Monthly Archives: November 2013

Getting to the (Star)Point

Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

The other day I was playing with a Thrifty Quilter (TQ) pattern idea using a variation of the Sawtooth Star. This block requires eight 2.5″ squares for the star points. Unfortunately, I didn’t have very many sets of eight matching squares left in my 2.5″ bin.

Now, my self-imposed rule is that I can only buy one fabric for any TQ quilt I make, and for this one, that fabric was for the setting triangles and binding. What to do?

I thought about cutting up a few fat quarters that I had been saving for some project I haven’t thought of yet. That’s how stashes get out of hand, by the way. “Oh, I can’t use that piece. I’m saving that for a special project” is just one of the excuses I’ve used to justify a trip to the fabric store for “just a little bit” of the “right” color. Of course, I never take the fabric I’m trying to match along, so I come home with several “little bits” in various shades. Hence, my one-fabric rule. Okay, back to the point.

I happened to come across a small stack of 6″ squares left over from a guild exchange. Then I remembered my bin of 6.5″ TQ pieces.


In the Thrifty Quilter book, we use flying geese units for the  star points. I can only cut four 2.5″ squares from a 6″ or 6.5″ square, which would leave me four squares short. However, I can make eight half-square triangles (HSTs) from two 6″ or 6.5″ squares. Here’s how:

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 1: Pair  light and  dark 6″ or 6.5″ squares, right sides together. Draw two diagonal lines on the back of the lighter square and sew 1/4″ on each side of both lines.

GE DIGITAL CAMERACut the square in half vertically, and horizontally. Note: The photos show a 6″ square being cut into 3″ squares. If you start with 6.5″ squares, you would cut them into 3.25″ squares.

GE DIGITAL CAMERANow cut each of the small squares on the drawn diagonal line. I like to press my seams open. You can press to the darker fabric if you want to.

GE DIGITAL CAMERABecause these HST’s are larger than we need, we will trim them down to 2.5″. We did this in the “Overflowing Scrap Basket” blog post. Click HERE to go to that post.

GE DIGITAL CAMERANow we can sew pairs of these HST’s together to make the four flying geese units we need for the sawtooth stars!

GE DIGITAL CAMERATo complete each block, you will need a 4.5″ square for the center, and four more HST’s for the corners. Notice I have four HST’s leftover from this second pair of 6″ squares.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAThose four HST’s went into a second block!

So two 4.5″ squares and six 6″ (or 6.5″) squares will give me two 8″ star blocks.

The quilt I have in mind for these blocks will require 32 blocks for a crib-size quilt. You would need 59 blocks for a generous throw-size quilt – with a border it could be twin-size.


Here are two more ways to make 2.5″ HST’s from TQ pieces:

GE DIGITAL CAMERAIf you need just a couple of matching HST’s, you can pair two 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles. Draw a diagonal line from the top left corner to a point 2.5″ in from the left on the bottom edge. Flip the piece around and repeat. Sew on these diagonal lines and trim 1/4″ from the seams. This gives you two matching HST’s.

GE DIGITAL CAMERANeed four matching HST’s? Cut two 3″ squares from two 3.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles. Draw a diagonal line on the back of the lighter squares, sew 1/4″ from the lines and trim on the lines. Now you can trim these HST’s down to 2.5″.

If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to join the Thrifty Quilter group on Facebook, and “Like” my Facebook page, Sweetgrass Creative Designs.

Categories: 8" TQ Blocks, HST's, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns, TQ Patterns | 3 Comments

100 Blocks…Let’s Roll!

myblockisin8_200Yes it is! It’s block #759- Bailey’s Cross.

"Bailey's Cross" By Anne Wiens 2013

“Bailey’s Cross” By Anne Wiens 2013

This is my first block for Quiltmaker Magazine’s 100 Blocks series. No doubt members of my Thrifty Quilters group on Facebook will recognize this block, and it may also be familiar to regular readers of Quiltmaker’sQuilty Pleasures” blog.

Bailey’s Cross was a block I came up with while I was playing with the Corner Beam Ruler, designed by Deb Tucker of Studio 180 Designs. I used this handy tool to make the green star points in the block. In 100 Blocks, the editors included paper-piecing instructions.

