Follow along with our team of quilters as we show off our new projects, discuss new and exciting techniques, talk about new fabric collections, and share news about the latest and greatest happenings here at Connecting Threads.
I hope you all enjoyed making our first four blocks in Month 1. I really loved reading everyone’s comments and photos on Facebook this past month. If you haven’t joined our Ruby Facebook group, I would highly recommend it. It’s a great place to share ideas and stay motivated!
For Month 2 we will be making our first set of the Irish Pinwheel Chain blocks (which I probably should have called Irish Chain Pinwheel blocks, but I digress). There are 25 of these blocks in the quilt, so I’ve broken them down into chunks of 5 and have spread them out over the course of the BOM, just so we all don’t get bored making so many at once! Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, haha!
I’ll walk you through the instructions for making one block:
This block begins by making some half-square triangles. Once you’ve paired up your A and B squares and have marked a line like you see below, you are ready to stitch on both sides of the marked line. Obviously the squares shown below aren’t lined up correctly, because I wanted you all to see the square underneath. You’ll want yours matched up perfectly.
Once you’ve sewn everything and have cut on the marked lines, you can press open and square up your blocks to 2-1/2″ square.
Then you’ll sew those half-square triangles together to make a pinwheel. If you want your pinwheels oriented the same throughout the quilt, you’ll want to pay close attention to the diagram, making sure that all of your A and B triangles are in their proper position.
And I must confess, while sewing up my first block for this month’s tutorial, I plumb forgot to pay attention to the direction of my pinwheels. And when I was done and I compared my finished block with my own diagram, OF COURSE they were going the WRONG WAY. If I had been sewing this for myself, and not this blog, I honestly would have left it, and just made sure all the other ones matched. No one would have been the wiser, right? But since you all have my directions and diagrams, and would have seen my mistake, I figured I’d better follow my own instructions and fix it! Thankfully I’d only made the one block and not all five. Otherwise I might have cried…or screamed loud enough for the neighbors to hear.
Once you have your pinwheels sewn up, all you have to do is add the Ivory strips and the Red corner squares. So easy!
I like to sew my blocks into rows first, and then sew the rows together, like you see below.
After the first set of strips and squares, your block should now measure 8-1/2” square. I always measure and trim as I go so that everything turns out the correct size in the end.
Once the last strips and squares are sewn, the finished block should now measure 12-1/2” square.
And here is the finished block!
Some of you have asked for thread suggestions. For this block I used the Scarlet thread, because that’s what I already had in my machine. I really should have used the Cream or Ivory thread, since there is so much of the Ivory background in this block. So do as I say, not as I do! If you really want to get fancy, you could use a red thread for the pinwheels, and then switch to the Ivory thread for sewing the strips.
I hope you have fun making these Irish Pinwheel Chain blocks, because you’ll be making a LOT more of them as we go along! But I’m guessing you all knew that. 🙂
Hello friends! I’m excited to join you on this journey over the next twelve months while we sew up this not-so-little gem of a quilt called Ruby. I’ve always LOVED red and white quilts so I jumped at the chance to design one for Connecting Threads. I’m pretty happy with the results, and hope that you will be too, especially once it’s all finished.
In preparation for this BOM, I snagged a few extra supplies from Connecting Threads. I love their thread and use it all the time anyway, so lucky for me there is a thread set that goes PERFECTLY with this quilt. It’s the Hometown Americana Redwork Traditions Thread set. Of course, you don’t have to use this thread to make the quilt, but since all the colors are perfect for whatever blocks we’ll be making, I just decided I wanted it from the start.
I also got backing fabric, because, depending on the popularity of any given CT fabric collection, there is a chance that the backing fabric I want might not be available by the time I’m ready for quilting. And since we will spend 12 months making the top, I really wanted to make sure I could get what I wanted. So while you don’t have to buy backing fabric now, I would strongly suggest you do, especially if you want something that coordinates.
The pattern states that you’ll need 9.75 yards of standard 44″ wide fabric for the backing. You can also choose to get 3 yards of the 108″ backing fabric as I decided to do. If you go that route, you’ll want to get 3 yards. I picked Flower Bunch (#110582), which coordinates perfectly with this quilt. In fact, it’s so pretty it could be a whole cloth quilt on it’s own. I love it!
Before we begin cutting and sewing, I’d like to offer a few tips. I know many designers who write patterns in a way that has you cutting pieces slightly larger, and then trimming things down after sewing parts together, so that everything is just right when you are done. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I chose to write my patterns so that everything is mathematically correct and let customers make their own adaptations as they see fit.
That being said, whenever I’m personally making a quilt, I generally cut all my pieces just a scant bigger (like about 1/16” at most), and I also sew everything just a scant under the ¼” seam allowance. This always gives me great results, and allows for me to square things up as needed.
Here is a photo of about how much bigger I cut my pieces, just to give you an idea. If you look closely at the ruler, you can see this piece is just a bit bigger than the 5-1/4″ measurement that is stated in the pattern.
Of course, feel free to cut and sew as you see fit, I’m just letting you know what I do that helps me to get the results I’m after. And don’t worry about having enough fabric if you want to cut things a bit bigger with this kit. I’ve allowed for AMPLE fabric with this BOM, so you should be all good!
