornerstones.

Putting together a quilt top for #havendgs

I thought the Lizzy House catnip print was just enough contrast to the low volume to be seen without being overbearing.  I had already planned to bind it in yellow and luckily I had enough extra for the cornerstones. The cornerstones are 2.5" squares and the sashing strips are 2.5 x 12.5."

March haven

I quilted this one pretty simply with a curvy stitch on the diagonals.  I used the eco green batting from Quilter's Dream again and it is just such a cozy feel with light quilting.

Ready for the wash #havendgs #dogoodstitches

This one will be mailed to our charity in Austin, TX later today.  Thanks to all my hivemates for the wonderful blocks!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

my small world QAL {section 2}

Woohoo!  I'm on a roll - blogging and quilting-along.
  I am still so in love with the #mysmallworldqal that it's pretty much all I want to do.  You can see my section 1 post here.

Finished panel 2 of #mysmallworldqal - and I'm still completely addicted

Panel 2 was very similar to Panel 1, still no tricky piecing yet, but lots of applique.  I'm really enjoying it and I think I am improving.  My second orange peel block is a lot neater than the first.

Appliqué portions of panel 2

I made a collage of Panel 2 segments, since the long, skinny panel is so hard to photograph in detail.

Panel 2 collage (because the skinny shape is so hard to get a photo) #mysmallworldqal

  I also wanted to talk a little bit about how I am using the templates.  Or rather, not using the templates.  When I can I just cut basic rectangles and squares with a rotary cutter and I've been making paper piecing templates for the odd triangles (I'll show you HST methods next).

Paper piecing makes the triangles much easier #mysmallworldqal

On this example I measured out my 2" finished squares, added seam allowances to the first and last squares and made the triangles with a ruler going from the center of the squares out to the bottom edges.  You can see below that I did not sew two pieces in the upper triangles, those lines were there only to help draw the triangles.


For the HST (half square triangle) shapes I have just been using the stitch and flip method by marking sqaures on the diagonal, sewing and trimming the seam allowance.  This photo shows a step by step using two 2.5 x 4.5" base rectangles and four 2.5" squares.  I am particularly fond of this style block.  Just a little more interesting than an hourglass. 

I'm avoiding templates when possible so I make this block using stitch and flip method with (2) 2.5x4.5 rectangles and 2.5 squares #mysmallworldqal

If you're quilting along, I hope these tips may help you, or might help in a future project.  This design looks so daunting when you see the entire quilt, but the way it is broken down into panels makes it seem so doable!

photo courtesy of
The big boys finish school a week from today (is it just me or is the whole rest of the country out already?) so we will see how the transition is to summer schedule and what kind of sewing time I'll be able to squeeze in!  Hopefully I can get Panel 3 finished next week.

Monday, June 1, 2015

my small world QAL {section 1}

Well, I love to jump on a quilt-a-long bandwagon, that's for sure!  Of course, I could not resist the #mysmallworldqal over on Instagram and here in blogland, too.  I found the special issue of Quiltmania with Jen Kingwell's pattern at my local Barnes & Noble and couldn't wait to get started.

As soon as I got the magazine, I got right to work on the sky and buildings section.  I generally try to cut my scraps into usable sizes now when I am sewing and have a few big boxes with 5, 2.5, 2 and 1.5" squares so I (foolishly) thought I'd probably have enough low volume squares to make this section.  Ha ha.  Someone counted up all the 1.5" squares for the sky in this quilt, and I believe it is 731!  In any case, I made a mess of the sewing room but also this fun little section.

Got the magazine and sky made yesterday and finished the buildings at naptime - now on to the fun, colorful portion of panel 1 tomorrow #mysmallworldqal

I couldn't wait to use some Heather Ross Tiger Lily, that happened to arrive during the making of those buildings (the yellow butterflies and pink ballerina).


Now that the buildings were complete, I got to move on to the "fun part."

For as long as I can remember I preferred creating on a minute scale, so these blocks make me very happy #mysmallworldqal

Teeny, tiny, colorful patchwork!  Be still, my heart.

I pretty much threw those little templates out the window for most blocks and just made HST and trimmed them down to size.  For a few sections, mostly the other kinds of triangles, I made paper piecing patterns by tracing the templates - so much more accurate for me.

I did the curved block at the bottom left using the templates and I did the needle turn applique as directed, too.  Glad I took Carolyn Friedlander's Aerial Grove class at Quiltcon, although needle turned applique is so much easier on organic shapes that don't need to be perfectly placed on a block.

Close up

So here is the full Section 1, in all of it's 12.5x33" glory!

Panel 1 is finished and I will not start oanel 2 until I cross a few things off my to do list!  #mysmallworldqal

I am linking up with Quilt Dad today (who has some brilliant ideas on using cheater prints to cut down on the work a little) and hoping to be able to keep pace with this one. At the moment it is quite hard to sew anything else.

My Small World QAL

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Geranium Trio {Feel the Love}

I am always impressed when I use a Made by Rae pattern, and the Geranium Dress was no exception. With a house full of boys, it took me a while to purchase and use this particular pattern, but now I'm wondering why on earth I waited so long.  It's really such a perfect little dress and now I can whip one up in less than two hours, so it makes a nice gift.

Trio of geranium dresses

The first one I made is in Lotus Pond fabric and size 12-18 months for a very special first birthday!

My first, but definitely not my last, #geraniumdress in size 12-18 for a special baby's first birthday (just needs buttons).  #Lotuspondfabric

Then I had to make my little niece one in the 6-12 month size using some hoarded Heather Ross bicycles.  Ignore the weird green tint on this photo.

I had to make a #geraniumdress for my niece, too.  In #heatherross courtesy of @oneygirl50

And finally, this morning I made one in size 3T for a little friend's birthday party that the boys are going to today.  I adore the way the Heather Bailey Pop fabric looks on this dress, but, oh, I am so sad I pretty much used it all now!  Isn't that always the way it is with fabric?  It sits for so long, waiting to be used, and then you wish you had bought more!  I'm trying to use up the hoarded fabric, but it isn't easy!

I might need a #geraniumdress intervention - these are addictive!  And also easier than going to target for a birthday present!

I think one of my favorite things about this pattern is that it looks so nice inside.  Thanks to the lined bodice and beautifully finished seams, it looks very professional.


And buttons on the back!  I'm getting better after three sets, but still room for improvement.  I probably should have tried to find  a reference for how long to make buttonholes vs. size of button, but I have it pretty much figured out now.  Initially I feared making the buttonholes to large to stay closed, so that on the first dress I couldn't get the buttons through their holes.  Luckily, I just used smaller buttons and eventually by dress three had figured it out well enough.  

Back view

Farewell, sweet dresses!  I kind of wanted to keep them, but that would just be silly.  They will all be with their new owners soon, and I hope they bring a smile to a few faces.  That really is the point, after all, isn't it?  All that fabric buying and hoarding and work?  You just want someone to feel the love and smile.