Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer "A Quilt Block a Day" Tutorial: Shoo-Fly

Actually, I think this block should be called shoo-miller moth! We've had a heavy infestation of the annoying (but non-biting) miller moths in Colorado this summer.

Because it's summer in the northern hemisphere, I chose a super-easy block to make each day. The Shoo-Fly block is made up of half-square triangles and plain squares, set in a 9-patch design. Can't get much easier than that!

Again, because I know quilters do things besides quilt in the summer (like mow the lawn, maybe?), don't worry if you don't get a block made every day. Maybe you will make a smaller quilt, a table runner, a wall hanging -- or even just a mug rug!

I've included dimensions for several sizes of Shoo-Fly block. Also, an idea of what size quilt you'll have if you make each size block.

Here is a tutorial for the basic block that will finish at 12."

Supplies and Cutting

For each block, cut:

  • (2) 5.5" squares of colored fabric
  • (2) 5.5" squares of background fabric
  • (4) 4.5" squares of background fabric
  • (1) 4.5" square of colored fabric

Make Four HSTs

  1. Draw a diagonal line across the wrong side of each 5.5" background square.
  2. Place one 5.5" background square right sides together with one 5.5" colored fabric square.
  3. Stitch a scant 1/4" on either side of the drawn line.
  4. Cut on the drawn line.
  5. Press toward the darker fabric.
  6. Square up the HST to measure 4.5"

Assemble Block

Lay out the pieces to look like this:

I sew the block together in columns; that is, flip the center piece on top of the left-hand piece of the top row and sew. Without cutting the thread, flip the center piece of the center row on top of the center piece of the left-hand row and sew. Again, without cutting the thread, flip the center piece of the bottom row on top of the left-hand piece of the bottom row and sew.

Now cut the thread and repeat to add the right-hand column pieces. 

Press the seam on the top and bottom row toward the center square. Press the seams on the center row toward the outside background squares.

Sew the horizontal seams, being sure to nestle the seams against each other to ensure a nice sharp point. Press the center horizontal seams toward the outside. The important thing in pressing is to have two seams toward the center and two toward the outside, so when you sew all your blocks together they "nestle" easily.

Size Variations

To make a 6" finished block, I used a 2.5" strip of dark and a 2.5" strip of light fabric, place right sides together and cut the HSTs using the Easy Angle ruler. 

The great thing about the Easy Angle ruler is that you use strips of the same size you want your HST. 

Use a very scant  1/4"  seam to stitch along the diagonal cut and your HST will come out close to perfect!

I still like to square mine up just a bit to be sure they will be exactly the right size. Use either a regular ruler or the Bloc_Loc square up ruler.

This is all the trimmings I had from four 2.5" HSTs!

Shoo-Fly is one of the easiest blocks to re-size. As long as your HSTs square up to the same exact size as your plain squares, you can make them any size you like.

From left to right, these blocks are 12"; 9"; and 6" finished size.

Remember, you are the boss of your quilt! You decide if you want the darker fabrics to be all the same:

Or the center square to be different:

Or all the HSTs the same and the backgrounds different:

Or all the HSTs and all the backgrounds different (this is very useful if you have a boatload of leftover 3.5" low-volume squares from your Spring BaD):

My inspiration for the Shoo-Fly block came from a mama said sew pattern, "Give Me Liberty," designed by Tara Rebman of tinkerfrog. I bought my pattern in a kit from mama said sew in Ft. Collins, but Tara's pattern is available on Craftsy as a PDF here. I re-sized the blocks to make more efficient use of the Liberty of London Lifestyle fat quarters, so my blocks will finish at 15." Consider making a few of your blocks as negatives:

How Many Blocks Do I Need for a Quilt?

 Setting                Number of Blocks                      6”                            9”                          12”

9X10                                    90                       54 X 60                  81 X 90                108 X 120

5 X 6                                    30                          15”                      75 X 90

8 X 8                                    64                           10"                      80 X 80

I used the All-in-One Quilters Reference Tool to determine the quilt sizes for various sized blocks.

may the long time sun, 
shine upon you,
all love surround you,
and the pure light within you,
guide your way on.

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Friday, June 20, 2014

TGIFF: Spring "A Quilt Block a Day"

Our first season of "A Quilt Block a Day" since I took over from Karen has come to a close. It's hard to believe just three months ago I posted this:
A quilter and fabric designer whom I have admired for years is "retiring" from the quilting business. If you follow Karen Snyder on Facebook or on her blog, Anna Lena Land, you know she has recently purchased a home in Sweden and wants to spend part of the year there. So she is handing off her "Block a Day" Facebook group -- to me! 
Here is the link to my post announcing the Quilt Block a Day, and here is the tutorial for the first season. Tomorrow is the Summer Solstice (at 4:51 am in Denver!) so the tutorial for the Summer block will be posted then.

But in the meanwhile, here is my finished "Bethlehem Star" quilt, held by the helpful DH:

The finished quilt is 80" X 90" with 90 star blocks. I used my extensive collection of low-volume prints and as many Kona cotton solids as I could get my hands on.

Here is a detail of the meander pattern quilted with Superior Threads "Omni" in Natural White:

And here is a closeup of the "My Aunt Martha Made It" label (from GutenTags) and Susie's Magic Binding. Gotta love that bright orange backing fabric!

I'd love to see your Bethlehem Stars. Even if you didn't make 90 blocks, send me a photo of what you made and we'll have a "Quilt Block a Day" parade. How about we schedule it for Labor Day (that's September 1) so you can get your blocks sewn together?

