Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hive 9 - February Block Tutorial

Hello!  Here is my Hive 9 post for February.  This is my first time participating in a quilting bee online and I hope you like the block I chose.

What is your name? Karen Stewart

Where do you live? I live in Huntington Beach, California

Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)  I'm a single Mom with two grown sons, Jason and Chris.  They are twins and both live in Los Angeles.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.  My grandma taught me a little about sewing and quilting when I was a little girl--that was a long time ago. 

How do you organize your fabric stash? My stash is not organized at all and is in an embarrassing assortment of containers.

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?  I love Lori Holt, Aneela Hooey and Carolyn Friedlander designs

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?  Use good quality fabric!  You won't be happy with something that is not printed correctly and on grain.

What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?  I love Wonder Clips for binding and my Clover needle threader 

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.)  I don't really have a favorite fictional character.  I read lots of mystery novels and will usually be in the middle of a series.

Now on to the block.  I'm requesting the Chunk Churn Dash by Bonnie Hunter.  I am not requesting any specific range of colors--I will be making this quilt super-scrappy style and welcome your favorite combinations.  I would like to have the centers and outer small rectangles of the block light and the corners and inner small rectangles darker.  Here is a photo of my strips before sewing. Please feel free to use the same light fabric for the center and the small rectangles.  I would like to have two different dark fabrics for better contrast.

My finished block looks like this:

Please let me know if I've forgotten anything of if you have any questions.  I look forward to working an everyone's block in the coming months.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hive 5 - January tutorial

What is your name?
My name is Sue Bone (Flickr: libertyjsy)

Where do you live?
I live on the little island of Jersey off the north west coast of France. On a clear day you can see the cars driving along the roads in France.
Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)
All of my family live in Jersey. I have been married for twenty years to my accountant husband, Nick and we have two children - Lizzie, 15 and Matt, 18. My parents, brother and sister live relatively close by. On an island which measures nine miles by 5 miles, nowhere is really very far.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.
I first became interested in quilting as a teenager, when browsing a copy of my mother's part work magazine "Golden Hands" and I made quite a few hexagon projects. I still have my first quilt and in 2013 returned to hexagons anew.
Fast forward to 1995 and I was ill and took up patchwork to keep myself occupied and started making a quilt for my son's nursery. I then taught patchwork for ten years at our adult education centre and plan to start regular classes again in 2014. I added a long arm to my repertoire of equipment two years ago.
How do you organize your fabric stash? (Picture appreciated)
I am very disorganised and that is another plan for 2014. My modern fabrics are in one basket sorted by colour and some are retained by collection (Zen Chic and Simply Style), I also have another basket full of Bonnie & Camille fabrics from a number of collections.

Who is/are your favourite fabric designers?
I love Bonnie & Camille's designs and want to expand my collection of Aneela Hoey ( I totally missed Cherry Christmas) and Lori Holt.
What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?
That my taste in fabrics would change and not to overbuy.
What is your favourite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?
At the moment I'm loving my alphabet pins which I made for myself from a pack of pins, alphabet beads and diamond glaze glue. I also use the design boards made using Lori Holt's tutorial for projects with lots of scrappy blocks.
Who is your favourite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.)
I love Bridget Jones - perhaps because we have a similar taste in underwear.
Now to my block tutorial for the Japanese X and O block.
I have chosen the following sampling of fabrics to give you an idea of the sort of fabrics I have in mind. You'll see that I am following the trend for text prints but think that some of the bigger prints wouldn't work for this block.

Cutting instructions:
Background: white with small black print 
Eight 2.5" squares
Cross: black prints
One 2.5" by 6.5" rectangle
Two 2.5" squares
Cross ends: turquoise print
Four 2.5" squares
Accent lozenges: warm prints - red, deep pink, yellow, orange
Four 4.5" squares
The lozenges can be all one colour (e.g. red) or a mixture of warm coloured fabrics.
Start by drawing a diagonal line from point to point on all of the background squares. Lay two on opposite sides of a lozenge square and stitch one thread width towards the corner of the square, along the drawn line. I like my text prints all going the same way so pinned my squares down and then kept flipping the edges back to check they were going in the right direction.
Press the background squares away from the centre of the lozenge, matching the background corner to the corner of the larger square. Trim the two extra layers from the back of the block. Repeat for all four lozenges.
Take your black and turquoise prints and sew:
A turquoise square to both ends of the black rectangle
A turquoise square to a black square - twice
Press seams open
Then you're ready to piece your block together. Sew a lozenge unit to either side of a black / turquoise unit, pressing seams open and then sew two of these units either side of the remaining unit which is the black rectangle with turquoise squares.
Please make me one block which will measure 10.5" square. You may make more than one block if you wish. I look forward to seeing your fabric choices and getting to know you better over 2014.


