Monday, January 30, 2012

Star Crossed Block Tutorial

I was super excited to get a package in the mail last week from Betz White, a fellow former Betsy.  Last fall, she introduced her new fabric line, Stitch, for Robert Kaufman, and she sent some along to me to play around with.  I had a lot of fun finding the block I wanted to use, and I'm really happy to share this tutorial with you.  This block has been called many things over the years, dating as far back as 1907, from a Friendship block to a Hearth and Home block, but I think Star Crossed might be a better name for it, so that's what I'm calling it.

For a 10 1/2" block, you'll need:
2 contrasting printed fabrics
1 background fabric

Cutting Instructions
focus fabric:
two 2 1/2" squares
one 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangle

contrast print:
eight 2 1/2" squares
two 4 1/4" squares

four 2 1/2" squares
two 4 1/4" squares

note: all seams are a scant 1/4" unless otherwise noted

Block Assembly
1. First, let's make some HSTs.  Pair up one background 4 1/4" square with a contrast print square, and sew all the way around.  Bring your newly sewn pair of squares over to your cutting mat and make two diagonal cuts as shown below, cutting from corner to corner.

2. Press seams open for your new HSTs and bring them back to the cutting mat.  Using a ruler with a 45 degree angle marking, line up your HST along the center seam and trim to 2 1/2".

3. Lay out your HSTs along with the various 2 1/2" squares as shown below.

4. Sewing in pairs, stitch the squares of each row together, then sew each row together to finish the block.  Press seams open and voila, a finished block!

Star Crossed quilt block tutorial - new on the blog today Star Crossed block #2  

If you make one of these blocks, I sure would love to see it!  You can add it to my Flickr group, Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy!

You can find Betz's awesome Stitch line at Fat Quarter Shop, Sew Mama Sew, as well as, and you'll be seeing more of it as I work on this quilt!  Thank you, Betz, I've really enjoyed playing with your fabric so far!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The worst part is that it was my fault

I was in a serious tizzy yesterday.  I yelled, I stomped my feet, I fully acted like a two year old.  And why?  All because of this:

Let me back up and tell you what happened.  Yesterday morning, after I dropped off my kiddo at preschool, I was all set to start quilting my secret quilt, and I thought to myself, oh I should clean out my machine before I get started.  I diligently took apart my bobbin casing to clean out the machine, using this little eyeshadow brush I've used over the last year.  Yes, it's a makeup brush.  I used it because it fit into all the nooks and crannies nicely, and it worked wonderfully...until yesterday.

The brush broke in half, and the top half of the brush fell into the black abyss inside my machine.  I dug out my tweezers and tried to pry it out, to no avail.  I busted out my vacuum and tried to vacuum it up, with no luck.  Next, I took my machine to my sewing machine dealer, and spent over 30 minutes with their special teeny tiny tweezers, and still couldn't grab the brush, no matter how hard I tried.  They told me I could leave the machine for the repairman, but that he would charge me $80 to open up the machine.  My husband had a conniption and swore he could fix it.

And fix it, he did.  It may have taken a tense 45 minutes, in which I paced and cursed myself for causing all this trouble in the first place, but my husband saved the day and pried that evil thing out of my machine.

The moral of the story?  Never clean a sewing machine with a makeup brush.  From now on, I will strictly use the vacuum to clean out my machine.  Now on with the sewing!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WiP Wednesday: The one with the sniffles

So, you might remember that the cold that keeps on giving is at my house, but I am happy to report that I am the only one who is still suffering from this darned thing.  I'm starting to feel better, but the mornings are still  definitely filled with sniffles and body aches.  I'm just glad the munchkin is well enough to go back to school this morning so I can maybe encourage myself to get up and moving this morning.  I think a trip to Starbucks is officially on my To Do list for the morning.

Niece/nephew birthday gifts
Thanks for all of your suggestions last week for what to make for my nephew - I wound up making a fun car-themed drawstring pouch for him with some cars inside for him, and I think he'll really dig that.  But, in my Sudafed-induced haze, I completely forgot to take a single picture of the darned thing before I shipped it off yesterday, so you'll just have to take my word on its cuteness.

Still going:
For the Love of Solids swap
The swap is alive and kicking, with all the partners sent out and lots of folks posting sketches and fabric selections already.  I fooled around with a simple design that I might try out in this swap, adding in some kind of neutral somewhere, but I'm still debating between whether I make a bag for my partner or a miniquilt.

What do you think, partner?

Secret project
I managed to baste this last night, so I'm hoping to get to some quilting today, if I'm up to it.  I'm hoping that with the right music and the right cup of coffee, I'll be able to plug away at this today.  Speaking of basting, I'd love to hear from you guys - are you spray basters or pin basters?  I've spray basted my last 20 quilts or so, but I have to wonder if perhaps I'd be faster at pin basting than I used to be.  Speed is really the main reason I spray baste...

