Stitching with Lorelai - You've Been Gilmored

Next week promises to be a really good week. Not only will it be Thanksgiving, but it's going to be the week where the Gilmore Girls releases four new episodes, "A Year in the Life," with each episode showing us a season in the life of the Gilmore Girls, now that it's been nine years since we last saw them. Admittedly, they never left my life. It's been one of my favorite shows of all-time, and constantly a show that I watch (or listen to) while working or sewing. It's the kind of show that you can enjoy just listening to, because the dialogue is so sparkling, or you can get the full experience and watch and listen too. All that to say, if what I've said so far sounds like a foreign language, you've got some time left before the "new" season pops up on Netflix next week, so you could totally start catching up...

And while you catch up, or while you watch the new episodes, why don't you stitch up a little something? I've got a fun little cross-stitch pattern you can make! Download your You've Been Gilmored tutorial right here :)

You've Been Gilmored happens to be both a great quote from the series and an episode title from Season 6, when Emily and Richard (Lorelai's parents) try to get to know Lorelai's beau, Luke, better, and in the process, Luke and Lorelai find themselves pummeled by the elder Gilmores. They leave dinner in a daze, worrying about insurance and real estate and con men, until Lorelai coms to her senses and says "You've been Gilmored!" She tells Luke that this is what the Gilmores do best, mess with your head, and it's precisely on point, it's one of the things they frequently do throughout the years of the show, so it's why I picked the phrase. It's totally evocative of the show, of the rapid-fire dialogue and spit-fire relationship between Lorelai and Emily, which is often one of the best parts of the show.

For the record, I used a few Cosmo thread colors, but you could use whatever floats your boat! I used a Seasons ombre blue, color 910, with two shades of pink for the flowers, and black for the block letters at the top.

Never cross-stitched before? No worries, here's a super simple basic tutorial you can use!

You can check out the other Stitching with Lorelei tutorials right here:
May Chappell will have a bonus one tomorrow too!

Stitch something up? I'd love to see it! Tag it on social media with #stitchingwithlorelai and #dontcallmebetsy and I'll be sure to check it out! Have a great weekend everyone :)

Introducing the Twirl tutorial!

Happy Monday to you! First off, thank you all so much for your kind words and congratulations about our baby news last week! It's such an exciting time, and your lovely comments really made me smile. Speaking of smiling, I'm really enjoying trying to get back into a regular schedule of blogging as of late. I missed blogging! Don't get me wrong, I love Instagram and sharing a quick snap here and there, but I miss words. I love words :) So here I am, and hold me to this, but I'm going to try to blog every Monday for the rest of the summer. Surely that will be long enough to build a new habit, right? Here's hoping!

So, in the spirit of sharing words with you all, I've written a simple new tutorial to go with a block you mostly recently saw in my Cotton + Steel mini quilt, the Twirl block, used in the border of that mini. The Twirl block is a fun paper pieced block and the tutorial is complete with templates and cutting instructions for a 6" and 12" finished version of the block, so take your pick! You can do a lot of things with this very simple block, here's a few ideas:

You can download this block tutorial from Craftsy, for free, right here. For those of you who don't use Craftsy, you can download the tutorial PDF directly here.

The best part about putting together this tutorial is that I've managed to bundle it into this new crazy idea that I've had. A 39-block epic sampler quilt with boatloads of patchwork and paper piecing, in different block sizes and loads of color...that I plan to finish before the baby is born. I know, I'm crazy, but I need a big, long-term project to channel my energy into in my "free" time, something that makes me happy, that I can work on bit by bit, and I think this is it. I've designed the quilt using some blocks that I've made in the past, and lots that I've designed and just not had the right project for, and others still that I've just always wanted to make. And my goal is going to be to finish at least two blocks a week from now until the first week of January when the baby comes.

Based on my calculations, that will definitely yield me at least all the blocks to finish the quilt top before the baby comes. It's entirely possible that the Epic Sampler quilt will become a new block of the month club, if I can manage to sort it all out properly and figure out how to break 39 blocks into a 12 month experience. What say you, blog-land, would you be interested in a new club, one that mixes paper piecing and regular old patchwork piecing?

Stained Glass Strings: A Simple Quilt Tutorial and Giveaway

I've got a mid-week treat for you! Check out the new Stained Glass Strings quilt I just finished...

Stained Glass Strings - Baby size

This little quilt was one of those projects I started when I had that uncontrollable urge to make something I could finish quickly. This simple little quilt was made using some simple string piecing with strategic planning to create a stained glass look. The block I used in this pattern can also be used to create many additional layouts as well, from zig-zags chevrons to stars.

And for the first part of your mid-week treat: I wrote a simple pattern for you all to go with it! Click here to download the pattern through Craftsy, and here to grab the pattern via Google Docs.

Stained Glass Strings - full frontal

I used some new-to-me fabrics for this project, Andover's new Textured Solids collection. I was curious about what they would be like after seeing them pop up online earlier this year, and the Andover folks were kind enough to send me some sample yardage to try out, and I have to say, I enjoyed working with these solids very much. They have a beautiful linen look to them, chock full of texture and visual interest, and yet piecing with them was very much like regular quilting cotton.

Trim, trim, trim!

The Textured Solids are a woven yarn-dyed solid, which provides the added texture. I love the added depth the texture gives, and the way it feels as well. The fabric drapes beautifully, and while still 100% cotton, it shrinks minimally, between 2-5%. There are 25 colors available now, and additional colors are in the pipline, as well as a metallic collection! You can find the Textured Solids in stock now at Fabricworm and Pink Castle Fabrics.

Textured Solids

And now for the best part about this mid-week treat - a lovely little giveaway from the wonderful people at Andover. Three lucky commenters will win a charm pack of Textured Solids to play with! This giveaway will be open until Sunday, September 29th at 11:59 p.m. EST, and I will share the winners on Monday. To enter, simply leave me a comment here about how many sewing/quilting projects you're in the middle of right now. To be fair, I'll last count, I've got a total of 17 projects that are somewhere between cut fabric and some level of piecing. Yikes! Many of them are UFO's that need rescue! Now it's your turn...good luck!

Stained Glass Strings - the FMQ

Quilt Stats
name: Stained Glass Strings Baby
size: 31" square
pattern: Stained Glass Strings free quilt pattern, download on Craftsy or Google
fabrics: Andover Textured Solids in White Lies, Magnum, Mandarin, Ripple, Rhubarb, and Haystack
quilting: free-motioned swirls in white (color #2024) 50 wt Aurifil thread

Easy peasy new quilt pattern and a new look!

Good morning, and happy Friday to you! If you're reading this morning over in Bloglovin' or Feedly or something like that, please take a moment and pop on over to the real blog - I've just finished going through a major blog makeover, thanks to the help of super blog designer Noor Alquanti. I highly recommend her if you're looking to spruce up your blog. I'm really happy with everything she put together, and I think the blog practically sparkles now, with all the beautiful white space, not to mention the great new logo. I'd love to hear what you think of the new look!

new logo for the blog! come check it out!

I've also got an easy peasy new free quilt pattern to share with you today, using some old stash favorites as well as some great prints from Modern Yardage. I fell in love with a fun deconstructed chevron that Heather Dutton designed for them, and found a few other prints of hers that I enjoyed, then pulled some stash basics to round out my selection. Then I pondered what to make. And pondered some more. And then I moved, and well, everything went to pot, so to speak!

The fabrics

I wanted to make something easy, but something that would be enjoyable to sew, and most importantly, pretty. And I'd been doodling an easier, less triangle focused, way to make a zig-zag look in a quilt, so I thought why not? So, I did. And here we are...

Easy Peasy Faux Zig Zag Free Quilt Pattern

Introducing....the Easy Peasy Faux Zig Zag quilt pattern! A free pattern download, available right here on Craftsy. The pattern includes four quilt sizes: mini (like mine), baby, throw, and queen size, with all of the information you've come to expect from my patterns. And this is seriously an easy quilt to put together - you can easily put one of these together in a day or even a weekend, if you're working on the queen size.

Easy Peasy Faux Zig Zag in Waterfront Park
queen size Easy Peasy Zig Zag in Waterfront Park

Stay tuned next week for my next pattern release, Sew Positive! I'm really excited to show you what my pattern testers have sewn up and to finally put this pattern up for sale. Have a wonderful weekend :)

Charm Madness: The Double Hourglass Pouch Tutorial

Welcome to my stop on the Charm Madness blog hop, hosted by Sew Lux Fabrics! To catch up on previous Charm Madness posts and enter the weekly giveaway, visit the Sew Lux blog. Today, I'm sharing a simple tutorial to create a great zippered pouch, perfect for carting around a hand sewing project or for packing in your suitcase for your next trip. Today's project will use a total of just 16 charms, plus a fat quarter for your lining and a fat eighth for your sashing.