This Month’s Blocks
Okay, let’s get started with this month’s blocks! Here are the first four we will be making:
If any of you have made previous quilts of mine, you probably know that I LOVE the no-waste method for making flying geese. I think mostly because it bothers me to cut those triangles off with the traditional method and throw them away. I know there are those super talented quilters who can magically come up with something amazing out of those tiny triangles, but I’m not one of them. I used to always save them, thinking that someday I would create a masterpiece, but I would inevitably throw them away sometime later, always feeling a bit guilty. Dumb, I know, but using the no-waste method I don’t have any guilt haha!
Below are some photographs of steps 1 and 2 for block 14, just so you can see what this looks like in ‘real life’.
When I’m all done pressing my flying geese, they always need a good trim, and I use the Bloc-Loc flying geese tool to square up my units. This is another tool that is entirely optional. They aren’t cheap but I really like how all my flying geese end up absolutely perfect when I use this to trim them.
After making the first set of flying geese, you’ll attach them to the A square, along with the B squares, to make the center portion of the block.
Next we will make some more flying geese in steps 4 and 5, followed by 8 half-square triangles in step 6. These flying geese are the same as above, and half-square triangles are pretty straight forward.
Somehow, while sewing and trimming, I didn’t snap a pic of the completed half-square triangles, but you can see them below all trimmed up and ready to go. In step 7, we will sew these units together like so:
Now it’s time to sew all the components together. Pay attention to the pressing arrows so that all the units will nest together. If all goes according to plan, the block should measure 12-1/2” square.
This block is traditionally called the Ohio Star block, and it’s one of my favorites, probably because it’s pretty easy!
We will begin by making some quarter-square triangle blocks. You’ll start by making two sets of half-square triangles: Two will be with the A and C fabrics, and two will be with the D and C fabrics. Usually at this point I would trim these up, but when making quarter-square triangle blocks, I always wait until the very end to square everything up, because with these blocks, it doesn’t really matter until the end. Plus it gives me some extra wiggle room in case I need it later.
Next, we will pair a C/A square (from step 1) with C/D square (step 2), and place them so the C triangles are on opposites sides, like so:
Draw a line across the square, and then stitch on either side of the marked line.
After you cut ON the marked line, you’ll end up with two quarter-square triangle units. You’ll repeat this so that you’ll have a total of 4 of these squares. Trim them up to be 4-1/2” square.
Now it’s time to assemble the block. This block is pretty simple, but you’ll just want to make sure that all of your Corsage II Ivory triangles (A) are framing the center B square. I always lay out all my pieces before sewing so that I make sure everything is oriented correctly.
This block is also pretty straightforward. Again, you’ll want to pay attention to the pressing arrows so that when the block is all sewn together you’ll have those seams in the right direction.
You’ll start by making a modified 9-patch like so:
Next you’ll move on to making some more of those no-waste flying geese. This is the same drill as before with the previous block. And once those are finished you’ll add some of the background F and G pieces to the ends of them like you see here:
Now all you have to do is attach those completed flying geese units to sides, and top and bottom of the center unit, and you are good to go!
Before we begin the instructions for these blocks, I have to apologize for a silly mistake in the cutting instructions. You’ll notice that the last fabric is labeled “Background (White)”, which is obviously not correct, since there is no White fabric in this pattern. This is a generic term I use when writing patterns, which gets changed to the actual fabric name for the final edit. The dumb thing is, I MARKED THIS IN RED PEN to change it, and then somehow didn’t. Ugh. Anyway, please know that “Background White” is really Solid, Ivory.
Now on to sewing! We’ll start by making a simple 9-patch and then make, you guessed it, even more no-waste flying geese. (Gee, this sounds kinda similar to the last block…)
Then we’ll make a few easy 4-patch units – Four of them to be exact.
The only thing to worry about when assembling this block is the orientation of the corner 4-patch units. As you can see from the picture, the Ivory F squares should be in the outer corners. At least, that’s how I’ve done it. That being said, since this is YOUR quilt, you can switch up the orientation if you so desire, and put those red squares in the corners instead. It’s entirely up to you, just make sure that whatever you do, it’s on purpose. That advice probably applies to more than just quilt blocks, haha!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these first few blocks. Next month we’ll get started on some of those Irish Chain pinwheels. Stay tuned!
We’ve made it! After all the prep and much anticipation, the first box of Barn Stars, this 9 month Block of the Month, is officially here and moving along.
For me, Barn Stars is a great way to flex beyond my usual design aesthetics and work with some more classic color tones. While my creative eye is generally pulled toward big bold palettes, it is exciting to have such a distinctively unique design to work with.
The Barn Stars Block of the Month pattern is exclusive to the select group who subscribed in Spring of this year. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to sew along with such an incredible and diverse group of sewists! Our subscribers total several hundred and include all levels of quilters. Personally, I’ve been sewing and quilting for most of my life, so I’m always excited when something new comes across my cutting table.
