Thursday Tutorial–basic and almost traditional!

I’d almost bet one of the first blocks you made when you were learning about quilting was a four patch. Easy to learn and easy to do in an improv way. And since I’m also about quick, I love to work in a stack and slash manner.

I like to make these blocks with each part being a different color so I usually start with four square-ish fabrics, stacked right sides up. As with other improv blocks, these can be any size.

With your rotary cutter and a ruler, make a cut across the stack, somewhere near the center, but off center. Make a second cut across the first cut, so that you have four stacks of pieces. Now you need to re-arrange the stacks by moving one piece from the first stack to the bottom of that stack, two pieces from the next stack to the bottom of that stack, 3 pieces from the top of the next stack to the bottom of that stack and you can leave stack number 4 as is.

Cat throw1

Cat throw2

Sew the layers together, not trying to match edges! My system for keeping things straight as I chain piece these is simple. I lay half of each block on each side of the needle.

Cat throw4

Then I sew the top pieces (top half of the block) followed immediately by the bottom pieces from the same block. As they come off the machine each block is kept together and ready to sew the next seam, with no confusion as to which half goes with which block. You only cut the chain piecing threads between blocks and the pieces of each block stay together.

Cat throw5

When you are trying for wonky, you are happy when your seams don’t match. But sewing them together can be a problem if you are used to precision piecing. Place them so that they overlap enough to make a seam and sew along the straight edge. You may certainly trim to make an even edge but I don’t usually bother.

Cat throw6 Cat throw7

When you are trying for wonky, you really don’t want to match those seams. But sometimes, just by accident, you match more perfectly than when you are trying to!

Cat throw8

Cat throw9

So, that’s how you do it. Trim up your blocks to size, lay them out and bam! you have a quick quilt! I have often used them as a border, too. It adds another level of interest that you don’t get with a single fabric border.



Mostly start to finish

I’m not quite done with this project but the major elements are in place. Here’s my picture story of how I got to this point.

Grabbed some black and white strings.

Arranged them in a flower shape.

Fused them to green/turquoise organdy.

Stitched them to the organdy. This is the back.

This is what the front looked like.

Next step was to place on the background and get it stitched in place. All the stitching thus far was free motion, big, not concerned with small or even stitches.

Layered the batting and top but did not add the backing yet. Chose black and turquoise cording to further define my shapes. I don’t like zig zag stitches showing on the back if I can avoid it. I want to get the “ugly” stitching done and then add backing for nice quilting.

After I got those outlines done, I trimmed the organdy, leaving a little margin.

I might add a touch of metallic thread around those edges, but basically this is ready for a backing and some nice quilting. What do you think? And maybe beads?

I’m much happier with this now than I was at the beginning. I wanted a totally different shape to my flower, but didn’t know how to get there. I thought this was very childish, but I’m liking it quite a bit now. I will finish it smiling and pleased. Seems like I make myself happy little pictures every time I dive into those strings bags. I probably better head back there for my next project, too!


Thursday Tutorial-triangles

Grab a stack of fabrics from the scrap pile. Cut a square-ish chunk from the stack, any size with which you wish to play!


Stack and cut triangles–right up my alley. Make a cut right through at an angle on one side. Your second cut should start down a little from the top on the other side. That gives you room to trim without cutting off your point after the block is sewn together.


Switch the center triangle by moving the top one to the bottom of the stack and sew each side…and I hit a “Duh!” moment. I sewed the full cut side (right side in the picture) first and then sewed the shorter cut side.


It will work, but take a closer look at the top.


It’s supposed to have the full cut side covering that shorter cut side! I did sew the rest of  them the correct way.


Make quite a few and get a feel for the best size in which to  trim them. You can always add a strip to a small one, if you need it.

Don’t forget that these can be more like rectangles than squares when you make them this way. And they don’t even all have to be the same size. I only made the height on each of mine the same for ease of assembly.

