Thursday, December 21, 2023

Trimming Flying Geese

I've been making a fair number of projects that include flying geese lately. Most of these projects use the four at a time method, which I really like. It is fast, easy, and I like to make them oversized so I can trim them and end up with them most accurate flying geese unit possible.  :-) 

There are a ton of tutorials on making four at a time flying geese, so I am not going to show how to do that. Instead, I am going to show you how I like to trim them. There are a couple of steps that are often overlooked, but they are VERY important to have the units turn out exactly as they should. 

For demo purposed, I am using a unit that will measure 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" unfinished (2" x 4" finished).

Here's my untrimmed flying geese block. The block should be pressed well so it lays flat. Notice the orientation of the V. This is important to be able to trim the first two sides accurately!

Even though it may look like it, I do not using the lines on the cutting mat to trim blocks. I like to use a square ruler for trimming, so I am using a 6 1/2" square ruler in this tutorial. (Yes, I know there are special rulers for trimming flying geese. I do not own any of those, and neither do many of my students. That is why I'm doing this tutorial.  😉 

Disclaimer: I am right handed and the pictures below are taken accordingly. 

The first thing I do is orient the 45 degree angle along the right side of the V. Don't worry about lining up anything else just yet. I will show you the most important places to look and align in the next series of pictures.  

The blue arrows in the picture below are what I like to call "alignment points." I am checking for an accurate 45 degree angle of the V, the correct width, the correct height, and the correct center point of the block. Remember that the actual alignment points will change depending on the size of flying geese you are making, but the process will be the same. 

In this example, the flying geese that will measure 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" unfinished, 
so the pictures shows that I am checking for an accurate 45 degree angle of the V, 
the correct width (4 1/2"), the correct height (2 1/2"), 
and the correct center point of the block (2 1/4").  

I am making a flying geese block that measures 2 1/2" x 4 1/2". With that in mind, the following steps should be taken and points should be noted and used to align the ruler before trimming. (See the arrows in the next pictures to help you with alignment.)

1) Align the 45 degree angle of the ruler along the right side of the V. (see purple arrows)

2) The width of the block is 4 1/2" so the center of the block (the tip/point of the V) should be 2 1/4".  (see the white arrow)

3) Once you have aligned the center point, look to the left and make sure the block extends at least to, but preferably a little past, the 4 1/2" line. Check at the top and bottom of the left side of the block. (see the blue arrows) 

4) Check along the bottom to make sure the block extends at least to, but preferable a little past, the 2 1/2" line. (see the orange arrows) 

5) Another thing to look for at this point is to make sure that the fabric extends at least 1/4" from the bottom of the V. This is for the 1/4" seam allowance which will help you not lose the point when you sew the block to another unit or block. (see the center orange arrow) 

**If everything is aligned properly, the right corner of the ruler should intersect with the top, right side of the V. (see top purple arrow) and the 4 1/2" ruler mark should intersect with the top, left side of the V. (see the top blue arrow) 

6) Once everything is correct, trim the right side and top of the flying geese block. 

7) Rotate the block so the V is upside down and the trimmed sides are on the left and bottom.

8) Verify that you have the accurate alignment points again. 

     A) The left side of the block should align with the 4 1/2" mark on the ruler. (see blue arrows)

     B) The bottom should align with the 2 1/2" mark on the ruler. (see orange arrows)

     C) The tip of the V should align with the 2 1/4" mark on the ruler (see pink arrow)

     D) Fabric should extend at least 1/4" past the tip of the V. (see pink arrow)

9) Trim the right side and top.

Here is a perfectly sized 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" flying geese block, ready to be used. 

Another Project

As I said in my last post, we've been quite busy around here but I needed to spend some time with my sewing machine, just to keep my sanity. Sewing really does help me relax, stay calm, and regroup when things are getting a bit out of control. 

I decided that I needed to sew something that is pretty mindless, so I took a look at my many UFOs. I very quickly decided that there are a number of projects that need to stay right where they are. Now is not the time to work on them. For a couple of those project, there may never be a time to work on them, but that's a whole other issue.  

I finally decided that since I'm teaching another Plays Well with Others class in January, and I had a bunch of those blocks already made, that I'd make a new sample. Easy Peasy!

Unlike the first version of this quilt, there is no rhyme or reason to the placement of the strips in this quilt. I simply picked up a strip, decided if it had enough contrast with the one next to it, and then sewed, pressed, and pulled the next strip. No heavy duty thinking needed, and that's exactly what I wanted.

I used the same fabric for the pieces that create the star, so that was easy!