Linking up to TGIFF Friday at Sew Fresh Quilts.

And Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

LAFF - Richard and Tanya Quilts

As well as Link-a-Finish Friday at Richard and Tanya Quilts.

Come back tomorrow for the Summer Quilt Block a Day tutorial!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Kissing Booth

Hard to believe I'm working on the August Jelly Roll Party sample -- and harder still to believe I selected the fabrics for October yesterday!

August is the time of year for County Fairs, frantically finishing 4-H projects, and yes; getting ready for back to school! I try to select a Jelly Roll quilt that reflects "Fair Week." This year's Jelly Roll quilt for August is "Kissing Booth" by Freckled Whimsy.

Image from Freckled Whimsy blog.

I used the "Dottie" jelly roll from Moda. For the background, I chose a black-on-white dot from my stash. Can't have too many dots! I bought my jelly roll at the April Pueblo Quilt and Stitch Expo, but I see it's still available from Fort Worth Fabric Studios.


"Kissing Booth" is a fast, easy pattern. If you pre-cut the jelly roll into the required lengths, you should easily be able to put this quilt together in one day.

The only shortcoming is a lack of pressing directions. I think it's important to press so that the seams "nestle," so here are my pressing instructions for this block.

Unit A (page 3) press toward the triangle.
Unit B (page 3) press toward the long rectangle.
Unit C (page 4) press toward the triangle.
Unit D (page 5) press toward the long triangle.

Attach Unit A to the large square and press toward the square. (I know that's the background, and probably the lighter fabric, but it will make your block go together more easily!)
Attach Unit B to the square/Unit A and again press toward the square.
Attach Unit D to the Unit A/Unit B/square piece and press toward the square.
Sew the small square to Unit D and press toward the small square.
Sew Unit D/small square to larger unit and press toward Unit D.

Here's a closeup:

When sewing the rows together, press all blocks in row 1 to the left, row 2 to the right and so on. There are no nesting seams within the rows, yay!

Here are the blocks I have finished. It will be fun to arrange the colors when I get all the blocks finished.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.

Sew Fresh Quilts

And WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced Modern Quilts.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

As well as WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis at Tami's Amis and Other Creations.

My "A Quilt Block a Day" quilt is finished, quilted, bound and on the bed! Come back Friday to see the finished quilt!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Favorite Quilt

Have you been reading the "My Favorite Quilt" posts in blogland lately? Me, too, and since I don't have anything new on the design wall -- here is my own favorite quilt!

This Triple  Irish Chain quilt was made by my Great-Grandmother in the late 1890s.

I received the quilt in 2002 from my Aunt Frances, my mother's older sister. Based on family history, I believe the quilt was made in Paonia, Colorado, where my grandmother owned a boarding house.

The quilt is entirely hand-pieced and heavily hand-quilted. Here is a close-up of some of the quilting:

It's difficult to seen in a photograph, but the last squares in each background block are hand-applique'd.

The fabric is a variety of indigo blues on a white muslin background.

My aunt also gave me a photocopy of a photo of her grandmother, Emma Giddings Carson. I love that she is doing needlework in this photo -- it looks like embroidery.

Bobbie Aug, an AQS certified quilt appraiser, appraised the quilt for me in 2002. At that time, she set the insurance value at $2600! The quilt is carefully stored in an archival-quality box with paper rolled along the folds to save the fabric from breaking.

Linking up to "My Favorite Quilt" at Sew Mama Sew.

Tomorrow is the 90th day of Spring -- I am binding my Quilt Block a Day (BaD) quilt so I can share the finished product on Friday!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Stash and De-Stash

Today's Sunday Stash isn't fabric. Surprise!


It's dishtowels! I love dishtowels. In fact, each year I buy a new set of "day of the week" dishtowels at the high school craft fair. My friends must know me well, because I've received some really cute dishtowels recently.

First, this cutie-patootie from Christine:

It was a thank-you for quilting her mini spools quilt. I really should have given her a thank-you gift, because she let me experiment with serpentine stitch quilting on her her quilt!

Next, these funny embroidered towels were brought to me from Seattle by my friend, Mary. She was lucky enough to go on an Alaskan cruise this month -- she said when she saw these towels at the airport gift shop, she just knew she had to get them for me!  Hmm, I wonder why?


I spent the better part of an afternoon last week searching for a particular fabric needed by a friend to finish her quilt.While digging, I found several quilt "kits" that I realize I will never, nevernever use.  So I'm going to offer one each week to 52 Quilts readers.

Here's the deal: I'll give away the fabric, free. The recipient just has to pay postage. Anywhere in the world, just pre-pay the postage via PayPal, and the featured quilt kit is yours!

I'm pretty sure I bought this fabric in 2006, because there was an ad from a quilt shop dated that long ago!

There are 3.75 yards of the floral print, 4 yards of the blue and 1.5 yards of the ivory background.

The "bouquet" is about 10" high. It's "Garden Botanica" by Bonnie Benn Stratton for Hi-Fashion Fabrics, Inc. Quilt for a Cure. The blue is "Fundamentals" by Hoffman International Fabrics. The ivory has no printing on the selvedge.

This de-stash batch will fit easily into a medium flat-rate box, which costs $12.35 to send anywhere in the U.S. Of course, international postage would be more.

If you'd like to add this to your own stash, just comment with your PayPal email address and I'll send you an invoice for the postage. 

The Summer Solstice is coming up soon -- I can't wait to show you the Summer "Block a Day" block!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature