Archive for Tutorials

Georgia on My Mind block tutorial

For my purposes, I’m going to call this block Georgia on My Mind. Mainly because the block is called Georgia and it’s on my mind. I have to admit that I’ve never been to Georgia so I think the state itself can’t really be on my mind. I’m sure it’s lovely though.

Taking inspiration from Amy’s lovely tutorial layout for the Japanese x and + block, I did up some drawings rather than photo explanation. I’ve added some detail photos for the inset square. Click on the images below for full size.

Georgia on My Mind

Honestly, you know me (lazy…), would I make you do an inset seam if I didn’t think it was the best choice aesthetically? You can do this!


The photos below show how I pressed my corner blocks. The goal is to reduce bulk. You may find a better way that works for you. You may also need to trim the completed corners to 3 1/2″ square. If you do, each half of the block should measure 1 3/4″ (i.e., don’t just trim the square to 3 1/2″, make sure the corner square is 1 3/4″ and the mitered pieces are 1 3/4″).

Have fun!


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Charming butterflies: tutorial addendum

I know that other clever quilters have already adapted the butterfly block to be 5″ charm-square-friendly. I thought I’d get on board and update my tutorial as well. These butterfly blocks leave more background visible while the originals leave a smaller sliver of it around the butterflies. As I mentioned, these butterflies are less wasteful than the larger blocks! Bonus! I will be adding this to the original tutorial and this update may make more sense in the context of the original. So, let’s begin!

First, cut all of your charm squares in half so that you have two pieces –– 2 1/2″ x 5″:

For each block, cut two 3 1/2″ squares of background:

For each block, you will also need one 1 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ strip for butterfly body (sorry, no pic).

Layer the 3 1/2″ background squares (right sides together or wrong sides together, doesn’t matter) and make an angled cut approx. 1″ in from the bottom right edge and top left edge like so:

Cut so that you have four (mine are still layered) background pieces:

Lay out your butterfly blocks as shown (this just helps me keep track of which direction the background needs to go):

Sew the backgrounds to the butterfly wings (mine have the narrowest part of the background at the corner of the butterfly wing, background extends approx. 1/2″ beyond butterfly wing fabric):

Trim the butterfly wing fabric even with the background seams and press toward the butterfly wings.

Next, trim the background/butterfly wing unit. First trim the background so that it measures 2 1/2″ wide (same width as the butterfly wing). Then trim the background so that this unit is 5 1/2″ long — leaving approx. 1/2″ of background on either side of the widest part of the butterfly wing.

The butterfly wing/background units should measure 2 1/2″ x 5 1/2″.

See, a lot less waste than the original method:

Finally, sew the 1 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ butterfly body between the wings. Press seams toward butterfly body.

Lather, rinse, repeat for more and more butterflies!

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Butterfly block tutorial

So wrapped up am I in butterfly mania. Since I first saw this wonderful block on Sarah’s blog (did you know she works at MO? I can only plead that I was struck dumb by the butterflies and did not realize this), I asked if she would mind if I posted a tutorial. She wants everyone to have a good time too (thanks, Sarah!), so here is how I made these slightly wonky blocks.

For each 6″ finished block, you’ll need:

• 2 – 3 1/8″ x 6 1/2″ butterfly wings
• 4 – 2 1/2″ x 4 1/4″ background pieces (in this case, black)
• 1 – 1 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ butterfly body piece

Take one butterfly wing right side up and angle across it one background piece (right side down):

This can be a gentle angle or as “severe” as 45 degrees. I like a bit of wonkiness to my blocks, so I made sure to vary this angle ever so slightly each time.

Make sure the background seam allowance extends approximately evenly beyond the butterfly wing fabric:

Using 1/4″ seam allowance, stitch the background piece to the butterfly wing:

Repeat with second butterfly wing:

Lay a second background piece (right side down) on a butterfly wing — angle the background in the other direction as shown:

Using 1/4″ seam allowance, stitch in place and repeat with second butterfly wing fabric:

Trim butterfly wing fabric even with background fabric as shown:

Press background fabric out (I haven’t sewn any blocks together to be able to advise whether to press the seam allowance toward the background or toward the butterfly wing fabric — I’m thinking it will be better to press the seam allowance toward the butterfly wing to help decrease bulk later on).

