On a roll

Charise requested house blocks for the month of April in the Cocorico Bee.  One of her inspiration photos was this one.  I modeled this block after the third building in from the right.

house block for Charise

I've always wanted to try using Heather Bailey's Welcome Road print as bricks.  I feel like the stripes in that print are just begging to be cut up and sewn back together at right angles.

upper flat detail

I chose not to paper piece this block.  I could get perfect parallel lines and ninety degree angles that way, but I didn't want this block to look rigid.  I love the character in old buildings, and I feel like improv piecing gave this building more character.

door detail

Don't you just want to knock on this door to see if the residents will let you have a look around?  Maybe that is just me...

I want to add a thank you for the comments on the cow block.  Bessie humbly thanks you, too.  We are both wishing you all a lovely weekend.

Cow Block

Meg chose County Fair as her theme for March in the Cocorico Bee. I'm a little behind in bee blocks but I hope this one was worth the wait.
County Fair block for Meg

Her name is Bessie and she belongs to a twelve year old girl in 4H named Steph.  Steph adores Bessie and wanted her pen at the fair to look extra nice.  Bessie adores Steph right back and seems to smile at her.

The pattern comes from Sandi at Piecemeal Quilts.   The link to the pattern is here.  I changed a lot of the lines of the pattern to work for me and my style of piecing. 

I hope Bessie fits into your quilt, Meg.  This theme was extra fun to sew for.

Making progress

I'm behind on replies to comments, but be assured that I appreciate each and every one of them.  In fact, I think they have motivated me to finishing a few more projects that have been sitting on my to do list.

Here is my Pastiche Bee block for March.  Suzanne is a teacher and wanted vintage school and office supply blocks.  She specifically mentioned wanting a block with her glasses frames.  She thinks they look school marm-ish but I think they look cool.  It took me forever to decide how I wanted to do the background for the glasses on her block.  but as soon as I settled on piecing hexies for the background, the block was done in three days.

for suzetra in pastiche bee

And Charise, in the Cocorico Bee, wants house blocks.  I had to start with the windows because I love old window panes.  In high school I spent a summer working at a historical park stripping and repainting the old buildings.  I didn't enjoy all of the detailed woodwork around the windows then--picture 90 degrees in the sun, wearing a gas mask and using a heat gun to strip the old lead paint off of the woodwork.  But I old windows and woodwork now.  My favorite thing is to be inside an old building and looking through the glass to see the ripples and flow and how that changes your view of the outside world. 

it's a start

Well, I'm off to plan and start a few more bee blocks that I'm behind on. Thank you for the supportive comments lately.  They were just the kick in the pants that I needed. :)

cutest. backpack. ever.

I'm not a person that likes to brag or likes a lot of attention in real life.  I'm a shy homebody and I'm usually pretty critical of the things I make.  As a blogger I love comments (of course) but it feels insincere to say, "Hey!  Look at this cool thing I made!"  But, that is what craft blogging is all about.

Well, today I'm having no trouble at all with finding the right way to say this.

You really do need to look at this cool thing I made.  Introducing the cutest. backpack. ever.


The backpack pattern comes from the book, Oliver + S Little Things to Sew by Liesel Gibson.


Henry loves the Octonauts, so I made a few adjustments to the pattern to make the penguin look more like Peso.  I added the white face piece, I shortened the feet, wings and beak and I appliqued the eyes on and embroidered the white dots on the eyes.

zipper and lining

I love the DS Quilts plaid for the lining.  The zipper panel directions were explicit.  It seemed like they had duplicate steps, but I followed every one and they helped me get a great result. 

i love this little guy!

I admit that I keep putting this backpack on Henry and then telling him to run into the other room just so I can get a good view of the penguin on his back.

This may be one of the most satisfying craft projects ever.

Sew Out Loud Quilt Along--Heirloom


I am in three or four virtual quilting bees at any time, I participate in a few swaps, and I have at least two or three quilt gifts in the process.  I've noticed that when making bee blocks, gifts or swap projects that I come up with a fabric combination I love love love and then I have to send it off in the mail to someone else.  I usually don't want or need a full quilt out of that fabric combination, but I still want a little piece of it to save for myself.  So, I designed the Heirloom block for the Sew Out Loud quilt along.

Sew Out Loud block 10:  Heirloom

Can you imagine a quilt made of these blocks with dates and quilt recipients? Or one block made with baby fabrics framed and embroidered with the baby's name and date of birth and then framed on the wall?

The Fat Quarter Shop generously donated fabrics for this quilt along.


The fabrics in this photo are available at the Fat Quarter Shop.

Moda Bella Solids
Blueberry Crumb Cake by Blackbird Designs in Sky Blue Sampler
Hometown by Moda in Town News in Cream
Sketch by Timeless Treasures in Lime (Lime isn't available at the Fat Quarter Shop at this time, but they have many other colors of Sketch)


These fabrics are from my stash and the last fabric is an import from Japan and may be hard to find.

Weekends by Erin McMorris in Hopscotch Lime
Innocent Crush by Anna Maria Horner Maybe in Indigo
Sewing Pattern Pieces by Suzuko Koseki in pink (color B)


The first three fabrics were just released but are flying off the shelves.  The last one in this photo is only available in Australia . 

Flea Market Fancy reprint gray seeds, green seeds and pink seeds
DS Quilts print from Denyse Schmidt's Winding Road collection, Australia only print.

