Sunday, April 7, 2013


A twenty-six month Journey
Dorothy Young, owner, of the yahoo group "A Pocketful of Mysteries"
is presenting her Block of the Month quilt series. It began in January 2013,
and will continue for the next two years. The yahoo site for this is:
It is not too late to join in. This block and the other three are at the beginners level.

This block is very apropos for me.  I am doing this BOM as a block swap with a very dear friend.  Once a month she is my top priority.  She is on my mind and she is helping me take time for myself and the craft I love.  I want to thank her for  this and taking time to make me a block which will be one of twenty-six which will become a quilt I will treasure.  It will be a quilt made with love for me.  This is the block I have made this month for her. "The Double Friendship Star".

I am on a trip right now to Denver.  I knew I wouldn't have time to stitch the blocks, I pre-cut the fabrics and brought them with me.  When I am not with my family I am working on quilting projects.  I am still sticking with the constant fabrics I chose in the beginning.  It looks like the red has also become a constant.  I have been trying to think about a setting arrangement with each block we receive.  I think oh, this is the setting I want and then the new block changes that idea.  It looks like this BOM will be an evolutionary process in more ways than one.  This is my block.
I am home now and I was putting away my projects.  I noticed the paisley in the right hand corner of the block made an interesting addition.  I was wondering if I could fussy cut and use that design to my advantage.

I remembered when I was using stripes, I made the stripes add interest to the block.  This was the same idea.  The following is the block I made using the paisley to my advantage.  I also changed the center to add a different perspective to the block.  The paisley designs are all focus to the center .
I can't wait to see what my friend sends me.
Join us in this 2 year journey. There are several hundred friends taking the trip
The following, are blogs written each month on my journey through the alphabet.
Other blogs by me:
Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.
blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry
blogs Seeds sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle
All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .
Please do not copy without permission

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


The First of monthly projects to
relieve the urge to hoard and to manage the stash.
(Hopefully share a couple of tips I have figured out on my own)

Everyone loves "two for the price of one" sales.  This is exactly what  a Half Square Triangle is.  With just a little more time and thread invested you get two of the units from two squares of fabric.
This blog is a Tutorial for Half Square Triangles and instructions for making these place mats.
This project is designed for beginners.

Half Square Triangles can be used to achieve lots of different looks.  The place mat on the left is a light bulb moment when I found these 4 inch squares of fabric which I had been holding onto forever.  I always knew I would never have a use for them.  I participated in a swap and was the recipient of them.  I thought what can I do with these and immediately thought turn them into Half square units and throw them in my bin of 3 1/2 inch units.  Yes a 4 inch square yields a 3 1/2 inch Unit.  3 1/2 inch units of any kind are very usable in our quilt making.

.I am always looking for quick and easy projects to rid the stash of unwanted fabric.  "Kitchen quilts" have been on my mind lately, mainly because I don't have any nice sets for myself.  I make them for others.  This time is no exception.  The fabrics themes were Cats and Dogs.  I haven't sent the grands anything for a while so I decided to make so place mats for them integrating the half square triangles in them.  I went shopping in the stash for the front/back of the mats.  Found this brown plaid which I knew I didn't have enough for a large quilt and stacked with it was a light version.  Sure was an easy trip.  I had just enough of the dark fabric to do the mats.

I had enough left over to make Mom a place mat too.  The units I used are exactly the same as the above place mats.  It is a different arrangement.  It feels really good to get the fabric out of the stash...albeit just a small amount.  The fourth place mat will be used for the tutorial.


They are a very simple pattern.  Finished size of  place mat (after binding)  12 1/2 X 18 1/2.

These instructions are for one place mat.

PLAID:  ( a fat quarter works for the large and small squares)
1 (12 1/2 inch)  square for the center,
4 (4 inch) squares for the half squares
2 (2 1/2 inch ) WOF strips for binding (you don't have to use matching binding, grab some color
co-ordinated 2 1/2 inch left over strips)

4 (4 1/2 inch) squares of FOCUS FABRIC

1 (11-17 INCH X 22-24) BACKING FABRIC

1 ("                 "           ")  BATTING ( I recommend 100% cotton. You can use poly or poly blends but they don't insulate as well).

THREAD:  This is a good time to use all those threads which you are unsure the content of and thread which is off color.  The only color you need to match is when you are quilting the front of the place mat.  After all these are meant to be used everyday and not to be collectors items. (I also use bobbins that are questionable in the top and the bottom.) 
After cutting your fabrics the first thing you do is take the charm which is lighter in color and draw a line diagonally across it. you can use a pencil, ball point, marker....anything to draw it. It won't make any difference if it is permanent. You will be cutting this line away. Now layer your focus fabric charms on your background charms, right sides together. Take them to your machine and stitch to the left of the line. As you can see I have my even feed foot on the machine. I didn't want to switch back to the 1/4 inch edge foot for the demo. The right edge of my foot is exactly 1/4 inch from the needle. You can see in the picture the toe is riding the line.  If you don't have a quarter inch edge foot and are unsure the width of your foot. You can measure (this is a good idea in any case to do even for you 1/4 inch foot to find out its accuracy). Sew the one side of all charms and then sew the other side. 
Cut your triangles apart.  I use scissors, you can use a rotary cutter if you prefer.  Take your units to the ironing board and press them open.  Note I said press not iron.  The ironing motion stretches the fabric.  I press to the darkest fabric.  The most important thing is to press to the same fabric each time.  (When you do the second version of the place mats the half squares will nest properly.).  Head to the cutting mat and trim you half squares up to 3 1/2 inches.  I use an Easy Square Jr.  It has lines which are very easy for me to see and not confuse and cut in the wrong place.  (I have seen people use painters blue tape to remind them which lines are the correct ones.) 

