Tag Archives: quilt block

The Honey Pot Bee – April Queen Bee Fun

Ahhh, April! My favorite month! April is the month when spring usually begins to prevail over the last cold days of winter, with days getting a tad bit warmer, hopefully the snow melting enough to make way for sprouting crocuses and daffodils, and a prevalence of sun instead of sleet and snow. Not only that, it’s my birthday month, which is always a fun excuse to celebrate a little bit extra. To add some frosting to the cake, this month, I’m also one of the Queen Bees for The Honey Pot Bee hosted by Molli Sparkles. So fun!

the honey pot bee molli sparkles 2017When I was trying to decide what block to throw into the Honey Pot, I stumbled upon the Starry Sky block by Kylie at A Persevering Mom and completely fell in love.  Let me count the ways: 1) it’s foundation paper pieced yet very simply so, 2) the possibilities for color play are endless and I just LOVE Kylie’s warm/cool on low volume background sample block, 3) it comes in three sizes–2.5″, 6″ and 12″ finished squares, and 4) it’s free which makes it a prime choice for a bee! Decision made!

starry sky block by a persevering momBecause the foundation paper piecing in this block is so simple, it is a perfect block for some meticulous cutting fun. I decided that I wanted to use my precious Friedlander fabric for the background, but I wanted it to look like the tree scene was continuous across the block. I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few tips on how I did it.

starry sky block by a persevering momRemember that in foundation paper piecing, you are building the block on the back of the template. For this reason, when cutting each fabric piece, be sure to position the template with the printed lines facing the right side of the fabric to ensure the direction of the fabric is correct.

starry sky block by a persevering momIt’s also helpful to cut as you go, completing one template piece at a time and double checking your progress along the way. This certainly takes longer than cutting all of the necessary fabric pieces and chain piecing each section, but when playing the meticulous cutting game, it’s wise to go slowly and steadily, checking and double checking along the way.

starry sky block by a persevering momIn the photo above, the pieces of background fabric are cut for each section of the final foundation template (remember that the fabric will go on the back, so it appears mirrored when looking at them next to each other this way.) The final adjustment that can be made is with the numbering and order in which fabrics are sewn. With a basic understanding of how foundation paper piecing works, you can rearrange your piecing order to help easily align your fabric pieces. For this block, I always began with the center of the star points when at all possible so that it made it easy to keep the background fabric level and headed in the desired direction. For the piece shown, instead of sewing them in the listed order of A1, A2, A3, etc…, I positioned A3, then sewed A2, then A4, then A1.  This way, I only had one angled seam to line up properly (A5 to A6) in the entire block.

starry sky block by a persevering mom
A final shot of all of the block components in the dying evening light, right before final assembly.

While this seamless background didn’t come across as clearly as I hoped due to the intricacies of the branches and print, I’m still glad I went through the extra effort to get those bushes lined up along the bottom. Even if at first glance, it’s not obvious that the background fabric lines up, I know it does, and that’s what matters, right!?

starry sky block by a persevering momI love how the Friedlander Tree Stripe border in Pistachio looks with the star points, which include fabric from both Carkai and Architextures also by Carolyn Friedlander, some favorite Alison Glass Sun Prints from 2016 and 2017, a Free Spirit solid, Gum Leaves from Terra Australis 2 by Emma Jean Jansen, and an unknown green swirl from my stash. I sewed the block with my favorite 50wt Aurifil thread, 2600-Dove, but was excited to find two lovely greens in my stash, which will come in handy when it’s quilting time! My block will obviously be added to my Greenery Quilt, and I most likely will aim to also make a 12″ version of the block in a different arrangement of greens since I love the block so much. Can’t you see this block looking fab in just about any color combination!?

Head on over to Molli’s blog to see the other gorgeous block for April, and have fun with this Starry Sky block!

I’m linking up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday with Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl and Stephanie at Late Night Quilter in case anyone else wants a few tips on creating a seamless background panel for a pieced block. Enjoy!