In the Thrifty Quilters group, we sometimes post photos with interesting color combinations, to inspire members to play with their scrap fabrics and try combinations they might not otherwise use. It’s only one block, and they’re only scraps, after all. I made and posted this block in response to a photo of Irish Coffee. Then Diane Harris, Quiltmaker’s online editor, and a member of the Thrifty Quilters group, shared it to Quiltmaker’s Facebook Page. From there it went viral, picking up hundreds of “Likes” and “Shares” within hours.

Since then, I have had fun with this block. I designed a tablerunner and placemats set that appears in the Designers’ Gallery section of 100 Quilts, Vol. 8. Two block testers used it in the quilts they made for the Block Testers’ Gallery. Shannon Braze Ownby showed her quilt on her blog “Fabric N Quilts”.

When I found out “Bailey’s Cross” would be included in this issue, and that I would be on the blog tour, I wanted to show you a couple of other ideas for using the block.


Bailey’s Cross Autumn Tablerunner, by Anne Wiens 2013

This autumn tablerunner is made with four Bailey’s Cross blocks, surrounded by a 1″ (finished) border of green and then a 3″ border of the same autumn leaves print I used in the center of the blocks. The binding will be brown, and I will make a couple of placemats to go with it…as soon as I find some more of that brown.


Bailey’s Cross block designed by Anne Wiens, made by Annette Freeland 2013

One of my BQB’s (that’s “Best Quilting Buddy”) is Annette Freeland. She is always game to test a new pattern for me. For Bailey’s Cross, I came up with a quilt that used 16 blocks. When I stopped in to see how she was making out with the pattern, the first thing she said was, “Did you know there are 61 pieces in each block?” I didn’t. I tend to think in terms of units per block, and I knew there were 8 Corner Beam units in each block, 8 half-square triangles, 4 flying geese units, 8 two-inch squares, and 1 four-inch square. If I had thought about the number of pieces,  I’m not sure I would have made that first block!


Bailey’s Cross Quilt, designed by Anne Wiens, made by Annette Freeland 2013

And this is Annette’s Quilt…sixteen Bailey’s Cross Blocks set in four rows of four blocks in a field of dark purple. Then she added narrow white and green accent borders with a wide border of lilies-of-the-valley print on a lilac colored background. this should be a full to queen-size quilt.

Another design concept I’ve been playing with is to use just one vertical row of blocks in a quilt. I think it might be more successful with a larger print in the field, but I spotted this latte tan print and it has the mint green, plum and a darker teal blue in the print. The  photo really doesn’t do the fabric justice.

Bailey's Cross - Anne Wiens 2013

Bailey’s Cross – Anne Wiens 2013

This quilt is crib size- just 42″ x 54″. I think a 5-block version could be made into a nice lap-size quilt.

All of these projects will soon be added to my catalog of workshops, located at my website

Meanwhile, I hope you will give Bailey’s Cross a try, and be sure to email me a photo of your block and/or project. My email is:

How would you like to win a copy of 100 Blocks Vol.8? Just leave a comment below.

Tell me what colors you would use for your Bailey’s Cross block and I’ll draw one winner at random.

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

Enjoy the rest of the Blog Tour!

Categories: 100 Blocks, 12" TQ Blocks, Quiltmaker Magazine, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns | 425 Comments

The Finishing Touch

We’ve seen our first snowfall of the season, so I suppose we’d better wrap up work on this Tulip Garden quilt and let the bulbs settle in for the winter.

Because I had a solid white border on this quilt, I wanted to add a little something to the edge, so I finished this one off with a flange binding. GE DIGITAL CAMERAI like to sew my bindings on the front of my quilt, then hand-stitch it down on the backside, hiding the machine seamline. Normally I use a 2.25″ wide binding strip, folded in half. As usual, I sewed the strips end-to-end and pressed the binding in half lengthwise.