Because of the exclusivity of this pattern, please consider this post as more of a broad, casual discussion, rather than a comprehensive sew-along tutorial. I’m a member of the subscribing group just as everyone else, so it is an opportunity to share the excitement.
For those sewing along with this Block of the Month, or any of our others, don’t forget to share and tag us on social media, including Facebook and Instagram! We love to see what everyone is making. #CTBOM, #BarnStarsBOM #ConnectingThreads, and #TogetherWeQuilt are great hashtags to use and follow to join in on the fun!
To begin these stunning blue and green blocks, I first ironed each of my pieces. I’m generally a fan of prewashing, but refrain when working with precuts or anything less than a full yard. Fortunately, the Connecting Threads Luxe fabrics use such a beautiful tight weave and high quality fibers, so I know I can trust my bias edges not to distort and for shrinkage to be minimal. These fabrics are so crisp and luxurious! I’m always so excited when I get to work with a new collection.
At the start of any project, this is also my time to go over my machine and make sure everything is set and ready for the hours of work ahead of it. I dutifully clean out my bobbin casing, pre-wind a few bobbins, change my needle, and affix my foot. I sew with a Janome M7 Continental, so I prefer to piece with my AcufFeed HP2 foot. It is a gentle walking foot with an incredibly accurate quarter inch guide. If I were using my Babylock Molly, I would just use my standard presser foot.
Initially, I had planned to use a neutral shade of Essential Thread, but I had a spool of Caramel handy and thought it would work well with all the yellow undertones of these particular blocks. When it comes to piecing, I’m generally not overly precious about the thread colors I use.
Once I had everything ironed smooth, I set to work cutting. Personally, I prefer to cut WOF (width of fabric) strips all at once, then circle back and begin subcutting. My “cutting station” is an old kitchen table I purchased during my first year of undergrad that I set up on bed risers so I don’t destroy my back. One of my favorite things about quilting, and sewing in general, is that there are no requirements that suggest specific tools or resources are needed. Every individual is able to design a workspace that works best for each need. It is really quite uniquely magical.
Once I finished subcutting, I went to work on the flying geese units. It has been a while since I made flying geese one at a time, so it was a nice change of pace.
Because this pattern is so point specific, I spent extra time marking lines, pressing between steps, and ensuring each piece lined up as precisely as I was able. Once I finished each of the units, I used my Bloc Loc ruler to trim off any wonky bits and make sure my seam allowance was properly aligned so as not to lose the point in future assembly.
Connecting the flying geese units to the green corner and center pieces went smoothly. Through thoughtful pressing, I was able to perfectly nest my seams and make sure each of the components lined up as they should. Pressing between each step ensured crisp assembly. These little blocks were so darn cute, but also a bit of a tease when I realized they were just the centers of a much larger assembly process!
To ensure precise sewing for my half square triangle blocks, I used my Sewline pencil and the 2.5”x8” ruler I keep at my sewing table as a guide. I marked my guide line from corner to corner, and stitched a quarter inch away from each. Back at my cutting table, I sliced the assembled squares in half, pressed the seam allowance toward the dark blue fabric, and cleaned them up with my 4.5”x4.5” Bloc Loc ruler.
Then, the fun step! I’ve never used Tri-Recs rulers before and I was excited to figure out the nuances of these angular units. While Cora’s Quilts was kind enough to include a link to a tutorial within the pattern instructions, I opted for my usual style of just winging it.
It took a few tries to get the placement correct and I ripped out a few seams from less than successful initial attempts, but once I figured out the nuances, it was smooth sailing. I was sure to press between assembling the left and right sides to help guide proper seam alignment and reduce wobble when overlapping fabrics at the tip.
To keep pressed seams extra crisp, I was sure to also utilize my handy tailor’s clapper. The clapper itself was made by my father several years ago and is my not-so-secret weapon for creating the smoothest seams.
To save a bit of time from going back and forth between my sewing desk and my pressing/cutting table, I worked on both the template units and elongated flying geese units simultaneously. Through chain piecing, I continued right after the final template unit and swooped right into the first side of the elongated flying geese.
To keep the elongated flying geese nice and tidy, I marked from each corner to 2.5” (the width of each piece) from the opposite edge. This gave me nice angular lines to follow along with my stitches. I pressed up and away from the point, to keep the bulk managed as best I could.
Once these were finished, I sewed the HST units to each side of the template triangle units, pressed away from the center, and attached them atop each elongated flying geese unit.
When attaching these two pieces together, I made sure to pay close attention to the points where the two green triangles would meet. Should anything be sewn askew- this is one of the points where it would really be noticeable!
Once these units were combined, I attached half to each side of the smaller star blocks that I’d previously assembled, and the other half were sandwiched between the large tan corner squares. Each of these I pressed carefully with close attention on each of the points to make sure they didn’t become buried in bulk.
Once pressed, I was on the home stretch! I took a bit extra time assembling these and made sure to nest my pressed seams and pinned them in place.
Moving from the nested seams, I continued pinning along the length of the block to ensure nothing would shift during assembly and my corners would stay lined up where they needed to be.
After two long seams on each block, they were finished!! One final press and careful seam guiding later, they were ready for pictures.
