Homemaker

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My mother was the quintessential homemaker.  Seriously, her house ALWAYS looked like she’d just finished prepping it for a photo spread in the latest issue of Home and Garden.  No dust, no clutter, no muss, no fuss.  Ever.  I don’t know about you, but at my house, after Christmas, I’m scrambling to find homes for all the new things.  My mother’s house seemed to just absorb them.  I don’t know where everything went.  I still don’t.  She took something very complex and made it seem so simple.

This block looks pretty complex, and I was hoping, like my mom’s amazing Domestic Goddess skills, would be simple to assemble.  I’m sorry to tell you that’s not the case.  It’s a tricky block, no way around it, and I’m hoping you’ll be able to follow along.  I’m also hoping one of you has an easier construction method you’re willing to share.

The block uses templates 1, 53, 54, 55, and 55R.  It uses three fabrics.  Ready?  Let’s see if we can make this work.

2013-06-25 21.34.28Template #1 is a nice-sized square and lends itself well to either a fun fabric or a fussy cut.  I chose fun over fussy this time.  Use a contrasting fabric for the #54 triangles that flank the four sides of the center square.   Next are lighter diamonds.  We’re going to start with these.  Place #55 along the left side of each #53 diamond and stitch and press.  Then repeat the process with #55R along the right side of each #53 diamond.  I strongly recommend pressing the seams open on these, since things get tricky quickly and having as little bulk on the back as possible helps, in my opinion.

2013-06-25 21.48.40This is one of the few blocks in the book that has instructions.  I’ll be honest, though, the instructions aren’t very clear, at least not to me, and I realize now I didn’t follow them the way I was supposed to.  Since I’ve figured out what I did wrong, I’m going to give you the CORRECT instructions.  The instructions say to lay the #54 triangle on top of the corner unit to the left of it, and sew it in place.  I did this to all four corner units, and laid them back in place in a circle around the center square.

 

2013-06-25 21.56.05Working your way around the block, sew the #54 triangles to each of the four sides of the center block.  You’ll have little wings, but just push them out of the way.  Once this is done, sew one wing to the unattached side of the #54 triangle.  Work your way around the block.  This should give you nice, crisp corners around the block.

 

2013-06-25 22.11.10Since I didn’t quite figure that out, my corners aren’t as crisp as I would like them to be.  Also, probably because I didn’t do it right, I needed a lot of Best Press to make it lay flat.  I may be taking this apart and putting it back together.  Or making another one.

One thing for sure, I do like the way this block looks!

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Hill and Valley

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A number of years ago my family and my best friend’s family decided to take a shared vacation to South Dakota.  We were gone for 10 days and have since decided it was the best vacation ever.  6 years later we’re still talking about all the fun we had.

While we were there, we saw some amazing things like Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, the Mammoth excavations.  But what struck me most was the scenery.  Gently rolling hills.  Acres and acres of prairie covered in waving grass.  It was breathtaking in its simplicity and seemed to go on forever.  In fact, I’m secretly planning another trip back, just so I can see the hills and valleys again.

When I saw this block, I knew I wanted to use the colors of South Dakota, and I know whenever I see this block, I think of that amazing trip.

The block uses 2 contrasting colors, and uses templates 3, 8, 20, and 21.  When I first got started, it looked more complicated than it really is.  The trick, I found, is doing one part at a time until it’s done, then move onto the next part.

2013-06-25 21.12.15The top and bottom halves of this block are identical.  I wasn’t overly precise in my layout this time, just put everything in place so I could keep track of it.  Starting in the top center, I took a small “valley” triangle and laid it on top of the larger “hill” triangle.  I did this with all four, chain stitched them, and then pressed the seams open.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m really liking the effect pressing open has on my finished blocks.  Much less bulk, I think.

 

2013-06-25 21.19.28Next, I took the on-point squares and laid them on top of the hill/valley pieces to the lower right of them.  Then I took the small triangle below the on-point square and laid it on top of the hill/valley piece to the left of it.  I chain stitched these, pressed them open, and realized I had the Hill portions of my blocks done.  They look like large green triangles with brown butterflies in the center.

 

2013-06-25 21.22.28Suddenly this block is looking much easier and quite doable.  From this point, it’s very straightforward.  Just attach the large triangles to either side of the Hills and press.  The next step required a little more thought on my part.  I marked the center of the bottom edge of the top half of the block with a pin.  I made sure to line up the top center part of my lower half wit that pin, and when I sewed the halves together, watched to make sure that lower point didn’t get caught up in the stitching.  This way I made sure that my hilltop was nice and pointy.

