Once Around the Block

QM100-WIENS

“Starshine” by Anne Wiens – 2017

Welcome to my stop on the Road Rally celebrating the latest issue of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks! My contribution to volume 16 is “Starshine”.

If you wander through some of my previous blog posts, you’ll see that I am a big fan of scrap quilts. One reason is that I have a very low tolerance for tedium, and I find making the same block in the same colors over and over very tedious. Even when it’s my block, and even when I know the quilt would be fabulous. Given my druthers, I’ll make it a scrap quilt almost every time.

I built the color scheme for “Starshine”on the colors in the center square. As much as I love the original block, I couldn’t resist moving the colors around. If my math serves, there should be 720 possible combinations of the six colors in this block. Here are six, starting with the color placement in the sample block and simply rotating them through the positions:

Color Rotation

The rotation is top row, left to right, then bottom row, right to left.

When I show someone a new block design, the inevitable question is, “Now, what are you going to do with it?” Well, to stay with the Road Rally theme, that puts me at a crossroad. I decided on making placemats, and came up with three designs:

Crossroad

If you see one (or more) you like, follow the instructions in the magazine to construct the block. The instructions below are for two 3″ wide borders to turn the 12″ (finished) block into a 12″ x 18″ placemat.

OPTION 1

Pmat 1

OPTION 2

Pmat 2

OPTION 3

Pmat 3

Vol16-Cover-200pxNow, who wants a free copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, vol. 16? Leave a comment below, and you’ll be entered into a random drawing, which will take place Sunday evening, Nov. 19.

If you enjoy scrap quilts, click the FOLLOW button at the bottom of this blog, and you’ll be notified anytime there’s a new post. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but there is usually a block pattern involved.

You can also “Like” Sweetgrass Creative Designs on Facebook!

Return to Quilty Pleasures to continue the Road Rally.

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Categories: 100 Blocks, Other Blocks & Patterns, Placemats, Quiltmaker Magazine, Uncategorized | 84 Comments

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

It’s only mid-November and we’ve already had our first bout of sub-zero nights here in northern Montana. There will be more of those nights to come over the next few months, and many colder still. Winter weather puts me in a mood to bake cookies and play with plaid scraps. No cookies today, but I did whip up a Bear Paw quilt block I call “Bear Footin’.”

For each 12″ (finished) block, you will need: Pieces

  • Two 4.5″ squares each of two novelty prints.
  • Four 3″ or 3.5″ squares of a light-medium coordinate
  • Four 3″ or 3.5″ squares of a dark-medium coordinate
  • Eight 3″ or 3.5″ squares of a light tone-on-tone
  • Four 2.5″ squares of light tone-on-tone

 

Sewn HSTsStep 1: Cut all of the 3.5″ squares in half diagonally, and sew the medium triangles to the light triangles. you will have a total of eight half-square triangles (HSTs) in light and light-medium, and eight in light and dark-medium.

 

Trim 1Step 2a: Trim the HSTs to 2.5″ squares. Use a square ruler. Lay the diagonal line on the ruler on the diagonal seam. Notice the HST extends beyond the 2.5″ lines on the ruler. Trim the right and top edges.

 

 

 

Trim 2Step 2b: Rotate the HST and lay the ruler on the diagonal line again. This time the edges you just cut should line up with the 2.5″ lines on the ruler. Trim the right and top edges again.

 

 

 

HST PairsStep 3: Sew the HSTs into pairs. Make two pairs of each color that “point” to the left, and two pairs of each color that “point” right.

 

 

 

PawsStep 4: Sew a 2.5″ light square to the right end of each of the “point left” HST pairs. Sew the “point right” HST pairs to the right side of the 4.5″ novelty print squares. Sew the HST strips to the novelty print squares to make four “paws”.

 

You have three options for setting these Bear Paw units into a 12″ block:

Option 1

Option 1

Option 2

Option 2

Option 3

Option 3

Bear Footin

“Bear Footin'” – 2017 by Anne Wiens

I made these blocks 12″ (12.5″ as shown). If I start with 6.5″ novelty prints, 4.5″ coordinates, and 4.5″ and 3.5″ squares for the background pieces, I would have 18″ blocks, and it would only take a dozen of those larger blocks to make a toasty warm 54″ x 72″ afghan-size quilt. That, a cup of hot chocolate (perhaps with a bit of Irish Cream), a good book and a snugly cat would be a perfect solution to a chilly evening, don’t you think?