Double Hourglass Pouch tutorial - live on the blog today as part of Charm Madness

The Double Hourglass Pouch
**Use a scant 1/4" seam unless otherwise noted**

You'll need:
(8) 5" charm squares of white/neutral fabric
(2) 5" charm squares of four different prints, total of (8) charm squares
     I used prints from Cosmo Cricket's 2wenty-Thr3e collection 
fat eighth of sashing, cut into:
     (2) 1 1/2" x 8"
     (1) 3 1/2" x 10 1/2""
     (1) 1 1/2" x 10 1/2"
10" zipper
fat quarter of lining, cut into:
     (2) 10 1/2" x 12"
1/3 yd Pellon Craft Fuse, cut into:
     (2) 10 1/2" x 12"


To piece the patchwork for pouch front:
1) To begin, cut two planks measuring 1 3/4" tall by 5" wide from each of your charms, creating a total of 16 white planks and 16 print planks. Don't toss aside the skinny remaining strip of your printed charms, we will use some to make the zipper tabs.

IMG_4877rt IMG_4878rt

2) Take four matching print planks and four white planks and sew together in pairs, print to white. If your prints are directional, keep in mind that you want two identical pairs with the print on top, and two pairs where the print is on the bottom. Press seams open.


3) Bring assembled pairs to your cutting table, and using the 45 degree marking on your ruler, trim. Align the 45 degree marking along the raw edge of the bottom of your patchwork, and trim. Flip the ruler to create the opposite side of the triangle, and trim. You're now left with a triangle. Discard the scraps and repeat with the three remaining patchwork sets, creating two sets of identical triangles as shown.

IMG_4883rt IMG_4884rt


4) Lay out your block and assemble, pairing two opposite triangles together and joining, pressing seams open, and then joining the two halves of the unit to create a whole patchwork block. Use pins at to assist you in making your seams meet, as needed.


IMG_4891 IMG_4896rt

5) Repeat with remaining print and white planks to create four double hourglass blocks.

6) Lay out your four blocks as desired, twisting and turning them if you like. Sew the blocks together first in rows, then join the rows. Press seams open.


7) Join a skinny sashing 1 1/2" x 8" strip on the right and left of the block. Press seams open.


8) Sew the skinnier of the two remaining sashing pieces to the top of the block, then sew the larger, 3 1/2" x 10 1/2" piece to the bottom.

9) Next, take one piece of Craft Fuse and place the shiny side with the wrong side of the pouch front. Using a hot iron, fuse the Craft Fuse in place. Repeat for the pouch back.

To install the zipper:
1) First, we need to trim the zipper to size. The zipper should be exactly 1 1/2" shorter than the top of the pouch, so trim as needed. I trimmed off from the zipper stop side of the zipper, rather than the top of the zipper.


2) Next, choose two leftover print planks and trim to 2 1/2" long. Press each of the two pieces first in half, then fold in half and press a second time, much like a double-fold binding.


3) Open the zipper tab sandwich and insert the end of your zipper, taking care to align the end of the zipper inside the sandwich. Sew the sandwich closed, topstitching about 1/8" from the sandwich edge.

IMG_4923rt IMG_4926rt


4) Repeat step 3 for the top edge of the zipper, first unzipping the zipper to get the pull out of your way.

5) Trim zipper tabs even with the length of the zipper.

zipper trim

6) Next, align up one of your lining pieces, right side up, on your cutting mat, lining up the sides of the of the lining piece with the lines on your cutting mat. Place the zipper on top, zipper pull up, centering the zipper so that the zipper is approximately 3/4" from both the right and left edges of the lining. Put some pins in place, close to the zipper teeth, to keep the zipper in place and bring to your sewing machine. Set the stitch length at 5.0 mm and baste the zipper in place, sewing very close to the raw edge of the fabric.



7) Bring the zipper/lining unit back to your cutting mat and align the raw edges of your pouch front with the lining, right sides together. Pin in place, and try to get those pins as close to the zipper teeth as possible.


8) At your machine, adjust the stitch length back to a 1.5-2.0 mm stitch, whatever you normally sew with. Rather than starting at the raw edge, start about 3-4" down - away from the zipper pull. We'll go back and attach that section in a moment. Sew the pouch front, zipper, and lining together, using your zipper foot. Sew all the way to the end of the zipper, then clip the threads.


9) Open up your pouch so far, so the right sides of your fabric face you, and unzip that zipper. Get the zipper out of your way, then close the pouch back up, line up the raw edges again, and sew the remaining part of the zipper in place. Make sure to backstitch when you reach your first line of stitching.


10) Using a hot iron, press the pouch front and lining away from the zipper, then topstitch in place.

IMG_4941rt IMG_4943rt

11) Next, we'll attach the remaining pouch parts. First, line up the remaining lining piece, just as we did in step 6, and align the zipper (now attached to the pouch front and one piece of lining) with the raw edge of the lining, again centering the zipper, with the lining right sides together. Pin as needed.


12) Baste the zipper and second piece of lining together, using that longer stitch length, then align the pouch back, right sides together with the pouch front, and pin as needed. Sew the zipper in place, using the same method we did in steps 8-9, sewing part of the zipper in place, and then opening the zipper to get it out of your way.

Alternately, you can attempt to open the zipper while sewing, lifting your presser foot, and rotating your pouch to finagle the zipper. Use whichever method works best for you.


13) Press the pouch back and lining away from the zipper and topstitch.


Finishing the pouch:
1) Now that the zipper is fully installed, we can finish up the pouch. This is the most important step of this tutorial - open the zipper at least 3/4 of the way. If you open it up all the way, the zipper pull may get in your way, so I usually open the zipper right about 3/4 of the way open. 


2) Next, line up the raw edges of the lining with each other, right sides together, and ditto for the pouch front and back. Pin the raw edges together, leaving a gap on the lining bottom about 5" long - enough for you to shove your hand in and pull the right sides of your pouch out. I mark the start and stop of the gap with two pins, so that I know where to start and stop my sewing. 


3) At the zipper, match up the raw edges, and pin. Push the zipper tabs toward the lining to keep them out of your way. Sew together, using a 1/2" seam allowance, and taking a moment to backstitch at the lining gap start and stop.


4) Reach into the lining through the gap we left in step 14, and reach for the pouch front. Pull the fabric through the gap, turning the pouch right side out. As you do this, make sure to push the corners out. Feel free to use a wooden turning tool, or even a pencil eraser, to try to push the corners out fully. Make sure also to push out the corners at the zipper end of the pouch. Repeat for the lining once you get the pouch front/back squared away.



3) You'll notice that the gap that you left in the lining already wants to close up, and may even start to align itself properly. Take a moment to fold the raw edges under, approximately 1/2", and sew the gap closed, either via handstitching or topstitching. I almost always topstitch, just for added security at the bottom of my pouches.


4) Finally, push the lining into the pouch, and marvel at your finished pouch!


If you make a pouch using this tutorial, be sure to post it to my Flickr group or Threadbias group, I'd love to see it! 

Don't forget that Charm Madness is still underway - you can link up your own project made from charm squares here, enter the weekly giveaway at the Sew Lux blog on Sunday, and enter the Grand Prize Giveaway by tallying up all the charm squares used in the Charm Madness tutorials, also at the Sew Lux blog. Have a wonderful Wednesday! 

Charm Madness at Sew Lux Fabric

Threadbias On Tour: The Cross Maze Block Tutorial


Have you checked out Threadbias? It's a great online sewing community website designed for and run by sewists like you and me. You can share and plan projects, connect with others, exchange ideas, and now, you can even use Threadbias to design your own blocks and quilts. Threadbias just launched its new Quilt Design Tool at QuiltCon, and I've spent the last week or so working with it and putting together a fun block tutorial for you.

The Threadbias Quilt Design Tool allows you to not only build blocks, but lay out full quilts, using actual fabric swatches. As a web-based tool, it's also always fully up-to-date, to avoid any glitches or software trouble. I have several computers in my house, and in trying the Quilt Design Tool on all of them, it seemed that it ran the best using the Google Chrome browser. It's also fully PC and Mac friendly, since it's web-based!

One of the nice features of the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool is that you can try before you buy. There is a "lite" version that's available to everyone with a Threadbias account, which is absolutely free. You can try all of the features of the Quilt Design Tool out, with a 9" x 9" workspace. You cannot save your design in "lite" mode, but you can get a feel for how the tool works before you purchase your monthly subscription to the tool. Subscriptions are only $10 a month, and can be cancelled at any time - even after cancellation, you'll still be able to view the designs you've created during your subscription, you just won't be able to alter them.