2013-06-25 21.31.51I’m happy to report that everything lined up nicely.  A final pressing, and I’ve got this great block that will always evoke happy memories.

Friendship Star

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“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
William Shakespeare

In the fall of 1971, after having spent a few years in Oregon, my family moved back to my home state of Georgia, just in time for me to start second grade in a small, satellite branch of Southland Academy.  The class I joined was close-knit, having been together since kindergarten, and consisted of just 16 students.  One of the girls in the class soon became my friend.  I don’t remember the first moment that friendship began.  Honestly, it seems to have just always been there.  For the rest of our grade school experience, we were inseparable.  We spent months and years designing the stables we were going to build so we could raise and board mustangs and thoroughbreds.  We spent summers and springtimes planning to be marine biologists with Jacques Cousteau.  We spent Saturday mornings rocking out to Josie and the Pussycats.  In short, we were inseparable.

A short 5 years later, my mother moved us to Utah.  Becky and I could call each other once a month for 10 minutes total.  We sent letters and cassettes back and forth.  I flew out to see her twice, she came to see me once.  We made it through junior high and high school, then into college.  Our lives were going different directions than we had planned, and different directions from each other.  There were a number of times when I just knew I would never hear from her again.  Times when I wouldn’t have blamed her.

Somehow, though, our friendship has remained.  We still live 2000 miles apart, but cell phones and emails make the distance easier to bear.  We see each other a few days every few years.  Never long enough, and each goodbye seems harder than the last.  Despite everything that has happened, she has remained a constant in my life.  She is the sister I always wanted.  She is my north star.  I find comfort in knowing she is there.  I hope I give her the same comfort in return.  She is a better friend to me than I am to her, I know.  She encourages me like no one else I’ve ever known.  She tells me what she thinks of me, my decisions, my life choices, but always with love and compassion.  I don’t know what I did to deserve such a friend, but I thank God for her in every prayer.  I would, quite literally, be lost without her.

When I saw this block, I was tickled pink.  Star blocks are my favorite, and to have a friendship star is just perfect!  And once I really looked at the pattern, I realized it was going to go together quickly.  It uses just two templates (#1 and #3) and two fabrics, a light and a dark.  From template #1, cut 1 from your star fabric (typically this would be the dark fabric, but I chose to use a light in the center, so my instructions are going to reflect that.)  Also cut four squares from your background fabric.  From #3, cut four of each color.

2013-06-18 19.16.53The layout of this block is easy-peasy.  Place the squares of background fabric in the four corners.  Place the square of foreground fabric in the center.  Starting at the top and working in a clockwise fashion, place the foreground triangles.  The first one angles from bottom right to upper left.  Repeat this all the way around the block, rotating your triangles so that the star points are all the same.  Place the background triangles next to the foreground triangles.

Next up is chain stitching HSTs.  Place the background triangle on top of the foreground triangle and then chain stitch all four.  I chose to press my seams open for this one, and it seemed to really cut down on the bulk.

2013-06-18 19.17.16Once  all your pieces have been laid back out, you should have a total of 9 squares.  Lay the center squares face down on the squares to the left.  Chain stitch them and press the seams.  Then lay the remaining squares face down on the joined squares, stitch and press.

Now there should be three rows.  Sew the top to the middle, then add the bottom.  Press the seams open, then turn the block over and give it a really good press all over.

 

2013-06-18 19.25.00I’m a little OCD, and I generally prefer shapes and colors to be traditional.  Which means reversing the foreground and background colors kind of mess with my head.  I did it because I had more of the red and not enough of the white to be the background.  But the more I look at it, the more I like it.  It’s different, unique, memorable.  Just like my friend, Becky.

 

 

 

 

Friendship Block

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“True friends stab you in the front.”  Oscar Wilde.

At first blush, this is an odd quote.  But Oscar Wilde had a dry, genius wit, which few truly understood.  And humor is an essential component of friendship.  Friends, true friends, cry with you, get into trouble with you, bail you out of trouble if necessary.  And when you’re feeling at your lowest point, they’ll talk with you, comfort you, and find a way to make you laugh so that you can start to feel better about yourself and about life.  I have a friend named Shell who has bailed me out of some amazingly disturbing situations.  She has been around at some of the most embarrassing points of my life.  She has no problem teasing me mercilessly.  Today, when I spoke to her on the phone, I could tell she was feeling down.  Today, it was my turn to tell her stupid stories about my life, reminding her of some of the stupid things she’s done, until she started laughing.  She’s got a loud, raucous laugh that comes from the center of her soul.  I love it!  And when we help our friends, it’s a mitzvah.  A true blessing.  I love Shell, and I’m grateful for all the times she’s made me laugh, and I’m looking forward to returning the favor.

