Orphan Blocks Quilt

When I got my longarm last year, I decided to make practice quilts by sewing together some orphan blocks.  I often use plain yardage for practice, but working on a real quilt top helps to develop my skills.

I had some leftover blocks from a design that didn’t work out the way I had hoped.  I had 9 leftover blocks that I sewed together, added some borders, and made a crib-sized quilt:

orphan blocks 1I wanted to practice using ruler templates to guide my machine, and started by doing straight lines on the sashings and block centers.  Then I did a different free-motion filler design in each block’s background.  I chose a neutral thread, so the quilting is very difficult to see:

orphan blocks 2Trust me, there is dense filler stitching in each block.  For the borders, I love feathers, but once again chose a matching thread.  Here’s the center of a border:

orphan blocks 3Here’s the corner:

orphan blocks 4It’s ironic that at one time, I viewed feathers as being too challenging, and now, after some practice, they seem easy and are my favorite design.

We have all heard the warnings about using a balanced amount of quilting throughout the quilt top.  Dense stitching in some areas with light quilting in others makes for a quilt that won’t lie flat.  I thought that I had enough border quilting to balance out my dense block fillers, but I was wrong, and the quilt doesn’t lie flat:

orphan blocks 5You can see that I have “Friendly” borders, the kind that wave to you!  I should have made the border quilting more dense.  (I know that the borders were measured correctly and the unquilted top was flat).  This isn’t a big deal, it won’t be a wall quilt, and it was a practice quilt anyway.  This is another example of why pantographs and edge-to-edge quilting are so popular, because you know the quilting will be evenly balanced throughout the quilt.

Now to back up in my story a little bit, I had considered a few options on how to sew these blocks together.  One idea was to quiet down this busy quilt by alternating the printed blocks with some solid fabrics.  I made 4 blocks, but they didn’t look good with the other blocks.  So now I have 4 new orphan blocks!

orphan blocks 6

In this case, 4 blocks isn’t enough to make a quilt top, so they go back to the orphan block pile.  Two steps forward, one step back!

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Apple Core Update

I’ve been working on my hand piecing project, and got to the point that I had 5 sections done, consisting of 36 pieces each.

5As I worked on the next section, I decided it was time to start planning the finished size.  My sections so far have been 6×6, and I determined that I needed to add sections of 4×6 to the sides to make the desired size for the finished quilt.  Here are the 6×6 and 4×6 sections that I finished next:

7If you look at the above photo, can you spot my problem?  The sections are NOT going together nicely anymore!  Without planning or even realizing what I had done, the first 5 sections were all the same “shape”, meaning that the upper left corner of the section had a “horizontal” placement for that piece.  The last 6×6 section that I made, shown above, has a vertical placement in the upper left corner.  The 4×6 section shown next to it was done correctly.  When these two sections go together, they do not make even rows:


So here is what the sections look like, leaving a gap where I need to fill in with more pieces:9

I can fix this without ripping out any seams; I just need to plan ahead and fill in pieces as needed.  I thought that a One-Patch quilt didn’t require any planning – I was wrong on that!

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MatchMaker Challenge (part 2)

Last week’s post started the show & tell for the Deep Valley Quilter’s MatchMaker Challenge.  Today is the rest of the show.

This design seemed to be the most popular, probably because it is the easiest.  It works well with fun prints:


17This collection of prints is bandanas!

27Isn’t this a great checkerboard border?

22So many beautiful color combinations, both subtle and bold:

19 23 24 25 29Fun, bright colors:26Two more quilters took on the more challenging block:

20 28This collection of holiday fabrics will make a favorite family tradition.  What a great idea!


Many thanks to the very talented Deep Valley Quilters Guild for sharing their MatchMaker Challenge with me.  Great job, ladies!


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MatchMaker Challenge

In August of last year, I spoke at the Deep Valley Quilters Guild in Mankato, MN.  What a great group of talented quilters!  Rather than offer a gift as a door prize for one lucky quilter, I decided to give each member a MatchMaker Book.

MatchMaker covertemp.inddThe group made this gift into a Guild Challenge, and one year later, invited me back to see their show & tell.  What a turnout –  they had 28 quilts!  It’s so fun to see all the different fabric combinations.  I got pictures of all of them, but there’s so many, I’ll have to show some next week.

This book is a collection of 4 quilt designs, each offered in 5 sizes.  The quilts are great scrap-busters, since you don’t need much of any single fabric.  Use 2 fabrics to make a pair of blocks, but they’re not identical blocks.  The fabrics are place in positive/negative positions in the blocks, and the game is to find the matched pairs of blocks.  Pick fabrics for fun kids’ colors or prints, or make it in something to match your bedroom decor.  When the kids visit, you have a fun game that requires no mess and no clean-up, and it’s guaranteed to keep the kids busy!

