Hi, my name is Ruth and this is my blog to show & share my quilts that I give to family & friends.
Simple designs that may inspire you to make one too.

If you have any questions about how I made these quilts - please feel free to contact me and I will do my best to help :)

Monday, August 19, 2019

Grand Canal Scrap Quilt - Part Two - Log Cabin Block Tutorial

My first quilt was a hot mess masterpiece made as a lark.  I found an article by Jacquie Gering of Tallgrass Prairie Studio called "Wonky Log Cabin Block Tutorial". 
I had the most fun ever making this quilt as I sliced and slashed my way from one block to another following her directions and pictures.  
I can still remember the freedom of making these blocks and was hooked on quilting ever since.  The same relaxed attitude is how I made these scrappy Grand Canal log cabin squares - although a little more disciplined than those in my beloved Ghastlie's quilt!
Be warned - this may not be the official or proper way to make a real log cabin block, but I can guarantee it will use your thin scraps and be fun as well!
Here is a typical pile of end scraps. These are a little thinner than the ones I used in the Grand Canal quilt - but the process is exactly the same. Let's make a small 7.5" x 7.5' log cabin block.
Cut out a center square 2" x 2" (blue).  Trim a scrap piece (white) so that it is straight on one side and sew onto a side of your square.  Rotate your little unit so that the ruler is straight on the seam line (see the 7" mark laying horizontal) - and trim it even with your original center square.
 Rotate the unit so the ruler is on the vertical seam at the 1" mark.  This strip was so close to 1" there is almost nothing to trim - but trim you must.  Then, take another scrap and trim one side straight.  Rotate your unit and sew on the next piece -  and do the whole thing all over again (shown with the yellow flowered piece).
Sew the scrap strip on the right side of the nicely trimmed unit - turn it and place the ruler on the horizontal seam and trim the sides even.  
Place the ruler on the vertical seam - and trim 1".  Time to sew another piece, now with red. Trim the red strip straight, rotate the main unit and sew on the strip.
 Time to trim the red & flowered fabric using the horizontal seam as a guide (sorry no pix).  Rotate unit and put 1" mark of the ruler on the vertical seam (the red fabric) and trim. 
Continue sewing strips in this manner, trimming and rotating.  
After a few rounds the block is pretty square. At this point I flip it over and line the ruler with the block on the back for those first trims.  I find it easier to see the edges this way.  Then its back to the iron and trimming on the front side the 1" log' on the vertical seam as usual.  
This method does not rely on measuring.  But you must make sure that each additional strip is the same length - or even better - longer than the side you are sewing it to. Lay out strips to see if they are long enough as the block gets bigger.  And, if the strip is too short - just sew a few together as shown above.
Keep adding strips until you reach the size you like and trim.  Shown above is the untrimmed block  - and below are the finished 7.5" x 7.5".
 Now - the reason I call it a faux log cabin is this:  those outside strips may be a little thinner than the inside ones.  You might have forgotten to trim one or two logs on that 1" line because ... you forgot!  No worries - this block is very, very forgiving and once incorporated into the rest of your quilt the faults pretty much disappear.   

For a perfect log cabin square one can measure, cut and use a special template - this is not that block.
The specs for the Grand Canal Scrap Quilt log cabin blocks are:  
   * starting center square was cut at 2.5" x 2.5"
   *the strips (or logs) were trimmed at 1.5" wide
   *and the final block was trimmed to 13" x 13" 
Back next time with Grand Canal Scrap Quilt / Part Three - Large Granny Square
Grand Canal by Kate Spain
Tallgrass Prairie Studio from Jacquie Gering and her awesome Wonky Log Cabin Block  Tutorial that started it all 
Size: 57" x 57"
Date: August 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Grand Canal Scrap Quilt - Overview / Part One

I am pretty much a one block sewer.  I make a lot of the same blocks and off the quilts go to their new owners. I save the scraps and left over pieces for myself with no clear idea of what to make until I have my final pile. (This pile of beautiful Kate Spain Grand Canal started in 2017).Then it's an assessment whether the pieces are further chopped up or if there is enough for a 'scrap quilt' of that particular collection.  
I was a little sad to see these Grand Canal quilts go - but no more!  Out came the Kate Spain plastic bin and viola - I had enough to cobble together my own quilt.

Surprisingly, scrap quilts can take a good deal of thought and effort.  Making sure all the elements harmonize and feel right takes time - but they are fun.  There is no real wrong way to do things!

