Bon Bon, Anyone?

It’s probably a good thing that the Montana Chocolate Factory is 4-hours and a mountain pass away, because I’m not certain I could be trusted to set foot in the place. Look what they posted on their Facebook page the other day:


The Montana Chocolate Company – 2014

It just so happens that blue, brown and white is one of my favorite color combinations, and I just happen to have some scraps left over from a quilt block swap among members of Quiltmaker Magazine’s 2013 Scrap Squad, so I made a Bon Bon of my own. Here’s the “recipe”:


Ingredients for one 12″ (finished) Bon Bon block

For a 12″ (finished) Bon Bon block, you need:

One 6.5″ square of a novelty print.

Two 4.5″ squares background (off-white)

Four 4.5″ squares brown

Two 4.5″ squares accent color #1 (light blue)

Four 3.5″ square background (off-white)

Four 2.5″ squares accent color #2 (navy)


Step 1a

Step 1: We’ll use the stitch-and-flip method to put a navy corner on the 3.5″ off-white squares. Draw a diagonal line on the back of the 2.5″ navy squares. Lay a navy square on the corner of an off-white square, right-sides-together and align the edges. Sew along the drawn line and trim the corner away 1/4″ from the seam line.


Step 1b

I like to press my seams open, but you can press toward the dark triangle if you prefer. Set these squares aside.


Step 2a

Step 2: We need to make eight quarter-square triangles (QSTs). I use a Tucker Trimmer ™ for this step. Cut the 4.5″ brown, light blue and off-white squares diagonally twice. Use the triangles to sew eight squares that look like the one pictured above. These will be a little larger than we need them to be, so we use the Tucker Trimmer to trim them down to size.


Step 2b

Lay the Tucker Trimmer on the QST so that the solid diagonal line is on the SW-NE seam line. the 3-1/2″ dotted diagonal line should be on the NW-SE seam line. Notice that the left and bottom edges of the QST extend slightly beyond the 3-1/2″ vertical and horizontal dotted lines. Trim the right and top edges

Step 2c

Step 2c

Now rotate the QST and line up the solid diagonal and 3-1/2″ dotted diagonal lines. This time the left and bottom edges should line up with the 3-1/2″ vertical and horizontal dashed lines. Trim the right and top edges. Do this with all eight QSTs.

Step 3a

Step 3a

Step 3: Sew the QSTs into four pairs as shown above.

Step 3b

Step 3b

Sew one pair of QSTs to each side of the 6.5″ center square as shown above.

Step 3c

Step 3c

Sew the corner squares from step 1 to the ends of the other two QST pairs.

Step 3d

Step 3d

Sew these strips to the top and bottom of the center square unit to complete your Bon Bon block.


Categories: 12" TQ Blocks, The Thrifty Quilter System, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns, Tucket Trimmer (Studio 180 Designs) | 3 Comments

BBQ Season is Here…Picnic Placemats

Have you ever been taunted by a fabric?

It happens to me occasionally at my local quilt shop. I walk in and a fabric calls my name. Now, usually I know immediately what I would make with that fabric. You could call it a gift, I suppose, but it’s also a bit of a curse because it’s exactly how I became the keeper of a Fuji-esque mountain of unfinished projects. Now and again, however, a fabric stumps me. It may not be the first bolt I see on subsequent visits, but I know it’s there, and sooner or later it catches my eye, daring me to take it home and make something of it.

This is my latest antagonist:

"Big Stripe" by Michael Miller Fabrics

“Big Stripe” by Michael Miller Fabrics

It looks like your Grandma’s a patio awning, doesn’t it? (Not that that’s a bad thing.)

It’s taunted me long enough. I have turned it into a summery set of picnic placemats!

This pattern will work with any striped fabric, provided the stripes run lengthwise.

1-3/4 yards of the striped fabric will yield 8 placemats and a tablerunner, or 10 placemats.You will also need 3-1/2 yards of a coordinating fabric (I used solid white) for the backs and bindings. You will need a 60° triangle ruler. I used the Marti Michel ruler, but any brand will work as long as you can cut an 8″ tall triangle.

Step 1: Cut five 8″ strips lengthwise (parallel to the selvedge).

