Flock Block

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I love watching a flock of birds flying together.  They wheel and turn, change direction, take off, land all in unison.  How do they do it?  How do they communicate?  Are they psychic?  Telepathic?  Is it changes in the air currents?  I don’t know.  All I know is I could watch a flock of birds for hours, fascinated.

This block was really easy to make.  In fact, I was having so much fun making it that I forgot to take pictures!  So, just pretend.

This block is made up entirely of HSTs.  Two of the HSTs are large and make up two of the corner units for the block.  The other two corner units are made up of four HSTs.  Which means, you get to cut out a lot of triangles.  BUT!  None of them are the dreaded #13.  #7 and #8 instead.

Using #7, cut 8 light and 8 dark fabrics.  Placing them right sides together, chain piece them all at once.  And if you’ve already cut 2 each from light and dark fabrics from #8, you can add them to the chain.  Press all the seams, either open or to the dark fabric, and lay your pieces back on the table.

With the smaller HSTs, arrange them in a 4-patch, with all the dark halves oriented so they’re in the lower left.  Place the right ones face down on the left ones and chain piece them.  After you press the seams, you should have four rectangles, each made of two HSTs.  Now place them back in a 4-patch configuration.  Lay one rectangle on top of the other.  Make sure to use a pin to help line up the seams.  Chain piece and press and you should now have two more corner units.

Arrange your four corner units so that you have a large HST in the top left and lower right corners, and the 4-patches in the upper right and lower left corners.  Place the right corners on top of the left corners, stitch and press.

The last step, of course, is to match up the center seams and stitch the top half to the bottom half of the block.  Another good pressing and you’re done.

IMG_0589This is the first block I made with some of my 1920s vintage fabric.  It’s the red, which I just love.  Wish I’d had more of it!  This is a very pretty block, and a lot of fun.  Enjoy!

 

Farmer’s Puzzle Block

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My father-in-law grew up on a homestead farm near Gandy, Utah.  One of his chores was to get the mail once a week.  He would saddle the horse, pack a lunch, and head out.  It took him all day to go there and back.  Yeah, they were a little remote.

Growing up on the farm meant the family had to make their own entertainment, as did families on any farm.  A lot of puzzles were developed.  Not picture puzzles, but more along the lines of  “figure out how to take it apart and put it back together again” puzzles.  Like two horseshoes joined by a few links of chain, with a solid ring circling the chain.  The purpose is to get the ring off.  My father-in-law has a number of these puzzles around the house.  Keeps the grandkids and adults entertained for hours!

This block, I’m sure, was inspired by some of those old puzzles.  It uses two colors and goes together pretty quickly.  When you’re cutting out the angled pieces (template #32 and #32R), you can do it two different ways: either cut out all of one template by laying pieces of fabric on top of each other, all face up, or you can fold the fabric in half, use just one template, and one cut will make both a #32 piece and a #32R piece.  I used the first method, simply because I’ve had bad luck doing it the other way.

IMG_0582When I was looking at the instructions for this, it looked more complex than it did when I got it laid out.  Once it was laid out I realized that it was going to be a simple matter of attaching two light triangles to either end of rhombus.

 

IMG_0584I sewed a light triangle to both angled ends of the rhombus and pressed the seams open.  When this was done, I laid a right and a left half right sides together.  Starting at the top of the point, I lined up the seams and stitched them together.  After pressing the seams, I had four corner pieces.

 

IMG_0586Now it’s time to start assembling the top and bottom rows.  I laid the center strip on top of the left corner unit, making sure the chevron is pointing to the left.  I ran it through the sewing machine, pressed the seam open, then laid the top right corner unit on top, sewed, and pressed.  I repeated the process for the bottom row  Then I laid the long horizontal strip face down on the lower edge of the top row and sewed in in place.  This is where it gets tricky.  When you lay the bottom row face down on the rest of the block, line of the seams of the short center strips so that when you’re all done it appears seamless.  I messed it up the first time and had to take it apart.  Pins did a great job of holding everything in place while I sewed it together.

IMG_0588My finished Farmer’s Puzzle block looks pretty good.  I went ahead and squared it up.

A BIG shout-out to Nursemate2 who send me some fabulous fabrics in a scrap swap.  The fabrics she sent PERFECTLY fit in with the other fabrics in my quilt.  THANKS!!!