Categories: 12" TQ Blocks, 6" TQ Blocks, HST's, The Thrifty Quilter System, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Making the Case for “Quilt Bibs”

My second Layer Cake® quilt pattern for Moda Fabrics has posted on the Moda Bake Shop blog. It’s called “Stargazer“, and I made the sample quilt with 10” squares from the new 30’s Playtime 2017 collection, paired with a royal blue Bella Solid, also by Moda Fabrics.

Title Photo

The Stargazer quilt is 64″ x 84″ as shown, which includes a 4″ solid blue border across the top of the quilt to give it the length I prefer for a twin bed quilt. That border also gave me an opportunity to include a practical feature that I have only seen once, on a vintage quilt in an antique shop.

It was a strip of muslin folded over the top edge of the quilt and basted in place. There was a row of daisies embroidered  along the bottom edge. I wish I could have purchased the quilt, or at least taken a photo of it. When I described it to her, my Grandma Wiens explained that the muslin strip was a “bib” or a “whisker guard”.

If your quilts are used as blankets, as mine are meant to be, they are most likely to become soiled along the top edge by body oils and/or worn through by whisker stubble as they get tucked up under chins on chilly nights. Can you imagine trying to launder a quilt by hand, or even in a wringer washing machine? So, Grandma explained, she would baste a strip of muslin over the top edge of the quilt. Instead of washing the whole quilt, she only had to snip the basting thread, pull the “bib” off, launder it, and baste it back into place!

I did a little online research and found another form of quilt bib. This one was a sort of long, narrow casing that slips over the top edge of the quilt.

To make mine, I purchased 5/8 yard of one of the fabrics in the 30’s Playtime 2017 collection. I cut one 8.5″ x 40.5″ strip and two 8.5″ x 13″ strips, then sewed the shorter strips to the ends of the longer strip.

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Hem the two long edges. I used my rolled-hem foot. Going over the seams was a little tricky, but if you go slowly and use a stiletto, it is a nice finish. If you don’t have a rolled hem foot…or aren’t on speaking terms with it…you can cut your strips 9″ wide and turn under a quarter-inch and a quarter-inch again, press and sew with a straight seam.

Next, I sewed the lace along one long edge on the right side of the piece to hide the basting stitches that would fasten it to the quilt, and keep them from snagging little fingers.

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Then I folded the strip in half lengthwise, right sides together, and  sewed the ends. Be sure to backstitch the ends of the seam. I added a second seam for strength, but it really isn’t necessary. Trim the  top corner and turn the piece right-side-out.

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Slip the casing over the top edge of the quilt, and baste in place. I used approx 1″ basting stitches, tucked under the edge of the lace. Be sure you baste through both sides of the casing, the entire length of the quilt.

Of course, there are other options for attaching the bib to the quilt. You could sew several buttons at intervals along the border of the quilt, and button holes on the casing. Remember you will need them on both sides of the quilt. A row of snap tape front and back would also work.

I don’t expect quilt bibs to come back into vogue anytime soon, but it was fun to take a step into history for this project.

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Categories: Moda Bake Shop, Other Blocks & Patterns, Other Projects, Quilts, Scrap Quilts | 3 Comments

TQ Mug Mats

Do you need a quick hostess gift, teacher gift, or table favor? Whip up one of these totally TQable Mug Mats! I used pre-cut scraps from my Thrifty Quilter stash for these, but if you want to make several, 1/4 yard….regular cut or a fat quarter…will make two mats. Here’s how I did it:

Your materials for one mat:

IMG_1615One 4.5″ square (brown) for the center.

One 6.5″ square (blue) for the backing, and four 3.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles (blue) for the frame. Note: You can use narrower frame strips and a larger center square if you prefer.

One 6.5″ square of scrap batting.

Thread should match your frame fabric.

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Step 1: Press the 3.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.

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Lay the batting square on the table and lay the 6.5″ backing square on top of it, right side up. Lay the framing strips on the square as shown, as if you were closing the flaps on a cardboard box. Raw edges are on the outside.