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 2: Line up the 8-1/2″ baseline of the triangle ruler with the bottom edge of a fabric strip and cut the triangle from the strip.

 GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 3: Rotate the ruler and line up the 8-1/2″ baseline with the top edge of the strip. Cut the triangle from the strip.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3, working your way down the strip until you have two sets of six triangles. Note: Right-handed cutters start at the left end of the strip and work to the right. Left-handed cutters start at the right end of the strip and work to the left.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 5: Sew two matching triangles together, and add a third triangle to make a half-hexagon. Make another one just like it.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 6: Sew the two hexagon halves together to complete your placemat top. How easy was that?

Each strip of fabric will yield two placemats.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 7: Cut one fat quarter (18″ x 22″) from your coordinating fabric for each placemat. Cut a piece of batting the same size. I prefer a flat batting for placemats and tablerunners…I like Fusible Fleece, Quilter’s Dream or Cotton Theory.

Step 8: Quilt as desired. I just machine quilted along the stripes.

Step 9: Cut two 2-1/4″ x width of fabric strips of coordinating fabric for binding each placemat. (obviously, I still have some work to do!)

GE DIGITAL CAMERADo I smell Barbeque?

Categories: Other Blocks & Patterns, Placemats, Tutorials | 4 Comments

“What If?”

Curiosity is a valuable trait for designers.

To paraphrase the old Hewlitt-Packard advertising tagline, I never quit asking “What If?”

I came across this YouTube video from Missouri Star Quilt Company yesterday. Jenny Doan demonstrates her “Disappearing Pinwheel” block.  I love a good trick, so I had to try it…and then I had to start playing with it. First, watch the video and then we’ll play.

I noticed that Jenny said you could use different sizes of squares to start with, so I had to try it with 6.5″ TQ squares. I wound up with an 8″ pinwheel to start, which does not divide by 3 easily. I simply added an extra step and trimmed the big pinwheel to 7.5″ x 7.5″. This made my cuts from the center line 1.25″ and my units 2.5″, and I end up with a 6″ finished block. (Of course, this only makes sense if you actually watched the video.)

GE DIGITAL CAMERAHere is the “official” Disappearing Pinwheel block laid out for sewing.

GE DIGITAL CAMERALook what happens if I flip the corner units.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then rotate the side units…

GE DIGITAL CAMERAAnd rotate the corners again.

This gave me another idea…

GE DIGITAL CAMERA I made two blocks.


Then swapped the center pinwheels. (above) and did the same rotations (below).



My point? Don’t be shy about playing with your blocks.

Categories: Videos | Tags: , | 15 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

Soup’s On!

Chicken Soup - Anne Wiens 2013

Chicken Soup – Anne Wiens 2013

Last month, Quiltmaker Magazine’s online editor, Diane Harris, asked me to write a couple of blog posts for the magazine’s “Quilty Pleasures“. She asked for a tutorial on Studio 180 Designs‘ “V Blocks” and “Split Rects” rotary cutting tools. She said they would send me a bundle of fat quarters for my trouble. The secret is out. I can be bought with fabric.

When the fabric arrived, there were two bundles, one from the Rooster Royale collection and one from Canvas, both by Quilting Treasures. I will admit that black, white and red is not my favorite color combination, and I decided if I didn’t use that fabric in a project for this series, I would probably never use it at all. Imagine my surprise, then, when the top was finished and I actually found myself thinking maybe I should redo my kitchen in black, white and red!

“Chicken Soup” was quilted by Nicole Brouillette, another member of Quiltmaker’s 2013 Scrap Squad, and a professional longarm quilter. Nicole did a wonderful job, and wrote a blog entry about how she chooses quilting designs for her clients.

Here are the links to the  blog posts we did for Quiltmaker:

Part 1- “V-Blocks” Tutorial

Part 2- “Split Rects” Tutorial

Part 3- Chicken Soup “Recipe”

Part 4- Quilting “Chicken Soup”

Categories: Quiltmaker Magazine, Split Rects (Studio 180 Designs), Tutorials, V-Blocks (Studio 180 Designs), Wallhangings | Leave a comment

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