Monday, March 16, 2015

dots and low volume: stars for a block lottery

The Crystal Lake Modern Quilt Guild is introducing a new program at our April meeting - a block lottery! Any member that would like to participate makes a block (or two or three) following the rules for that lottery and each block earns that member one chance to win.  The winner of the drawing takes home all the blocks brought in for that lottery!

For our first lottery we chose a theme of star blocks made from dot fabrics on backgrounds of low volume fabrics. Any star block is fair game as long as the fabric requirement and size rules are followed.  The other board members and I each made a couple of blocks as examples to show the guild at our March meeting. For my first sample block I modified a pattern in the book Modern Bee - the Triple Star. My 12.5" unfinished version is a Double Star...

The center square finishes at 3" surrounded by half-square triangle (HST) and square units that finish at 1.5". The outer star HST and square sections all finish at 3". I chose to use a variety of blue dot fabrics as well as a wide variety of low volume background fabrics.

My second block was cut using the Easy Dresden ruler (you can watch a Missouri Star Quilt Company video tutorial explaining how to use the ruler here). The orange blades were cut from a 3.5" x 22" fabric strip, and the pink blades were cut from a 4.5" x 22" strip. One strip of each color is plenty for the entire block. After sewing each blade point and then sewing the blades together, I machine appliqued the entire unit to the 13" square background fabric. The background fabric was cut slightly larger because when appliqueing a block like this the background fabric tends to shrink up a bit.

The center circle of the dresden star was backed with Heat and Bond Lite so it could be fused to the dresden and background. I used a machine blanket stitch to permanently secure the circle to the center and then trimmed the block to the required 12.5".

This post contains photos of the other samples made as well as more details of the block lottery program.  I'm very excited to see the blocks that other members bring in April - maybe I'll be the lucky winner!  I sure wouldn't mind winning mine and the other sample blocks for myself :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

the perfect little gift

Last month I made a cute little Valentine's Day gift for Thing 1's college apartment - a fabric box filled with chocolate candies! I used this well-written tutorial found on the Seaside Stitches blog. You could make one of these quick-sew gifts for almost any occasion.

Per the tutorial, you'll need two coordinating fabric squares and one thin batting square each measuring between 8" and 12". I used 12" squares to make this box and the thinnest cotton batting I had on hand - Quilter's Dream Request in white.  Stitch all three layers right sides together using a 1/4" seam and leave a 4" opening for turning.  After you've clipped the corners and turned it right sides out, topstitch around the outer edges and then quilt as you like.  I segmented this square into triangles by marking the corner to corner diagonal lines, and then stitched a concentric triangle in each segment using the edge of the presser foot as my guide for spacing.

Here's a shot of the completed quilting lines on what will become the box interior.  The edges are a tad wavy from all the quilting lines, but don't worry if yours ends up like this too - it will all turn out just fine in the end :)

Since I started with 12" squares to make a larger box, I marked and sewed 2.5" triangles in each corner rather than the 2" triangles indicated in the tutorial.  This adjustment makes the finished box a little bit taller on the sides.

After sewing the corners and turning the box right side out you'll need to fold and press the outer flaps down on the box exterior.  You may also want to tack the inside corner flaps down with a bit of hand stitching.

Add some cute buttons to the points on the exterior flaps...

And you're done.  Fill it up with chocolate candies and you've got the perfect gift that can be used in so many other ways after the candy is long gone!

I'm going to make another one for my local Crystal Lake Modern Quilt Guild's April door prize filled with Easter grass, chocolates, and some other goodies.  Maybe I'll even engineer a way to add a handle to make it a real Easter basket :)

I think this might be my go-to 2015 hostess gift project.  Do you have other suggestions for quick and useful handmade gifts that you regularly sew?


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