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Sew a 1/4″ seam all around the outside edge and trim the corners.

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Flip the frame strips to the batting side of the piece. Poke the corners out as squarely as possible, and top stitch 1/4″ from the edge.

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Insert your 4.5″ square. Pin in place and stitch the frame edge down close to the center square.

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When I’m top-stitching, I don’t like to back-tack the end of a seam. Instead, I leave myself a good 4″-6″ of thread, and using an embroidery needle (because it has a larger eye), I bury the thread ends inside my piece.

There! Now how easy was that?

I saw another great idea the other day. Same general idea – use binding leftovers, cut to 6.5″ lengths as your framing pieces. Sew and flip as show above, but instead of inserting a small fabric square, just leave the batting exposed. Set it next to your machine and it’s a thread catcher!

So simple, you’ll want to make one of each for your quilting pals.

 

 

Categories: Other Blocks & Patterns, Other Projects, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Just Call Me “Chef”

MBS-featured-button-2014I’ve been cooking up a couple of patterns using Moda fabric Layer Cakes® recently. The first pattern, pictured above,  is called “Big Sky”, and it is available now at the Moda Bake Shop blog.

The quilt uses a simple block, made of sixteen half-square-triangles (HSTs). When I learned that the block is called “Anna’s Choice”, I had to add it to my repertoire.

The blocks in the “Big Sky” quilt are 16″ square. Just for kicks, I decided to play around with it a bit, using 2.5″ HSTs made from 6.5″ squares.

img_1629-e1502076732376.jpgInstead of using just two colors in the block, as I did in “Big Sky”, I used one dark square, one medium square, and two light squares. I won’t go through the process of making the HSTs here, since I’ve done that in a previous post.

Pairing the dark and medium squares with the light squares gave me eight 2.5″ light/medium HSTS and eight 2.5″ light/dark HSTs.

Ready to play? Here are a dozen possible combinations of these squares. Each block would be 8″ x 8″ finished:

So there are at least twelve possible variations for the parts and pieces of the “Anna’s Choice” block. Now, the choice is yours. Enjoy!

 

Categories: 8" TQ Blocks, HST's, Moda Bake Shop, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Born to Be (Not Quite) Wild

A few weeks ago, my friend Diane Harris (a.k.a. “The Stash Bandit“) posted a blog, then asked her Facebook followers, “Are you brave enough to combine fabrics with wild abandon?” This was the quilt she showed as an example:

“Wild Abandon” by Diane Harris – Photo used by permission

“Pffft” sez I, “I can do that!” Turns out it isn’t as easy to be random as you’d think it would be. Don’t get me wrong…I make scrap quilts all the time, and I have no problem combining fabrics within the quilt that just “don’t go together.” However, the fabrics almost always coordinate with in the individual blocks.

So, I can do “wild.” It’s the “abandon” I will have to work on.

While I was playing, I came up with a block to show you. It finishes 10″ square.

I’m calling it “Happy Scraps”

For each 10″ (finished) block you will need four 4.5″ squares. Mine match, but yours do not have to. You will need a total of seventeen 2.5″ squares. I have eight lavender, four deep red, four splattered, and one orange. If you want to throw caution to the wind, just make sure you have one medium value square, four dark squares, and the remaining fourteen squares should be light.

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Use the stitch-n-flip method to put light triangles on two opposite corners of each of the 4.5″ squares. Set these squares aside.

Sew four light 2.5″ squares to four dark 2.5″ squares.

Before we sew these units together, let’s consider our options:

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

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“Happy Scraps” by Anne Wiens – 2017

In the end, I chose Option 2, though I’m pretty fond of Options 1 and 4.

This is why I am never bored, for every quilt I make, I come up with several more ideas. Fortunately, my scrap bin overfloweth!

Categories: 10" TQ Blocks, The Thrifty Quilter System, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns | 2 Comments

Twinkle, Twinkle, Scrappy Star….

My, how colorful you are!

      Recently I was cutting some fabric leftovers and discovered I was winding up with a lot of 4.5″ and 2.5″ squares. a few months ago, I finished a quilt with Sawtooth Star blocks made with fabrics from each of the projects I’ve made over the past couple of years.