If you'd like to see more of what you can create with the Quilt Design Tool, you can watch this demo video Threadbias shared at QuiltCon or check out the series of video tutorials, created by Alex from Threadbias.

And because this is a blog hop about a quilt design tool, I've created a new block tutorial for you guys! This block was super easy to put together in the Quilt Design Tool, using some simple shapes and filling them with fun fabrics in my stash. 

Are you ready for the block tutorial? I'm calling this block the Cross Maze, and I definitely see myself making a full quilt with this block soon. I hope you enjoy it! And as always, if you use this tutorial, I'd love to see your work in my Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy Flickr group, or my new Threadbias group by the same name!


Cross Maze Block Tutorial

18" finished block
All seams are a scant ¼” unless otherwise noted

white text print:
(2) 1 ½” x 18 ½”
(2) 1 ½” x 16 ½”

(4) 1 ½” x 2 ½”

(4) 1 ½” x 3 ½”

(2) 1 ½” x 4 ½”

(4) 1 ½” x 5 ½”
(4) 1 ½” x 6 ½”

dark blue:

(4) 2 ½”

(4) 2 ½” x 5 ½”
(4) 2 ½” x 4 ½”
(4) 2 ½” x 3 ½”

(1) 4 ½” x 12 ½”
(2) 3 ½” x 4 ½”

This block is put together in three simple units: A, B, and C.

Unit A
1. Align the raw edges, right sides together, of one teal 2 ½” x 3 ½” rectangle and one 1 ½” x 3 ½” white rectangle. Join and press seams open.

2. Next, join one 1 ½” x 2 ½” white rectangle with one dark blue 2 ½” square. Join the teal/white unit with the white/dark blue unit and press seams open.


3. Align the bottom raw edges of one 2 ½” x 5 ½” teal rectangle, right sides together, with the top raw edge of the patchwork unit you just created. Sew together, and press seams open.

4. Align one 1 ½” x 5 ½” white rectangle with the right side of the patchwork, right sides together, and sew together. Press seams open.

5. Finally, sew one 1 ½” x 6 ½” white rectangle to the bottom of this patchwork unit and press well. Repeat to create a total of four A units.

Unit B
1. Join a teal 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle, right sides together, with a white 1 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle. Press seams open.

2. Next, align a pink 3 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle with the remaining long raw edge of the white rectangle and join. Press seams open and repeat to make a total of two B units.

Unit C
1. Take the center piece of your block, the 4 ½” x 12 ½” pink piece, and sew
one 2 ½” x 4 ½” teal to both short ends of the rectangle
. Press seams open.

1. Begin by laying out your four unit As, two unit Bs, and one unit C as shown below.

2. Join each A unit to a B unit, then join an additional A unit on the to the opposite side of the B unit. Press seams open as you go. Repeat for the other side of the block.

3. Join an A/B/A unit to the right side of Unit C, and press seams open. Repeat on with the remaining A/B/A unit and press seams open.

4. Finally, join the shorter set of white borders to the top and bottom of the block, followed by the longer white borders on the sides. Press seams open and ta da! A finished block!

And you can find more block tutorials and reviews of the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool at the following blogs over the next two weeks:

Monday, March 25 - Freshly Pieced
Tuesday, March 26 - Don't Call Me Betsy
Wednesday, March 27 - Generation Q Magazine
Thursday, March 28 - The Sometimes Crafter
Friday, March 29 - Diary of a Quilter
Monday, April 1 - Swim, Bike, Quilt 
Tuesday, April 2 - Fresh Lemons
Wednesday, April 3 - West Coast Crafty
Thursday, April 4 - Sew, Mama, Sew!
Friday, April 5 - Alison Glass
Saturday, April 6 - Pink Castle Fabrics

Sunday, April 7 - Ellison Lane Quilts

Still reading? Good for you, because Threadbias is giving away a one-month subscription to the Quilt Design Tool to one lucky reader! You must have a Threadbias account to win, and if you don't have an account already, you can click here to start one. If you already have a subscription to the Quilt Design Tool, you're still eligible to enter - you would receive an additional month for free if you win. To enter, leave a comment here before midnight on Thursday, and a winner will be drawn Friday morning! THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

The String Heart Block tutorial

String blocks are a great way to use up scraps, and my recent quilt finish, The Road to Love, incorporated two different kinds of string blocks that made a heart shape when put together. This tutorial will walk you through making one string heart block, which you can then either repeat to create a quilt full of string hearts, or you can use lots of negative space around the heart, like I did. When I make string blocks, typically I choose to use paper as my foundation, as it's easily removable, and I prefer to use standard copy paper or printer paper, as it's cheap, easy to get my hands on, and easily trimmed to the size I need.

String Heart Block Tutorial

String Heart Block

makes one 18 1/2" heart block

You'll need:
~100 strings of assorted widths ranging from 1" - 2", with at least 20 of the strings being at least 5" long
fat quarter of larger of background fabric
(30) 3 1/2" squares of copy paper for paper templates

To create one heart block, you'll be making:
(20) Block As
(10) Block Bs
(6) 3 1/2" background squares

Block A
1) To begin, set your machine's stitch length to ~ 1.5mm. This will perforate the paper you're sewing through for easy removal.

2) Take one long string and fold in half lengthwise, creating a crease with your fingernails at both ends.


Align that crease with the center of one of your paper squares, and use a dot of glue to hold in place, right side up. This is the only string we will place right side up.


3) Next, take another string and align the raw edges with the glued string, right sides together. The string should hang off your paper square slightly. Sew in place, using a scant 1/4" seam. Press the seam over, using a hot, dry iron.



4) Select another string from your pile and repeat step 3, aligning with the new raw edge, and sew in place. Press, and repeat until that side of your square is full of strings and the paper on that side is completely covered.


5) Repeat for the opposite side of the first string, until the entire paper square is covered by fabric.

6) Trim square down to 3 1/2", aligning your ruler with your paper square and trimming away the excess fabric. Remove the paper by folding back and creasing along each seam and pulling at the paper.


7) Repeat steps 1-6 to create a total of 20 string blocks.


Block B
1) Block B is a traditional Roman Stripe block. First, you'll need to cut (10) 3 1/2" squares from your background fabric. Once your squares are cut, on the right side of the block, use a Frixion pen or Hera marker to mark the center diagonal of the square.


Measure 1/4" from that marking, and trim the excess.


Glue this odd triangle to one of your remaining paper squares, taking care to line up the edges.


2) Next, align one of your longer strings right sides together with the raw edge of the odd triangle and sew in place, using a scant 1/4" seam.


3) Press seam over with your fingernail and set with a hot iron. The hot iron will remove your Frixion mark, should any of it be showing. Continue adding strings to this square as we did in Block A until the square is full.


4) Trim square to 3 1/2", aligning your ruler with the paper square, and repeat to create a total of 10 Roman Stripe blocks.



Sewing the Heart Together
1) To create additional movement and visual interest, we'll place the string blocks in such a way that the center of the block creates a herringbone effect. Follow the photo below to place your blocks in the heart shape. Move your blocks around until you're pleased with the layout. You'll notice I've got one square in the fourth row from the top that's out of place.


2) Next, sew each row of blocks together, taking two at a time and pressing the seams open as you go.

3) Join the rows together, press seams open, and you'll have a completed heart on your hands.

String Heart Block Tutorial

Feel free to pin this tutorial! I'm definitely Pinterest friendly :) If you'd prefer to save a PDF copy of this tutorial, you can download one from Craftsy right here.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you make something using this tutorial, please be sure to add it to the Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy Flickr group.

Friday Fun: The Clamshell Loop Tutorial

Happy Friday! One of my goals this year is to try to share more tutorials with you guys - it's the least I can do to thank you for all of your support here on my blog. Today's tutorial is a free motion quilting one - I love free-motioning, and I absolutely love teaching it to others as well. This FMQ stitch is a simple continuous line design I'm calling the Clamshell Loop. It's an easy and pretty fun to boot.

Clamshell Loop FMQ on solid

This is a linear design, so you'll either need to mark your quilt top for this design, or FMQ this design on a quilt with lots of patchwork that you can use as your lines. For the photos in this tutorial, I created a small quilt sandwich, and drew lines with a ruler and a Frixion pen. Frixion pens are handy for marking because they disappear when heat is applied, like from an iron.