This quilt has 3 different design elements. 
The first is a large 'granny square' - made with 3.5" squares.
The second is a rustic log cabin that is far from perfect - but the great thing is that no matter how wonky it sews up - you trim it to a set size and it will fit perfectly with your other blocks.
And lastly ... how to take that pile of 'everything else' - and make a simple border that frames all your work.
The next few blog posts will be picture heavy and explain in detail how this quilt was made. My quilt blocks are pretty organic since I do what works and am self taught  (fools rush in where angels fear to tread etc. etc.)  ... so if you are interested in making precise blocks (such as the log cabin), look around on YouTube and see what the professionals have to say.  
 Be back soon with Grand Canal Scrap Quilt / Part Two - Faux Log Cabin.   :)

Monday, August 5, 2019

Baby Quilts Aren't Just for Babies

Today is a departure from the details of assembly and instead, share how I am convinced that  "Baby Quilts aren't just for Babies ... they're for everyone!"

Short story is I messed up my neck and back nerves 8 months ago.  I am still in the rehab stage and sewing was off limits for months. This has really shown me how traditional sized quilts may not be in everyone's future, or mine for a while. 
When I could sew for a few minutes a day, I began with the Guinevere Quilt Kit from the Fat Quarter Shop.  The fabric is Enchanted by Gingiber. Lovely big pieces and an easy to follow pattern from It's Sew Emma (Guinevere)
Next came a scrappy Kaleidoscope with pieces cut using an Accuquilt die.  (Go to the sidebar and click on Kaleidoscope for more details).
Lastly, a simple 4 patch made with a Lecien jelly roll and some hand cut 2.5" strips of white Kona.
What used to takes weeks - now took months of slow and go sewing.  I started to see the positive aspects of making smaller quilts, and this will be my trend for the immediate future.  Smaller blankets tick all the boxes for that mental kick of creativity.  Less space is needed for layout, less to clean up, easier to finish and manipulate in the sewing machine.  A perfect way to try out different patterns and techniques even at a slower pace.
Good sizes start at 41" to no more than 45" square.  A nice size to drape over a chair or couch and not end up on the floor.  Big enough to snuggle up with and cover your legs - or chest - obviously they are not going to cover everything unless you are a baby :)  
And ... if you want to experiment using minky as a backing - this is the perfect time. Minky is sold at 60" wide - so 1.5 yards of the soft stuff will cover your project perfectly!
Here are some older smaller quilts that fit into this size category.  I must have been making "Baby Quilts for everyone" and didn't realize it! So, if you don't know a baby -  pick out a favorite adult fabric, find a simple new block and enjoy making yourself a 'Baby Quilt!"

Enchanted by Gingiber (Geinevere pattern by It's Sew Emma)
Lecien Retro 30's Child Smile jelly roll
Novelty cottons
White Kona
Warm & White batting
Dimple dot minky: vanilla & midnight blue from Fabric.com
Hawthorne Supply Co. minky: Quartz
Sizes: 41" to 45" square
Date: August 2019

Friday, July 5, 2019

Large Economy Block (or square in a square) Quilt

While technically not a quilt - this fun "coverlet" is perfect for hot summers and lightweight warmth. 
The top is made like any other quilt, the backing is white flannel and everything is quilted with a walking foot. The twist here is that there is no batting or middle layer. Voila ... a coverlet.

The pattern: A large 'square in a square'  or economy block.
Cut (25) 9.25" x 9.25" pieces for the center squares. 
Cut (50) squares 7.25" x 7.25".   Make one cut on the diagonal from corner to corner to yield two triangles. Total triangles needed is 100.  Pair up four of these triangles with one large square. Sew two triangles on opposite sides.  Click HERE for more details and pictures of a previous square in a square quilt.
I like to trim off the dog ears - it's up to you. I press my seams open and then attach the other two triangles on the opposite sides.
I love my rulers from Deb Tucker and her instructional videos. I use her measurements listed on the rulers so all my blocks are over sized and then trimmed down.  For a really good alternative method on how to make an economy block without these rulers is this post from Catbird Quilt Studio. Also, Rita from Red Pepper Quilts has good pictures and instructions for a smaller more complex economy block here.
The biggest block you can make using the Large Square Squared ruler is a finished 12" x 12".
Lining up the 12 marking on the inner square allows me to trim to a consistent size and quarter inch away from the edge. 
There are now 25 big economy block squares ready for layout.  After finishing the layout but not yet sewing anything - cut 20 squares 6.5" x 6.5".  
Join two at a time and trim those two squares to 12.5" wide.  
Why measure these border blocks now and maybe trim?  If you are sewing with a scant 1/4" these two block may be  a little larger than 12.5" wide.  It looks nice to match up the seams in the border with the seams in the economy block - this is a simple way to ensure this.