The lime green strips are cut 1″ wide. Instead of making one long strip, I trimmed or pieced them into two strips just a little longer than the length of the quilt, and two that were just a little longer than the width of the quilt.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAI pinned one of the light green folded strips along one side edge. Then I started adding the dark green binding strip as I normally do. I begin about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom edge. I usually don’t need to pin my bindings before sewing, but all those raw edges to keep in line, it helped here.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I got to the corner, I had to lay in the beginning of the next lime green strip. At this point I went back and sewed the first section of binding, beginning 6-8″ from the end of the dark green strip, and ending with a back-stitch 1/4″ from the corner. Go ahead an pin the lime green strip to that second edge.

Time to mitre that first dark green corner. If you’ve never done this, it’s a little tricky, but after two or three quilts’ worth, it’s a piece of cake.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAFirst, fold the binding strip so that you have a 45° angle. Use your thumb to hold that folded edge down so you don’t lose that angle.

GE DIGITAL CAMERANow fold the binding strip back on itself.  I’m sorry this shot is blurred. I was trying to get a real close-up so you can see that the fold I just made is even with the edge of the quilt (Ignore the lime green tails.). The raw edge should now line up with the second side of the quilt. Pin ‘er down and back to the machine we go. Back-stitch the beginning and sew to 1/4″ from the next corner. Repeat for all the remaining corners.

When you get back around to the side you started on, stop stitching  a good 10-12″ from your first stitching. Backstitch. It’s time to join those ends. This is a little tricky, too.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAOverlap the ends of your binding…the beginning end is on the bottom. Set your seam gauge to 2.25″ (or whatever the cut width of your binding is). Lay your gauge on the binding with the marker at the end of the bottom strip and trim the top strip at the end of the ruler. Do not cut the bottom strip.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAOpen the top strip and fold the top corn toward you, and pinch or press to make a 45° crease. Open the piece back up. This is where it gets tricky:

GE DIGITAL CAMERAHold the end you just creased in your left hand, wrong side of the fabric facing you. Now with your right hand, pick up the other end of the binding strip, opening it out so that the right side faces you. Be careful not to twist either strip. Place the ends right-sides together, at at 90° angle to each other and pin. Adjust your quilt pile so that you can lay the pinned binding flat on your machine, and sew on the diagonal crease.

Wait! Don’t touch those scissors yet!

GE DIGITAL CAMERABefore you trim that seam, lay your work out flat to be sure you didn’t get a twist in the binding. Trust me. If you skip this little check-step, and you do have a twist, it is not an easy fix, and I reserve the right to say “I told you so.”


Once you’re sure it’s straight, go ahead and trim the excess from that seam. Finger-press the seam, lay the binding out flat, and finish sewing the binding down, overlapping your stitches about 1″ at the beginning and end of the seam.

We’re finished with the machine work. Trim the ends of the lime green strips flush with the edge of the quilt, and clip the tips off the corners of the quilt body. Now you can flip the dark green binding to the back of the quilt and hand-stitch down.


joinforblogtour8_200Remember, Quiltmaker Magazine’s 100 Blocks blog tour begins Monday. Check back here to see my block and a few of the patterns I have designed using it!

Categories: Bindings, Quilts, Scrap Quilts, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns, TQ Patterns, Tutorials | 5 Comments

100 Blocks…99 And MINE!

See this?

 QMMS-130037-cover_200_56636This is the cover of Quiltmaker’s 100 BLOCKS vol.8, which will be released on November 19th. I am pleased…no, I’ll come right out and admit it…I am positively giddy to announce that one in this latest collection of 12″ quilt blocks is mine! I can’t tell you which block it is just yet, but I will let slip that it is one of those pictured on the cover. Imagine that…me…a cover girl!

joinforblogtour8_200Specifically, meet me right here at “Seams Like a Plan” on Monday, November 11th, and I will give you a sneak peak at my block and a few patterns I’ve designed around it. You’ll also have a chance to win a free copy of the magazine!

Of course, there are 99 other happy designers out there in the blogosphere. Look for this green button and bookmark their blogs for more chances to win!

Categories: 100 Blocks, 12" TQ Blocks, Quiltmaker Magazine | 8 Comments

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: