2013 Craftsy BOM: A Year in Designing (+ 3 FREE Book Offers)

craftsy quiltThis post is for all of you Craftsy students who have been waiting patiently for a final post on the 2013 BOM class. For those of you not participating in the class, I hope you will bear with us and perhaps find some inspiration and helpful hints to use in your own quiltmaking.

When I was asked to teach the Craftsy class, my goal was to include a variety of beginning to intermediate techniques while demonstrating the monthly blocks. In doing so, I selected some of my favorites. I initially liked the fact that the finished sizes varied, which could provide a potentially interesting and random setting. I make no excuses, but the time constraints in pulling off this class in such a short time frame became quite a challenge! When all was said and done, I felt great about the lessons, but was never quite pleased with the quilt’s final setting. One of my favorite sayings comes from the movie Little Big Man, when the actor, Chief Dan George, says “Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn’t.” My students, though, did have great success with their projects.  If you would like to photos of the student projects, you can view them here.

This past year, I have made a second set of blocks and decided this time to keep the setting simple. My first step is to put the blocks up on the design wall, in no particular order, just to view what exactly I will be working with.

All of the blocks from the 2013 Craftsy BOM.
All of the blocks from the 2013 Craftsy BOM.

The original setting I presented in my Craftsy class was a bit disjointed due to the variety in block sizes. With these new blocks, I have decided on a traditional 3 x 3 setting. Note that I have made an extra Spring Blooms block and grouped all of the half-square triangles together. Since the Star block in the upper-right corner is the largest block, I will use its size as a guide for making the remaining eight blocks. I don’t want to talk specific measurements because the reality is that we each can have our own personal finished sizes. Please don’t worry if yours measures differently from the “desired finished size.” Now is the time to level the playing field by making them all measure the same.

Let’s play around a bit with the blocks and see how they might be combined or enlarged to work into this setting. The Log Cabin blocks (bottom row, center) definitely need some work. I combined them with an extra Strippy Spool block (bottom row, left) to see the effect. I like the look and decided to insert a floral fabric into the alternate spaces to complete the block.

One Strippy Spool block combined with the Log Cabin blocks.
One Strippy Spool block combined with the Log Cabin blocks.
Floral fabric added to empty spaces to complete the block.
Floral fabric added to empty spaces to complete the block.

Next, I enlarged the Basket block. Since the half-square triangles didn’t fit evenly along the sides, I simply added a small strip of fabric to match the end triangle to the end of each row. This doesn’t bother me, but if it does you, consider adding a strip of the background or other fabric to the edges of the block before attaching the half-square triangles. There are always multiple options available, so I encourage you to take some time to experiment. Taking photos along the way can also be very helpful. During the design process, I am constantly asking myself “what if?” and then I try something else. It may take multiple tries before it feels just right.

BasketI joined five of the Strippy Spools blocks (lower-left corner) together on point with setting triangles. I first trimmed my blocks to measure 7-1/4″ square and oversized the setting triangles, giving me some play room with the finished size. I always like having a little extra to trim away if needed.

Five Strippy Spool blocks set on point with setting triangles.
Five Strippy Spool blocks set on point with setting triangles.

The Spring Bloom blocks are easy to join together. They are still a bit too small for the overall setting, so I plan to add a narrow frame around the sewn block to bring it to size.

Four Spring Bloom Blocks.
Four Spring Bloom Blocks.

Finally, I have an abundance of half-square triangles and flying-geese units to play with. There are many, many wonderful designs you can make with these. Here is one I have selected for this quilt.


At this point, I have nine larger blocks, all relatively the same size. I will make any necessary adjustments by adding frames and strips to size them consistently.

I recently found this beautiful ombre fabric by Daiwabo for E.E. Schenck Company and just love how it plays with the blocks. My plan is to join the blocks together with sashing strips using this fabric.


Any leftover flying-geese and/or half-square-triangle units can be used as borders.

I hope this has been helpful for those of you waiting to put your blocks together.

On another note, we here at SHWS have a special offer for three interested readers.

Book Review Announcement

The winner of Chris Porter’s book, Quilts Beneath Your Feet, from Darra’s Friday post is Mrs. Plum. Congratulations!

Until next time, happy creating everyone.


Drafting, Part 2: Making an 8-Pointed or Lemoyne Star in Any Size

Using quilt blocks in a variety of sizes in one quilt can add so much interest to the overall design! One of my favorite pieced-block patterns is the LeMoyne Star, also known as 8-Pointed Star.  Here is one of my recent patterns called Oh My Stars that features this block in two sizes.


If you joined me in my previous post on drafting, you will note that this pattern falls into a category of it’s own called “8-pointed star.” Although it is not as straightforward to draft as other grid category patterns, with a little time and patience you will see how easy it is to make in any size.

You will need:

Graph paper – I use 8-squares-to-the-inch gridded paper as it corresponds to our cutting tools and makes it easy to add the 1/4″ seam allowance.

Drafting ruler

Pencil and eraser

Step One: Mark a square of of any desired finished size onto the graph paper. I am making a 5-1/2″ finished block for this sample.


Step Two: Mark diagonal lines from corner to corner in both directions. Next, find the measurement from the center point to one corner. In this example, the distance is 3-7/8″.  Measure from each corner using this measurement to make tick lines along each side of the square, as shown.

drafting13Step Three: Connect the marks and draw lines exactly as shown in the next three diagrams. Notice that I’ve erased the diagonal pencil lines in the corner squares in the second diagram.




Step Four: Erase a few more of the original lines as shown to reveal only the lines necessary for this block. You may find it helpful to mark around each of the three shapes and label them with letters. You can now determine the cut sizes of the fabric shapes as described below the diagram.

drafting17Shape (A) is easy – just add 1/2″ to the size marked on the graph paper.

Shape (B) is best cut as a quarter-square triangle so that the straight grain of the fabric falls along the outer edge of the block. To determine this measurement, simply add 1-1/4″ to the longest (diagonal) side of the triangle. Cut a square of fabric to this measurement, and then cut the square on the diagonal in both directions to make the four needed triangles.

Shape (C) is the measurement across the diamond, from side to side, exactly as shown, plus 1/2″. These are 45-degree diamonds, so you can simply cut strips the needed width and then use the 45-degree angle marking on your ruler to cut diamonds of the same measurement.
So now you have all the information you need to make these wonderful star blocks in any size. No longer will you be limited to what is available to you in books and magazines. If you need help with y-seam construction, please click here to view my tutorial on this technique.

As promised to my Craftsy students, I will be sharing the new blocks I am making each month. This month, I presented a drafting lesson for the Economy block. Here are my new samples in two different sizes. Be sure to check back at the beginning of each month throughout the year for additional blocks and techniques.

Economy block can be made in any size using simple drafting techniques.
Economy block can be made in any size using simple drafting techniques.
Here's the same block, reduced in size. I added outer triangles to make it larger.
Here’s the same block, reduced in size. I added outer triangles to make it larger.

I hope you have found this helpful. Happy block drafting everyone!