This was fabric that was left over from another project and was perfect to use when I've taught this class previously. No matter what class I teach, I like to make "step-out units" to demonstrate the process of each step. For this quilt, using a light colored fabric made it easy for students to see the markings they would be making. 

By the time I completed all the partial blocks (step-out units) I had enough to put the blocks on the design wall. 

For this quilt, putting the blocks together was pretty simple. I just didn't want two of the same fabrics next to each other and I wanted some contrast between them. Basically, I just put up blocks and then moved them around as needed. 

It is a little deceiving how these blocks are made. You don't start out by making star blocks. Instead, each star block is constructed from four individual "kite" blocks. Sorry! I didn't take a picture of an individual "kite" block when I was making this quilt. Here's a very bad picture from another version that I'm making. 

Once I decided on the final layout, I sewed four "kite" blocks together into stars and then sewed the star blocks together. Again...easy peasy. And guess what...the star points purposely don't have to be matched up perfectly. Yay! 

In an attempt to keep the star points in tact, I purposely "floated" them. That means that the intersection looks like a hot mess up close, but since there are so many fabrics converging here (8 different fabrics), you really don't notice it when the quilt is done. 

It felt good to put this quilt together. I like it and have a couple other versions of it in the works. :-) 

Monday, December 18, 2023

A Little Bit of Sewing

We've been quite busy around here and unfortunately sewing has had to take a back seat. But... I did do a little bit - just to keep my sanity.  :-)  I made a sample for an upcoming class on how to use the Creative Grids Scallop Template. 

This template was designed by Krista Moser and it makes creating scallop-edged quilt pretty darn easy. The first time I used this template was when I made the 2021 Shop Hop quilt for Chestnut Ridge. While this isn't a great picture, I think you can see how that scallop border adds a great finish to the quilt.  

For the upcoming class, I decided to use Krista's Simple Scallop Baby Quilt pattern that is made using a panel. Here is Krista's quilt.

When I first saw this quilt, I went on the prowl to find the panel that Krista used, but I had no luck. Instead, I used a very pretty Flower Market panel from Wilmington Prints. I've used the panel before, but that was prior to the creation of the scallop template. Of course I can't find a picture of the quilt so I guess I'll just have to show the baby quilt. :-) 

I am very happy with this quilt. I chose to use the same fabric for the small border and binding (the pattern is written for that) and I like how it looks. Yes, this is requires bias binding, but that does not bother me. As a matter of fact, in the class; not only will be be learning how to make the scallops, we'll be learning the ins and outs of bias binding. 

I've got to run, but I'll share a few more projects within the next week or so. 

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Veterans Day

A Veterans Day Prayer:

Father God, we ask You to pour out Your grace and renewed hope and strength to those who have so sacrificially protected and served our country. Provide and abundantly bless our Veterans and their families. Holy Spirit comfort, heal, and bring peace to the hearts and homes of all of these brave heroes as only You can. Amen.

I was honored to award 20 Quilts of Valor during the Veterans Day Program at Monroeville High School yesterday.  

This is the 8th years that the school has been involved with awarding the quilts. In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, we set a goal of awarding 20 quilts at the program. I knew it would be challenging to get that done, but I had faith that it would happen. 

Earlier this year, I gave a program at my local guild's meeting with the agreement that I would waive my fee if they allowed me to have a "garage sale" afterwards to raise money for this project. Think about twenty quilts and the amount of fabric, batting, and backing that was going to be needed to make them. I needed money to pay for that, so I went through my stash of notions and fabric and sold them to raise money. I was thrilled with the results and was overwhelmed with gratitude when the guild also paid my fee. One member also handed me two quilts and a big bag of patriotic fabrics for me to use. I am blessed! 💗💗    

I spent months working on QOV projects as leaders and enders, pattern tests, and class samples. When I could, I quilted and bound these quilts. In August, I received a phone call from a friend who works at a local hospice, asking if I had three quilts that I could award to three veterans who had expressed the desire to receive quilts. I am sure you already know how I answered that question. I figured it was only August, so I had plenty of time and could certainly make three more quilts. 

Life got very busy here and about three weeks ago I knew I was going to need help. I reached out to a friend who is involved in a local QOV group. She put me in contact with her group leader and they provided me with three quilt tops. I would need to quilt and bind them (the binding was included), but that was not going to be a problem. To say I was relieved is an understatement! I also had a couple of friends who offered to help with binding or whatever else I needed, but I still felt that things were "doable" for me. (Ok, so maybe what I just described is really called being stubborn or obstinate. Maybe...LOL)   

Fast forward to two weeks ago when I woke up with sharp and constant pain in my back, side, and abdomen. I know that pain well and realized I had a kidney stone. Oh my goodness! I did not have time for this! We made a trip to the ER to verify and get some medication to help along the process. If you've ever experienced a kidney stone, you know that it is not fun and quilting just was not going to happen. It took nine days (and a second trip to the ER) for that stone to pass, but more importantly, I lost nine days of QOV sewing. I will admit that I may have started to panic. 