Hive #11 - January Tutorial

What is your name?
Hi ya I'm Jo (TwinkleToesUK on Flickr).  I have to say it's quite daunting being the Hive Mama for this Bee, but I'm very honoured and here to help!  So just shout if you need anything!

Where do you live?
I live in the UK in a lovely little village in Warwickshire.  That's in the middle of the country not far from where Shakespeare was born for those not from the UK - which I think is everyone else in this Hive!  You can find more about Harbury here: 

Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)
I have a wonderful Husband and two child substitutes (cats - Bilbo and Phoenix).  We've been together for 14.5 years, but only tied the knot formally 3 years ago! He's definitely long suffering, puts up with my foibles and loves it when I'm sewing as it keeps me quiet!

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.
I've sewn all my life.  I still have the first piece of embroidery I did as a 3 year old with my Nan :)   My trusty sewing machine saw me clothed through Uni (engineering degree nothing to do with sewing). Has helped with all the soft furnishings in my houses (I think my Mom would disown me if I ever bought a pair of curtains!) and although it's often got put into a cupboard, it's always resurfaced when required.

I only got into quilting about 3 year ago.  I honestly have no idea why or how, just woke up one morning and thought I fancy having a go at that and the rest as they say is history!  I'm now well and truly hooked.  I'm a techniques person and all about the process(must be the engineer in me!), so I like to spend my time on small complicated project rather than big monster quilts!  Don't worry - this months block is not too difficult!   At the moment I do have a thing for appliqué...  little hint there!!!

How do you organize your fabric stash?
Gosh!  Where do I start!  I have a few OCD tendencies and these certainly come through to my storage!

My stash is organised dependant on type and then colour.

I have little drawers in my sideboard, this is where the scraps go, a drawer each for:  Charm squares. Solids and Patterned.     (Yes I class charm squares as scraps.  Not enough o them to be too useful, and I don't keep any scraps smaller than a charm square - life is just too short!)

Then for my major stash - gulp!

I love boxes by a company called "Really Useful Boxes" and oh boy are they aptly names!!  Their 18L is a God send for FQ storage!!!

I have a number of boxes (I am really showing you this!), for Solids Bright, Solid Neutrals, Blenders, Patterns, Christmas, Oakshotts (I love my Oakshott!! Sewing Material (x2), Nancy Halvorsen (yup like her stuff too), WIP Box and well.....  you get the idea!

Each is then sorted into colour!

Who is/are your favourite fabric designers?
I think the above may have indicated this already!  I love Oakshotts, I'm a fan of Nancy Halvorsen, I adore Lotta Jansdotters design and I LOVE SOLIDS!

Gosh this feels like a confessional!  The start of the year.  Should I be saying, My name is Jo and I'm a Fabric-o-holic?!?!?

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?
Don't buy cheap fabric!  There is a reason decent quilting fabric is SOOO expensive!  (Well here in the UK it's expensive!  Think yourself lucky over in the UK!  I buy from a lot from the US.  Even with shipping and duty it can come out at half price of the retail here!)

What is your favourite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?
Oh......  so many.  I love my little snippers (I've had these 20 years!), they are a must have for me. BUT my biggest must have is a thimble.  I have no idea how people darn in ends, sewing with a needle etc without a thimble!

Who is your favourite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.):
Oh that's a hard one!  I'm finding that a struggle,  It always used to be Pooh Bear, no idea why, but have to admit now in later life, no really.    Nowadays, I thinking more Sherlock Holmes, especially the Benedict Cumberpatch interpretation - rather enigmatic, mysterious, aloof and highly intelligent....  I like that.