Sometimes, on the surface, friendship can seem complicated, complex, have multiple layers.  But when you stand back and look at it, you realize a true friendship is made of many layers, all woven together in an intricate pattern, becoming something beautiful.  Kind f like the Friendship Block.

This block looked really complex.  And, honestly, when I laid it out, it seemed even more complex.  But once completed, it wasn’t all that bad.

This block uses two fabrics, a dark and a light.  And that center square just begs for a fussy cut.  You’ll need templates #4, #7, #27, #28, and #103.

From the dark fabric, cut eight #7 and one #103.  From the light fabric, cut four #4, two #27, and two #28.

2013-06-18 19.43.45When I laid it all out, I knew I was doing something wrong, but I also knew I’d figure it out eventually, and that the best way to assemble the block would be to start from the center and work my way out.

 

 

 

2013-06-18 19.47.37I started by sewing #28 to either side of the center square.  Once again, I pressed the seams open.  This seems to be working best for me.  Then I sewed #27 to the opposite sides of the center square, effectively  circling the square.

 

 

2013-06-18 19.54.47Now it was time to tackle the triangles (#7) and the small light squares (#4).  I had to refer to the picture in the book (page #167), and suddenly realized I had laid my small #4 squares in the wrong spots.  No wonder it didn’t make sense to me!  When I was trying to figure out how to explain this, I came up with this idea:  working clockwise around the square, number the sides 1 – 4.  Attach a #7 triangle to side one, then attach another #7 triangle to side two.  This creates a triangle.

 

2013-06-18 19.57.14The next thing to do is to attach two triangle units to opposite sides of center block.  When I did this, I held off pressing until both “wings” were sewn in place.  This helped me keep them centered, as I was able to line up the points in the center.

Once this was done, I sewed on the other two wings and pressed.

 

2013-06-18 20.00.41Here’s my finished Friendship Block.  Complex and Simple.  And a whimsical fussy cut to make me laugh.

Friendship

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“Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.  Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.  Just walk beside me and be my friend.”  Albert Camus

This is how I have felt about the amazing Farmer’s Granddaughter QAL group on the MSQC forum the last couple of months.  You have all waited with me as I sat on the side of the road trying to figure out what to do next.  I would not have been surprised if every one of you jumped ship.  And I couldn’t have blamed you.  Many of you sent me messages of comfort and encouragement, and some of you even offered to take over and keep us plodding along until I could step back in.  I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful that makes me feel.  I cannot thank you enough.

Friendship is very important to me.  When I was growing up, irst in Georgia, then in Utah, I didn’t have a lot of friends.  When I hit high school, I was fortunate to meet some crazy people who, 30 years later, are still my friends.  I got over being shy.  Now I have a whole herd of friends, each of whom is important to me for different reasons.  And, thanks to the internet, I have an even bigger herd of virtual friends.  And once I got over being shy, I discovered it was easy to find new friends.  Almost as easy as this first of three Friendship blocks.

 

For Friendship, on page 166, you need a total of 5 colors.  I used a variation of primary colors:  Red, Yellow Ochre, Blue Periwinkle, and a nice variegated Green.  I also used a very light cream.  It uses templates # 7, #8, and #45.

2013-06-18 19.27.11From each of the four primary colors, cut one #7 and one #8.  Cut four of your neutral color.  Lay it out with the four #7 triangles in the center, points touching, the #45 in a square around the small triangles, and then the #8 triangles on the other side of the #45s.  I decided to lay the #45s on top of the #8s, then chain stitched them together.  I decided to press the seams open on this block and it really cut down on the bulk where all the seams met up.

 

2013-06-18 19.31.16When I had these done, I realized they looked like little sail boats.  Oh, the possibilities!

Next, I attached the small triangles to the other side of the #45, making sure the colors matched (red to red, blue to blue, etc.)

 

 

After that, it was a simple matter of laying right on top of left, chain stitching, pressing, then laying top onto bottom, repeat.  When you do this, though, it’s not a bad idea to pin where the seams meet.  It helps.

2013-06-18 19.41.07

 

 

And that, Dear Friends, is how you make Friendship!  Couldn’t be simpler!

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