I took a deep breath, said a few prayers, and decided that I could do this. I HAD to do this! I am blessed with a husband who "gets" me and my somewhat insane ideas, and he stepped up and really helped me stay calm and on task. Thursday evening, while he was at rehearsal, I completed the final quilt. I am not ashamed to admit that I was quite emotional at that point. I was not emotional about how close I was to not getting these done; but rather, I was emotional about the reason I was making these quilts. 


Friday, I was overcome with emotion a few times during the program, especially when the elementary choir was singing. Those children were so passionate and it gives me such hope for our future and the next generation. The program organizer Melissa, did a wonderful job incorporating student participation. Students were invited to enjoy breakfast with their veteran family members and it was so much fun to watch generations spending that time together. Students were also involved in the introductions of the veterans and the wrapping of them. It was wonderful! The school hallways were decorated with amazing artwork from all grade levels and I know the veterans enjoyed seeing it during their walk from the cafeteria to the athletic complex where the program was being held. Great job students!

I always get emotional when I hear the Armed Forces Medley and yesterday was no exception. The band sounded great and it was a wonderful tribute to all branches of the military!  Here is a YouTube link that is from this past Memorial Day program in Washington, DC. This medley includes the Space Force, and I think it is my new favorite version. Armed Forces Medley 

It's lesson time... (clinking on each link will take you to more detailed information) 

From Wikipedia:  The Armed Forces Medley, also known as the Armed Forces Salute is today recognized as a collection of the official marchpasts/songs of the 6 services of the United States Armed ForcesArmyMarine CorpsNavyAir ForceCoast Guard, and Space Force.[1] The medley is usually played in increasing order of precedence:[2]

Semper Paratus (US Coast Guard)

Semper Supra (US Space Force)

The U.S. Air Force (US Air Force)

Anchors Aweigh (US Navy)

Marines' Hymn (US Marine Corps)

The Army Goes Rolling Along (US Army)

Bottom line - all 20 quilts got made and awarded and the program went off with only a few minor hiccups. I am proud and honored to be a part of celebrating our veterans. I look forward to doing this again for many years to come. 

Thank you Veterans!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Tutorial - Scrappy Leaf Potholders

I completely forgot to share my Scrappy Leaf Potholder pictures and tutorial. Oh my...

I've recently been trying to use scraps and made bowl cozies. Those were fun and easy to make and l really liked how they turned out using scrappy strip sets. 

Since I made quite a few strips sets, some of which were kind of small, I decided to use the same concept for making potholders. These really are fun and easy to make. And...I love how they look!

Here's the process I used for making these fun and function potholders.



Fabric Scraps - at least 8” in length and in widths ranging from                               1” – 2 ½”

Backing Fabric – at least 8” x 11 ½”

Bias Binding – approximately 2” x 30” per potholder

Cotton Batting – at least 8”x 11 ½”

Insul-Bright – at least 8” x 11 ½”

Leaf Template



Download and print the leaf template

(I'm having trouble getting the download to work properly. If you want the leaf template, leave a comment and I'll send it as a pdf to you.)

Cut out the leaf and cut the leaf in half along the dotted center line.

Cut fabric strips in various widths ranging from 1” to 2 ½”. 

The strips need to be approximately 8” long.

Lay out strips and arrange them in an order that is pleasing to you. Using a ¼” seam allowance, sew the strips together. Continue sewing strips until you have a piece that measures at least 11” long. Press seams in one direction. 

Sew at least 2 strip sets, using different fabrics, or fabrics placed in different locations in the strip set.

Lay the right half of the leaf template on one strip set, tilting the tip to the right. 
Cut out the half leaf shape. 
Rotate the strip set and cut a second right half of the leaf template. 

With the other strip set, lay the left half of the leaf template, tilting the top to the left. Cut out the half leaf shape. Rotate the strip set and cut a second left half of the leaf template.

Sew the left and right leaf halves together and press seam open to reduce bulk. You will have 2 potholders ready to be quilted. The more strip sets you make, the more you can mix and match the sides and have a nice variety of “looks.” 