Before I try any new FMQ style, I always doodle it a few times with a Sharpie to get the hang of the motion of the stitch. A quick warning: I doodle the opposite direction the I stitch in. I doodle from left to right, just the same way that I write. But I quilt from right to left, so just keep that in mind when following this tutorial. To doodle this design, simply follow the arrows on the diagram below.


Now, when I sit at my sewing machine to FMQ, I make sure to begin by placing my needle in what will become the binding area, and stitch a few stitches in place, to create a knot, then begin to stitch in an arc to the left, as shown below.



I sew the first arc, moving from right to left, and creating a loop that moves counter-clockwise, leading into the next connected arc, and so forth. I then continue into the third clamshell, the fourth, and so on, until I finish a row.


Then, I begin all over again, moving my quilt sandwich so that I'm back on the right edge of the quilt again, and stitch another row. This stitch gives lots of great texture to a finished quilt, even when you look at it through a print, rather than a solid fabric.


You can experiment with the width of your clamshells, with the size of your loops, and create a lot of different looks with this one stitch. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you follow this tutorial, I'd love to see your progress in my Flickr group, Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy.

Clamshell Loop FMQ on solid

Clamshell Loop FMQ on a print

I recently used this FMQ style for a project that's headed to QuiltCon, but I can't show you much more than this just yet. Very soon, I promise!

Can't show you more yet, but I promise it's pretty!

Let me make it up to you - the fantastic Julie of Intrepid Thread is giving away a super fun fat quarter bundle that I've put together, which would be so amazing in my new Wheel of Fortune pattern - this bundle is called Orange You Glad It's Friday. To enter, simply tell me about your favorite FMQ stitch. Never tried FMQ before? Tell me which FMQ stitch or style you'd love to master. This giveaway ends Sunday 2/3 at midnight EST. A winner will be announced on Monday. Have a great weekend! THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Friday Fun Giveaway thanks to Intrepid Thread

Sea of Stars QAL: It's a flying geese chase!

Welcome to the latest post in the Sea of Stars quilt along! Haven't started yet? No worries, this is a no-stress, join-in-when-you're-free quilt-along, so feel free to jump right in or bookmark the quilt-along for later :)

Just as there are several different ways to make half-square triangles, there's several ways to do flying geese. I'll show you the two methods I use most often, and you can decide how you'd like to make yours for your Sea of Stars quilt, or you can pin or bookmark this page for future reference!

Anatomy of a Flying Geese unit
A flying geese unit is made up of two integral parts, the geese/goose and the sky, creating a rectangular unit used very frequently in quilts and blocks.


geese/goose: the focal part of a flying geese unit, shown here in a beautiful print from Denyse Schmidt's upcoming Shelburne Falls line fabrics
sky: background pieces, shown here in white

Construction Two Ways

Method A: Shown in the Sea of Stars pattern, and the method I use most often, though it is slower than Method B

Creates one flying geese unit at a time

To make a 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" flying geese unit, you'll need:
(1) 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle of printed fabric
(2) 2 1/2" squares of white fabric

1. Using a ruler, draw a line across the diagonal of all of your white squares. I like to use either a Frixion pen, which disappears when an iron is applied to it, or a Hera pen, which creates a crease rather than an ink or pencil line. Then, place one at a time on the 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles, as shown below right sides together, with the diagonal line going from the bottom right corner of your rectangle fabric and continuing up to the center of the rectangle fabric.


2. Stitch just a few threads to the right of your line, just slightly closer to the corner.  



3. Fold back your white fabric to line up with the corner of your printed fabric.  Press well, using a hot, dry iron.  Trim excess seam allowance down to 1/4".



A word on waste: To avoid making waste in this step, you can add an additional seam approximately 1/2" closer to the corner from your first seam. Then, when you trim to a 1/4" seam allowance, you create a bonus half-square triangle, to use in a future project. You can do this on both sides of the flying geese units, using this method.


4. Using the remaining white square, 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.



Method B: A little more bang for your buck

Creates four flying geese units at once

Honestly, as much as I enjoy the lack of waste in this method, I must be just set in my ways, because I rarely actually use this method, though it is a solid flying geese method. 

To make four 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" flying geese units, you'll need:
(1) 5 3/4" rectangle of printed fabric
(4) 3 3/8" squares of white fabric

A math note: to calculate your own flying geese using this method, simply start with the width of the finished flying geese unit you plan to make, for example here, it's 4 1/2". Add 1 1/4" to that, which in this example equals 5 3/4". That is the size to cut your geese fabric, shown here in a printed fabric. One geese square will yield 4 finished flying geese units. To determine the size to cut your sky fabric, use the height of your finished flying geese unit and add 7/8." For this example, the finished height is 2 1/2", so when you add 7/8" to that, you get  3 3/8". Then, cut four sky squares using that calculation, to create the four flying geese units this method yields.

1. Just as we did in Method A, draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of all four of the white squares, using the marking tool of your choice. Place two of the white squares, on the geese square, right sides together, aligning the raw edges of one square with the bottom left corner, and the other square with the top right corner of the geese square. Make sure that the lines you drew align in the center, where the two squares will overlap slightly.


2. Sew a scant 1/4" seam parallel to the lines you drew on the white squares, on both sides of the line, for a total of two seams.



3. Cut along the marked line, and ta da you'll have two units! But they're not flying geese just yet. :) Press the seam open for both units.



4. Take one of the two units and align one of the remaining white squares with the printed corner of the unit in progress, right sides together. Make sure that the marked line is pointing from the corner of the printed fabric through the two white triangles sticking off the printed fabric. This square will hang off the edge slightly, between the two white triangles. Sew a scant 1/4" on both sides of the line, then cut on the line.



5. Ta da!!! Two flying geese units! Press the seams open, and then repeat with the remaining white square and remaining unit in progress, and you'll have four flying geese units, with no waste.


Before you sew your flying geese into your blocks, you may want to trim the dog-ears (the pointy bits sticking out over your flying geese). Admittedly, I very rarely do this, because I like to take shortcuts, and I know my machine doesn't have any trouble sewing right over those dogears. I think one of the reasons dogears aren't an issue for me is because I press my seams open. Do what works best for you and your machine here.

Now, we've covered the basic units that you're making for your Sea of Stars blocks, I can't wait to see them coming together in the Flickr group! The next Sea of Stars quilt-along post will be January 5th, to give you time to get through the holidays, and on the 5th, I'll be sharing some basting and quilting tips. Remember, please don't feel like you have to keep up - this is a leisurely quilt-along, meant for you to follow at your own pace! Haven't joined us yet? No problem, jump right in! Everyone is welcome :)

Have a wonderful Friday and a great holiday season weekend!

Sea of Stars Quilt Along: All About Half-Square Triangles

Welcome to the second post of the Sea of Stars Quilt Along. Just joining us? The first post, about fabric selection, can be found here.

As you have probably noticed, there's quite a few half-square triangles in this quilt. Half-square triangles are one of the most common units found in quilt blocks, with its popularity first rising in the 1800s, toward the end of the Industrial Revolution. Over the years, quilters have used many different ways to make half-square triangles, and it seems that every quilter has a favorite.

My personal favorite method, shown here on my blog many times, is the 4-in-1 method, which is the method shown and used in the pattern. I prefer this method because it's quick, requires no prep work beyond cutting your fabric, and because it works well for me. However, I've heard concerns from some quilters about the bias edges that the 4-in-1 method creates. Indeed, the edges of the half-square units created with this method do have bias edges, but I've honestly never had an issue with them. If your bias edges have an attitude and give you a hard time, a quick spritz of starch will make them behave.

If the 4-in-1 method just isn't for you, let me show you a few other ways to put your half-square triangles together.

The 2-in-1 method is an adaptation to the old school method of cutting actual triangles and piecing them together. Not that there's anything wrong with that old school method, it's just got a lot of room for error, in my opinion. The 2-in-1 method is the art of pairing two squares together, drawing a line with your chosen marking tool across the diagonal the lighter of the two squares, and sewing a scant 1/4" on either side of that line.

Mark a line on the diagonal of the light squre

Then, you cut across the drawn line to create two separate units, which you then press and trim. You may have seen this method before, but I do the math a bit differently, which allows for a little bit more wiggle room in trimming as well as a bit of math ease. To determine the square size to start with for this method, simply add 1" to the size you plan to trim to. For instance, if I am going to trim my half-square triangles to 3 1/2", then I will need 4 1/2" squares to create those units.