It was a nice day outside, so I took the blocks to my fenced garden for some quick photos before jumping back into the house to start on my next projects!
Even with the block measurements listed before I began, it was still a delight to see how enormous these first few blocks became! I always love that moment, after sitting so focused on each little step, to finally step back and see what each carefully placed cut and seam came together.
The best thing about the Block-of-the-Month subscription is that all sewists are free to go at their own paces. Because of a slight shipping hiccup, I personally got my box several weeks after most subscribers got theirs. While this did set met back a bit, it wasn’t as though I were missing a hard-set deadline. The wonderful sense of accomplishment gained by stepping back and admiring a finished piece, knowing “I made this” is the joy in itself.
The pattern does include fabric and instructions for blocks 14 and 15, which will be added to slowly along the course of this project. I’ve decided to hold off until next month before adding these two blocks to my task list!
With the first block behind me a shipping hiccups resolved, I’m ready and ecstatic to tackle the next ones.
Now I have a crib size quilt top to cut and piece for a friend, a few pairs of Fernway Culottes to cut and assemble, and then onward to block number two!
Hello fellow Barn Stars Block of the Month or BoM participants! We are so delighted to be sewing along with you all over the next 9 months. As noted at the time of registration, the first boxes will begin shipping to all active subscribers in early May 2021. Keep an eye on your email inbox for related tracking details once they’ve left our warehouse!
My name is Zoey and I’ll be sewing right alongside each Barn Stars subscriber. My boxes will contain the same fabric and instructions, so I’ll be following the same schedule and sharing my journey along the way.
Before we get started, I wanted to take a moment to introduce each of you to some of the skills we’ll be flexing over the course of the project, as well as some of my recommended notions. Of course, notions are always down to personal preference and directly relate to each individual’s specific sewing style. No specific notions are a requirement for this pattern, but I often find it helpful to see what everyone is bringing to the table, so I wanted to share a few of the extra rulers I’ll be using.
As We Begin
If you haven’t already, check out our recent blog post titled Essential Notions. This post details my list of favorites for every project, and is a great place to start when building out your supply list!
This pattern was created by the exceptionally skilled designer, Shelley Cavanna of Cora’s Quilts. While I’ll be sharing my personal process along the way, I do recommend that any questions or comments about the pattern specifically be directed to the designer. Her contact information will be located on the first page of your pattern, set to arrive with the very first box!
What to Expect
The Barn Stars Block of the Month has been meticulously designed so that everyone has the most enjoyable sewing experience possible! Each month, subscribers will receive a shipment of fabric, along with the cutting and piecing instructions to assemble the corresponding blocks.
While all fabric needed to complete the quilt top and binding are included, I recommend browsing for backing fabric early on, to ensure availability of coordinating prints if desired.
Personally, I chose to deviate from the fabric collection used for Barn Stars and selected a general coordinating 108” wide backing fabric to save me a bit of time down the road by eliminating the need to piece standard width fabric. I’ll be backing my Barn Stars quilt with Hand Drawn Lines 108” Wide backing in color Baltic Sea. All current 108” wide backing fabrics options can be found here.
For quick reference, the pattern recommends 7.5 yards of standard 40” wide fabric or 2.5 yards of 108” wide fabric for backing.
Along the Way
Skills flexed for this quilt include assembling Flying Geese, Elongated Flying Geese, Half-Square Triangles, and Square-in-Square units. Tutorials and detailed instructions are, of course, included within the pattern.
Throughout project assembly, a ¼” seam allowance is utilized. Now is the best time to check presser feet and dial down the best way to keep a consistent ¼” seam allowance. Before each project, I like to verify stitch calibration and sew up a few sample swatches to check against a ruler or seam gauge.
I always keep a strip of general use washi tape on my machine table to extend beyond my needle plate. Washi tape is my favorite because it pulls off easily without leaving sticky residue as I often change between ¼” and ½” seam allowances with various projects. It can generally be picked up at a stationary store or somewhere similar.
For the Flying Geese components of this quilt, I’ll be utilizing Bloc Loc rulers to help keep things nice and tidy. The Flying Geese Bloc Loc rulers I’ll be using are sizes 3”x6”, 2”x4”, 2”x1”, and 2.5×5”.
For the Half-Square Triangles, I’ll be using the Triangle Square up Ruler by Quilt in a Day. The single 6.5” square ruler will work for all the Half-Square Triangle sizes used throughout the pattern. Because this ruler works with HSTs still folded, it makes trimming an absolute breeze.
I’ll also be using my 4.5” square and 8.5” square Creative Grids rulers for squaring up assembled blocks as I go. These rulers can also take the place of the Triangle Square up Ruler for those who prefer squaring HSTs only after pressing open.
Wrapping it Up
Aside from my love of precision rulers, I’ll also be using all my favorites from the Essential Notions list. Everything within this pattern is delightfully detailed with clear instructions and images to assist along the way.
As the quilt top won’t be ready for quilting until February 2022, I’ve chosen to hold off on ordering my batting until after the New Year so I won’t have to worry about storing it just yet.
