Monday, April 22, 2019

Tricia's Favorite Block Tutorial -- Block 2 COURTHOUSE STEPS

Hah!  Bet you saw this one coming!

As I mentioned in my previous post, basic Log Cabin blocks are some of the easiest to construct.  We are going to make the Courthouse Steps block which is a variation of the Log Cabin.

This block probably makes you think about pioneers and log cabins (like Little House on the Prairie and such) and you would be half-right -- Karen Giska in her AQS article  "Log Cabin Blocks:  A Short History" wrote that the blocks became popular in the U.S. in the 1860's and the name may have been inspired by Abraham Lincoln!

But, did you know that the Log Cabin design has been found on Egyptian mummies and on a pre-1830's English quilt???

To read more, go to Karen Giska's article HERE.

So, let's get started!

Here's what you need:

1 A center square 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" (historically centers were black, red, or yellow)

2 B strips -- 2 1/2" x 4 1/2"

2 C strips -- 2 1/2" x 8 1/2"

2 D strips -- 2 1/2" x 8 1/2"

2 E strips -- 2 1/2" x 12 1/2"

Please refer to the diagram.

Sew the B strips to the sides of the A square.

Sew the C strips to the top and bottom of the unit.

Sew the D strips to the sides of the unit.

Sew the E strips to the top and bottom.


Here is a very simple quilt design that gives the Courthouse Steps blocks a super modern feel.  This design features 20 blocks (4 across by 5 down) with a 4" finished border.  The quilt would measure 56" x 68" for a nice-sized throw quilt.

So what are you waiting for?  Time to get started on your Courthouse Steps quilt.

In case you missed Block 1 -- Shoo Fly, click HERE to go back.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Mini World Take 2

Well, my quilt group/class met for the second time and I am happy to say that everyone survived making those tiny strippy quilts from last month!  Whew!

Here are some of their projects.  You'll notice the quilts ended up being different sizes.  That had a lot to do with individual cutting and piecing.

Aren't they just adorable?  I especially like the one on the far right.  She was afraid that she did it wrong but her mistake ended up in a cute variation!

This month we are going to try our hands at mini log cabin blocks.   Who doesn't LOVE a log cabin block, anyway?  Basic log cabin blocks are considered to be a beginner block so making one that finishes at 4" should be a breeze, right?

I will actually be talking about 4 different methods for making tiny Log Cabin blocks:

1)  Paper piecing

2)  Piecing on a fabric foundation

3)  Folded Log Cabin

4) Traditional piecing

Which ones have you tried?

Did you miss my first Mini World post?  Go HERE.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Tricia's Favorite Quilt Block Tutorial -- Block 1 SHOO FLY

What's your favorite quilt block?

I have quite a few favorite blocks, actually.  Maybe you do too.

Most of the blocks that I am a fan of are quick and easy to make.  I really love quick and easy because then I can spend more time playing with my fabric.

I thought it would be fun to show you some of my favorite blocks and how to make them along with a few ideas on using them in your projects.  AND I will turn my favorite blocks into a SAMPLER QUILT so hold on to your blocks until the end of the series for a fun Sampler Quilt setting.

 I LOVE the Shoo Fly block.  

When I was a new quilter, I cut out bunches of squares and triangles and hand-pieced them, eventually having enough to make a twin-sized quilt.  To be honest, the quilt didn't turn out very well because I didn't know then what I know now about quilting, but the important thing was that it got me excited to make MORE QUILTS.

According to the website Quilting in America, the block was "named after a wild plant with domed flowers called clover broom or shoo-fly, this 9-patch block originated around 1850 and became popular in the late 1800s."  For more history of the Shoofly block, visit Quilting in America.

Let's make a 12" finished Shoo Fly block!

What you need:

Medium/Dark fabric -- 2 squares 4 7/8" x 4 7/8" and 1 square 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" 

Light Fabric -- 2 squares 4 7/8" x 4 7/8" and 4 squares 4 1/2" x 4 1/2"

Here's what you do:

1.  Layer a 4 7/8" medium/dark square right sides together with a light 4 7/8" square.  Draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner diagonally.

2.  Sew 1/4" away from both sides of the drawn line.

3.  Cut apart on the line.   Voila!  You have 2 half square triangle blocks (HSTs).

4.  Repeat steps 1-3 to make a total of 4 HSTs.

Now here's the easy part -- the Shoo Fly block is simply a 9 Patch block in disguise!  Tehehehe!