January Block:

Right....  down to the nitty gritty.  My block....

Here it is:  Well two versions to give you an idea!!  

I'm hoping it's a nice gentle intro for the year, with some avenue for your own interpretation!

You will need:

  • Background Block:     Scraps enough to make a scrappy 10" block
  • Flower:       Contrasting scraps to the background.  circa 6" flower
  • Applique method of your choice:  I used bondaweb and blanket stitched
  • Threads:   Your choice for the blocks, and your choice for the flower.  I used a contras as I wanted to see the blanket sttich

Basic instructions:

I don't want to patronise so will not labour these too much!

Background Block

Please make a scrappy neutral background.  This can be bright, neutral, light or dark - as long as the flower you use stands out it doesn't matter.

Only two rules:
  • Finished block is 10" Sqaure
  • NO Crazy patch (please!), i.e. all nice squares and rectangles, no triangles, wonky lines!  Sorry this plays with my head, so nice regular blocks please  :)

I did two examples to show various methods:

First one:
  • Using complementing charm squares, cut into a mix of 2.5" squares and 5"x2.5" rectangles.
  • Place these into a random layout that "pleases the eye" and sew together
  • Trim back to 10" square  (If you want to leave unfinished this is fine.

Second One:

  • This was made from scraps in my scrap drawer.
  • Select a number of fabrics that work well as a neutral background.
  • Chop these into various rectangles and squares and place into a layout that "pleases the eye"
  • Sew together

Easy so far?

Now for the fun bit!

The Flower:

Feel free to appliqué a flower in whichever method you feel most comfortable, i.e. turned edge, raw edge etc.

As we are not trying to turn this into a mammoth time frame, the raw edge method is by far the quickest!

If you aren't familiar with this, I've done a brief tutorial below:

  • Select some fabric that will ensure this flower stands out from your background - you really don't want all this work to be lost and disappear into the background.
  • Work out how big you want you flower to be - mine are around 7"
  • Draw a petal shape you are happy with, and then transfer this your bondaweb (don't forget to draw on the non-sticky side, and that you get the opposite of what you draw!)
  • Draw however many petals you need for you design and cut out - NOT on the lines, but leaving a rough 1/8" - 1/4! around:

  • Iron this onto the WRONG side of you fabric
  • Cut out on the lines

  • Roughly position the petals on you background - Mine are all off centre.

  • When happy remove the backing from the petals.
  • Re-lay all petals and press in place.  I did mine all in one go on the ironing board.  Trying to do one at a time, often means the move and end up in a different place to what you want!  but it's you're block do what you want!
  • As this is raw edge appliqué you need to stitch around.  How you do this is your choice.  A running stich all around?  Blanket stitch?  Wide zigzag?  YOU decide!
  • I used blanket stitch in a contrast colour, this one also varigated!

If you are not confident or worried about a wavy line - have a practise on some scraps. A few wonky petals, really isn't an issue, BUT if you are really worried, leave this bit and I'll do this when I receive - but go on have a go!

Hopefully - you'll end up with something like these!  Enjoy!  Any questions, drop over to flickr and let me know!

Hive 12 - January Block Tutorial

Happy New Year Stash Bee! I'm excited to be kicking things off for Hive 12 this year.

What is your name? Hi! I'm Heather. I blog at and Instagram @quiltsintheq

Where do you live? I live just outside Washington, DC, where I've been for 7 and a half years, but I still consider Maine, where I grew up and where all my family is, as "home" most of the time.

Tell us about your family. I live with my husband, no pets, no kids. Most of my family is in Maine, including my adorable little nieces, so I try to get up there a few times a year to visit.

Tell us about how you became interested in quilting. I always sewed growing up, but once I went away to school I didn't have the time or space for it. Even though I still had an interest in sewing and creating, I didn't have much reason to (side note, it's so funny to me now to think that I needed a "reason" to quilt!). One of my coworkers mentioned that she made quilts to give away to charity and that sparked a real interest in me to learn more about quilting and to spend more time doing it. My job is sometimes crazy stressful, so I love having a creative outlet. Now, almost three years later, I've donated dozens of quilts to charity and have only a couple that are in my home.