So let’s get started with the show & tell!  I don’t know most of the quilters’ names, but I do know that these are Julie and Donna, and they modified the design to sew the blocks together using the Fun&Done! technique.  Very smart!

18This prolific quilter made 3 quilts!


43These fun prints are perfect for a kid’s quilt:

5This one has a nice pieced border, and she put the “Lonely Only” block on the back.  (There is one block left over who doesn’t have a mate):


6aSome used black and whites collected on a recent shop hop:

710Some modified the pattern for a smaller quiilt:

9Here’s another design from the book in elegant browns and greens:

11This talented quilter added applique to the border.  Beautiful!

1213This block is the most challenging, but still easy to achieve:

14I love the fun, bright colors!

15Next week I’ll share the rest of the show & tell.  Please join me!





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Mitered Corner Tutorial

Another use for the Folded Corner Clipper would be to make a mitered corner, for example, in a border.  Begin by placing your strips right sides together:

miter 1aThe corners will be cut off with the Folded Corner Clipper:

miter 2If you need to determine the length of these pieces, pay attention to 2 measurements.  First, the top arrow on the outer edge will be the outer dimension plus the 1/4″ seam allowance (the unfinished length of the border).  The lower arrow points to the finished length of the inside of the border.  This might be an inner border size, or for a single border, the quilt top size.

miter 2aCut off the corners:

miter 3Before stitching the seamline, be aware that it will need to stop at the finished corner.  You can confirm that spot with the ruler, as marked here with a pin:

miter 4aStitch the seamline, backstitching in the lower corner.  A shorter stitch length is recommended for seams that will be pressed open:

miter 5Press seam open:

miter 6There’s one more tool for your bag of tricks!

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Folded Corner Clipper Idea

I had another inquiry from a friend regarding a use for the Folded Corner Clipper.  She wondered if she could make a Snowball Block, and on the corners, use triangles instead of squares.  I thought that was an interesting question, and looked into it.

My first thought was would there be an advantage to doing it this way?  Perhaps one could save fabric by having less to trim away.  Or, if they already know that they have limited fabric for a project, this would be one way to minimize waste.

The first step would be to cut the triangles to be used in place of small squares on the corners.  Of course, the Folded Corner Clipper makes this easy, and uses less fabric than other methods.  For 2″ corners, cut 2.5″ strips and begin cutting the triangles:

tri 2Continue cutting by rotating the Folded Corner Clipper:

tri 3Notice that the first triangle has both points trimmed, and the remaining triangles have one untrimmed point:

tri 4This example has a 6.5″ square cut to make a 6″ finished snowball, and shows how the pieces will be placed on 2 corners.  Note that  the untrimmed triangle might make placement more challenging:

tri 6.5Flip those triangles wrong side up and use the Folded Corner Clipper to trim the other point:

tri 5 I found that placing the corners by visually lining it up wasn’t accurate enough for me.  I used the Folded Corner Clipper to confirm that the seamline would be centered on the corner of the large square:

tri 7Here’s a closeup to show how the edges and lines on the template line up with the raw edges of both pieces:

tri 8Sew the seams 1/4″ from the edge of the corner piece.  (I should have chosen a darker thread here!)

tri 9  Trim off the corners of the large square and press open.  Repeat for other corners.

tri 10Now you have your snowball block finished!

tri 11 This would be an option that would help you when you’re running low on fabric.

Do you have any questions on using the Folded Corner Clipper?  If so, please let me know!

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Seamed Borders Tutorial

A quilter who loves the Folded Corner Clipper has inquired about using it to put a 45 degree angle seam in a wide border.  Sometimes when cutting borders, there isn’t enough fabric to cut the border in one piece, and we need to join multiple pieces with a seam.

This is a great use for the Folded Corner Clipper!  But if your border piece is wider than 5 inches, you need to make a few adjustments.  Basically, this begins with the same method used for making a binding.  Place two strips right sides up:

border 1a

Place the Folded Corner Clipper in the lower right corner, matching the right edges of the fabric with the right edge of the template:

border 2Begin to cut off the corner triangle, stopping before the end of the FCC:

border 3Now, to finish cutting off the corner, there are two options.  First, place a ruler along the bottom edge of the strip, and move the FCC up to the full width of the strip.  In this example, the strip is 6.5″, so the ruler is placed at the 1.5″ line:

border 4An alternative would be to align a regular ruler with the partially cut edge, and continue cutting to the upper edge.  The 45 degree line on the ruler could be aligned with the top or bottom edges of the strip (not pictured in this photo):

border 5Complete the cut and it will look like this:

border 6Since you have cut off the dog ears from the ends, it’s much easier to place the pieces so the raw edges will be aligned when finished.  Place your pieces right sides together and stitch the 1/4″ seamline:

border 7Press open.  A smaller stitch length may be preferred for seams that are pressed open.

border 8And now you have seamed a border strip that is wider than 5″.  There’s another tool for your bag of tricks!

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