“Economy Block” – Wrap-Up

May 31st – today my husband and I celebrate forty-three years of marriange! And we also celebrate those of you who have completed the “Economy Blocks” for your “Rows Parade” quilt. I have some pretty blocks made by QAL (quilt along) participants to show you.

First up are Colleen’s blocks. She used all three major values in each block: light for centers and dark for the small triangles which contrast nicely with the medium floral prints of the large triangles. Way to go, Colleen!

Ann wrote, “These were fun!” She found an interesting text print for the block centers and varied the placement of darks and mediums.

Ann also sent a picture of all the blocks she’s made. What fun to see her quilt coming together!

Karen is using fabric designed by Kaffe Fassett. By using a light fabric for the small triangles, she is able to showcase both the dark center squares as well as the color-intense fabrics of the large triangles.

Beth sent several pictures of blocks made by her quilt group. Aren’t these gingham fabrics so nice? They really make a statement used all together.

Check out these sea creatures! This maker used the same light fabric for all the large triangles, the same dark blue for the small triangles, and various medium prints for the center squares.

And here is a totally scrappy version. Can you analyze the values in these blocks?

And we all love Lori Holt style calicos! I have observed that many 1930s repro fabrics are medium in value. Therefore, the contrast within the quilts is often in texture or color rather than in value, as in the pink block below.

“Economy Block” is the first design in our BOM with three distinct areas, enabling us to contrast those areas by varying the values: light, medium, and dark. The other blocks–Simple Windmill, Hearts, Nine Patch, and Plus Signs–have just two areas, a background and a foreground. I hope you enjoyed playing with value in May, and I can’t wait to see the way you color June’s blocks.

If you completed the “Economy Blocks” needed for your size quilt, comment “DONE” below. You’ll be entered in a drawing for a free quilting magazine.

“Ruby Jubilee” Finished!

My “Ruby Jubilee” quilt is finished, and there is much rejoicing! The block instructions for this extra large sampler quilt were published in the 2022 issues of Quiltmaker magazine. A Quilting Daily editor, Denise McKenna, selected blocks from Bonnie Hunter’s “Addicted to Scraps” column of the magazine. Bonnie has submitted a pieced block suitable for scraps for the column for the past 10 years. Denise’s impetus for designing the ruby red and white quilt was celebrating 40 years of publication for the magazine.

I incorporated pink fabrics as well as deep red and off white by using “Braveheart” fabrics (Laundry Basket Quilts by Edyta Sitar). As you can see, the blocks are of various sizes: 8,” 10,” 12,” and 16.” And as you can imagine, the quilt was assembled puzzle-style in sections.

Denise’s instructions called for several white rectangles and several long red strips as fillers. I wanted to replace the white rectangles with patchwork, but I was stumped about which designs to use, and I needed a large block of time to figure it out. After completing all the blocks, I put off the finishing of “Ruby Jubilee” until a retreat at the end of April when my friend Marie brought her “Sapphire Surprise” (a.k.a. “Ruby Jubilee” made with blue fabrics) for show and tell. Marie showed me the patchwork designs she substituted for the white rectangles, and this gave me ideas for my quilt. Instead of dark red filler strips, I used several coordinating prints of medium value to better blend with the patchwork blocks.

This close-up shows one of several Flying Geese units I made to add to my limited amout of light print border fabric. The quilting motif is freehand ruffled spirals and heart shaped leaves with light pink thread.

I have to say that “Ruby Jubilee” is my favorite make of 2022-2023, but the blocks would still be sitting in a pile were it not for Marie’s encouragement. She helped me find the way forward, and the retreat gave me the amount of time needed to sew the blocks into sections and the sections into the quilt top.

Comment below about a project that languished until a quilting friend gave you ideas and motivation to finish it. I am sew grateful for my friends’ advice, and I know you are as well.

“Economy Blocks” – BOM Participants Share

It has been a busy month, hasn’t it? Lots of quilts on my to-do list have been checked off, but, as always, I have more projects I wish to finish before the self-imposed deadline of May 31.

One achievement worth writing about is my row of “Economy Blocks” now pinned to my design wall. And I have pictures of blocks made by BOM participants to show you for inspiration.

Rochelle’s blocks are so vibrant. Love them!

Lucy’s are so sweet! Notice her use of stripes in two of the blocks. Brilliant!

Jeanie is making two quilts – twin size and queen size. The text print in the centers of her blocks beckons me closer to see if I can decipher what has been written.

