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simple sampler

Simple Sampler Quilt: Criss Cross

Today's block is the Criss Cross, an absolutely gorgeous block when set on a strait layout or on point.  Although it might look impressive, it's pretty simple to piece together.  It will also be an introduction to blocks that incorporate half-square triangles.  

The Criss Cross has become on of my favorite blocks, and although I haven't done much with it yet I have plans to make a full sized quilt out of blocks set on point.  My first plan was to do the quilt in red and white, but lately I've been thinking yellow would be nice too.  I'll have to keep you updated on that if I get other projects done first.  

Speaking of other projects, I tallied my WIPs the other day and I have 22!  Not too bad I guess, but I also have several baby quilts that need to be started and finished within the next couple of weeks.  After last weekend's Quilt-A-Fair in Longmont, I now have plenty of fabric to start sewing more WIPS.

I went a bit crazy at this years Quilt-A-Fair  but it was my birthday and stashes can never be too big.  I bought a new ruler, a jelly roll of Jelly Bean fabrics by Laundry Day Fabrics for Moda, a layer cake of 30's Playtime Favorites by Chloe's Closet for Moda, 6 yards of different prints, 6 1/8 yard bundles, and 83 fat quarters for the grand total of (drum roll please) $108!

A lot of the fat quarters that I chose are reminiscent of civil war fabrics, perfect for an EPP project I've been working on.  But most of the fabrics I bought simply because they were pretty and only made plans for them once I got home and actually looked at them.  But enough of my bragging, let's get back to the Criss Cross block.

Before we jump into the instructions for the block, I will say that it does require a little more attention to accurate piecing than some other blocks in order for the point to come out clean. While piecing the fabrics, don't feel discouraged or  disappointed if you need to rip some seams and resew a seam.  Practice makes perfect is a rule that we all follow .

To make the Criss Cross block you will need the following:

  • cutting mat
  • rotary cutter
  • quilting ruler
  • sewing machine and thread
  • strait pins
  • fabric bundle (I chose Persimmon by BasicGrey for Moda)
  • Iron and ironing board
 

STEP 1

To start, select two fabrics from your stash. To make the design pop, select fabrics that highly contrast one another. Cut the following pieces:

Blue Fabric:

  • five  2-1/4 x 5-3/4" rectangles
  • six 2-1/4 x 2-1/4" squares

White Fabric:

  • four 2-1/4 x 2-1/4" squares 
  • four 2-1/4 x 2-1/4" triangles
  • eight 2-1/2 x 2-1/2" squares 

The eight white 2-1/2 x 2-1/2" squares will have to be cut in half to create the triangles that form the edge of the block.  

To do this, simply line your ruler up with two points of the square and cute a strait line. Try to make the cut right on the corners and keep the sides of the triangle 2-1/4" in length. I've used a different fabric in the example on the left so you can better see how to line up your ruler and fabric.

STEP 2

Once all of the eight triangles are cut, lay out the fabric pieces according to the picture.  

I always lay out the fabrics in the pattern of the block.  It is time consuming, but this gives you a preview of what the finished block will look like and allows you to make changes and adjustments to the arrangement of the block.

STEP 3

To star piecing the block, begin by sewing together the three blocks on either side of the center blue rectangle.  Press the seams open.

The pieced squares should be 5-3/4" long, the same length as the blue rectangle.

IMG_4257.JPG

STEP 4

Sew together the square strips and the blue rectangle.  Take care to line up the ends of the fabric so that they are even and strait when the seams are pressed open.

Press the right side of the fabric and make the fabric lay as flat as possible.  The square should measure 5-3/4 x 5-3/4"

STEP 5

Next we'll start piecing the corners of the block.  Line up the 45° angle of the white triangles with the bottom corners of the blue square and sew together.  

When the seams are pressed open, there should be small dog ears that overlap the edge of the blue square.  Trim these off to make a clean seam.

Repeat this process for all four corners.

STEP 6

Now sew on the triangles that will create the actual corners of the blocks.  Line up the long side of the triangle (the side that creates the 45° angles) with the short edge of the blue square strip and sew together.  

Press the seams away from the center of the block.  Press the right side of the fabric and make the fabric lay as flat as possible.

STEP 7

There should still be four unsewn blue rectangles and four unsewn white triangles remaining.  

Sew together the blue rectangles and corner pieces. The 45° angle corners of the blue square strips will overlap the edges of the blue rectangle.  Make sure they overlap evenly before sewing together. Press open the seams.

Choose two opposing corners of the block to sew on the remaining four white triangles.  In the picture they are the upper right and lower left corners.  Line up the 45° angle of the white triangles with the bottom corners of the blue rectangles and sew together.  

