Friday, 1 August 2014

Modern Irish {Scrappy} Bee: August Block

Hello ladies!  As the other Bee Mamas have said in their posts ...oh man time flies!  So it’s my turn and I hope you like my choice.

I was thinking and thinking and thinking came up with nothing, so I got on to Pinterest and saw this!

Yes it’s a traditional block but I want to have something really colourful and in your face and at the same time an easy block to run up!

Read the next sentence with sincere politeness:  I don’t want J any batiks, browns, flowerly prints, kiddy fabrics. 

I would like pretty please, bright cheerful colours if at all possible, warm colours.   Again I refer you to Imagingermonkey’s pic for inspiration.

One condition – the centre of the churn dash should be one of your favourite scrappy fabrics. 

Scant ¼” is required for sewing the block in certain parts – I interpreted this as just shy of the ¼” mark on your ¼” sewing foot, so please if you could follow that that’d be great, in other words a breath away from ¼” – apologies if I’m saying the same thing 10 different ways but it’s important, if you are unsure just shout out and please don’t be intimidated about this scant thing.

Two blocks please, no need to trim them.

I used CluckCluckSew’s tutorial to make my blocks.

So to get started:

Select three fabrics – one for your centre piece (this should be one of your favourite pieces), plus two other colours.   If they clash that’s fine, look at Imagingermonkey’s pic, this the kind of look I’m going for e.g. colourful, clashing.

Cut the following:

Centre piece:  1 -  3 ½” square

Fabric  Colour 1:  two 3 7/8” squares

Fabric Colour 1:  one  2”x15” strip

Fabric Colour 2:  two  3 7/8” squares

Fabric Colour 2: one  2”x15” strip

Take a square of Fabric Colour 1 and a square of Fabric Colour 2, on the back of Fabric Colour 1 draw a diagonal line from corner to corner and place face down on Fabric Colour 2.  Pin together.  

Carefully sew a SCANT ¼” along either side of the diagonal line, so I sewed just inside the ¼” line.  Cut along the pencil line and iron the seam towards the darker of the two fabrics.  Repeat with remaining squares and you should end up with four Half Square Triangles (HSTs).   If in doubt refer to Cluckclucks tutorial.  Trim to 3 ½”

Next take your two strips of fabric – right sides together, sew normal ¼”.

Iron seam to darker fabric.  Apologies for the different coloured fabric (this is my second block colours, but I forgot to take a pic). 

Cut this strip into 3 ½” squares, you will be able to cut 4 squares in total.

Now the fun part, layout your pieces.  Make sure the colours are in the right order, sew the pieces into three rows.   When pressing your seams of each individual square i would recommend pressing the seams on Row 1 to the leave, Row 2 to the right and Row 3 to the left again, this way the slot in nicely.  Any questions email me.

You should have a lovely colourful block, 9 ½” unfinished, don’t trim I will look after this.

So thank you for your time in making these blocks and I look forward to receiving them!



Monday, 28 July 2014

Variations on A Theme

Remember all those Half Square Triangles I made when exploring different ways to make them?  I thought I would open a challenge today to show that we modern quilters love traditional blocks just as much as modern blocks.  How many of these 16 blocks can you name?

Anybody used any of these in a quilt design?  We would love to see them on our Flickr Group or Facebook!

 Some more with variations on a theme!

Of course I made my practice HST from scraps and arranged and re-arranged them to get these variations.  Now I'm wishing I made them from a bunch of yardage or Fat Quarter Bundle as I love these fabrics in HST blocks.  Wouldn't they make a great sampler quilt?

Or number 15 in this last set as a whole quilt?  I think this is my favourite in the whole bunch!  What's your favourite HST block?

- Ruth

Friday, 4 July 2014

June's Show and Tell

Well now that we are into July and the summer holidays have officially started how about some show and tell?  Our Flickr group have been busy with our Modern Irish Bee and Road to Tennesse blocks for Erin, smaller projects like oven gloves, coasters, placemats, cushions and mini quilts were where we were at this month.  Check out these lovely makes on our Flickr group.

If you have anything to share please post to our group on Flickr.  We'd love to see your images!  Photos shared on Flickr, post to our Facebook page automatically and if you prefer Instagram photos please tag with #modernirishquilters so we can all share what we are making!