You can certainly make these with only a couple of fabrics at a time. There will be a bit more variation of the angles that way. I had such a huge stack of fabric that I kept cutting and sewing until I had enough for an entire quilt!

I also thought about mixing these with solid color blocks or with other pieced blocks, but those are variations for another quilt, another time!

Next time we’ll look at my favorite quick block…wonky nine-patch.

Rock Ridges

All I have for you today are a couple of pics of the finish on my KY rocks project.

Edge treatment–sewn to the canvas

Close up of the rock formation

The whole picture

I need a title that I’m happy with…haven’t found that, yet. Size? 20 x 20.

Working on getting some images of undersea plants and coral for this one

but mostly it will be  some yard work for the next few days. I’m actually excited about that! Aaaaahhh…..spring!

Retreat Quilts

My retreat quilts are FINISHED! I had to strike while the iron was hot or they could have languished on the shelf. I even came up with names for them…which could change before I put a label on them, but will do for now.

Retreat-Full Blue Moon 17 x 21

Retreat-Fan Dance 24 x 30

Retreat-Parkways 30 x 34

My studio is a total disaster. I have never left it so messy for so long, so that is obviously the next task on the agenda. I’d love to do a major cleaning and rearrangement of everything, but I don’t know where to put the stuff to even start! I know, I know….a little bit at a time. I’m hoping for no distractions as I start. Wish me luck!

Fear of Failure

We’ve all been there, right? Being frozen at some step in a project because you fear ruining it. How about not even starting it? This project has been in “fraidy-cat” mode for years….probably close to 10 years.

Planned out, pinned together and shoved in a basket. Looked at many times and shoved back in the basket. See, the plan kept growing bigger and more elaborate and I became convinced that I could not do it. It was also a time when I had not done yards and yards of dyeing so those fabrics were more precious to me. I knew that once I cut into them–and ruined the project–that I would never be able to make it right. I’ve learned a bit since then!

Ironing and keeping them in the same general order they were pinned in gave me  confidence to go forward. I eliminated all the extra and elaborate parts of the plan that had made me nervous and went back to my original intent–showcase that center fabric. I am no longer afraid to just cut into a chunk of fabric, hand dyed or commercial, so that’s what I did. About time, don’t you think, after 10 years?!!

I moved things around a bit and gave myself a margin to aim for. I’m not sure it’s really the same as my original layout, but I’m not afraid of messing up anymore. I have filled my desire to make a piece that showcases that nice center chunk of fabric, so no matter what comes next, I have NOT failed.

A bit more trimming and a lot of pins gave me a nice little wall hanging ready for assembly and stitching. Hmmm…I may play a bit with the orientation of the center…

And it will have raw edges rather than pieced seams. I think it will be sewn by hand with embroidery, crazy quilt style, but there may also be some machine quilting. Those details will get worked out as I go along, per usual.

I just feel so good that I don’t have any fear of failure on this project any more. Aaaand all the other ‘stuff’ that was thrown in that basket is now back in circulation and available for more new projects! Wooo hooo…another black hole of UFO’s cleaned out!!!

Blue and orange

I’ve been alternating work with the big orange petals and the big blue petals. And alternating with my decisions on the orange petal one!

Started to go with the hand stitching decision and now I’m not sure that’s what I want to do!

I am totally fine with the big, thick orange stitches. Perfect. Then I started sewing on the black and white, and tried out several stitches.


Haven’t found the correct one yet. So now I’m re-thinking and may go back to a machine finish idea. Nah…that’s probably pretty certain!

At least the blue leaves were always planned to go with machine finishing. And I turned them from leaves to stylized trees. I’m just beginning the stitchwork with navy blue cording for trunks and a couple of branches on each tree.

I felt like I was taking chances by doing this without stabilizer or batting but I didn’t want the zigzag of the cording to show on the backing this time. I got lucky and it worked fine.

I’m ready to get it layered up and quilted now. Perhaps I’ll find a spot for a little bit of shiny thread!!

And having that small piece of that center fabric made me use my improv skills a bit more! I’m happy with this one so far!