The 8-in-1 method is quickly gaining popularity in my sewing room, thanks to Cherie, who introduced it to me earlier this year in her Carpenter's Star tutorial. The only downside of this method is that it does take a bit of math-related brainpower and a few moments with your chosen marking tool. This method is much like putting four of the 2-in-1 method squares together to create one large square that will ultimately yield 8 identical half-square triangle units. So, if I want to trim my half-square triangles down to 3 1/2", I would want to cut two squares measuring 9". Then, I would take my lighter square, and mark a line down both of the diagonals of the square, for a total two lines.

Mark two lines, creating an X

I would then stitch a scant 1/4" to the right and left of each of those two lines, for a total of four seams.

Sew a scant 1/4" on either side of the lines

To trim this block properly, I would first trim the squares in half lengthwise and then widthwise. Without moving the cut units, I would then cut along the lines that I drew on the light square, creating eight half-square triangle units to press and trim.


Regardless of the HST method you choose to use, to trim your HSTs down to the size you need, simply use a square ruler with a 45 degree marking on it. Align the seam in the center of your unit with the 45 degree marking, and then align the raw edges with the proper markings for the size you want. Typically, I first trim as shown in the picture below, going 1/4" larger than the size I truly want. I then rotate the unit and ruler and trim the remaining two raw edges to make sure my unit is the proper size.

Trim HST

Do you have a favorite HST making method? Or one I didn't discuss here? I'd love to hear about it! The next Sea of Stars quilt along post will be on December 14th. Go ahead and start cutting and tackling your half-square triangles, with whatever HST method you prefer to use. On the 14th, I'll be sharing some tips for creating your flying geese units. Have a great day!

Cathedral Star block tutorial

Hello there! Happy Monday to you :) I owe you guys a winner for the copy of International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene, and the lucky winner is commenter #62, the fabulous Diane from Random Thoughts...Do or Di. Congrats, Di!

And now, welcome to the seventh block of the Cathedral Windows Quilt Along :) I'm going to show you how to make a Cathedral Star block, using two different kinds of units: a faux cathedral window for the center and "cathedral" geese for the star points.


Here's what you'll need:
Fabric A (focal print)
* (1) 3 1/4" square for center of star - feel free to fussy cut!
* (12) 3 1/2" squares

Fabric B (brown)
* (1) 6 1/2" squares
* (4) 3 1/2" x 6 1/2"
* (4) 3 1/2" squares

Piecing the Cathedral Geese:
1. To piece the cathedral geese, begin with one 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangle of Fabric B, which is my brown solid for me and two 3 1/2" squares of Fabric A, which is my blue Summersville print. We're going to be making a sandwich of sorts with these three pieces of fabric.

Start by laying one Fabric A square right side up. Fold the long side of rectangle of Fabric B, wrong sides together, and lay on top of your square, with the fold away from you, and the raw edges aligned on the right side. The fold will not line up with the square! This is okay, I promise, it's important for that fold to not line up.

NOTE: My photos for this part of the tutorial show me using my fabrics backwards - to match my finished block, your folded rectangle will be Fabric B!

Next, lay another 3 1/2" square of Fabric A on top to finish off your sandwich. Be sure to keep the raw edges aligned as you move to your sewing machine and stitch a scant 1/4" along that right side.



2. Finger press the seam you just created open, then set with a dry iron. 

3. Next, begin to open up your cathedral geese unit. Slide your finger underneath Fabric B, which will be your "goose", and grab the loose corner. Begin to pull that corner to the right Fabric A square, as shown below. 





4. Finger press the goose in place, then press with a hot, dry iron.


5. To create the curves, grab the pressed edge of your goose and begin to fold it over as much or as little as desired. Experiment here, find what you what you like! You've got lots of wiggle room with these blocks.


To get your curve to stay in place, you can set with a hot, dry iron and pin in place.


Repeat for the other side of your goose.


6. Topstitch your curve in place, stitching close to the edge. When you get to the top of the left curve, travel over to the right curve, making sure to pause with the needle down when you pivot.




7. Repeat steps 1-6 to create a total of four cathedral geese. Remember - my photos are the reverse of what you will be sewing! This was a photo error on my part :)

Piecing the Center Square:
1. Place one 3 1/2" square of Fabric A right side up on your cutting mat. Next, take the 6 1/2" square of Fabric B and fold in half, wrong sides together. This square will become the fabric we fold down to create the cathedral window effect for this unit. Lay the folded rectangle on top of the Fabric A square, with the fold away from you, aligning the raw edges on the bottom and right side. Again, just as we saw with the cathedral geese, the fold will not line up with the square, and this is A-OK.


Next, place another 3 1/2" square of Fabric A on top of two fabrics, right side down, aligning the raw edges again on the bottom and right side. Carry carefully to your sewing machine, and sew a scant 1/4" seam along that right side.



2. Don't press yet, we're not quite done! Bring your sewn unit back to the cutting table and grab another 3 1/2" square of Fabric A. Set it right side up on your cutting mat. Take the folded and partially sewn Fabric B/Fabric A unit and place on top, with the fold away from you, just as you did before, with the seam you just created on your left, and aligning the raw edges on the right and bottom sides. Then, place one more 3 1/2" Fabric A square on top, right side down. Carry this new sandwich to your sewing machine and sew a scant 1/4" seam to finish this unit.

3. Open up those two seams you've created and finger press the seams open as best as you can. Set these seams with a nice hot, dry iron. Next, try to pull your four Fabric A squares together in a four-patch formation. Your Fabric B will start to turn itself into a diamond shape. Make sure to pull your diamond out and finger press the diamond edges, but don't worry about pressing with your iron just yet.


4. Close your four-patch/diamond unit onto itself, right sides together, and be sure to line up that center seam. Sew a scant 1/4" seam along that raw edge where the diamond is - not the opposite side!


5. Press that last seam open, then flip your unit over and press the front side, taking care to press your diamond nicely.


6. Place your center square in the middle of the diamond. Fold the edges of your diamond down carefully to create curves over top of the center square, just as you did with the cathedral geese. Use a dry, hot iron to press the curves in place and pin.


7. Stitch each curve in place, moving slowly and making sure to always stop with the needle down when pivoting at each peak.


Putting it All Together:

1. Play around with your block layout, deciding where you want to place your cathedral geese in relation to your center unit. Sew the right and left cathedral geese to your center square, and press seams open.


Then sew a 3 1/2" square of Fabric B on either side of both the top and bottom cathedral geese. Press seams open, then sew the top and bottom geese/square units to the center to complete the block.

2. Ta da! A finished 12 1/2" Cathedral Star block!


Would you like to download a PDF of this tutorial? Pop on over here to download a copy.

Stay tuned for additional blocks in the Cathedral Windows Quilt Along. Kim of My Go-Go Life will be sharing the next block. If you make a Cathedral Star block of your own, I'd love to see it in the Cathedral Windows Quilt Along Flickr Group, as well as the Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy Flickr Group! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I hope you have a great day :)

Introducing: The Mod Nine Patch Quilt Tutorial

Ta da! What a great way to start the week: a finished quilt and a new free tutorial, just for you guys :)

This is my Mod Nine Patch quilt, using Ellen Luckett Baker's fantastic Quilt Blocks collection as well as some Moda Bella solids. I really love the colors in Ellen's collection. This quilt is very quick and easy to put together, with a fat quarter bundle and a handful of quarter-yards of various solids. Pop on over to the Moda Bake Shop this morning to check out the full tutorial - and make sure to leave me a comment to tell me what you think!

IMG_0577rt copy

You can find Quilt Blocks in stock at:


Quilt Stats:
name: Mod Nine Patch
size: 60" x 72"
pattern: Mod Nine Patch, a free tutorial at Moda Bake Shop by me
fabrics: fat quarter bundle of Ellen Luckett Baker's Quilt Blocks collection, paired with Bella Solids in Fuschia, Amelia Blue, Lime, Silver, Turquoise, Surf, and White
backing: Ringlets in Marine from Ellen Luckett Baker's Quilt Blocks collection
binding: Stars Spectrum in Marine from Ellen Luckett Baker's Quilt Blocks collection
quilting: all-over stipple in white 50wt Aurifil

Happy sewing and have a great day :)

Simple Patchwork Mat tutorial

It's official: I've been initiated into Art Gallery's Fat Quarter Gang as an honorary member! I'm sharing a simple and quick tutorial today, perfect to spruce up just about any space or to give as a housewarming gift: the Simple Patchwork Mat. Hop on over to the Art Gallery Fabrics blog to see the full tutorial!


I used eight prints from Bari J's amazing Lilly Belle collection and added two Oval Elements prints for some added pop, in Smoke and Aqua. 