New this week:
New pillows
I've decided it's time for some new pillows for my house.  I feel the need for something fresh and new in my living room.  I haven't decided what kind of pillow covers I want to make just yet, but I'm hoping to pull some fabrics this weekend and have some fun with them.  Maybe a cathedral windows pillow?  I don't know, we'll see.

I worked with my new iron a little bit last night, which was awfully fun.  If you haven't read about Oliso irons or seen one in action, you would be in for a major surprise when you plugged one in.  These irons have a Smart Lift mechanism where basically the iron is intended to lay on the soleplate, all the time, rather than get stood up on its side.  It has a smart sensor on the handle that lifts the iron off your ironing board when you let go of the handle.  At first, this was kind of awkward, because I'm usually a multi-tasking presser, letting the iron do its pressing for me while I finger press the next block or while I sew another seam, but I actually grew to like this feature as I used the iron more last night.  I've scorched quite a few spots on my ironing board, thanks to my old method of ironing.  More on the iron as I use it some more this week, hopefully.

I hope you've had a better sewing week than I have!  What are you sewing this week?  Write it up and share it over at Lee's WiP Wednesday linky!
Sunday, January 22, 2012

The cold that keeps on giving

Once again, it's quarantine time at my house.  All three of us are sick today, with this dreadful cold that we have been passing back and forth, seemingly, for the last two weeks.  Today, we're all feeling pretty rotten, especially the munchkin.  Is there an expiration date on disinfectant or something???  I swear, I've been disinfecting left and right, and yet, this cold is still kicking all of our butts.  Argh.

So much for a fun weekend of sewing, rather, it's been a weekend of starting some ironing and then going downhill quickly.  On the bright side, I did get to at least unpack and briefly try out my new iron.  I wound up returning the one my husband got me for Christmas because it just felt wrong.  I didn't feel like it had enough heft to press well, and it felt awkward and strange in my hand.  Plus, it didn't get anywhere near as hot as I like and it made several weird noises.  Thankfully, Bed Bath and Beyond has an awesome return policy.  My new iron is an Oliso and after I get up some more energy to use it more, I will dish all about it, I swear.  So far, I can say it sure is pretty :)

Hope you've all had a great weekend!
Friday, January 20, 2012

The list keeps growing...

It's Friday morning, my munchkin's at school, and I am rocking out this morning.  I need good music to get my Mommy chores done...otherwise I lose focus.  I'd much rather be sewing, but the amount of dust I noticed last night on my coffee table tells me that I've been a bit neglectful of the house lately, so my house is filled with the sounds of Adele and Gavin DeGraw this morning.  Somehow, while singing along to my favorite music, I can bust out some serious cleaning, so that's what I am up to this Friday I can sew all weekend long!

Listmaking on a Friday morning

What about you?  Any big sewing plans this weekend?  TGIF!  :)
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WiP Wednesday: The one with me on a soapbox...

Wow, I got so distracted reading about the whole SOPA and PIPA business going on that I almost forgot about WiP Wednesday.  Before I get into my WIPs, I want to tell you what I learned this morning, in case this is all news to you...

If you're interested in why the Google logo has black tape over it today, there is a big virtual strike going on with some of the interwebs' biggest players, like Google, WordPress and Wikipedia.  They argue that these bills will restrict how websites operate, and what you can share via social media.  Wikipedia, for instance, is offline today, and WordPress is suggesting that bloggers go dark today as well.  Here's a list of companies against this new legislation.  There are lots of ways this can impact bloggers, which is naturally what concerns me most.  If you're interested in reading more, I suggest you start here or here.

Off my soapbox now, I promise :)

So, here's what I've got going in my sewing room today...

Finished up:
All January bee blocks - yay!

Weathervane block tutorial - done!


Pouches for my mom and niece - stay tuned for more about these little guys tomorrow or Friday

Two birthday pouches

New this week:
A new secret project - I've got some lovely Art Gallery fabrics I'm working with on a new secret project.  I wish I could show you more, but I can tell you that these lovelies have a magnificient hand to them - so silky soft!

A new secret projects

Birthday gift for my nephew - My nephew turns two in a few weeks, and I'm trying to think up something I can make for far, I'm a bit stumped - and taking suggestions!!!

What are you working on this week?  Write it up and share it over at Lee's WiP Wednesday linky.  It's a great way to encourage each other to finish projects and celebrate finishes.  Have a great day!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January Bee Blocks

Phew, I'm glad to have my January bee blocks behind me now!  Between the deadline for the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee and all of my other bees, there were a boatload of blocks to be made this month!  Definitely some gorgeous blocks in the mix this month.

I finished up Bree's fun polaroid block for String Me Along, using various photo-like scraps from my stash, including Mendocino,  Ruby Star Rising, It's a Hoot, Little Apples, and Peacock Lane.  I really adore this block, it is so cute!  Can't wait to see how the other blocks in the group turn out!