5.  Sew a light 4 1/2" square between 2 HSTs as shown.  Make 2 rows.


7.  Sew the row from step 6 between the rows from step 5, flipping the unit on the bottom to make a Shoo Fly block.

And there you have it -- one 12 1/2" Shoo Fly Block!  Yay!  Go you!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Villa Rosa -- My Quilt Designs are Popping Up All Over!

You may already know that I've been designing easy and fun (and usually precut-friendly) quilt designs for Villa Rosa Designs for over a year now.

I met Pat, the owner of Villa Rosa, completely by happenstance at my very first International Quilt Market in 2010.  We hit it off and got to know each other through the years at Quilt Markets we both attended.  Then in 2017, things were ready for me to begin designing quilts for Villa Rosa.

Are you familiar with the Villa Rosa Rose Cards?  I was so impressed with the postcard-sized patterns when I first saw them in 2010 -- I knew then that I wanted to be part of Villa Rosa.

What makes a Rose Card so special?

A Rose card is the size of a post-card with a beautiful full-color photo of the project on the front and simple easy-to-follow instructions to make the project on the back.  That's it.  ONE POSTCARD.

Fast-forward to today....

I currently have 14 Rose Card patterns available and I have several more in the works right now.

Here are my Rose Cards (go HERE to shop my Rose Cards):



If you're a shop owner, you love Rose Cards because:

1)  they are small and easy to display, particularly near registers and check out counters
2)  they are perfect for kitting up with your own fabric in your shop
3)  the projects are fast and easy (and usually precut-friendly) so they are great for new quilters and experienced quilters alike
4)  the retail price is inexpensive
5)  they make great class projects because students do not have to buy expensive books in addition to all of their supplies
6)  most of the patterns utilize precuts and quilters LOVE precuts!

If you're a quilter, you love Rose Cards because:

1)  Rose Cards are like candy, you can't choose just one
2)  Rose Cards are inexpensive
3)  they are small and take up very little space in your sewing room
4)  there are Rose Card designs to fit any style from modern to traditional
5)  there are a lot of different types of projects to choose from -- table runners, baby quilts, throws, and more
6)  they are mostly geared for beginning quilters, yet the designs appeal to quilters of all skill levels and interests
7)  they are perfect for charity quilts
8)  most of the Rose Cards use precuts, but you can easily use your own stash or scraps, too
9)  they make great little gifts for your quilting friends or yourself

Rose Cards are now available wholesale to quilt shops through Checker Distributor and EE Schenck or through Villa Rosa Wholesale.

Quilters, you can find Rose Cards at your local quilt shop or  here on the Villa Rosa website.

Monday, March 25, 2019

An Update on My Studio Makeover Project

Well, I am stalled right now on my studio overhaul.  Sigh.....

You know when you ask someone to help you and then he/she gets busy and doesn't have time to help you?  AND the project is half-done and you don't know how to finish it yourself?

Well, that is where I find myself right now.

I have actually purged a lot of stuff out of my studio.  Of course, now that I've put stuff in plastic baskets in anticipation of have storage cubes, there's no place to put the basket right now.

Regardless of that dilemma, my studio looks like a different place, still disorganized, but neater and less cluttered.

Here's some update photos for you.


Granted, I still have a long ways to go before I can consider myself organized, but I'm at least on the yellow brick road now.

I was so energetic about this project last month, but my father got too busy to even think about my new electrical outlet and wooden post.  I even ordered my storage cube units for the base of my new sewing table.

Once I have the electricity in then I can  build my new sewing table.  It will actually have a 4' x 6' surface as well as 24 cubes underneath.  There may even be a space for some large and bulky items too -- I won't know until I start putting the cube units together. 

But pretty much everything has come to halt.  For now.

Monday, March 18, 2019

It's a Mini World!

Have you noticed that Mini Quilts are HOT???

It's interesting to me how trends come and go in the quilting world.  I can remember when I first started quilting in the 1990's that Mini Quilts were IN at that time.  Then interest in them waned.  Now they're back!

Why Mini Quilts?

1.  They don't use very much fabric, especially when fabric prices keep rising.
2.  They are smaller and most likely won't take as much time as a full-sized quilt.
3.  They don't take up much storage space.