To start your own heirloom block, print the template. Download it here.  The patchwork portion of this block is made up of 83 scraps approximately 2x2".  


Cut out the patchwork portion of the template.


Cut the template into the lettered strips.


Arrange your little squares into the pattern you prefer.

Use paper piecing technique to piece the strips, ironing after each seam and trimming seam allowances.


Here is an example of how to do the teeny, tiny pieces at the end of a strip.  First choose the fabrics.


Then flip the fabrics so the wrong side of the fabric is against the wrong side of the pattern.  Leave a seam allowance and stitch along the printed line.


Iron fabrics open.  Trim the excess with 1/4" seam allowance around all sides.


Here is the finished J strip.


The H strip before trimming.


And after trimming.

Once the strip is pieced, I like to starch it heavily.  Then trim the edges 1/4" bigger than the template.


To sew the strips together, match the seams but do not nest the seams.  Instead, place your pin through the fabric at the intersection of the paper and the seam.


Poke through to the seam on the other side.  Pin each intersection this way.


Then carefully stitch right next to the paper line.

Remove the pins and the paper and iron seam open.


Here is another example of the pins from the front.


And the back.

When all of the strips are together in your mini quilt, then add binding piece 1, followed by binding piece 2. Then add background piece 3 followed by background piece 4.

Embroider a "thread" line coming from the quilt.


You could embroider the needle itself. Instead, I carved a stamp out of an eraser and stamped my needle on with fabric ink.

Here are some great tutorials for making your own stamps.

Sew Out Loud block 10:  Heirloom

If you have any questions about the tutorial, please post them in the Sew Out Loud group on flickr. That way we can all read the questions and answers and learn from each other.

Happy sewing to you!!

Branching out

I finished three more blocks from the Farmer's Wife book.   (psst: #59 and #57 are on my all-time favorites list)

farmer's wife sampler, block 59

farmer's wife sampler, block 51

farmer's wife sampler, block 57

But, I've also been branching out.  Many of the Farmer's Wife blocks I have left have so many fabrics and teeny tiny pieces.  Yet, I have many mid scale prints left that have to be in this quilt.

I have adored the Tallahassee block since Penny's paper piecing workshop.  I'm so excited by how this turned out.  Tutorial and templates at Quilters Cache(I couldn't get the templates to print at 100% with scaling turned off, but it worked when I scaled prining to 105%.)

FW extra block, tallahassee

The twelve triangles block was more fun than I thought it would be. I did the block math and piecing in my own way, but there is a tutorial for the block at Quilters Cache.

FW extra block, twelve triangles

I got the idea for the Twist block from Quilter's Cache, but I changed the size and changed the construction slightly.  I also wanted to fit more of the text of the center print in the block, so I used some pintucks on the back side of the fabric.

FW extra block, twist

Don't you just love the simplicity of Greek Cross blocks?  I used the tutorial by Faith at Fresh Lemons, but I changed the sizing.

FW extra block, greek cross

I have 31 blocks left in this project.  And my biggest issue is fitting all of my very, very favorite prints in.  I guess that isn't a bad problem to have.


Today is my birthday and I am blessed with a little time to myself while Henry is out at the park with a babysitter. So, I'm not going to spend a lot of time blogging. I'll just cover the headlines, instead.

We had a fun Easter weekend. We may or may not get an egg kit again next year, but we are definitely adding the googly eyes and markers to all future egg decorating adventures.

googly-eyed jungle

This may be the homeliest and cutest hippo ever.

silliest looking hippo ever

In sewing news, I'm up to 90 blocks for my Farmer's Wife quilt. Ninety!

the stack

I think they work together, too!


Lastly, I spend a little time each birthday looking around me at the things I accomplished in the past year.  This cutie right here makes me one proud momma.

cutest egg hunter

That's the brief recap of the news over here. I hope you all have a grand day. I know I plan to.

You are all so awesome

Thank you again for the kind, supportive comments. Things are still a bit uncomfortable, but I'm so glad to have a this place to talk about and think about quilting things. 

farmer's wife sampler, block 85

This square dance block was started last October.  The triangles weren't working out and I had a dusty blue solid in place of the crosshatch.  You'll have to trust me that it didn't work at all.  Since then, I've come up with a new (for me) strategy for getting the triangles to match up.  I starch the crap out of the fabric and...(drumroll)...I use the templates.  I've been trying to do all of the quilt math on these blocks and rotary cutting everything, but using the templates to cut the little corners on the triangles first is really helping me match up the seams better.  I know, shocking revelation to use the templates that came with the book, right?

farmer's wife sampler, block 105

I was having the same triangle problems with the tiny geese blocks.  So, more starch and templates used here.

farmer's wife sampler, block 75

The HST's and I are getting along well, so I still quick piece these and then trim them down to the correct size.  And starch, starch, starch.

farmer's wife sampler, block 91

Maybe when this quilt top is finished it will stand up all by itself with the power of starch?

ummmm...not good.

This little block here was a travesty.  I think I made this one back in August of last year.  I love the Suzuko Koseki print, but I don't think it is strong enough to go up against all of the bright colors I have in this quilt.  And that pearl bracelet print is fantastic, but way too large of scale for this project.

So, I made version 2.

old and new #14

farmer's wife sampler, block 14

Much better, dontcha think?

Wishing you all well and happy sewing!