Lay a 6 1/2″ ruler on top of one butterfly/background section making sure to center the ruler so that you have approximately equal widths of background showing at the top (in this photo):


Trim the wing/background section to be 6 1/2″ wide:

Now it’s time to trim the inside and outside of the block section.

First, lay a ruler so that it is even with the raw edge of the INSIDE of the butterfly wing as shown — the inside shows a narrower band of wing and wider pieces of background:

Trim the background fabric even with the butterfly wing fabric:

Next, lay the ruler so that the ruler’s 3″ mark is even with the edge you just trimmed. You’ll have a little bit of wing fabric to trim off too, but it will result in a nice, even, clean edge:

Now it’s time to add the butterfly body to the wing/background sections. Stitch using 1/4″ seam and press seam allowances toward the center.


This approach is a little wasteful when it comes to background:

Sarah said that Kathy (the Queen of Rulers) recommended the Nifty Notions Bias Triangle and Nifty Notions Half Rectangle rulers for these blocks. I am certain that there would be little if any background waste if you use these rulers. I am flying by the seat of my wasteful pants but I may order these rulers for future reference.

Because I have a feeling there is going to be future reference…

Now, do you see butterflies? Or do you see spools? Mary Jo mentioned that these are referred to as spools. I dug out issue 76 of Quiltmania to see Yoko Goto’s Spools of Thread and Flowers quilt — same block. Then Mary Jo let me borrow an old issue of Quilts Japan (no. 9 from 1999) that has this block in a special section on spool quilts. What fantastic examples there are!

This one has no center strip:

I like this little cutie pie:

Cute examples on these bags:

I don’t know if you can see it, but there are four of these wonky little blocks inside each more traditional spool:

Don’t you love that?

Finally, I like the layout of this quilt too:

So, maybe I am making spools? Kind of a butterfly meets klosjes meets Japanese quilt goodness by way of Australia? Whatever the name, it’s an international love affair.

Off you go. Have fun. Hope this is helpful! I’d love to see what you make. Thanks again to Sarah for the inspiration!

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Cross plus blocks

I caught the fever from Joan as you know and thought I’d share with you how I made my cross/plus/what have you blocks. There are many variations depending on your plans, hopes and dreams.

If you need several blocks from the same fabric, maybe Tia’s directions are for you.

If you want to cut your crosses and “backgrounds” from the same fabrics, maybe Carla’s liberated cross blocks are for you.

Kelly McCaleb also offers a pattern PDF on Etsy that is lovely and is another variation. Her sample quilt is sumptuous!

I had a specific need to conserve my Hope Valley fat quarters. And a desire to use some lovely Essex linen (in sand) acquired from Jackie.

So here’s what I did.

To make the most of my 18″ x 21″, I decided to cut approximate 6″ squares from my fat quarters. Three was the magic number. I also though, wanted to make some matching blocks with the Hope Valley fabric as the cross part, so I cut two strips approximately 2″ wide x 18″.

Should have chosen a defined fabric to show as my example:

That’s it! That’s all I’m willing to part with of these fat quarters for this project. I also had to kind of squeeze to get three 6″ blocks. Some of the blocks are more like 5 7/8″, but I figured I could work with that.

I also cut some insert strips for the crosses. Here you see the Essex linen blend. Cut approximate 2″ strips. You can cut them down as you work with each individual block…angling them and so forth:

So, take a 6″ square:

Cut it in half — angling it slightly is fine, off center is fine:

Cut an insert strip slightly longer than the cut edge:

Stitch the strip to half the block:

Press (out, open, your preference) and trim the strip even the “background” fabric before adding the other half of the block.

Add the other half of the block:


Now cut the block in half approximately perpendicular to the inserted strip:

Again, slightly angled or off center is fine.

Cut another insert strip slightly longer than the cut edge:

Sew it to half the block, press and trim the strip even with the “background” before adding the second half of the block:

Add the second half of the block and press:

Trim up your block. I’m trimming mine to 6″ square:

Depending on the width of strips you’ve inserted, you will have some flexibility in the “wonkiness” of your squaring up. Go crazy!


Fun, fast, easy! And, I will confirm, addictive.

EDITED TO ADD: Nearly forgot that I wanted to mention Karen Griska’s Asterisks quilt in the May/June 2010 Quiltmaker mag. LOVE IT!

Which then leads me to mention Busy Bee’s Victory Garden quilt pattern. I’ve been saving this one quietly for a while because I LURV it so much. I had to put it away because I start squealing every time I see it.

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