 

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 95 Sylvia Tutorial

Ahh, remember the Farmer’s Wife Sew Along!? Today is my day to share the Block 95 Sylvia tutorial for the 1930 Farmer’s Wife Sew Along, hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell. Sure, I’m wildly behind on this sew along, but that’s totally ok! With my final deadlines being met within the next couple of weeks, I will have time to catch up a bit, chipping away at the missing blocks here and there. It’s all good! That’s part of what I love about Angie’s Sew Along–there’s no pressure. I’m making this quilt for me and I can take as long as I want to finish it!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialEach of these Farmer’s Wife blocks manage to pack quite a punch in the little 6 1/2″ space. My method of attack when deciding how to piece each block has been consistent: how can I piece this with as little muss and fuss as possible? With Sylvia, at first I was thinking chain piecing would be the way to go, since it would help minimize the teeny tiny pieces in the inner borders I’d need to cut and sew. Looking at it more closely, I decided that with this block, even chain piecing would require piecing TINY bits, cutting, and then piecing again. Plus, sixteenths of an inch!? No thank you! Finally, I decided that foundation paper piecing was the way to go, since:

  • there aren’t any tricky joins,
  • the pieces are teeny enough that the foundation paper will be helpful in reducing wonkiness,
  • the block breaks into pretty manageable pieces, AND
  • all of the border pieces can be cut using a rotary cutter and ruler to decrease the paper removal at the end.

Those who know me know that I LOVE foundation paper piecing (FPP), and it’s true–I do! The precision one can get using FPP is unrivaled, and once the technique is mastered, it makes sewing teeny tiny pieces MUCH more manageable. I am not going to take you step by step through how to foundation paper piece, since I have  written two very clear tutorials already (why reinvent the wheel, right!?), but I will share some block-specific tips and tricks to help you piece Sylvia smoothly.

For those of you who do not know how to foundation paper piece, visit my Basic Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial here, as well as the Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial guest post I wrote for the Andover Fabrics blog here. Trust me, it is a technique worth practicing and mastering, since it opens a whole new world of sewing possibility!

Reflection on the Letter – In Spite of the Mortgage

Nearly every one of the letters in this book seems to talk to me in a very specific, seemingly personal way. After the first dozen times of reading a letter I shockingly thought was *meant for me*, I realized that all of the letters have a very widely applicable message and I was simply interpreting it in a way that worked for me at that moment. That said, I can completely relate to this letter!!

Sometimes it’s necessary to just head off on an adventure despite whatever chores, obligations, or need for frugality you have waiting for you at home. We did a lot of adventuring this summer, but like Mrs. A. M. from the letter, we were able to do it on a very tight budget, not paying for much more than gas money.  Day trips to beaches, mountains, playgrounds, and forested hikes abounded, and I was always sure to pack a picnic lunch, extra snacks from home, and full changes of clothes for all three kids (and myself)… just in case. It was a much needed change from the stay home and do chores days we could have had!

Tutorial

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialReady to get sewing? Make sure you have a grasp on how to foundation paper piece, and let’s make Sylvia!

Choosing Fabrics

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialAs soon as I saw this block, I knew that I wanted to meticulously cut the center square. I’m arranging my blocks on point, so be mindful of your own plans before meticulously cutting your fabric! (I call “fussy cutting” meticulous cutting, and you can read why here). In looking for a fabric with a perfect color scheme and feature design, I stumbled across my precious Heather Ross Far Far Away unicorns (Windham Fabrics). I added some solid blue from an old project, and some Lizzy House Twinkle Twinkle from her Whisper Palette (Andover Fabrics). While the colors are a bit more muted than my other blocks, I think they will all work together. Plus, this fabric combination was a match made in heaven… once it was together, there was no separating it!

Here are some general tips for foundation paper piecing:

  • Shorten your stitch length to 1.2 (if you are an absolute newbie at FPP, try 1.5 until you get the hang of it);
  • Hand crank your needle down at the beginning of each line to make sure you start off exactly where you want to;
  • Backstitch at the beginning and end of each line to secure your stitches (they will be much sturdier during paper removal this way); and,
  • Foundation paper piecing results in many trimmed thread ends. What better time to make yourself a thread catcher? Here’s a free tutorial on how to make the one I use.

To help you while you stitch up Sylvia, here are some block-specific tips for you with photos from my process.

Tip #1: How to make a fussy cutting template for FPP

Fussy cutting while foundation paper piecing can seem daunting, but with one extra step, it can be super easy! Simply create a fussy cutting planning template for the piece(s) you want to focus on. I go through making such template in detail in my FPP post for Andover here, but here are the basics: Print an extra sheet of paper containing the FPP template with the piece you want to fussy cut (printing on card stock will make the planning template sturdier).