Now that notions are at the ready, I’m off to pre-wind some bobbins and oil up my machine so everything will be prepped for box number one!
We’ll see you again in May once the excitement has begun. Happy quilting!
We did it! We’ve finally made it to the finish line! Four our very last month we will be making a few more flying geese, then sewing our flying geese rows together and on to the quilt. After that, all we have left to do is attach those final navy borders and we are done!
Our last flying geese adventure for this quilt involves the same procedure as all the previous flying geese, with one notable exception. This time, we will iron our seams INWARD, rather than outward. I know that is counter-intuitive, but this will enable us to get all the seams to nest together when we make the border.
Here is a photo of what the back of the flying geese will look like when ironed.
Now that we’ve finished all those geese, it’s time to make our border! We will alternate between the red gingham units we just made and the pale blue floral units we made last month. I began by sewing these as pairs, and then sewed the pairs together as needed to make the borders.
When I sewed these borders on I actually lucked out that they fit almost perfectly. Sometimes I’m not so lucky though. Back in my Month 5 Blogpost I discussed ways to fix pieced borders that don’t fit quite right, so feel free to refer back to that if you need some tips for easing things in.
On to our final borders – Hooray! I confess I got so excited to finish that I just went to work sewing and didn’t take any pictures of the final navy borders being sewn. But here is a photo of how I pressed all the borders when done. I pressed away from the flying geese borders on both sides.
I will also mention that whenever I’m sewing a pieced border to a strip of fabric, I always sew with the pieced side up. Does that make sense? I just like to see where all the seams are. This also allows me to make sure I’m not cutting off any points as I sew.
I realized that I had quite a bit of leftover navy fabric after I was done with my flying geese. This may be due to the fact that Connecting Threads sent me all the yardage in one unit total, rather than cutting each fabric in to the monthly installments that you all received. So I decided to take advantage of the extra by making my borders all just a bit wider that I recommend in the pattern. Don’t hate me, but I just couldn’t resist! I was able to cut my borders 6 in. wide, rather than the 2-1/2” in the pattern. Naturally I did this without considering whether or not I will have enough of the navy gingham for the binding, because clearly I wasn’t thinking ahead. Ugh. Fortunately for me, I chose the same navy gingham for my backing and ordered plenty extra, so I should be able to save myself from my lack of foresight.
Here is my finished quilt top (in the picture below). Please ignore the mysterious hands of my husband and son holding it from behind haha! Thanks in part to the wide borders, it was way too big for my backdrop stand, so my family had to assist me while standing on the benches on our deck to keep this quilt from dragging on the ground. And the wind would NOT stop, so getting a semi-decent picture was a bit of a challenge.
Now I just have to send this off for quilting and then I can put it on my bed. I can’t wait!
Thank you all for joining me these past months. I have thoroughly enjoyed taking this quilting journey with all of you! I hope you all are happy with your finished project, and that you will think about joining me again for another Block of the Month sometime in the future.
This month is easy peasy, especially after all the work we did on this quilt last month!
All we have to do is sew on a simple border, and then make ourselves some flying geese.
I may have mentioned this before, but whenever I’m sewing borders I always give myself some wiggle room and cut the borders longer than necessary. This way I can trim them to the perfect size after they are sewn on.
I also always pin my borders so that the solid border is on the bottom as I sew. This allows me to see all the the blocks to make sure I’m sewing on the points where they intersect. Also, you can see from the photo below that I’m a Lefty, so my pins are going the “wrong” way, haha!
I had enough fabric length to use two 2-1/2 x WOF strips for all four borders. The top and bottom borders didn’t have too much hanging over, as you can see below, but it was still enough to get the job done and have room to trim.
My favorite tool to trim my corners is a giant 20-1/2” square ruler. Using such a large ruler helps me to make sure the quilt is squared up nicely.
Now on to more flying geese! I’m sure you are all pros at this by now, since there are SO MANY in this quilt. I feel like I should almost apologize for all the flying geese I put in to this design. I think I’ve actually worn out my Bloc-Loc tool doing so much trimming! But to me, the work is worth it, because I absolutely love how this quilt turned out.
Always remember you can cut all your pieces just a hair bigger than necessary so that you have wiggle room to trim your pieces to perfection.
I’m not gonna lie – this month is A LOT. At least, it felt that way to me. We are making an additional 18 blocks, and then sewing those blocks together with the ones from last month, and then attaching all of it to the center portion. Phew! But we CAN DO IT.
So let’s begin with those 18 blocks! They are basically the same block as last month, but with the flying geese units pointing away from the center square this time. I won’t bore you all with another tutorial on the no-waste flying geese method, but just remember you can always cut those pieces a tad bit bigger so you’ll have room to trim down. I always do.
Here is the layout for each block.
Once you have them all finished and trimmed up, you can begin sewing those rows together.
I started by sewing each Diamond block from this month to a Star block from last month. You can see my stack below.
Then, realizing that the side borders needed 4 of these pairs each, I sewed those together. Then I sewed 5 pairs together for the top and bottom rows. Is that clear as mud?
Now these border rows are ready to sew to the quilt.