And lucky you, Art Gallery is giving away the very same fat quarter bundle to one lucky reader! To enter, leave a comment here on this post, but be sure to follow AGF's rules to qualify as well: you must follow Art Gallery on your favorite social media tool like Facebook or Twitter as well as subscribe to the Art Gallery blog. This giveaway will be open until the end of the day, Friday, August 31st, and a winner will be announced Saturday, September 1st. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.


You can also find Lilly Belle fabrics and Oval Elements fabrics in stock at The Intrepid Thread! Have a great day :)

Double Flip HSTs Tutorial

School has officially started, and that means that I've suddenly got lots more sewing time (yay!). I got right to work yesterday after bringing the kiddo in to school, and just played for once. Playing with fabric is positively the best part about being a quilter, and I haven't done much of it lately.

After making a list of the projects that I've been neglecting over the summer, I started working with some lovely charms from Laura Gunn's new Cosmo collection for Michael Miller, due to hit shops next month. I started playing with a new technique that I gleaned from the uber-fabulous Quilting Modern book by Jacquie Gehring and Katie Pederson - they teach an improv version of this double-flip technique, so I thought it could certainly be adapted to be used in a precision kind of block, and sure enough, it worked!

Double Flip HST Tutorial

Double Flip Half-Square Triangle

This sophisticated cousin of the half-square triangle unit can be used in any half-square triangle block you can think of, and is made quite simply. Starting with a half-square triangle unit, you add a smaller square and sew along the diagonal using a stitch-and-flip technique, much like you use in improvisational piecing.

For one Double Flip HST unit, you'll need:
5" print square
5" solid neutral square
4" print square

1. Begin by using a clear quilting ruler and tracing a line across two corners of the neutral 5" square, marking the diagonal of the square. Use whatever type of marking tool you prefer.


2. Align the raw edges of your neutral square with a print 5" square, right sides together. Stitch a scant 1/4" on both sides of the diagonal line you traced, then cut along the traced line to separate into two units. Press seams open and trim HST unit to 4 1/2".


3. Using a clear quilting ruler, trace a line across two corners of the 4" print square, marking the diagonal again as you did in Step 1.


4. Place this square at the top of your solid neutral half of the HST unit, making sure that the diagonal line you've traced is parallel to the HST seam in the center. Stitch along the diagonal line, and trim the seam allowance to 1/4". Press.



5. Ta da! A finished Double Flip HST unit.

NOTE: This type of unit can be constructed using any size half-square triangles. Just be sure to cut your accent print one inch smaller than your HST. This will create that skinny strip of solid neutral between your two prints.

Auditioning some block layouts using double flip HSTs and gorgeous @lauragunnstudio charms!Layout option number two...I'm torn! Help!

For my Double Flip mini, I made a total of 16 of these blocks, and arranged them in a diamond formation.

Double Flip HST Mini

I really love these gorgeous prints, and I think this was a really great way to show them off. If you follow this tutorial, I'd love to see how it works out for you! Add your projects to my Flickr group, Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, I sure enjoyed working on it :)

Christmas in July: Mariner's Star Pillow

Ready to get a head start on your holiday sewing? I know I am! Last Christmas, I remember feeling so frustrated at how little I was able to sew for the holidays, given how hairy and crazy things were around the holidays. This year, I've gathered together some good friends to help us all kick-start our holiday sewing way early, with some fun tutorials for both decorating your home and for handmade holiday gifts. Welcome to Christmas in July!!

Today, I'm sharing with you a fun holiday pillow that you can use to add that festive feeling to your living room or even to give as a gift over the holidays. This pillow uses four paper pieced units to create a center block as well as colorful strips around the center block, much like a traditional log cabin quilt block. I love making holiday pillows, they're a fun and quick way to decorate! Let's get started, shall we?

Mariner Star pillow - full frontal

Mariner's Star Pillow

Makes one 20" pillow

note: center block is 12.5" unfinished, makes a great quilt block, too!

You'll need:

23" square piece of batting for pillow front

2 pillow back pieces, 14" x 21"

various pieces of red and green fabric, see chart below





5” x 7”



2 ¾” x 16 ½”



2 ¾”  x 18 ¾”



2 ¾” x 21”


light green

2 ½” x 5”


dark green

2” x 6 ½”



2 ½” x 12 ½”



2 ½” x 14 ½”



2 ½” x 16 ½”



2” x 6 ½”



1 1/2” x 4”


Pillow Assembly:

1. First, print four copies of the

template PDF

. Double-check to make sure that the 1" line on the template measures 1", and if it does not, make sure that your printer scaling options are set to "Print at actual size." Trim off some of the excess paper, but be sure to leave some white paper around the gray rim of the block template.

2. Start by placing your white center piece in the center of the back, unprinted side of your template paper, with the wrong side of the fabric touching the paper. Align your fabric in the center of the #1 area of the block, making sure your white fabric overlaps over the edges of area #1. Pin in place.


3. Next, line up your first light green piece, for area #2. Align your light green fabric approximately 1/4" beyond the line between areas #1 and #2 on the template, right sides together with your pinned white fabric.


Stitch along the line, and be sure to shorten your machine's stitch length to approxiamtely 1.5 mm. This will perforate the paper, making it easier to remove when we're all done.


Flip your paper piece over, and make sure to open your light green strip to ensure it covers the entire #2 section. Then, you can trim the excess remaining white fabric, trimming down to a 1/4" seam allowance. Finger press the seam, then set the seam with a hot, dry iron.


4. Repeat Step 3 for the adding piece #3, an additional green piece that borders the opposite side of the white fabric you began with.


5. Next, let's add some holiday red. Align a 5" x 6" piece of red fabric along the line between area #3 and #4, right sides together. Pin in place, if needed. Stitch along the line between area #3 and #4, and trim excess seam allowance, as needed. Press seam to set your work.


6. Repeat for Step 6 to cover area #5 of your template, making sure to stitch into the gray seam allowance border.


7. To finish area 6 on the template, align a strip of dark green fabric with the fabrics you've sewn in place so far, rights sides together, with approximately a 1/4" overlapping the seam, as shown. Stitch along the seam line, making sure to stitch into the gray seam allowance that surrounds the template. Clip your threads and flip your template piece over. Trim your excess fabric to approximately a 1/4" seam allowance, and press to set your work.


8. Repeat step 7 to cover area #8 on your template, using your other strip of dark green fabric.


9. To finish piecing the template, we'll use two strips of white fabric. This will become the center of the mariner's star. Align your white strip, right sides together the fabric side of your template, approximately a 1/4" beyond the seam line for area #8 on your template. Pin, as needed. Stitch along the seam line, making sure to stitch into the gray seam allowance border. Trim excess fabric to create a 1/4" seam allowance and press to set your piecing. Repeat for area #9.


10. After you've finished piecing each template piece, trim it down, trimming along the gray edges of the template. Do not cut off the gray seam allowance border!


11. Repeat steps 2-10 to make a total of four paper pieced units.  

Lay out your four finished template pieces in an order that you like. Feel free to swap them around as needed until you're happy with your layout. At this point, you can remove the paper from your templates; or you can choose to remove the paper after seaming your four template pieces together, it's just a matter of personal taste.


12. Sew all four finished template pieces together. Press seams open to reduce bulk.


13. Add the log pieces, in size order, around the edges of the center block, pressing seams open as you go to reduce bulk, starting with the four green logs, then the red logs.

14. The pillow top finishes at 21". If yours turns out larger, don't trim it down just yet. First, layer your finished pillow top on a piece of batting and baste as desired. Then, quilt your pillow top however you'd like. Once you've quilted the pillow top, trim down to 21" square, as needed.


15. To finish the pillow back, fold 1/4" down on the top long side of a back piece. I'm terrible at this, so I use a seam guide as shown above to make sure my fold is consistent across the length of my fabric. Use a hot, dry iron to press in place. Repeat, folding down a total of 1/2", and topstitch along the edge. Repeat for both back pieces.


16. Lay your finished pillow top face up on a flat surface. Align the raw edges of a back piece with the top of your pillow front, right sides together, with the seam you just finished in the center of the pillow top. Repeat with the other back piece, aligning with the opposite side of the pillow, so that finished seams overlap. Pin in place, all the way around the pillow.

17. Stitch 1/2" seam all the way around the pillow, backstitching to secure your threads.

18. Remove the pins and reach in through the envelope opening you've created to pull your pillow front through. Make sure to use a pencil eraser or other turning tool to push the corners out all the way. And voila, a lovely finished pillow!

Mariner Star pillow - side view

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you use this tutorial to make a pillow or just the center block, I'd love to see it in the

Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy

Flickr group!