When the seams are pressed open, there should be small dog ears that overlap the edge of the blue square.  Press the right side of the fabric and make the fabric lay as flat as possible.

STEP 8

Now we will begin assembling the corners and center of the block together.  Set aside the two corners that you pieced in Step 7.  

One at a time sew the remaining two corner pieces to the center square you created in Step 4.  Press the seams open.  

Use your ruler to check the sizes of the squares.  They should each measure 1-3/4" wide.  If they do not, double check the size of your seam allowance and sew then again if necessary.

Press the right side of the fabric and make the fabric lay as flat as possible.

STEP 9

Now sew on the two corner pieces you created in Step 7.  Line up the long side of the corner pieces with the edge of the center of the block.  The corners of the white triangles should overlap the edge of the other fabric.  Make sure the corners overlap evenly before sewing.  

When the seams are pressed open, there should be small dog ears that overlap the edge of the blue square.  Press the right side of the fabric and make the fabric lay as flat as possible.  Use your ruler to trim off all of the dog ears.

The finished block should measure 10-1/4 x 10-1/4"

Just to give you an idea, here's what the block would look like when set on point.  Sometimes a simple alteration can really alter the look of a block.  Imagine the possibilities when you start to add sashing and sashing elements like stars or squares, or if instead of contrasting colors you used related colors such as pink and red.  

I hope you like this block as much as I do, I'm thinking about creating another tutorial for creating this block en mass, so I'll let you know if that's going to be a project I'm going to under anytime soon.

Join me next week as we continue our journey through the Simple Sampler Quilt!  

Happy Quilting!     - Rita

Simple Sampler Quilt: the Log Cabin and Log Cabin Variation

Day two of the Simple Sampler Quilt block release, I'm here to show you how to create a traditional Log Cabin block and a variation of the Log Cabin block.  Log Cabin patterns are a staple of traditional quilt blocks and are some of the most recognizable patterns.  They have a long history in quilting, dating back to the 1700's

Log Cabin blocks are easy to create despite the number of pieces of fabric used to create them.  The trick to creating seemingly complicated blocks is knowing the order in which they are pieced together.  Knowing this simple trick can open the doors to appreciating the creation of intricate quilt designs and allow you to reproduce quilts you've seen and alter designs by creating your own patterns.  

Today I'll walk you through how to create a traditional Log Cabin and a variation of the Log Cabin block.  There are a variety of ways that Log Cabin blocks can be altered by the sizes of strips,  adding squares (like in today's variation), or strategic placement of colors or prints.

The materials and tools needed for today's blocks include:

  • cutting mat
  • rotary cutter
  • quilting ruler
  • sewing machine and thread
  • strait pins
  • fabric bundle (I chose Persimmon by BasicGrey for Moda)
  • Iron and ironing board

LOG CABIN

Once all of the strips and the square are cut out, lay them out according to the picture above.  Smallest strips in the center, spiraling outward according to length.

STEP 1

Select three different fabrics from your bundle, and cut 1-1/2" wide strips to the following lengths. You need one strip of each length listed:

Floral Print:

2-1/2, 3-1/2, 4-1/2, 5-1/2, 6-1/2, 7-1/2, 8-1/2, 9-1/2"

Blue Print:

3-1/2, 4-1/2, 5-1/2, 6-1/2, 7-1/2, 8-1/2, 9-1/2, 10-1/2"

Red Square:

2-1/2 x 2-1/2"

STEP 2

This block is pieced in in clock-wise direction.  Start by piecing the 2-1/2" square and 2-1/2" strip together, then the the 3-1/2" strip.

 

STEP 3

When the first two floral strips are pieced on, piece the first two blue strips starting with the 3-1/2" strip.

STEP 4

Remember to press open every seam every time you sew on a new strip.  Open seams on this block will create flat seams and a more attractive block.

If seams don't lie flat immediately, don't worry and don't risk burning the fabric by keeping the iron in one place for too long.

You can always press and repress seams as you build and add strips onto the block.  

STEP 5

Continue to add strips as they are laid out in a clockwise direction.  The new strip you are going to sew on should be as long as the existing block .  The final strip you sew on should be the dark blue strip that is 10-1/2" long.

STEP 6

Once the block is completed, it should measure approximately 10-1/2 x 10-1/2".  Press all seams and the right side of the block a final time to ensure the block lies flat.

Log cabin blocks are a foundation of traditional quilting and can be manipulated in a variety of ways to create different and distinct looks.  Color choice, print choice, and the size of strips used can all alter the look of a log cabin quilt and create patterns out of individual blocks, chevrons, stripes, and plus symbols.