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“My Colorful Life” 2016 by Anne Wiens

      After I finish a project, I cut up any leftover strips of fabric less than a quarter-yard into Thrifty Quilter pieces for use later in scrap quilts. I decided to go ahead and make up an 8″ Sawtooth Star or two, and set them aside, adding to the stack until I had enough for a quilt. All the rest of the pieces went into my TQ bins. I was surprised at how quickly I collected the 35 blocks I needed for this 44″ x 60″ quilt!

     I like this little quilt. It’s really a material diary of my projects for 2015 and 2016!

     I decided to do another star quilt “diary” for this year’s projects, which will include class samples, demo samples, a challenge project, and charity quilts.

     Looking at my growing collection of 2.5″ squares and 4.5″ squares, I decided on a variation of the classic “Ohio Star” block. I’m thinking this quilt will become a class for the Tucker Trimmer® rotary cutting tool, because I’ll be making a lot of half-square triangles (HSTs) and quarter-square triangles (QSTs).

For each block you will need:IMG_1356

Two 4.5″ sq for background (White-not shown)

Two 4.5″ sq for star points (Dk Teal)

Three 4.5″ sq for star background (Lt Teal)

One  4.5″ sq for accent diamond (Lt Orange)

One 3.5″ sq for star center (Red)

Four 2.5″ sq for optional corner accent (Dk Orange)

Let’s begin construction by making the HST. For this, you need the two 4.5″ background (white) squares, and two of the 4.5″ star background (light teal) squares. Cut each square diagonally and sew into two HSTs.

IMG_1361

Step 1. Lay the Tucker Trimmer® on the HST, aligning the diagonal line with the seam line. Be sure the HST extends beyond the 3.5″ vertical and horizontal dashed lines on the tool.

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Step 2. Trim the right and top edges.

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Step 3. Rotate the HST, line the diagonal line up on the seam again. This time the cut edges snug right up to the 3.5″ vertical and horizontal dashed lines. Trim the right and top edges.

You now have four perfect 3.5″ HSTs. To be honest, you can do this with any small ruler that has a diagonal line in the corner.

IMG_1360The Tucker Trimmer® earns its keep when we make QSTs, and we’ll do that now. Cut the remaining 4.5″ star background (light teal) square, the 4.5″ accent diamond (light orange) square, and two star point (dark teal) squares diagonally twice, and sew into four QSTs as shown.

When you look at the tucker trimmer, you’ll notice that in addition to the solid diagonal line from corner to corner, there are dashed diagonal lines running in the opposite direction.

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When making QSTs, you line the solid diagonal line with one diagonal seam, and the appropriate (3.5″ in our case) dashed diagonal line with the other seam. Trim two sides, rotate and trim the other two sides, as you did before.

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Ohio Star – Variation 1

Lay out your center square, star point units and corner units as shown at right. This would be one variation of this block, and you may decide this is the look you want.

I’m going to set my blocks side-by-side, which will leave large white diamonds in the corners where the blocks come together. If I were going to send this quilt to a certain longarm artist I know, I’d leave that as a canvas for her to show off her mad skills. Instead, I’m going to add accent triangles to those white corners.

We’ll use the stitch-and-flip method for these accent triangles.

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Step 1. Draw a diagonal line on the back of the 2.5″ accent (dark orange) squares. Align the square with the white corner on the HST, and sew on the drawn line.

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Step 2. Trim 1/4″ outside the seam line.

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Step 3. Press the corner into place.

Now you can lay out the center square, corner units and star point units. Sew into rows and sew the rows together to complete your Ohio Star block.

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Ohio Star Variation 2 – 2016 by Anne Wiens

My plan is to make and collect these Ohio Star blocks until I have about twenty. I have a pretty interesting border treatment in mind that would be kind of traditional, but kind of modern. In my mind, it’s a great quilt. Time will tell if it translates to fabric!

 

Categories: 9" TQ Blocks, Quilts, Scrap Quilts, The Thrifty Quilter System, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns, Tucket Trimmer (Studio 180 Designs) | 4 Comments

Plays Well With Others

Quiltmaker Magazine has released it’s latest 100 Blocks special edition!