How do you organize your fabric stash? I primarily organize in color order. I keep anything less than a yard folded in these shoe box sized boxes from IKEA:

Yards or more are kept on mini bolts made from cardboard used for comic book backs.

I keep scraps in plastic gallon bags in a larger box.

Who is/are your favorite fabric designer(s)? I love pretty much anything Joel Dewberry puts out - I prefer geometric designs to more organic ones - and Denyse Schmidt is also a favorite.

What is one thing that you wish you knew when you first started quilting? I wish I'd known about rotary cutters and cutting mats! My first quilt I made by tracing templates and cutting them out with scissors! When my aunt who quilts heard this, she immediately went out and bought me the rotary cutter, mat, and several rulers. What a huge change!

January Block Tutorial:

Let's start with an easy one for our first month, shall we?

Last year I was in the Sugar Block sew along at Stitchery Dickory Dock and chose to make the blocks out of a color palette of yellows, oranges, and reds on a bright white background.

The block I am asking you to make will be an alternate block with the Sugar Blocks to fill out a quilt. I've chosen a small pieced block (6 inches finished) with a large border to add negative space around the sampler blocks to calm it down a bit. The finished block will be 15"x15" and should be made in solid reds, yellows, and/or oranges, preferably in more vivid shades to match the blocks above. I hope you don't find this too boring! When I was thinking about blocks for this bee, I had a number of ideas, but ultimately settled on one that would help me finish a WIP.

The center of the block is a fairly simple traditional block, which I've seen referred to as Kite or Mill and Stars. This is a pretty straightforward block to paper piece, and I'll be sending all of my Hive 12 mates the paper piecing template. If you've never paper pieced before, I think this is a great one to start with. I'll show step-by-step below how I paper piece, by I'm certainly not an expert. There are many tutorials online that will show you how to paper piece. I learned from this one by Faith at Fresh Lemons Quilts, and Jennifer at Ellison Lane has a good one, here.

For the paper pieced portion of the block, you will need to choose two colors from the red/orange/yellow color scheme, and a bright white (I used Kona White - no cream/off-white, please). You'll need two pieces cut 3" x 4.5" of each color and eight pieces cut 3" x 4.5" for the white background, as below. Paper pieced blocks end up being trimmed, so precise cutting is not necessary here, and paper piecing is really conducive to using scraps, but you probably want pieces at least that big to be certain you can cover the area of the template.

You'll also need two pieces 5" x 6.5" and two 5" x 15.5" of the background white fabric to complete the block, but you can set those aside for now.

Roughly cut out around each of the four sections of the paper piecing template and choose one to start with. The center diamond is the first section, so take one of your color pieces and attach it to the BACK (i.e., not printed side) of the template. I use a glue stick, but others use pins. It just needs to be temporarily held in place until it's stitched to the template. Be certain the fabric covers all of section 1, including the seam allowance on the outside. Holding it up to a light source, like a lamp or window, can help with this.

Next, fold back the template on the solid line between sections 1 and 2. Line up a ruler with the quarter inch line aligned with the folded paper, and trim so there is a quarter inch of fabric beyond the folded edge of the paper. This will ensure your quarter inch seam allowance.

Next, line up a piece of white background fabric with the trimmed edge of section 1. At this point, I just hold it in place as the friction between the two pieces of fabric is enough to make it stay, but if you are uncertain you may want to add a pin.

Now, fold the paper template back to flat and bring to your machine. Set your stitch length to be very short (I usually go just above the number 1 on my machine). This is extremely important, because if the stitch length is too long, you'll have a difficult time getting the paper to separate. Now sew along the solid line between sections 1 and 2. 

Flip the unit over so the fabric is facing up and either press with an iron, or finger press the white background to the other side of the template to cover the triangle shape of section 2. Use the same fold back paper, trim, line up, and stitch process between sections 1 and 3 and you've completed the first unit!

Once all four units are pieced, they'll look something like this:

You need to trim the seam allowances, which are printed in a dashed line on the template. Just line up a ruler and trim with your rotary cutter.