Please note that at this stage I DO NOT IRON THE SEAMS for the border rows. I pinned and sewed all the borders on first, and THEN ironed all the seams in their proper direction. By not pre-pressing the seams between each block I can pin the seams in their proper nesting direction and then go back and iron the joined seams accordingly.
Now here is where things can get tricky – If you didn’t notice already, we have A LOT of seams to match up between these rows and the checkerboard border on the quilt. While I try my best to have the pressing directions allow for seams to nest together, sometimes that isn’t always possible.
While designing and writing this pattern I made myself crazy trying to figure out if there was a way I could tell you to iron those checkers so that they would nest perfectly when the block borders are sewn on. I won’t bore you with the details, but in a nutshell, after spending a few days trying to problem solve I realized there was no viable or easy pressing solution regardless of what I did.
But the good news is many of the seams should already nest together, especially if you re-pressed last month’s blocks like I recommended in the month 6 blog post. And for some of the blocks, you can simply re-press the seams going the other direction after you’ve pinned the rows on and determined the direction they need to go.
But some of the seams will be a bit persnickety when it comes to nesting. Pressing one or both adjoining seams open is always an option, or simply just lining the seams up as best you can with both seams going the same direction can also work.
However, I’m going to tell you my dirty little secret of what I do in this situation: Please don’t send me hate mail or sentence me to quilter’s purgatory for what I’m about to tell you….
I flip the seams so they nest together, which creates a little fold in the seam, and then iron them as flat as I can where the fold is. You’ll see what I mean in the picture below.
I know that you purists out there are probably yelling at your computer screens right now, but I know I’m not the only one who does this. Without naming names, I happen to know a couple other well known designers who do the same thing in this situation. I even called my mother who is a decades long professional quilt designer and long-armer, and she had to confess she does this too. So either we aren’t alone, or perhaps my quilting rebellion is inherited and can’t be helped, haha!
I only had a few seams that needed to be ironed with a fold in them like you see below. And unless I’m going to do stitch-in-the-ditch quilting (which I’m not), then those little occasional seam folds won’t matter, and won’t be seen by anyone once it’s quilted.
So you all have permission to attach these borders and line up these seams however you see fit. And like my mom always says “There is only ONE rule in quilting that matters – DON’T CUT YOURSELF.” So as long as you don’t get injured, the rest doesn’t matter!
This quilt is now officially too big for my design wall, so it’s happily adding to the ambiance of my living room floor, where it will most likely stay until it’s finished. Good thing I don’t have pets!
Well friends, we are now officially past the half-way mark with this quilt. Yay!
This month will be a lighter month as far as sewing goes, but since we are full swing into the holiday season, hopefully it will be a welcome reprieve for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, sewing is my happy place, but at this time of year I love me some cookie baking, Hallmark movie watching, gingerbread house decorating, carol singing filled days. I hope you all have time at this season to do what fills you with joy!
I know a few of you got ahead of yourselves and tried to sew the star blocks together before getting this month’s instructions, and couldn’t understand why they didn’t fit. Now that you all have your instructions and fabric, you can see that these little stars have some sashing strips sewn between them. See? It all works out in the end!
All of my seams are pressed toward the A strips. Once I was finished with step 1, I added the final stars to two of the strips.
Now everything is pieced and ready for the Star Block borders to be sewn to the center.
Sometimes, no matter how well we try and sew, sometimes things don’t fit together as planned. It happens to EVERYONE, not matter how much experience you have. We are human and fabric has give to it. If you find that your Star Block borders are a bit off, you can adjust them by either taking in or letting out the sashing strips as needed. No one will ever know!
Now it’s time to make those checked borders. Here are all my strips cut and ready for sewing.
By sewing and cutting eight sets of the B/C strips you will have PLENTY for making the borders. I ended up with over half of the last set leftover.
I decided to sew all mine into pairs, and then double each time until I had the correct sized strip sets. However, if you do this method, be mindful that the shorter sets use 28 B/C units and the longer ones use 32 units, so you will need to be counting as you go.
I kept sewing and doubling up until I ended up with what you see below. The top two strips get sewn together to make the top and bottom borders, and the bottom two strips are sewn together to make the shorter side borders.
Also, as I got busy sewing along I did this:
Yep, I wasn’t paying attention and ended up with like fabrics that would have been sewn together once I attached my top and bottom checked border rows. Once again, I’m not good at following directions, especially my own! Fortunately it’s an easy fix: I just took the last B/C unit off one end, and then sewed it to the other end.
Whenever making any type of pieced border, it can be tricky to make sure things fit properly. Even a 1/32 difference in seam allowance can have a big effect when you are piecing together dozens of squares. I’ve made hundreds of quilts, and I still every once in a while end up with something being way off. Here are a couple of tips I use that may help.
For border strips that are too long: After I’ve ironed my border, if it’s off by around a ½ inch or less, one of my favorite tricks is to spray the pieced strip with MaryEllen’s Best Press, and let it rest. I don’t iron it again before sewing. I just let it dry and it shrinks up just enough to usually fit pretty well. After I sew it together then I press and it works like a charm!