My contribution to Volume 15 is #1498 – “Showcase”.

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“Showcase” by Anne Wiens – 2016

I designed this simple-looking block to show off those medium and large-scale prints that you just hate to cut into little bits. I think the secret to this block’s success is to make sure the background – the dark red in the sample – is a quiet, non-directional tone-on-tone print, because there are some little seams that you want to camouflage.

In the magazine, the editors show a mock-up of a small square quilt, with thirteen Showcase blocks, set on point, three blocks across and three blocks down. When I saw that, I thought this block is not a contender for the title of “Best Block in a Leading Role.” I actually felt a little sad and sorry for the poor block.

Then I began to play around with my QuiltPro software, combining “Showcase” with other blocks from the issue, and WOW- it’s a shoe-in for “Best Supporting Block!”

Here are a few examples:

QM100-JOHNSON

#1469 “Coronation” by Deborah Johnson

# 1469

This is the same 13-block on-point layout shown in the magazine. I replaced the eight outside “Showcase” with “Coronation” blocks (#1469). Four of the “Showcase” blocks now have a light background, while the center block keeps its dark pink background. If I started playing with colors, I think this would become a real Southwestern-style wallhanging!

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QM100-MARTIN

#1477 “Boxed Star” by Debbie Martin

# 1477 - Boxed Star

This traditional alternating blocks layout features block #1477. I did change the colors in “Boxed Star”. Neither block is that intricate on its own, but as co-stars, they have a certain “chemistry”, don’t you think? I loved that secondary design where the corners come together, so I pulled that element out into the black border for emphasis.

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QM100-BAILEY

#1450 “Star Power” by Emily Bailey

Star Power 1

Oh, did I have fun with block  “Star Power”! This is a scrap block in the magazine, but when you’re making the quilt, you get to pick the colors. Again, this is a traditional alternating block setting. I love the Irish Chain vibe!

Star Power 2

I just couldn’t leave this pairing of “Showcase” and “Star Power” alone, and came up with these possibilities.

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QM100-WEBER

 #1444 “Two Lips” by Ann Weber

Victory Lane

You’re probably wondering where “Two Lips” went. I wanted to do a layout that would tie into this week’s “Road Rally” blog tour theme. I imagine this quilt starring a race car print in the center of the “Showcase” blocks, with a theme coordinate in the light gray strips between the blocks.  Let’s say the “Two Lips” block makes a cameo appearance here. It gave me the border idea for this layout!

It’s a good thing I had a deadline for posting this blog, because honestly, I’d still be playing with possibilities!

But now, it’s time to give away a copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Vol. 15.

Vol15-Cover-200px

Leave a comment below and tell me:

How far do you have to drive to visit your favorite local quilt shop?

(Give them a shout-out if you’d like!)

One winner will be chosen at random on Saturday (May 6, 2017)

Thanks for stopping by “Seams Like a Plan”. Click the “follow” button at the top of the page, and you’ll be notified when there is a new post.

Click HERE to return to the “Quilty Pleasures” blog and continue today’s blog tour.

Categories: 100 Blocks, Other Blocks & Patterns, Quiltmaker Magazine | 111 Comments

Spring is Busting Out All Over

qm100-wien

“Star Route” by Anne Wiens – 2016

The Spring 2017 issue of Quiltmaker’s Quilts from 100 Blocks should be on your newsstand today, and one of the fourteen patterns is mine! You can read about the new issue by clicking on the link.

Remember my “Star Route” block from last fall’s Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Vol. 14?

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“Budding Blossoms” by Anne Wiens 60″x60″ (Photo: Quiltmaker)

Well, it’s grown into “Budding Blossoms”, a 60″ x 60″ wallhanging/lap quilt!

This project was a bit of a Scrap Squad ’13 reunion. I designed it and sewed the top, it was quilted by Nicole Brouillette, and we used a flange binding technique we learned from Marti Dyer-Allison. The magazine includes a quick photo tutorial on how to make the binding. Marti did a video tutorial, which you can watch HERE.

