Friday, 14 October 2016

Marti Michell Mini Quilt Mania ~ A Tree Quilt Tutorial

A Pine Tree quilt in an old quilt book* caught my eye when I was looking for inspiration for this project.  I can't say I've noticed too many Pine Tree quilts around, although I did remember seeing this gorgeous Pine Tree block by Amanda from HeyPorkChop. I love Amanda's projects!  I didn't have to look very hard to find loads more Pine Tree quilts online (pop over to my Vintage and Traditional Quilt board on Pinterest to see a few of them). There are so many variations on this block, mainly in the number of 'branches' and the size and shape of the trunk. So I've come up with my own Pine Tree variation. It's based on a five-patch 6" block and is made using Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates Set S. For my mini quilt I made four tree blocks (one for each season) and set them on-point with narrow sashing.  I'm sharing the instructions for this mini today as part of the Marti Michell Mini Quilt Mania organised by Angie@GnomeAngel.  Pop over to Angie's blogpost for all the details, including how to participate (there are prizes!).

My finished mini is 18 3/8", with optional instructions to add a border and increase the size to 20 3/8". Feel free to modify as you wish; you could use four or five of your favourite 6" blocks and follow my setting instructions, or make just one tree block and pop it on a pouch.

* The book I was reading is 'American Quilts and How to Make Them' by Carter Houck and Myron Miller (1974).

So let's get started...

What You'll Need;

Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates Set S (you'll use three of the four templates from this set; S98, S99 and S100)

Fabric for;

  • the tree (I used two or three fabrics for each tree, use as many as you like!)
  • the block background (I used a low volume fabric for each block)
  • the trunk 
  • sashing (I chose a black Cotton and Steel print)
  • setting squares, triangles and cornerstones (I used a Robert Kaufman linen in Ivory)
  • border fabric (optional)
And all the usual sewing requirements.

To make the 6" tree block;

Cutting Instructions;

Tree fabric one;

  • four triangles using template S100, 
  • six squares using template S99

Tree fabric two;

  • six triangles using template S100,
  • four squares using template S99

Block background fabric;

  • ten triangles using template S100
  • one square using templates S99
  • one ~3 1/2" square, cut once on the diagonal to yield two triangles

Trunk fabric;

  • one triangle using template S100
  • one 1"x5" strip

Piecing Instructions;

Step One;

Lay out your pieces as below;

Step Two;

Start by sewing the ten half square triangles together. Iron seams open. Return your HSTs to the layout as shown below.

Step Three;

Sew rows together (note there are three 5-piece rows and two 3-piece rows, the trunk section will be pieced later). Press seams open.

Step Four;

Sew the two sections together as below.  I used pins at this step. Press seams open.

Step Five;

Piece the trunk section...
Centre the trunk strip between the two background triangles and sew. These are the only seams I didn't press open, instead I pressed the background fabric towards the trunk strip to give the trunk a little bulk.

This piece is now ready to be trimmed to size. Template S98 is perfect for this, line the template up so that the angled edge is aligned with the trunk edge, as below.

Now trim the right hand edge with your rotary cutter (sorry if you're left handed!!). The trimmed piece is shown below.

Turn the section around so that the newly trimmed edge is at the bottom. Line up one of the marked square lines on the ruler with the straight bottom edge and trim the right edge (see below). We now have two straight edges with the trunk running through the corner. The trimmed piece is shown below.

Trim the remaining two edges by matching the line marked X on your ruler with a straight edge on the block. Trim the right hand edge by cutting then sliding the ruler up the block. Repeat for the last side.

Now trim the top of the tree trunk by matching the left and top edges on the S98 template with the left and top edges on the block as below. Trim the corner.

Sew the trunk fabric triangle on to the corner to complete this section.

Step Six;

Nearly there!
Piece the two bottom sections together.

Now sew the bottom section to the top section.

The finished block!
 If you're making the mini, you'll need four tree blocks.

Piece the Quilt Top;

Cutting Instructions;

Background fabric;

  • one 6 1/2" square for the centre
  • two 6 7/8" squares cross cut once on the diagonal to yield four side setting triangles.
  • one 7 1/4" square cross cut twice on the diagonal to yield four corner setting triangles
  • four 1" squares for cornerstones
  • four 1 3/8" squares cross cut once on the diagonal to yield 8 triangles, for the cornerstones on the edge of the quilt
  • two 1 1/2" x WOF strips for a border (optional), two strips 18 7/8", two strips 20 7/8"

Sashing Fabric;

  • sixteen 6 1/2" x 1" strips

Piecing Instructions;

The quilt top is pieced in diagonal rows as shown above. I pressed all seams towards the black sashing fabric. Once all the rows have been pieced, sew rows together, use the cornerstones in the sashing to match each section. When attaching the top right and bottom left corners to the sashing, fold both the triangle and the sashing section in half and match these folds to centre each piece.