Now arrange the four units so same colors are opposite one another and sew together to create one unit. You may wish to take the papers off before this step, but I tend to leave them on for the added stability.

Finally, take the background pieces you cut above - sew on the 5" x 6.5" on opposite sides of the paper pieced block, then the 5" x 15.5" to finish it off! Don't worry about trimming exactly to 15" square - I can trim as necessary to get everything to fit.

 Thanks, everyone! Let me know if you have any questions.

Hive 7 - January Block Tutorial

Hive 7! Lovelies! My name is Audrey, and I'm currently living in central Illinois among corn and soybeans and lots and lots of snow. However, I'm originally from the southwest, and even though I've lived in the midwest for five years, I still think of myself as a desert girl.

I've been married to my husband for seven years, and I love that man something fierce. We have two boys, N and L, who are almost four and twenty-one months respectively. Life is loud and hectic and messy and sometimes full of fabric, and I adore every second of it. (Okay, not EVERY second. But most of the seconds.)

I can remember attending a craft fair with my mom when I was probably seven or eight, and there was a very traditional double wedding ring quilt for sale. I wanted one for my bed, and I told my mother I wanted to make one. But my mom didn't quilt, and I didn't know anyone who did, and the idea faded. I got into a lot of other crafty stuff, and then I met my friend K, who *did* quilt. I confided in her that I'd always wanted to learn, and she was a total peach and told me that she would teach me. (I'm not sure she knew what she was signing on for, but we're long past that now.) I still haven't made a DWR, and my style is definitely not very traditional, but I plan to make a modern version eventually.

Oh, my stash. I'm sorry if the pic above makes you want to cringe. There is some order here, I swear. Fabric is sorted by color and folded neatly--but not in a consistent manner--in plastic bins. There is no size organization. There are FQs in there. Half yards and maybe even some yard cuts. Some pieces that are leftover from projects, but too big to throw in my scraps drawer. Yardage of a more significant caliber is folded and stored to the side.

Scraps are sorted by color and stored in ziploc bags in the bottom drawer of a three-drawer unit. The top contains my solids collection. And the middle drawer? Oh, the middle drawer. That's my Tula collection. Which leads me to my next question...

I am a serious Tula Pink addict. While I don't have a piece of every fabric she's ever designed, I do have a piece from every single collection up through Acacia. I have yardage that I couldn't live without, and FQs and larger pieces from swaps, and leftovers from the queen-sized Parisville quilt I finished earlier this year. I love me some Tula. I also love Anna Maria Horner and Lizzy House and Lotta Jansdotter, but Tula holds my heart.

I think the most valuable quilting lesson that I have learned--and am still learning--is that I can and will improve. When I first started quilting, I thought HSTs would be the death of me. (Seriously. Don't laugh. I cried over messy blocks!) The idea that I would ever get my points to line up and be perfectly sharp throughout an entire block? I laughed hysterically at that idea. And sure, my current HSTs aren't always perfection. But sometimes they are, and I've seen the same thing happen with other techniques. Flying geese? Mmmhmm. Paper piecing? Um, yes. And now, as I'm hoping to dive into curves in 2014, I'm trusting it'll be the same thing. To remind myself of this lesson, I took an orphaned block made using some of my first HSTs, and I made a cushion cover out of it. The points are HORRIBLE, but now I can smile and know that I have definitely improved.

I can't really say my tools and notion collection is very large, so I guess my bestest tool purchase (of recent) would be my 6.5 x 6.5" ruler. I have a 6" x 24" and of course I love it to pieces, but having something smaller is amazing. I make my big cuts with my big ruler, then switch to my smaller ruler, which is so much nicer to wield. Love love.

I love Sherlock Holmes! I can remember watching The Adventure of the Speckled Band on TV with my parents and being so shocked by the ending, and so I've soaked up Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work and even read some really bad modern SH novels. I love the BBC Sherlock program, and I can't wait until January 19th so I can watch it here in the States!

Thanks for making it this far with me, and let's get on with the tutorial! I'd like you to make a Weathervane block.

I took my inspiration from this tutorial at Don't Call Me Betsy. Elizabeth's instructions are fantastic! I normally make my HSTs two at a time (method #2 on that page) and my flying geese four at a time, but I decided to follow this tutorial verbatim and see how it worked. (But more on that later.)