I loved working with Kathy Deggendorfer’s “Wild by Nature” collection from Maywood Studio. I even had enough fabric leftover to make a second lap quilt, which I’d like to share with you. The design for this quilt was driven by the fabrics I had on hand, with the addition of a black tone-on-tone for the block background.

The first thing I did was to deconstruct the Star Route block. I took the “Hole in the Barn Door” block from the center, and the “Sawtooth Star” that surrounded it. I had enough pink, green, orange and yellow fabrics to make 12 “Hole in the Barn Door” and a dozen “Sawtooth Star” blocks. These blocks are 9″ finished.

I also had just over 1/2 yard each of three of the floral prints. Not enough to make alternating 9″ squares, so I had to get a little clever. I sewed the pieced blocks into pairs, and eked out four 9.5″ x 18.5″ rectangles of each of the three florals.  Each pair of blocks was sewn to the long side of a floral rectangle. Knowing that it would not be fun to unsew 18″ seams on a black fabric, I decided to draw and label the layout. (I still wound up unsewing one seam.)

And here she is….”Country Girl” is 54″ x 72″ as is, which would be a nice lap-size quilt.

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“Country Girl” 2017 by Anne Wiens

It’s finished, according to the pattern. But I just may add a 3″ black border to it, which would make it 60″ x 78″. I haven’t decided yet. The binding will be that green from the center of the “Hole in the Barn Door” blocks.We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I’m on to my next project…a “guy quilt” for Quiltmaker Magazine.

qf100-cover-500If you don’t find a copy of the new Quilts from 100 Blocks issue, click HERE to order it directly from Quiltmaker in print or digital format.

Categories: 100 Blocks, Quiltmaker Magazine, Quilts from 100 Blocks, Uncategorized, Wallhangings | Leave a comment

Another “Special Delivery” from Quiltmaker!

Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Vol. 14 debuts today, and not quite smack dab in the center of the cover is my block, “Star Route”.

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Here’s a better photo:

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“Star Route” by Anne Wiens 2016

This block is a combination and slight adaptation of two of my favorite traditional quilt blocks. A “Hole in the Barn Door”block, surrounded by a Sawtooth Star. I live in farming and ranching country in north-central Montana. Many rural residents get their mail by “star route” carriers.

I wondered where the term “star route” originated, so I consulted the USPS website. Long story short, instead of writing out “celerity, certainty and security” on the bid paperwork, postal clerks took to using three asterisks (***), and the contracts came to be called “star routes.” Follow the link for the long version of the story.

There are a lot of pieces in this block, but it isn’t difficult to make. It’s mostly half-square triangles with stitch-and-flip tips. It is a little time-consuming.

Here’s what the block might look like in a quilt:

crib-lap

Left: Crib size quilt is 42″ x 54″ and uses 12 blocks, with pieced border units.                Right: Lap-size quilt is 54″ x 66″ and uses 20 blocks with pieced border units.

You may notice that I added an orange triangle to the pink triangles of the original block. That’s because when I started setting the blocks together, I found that I had large pink diamonds forming, and they distracted the eye from the block centers. Those orange pieces are cut the same size as the blue pieces in the block.

border-units

Border Square 1         Border Square 2

These are actually square units, though they may not look like it on your screen.

Square #1 – The “green” square is the same as the star-point units in the block, substituting black for white in the half-square triangle.

Square #2 – The “pink square starts with a 3.5” black square. The stitch and flip pink corner is the same size as the one in the corner square of the block. The orange stitch and flip corner is the same size square as the blue square in Square #1.

border-unit-construction

You need two of Square #1 and two of Square #2 for each border unit.

blocks-borders

You will need one border unit each block in the top and bottom row of your quilt, one for each block along the sides of your quilt, and two border units plus one more Square #2 for each corner block.

So that’s one way to use the Star Route block.

My Quilt Pro design software and I had a lot of fun playing with this block, and you will be amazed at when I came up with for the next Quiltmaker special issue Quilts from 100 Blocks. However, you’ll have to wait until the magazine comes out next spring.

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I have a copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Vol. 14 to give away. To be entered in the random drawing, just leave a comment on this blog, and tell me what town would we be sending your prize to?

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Categories: 100 Blocks, Other Blocks & Patterns, Quiltmaker Magazine, Quilts | 160 Comments

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