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialMark the specific piece you want to meticulously cut. I went a little overboard on marking mine for the sake of clarity here. I circled the number but also traced just outside the line of the particular piece, both with bright pink sharpie. Simply circling the number would probably suffice!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialCut out the center of the piece, creating a window that is exactly the size of the piece you want.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialDraw a 3/8″ seam allowance around the window. I used a green micron pen for this example to ensure the line didn’t get confused with the printed lines on the paper.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialCut along the line you drew.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialYou should how have a planning template to help you cut your fabric for fussy cutting. Notice that I placed my planning template onto the fabric upside down. This is because in foundation paper piecing, we are sewing the block on the reverse side of the template. It did not matter too much for this particular piece, since it’s a square, but always be mindful of directionality of the fabric as well as wrong side-right side. If need be, mark your planning template with “right side up” or “wrong side up” so that your fabric is cut properly!

Tip # 2: Color code your foundation paper

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialBetween sewing the fabric on the reverse side of the paper, having the block broken into sometimes odd sections before sewing, and the many pieces involved in most foundation paper piecing patterns, it is in your best interest to color code your paper template before beginning to sew. This way, you can be sure you sew each fabric in the proper place.

Tip #3: Be generous with your fabric pieces

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialEspecially when first getting started with foundation paper piecing, one of the biggest tips I can offer is to be generous with your fabric pieces. It’s better to have to trim a bit more off than to be short and have to rip stitches! For my bright blue squares on Sylvia, I cut the fabric into 1 1/2″ squares, which as you can see includes ample overhang.

Tip #4: Use rotary cutter and ruler for rectangular shapes

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialThis tip goes for bag-making as well: just because there is a template created for a perfectly rectangular piece, it doesn’t mean you can’t use your rotary cutter and ruler! The outer pieces of Sylvia can be easily cut using a rotary cutter and ruler, which will save time with paper removal at the end. Since these pieces are not easily measured (let’s avoid using sixteenths of an inch if we can help it!) simply cut out the foundation paper piece templates and use them as a guide when rotary cutting. Use the foundation paper piecing method to piece the center portion, then add the D, E, H, and I rectangles using traditional piecing methods. Easy peasy!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialAnd there you have it. Sylvia, in all her glory.

Thank you so much for joining me today and I hope you found this tutorial helpful!

Important Links

http://www.interweavestore.com/the-farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quiltThe Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

 

Colour Block Challenge Hosted by Gnome Angel

Those who know me know I love color, the brighter and bolder the better! I also love quilt photography and fun styling of process photos, and continuously aim to improve the clarity and aesthetic pull of my photographs. So when Angie at Gnome Angel announced a fun little challenge called the Colour Block Challenge (yes, colour with a ‘u’!) that includes bright color and fun photo styling, I immediately wanted to play. With a to-do list a mile long and only wee bits of time in which to complete it, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to squeeze in making a block for it though. Then, Angie gave me just the gentle nudge I needed–she tagged me on Instagram saying she was personally challenging me, since she knew how much I would LOVE to play. Then and there, I knew I was going to make time to play and participate no matter what–don’t you love when quilting friends really know you and help encourage you to have some extra fun!?

Take a colour themed quilt block photo and win! Find out more at www.gnomeangel.com
Take a colour themed quilt block photo and win! Find out more at http://www.gnomeangel.com

I read through Angie’s fabulous tutorial on how to make awesome color (er,… colour) flat lay photos, selected fabrics that I felt complimented the block well but also would lend themselves to some fun color scavenger hunts around the house, and went wild.

I took a full Finn nap-time (a serendipitously long one at that!) to make a new Farmer’s Wife block with the colour challenge in mind. This was doubly great, since I’ve been wanting to make more Farmer’s Wife blocks, but they always seem to drop to the bottom of my list. This project has jump-started my desire to catch up with some blocks, AND has reminded me how much I love foundation paper piecing (FPP)! I plan to FPP more of my future Farmer’s Wife blocks, since I was able to make the entire block during the span of one nap time. Knowing that I can accomplish something like making an entire block during one nap helps me feel like I’m set up for success and ready to dive in. Everyone loves a finish, even if it’s a single block!

colour block challenge by gnomeangel turquoise Once my block was complete, I wandered the house in search of colorfully turquoise objects. As Angie suggests, I gathered a lot and generally laid them out around the block on a big white foam board.

colour block challenge by gnomeangel turquoise I arranged and rearranged, and rearranged some more. Without sharing all her secrets (you can go and read her awesome tutorial on how to succeed with these colour flat lay photos here), Angie was so right that the magic happens as you get closer and closer with your photo.