 

 

 

Farmer’s Daughter Block

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I went to  grade school in a small, rural, Southern community.  And it was there that I met my first heart-sister. Becky.  We were definitely “Kindred Spirits”, as Anne Shirley is fond of saying.  We spent every recess we could playing in the tall sour grass, planning out the stables we were going to build for the horses we were going to raise and breed and race when we grew up.  And every weekend that our mother’s agreed to I would spend with her.  On her father’s farm.  Mr. Gordon raised cattle, alfalfa, and cotton on 300+ acres of beautiful Georgia landscape.  They had two quarter horses:  Della Mayer and Little Britches.  They were both wonderful, sweet-tempered horses, but Britches was a sweetheart.  I learned to ride on his back.  The last time I saw him, Becky and I went to visit her parents and took Britches an apple or two.  He was at least 30 by then, and he lived several more years after that.  I was jealous of Becky, growing up on a farm with horses and all that openness.  Life took us in different directions, and our dreams to raise horses remain just that: dreams.  But despite living on opposite sides of the country, and not having lived in the same state since 1976, she remains my heart-sister.

The Farmer’s Daughter block uses just two templates — 34 and 38 — but it uses three fabrics.  I chose to use a fourth, complimentary fabric for the very center.  Here’s how I did it:

IMG_0453After I got it all laid out, I decided the place to start would be with the light/dark HSTs,  There are 8 of them.  I chain pieced them all, then pressed the seam to the dark side.  After I laid them back in place, I looked it over to see what would work best.  And, essentially, it’s just a bunch of squares.  So, starting from the left, I laid columns 2 and 4 on top of columns 1 and 3.  I chain pieced column 1-2 and pressed the seams before I moved onto column 3-4, so that I wouldn’t mix up what went where.  When that was done, I repeated the process, laying column 3-4 on top of column 1-2 and sewed them together, then sewed the last piece to each row, creating 5 rows.

 

 

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I want to talk about pressing the seams on this.  I pressed the seams on rows 1, 3 and 5 to the right, and pressed the seams on rows 2 and 4 to the left.  When it was time to start sewing the rows together, the seams nested together beautifully, which meant all the points matched up perfectly.  I recommend doing this, and using pins to hold the seams in place.

 

 

 

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This block has special meaning to me.  I used two fabrics from my mother’s stash that I inherited, and it reminds me of my dear, life-long, heart-sister of a friend, and all the wonderful adventures we shared as children.

Evening Star

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A few years ago I was privileged to spend a long weekend in central Utah with a group of talented and enthusiastic photographers, all of whom are amazingly gifted.  We were up in the mountains at an old CCC camp.  The food was phenomenal, the company was unbeatable.  That weekend was a turning point for me with my photography.  It helped me see things I want to do, gave me the courage to step outside my comfort zone.  On our last night there, several of the photogs set up their cameras on long exposures to take pictures of the night sky.  One of the photographers got lucky in not one but two of her shots with a gorgeous shooting star going all the way across the image.  She was the envy of the rest of us.

This block was fun to make, and the large center is a great opportunity for a fussy cut.  Of course, I didn’t think about that until after it was all made.  Oh well.

IMG_0446Now, if you’re making these blocks by the book, you know that you need template #12, which is a nice, big triangle.  I looked all through all my templates, all my scraps, everywhere I could think.  No template #12.  I was going to give up and move onto a different block, when I thought, “I’m a smart girl.  I bet I can figure this out.”  So I looked at the other components.  The center is a 3 1/2″ square, which meant my side pieces needed to be 3 1/2″ long.  The corner squares were 2″, which meant that’s how wide my strips needed to be.  The next part took a little thinking: I placed the small triangle onto the strip, using the little angle cuts on the corners of the triangle to line them up on the edges of the strip.  Then I sewed along the long edge of the triangle.  I trimmed away the excess background fabric, pressed it flat, then repeated on the other side.  By the time I was done, I had four flying geese.

 

IMG_0448I took one flying goose and attached two of the background squares to it, one to each end.  I repeated this for a second flying goose.  The other two flying geese were sewn to opposite sides of the center square.  This created three strips that just needed to be sewn together, taking care to match the seams.  Give it a good press and you’ve made a star!

 

 

 

IMG_0449I am happy with how this turned out, despite missing a template.  If I were to do it again, though, I would definitely use a different fabric for the center.

End of Day

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When I think about the end of the day on the old Price homestead, I picture my grandfather sitting at the table, newspaper spread out, reading.  My grandmother washing up in the kitchen.  My father and his siblings sitting on the living room floor, doing their homework.  The light came from the fireplace or the kerosene lamps.  A few miles away, my Great Uncle Toad was sitting on the porch, rocking, listening to the cicadas thrumming, and Great Aunt Alpha was tatting more lace, or maybe she was hand piecing the double wedding ring quilt which no lives in my mother’s guestroom.  No one talked much, just enjoyed the quiet comfort that comes from being safe at home, with loved ones close by.