I found a divine pic on flickr that really inspired my color palette choice, and I decided on a kind of sort of jewel tone theme. For this quilt, I'd like you to use tone-on-tone prints with the exception of the neutral fabric, which should be a solid white. (If you're curious, I'm using Kona white, but by all means, use whatever white solid you have on hand.)

This is my fabric pull. As you can see, these fabrics have no white or black accents in them. It meant cutting out some great pin dot prints that I had initially pulled, but I felt it was the right choice to keep the colors really vibrant. Feel free to use colors from the above palette in whatever placement you think works. I'm so excited to see what you come up with!

And these are the particular fabrics I opted to use. You'll need five prints and some white, and I found it helpful to label my prints A-E. (This photo is actually a bit backward with the green being fabric E and the orange being fabric A.)

Following Elizabeth's diagram, you'll use fabrics A-C for the center square-in-a-square dealiemabob thingie.

Flying geese and HSTs follow using fabric E. If sewing your geese as per the DCMB tutorial, I really appreciated Elizabeth's tip to sew just to the right (closest to the corners) of the line drawn down the center of your neutral. I've had a problem in the past with slightly wonky geese because I've had to press hard to get the neutral to cover everything, and this eliminated that problem. My geese looked so much cleaner in the end.

I probably won't make my HSTs like this again. I am slightly paranoid about bias edges, and while I'm glad I gave it a try, I'd rather make them two at a time. That being said, my HSTs for this block turned out nicely, and you should use whatever method you prefer.

Once the borders are made using the flying geese, HSTs, and fabric D, I lined everything up to make sure it all looked nice and fit together. (It did.)

Two of the borders sewn on, and then the finished block! Your final block should measure 12.5" square, and I just know it will be fabulous. If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me an email. I can't wait to see your creativity and thank you thank you thank you!

Hive 6 - January Block Tutorial

Hello Stash Bee Hive 6!  I'm the hive mama, so January is my month to be queen bee.

What is your name?
Courtney Lyons.  I blog here, and I'm courtiepie on flickr and IG.

Where do you live?
Charlotte, NC
Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)
I am married to my college (UNC - go Tar Heels!) sweetheart, Andrew and we have three boys and a yellow lab, Bettis (I'm originally from Pittsburgh, so the Steelers are big in our house).  I never knew how much free time I had with two until Baby Sean arrived!  I try to fit sewing in any chance I get, but I also love to work out (yoga, running, cycle and cardio funk), garden and cook. 
Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.
 I loved to sew when I was little, probably because of my Aunt Cheryl who taught me to cross stitch and let me sit on her lap while she sewed.  But she was the only one in my family who ever sewed, and we moved away when I was in third grade.  I still kept cross stitching and making doll clothes.  In college I decided I wanted to make a patchwork quilt for my bed.  I had no idea how to do anything (but I sure knew I liked shopping for fabric at Mulberry Silks in Carboro, near the UNC campus), so I used regular scissors and post it notes as a template.  I hand sewed almost the whole thing and when my mom found out, she felt bad and took me to walmart to buy a sewing machine.  I had that $99 singer up until two years ago!  After that quilt, I dabbled in various other artistic pursuits until I discovered an online tutorial about 5 years ago and the floodgates opened to the online sewing community! 

How do you organize your fabric stash? (Picture appreciated)
Good grief, I guess I love to buy fabric more than I actually like to use it.  It's just so pretty and you know you have to get it before it goes out of print!  
 Here is a picture of my sewing room right after we built the L shaped desk area, which is just painted plywood on top of 3 bookcases.  I'm glad I took these pictures, because right now the room is such a mess!  I have changed a few things with storage, though, so I may add some more pictures.

Here is a close up of the bookcase by the window.  There is so much more fabric in there now, all of the bins are full.  The top two shelves on the right hold apparel fabrics.  The top left holds whites, neutrals, linens and some home decor. The bottom two left hold 1/2 yard - 1 yard cuts of fabric that are predominately one color and the bottom right is Anna Maria Horner fabrics.