Now you can sew all the smaller border squares together - 10 blocks for the top and 10 blocks for the bottom. 

However you like to sew your quilt together is up to you.  I do three top rows in one 'chunk' and then do the four bottom rows in their 'chunk'.  Attaching two 'halves' is not as bulky as dragging an ever growing quilt top and attaching one row at a time. I like working on smaller bits which is why I don't make medallion quilts.  (Those are quilts that start with a center square and continue to add around it.  I like blocks and rows).
If you are into decorative quilting then this type of thin quilt won't show your skills.  But this scrunchy wrinkled lightweight  'coverlet' is so versatile.  It's easy to layer on your bed with other blankets, washes and dries quickly ... and is a great cover up wrap to prevent sunburn during the day and mosquitoes at night when used outside.
Quilting is still done with a walking foot.   A broken wavy line follows the seams and through the points of all the squares.  A very pretty pink 50wt. Aurifil thread on top and bright white on the bottom.  

Lastly, this 'quilt' comes together very quickly - fast to sew and fast to enjoy!

Le Vintage Chic / Art Gallery Fabrics
White Flannel
Aurifil 50 wt. #2024 (white) #2415 (pink)
Large Square Squared ruler / Deb Tucker / Studio 180
Size: 60.75" x 72.5"
July 2019

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Disappearing 9 Patch ... Diagonal Cut Tutorial

Ever wonder what to do with a fat eighth?  Here is one great simple block - it's a disappearing 9 patch - cut on the diagonal and reassembled.
For this quilt I used all Cotton + Steel fat eighths.  A fat eighth is 9" x 21" - but not all fabric cuts are totally accurate.  Some of my pieces were just shy of 9" deep, so I cut my squares for this 9-patch:  4 1/4" x 4 1/4". 
Pull out 9 squares that make a variety in both color and dark/light.  Sew into a 9 patch, 3 across by 3 down.
Now cut this whole unit from corner to corner on the diagonal.  You will end up with 4 pieces.  Put these into a pile and start the whole process over again.    
Now comes the fun part.  Take two random triangles and position them so that the two large, uncut squares are opposite each other.
Don't try and be all matchy matchy or overthink this.  There is so much pattern that trying to 'figure out what looks best' is not really possible.  
Put your pairs all together and have fun sewing them together.  Now its TIME TO TRIM!
My blocks were a little shy of an 8"x 8" -  so I just grabbed my 7.5" square ruler and trimmed everything to 7.5" x 7.5". 
Yes, a little waste with the trimming but I really didn't want to chase after an extra half inch or so and following the template made perfect blocks and kept this project relaxing and fun. 
Now the important part - layout is key.  There are two whole squares in the middle of your block, and above them are two small triangles (dark pink and stripped in the pix above).
The goal is to have the 'little triangles' meet whenever you can during the layout phase.  Why do it this way?   I think it's easier to find the little triangles as a repeating pattern on an already busy looking block.  The pix above shows how easy it is to find the four little triangles to match up. 

Not every side of your blocks will have little triangles to match.  But if you do it this way -  lots of secondary diamond shapes appear throughout your quilt ... all created by the various sized triangles lining up.  
To layout on point - here is a video from the Fat Quarter Shop for visual instruction.  There is also a link for a downloadable cutting & measurement chart. I would recommend using Kimberly's suggested cutting sizes and even going a half inch larger for the corner triangles - this will allow lots of wiggle room for squaring up.
Notes:  one 9-patch made with 4.25" squares yields 4 'triangles' (or 2 blocks).  Each block is trimmed to 7.5" x 7.5"   This quilt has 25 Cotton + Steel blocks.  Following the Fat Quarter downloadable chart, the rest is Kona white with a 3" border on every side. 
The back is a rainbow of left over minkys and here is my post on how to do that.  
I press my seams open so quilting was done with a walking foot on either side of the seams - and through the larger squares that didn't have seams.  Because of the minky back I did a generous 3.30 straight stitch length and used Aurifil 50wt. #2000.  
Two links to earlier quilts made with this block, not on point but a little easier Row by Row: here and here.  I hope that this variation of the disappearing 9 patch becomes as fun for you as it is for me.  

Cotton + Steel - Fat 8's
Kona white
Warm & White batting
Scrap minky
Aurifil 50wt. #2000
Size: 45.5" X 45.5"
May 2019