colour block challenge by gnomeangel turquoise I think I spent more time rearranging the items than making the block, and remembering where they all went when I was done was another interesting challenge. I honestly had such a fun time laying this out. I already have another idea I want to try, which almost ALWAYS happens when I divert from my project to-do list to play, but I have to get one deadlined tutorial finished before I play more with this idea. I have a feeling my kids will love helping me with these photo flat lays, too. I made this one while the big kids were away on their grand adventure with my parents, so they didn’t get to help this time around. Just one more reason to make the time to play juuuuuust one more time *wink* (we all know I’m not finished with these color block flat lays!)

colour block challenge gnomeangel nightquilter entryThe challenge is being held on Instagram, so here was my final entry (above). Looking at it again, my camera photos look brighter than the one I took with my phone. Note taken for next time! You have two more days to post your entries, so if you are on Instagram, I definitely recommend you play, or at least check out the hashtag #colourblockchallenge to feast your eyes upon a gorgeous world of quilty color (you can view the tag online, even if you don’t have a smart phone or an Instagram account).

Since I love close up detail photos, here is a little tour of the silly items I found for this challenge. Who knew that we had so many turquoise bits and bobs around the house!?

colour block challenge by gnomeangel turquoise frogZippers and frogs, and pencils, oh my!

colour block challenge by gnomeangel turquoise ribbon boyntonChecking the kids’ bookshelf was a great tip by Angie. Sandra Boyton’s Hippos Go Berserk is a must read, especially when you love turquoise, math, and silliness (like I do!).

colour block challenge by gnomeangel turquoise sharkThis smiley shark had as much fun as I did, I think! Legos are an immediate win, and the little bobbin minders that Sarah from Sarah Goer Quilts sent me a few months ago kicked off my color hunt. No turquoise lay would be complete without an Elsa shoe, too, glittering in the background.

So much fun! Thank you, Angie, for the push to play. I had SO much fun with this!

 

More Baby Quilt Beginnings and a New Goal

It all started as a joke. Sitting around the breakfast table on the morning of Finn’s one month “birthday”, I jokingly said to my husband, “So what stuffed animal should we use in Finn’s one month photo shoot? What outfit should he wear?” I know that it’s all the rage to buy those monthly milestone stickers and find a cute stuffie and a big chair in which to take photos of your baby each month, but Finn is the third child. I didn’t make it past 4 months with Max, my second, and didn’t even plan to attempt this time around. We take lots of pictures day to day, so the memories will be made.

My husband, joking right back, said, “Didn’t you whip up a quilt block for his one month photos?” But instead of laughing and enjoying a mutual “poor third child” joke, I gaped. What a great idea! Now this idea of a quilt block per month was stuck in my head. How long could it really take to sew up a quick simple block? There was no turning back.

20 minute quilt block finn 1 monthRecently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of making time to sew, and how a simple 20 minutes per day can add up to progress. I decided to put this to the test, set a timer for 20 minutes, and use whatever block resulted from my timer sewing endeavor. I opted for a simple log cabin block, inspired by the recent log cabin blocks made by Kim at My Go-Go Life and the epic log cabin quilts made by Luke Haynes. It was also the perfect choice since I could use scraps and just sew whatever strips fit without too much thought.

20 minute quilt block finn 1 monthTa da! The project was a slam dunk (get it? Finn is slam dunking… kind of?). I had to pause the 20 minute timer once for a baby nursing break, and I ultimately decided to hit snooze and sew for 30 minutes, since I had the opportunity, but it worked! Making the goal to sit down and sew for 20 minutes got me at my machine and resulted in a 12+” block.

baby finn smile 1 month

My friends Stephanie at Late Night Quilter and Mandy at Mandalei Quilts and I are going to try out a goal of sewing (or making other sewing-related progress) at least 20 minutes each day. We are all busy moms with full plates, but setting a small, attainable goal will help us make sewing progress, too, without stress. We will be sure to post about our experiences on our blogs as well as on Instagram using hashtag #sewtake20. My first #sewtake20 trial run was a success and resulted in a great start to a new project, documenting how a quilt can grow along with my baby with only 20 minutes per month.

Finn 1 Month quilt block tealThey are both getting soooo big!

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced’s Work in Progress Wednesday, and will be posting more about my #sewtake20 progress on Instagram. If you feel like you need a little boost to get sewing daily, feel free to set a timer for yourself. Tag #sewtake20 so that Stephanie, Mandy, and I can see your progress and cheer you on!