Optional border; sew the two 18 7/8"  border strips to left and right sides then sew the two 20 7/8" strips to the top and bottom.

Finished size without borders is 18 3/8". Finished size with borders is 20 3/8".

Quilt and finish as desired! I'm still thinking about how to finish mine!!

Pop over to these blogs for more fun ways to use your Marti Michell templates...

12 August ~ Angie Wilson ~
19 August ~ Tonya Grant ~
26 August ~ Lucy Brennan ~
2 September ~ Kirsty ~
9 September ~ Catherine Demack ~
16 September ~ Natalie ~
23 September ~ Alyce Blyth ~
30 September ~ Peta Pearce ~
14 October - Rachel McCormack ~
28 October ~ Lisa Johnson ~
4 November ~ Marti Michell ~

You can also check out #martimichellminiquiltmania on IG.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Playground Showcase

Hello!! Welcome to the Playground Showcase, featuring Amy Sinibaldi's latest line for Art Gallery Fabrics. The colours in this collection are so completely perfect; pink, coral, mustard, plum and blue. All my favourites! We were still in the thick of winter when I was planning the quilt design, the days were mostly grey and dreary. Creating a quilt of spring bulbs was the perfect way to bring my favourite season forward a little.

I started out with the nine-patch tulip block from '1000 Great Quilt Blocks' by Maggi McCormick Gordon. I made a few changes, removing the nine-patch at the centre, changing some of the proportions and shrinking it to a 6" block. I drafted the pattern in EQ7, then cut plastic templates for most of the pieces. Templates might be a slower way to go but I think they're worth it for accuracy, especially with tricky shapes like these. The plastic templates also made it easy to fussy cut the fabrics.

Spring is officially here now but the quilt is still brightening my day up, it's hanging on the wall where I pinned it to take photos, I don't really want to take it down. Can you tell how wet and grey it was when I took the photos? I've had to do a lot of editing to brighten them up!

The tulip blocks are scattered across the quilt in my first attempt at an improv style, off-grid layout. I was feeling brave! I laid the blocks out randomly then filled in the gaps with the background fabric. To keep track of the quilt size, I used my Irish Chain quilt as a guide, laying the blocks out on top of the quilt. I liked the way the Irish Chain looked peeking through so I added a few on-point squares to the quilt. I like the quirkiness of that little addition. My cat was (as usual) drawn to the quilt, I wasn't too happy the day she ran all over it with muddy paws! But she does look cute sitting on it!

The quilting was done by Donna Ward on her long arm machine. I was keen on figure eight quilting but Donna wasn't sure about doing it without any horizontal reference points in the piecing, so she came up with the idea of adding wavy lines and using those as the reference points. Brilliant! I love the softness that all those curves bring to the pointy corners of the tulip block.

With the quilt finished, I shrunk the 6" block down to a 3" on-point paper pieced block, the perfect size to feature on the cover of a needle book. Of course I used Amy's needle book tutorial. These fabrics work so well in teeny tiny piecing too! I will be popping the free 3" spring bulb pattern in my Craftsy store very soon.

And finally, one more make to share...

Anna Maria Horner's Gathering Flowers quilt block is a perfect match for Playground fabrics don't you think? This is going to be a pillow for my daughter. I just need to decide whether to keep it square or trim it for a round pillow. Hmmm....

Amy has written a blog post about her inspiration for the fabric line, and you can see swatches of all the fabrics, and the look book by clicking here. Visit the links below to check out what everyone else is making in the Playground Showcase. There are so many beautiful makes already and we're only half way through. Seriously, you'll need a little time to check out these blog posts! Oh and if you're on Instagram, the hashtag is #playgroundshowcase.


14: Katie Skoog ~
              15: Michelle Curtis ~
              16: Peta Peace ~
              17: Minki Kim ~
              19: Jemima Flendt ~
              20: Tara J Curtis ~
              21: Alexis Wright ~
              22: Melissa LeRay ~
              23: Ali Brorsen ~
              24: Angie Wilson ~
              26: Rachel McCormack ~
              27: Stacy Olson ~
              28: Shannon Fraser ~
              29: Cristi Cooper ~
              30: Guiseppe Ribaudo ~


1: Kristyne Czepuryk ~
             3: Amy Sinibaldi ~

Quilt Stats;

Quilt name: I've just now realised I haven't thought of a name, maybe 'Early Spring'!?
Size: 56"x63"
Batting: 100% cotton from Hobbs
Background and binding fabric: Essex linen in Ivory by Robert Kaufman and a little Blueberry Park on Snow
Long Arm Quilted by: Donna Ward

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Carrie Tutorial: Block 21 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sewalong

Yesterday I met Marti Michell, in person and in my home town! What a treat! Marti is currently in New Zealand holding workshops and trunk shows. She is being hosted by Grandmother's Garden, a quiltshop that is just 15 minutes from where I live. I feel very privileged to have been able to sit down and chat with her. She is so charming! One of the first quilts I ever made used Marti's hexagons plus template set and I've used her templates for many quilts since. Back then I never could've imagined that one day I would get a chance to meet her. Don't you just love the opportunities that quilting can bring! Thank you Marti for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me!