- Ruth

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Modern Irish {Scrappy} Bee: July's Blocks

I can’t believe it’s July already and my turn to be Queen Bee. This is the first time I have taken part in a Bee so I thought by picking July I would have plenty of time to be organised. Then the universe laughed and laughed, and here I am the night before holidays knee deep in packing writing my first ever blog post. I have really enjoyed making all the different blocks and trying new patterns for the ladies so far this year. There are going to be some spectacular quilts! My pile of scraps doesn’t appear to be getting very much smaller though the list of quilts I want to make is getting longer….. I have changed my mind so many times about which block I would like but finally chose this one. It’s pretty simple as blocks go but I love the effect. I would like you each to make eight 6.5 inch square (unfinished) string blocks. This tutorial by Sherri McConnell is very easy to follow (though note she works off a larger block size). Once you have your strings prepared they only take minutes to put together. In keeping with our scrappy theme these can be as colourful and scrappy as you like. The only stipulation I have is that the centre strip is a happy colourful selvedge. I hope you have some lying around. I’m not a huge fan of batiks and civil war type colours but other than that anything goes. Linen mixes etc are fine. If you want to add other selvedge strips into the block too that’s cool as well.


Your foundation fabric can be any scrap cotton fabric you have as it won't be seen. I used part of a sheet I had cut up for another project.


 I found it helpful to start by drawing a line down the centre diagonal of the foundation block, then another ¼ inch from the centre line. It's quite faint but it's there in the photo. Or you can live on the wild side and wing it- it's that kind of block.


I lined the edge of my selvedge strip along this line as my starting point.


 Then just keep adding strings as shown in the tutorial. Press and trim.


 And there you have it- a nice summer evening project.


Monday, 30 June 2014

Trusty HSTs - How Do You Make Them?

How many ways can you make a Half Square Rectangle?  For such a simple thing it would seem a heck of a lot!  

My original idea for this exploration of HST’s was to go through 5 ways and make 16 HST’s, and to challenge you to play with layout but as I was brainstorming all the ways you can make them, this post got quite a bit bigger.  

Half Square Triangles (HST) are a basic building block in quilt construction and are incredibly versatile.  In this exploration today,  here’s some info on all the ways I found to make them.  If  I’ve left any out please let me know and hopefully you’ll find your favourite method in the following:

  • Templates: You can use templates to make one at a time.  If you want to draw your own you can trace a template onto plastic and use this over and over again.  I can see this as being a good option if you wanted  to hand sew a project like the Farmers Wife or to use up scraps.  Personally I never do this, I have an aversion to templates unless they are for really odd shapes!  (I tried patchwork using templates at least 4 times when I was a teenager and gave up - it wasn’t until I saw charm squares and a rotary cutter nearly 3 years ago that I thought, I can do this!)

  • Pre-printed foundation paper:  You use a paper pattern to give you the HST shape and you lay this on your fabrics placed right sides together.  You sew along the marked lines through the paper and cut afterwards.  Some types of pattern paper you don’t even have to remove afterwards!  I found this iron on one at Fat Quarter Shop and this CD full of them called Triangulations that you print as needed. There is a you tube video hereThangles also have a video showing how to use their pre-printed papers.   This makes it very easy to get straight lines and accurate pieces for gazillions of identical HST.  I never knew these existed but when I started looking I found lots of them.  Different papers for different sizes.   Of course you could draw your own too! 

  • Inklingo have templates that you can print directly onto your fabric that give you lines to cut along.  Click on the link to see a video showing it in action.  No need for plastic templates or paper and again great for lots of identical HST’s.   Their pattern has the corners snipped and helps lining up the HST after cutting for sewing, plus the pattern is printed such that the sewing lines contain the bias so no bias edges are exposed.

  • Die cutters:  If you have an AccuQuilt cutter like the Go Baby, you can use the HST die to cut out accurate shapes.  I don’t have one but I think I’d like one!  You need separate dies for the separate sizes but you can buy them in a pack.

  • Cutting up squares:  My favourite way to make HST’s! 
    • Cut a square in half exposing bias:  I used this method recently when making a rainbow Swoon block.  I had to try and figure out what fabric to put where and matching them up to make a few at at time was slightly head wrecking!  Far easier to take a square and cut it in half and then move the pieces where I wanted them.  The trick with these is to cut a square Finished Size of your HST+7/8” so, If I wanted a 3” finished unit (3.5” unfinished) I’d cut a square at least 3 7/8” to start with, then cut it in half to create two identical HST’s.

    • Drawn line method to contain bias:  I hate bias, I really have to be careful not to stretch things out of shape so I use starch and use lots of pins.  This method keeps the bias in the seam and I don’t have to worry about it!

Take 2 squares, again finished size +7/8” and place them right sides together.  I find myself that I’m not perfect on all my seams so it’s better for me to start with finished size +1”.  It does mean I have to trim them all but it makes cutting and the maths easier!  Draw a line across the diagonal and sew 1/4” seam both sides of this line.  If you struggle with this or don’t have a 1/4” piecing foot mark the lines to sew on.  Once sewn cut in half along the centre diagonal line and you have 2 identical HST’s.
    • Make 4 at a time (QST really!) by sewing all around and cut along both diagonals, back to bias again!  I saw this method for the first time on the Missouri Star Quilt Company you tube page.  The maths on this one is a little different.  I put up cheat sheets on my blog for this and the drawn line methods if you are interested.