If my pieced border is REALLY long, I will go back and increase the seams in multiple places by just a hair. There’s no need to rip anything out, just sew right next to the old seam. You need to be careful that you don’t increase each individual seam by too much, or it will throw off how things fit and nest together in the coming months. So it’s better to do a tiny bit on multiple seams, rather than just adjust a few seams by a large amount.
For border strips that are too short: If my borders are just a bit too short, then I can usually stretch them a bit and ease them in, but if they are way off, then I get friendly with my seam ripper. I generally will rip out multiple seams and then re-sew them just a scant under the ¼” seam allowance until it fits. It’s not fun or easy, but it works.
This quilt is really starting to get big!
Have a wonderful holiday season, and Happy Quilting!
The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. After months of sewing blocks, we get to put this quilt all together and finish!
I know many of you jumped right in after finishing last month’s blocks and have already assembled the main portion of the quilt. Once you have the quilt blocks all laid out, it’s not too difficult to see how it all goes together.
I must admit I got a little carried away myself sewing the blocks together, and forgot to take pictures of some of my sewing. Fortunately you all have the pattern to refer too!
Once the center portion of the quilt is put together, it’s time to make and sew the borders. Whenever I have solid borders to add to a quilt, I ALWAYS cut my borders an inch or two longer, just to make sure I have plenty for squaring up the corners.
This month’s kit comes with 1-1/2 yards of the White Swirl fabric for the border strips, which means that you don’t need to piece your border strips for the A-D pieces, since you can cut them length-wise on the fabric. If you want to do this so that your borders don’t have seams, make sure you cut all of the A-D strips before cutting out all of your E squares for the pieced border.
Of course, yours truly forgot this and just went to town cutting strips running the width of fabric before I realized what I’d done. Sooo….I got to do some piecing for most of my white border strips. But it works either way, and there is plenty of fabric. I just have a few strategically placed seams in some of my borders.
Now it’s time to make the half-square triangles for the pieced borders. Since you all know by now how to make these, I won’t worry about that part. But I’d like to share a little bit about fabric placement and color. Since this quilt is very colorful, I wanted to make sure that the border was a continuation of what was happening in the main body of the quilt. So I made sure to cut two F squares from each fabric in the quilt. This quilt has a lot of greens, blues, and reds, but not as many oranges and yellows, so I went ahead and cut a couple of extra squares of the orange and yellow fabrics so that my border would look more balanced.
Here are all my squares ready for sewing: You can see I’ve made sure I have all the colors of the rainbow represented.
Next, comes the fun part! I know many quilter who at this stage would just start sewing these half-square triangles together at random and surprise themselves with the finished product. I admire their moxie, but I have always had a hard time doing that. I’m one of those crazy people who neurotically places ALL my squares around the quilt on my design wall and then stands back to look at it. I want to make sure I don’t have too many fabrics of similar color or value next to one another. I may move the things around a dozen times before I am satisfied. (Bananas, I know!) Then when I’m happy with the results, I pull out my trusty phone and take pictures of everything before I begin sewing.
Plus, the added advantage is that I can also make sure that I have all my triangles oriented correctly, especially in the corners.
As you may notice from the photo above, I also sew the squares together in segments, and continually return things to my design wall and refer to my photos to make sure I’m not goofing things up as I go along. It takes a little longer this way, but it’s rare that I have to rip anything out.
Whenever making any type of pieced border, it can be tricky to make sure things fit properly. Even a 1/32 difference in seam allowance can have a big effect when you are piecing together dozens of squares. I’ve made hundreds of quilts, and I still every once in a while end up with something being way off.
Here are a couple of tips I use that may help
For border strips that are too long
After I’ve ironed my border, if it’s off by around a ½ inch or less, one of my favorite tricks is to spray the pieced strip with MaryEllen’s Best Press, and let it rest. I don’t iron it again before sewing. I just let it dry and it shrinks up just enough to usually fit pretty well. After I sew it together then I press and it works like a charm!
If my pieced border is REALLY long, I will go back and increase the seams in multiple places by just a hair. There’s no need to rip anything out, just sew right next to the old seam. You need to be careful that you don’t increase each individual seam by too much, or it will throw off your triangle points when it’s attached. So it’s better to do a tiny bit on multiple seams, rather than just adjust a few seams by a large amount.
For border strips that are too short
If my borders are just a bit too short, then I can usually stretch them a bit and ease them in, but if they are way off, then I get friendly with my seam ripper. I generally will rip out multiple seams and then re-sew them just a scant under the ¼” seam allowance until it fits. It’s not fun or easy, but it works.
Once we have all the pieced borders attached, we can sew on the final border strips and the top is FINISHED!
Thanks so much for making this quilt with me! I hope you enjoy it for many years to come!
Can you guys believe we are already on month 5? We are on the home stretch! This month we will be making the last three blocks for this quilt, so that next month we can finally put this beauty together and finish! Yay!
Hearts and Pinwheels
I love pinwheels! I know it can be tricky sometimes to get all the points to match up in the center, but unless I’m way off, I usually don’t get too picky with them. Pinwheels are made from creating half-square triangles and arranging them into a pinwheel block.