LOG CABIN VARIATION 

STEP 1

To create this variation of the Log Cabin block, you will need to select two or three fabrics, and cut strips and squares according to the following dimensions:

Black Print:

  • four 2 x 7-1/2" strips

White Print:

  • four 2 x 4-1/2" strips 

Green Print:

  • one 4 x 4" square
  • eight 2 x 2" squares

 

If you choose to select only two fabrics rather than three, simply use it to replace the light, diamond patterned fabric shown in the picture.

Using two fabrics will change the look of the block and will place a visual emphasis on the squares.

STEP 2

When all of your strips and squares are cut out, lay them out according to the picture on the right.  Don't worry if the strips don't seem to line up perfectly with the inner layers of block.  Remember that these pieces of fabric are larger than they will be once they are sewn.  Seam allowance adds half an inch to unsewn material.  

Remember that all seams are pressed open.

STEP 3

To start piecing the block, begin from the inside.

  •  Sew one white strip to the 4 x 4" square.
  • Attack one 2 x 2" green square to one white strip on the top and bottom of the 4 x 4" square.
  • Attach two 2 x 2" green squares to the remaining white strip.

STEP 4

Use strait pins to line up seams between the green squares and white strips.  This will help to ensure clean corners when you begin to piece the white strips onto the 4 x 4" square.

First piece the white strips on the top and bottom of the 4 x 4" green square .  Then piece the white strip attached to the two 2 x 2"squares.  Make sure that the inner corners of the small squares line up with the corners of the 4 x 4" square.

STEP 5

Repeat the same order of piecing that you followed in Step 4.

  •  Piece one black strip to the inner square.
  • Piece one 2 x 2" square to one black strip on the top and bottom of the inner square. (sorry it's rearranged in the picture)
  • Piece the remaining 2 x 2" green squares onto the last black strip.

STEP 6

Remember to use strait pins to line up seams between the green squares and black strips when piecing them onto the inner block.

  • Piece the white strips on the top and bottom of the 4 x 4" green square .
  • Piecethe white strip attached to the two 2 x 2"squares.  Make sure that the inner corners of the small squares line up with the corners of the 4 x 4" square.

The finished block measure approximately 10-1/2 x 10-1/2"

Remember to press open all seams, and press the right side of the fabric one final time to ensure a flat block.


Four blocks down, 47 more to go!  I'm so excited about this project even though going to be a long one.  Stick with me for complete instructions on block creation, or feel free to choose a single block to create a quilt top.  That's one of the great things about quilting: there are endless variations and possibilities for creative outlet and design.  

If you're new to quilting or are interested in starting, comment below and let me know what you want to learn or how I can improve anything. 

Also, sorry for the late release.  With two small kiddos sometimes things get busy and have a higher priority over blog posts. Anyway, join me next next week for the Criss Cross block!

Happy Quilting!     - Rita

Simple Sampler Quilt: the Step Ladder & Rail Fence

Alrighty, day one of the Simple Sample Quilt block release is here!  As promised last week I have tutorials on the first four blocks of the series ready for you, but I'm breaking them up. Today I have the first two: the Step Ladder and Rail Fence blocks.  Thursday I'll post the other three, I didn't want this post to be over whelming with four separate tutorials.  I think I might split up Thursday's posts too, but that depends on how long the tutorials will be.

For all of the 4 blocks, you are going to need the following materials and tools:

  • cutting mat
  • rotary cutter
  • quilting ruler
  • sewing machine and thread
  • fabric bundle (I chose Persimmon by BasicGrey for Moda)
  • Iron and ironing board

So grab everything you need and let's get sewing!

 
 

Before jumping in there is some basic preparation that should be done prior to cutting your fabrics. Washing and ironing your fabrics before quilting will help prevent your fabrics from shrinking or bleeding, and will help ensure more accurate cutting is the fabric lies flat on the cutting mat.

I would also suggest that you look through the different blocks and compare them to the types of fabrics you have. Decide on which fabrics you have will work the best with the blocks. Sometimes fabric choice can make or break the look of a block so be sure to keep in mind how tight a print is and how colors might contrast one another. Select those fabrics and set the rest of your bundle aside.

Make sure to look through and read the instructions first before you start. Being familiar with the instructions and knowing what steps are next will help you to prevent making mistakes and wasting fabric.  

The Step Ladder and Rail Fence blocks are simple and require strait cutting and strait sewing. That's it.  Remember that seams should measure 1/4", about the width of the sewing machine needle and the edge of the sewing machine foot.   



STEP LADDER

STEP 1

Choose two contrasting fabrics and cut one strip from each, 3-3/4" wide.