    • Make 8 at a time variation of drawn line (Finished size +1”) x2.  This is very like the paper patterns above but you draw two lines on the fabric to get you started.  Again sew 1/4” on either diagonal line, cut in half along the red line, both sides then again along the blue line to get 8 identical HST’s.

  • Strip methods:  Another one I didn’t know existed!  Very handy for using Jelly Rolls!
    • Drawn line, similar to squares above but using strips you can get a lot of identical HST’s in one sewing seam! You do need to mark the fabric on the diagonal to give yourself a line to sew 1/4" away both sides and on the vertical to cut into squares and then into HST's.

    • Tube method exposing bias edges found on I found this one a bit odd to work with.  You sew two strips right sides together along both edges with a 1/4" seam to make a tube.  Then align the ruler along the seam and the point just inside the seam on the opposite side.  I found it easiest to align the strip on the 45 degree on the cutting mat and measure across to keep square.


    • Strip method containing bias found on Quilts and Other Good Things.  This was another odd one, cutting strips on the bias to start with and then sewing them together  to cut squares for lots of identical HST's.   Anyone ever used this method before?
  • Specialty Rulers : Wow there are lots of these!  Does anyone use a specialty ruler for making HST’s? If so what do you recommend?  BlocLoc rulers are great for trimming afterwards but there are other rulers to help with cutting them in the first place.  Some of the ones I found are:

So after all that I now have a bunch of HST’s, what to do with them... I think out of all these above, I’m leaning towards the drawn line method using a square to make 8 at a time.  What’s your favourite way to make HST’s? 


Monday, 23 June 2014

Exploring Log Cabin Blocks

One of the topics we thought we could look at for our blog is an exploration of traditional blocks and a modern use of them.  My very first pieced block (other than sewing charm squares together!) was a log cabin block.
Forgive the wonky angle, taking photos of quilts in the wind is tricky!
I made this as part of an online sampler course with Whipstitch.  It is still one of my favourites though at the time I didn't find it that easy.  This 15" block required long straight seams with a consistent 1/4" and getting the colours placed in the right order.  I have since learned that pesky 1/4"seam and discovered, when you want a straight line ram rod straight, foundation paper piecing is a good way to do this!

It is a good block to start with from a quilting history perspective and makes you feel connected to a long tradition of patchwork piecing.  I learned the light and dark represents the ups and downs in life and the that the traditional log cabin has red or yellow at the centre to symbolise the hearth of the house and the warm welcome that awaits you there.

This traditional block can look equally good breaking a few rules.  Here are some variations:
  • Coloured or fussy cut centre.

With one side of the block usually made from light and the other dark, you get great contrast when multiple blocks are put together.  Using this colour placement gives rise to many settings.  Check out these links from Piecemeal quilts and Connecting threads to see some combinations and the wonderful names they've been given, like Fields and Furrows and Streak of Lightning!
  • Instead of light and dark though how about this spiral version using only 2 colours.

I went a bit mad with this one and varied the thickness of the strips (I also ran out of the first purple and chanced my arm with a second!)

  • Varying the width of the strips surrounding the centre gives a really nice offset effect too.
  • And this one based on the courthouse steps version of the block, which is made building the blocks 2 sides at a time.

Film in the Fridge has a great tutorial for a really modern looking block using the courthouse steps principal, called Converging Corners, that is worth a look.
  • Half log cabin though in my head this is more of a quarter.  Some people call it a Chevron block.  My first time making a log cabin I inadvertently ended up with one of these.

I put all the lights on at the same time instead of going around.  Still it's a happy accident, make 3 more and you have a Bento box block!  Fine Diving has some really colourful Bento box examples here.

  • How about Wonky?  Anna our May Queen for the Modern Irish Bee chose a wonky log cabin style block for her month and the instructions and tutorials links to make this are here on our Blog page.

  • And lastly you could apply the same principle to a shape other than a square.  How about a triangle or even an octagon?  There's a link to a hexagon tutorial on our Facebook page if you want to try it out.

Combining some of these concepts all together take a look at this wonderful quilt top Jody made for our Modern Medallion-A-Long.

Used with permission from Jody
If you have any log cabin variations to share please add them in the Flickr group or Facebook page.  If you are sharing on Instagram please tag with #modernirishquilters so we can find them.  We'd love to see your log cabin projects or any other variation of a traditional block!


Monday, 16 June 2014

Bee Blessed: June

This month's Bee Blessed block is super duper easy to make and totally beautiful.  What a great way to use up your happy, favorite scraps for a great organization.  Judith has already made hers to set us stitching down the right path.

Just pop over here for a straight forward tutorial and join in the fun!  Thanks, Sarah and Judith, once again for a fab choice in block!