So that was the glamour side of Angie's 1930s Farmer's Wife quilt-a-long, now it's back to the business side! Today I have a block tutorial for you. Block 21, Carrie, looks straightforward, but it's not quite as easy as it looks! The tricky bit is the non-standard measurements for each piece.  I decided the easiest way to go was to foundation paper piece this block. If you have From Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates Set Q you can follow Marti's directions here to make the block.

I'm using my favourite foundation paper piecing method, with freezer paper as the foundation. This method differs from the more traditional approach to Foundation Paper Piecing as you don't sew through the paper. Instead you use the magical properties of freezer paper... when you iron fabric to the shiny side of it, the fabric sticks like glue but it can also be peeled away with no side effects. In this method, rather than sew through the paper, the paper is folded back along the seam line and you sew right next to that fold. When you've finished the freezer paper is simply peeled off. Which brings me to the my favourite advantage of this method, there are no papers to rip out when the block is finished. And the freezer paper is ready to be used again. For more information, check out the tutorials I've done previously using this technique, find them here and here.

What you'll need;

  • Usual sewing requirements
  • Freezer paper; available in supermarkets in America. In other parts of the world, look for it in your local quilt store. If you're in Australia or New Zealand your local Spotlight should stock it, it's also available on Amazon. This is what it looks like;

  • A stapler or washi tape.

Let's get started...

Step 1: Print the paper piecing pattern pieces for block 21

The paper piecing pattern for Carrie can be found on the CD at the back of your Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt book. Make sure that your templates have printed at 100% by measuring the 1" line included on the page.

Step 2: Make freezer paper foundation templates

The pattern for this block has nine templates but as we'll be reusing our freezer paper templates we only need to create the three unique templates.  Two of these three are mirror images of each other so we'll make them both at the same time. We'll be creating templates for section E and just one of the other pieced sections. For more information on creating the templates see my previous tutorial No Ripping Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial Part One.
  • Cut three pieces of freezer paper large enough to cover the template pieces with room to spare.
  • Layer two pieces of freezer paper, (one shiny side down, one shiny side up) behind the pattern print out (choose any of sections B, D, F, G, H or I) . 
  • Staple through the three layers (pattern on top) to hold the layers in place.
  • Sew along the template lines with the needle on your sewing machine (remove the thread, you may also like to use an old needle). This gives you perforations along all the seam lines.  Note there is no need to sew along the 1/4" seam line as we'll add that in the next step.
  • Trim back excess freezer paper from your templates. Add the 1/4" seam allowance at this point by cutting 1/4" beyond the perforated line using your ruler and rotary cutter.
  • Repeat the process using your third piece of freezer paper to create a template for section E
  • Your templates are ready, rethread your machine.

Step 3: Cut fabric

For foundation paper piecing always cut your fabric larger than required so that you can trim back later. I hate wasting fabric so I always cut my pieces for foundation paper piecing as small as I can, if you prefer more wriggle room, feel free to cut your pieces slightly larger.
  • For the larger squares cut eight 2" squares in each colour (these squares are labelled #21D and #21E in the book)
  • For the triangles cut four 1 1/2" squares then cross cut on the diagonal to create the corner triangles (#21A in the book)
  • For the centre square cut a 1 1/2" square (#21B in the book)
  • Cut four rectangles 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" (#21C in the book)

Step 4: Prepare to sew the first seam

  • Iron the first square of dark fabric, wrong side down, to the shiny (sticky) side of your freezer paper templates. Position fabric so that it covers the template allows 1/4" seam allowance (see below), if you have directional fabric, take note of the direction.

  • Fold the template back along the first seam line (this is the diagonal line) and trim excess fabric from that edge so that there is a 1/4" seam allowance beyond the seam line. I use my rotary cutter and ruler for this step but you could also use scissors.

  • Line up your triangle fabric piece with this cut edge (wrong sides together). See below.

Step 5: Sew first seam

  • Keep the freezer paper folded back along the seam line.
  • Sew the seam as close as you can get to the paper without sewing over the paper. Use your normal stitch length.
  • If you do sew through the paper, don't worry, just gently pull the freezer paper away from the stitches before the next step (yes, I've done this many times!).