The wonderful Brenda of

Pink Castle Fabrics

is sharing in the Christmas in July fun today, giving away a wonderful bundle from her shop, full of gorgeous reds and greens. I especially love how these fabrics aren't necessarily holiday fabrics, they don't use typical holiday graphics or designs, but the colors still evoke that holiday feeling.

To enter in the giveaway, tell me about your favorite holiday decor item at your house. Is it a family heirloom, something you've made, a favorite item you've purchased? I'd love to hear about it! This giveaway will be open through the end of the day Thursday, and a winner will be announced on Friday.  


Stay tuned for the rest of the Christmas in July posts, running through next Thursday!

Monday 7/16 - 

Don't Call Me Betsy

Tuesday 7/17 - 

Sew Crafty Jess

Wednesday 7/18 - 

Pink Penguin

Thursday 7/19 - 

Freshly Pieced

Friday 7/20 - 

Sew Sweetness

Monday 7/23 - 

Happy Quilting

Tuesday 7/24 - 

Comfort Stitching

Wednesday 7/25 - 

Diary of a Quilter

Thursday 7/26 - 

Felicity Quilts

Radiant Ring block tutorial

Sorry for dropping off the face of the blogosphere this last week - thanks to those of you who wrote to me with your concern :)  I am indeed A-OK, just spent a lot of time enjoying our early summer weather here in Florida, before the inevitable 90 degree temperatures set in.  Bike riding has become a new favorite activity of the munchkin's, now that he's physically gotten the hang of riding his new big boy bike.  To make it up to you, my wonderful readers, I've got a new block tutorial for you :)

This year, I'm having a lot of fun with the Stash Trad bee.  It's a group of amazingly talented quilters who have a love for messing with traditional blocks with a modern twist.  Lee made us a fabulously apropos button for the bee, with that very motto in mind.


April is my turn in the group, and I waffled a lot this month, thinking about what to ask the girls to make for me, and I kept coming back to the Rolling Stone block, which dates as far back as 1898, credited as being listed in the Ladies' Art Company Catalog.

Much as I like the block, I wanted to do something a little different with it, so I fooled around with the color placement, using four colors rather than two and creating an octogon or ring in the center of the block.  Then, I decided that I wanted to do something really colorful, so I played around in Illustrator until I came up with this fun layout:

Rainbow Rolling Stone variation for April

After some trial and error, I found that paper piecing the corner units of each block is the most accurate way to piece these blocks, so I've created my first paper piecing template.  It's hand-drawn because Illustrator and I couldn't seem to see eye-to-eye, but this template works great for this block.  And if you've never paper pieced, don't worry!  This is super easy-peasy paper piecing, I promise it will be painless :)

Radiant Ring block
12.5" unfinished block

This block tutorial is written for using one neutral color as well as three additional contrasting colors.  In my block, I used warm colors for color A, B, and C, but I think a scrappy version of this block would also be amazing.

4 neutral 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
4 neutral 5" square
1 orange 4.5" square
4 red colored 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
4 red colored 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles
12 yellow colored 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles

All seams are a scant 1/4" unless otherwise noted.  All paper piecing done with a 1.5mm stitch length.

1. Print four copies of the Radiant Ring Template for each block you're making.  Cut your fabric, and keep in mind that you'll be using the 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles are used for paper piecing.  This size worked nicely for me when I was piecing, but you may want to make adjustments after your first block.

2. Let's get the paper piecing out of the way.  If you've paper pieced before, this is going to be a breeze, and if you haven't, that's okay, too, I'm going to make this as simple as possible.  We're going to be making the four corner units using one template each.  First, place one neutral 5" square right side out on the back of template, making sure that your square covers the entire template square.  Pin in place, in the center.


3. Next, take one of your yellow 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles and line up the long side side so that approximately 1/4" overlaps over the seam line for part A of the template, making sure that the right side of the fabric face down onto the paper.  Pin in place, if necessary, and stitch in place.  Be sure to stitch into the seam allowance to lock the fabric in place.



4. Finger press your yellow fabric in place then press with a hot dry iron.  Flip your yellow fabric back and trim the excess neutral fabric to approximately 1/4" or so beyond the seam.  Don't worry about trimming the excess yellow fabric yet.


5. Next, flip your template back over so the template faces you.  Take another of your yellow 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles and line up the long side side, with the right side of the fabric face down onto the paper, so that approximately 1/4" overlaps over the seam line for part B of the template, which is directly across from part A. Pin in place, if necessary, and stitch in place.  Again, be sure to stitch into the seam allowance to lock the fabric in place.


6. Repeat step 5 for your final yellow rectangle, using part C of the template.

7. Flip your template back over so the template faces you again.  Take one of your red 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles and line up the long side side, with the right side of the fabric face down onto the paper, so that approximately 1/4" overlaps over the seam line for part D of the template.


Pin in place, if necessary, and stitch in place.  Again, be sure to stitch into the seam allowance to lock the fabric in place.  Press your seam open and bring your finished template over to your cutting table.


Ugly, right?  Let's fix that!

8. Place your template paper side up for this step.


Disregard the dotted line and trim all the way around the solid black square line of the template, and voila!  A simple paper pieced square in square!  Marvel at your paper piecing prowess for a moment, and then move on to the next step ;)


8. Next, let's build the other subunits for this block.  Take the four 2.5" x 4.5" neutral rectangles and pair each one with a red rectangle of the same size.  Seam each pair together and press seams open.

9. To finish your block, we're simply going to sew the nine subunits we've created together, in rows of three.  First, lay out your subunits as shown below.


Then, remove the paper from the back of your corner subunits, which should be fairly simple.  Your stitches perforated the paper, so simply fold back your paper and pull.  Repeat for all subunits.  Stitch each row of three together, then stitch the three rows together, and voila!  A finished gorgeous 12.5" block.

Rainbow Rolling Stone

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!  If you make a Radiant Ring block, I sure would love to see it in my Flickr group, Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy!  Happy Monday :)

A note to the Stash Trad gang:  Please make either a Warm or Cool block, using Kona Snow as your background color, and don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. 

Patchwork Wheel block tutorial

This super easy block tutorial shows exactly how I made the lovely mini I shipped off to my partner in the For the Love of Solids swap.  When I made the mini, I made four of these blocks, and you'll see when you stitch these blocks together, they create a gorgeous, interlocked look.

For the Love of Solids mini - done!

I definitely plan to make a scrap quilt using this block at some point in the near future, as my scraps are starting to take over my sewing space!!  Perhaps over the summer, we could stitch up some of these blocks together?  Maybe as a tame-the-scraps-along?


This particular block has a rich history and dates back as far as the 1930's.  It was first published as a Cheyenne block, by the Kansas City Star in September of 1933, but later in the 1960's was referred to as a Rock Garden block by Quilts magazine.  When I look at this block, full of a rainbow of focal colors rather than two focal colors (dark and medium) as in the original, I see a patchwork wheel and that's how I came up with the name for this block.

Cosmic Burst by Mark Cesarik

Thanks, Mark and Cara, for the gorgeous Cosmic Burst fabrics to play with - I paired them with gray Robert Kaufman Quilter's Linen for this particular tutorial, and I love how the bright colors pop against the gray.

Patchwork Wheel Block Tutorial
12.5" unfinished block

Patchwork Wheel block tutorial

You'll need:
(8) 3.5" squares in various colors/prints
(8) 4.25" squares in various colors/prints
(8) 4.25" squares in a solid/neutral print


1. Draw a diagonal line on the back of your neutral squares.  We will be using these to create half-square triangles.  Then, match up each neutral square with a colored/printed square, right sides together, with the line you've drawn facing you.

HST making

2. Stitch a scant 1/4" seam on either side of the line you drew, then cut along the line to create two half-square triangles (HSTs).


Press your HSTs and trim down to 3.5".


3. Lay out your squares and HSTs as shown below, then stitch sub-blocks together in pairs to create the four rows for this block.

Laying out sub blocks

4. Stitch rows together, taking care to line up the seams as you go.

Matching seams

5. Enjoy your finished block!

Patchwork Wheel tutorial

As always, if you use this tutorial to make some Patchy Wheel blocks of your own, please add them to my Flickr group, Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy.  I'd love to see them!

Tutorial: FMQ Baptist Fans

I think these baptist fans are officially my new favorite style of free motion quilting.  I'm hoping that with a bit more practice, I might just be able to freehand these fans without marking up the quilt, but we'll see.  I've heard from a lot of you guys over the last few days about these fans, and how they look hard, and I can tell you this much: you can do this.  It may take a little bit of practice, but this style of FMQ is totally doable.