This block, when I looked at the pictures, looked complicated.  I don’t know why, but I did.  Then I laid it out and realized it really wasn’t!IMG_0440

This block uses three colors and three templates.  Two of those templates are 6 and 6R.  Thinking I’d be clever, I used 6 to cut out all the pieces.  Not being clever, I just folded a strip of fabric in fourths, laid the template over the top, and cut away.  Which means I got two pieces that I needed, and two that I couldn’t use.  I did this twice.  Apparently my puir wee head just couldn’t figure it out.  But, eventually I managed it, laid them all out.

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My first inclination was to sew all the little triangles together in pairs.  Fortunately, Reason reared its head and pointed out I’d be dealing with Y seams if I did that.  So, instead, I laid a triangle on top of the wedge, right sides together, and chain pieced.  To keep it straight in my head, I did all of one color combination first, then the other.  After a thorough pressing, I had two sets of turnovers.

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I laid the turnovers right sides facing, made sure the corners and the seams matched up, then sewed them together along the long side.  After a good pressing, I had four quarter blocks, each identical.  I laid them out so that the HSTs at the corner face out.  I sewed these together in pairs, then sewed the pairs together to make the block.  Quite honestly, even stopping to take pictures, it took longer to write this post than it did to sew this block.

IMG_0443I know the fabrics I used are a little busy, but I liked the combination anyway.  They just spoke to me.

Economy

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Growing up, one of my closest friends was a Mennonite.  Joyce lived on a farm and her family — indeed the entire Mennonite community — was extremely self-sufficient.  They grew their own food, bottled everything from peas to poultry.  Joyce’s family sold eggs.  Her cousin’s family had milk cows and sold milk.  After my father died, my mom decided to move us across country.  When it came time to load the moving van, the men from the Mennonite community came and loaded it for us.  The Mennonite women raided their pantries and provided us with enough bottled food to keep us fed for 6 months.  What a blessing!  One of my gifts from Joyce when I left was a bag of scraps.  All the dresses that were too small or too worn out to be used by anyone else in the family were cut into strips, about 1 1/2″ wide.  These strips were sewn together in lengths, then fashioned into a long braid, which was then turned into a rug.  Absolutely nothing in that home went to waste.  This block reminds me of my old friend, both in name and assembly.

Start to finish, this block took me about 20 minutes.  And half of that was figuring out which fabric to use.

2013-04-13 19.06.53Since the center of the block is such a large square, I took the time to fussy cut some pretty fabric for it.  Then I took four dark triangles and sewed one to each side, first to the top and bottom, then to the right and left.  I also chose to press the seams open on this block as well.

 

2013-04-13 19.13.44After that, it was a simple matter of sewing the light corners to the growing block, then pressed the seams open.

The instructions for this block call for two fabrics.  I chose to use three, since I wanted to fussy cut the center square.  The light fabric I used for the outer triangles is in the same fabric line as the center, so it all works together.  This would be a great block for a quick quilt, and can easily be adapted to any size.

Duck and Ducklings

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Have you ever watched a mama duck with her ducklings?  She leads them here and there, in and out of the pond, teaches them everything they need to know.  Sometimes, though, they scatter hither and yon, and it takes her awhile to gather them back together.  In this block, I can see the mother duck trying to coax her wandering brood to come back to the shelter of her outstretched wings.

2013-04-13 17.33.31This block uses just two colors, and while there are triangles, there are none of the dreaded #13.  HOORAY!  For this one, I fussy cut a flower for the center square.

 

 

2013-04-13 17.58.05The first thing I did was sew the light and dark squares together in pairs.  Then I sewed the top and bottom pairs to the center square to form a strip of 5 squares, alternating dark, light, dark, light, dark.  Pay attention at this step and make sure the light squares are attached to the center dark square.  I did NOT pay attention and had to take the whole thing apart.  Twice.  Hmm… maybe I shouldn’t watch movies while sewing.

 

2013-04-13 18.04.04Next up are the corner units.  I placed the outermost light and dark triangles right sides together and sewed down the long sides.  I chain pieced them, so it went pretty quickly.  With this block, I chose to press all the seams open, and it worked out pretty well. 

After that, I sewed light triangles to either side of the dark triangle.  This created a light triangle with a smaller dark triangle in the center.

 

2013-04-13 18.09.39With the outer triangle segments sewn together, I placed them face down on top of the large dark triangles.  Being careful to line up the corners, I sewed the long sides together and pressed the seams open.  Place the corner units back in place, making sure to place the dark triangles pointing in.  I didn’t.  And had to change it.  Twice.  Did I mention I was watching a movie?  Yeah.  Gotta quit doing that.  Anyway, once you have it aligned right, sew the top left corner unit to the light/dark squares.  Then sew that to the bottom left corner unit.  Repeat on the right side.  Then sew the left side to the center strip, taking care to match the seams.  Then sew that to the right side.  Press well.

2013-04-13 18.47.03I took the time to square it up and really like the way it turned out.

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