Polaroid block for Bree

For Cherie in the {Sew} Beautiful bee, I made a Carpenter's Star, using Cherie's tutorial.  The tutorial is really easy to follow, I definitely recommend it!  I really adore this block, I will definitely be saving the tutorial somewhere safe!

{Sew} Beautiful January block for Cherie

For Lynne in the Stash Trad bee, she asked for her eponymous block, the LynneBobSquarePants block, using Kona Charcoal for the background and brights for the prints.  This was my second go-round with Lynne's block, and I apparently read the directions better this time because the block came together much more easily, yay!

Stash Trad block for Lynne
And finally, for the 4x5 bee this quarter, I made weathervane blocks for everyone, and put together a simple tutorial for the block as well.  It was a really fun block to work on and experiment with fabric choices on!

4x5 blocks for Hive 12 - Q1

In other news, my Summer Sampler Plus quilt was featured on the Modern Quilt Guild's 100 Days of Modern Quilting yesterday, which was pretty exciting.  Definitely an honor to be featured over there!

Hope you're having a great week so far.  Happy Tuesday everyone :)

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story today, hop on over there to see some other fun sewing projects!

Fresh Poppy Design
Sunday, January 15, 2012

Starting 2012 off with a clean sewing space

It's a new year, and at my house, that means cleaning and re-organizing...or as my mom used to call it "mad moving."  I inherited the "mad mover" gene from my dad, where I all of a sudden feel a need to have things spic-and-span, and in the mad dash to put things away, I often put things in odd places.  I had a big mad mover rush in my sewing room on New Year's Day but I'm pleased to report that the only thing that got "lost" in the cleaning was my sketchbook, which I have just found.  Yay!

This morning, you'll find my sewing space featured on Lawson and Lotti's blog, as a part of her Sunday Sewing Spaces feature.  Pop on over and peer into my sewing space!

Lawson and Lotti
Friday, January 13, 2012

Weathervane Block Tutorial

I seem to be going through a bit of a weathervane block kick at the moment.  I first used the classic block for my Fat Quarterly Aurifil challenge miniquilt.  It was an easy block to put together and I really enjoyed stitching it up...

Fat Quarterly Aurifil Challenge - My Results

So I stitched up five more blocks, for the gals in my hive for the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee!  I played around a little bit with fabric placement on these variations, which will give you some alternative ideas for putting this block together.

4x5 blocks for Hive 12 - Q1

Weathervane Block Tutorial
final block size: 12.5", finishes at 12" in a quilt
all seams are a scant 1/4", unless otherwise noted

You'll need:
5 different printed or solid fabrics plus one neutral fabric

2.5” squares2.5” x 4.5”4.25” square4.5” squares
Fabric A - Yellow4
Fabric B - Light magenta4
Fabric C - Medium Purple1
Fabric D - Dark Purple4
Fabric E - Blue42


1. Cut all of your fabric as shown in the chart above.

2.  Begin by pairing up your 4.5" center square with one of the 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles of Fabric A.  Right sides together, seam one rectangle to the top of your square, then another to the bottom of your square.  Press seams open.


3. Match a 2.5" square of Fabric B on both ends of another 2.5" x 4.5" rectangle of Fabric A.  Repeat with the remaining 2.5" x 4.5" rectangle.

4. Next, take your pieced strips and add to the right and left sides of your pieced center square (or as shown below to the top and bottom).  Press seams open.

Piecing the outer ring

6. Next, let's make the outer ring for the block.  We'll first be making some flying geese, followed by some HSTs.  To make the flying geese, trace a line across the diagonal of all of your neutral squares, then place one at a time on the 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles from Fabric E, as shown below.


Stitch just a few threads to the right of your line, just slightly closer to the corner.  Repeat for all four 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles.


Fold back your neutral fabric to line up with the corner of your printed fabric.  Press well.  Trim excess seam allowance down to 1/4".


Using the remaining four neutral squares, line up raw edges and ensure that your diagonal line makes a triangle when it intersects with the existing neutral square/triangle.  Stitch just a few threads closer to the corner again, fold back, press, and trim excess seam allowance.

Flying Geese step3

7. Next, gather your 4.25" squares of blue and your neutral.  Right sides together, stitch all the way around the squares using a scant 1/4" seam.  Cut diagonally across your square twice, to create 4 HSTs.  Finger press seams open, the finish pressing with your iron.


8. Trim each HST down to 2.5" square, lining up the seam at the center of your HST with the 45 degree mark on your rotary ruler.

Trimming HSTs to 2.5"

9. Lay our your remaining pieces as shown below and seam together to complete block.  Press seams open as you go.


Ta da!  A finished weathervane block!