I also open the seams in the center so that they will lay flat when pressed. I don’t know who thought of this idea, but it was a trick I learned years ago. Perhaps many of you do this too. You want to open the seams so that you end up with a pinwheel design on the back side when you press them. It might be hard to make out in the photo, but hopefully you all get the idea.
If you Google “Pressing Pinwheel quilt blocks” You will find a couple of video tutorials that can explain it better than I can here.
Now it’s on to the hearts portion of this block.
I think these just might be the first hearts I’ve ever designed in a quilt. I’m not sure what that says about me, but in any case, no quilt celebrating all the seasons and holidays of the year would be complete without some sweet Valentine hearts. Here is how I put mine together:
I like to do a lot of assembly line sewing, so I’ve laid out all the units sew I can sew everything at the same time.
Make sure after you sew the first “C” squares on that you iron the seams downward toward the “H” squares as shown below. The second “C” square will be ironed upward. This will allow the seams to nest together later.
Below you can see I’ve laid out my C/H pieces with the Half-Square triangle units I made in step 5 of the pattern.
Once the individual hearts are sewn we can put them all together and add the narrow borders. When you sew the four hearts together, you may choose to press the seams open to reduce bulk, or you can re-press some of the seams on the hearts to allow them to nest together.
Here is a photo of the back side of my block. You can see that I chose to adjust some of the seams within the individual heart blocks so that my seams would all nest together. But pressing the seams open works just fine too, so as I always say, do what makes you happy.
And now we can add the pinwheel row to the top to finish the block!
For the Eggs applique, this time I decided to do some hand stitching with some embroidery floss. I went for thread colors that would help the eggs pop a little more. For some reason I can’t ever seem to make a quilt the same way twice! I really tried to behave myself throughout this project, so that you could see it sewn as the original, but this time I just couldn’t help myself!
The basket just some squares and Half Square Triangles sewn together, so it hopefully isn’t too difficult for all of you. Just pay close attention to the instructions and pressing directions. This will enable the seams to nest together when it is sewn to the flying geese section.
Don’t forget in step 3 to sew each pair of A/D squares going opposite of each other, just like in the photo below.
These units below are from step 5, and are mirror images of each other as well.
And now I’ve laid out all the components for the Basket Block and I’m ready to sew it all together.
Flying Geese unit
Here are some photos of how I made the little row of flying geese. I know sometimes flying geese can be a pain to make. I’ve found that if I sew just BARELY inside the line, I end up with a better looking unit when I’m done.
Now all the units are ready to sew together! Except of course, if you look carefully at the photo below, I still have yet to stitch around my eggs. Apparently I forgot to take another photo after doing that, but before I finished the block. Oops! Sometimes I get carried away with my sewing and forget I’m supposed to be taking pictures too.
This little cutie is one of my favorites on this quilt. Here is how I put it together:
Once the ear points are done on top portion, you need to sew one E square to the bottom each unit, making sure the ears will be mirror images of each other. So as you can see below, one E square goes on the bottom left, and the other E square will be sewn to the bottom right.
And now you can sew the B strips in between the ears.
The face and body units of the bunny go together pretty much the same as the ears, by sewing the various squares on marked lines, then trimming and pressing as directed. Just make sure that your bunny’s head has the larger F triangles at the top and the smaller E triangles are at the bottom.
Now we can sew all the components together. If you look at the photo below, you may notice two things missing: 1.) I still haven’t sewn on the bunny’s face. 2.) I forgot to add the A strip to the top of the ears. Clearly I can’t follow directions, even when they are my own! But don’t worry, I fixed it all, as you will see.
For the face, this time around I decided to go crazy and use some different colored threads for the eyes, whiskers, nose, and mouth. In the pattern it says to use white embroidery thread, but I can’t ever seem to do the same thing twice. I guess I get bored easily?
Anyway, I decided to use a light blue thread for the eyes, some tan for the whiskers, and then a light pink for the nose and mouth. If I were to make this bunny a THIRD time, I would probably use a darker blue for the eyes, and also perhaps use a darker pink fabric for the nose too.
To trace on the face, I used Saral transfer paper in white. I’ve had mine for forever, and I bought it from Connecting Thread’s sister company called Artist’s Club, which is no longer in business. It comes in either a roll or sheets, and they both work equally well. I checked online and you can get it at most major retailers.
I cut out the face from the pattern, and then slipped a similar sized piece of the transfer paper underneath to trace it on to the brown fabric. I just eyeballed where I wanted it, trying to make it centered from right to left. I used a stylus to trace on the lines.
As you can see, the lines are faint, but it was enough for me to see where to sew.
And, I also noticed that I have the bunny’s nose UPSIDE DOWN. Sheesh! How did I not notice it until now?! Quite embarrassing! Clearly I don’t look at a lot of bunnies in my day to day life, because I designed and wrote the pattern this way, and didn’t even realize it until this week. So, feel free to turn that nose around so that your sweet bunny can have a normal face haha! Or, your bunny can have a backwards nose like mine. I figure when this quilt is all put together, most people won’t notice, right?
I hope you’ve enjoyed making all these blocks. I’m so excited for next month when we finally get to put it all together!