I teach a yearly quilt class at my local quilt shop.  We meet once monthly and each year we have a different project.  Often, my co-teacher Mary Lee and I design our own sample project, but sometimes we use someone else's pattern or book.

SHHHH!  Don't tell anyone, but  our "class" isn't really a class -- it's a sewing group in disguise.  Some might even say a therapy group.  LOL!

This year we are tackling Pam Buda's new book, Vintage Patchwork.

I met Pam at Fall Quilt Market when I went to one of her book signings.  Her enthusiasm for Minis came through with each quilt she showed.  I knew right then and there that I wanted to make the mini quilt projects in her book.  Then I had a brilliant idea -- why don't we do this for our 2019 Saturday Class/Group?

The group was pretty skeptical at first.  Some were downright appalled (snicker....). 

But I didn't give up and YAY!  We are going to make almost all of the projects in Pam's book this year.

We just had our first meeting. They were still skeptical.

Our first project was Pride and Prejudice.

(Photo from the book)

I showed them my samples, which by the way are far from perfect.  But I find their quirkiness appealing and cute.   I am planning to proudly display a grouping of my mini treasures on a blank wall in the living room.

The class was willing to give it a go, even though they were still dubious.  I showed them three different ways to sew the tiny pieces together and we even checked our 1/4" seam allowances.

1.  Cut out all the 1" x 1" squares and sew them RST together into pairs.  Then the pairs into 4 patches and so on.  This method yields the scrappiest project.

2.  Cut 1" squares of assorted mediums/dark and cut 1" wide strips of your background/light fabric.  Sew a square RST to the light strip.  Stop then place another square, sew that square, then stop.  And so on.  After all the medium/dark squares are sewn to the light strip, then use the 1" squares to cut the
light fabric and you have pairs of squares.  You can get a scrappy look but the background will be the same with this method.

3.  Cut a medium/dark 1" strip and a light 1" strip.  Layer them RST and sew them together.  Then cut 1" segments .  Open pairs and press.  Not very scrappy at all, but you could use smaller medium/dark strips so there is a little variety.

Everyone started cutting and many of them even began sewing and making itty bitty blocks.

The next day, 2 of the class members sent me a picture of their almost-finished minis and I know a third member finished her top as well!  Wow! 

Hmmmmm.  Maybe making Minis won't be as painful as they thought it would be.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Swap Shop and the Intriguing Japanese Trinket Box

Do you know what a Swap Shop is?  One just opened in town.  It's called Tom's Swap Shop.  Everyone is thrilled because it now inhabits a previously-empty retail space in our little town.

The grand opening was this past Saturday so I stopped after work.  Things were winding down (DANG, the food was already put away) but it was fun to look around.

This Swap Shop is kind of what I would call a combination indoor flea market/antique mall.  There were several different booths that I am guessing belong to different vendors as each space was organized and/or decorated differently.  I saw everything from Amish baked goods to old trains and tin toys and vintage furniture. There is a guy who deals in ball cards.  I even saw one quilt, too bad it really wasn’t anything worth noting.

When I first walked in the door, I spotted an adorable little trinket box on the top shelf of the first set of display shelves.  I checked it out right away, then set it back down to continue browsing all of the interesting items, but I couldn’t get that little box out of my head.  So, before I left, I happily bought that little box for $9.

You can probably see why I was intrigued by it.  All of the designs were quilts designs!  And I loved the hints of blue.  Of course I had to buy it.  You would have bought it if I hadn't seen it first, admit it.

It was not perfect, mind you.  There was some wear and chipping along the edges.  One of the front handles was damaged.  But you know what, I really didn’t care because it spoke to me.  Have you ever had that happen?

What I really love is how the little doors open to reveal 2 more drawers with a beautiful Asian maritime scene.  I have never seen anything like this.

Here are some more pictures of this little trinket box, or maybe I should call it a chest?

I did a little research when I got home -- what a treasure hunt!

This intriguing little chest is actually a Japanese piece called Hakone Yogesi Zaiku. Yogesi is the art of creating the marquetry.  Then the thin sheets of marquetry are used to decorate items such as jewelry boxes and puzzle boxes.  This decorative style became popular in the late Edo period in Japan (1603-1868).

I love that my cute little trinket chest has such an interesting history to go along with its unique look!

Here is a great YouTube video explaining how Yogesi is made:

Who knows?  This sweet little piece might just insire my next quilting project.