One benefit of cutting strips a variety of widths is that you don’t need to worry about matching seams. Sometimes they will match up perfectly, while others will be more whimsical and will be playfully mismatched.

Layering the Potholder

*In my house, the side of the potholder that will touch hot dishes is always the backing. It is usually not pieced and the side that I don’t mind getting dirty or even burned. The shiny side of the Insul-Bright faces the heat source so it can reflect the energy back to its source. The cotton batting is next to the top/pieced part of the potholder and provides a barrier to protect your hands.

Layer the potholder as described below:

Backing – right side DOWN

Insul-Bright – shiny side down toward the Backing

Cotton Batting

Leaf Potholder – right side up.

Quilt as desired.  


The leaf is curved, so bias binding will make binding this much easier. I like to hand stitch binding, but you can sew it down by machine, if desired. 

Trim the potholder around the leaf edges. I used 2" bias binding and used my favorite binding method of sewing to the front and then hand stitching it to the back. 


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Scrap Sewing Continued

I am happy to say that I worked with the pile of scrappy strips that I shared yesterday. 

Last night I sewed a few strip sets.  

As you can see from the picture taken after they were pressed, the edges do not need to be even. The length of the sets needed to be approximately 12" for the long ones and 8" for the short ones.

The 12" strip sets also needed to measure at least 11" tall.

The 8" strip sets also needed to measure at least 11" tall. 

I decided to work with the long sets first. I am presenting some demos at an upcoming event at Chestnut Ridge Sewing, so I decided to "practice" one of my demos using scraps, rather than yardage. I'll have a sample of how I used these strip sets with me. If you are in that area Thursday or Friday, stop in and see me. I'll be in the classroom. :-)

I am sure many of you have made bowl cozies, but I will admit that I made my first ones this past summer and really enjoyed making them. Here are a couple of pictures of one that I made. 

I used the Creative Grids Bowl Cozy Template Set and love the fact that I can make two sizes with it. I like the scallop edges, and think it makes picking up the cozy really easy. Plus, I just like the way it looks. :-)

I decided to make a small cozy using scraps and I really like how it looks. (There is a a template available from The Gypsy Quilter for use with 2.5" strips, but I really wanted to mix and match strips widths.) I also used the pre-cut 100% cotton batting, which made this cozy go together very fast. (Taking pictures of this is NOT easy.  LOL)

Just because I can, I am going to share a few pictures showing my process and a few of the adjustments I've made from the original pattern. One of the reasons I had not made any of these prior to this summer was that quite honestly, I was never much impressed with them. I always felt that they kind of looked sloppy and I didn't like the "fullness" or "not fully quilted" look of the ones I've seen. I am a quilter and while I don't like overly dense quilting, I really don't like quilting that is spaced too far apart. (Yep! I'm picky.)

Ok...back to the process. As you can see from the strip sets below, there is no real rhyme or reason to my strip sets, other than that they should measure at least 11" high by 12" long. I do prefer to have a wider strip on the ends and not a really narrow one, like 1". I think that makes any needed trimming easier. 

I squared up the strip sets to 11" x 11", as per the instructions on the template set. (I've seen instructions that say to start with 10" - 10.5" squares, but that is too close for comfort for me.) 

Using the instructions on the template set, I folded and cut the strip set to end up with this odd looking piece. The cut out V sections are for the darts that will be sewn after the pieces is quilted. This, and the curved sections create the scallop look that I like so well. (I'm not going to show how to cut the template. It's pretty straight forward if you follow the instructions on the package. That, and the fact that I forgot to take pictures. LOL) 

Using a chalk marker, I drew the lines I wanted to quilt. This is more than usual, but as I said earlier, I like these cozies to be more heavily quilted. 

For this scrappy cozy, I also stitched in the ditch of all the seams. Here is a picture from the back, showing all of the lines of quilting that I added. It looks like a hot mess, doesn't it?  

Here is a picture of the back of the original cozies that I made. This shows that I sewed a few "extra" lines on those from what is suggested on the instructions. I really like adding the stitching that creates a square along what will be the bottom of the cozy. I feel like it helps them stand more upright. Honestly, you can quilt as much or as little as you like. It doesn't matter. You can even use decorative stitches, if you want. You are the decision maker here. :-) is my scrappy bowl cozy. I like it and have enough strip sets sewn to make at least two more. I am also going to make a couple of the large cozies. That strip set will measure approximately 17" x 17" and be trimmed to 16" square. I'll follow the same procedure, including using the large pre-cut batting.  to work with the small strip sets. That project is a little different, but along the same lines. It will also be used in the kitchen. :-)