  • Iron fabric to the freezer paper as shown below.
  • Fold template back along the next seam line and trim seam allowance to 1/4" as shown below. 

You're now ready to sew the second seam.

Step 6: Sew second seam

  • With wrong sides together, line up the light coloured square with the seam line and again, sew as close as you can get to the paper without sewing through the paper.

Step 7: Finish pieces

  • Iron fabric to the freezer paper.
  • Trim excess fabric from all edges, using the freezer paper as a guide.
  • Gently remove freezer paper by peeling away from fabric.

Step 8: Repeat for remaining pieced sections

Repeat above process starting from Step 4, re-using the templates, until you have made all eight pieced sections. Repeat the same process to piece the middle strip (section E).

Step 9: Create rectangle sections

For the remaining two rectangle sections that don't requiring piecing, I simply trimmed the freezer paper template for Section E so that I had a template for just the rectangles. Iron these templates to your fabric and use as a guide when cutting.

Step 10: Sew block together

  • Lay all the sections out as per block layout.

  • Sew pieces together, following the directions on the pattern.

Step 11: Finished block!

Hooray, we're done! Stand back and admire your handy work! Don't forget to share on Instagram (using #FQS1930farmerswife and #fw21carrie), in the Flickr group and/or Facebook!

How are you going with your blocks? Are you keeping up or are you like me and falling way behind?

A huge thank you to our sponsors Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell for their support. The upcoming blog schedule is as follows;

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

A pillow and a tutorial

Hello! I'm back! Maybe it looked like I'd given up on blogging but I promise I haven't! Now I can't wait to get caught up on all those projects that haven't been blogged (going back to November last year!!). First up I have a pillow that I made for Alison and Sami's Instagram pillow swap a while back...


No, not that one! I spotted this pillow in a shop window in Auckland over the summer holidays, I thought it would be fun to recreate something like it for my partner in the swap.  I really wanted to replicate the way the "blocks" interlock but I still haven't figured out how to do that. I played around with scale before deciding that the blocks needed to be small, not as small as the ones in my inspiration pillow though, that would be crazy. Even so, my narrow strips ended up being 3/8" wide (finished). I think that's as small as I could go without resorting to foundation paper piecing, much as I love paper piecing, I prefer not to if I can help it!

The background fabric is from Katarina Roccella's Wonderland collection, Diamond Flush in Gold. The squares on my cutting board are 1cm not 1", these blocks are tiny!

Pillow in progress

Pillow in progress

Pillow in progress

Pillow in progress

Here's my finished pillow. It really needs a better name... maybe "Summer Cabin"...


I had two people ask for block dimensions (yay, thank you both!! ;b) and here they are... for a 4 1/4" finished block...

Quarter Log Cabin coloured

For each "Summer Cabin" block you will need;

Background fabric;
  • one 7/8" x 15 3/4" strip, cross cut into the dimensions in the diagram above. (I suggest cutting your strips a little longer, say 17", so that you have some wriggle room, or am I the only one who runs out of fabric for the last cut?)
  • two 1 1/4" squares

Main fabric:
  • one 1 1/4" x 19" strip, cross cut into the dimensions in the diagram above. (As above, I suggest cutting your strips a little longer, say 20", so that you have some wriggle room.)


To piece the block;

Start with the 1 1/4" square of main fabric. Sew the smallest background strip to the left of this fabric square,  then sew the second smallest background strip to the top of this pieced unit. Now add the main fabric strips, on the left of the pieced unit, then the top of the pieced unit. Continue alternating adding background and main fabric strips. Before adding the last round of strips, sew the background squares to the main fabric strips. Your block is complete.


To make a 20" pillow 

  • you'll need 13 blocks
  • my sashing strips are cut 7/8" wide
  • for the side setting triangles cut five 5 1/8" squares in half on the diagonal
  • for the corner setting triangles cut one 5 1/2" square in quarters on the diagonals
  • if you use only one background fabric like I did, you'll need 1/2-3/4 yard. Cut the setting triangles first as they're the largest cuts
  • the pillow finishes at 20" square
  • mine is quilted using my walking foot and a serpentine stitch
  • my favourite technique for adding a zipper is Svetlana's zipper closure tutorial. Svetlana's tutorial is for a 16" pillow. For a 20" pillow, I cut 12"x21" and 15"x21" pieces for the pillow back (this allows for wriggle room!!)
  • feel free to play with block layout, orientation, colours...
Let me know if you try this out, I'd really love to see! I know I've skimmed over some of the details, so if you have any problems or questions message me on IG or send me an email (links to both are over on the top right).
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