BTW if you are very sure of your 14 inch and your abilities you can sew with the 1/4 inch and you won't have to trim down.  My suggestion would be to make a test couple of half squares and see if you should have used the scant 1/4 inch or if you are good to go without squaring up. 

If  you come up short on your samples, just trim them down to the next usable size, saving them for another project.   For me that size is 2 1/2 inches.  I use a lot of 2 1/2 inch units, whether it is in squares or rectangles it seams the 2 1/2" measurement pops up in lots of my projects.  (go back to using the the scant quarter inch and squaring up if you need to).

Decide which place mat you are going to make and join your half squares. 

When you are joining your half-square units press your seams open.  Normally you press to the side, but I found pressing open when making the place mat gives less bulk in the seams and the mat lies flatter. When you are joining the half-squares together, when you slide them under the presser foot start with the corner that is the flat corner...that way when you stitch down the seam and come to the corner with the seam in it you will be able to pull the fabric under the needle smoothly so it doesn't hang up on the multiple seams crossing.

The other place mat arrangement is a pinwheel version.  If you need to, pin the intersection where the seams meet. If you used the stitch the quarter inch and don't trim method, now is the time to cut off the dog ears.  When pressing your half squares for doing the pinwheel mat be sure to press your seams to the dark.  Do not press them open as in the other sets.  The reason why is when you have all those seams meeting in the center you need to nest them to get a fairly even join.  (When you press them after they are joined, use lots of least I do).  Another trick to get the centers to match perfect; when I nest the seams in each unit I nest them all the way down and make sure the seam corner is flush.  When you have four units stitched together to form the pinwheel you can pop the center couple of stitch and spread out the seams.  like I did in the four patch tutorial here:
Scroll down in the blog till you view the finished four patch.
When I stitch the side seam of the unit I start with the corner that doesn't have the multiple seams.  That way it doesn't hang up in the beginning. The 8 half squares you made will make two pinwheels.  

As you can see in this picture all the seams are pressed open.  Both pieced set have been attached to each end.  This picture also shows the added 12 1/2 inch square is pressed away from the strips.  If you pressed the other direction then the seams would be double thick in the seam area and cause a bump in the mat (Possibly causing a little ones glass of milk to take a tumble). 
     My mat is ready to be sandwiched and marked.
As you can see here the mat is marked.  I used a plain old hard lead pencil (will it wash out I have no idea). I washed them on warm and it did wash out.  BTW...luckily I put a  shout color catcher in with them...the red binding(which was washed fabric) bled...  I chose to use the seam lines of the pieces for my starting  and ending points.  I marked the center for diagonal stitching and stitched in a ditch for the pieced units.  I am not a very good machine quilter, mainly because I haven't practiced enough.  I use my short arm Gammill for my big projects.  These small things are perfect for getting your confidence up. 
If  you don't have an even feed foot then it is a must buy on your wish list.  They come "generic" and will fit most machines like Kenmore's/Brothers.  They can be purchased in short shank of high shank.  Mine was reasonable.  It was 13.00, 10 years ago and when it had a fatigue problem this year, it was still 13.00.
If you look at the picture of the pinwheel mat above you may notice a puffiness in the pinwheels.  I decided I didn't want to go to the trouble of putting on the even feed foot for such a small amount of quilting.  I also assumed I could control the fabric being I was stitching in the ditch.  I figured I would pin real close and hold the fabric tight underneath.  It worked for the underneath...not a wrinkle to be found......but the top became puffy.  For the remainder of the Mat I put on the even feed foot, That is why you see the foot in a couple of the piecing unit pictures.  I didn't want to have to take it off and on again.
Another thing the foot helps me with is attaching binding.  I find it seems to go on smoother and when I turn the binding it doesn't feel as tight to the mat.  Hope this makes sense.  This is a picture of the binding attached (after the quilting was finished). 
For those who are new to piecing and Quilting here is a very good PDF link for binding.
There are also tutes about attaching the binding from the back and bringing around to the front and top stitching by machine.  I usually save these for hand work in front of the TV when a favorite program is on.
This is the finished cowboy mat.  See the great interest you can add with binding.
These are fun to do, and get rid of those pieces of fabric that are not large enough to make a quilt with.  It helps use that fat quarter you bought that was so intriguing at the LQS...or so gorgeous you could not do with out it, and you will never use it.  Use it today to make something for yourself.  Possibly a Mat to have a cup of coffee on while you are dreaming of projects you want to do.
Other blogs by me:
Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.
blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry
blogs Seeds sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle
All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .
Please do not copy without permission