Of the blue fabric cut

  • one 3-3/4" square
  • one 6-3/4" rectangle

Of the orange fabric cut

  • one 3-3/4" square
  • one 6-3/4" rectangle
  • one 10-1/2" rectangle 

STEP 2

Sew together the 3-3/4" squares and 6-3/4" rectangles together and press the seams open.To do that, open the small amount of fabric on the wrong side of the seam and press the pieces away from each other.  Then flip the fabric over and press the right side of the fabric as well.  Pressing both sides of the fabric will help ensure flat seams.

 

STEP 3

Sew together the strips, and press open the seams.  Press the right side of the fabric one final time to make sure that the seals lie flat.

The finished block measure approximately 10-1/2" by 10-1/2"

 


RAIL FENCE

Railfence alt.jpg

STEP 1

Choose 2 fabrics of contrasting colors and cut three strips from each along the long side of the fabric, about 17" by 1-3/4".  

Lay out the fabrics like the picture to the left. The fabrics on the top will be known as Strip A, and the fabrics on the bottom will be known as Strip B.

STEP 2

Sew the strips of fabric together lengthwise.  Be sure to press the seams open and flat.  To do that, open the small amount of fabric on the wrong side of the seam and press the pieces away from each other.  Then flip the fabric over and press the right side of the fabric as well.  Pressing both sides of the fabric will help ensure flat seams.

STEP 3

Cut the sewn strips of fabric into 3-3/4" squares.  You will need 5 squares from Strip A for the horizontal corners and center of the block, and 4 squares of Strip B to create the vertical middle squares of the block.  

It's always a good idea to layout your blocks before you start sewing them, especially as a new quilter.  That way you can easily see how blocks should be sewn together.  

 

STEP 4

Sew the blocks together to create three columns.  Instead of pressing the seams open, this time press seams towards the dark fabrics. For the two outer columns, press the seams away from each other.  For the center column, press the seams towards one another.

 

STEP 5

The final step is to sew the columns together. Pin the columns together where the squares intersect so that you have clean corners and accurate piecing.  Press seams towards one another before giving the right side of the fabric for a final time.

The finished block measure approximately 10-1/2" by 10-1/2"

There you have, off to a great start with two blocks under you're belt!  While these blocks are simple to create, they do not have to look simple, especially the Step Ladder.  While the Rail Fence relies on a mix of vertical and horizontal lines to look complicated, the Step Ladder by itself looks simple.  Too Simple.  But when combined with multiple block the layout of the quilt could look like a series of staggered, lines, chevrons, or plus signs.

Don't be put off by simple block creation.  Starting simple is the way to build skill and talent, and those simple blocks cam be thrown together on a while and look quite professional to those around you.

Join me on Thursday for the rest of the first five blocks of the Simple Sampler Quilt, and remember: quilting doesn't have to be complicated to look good!

Happy Quilting!     - Rita

Simple Sampler Quilt

One of the best ways you can learn to quilt is by quilting.  Shocking I know, but it's the truth: practice makes perfect!  When I first started quilting I found myself a bit intimidated by the variety of quilt designs and techniques.  The thought of creating a full sized quilt was overwhelming, and I didn't know where to start.  If you're a new quilter and you feel this way, you're not the first and you're not alone!  

To help you get started I've put together a series of quilt blocks that combine into the Simple Sampler Quilt.  Samplers are quilts made up of a collection of different quilt blocks, and these particular blocks are designed with the beginning quilter in mind.  Here's a sneak peak at some of the blocks I'll be introducing.

Panicking a bit? Don't! These blocks are some of the foundations of traditional quilting and are much more manageable than you might think.  Over the next several weeks I'll be sharing the blocks designed for the Simple Sampler in order of difficulty, starting with the easiest.  Starting simple will help introduce you to the basics of quilting, skills that you will need and use in all of your quilting projects.  Skills like cutting, measuring, and material choice will come hand in hand with practicing each block in the Simple Sampler.

Next week I'm going to release the first four blocks, so be ready!  After that I will release two blocks a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays until you have all 51 block tutorials.  Each block will have its own step-by-step instructions, material requirements, and difficulty rating listed.  I'll also add on some tips and ideas for color and layout variations to help demonstrate the versatility of some of the most simple quilt block designs.  If you want to get started a little early, go ahead and get your fabric supply ready.  You'll need 1 half-yard bundle, 2 half yards of additional material (I chose a solid color and a solid light neutral) for block construction.  I'll talk later about batting and backing fabrics.

I wanted to develop an easy way to introduce new quilters to techniques and patterns and show that quilting doesn't have to be difficult.  Quilt along each week or have a day-long quilting frenzy to finish them up, and at the end of it you will have twin sized quilt!  

Not only will you feel accomplished for starting and finishing a full sized quilt, you'll have a variety of patterns and techniques under your belt, and your friends and family members will be amazed at your skill.  You don't even have to tell them how easy it was!