As always, I would love to see your blocks in my Flickr group, Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy.  I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that you have a fantastic weekend :)  
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WiP Wednesday: The one with lots of bee blocks

I know I sound like a broken record, but seriously, how is it Wednesday again already?  I guess it has been a bit of a busy week, both sewing-wise and real-life wise, with a sick kiddo, a trip to the circus, and lots of  planning for the new year.  I'm still fouling up the year on everything I write the date on, but I'm excited to see what this new year will bring.  Let's see how my projects are coming along, shall we?

Finished this week:
Photo Corners pattern - Thanks for ll the fabulous support and enthusiasm about my newest pattern!  You guys are the best :)

Photo Corners quilt - full shot #2

Sew Beautiful block for Cherie, using her awesome Carpenter's Star tute - ready to send!

Camera strap for my new camera - Finished and putting to good use!

My new camera strap

4x5 Weathervane blocks - and I'm working on finishing up a block tutorial to share with you all on Friday for this block!

Stash Trad block - all ready to send off to Lynne!

Still working on:
String Me Along block - Bree asked for a Polaroid-inspired block, using her tutorial, and so far, these little Polaroids are a lot of fun!!

New this week:
Mod Stitches block for Jeni - I just got Jeni's fabric in the mail and am looking forward to stitching up a little block for her!

Birthday pouch for Mom - My mother's birthday is coming up next month, and I'd really like to make a zippy pouch for her.  She has always had a bottomless purse, so I figure a pouch might really come in they're so fun to stitch up!  I definitely want to do some kind of patchwork, but I'm awfully undecided at the moment, so I thought I'd pull a few fabrics that I think she'd like.  She's a bit more traditional than I am, so I pulled these there beauties, which I think will be a fun combination for her (L-R: fabrics from Terrain, DS Quilts Picnic & Fairgrounds, and The Woodlands).

What about you?  What are you stitching up this week?  Hop on over to Freshly Pieced to get your weekly dose of works-in-progress at the WIP Wednesday link-up.  Happy sewing!
Monday, January 9, 2012

Introducing...the Photo Corners quilt pattern

I am super excited to share my newest quilt pattern with you guys this morning.  Introducing...Photo Corners!    It's now available in my pattern shop, right alongside my other two patterns, Fabricland and Xs and Os.

The PDF pattern provides instructions for both a baby size quilt as well as a lap size quilt, perfectly for snuggling under.  The 10-page full-color PDF pattern takes you step-by-step through the complete creation of this quilt and is perfect beginner and advanced quilters alike.  The pattern is both fat-eighth and fat-quarter friendly, and I'm also working on a special fat quarter quilt kit over at Pink Castle Fabrics, so stay tuned for more on that!

Have you ever fallen in love with a print so much that you couldn't bring yourself to cut it up for a quilt?  Then this is the perfect pattern for you!  This pattern is just right for large-scale prints as well as fun novelty prints.  The blocks for this quilt are inspired by the traditional square snowball block and create a fun way to show off some of your favorite prints, much like the photo corners that are so popular with scrapbookers.

This was the first quilt that I've really taken out to shoot with my new camera.  It just happened to be the coldest day we've seen in Florida in a very long time, but I braved the cold to get some good photos since the sun was so fantastic.  Most of these photos were pure luck, because I'm definitely still learning how to use the darned thing!

One of my good blog friends, Dana, tested this pattern for me and used Aneela Hoey's gorgeous upcoming line, A Walk in the Woods.  Unfortunately, her computer is acting up at the moment, but as soon as it is, I'll be sharing her quilt as well!

There's only room for so many quilts in my house, so my Photo Corners quilt is busy getting used to a much colder climate out in Salt Lake City, with my dear friend Amy, who's gearing up for a new quilt-along.  She has a December birthday just like me, and sent me some yummy fabric for my birthday, so naturally, I sent her a quilt to say thank you :)  She took some great photos of the quilt in the snow.

Terrain quilt fr Don't Call Me Betsy! actionshot#3

The Photo Corners PDF quilt pattern includes all of the information you'll need to make this quilt, including color photos and complete piecing diagrams to follow, as well as requirements for batting and binding.  Two finished sizes are available for you to choose form in the pattern, baby size 47" x 51 1/2" and lap size 62" x 71".

Quilt Stats
Name: Photo Corners
Fabrics: Kate Spain's Terrain collection along with Kona Spring Green
Pattern: Photo Corners quilt pattern, by yours truly
Quilting: All-over meandering stipple in hot pink Gutermann thread
Binding: Kate Spain's Aster Stream Bloom print from her Terrain collection for Moda
Size: 62" x 71"

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  This is going to be a fun week on the blog, I'm working on a block tutorial to share with you all on Friday, so stay tuned :)

Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a mood teen boy and a chatty six-year-old girl and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
The Epic Sampler BOM Club kicks off Oct 1st
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