Across the (small)room is an old dresser and a tall ikea bookcase.  The dresser top holds holiday fabric, fat quarter collections and charm packs.  The small drawers hold fat quarters and sewing supplies while the bottom drawers hold 2 yard+ cuts and some specialty fabrics like terry cloth, PLU, and interfacing.  The tower holds (from the top) sewing books, a bin with scraps arranged in color order, a bin of ribbons, Heather Ross fabrics, a bin with special scraps (precious fabric, linens, multi colored), and more sewing manuals/books.

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?
Anna Maria Horner, Heather Ross, Aneela Hoey, Suzuko Koseki, anything from Echino, Yuwa and Kokka.

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?
Linen fabrics do not pair well with quilting cottons unless you take precautions like larger seam allowances or heavier quilting.  Also, to just fix a mistake right away if it bugs you, if you keep going it is only going to be more trouble to fix and you're never going to not see it!
What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?
 The little snipper scissors.  I can't sit at my sewing machine without them. I also rip seams with them when I am too lazy to find my seam ripper.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.)
 Oh, I could never choose between Anne of Green Gables and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.  I guess they have a lot in common.  I would love to be friends with both of them.  I think Anne was like a friend to me as I read every LM Montgomery book at least twice when I was in 5th or 6th grade.  I like that they are fiercely independent but really feminine too.  And Gilbert and Mr. Darcy.  I'll stop now.

 Okay, on to the January Block!

I am sure I have seen this idea somewhere, as there is nothing new under the sun but the idea came to me when I saw a lattice quilt that I thought would be fun to swap out the lattice part with postage stamp blocks. I'm also really into the scrappy white backgrounds lately, so I used those as background.

As per the bee guidelines, you are only required to make one of these blocks, but may make more.  I made two because my first one was made using pieces from another project and I wanted to make sure if you started from scratch that it could be made in under the 1.5 hour limit.  The block I made from scratch took under half an hour to cut and half an hour to piece.  Leaving you a whole half hour to clean up the mess!

Let's take a look at how this block goes together.  It is pretty much a nine patch with 5 of the blocks being mini nine patches.  You can cut out those little 2" squares individually (and end up with 45 unique fabric squares) or strip piece them which creates some repeats, but is certainly a little quicker.  I cut my 45 pieces individually in less than half an hour from raiding a scrap basket, but it would probably take longer using stash fabrics.

You will need:
(4) 5" charm squares of white/ivory low volume fabric for the corners
(45) 2" squares for the (5) mini scrappy nine patches in bright, happy colors.
or (15) 2"x 7" strips if you would like to strip piece the patches.
*use 1/4" seams throughout

Here is the tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts for strip piecing postage stamp blocks.  I would use her sizing of 2x7" strips because you have a little room for error (vs. 2x6" strips).  In the tutorial she sews 4 strips together, but for this block you will only sew 3 together.  After trimming the blocks into 3 strips, you will also just sew three of these rows together to make the nine patch block.

If you are not strip piecing, just lay out your blocks in an arrangement you like and begin sewing the nine patches. I normally press seams open, but find it too tedious on these small pieces, so I used Rita's method of nesting seams from the tutorial above when it came time to sew my rows together.  You may use whatever method works for you, I'm not too fussy : )

Please trim your blocks to 5" once you finish and press them.  It will help with getting the seams lined up!

If you sewed with a true 1/4" seam you should not have much trimming to do. In the picture above I moved the cutting ruler down (from where I would actually cut) to show you where the two seam lines should lie, at the 1.75 and 3.25 marks.  Finding those marks ensures you don't take too much off one side.

Now you should have (9) 5" blocks to sew into you big nine patch!

I sew the blocks into rows first, press the seams and then join the rows.  All finished.

*A note about color.  I do really want a nice contrast between the patchwork and the background.  Although I love text fabrics, a lot of the ones with black text on white background end up reading a bit darker than you would expect.  I thought that the text fabric I used in the second block would be okay since half of the text was in gray, but it still reads darker than I hoped.  Also, I took most of these photos at night in my sewing room, so I think the patchwork is a little brighter in real life.  I love the colors of the finished quilt in Rita's tutorial, so you can also refer to that if you have any question. 

Thank you so much and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!