Star Crossed Stitch quilt - unwashed detail #1

You'll need:
Circle Cut ruler, or similar
Water-soluble fabric marker
FMQ foot of your choice - I use a spring-loaded open toe foot
FMQ thread of choice - I use Gutermann or Aurifil, but whatever your machine likes will work just fine

A few notes about this tutorial:
* I am right handed, but I stitch right to left in this tutorial and 99.9999% of the time.  Why?  Because it makes sense with the way my machine is set up.  Feel free to flip the ruler upside down and trace your fans in the opposite direction so you can stitch right to left, if you prefer quilting that way.
* This design can also be done with a walking foot, but honestly, I really intensely dislike straight line quilting (and to me, all quilting with my walking foot is like straight line quilting), so I much prefer this method.  I feel it's way more enjoyable, but to each their own.

Let's FMQ!
1. Before basting, take your finished and pressed quilt top to your cutting table or another large surface.  It's best to do your marking on an unbasted quilt, in case the marker bleeds through to your batting.  It's also a lot easier to work with, without the extra heft of the batting and backing.  Note below that I have modified my circle ruler slightly; I have added a piece of masking tape at an approximately 45 degree angle, so that I don't overtrace my fans. 


2. Align your Circle Cut ruler with the bottom of your fabric, with the outside edge of your outermost circle line close to the edge of your fabric.  It doesn't have to be at the edge, just close.  Begin tracing the lines, stopping at the tape.


3. Repeat step 2 over and over until you have completed your first row of fans, scooting your ruler to the left and starting each new fan with the outermost arc butting up to the edges of your previous fan.

4. To start a new row of fans and create some additional visual interest, you'll want to nest your fans.  To do this, set your ruler with the arrows in the center lining up with where your fans below meet as shown below.  


5. Continue tracing fans and creating new rows until you have covered the quilt top.  


6. Baste quilt as desired.  Next, load up a fresh bobbin, your FMQ foot of choice, and get ready to quilt.  Begin by putting your needle down at the start of your fans in the bottom right hand corner of your quilt.  If your machine has a needle down feature (where whenever you stop the machine, the needle is down), be sure to turn it on.  We're going to be moving the quilt to create the curves in these fans, but in a linear fashion.  There will be no rotating of the quilt as this design is quilted.


7. Stitch-trace the outermost curve of your fan, moving from right to left, until you reach the end of your first curve.  Stop, with the needle down.  As you're stitching your first curve, the one after that, and the zillions after that, here's a tip: Don't freak out if your needle bobbles or wobbles a little bit as you're stitch-tracing.  Just keep flowing with it, don't try to correct it immediately, you can gradually work your way back to the blue line.  Once you rinse the blue lines from your quilt, you'll never see the wobbles again.  I promise.  :)


8.  To begin stitching the next curve, slowly stitch downward from your top curve down to the next curve, as shown below.  Then begin stitching to the right, again tracing the curve.



9. Continue stitching back toward where you began your fan, creating the second curve of the fan, and stop, needle down, at the end of the traced line.  Next, stitch to the left, to catch the next traced line.  


10. Repeat to stitch all traced lines from your Circle Cut ruler.  You'll notice, however, that when you stitch the final traced curve, that you have stitched to the left of the stems of your fan curves.  You will need to freehand stitch the final curve of your fan, moving back to the right, to match your other curves.


11. To travel to your next fan from your final freehand curve, stitch to the left, to the edge of the outermost curve of the next fan as shown below.  The arrows show you here which direction to move your quilt as you stitch.


12. Repeat, stitching over each traced line, until all lines are stitched.  Then, using a spray bottle loaded with water, rinse away those blue lines, and ta da!



Now, if my husband ever stops working 18 hour days, I will try to post a video of me doing this kind of FMQ, to help make it a wee bit clearer.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to let me know!  And if you use my tutorial to add some fans to your quilt, please be sure to shoot me an email, I'd love to hear all about it!  You can also add photos of your work following this tutorial to my Flickr group.   Have a great day!

Modern Mini Quilt Blog Hop: Friendship Hexagon Mini and Tutorial

Hello Modern Mini blog hop friends, welcome to my little corner of blog world!  I was super honored that Jennifer asked me to share some of my miniquilts with you all today to inspire you to enter the Modern Mini Challenge.  The contest opens up in just a few short weeks, on March 5th and you can link up your entry at Ellison Lane Quilts.  I hope that you might just see something that will inspire you today, and if you do, I'd love to hear about it!

I love making minis, and I've surrounded myself with them in my sewing room, both made by me and by my friends.  One of the things I adore most about minis is that it allows you to try something new on a small scale, without committing lots of time and fabric to an idea you're might just be unsure about.  I also use minis to practice things I want to get better at doing, like hand-finishing binding and hand-quilting.

Another super fun thing about minis is that they can be really fast to make.  Sometimes quiltmaking can be a very slow process, but minis speed up that process a boatload thanks to their size.  I also love the lack of rules and guidelines for minis - they can be whatever you want them to be!  Want to make a 9" mini quilt?  Great!  Prefer something larger, more like 18" x 24"?  Go for it!

Here's what I've made to enter: the Friendship Hexagon Mini, a twist on a traditional Friendship Star block.  I worked on improving my hand-stitching, hand-binding and even tried out some new batting.  Did you know Pellon makes batting now??  Yes, the kings of interfacing have started to make batting and they've got a zillion varieties available.  I tried out their natural cotton batting, which is comparable to Warm & Natural, and really enjoyed working with it.  The hand and drape of it is just fantastic and it was so easy to sew with!!  I definitely recommend it if you come across it in your travels to your local quilt shop or Jo-Ann's.

Friendship Hexagon mini - full

Friendship Hexagon Mini - detail 1

Want to make your own Friendship Hexagon block?  Here's a super easy tutorial to follow for a 12.5" unfinished block.

12.5" unfinished
all seams are 1/4" unless otherwise noted

mini note: Want to make a mini block?  Divide all of the measurements in half to create a 6 1/4" unfinished block!

1. Cut your fabric as follows:
Yellow (accent fabric) - one 7 1/4" square
Dark blue - one 7 1/4" squares
Medium blue - one 7 1/4" squares
Light blue (star) - one 7 1/4" square and one 4 1/2"

2. Pair one yellow square with one medium blue square and sew 1/4" all the way around.  Repeat with one medium blue square and one dark blue square.

3. Bring your sewn pairs to your cutting table and make two diagonal cuts across the corners of each pair as shown below.

Friendship Hexagon block tutorial - detail 1

4. Press your new HSTs.  I press with seams open, but do what works best for you here.

5. Trim your HSTs to a uniform 4 1/2".

Friendship Hexagon block tutorial - detail 2

6. Lay out your HSTs with your one remaining light blue square and sew together in rows to complete your block.  Press well.

Friendship Hexagon block tutorial

Still need some more inspiration?  I've made a lot of minis over the last two years, here's a few of my personal favorites:

Have I convinced you to make a mini for the challenge yet?  I sure hope so :)
Mark your calendar!  Here's how the challenge is going down...
2/6/12 - 2/19/12 
Weeks 1 & 2 - Inspiration Weeks - Modern Mini Challenge Blog Hop  
Bloggers share their modern minis and kick-start your creativity. Get inspired, get creative, get those ideas flowing!
2/20/12 - 3/4/12 
Weeks 3 & 4 - Sew. Sew. Sew! 
Work on those minis and create your Modern Mini Challenge piece. 
3/5/12 - 3/9/12 
Week 5: Enter the Contest!
Link up your Modern Mini Challenge piece at Ellison Lane Quilts. Voting begins that week and winners are announced on February 9th!

Get out your sketch book - you don't want to miss your chance to win one of the 5 fabulous prizes

A BIG THANKS goes out to Kimberly at the Fat Quarter Shop for generously sponsoring all five of our fabulous prizes. 

The five winners will be chosen as follows: 
James’ choice (my husband chooses his favorite) 
Viewer’s choice Mug Rugs
Viewer’s choice Mini Quilts 
(mug rugs and mini quilts- the viewers choose from a selection chosen by myself and three other bloggers) 
Luck of the Draw (Random Number Generator chooses 2 winners)
So what are those fabulous five prizes? Hold on to your hats! 

Viewer’s Choice Winners will receive a fat quarter bundle of the FULL LINE of Flea Market Fancy reprint by Denyse Schmidt.   James’ Choice Winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop.  Both Luck of the Draw Winners will receive a $75 gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop

I hope you'll make something for the challenge, I think it's going to be a lot of fun!  Looking for more inspiration?  Check out the rest of the inspiration posts at the blogs below to get your creative juices flowing!

2/6: Stitchery Dickory Dock

For more contest details, visit Ellison Lane Quilts for the nitty gritty details!

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!