I think these blocks were made by Eilene who is also having fun with striped fabric.

Way to go, ladies! Thanks for sharing pictures of your progress!

If you are sewing along on our Block of the Month, “Rows Parade,” but you haven’t yet made the “Eonomy Blocks,” carve out some time over the long Memorial Day weekend to work on them. Your fellow participants have commented about how fun and easy they are to make. Remember – links to the free instructions are found under the Rows Parade BOM 2023 tab in the blog menu.

Grocery Tote Published!

Friday was a red letter day. I received, not one, but two quilting magazines in the mailbox! The July/August 2023 issue of McCall’s Quilting contains seven stunning projects. Gigi Levsen, the editor, selected quilts inspired by vacations. Click here for a “first look” at the projects patterned in this issue. I love the “Skyscrapers” wall quilt designed by Susan Deshensky and Natalie Crabtree’s “City Park.”

The other magazine in my mailbox was the July/August issue of Quiltmaker magazine with a “Let’s Get Cooking” theme. Tracy Mooney, the editor called for quilts with a foodie theme. I submitted a grocery tote design, and it was selected for publication!

Aren’t the “Fancy Fruits” fabrics designed by Kris Lammers for Maywood Studio perfect for the grocery tote? To give the bag body, I used a fusible foam, but filled the handles with batting. This is a roomy and sturdy tote; I know you will enjoy making and using it.

Are you curious about the other projects in this magazine issue? Click here for a “first look” at the projects patterend in the July/August issue of Quiltmaker magazine. Which is your favorite?

“Economy Block” on Steroids

This April/May 2021 issue of Fons and Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts has been floating around my living room for two years and finally landed on my night stand for thumbing through, yet again, at bedtime. (Click here to purchase a digital copy of the magazine.)

Jen Schafer’s quilt, “Squared Again,” recently caught my attention (pp. 16-19). It’s an “Economy Block” within an “Economy Block,” within an “Economy Block” . . . like ripples in water. Indeed, lake ripples caused by one raindrop inspired Jen when making her quilt.

Since our BOM for May is “Economy Block,” I decided to make a baby quilt similar to Jen’s. I used fabrics on hand and downsized a bit to achieve the 36″ – 40″ size for a NICU quilt. Aren’t those colorful ladybugs the cutest?

For the quilting motif, I took a cue from the light print with squiggly blue, green, and purple lines. I used lime green thread which blends perfectly with the lime green ladybug print used on the front as well as the back. Meandering with loops suits this quilt to a T.

Oops, I Made Too Many!

I’ve been working on a twin size “Rows Parade,” month by month, along with you. (“Rows Parade” is the free Block of the Month offered on this blog. Click “Rows Parade BOM 2023” in the menu to access instructions.) In April, I made eight 6″ “Plus Sign” blocks, and I suppose I was on a roll with making eight blocks in May. However, May’s “Economy Blocks” measure 8″ finished, and therefore I only need six blocks. I made too many! My blocks turned out so nicely, I don’t want to discard them. How shall I turn this mistake into a design opportunity? I will have to think about it!

Did you notice the “25 Patches” in the upper left corner of my design wall? These blocks, made from 2″ mostly blue scrap squares, are my current Leader/Ender project. I have been working on a “Nine Patch” Leader/Ender with 2″ squares of various colors and have used all my scrap squares except lights, blacks, and blues. My friend Patti shared a bunch of her scrap squares with me, but I still ended up with an overage of blues. Thus, the new Leader/Ender project. I’ve decided to spice up some of the blocks by adding a random red square. I may sash the blocks with red or white fabric . . . this is another design opportunity to think about.

Have you ever made too many? Too many HSTs? Too many Four Patches? Too many blocks for the quilt? Too much jam for the jars on hand? Too many chairs, pens, and handouts for the number of people who actually showed up? How did you turn your overage to advantage?

New Design Wall

Having my quilting studio painted in April precipitated the reorganization of sewing desks and fabric shelves. My daughter urged me to reserve a 6′ x 6′ space for a design wall. Heretofore, the wall was masked by fabric storage shelves, and I used a portable design wall by Cheryl Ann. Do you like the new look?

My husband cut two 3′ x 6′ pieces of 1″ thick insulation. We used duct tape to join them on the side that would be closest to the wall. From JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, I purchased 2 yards of gray felt that was 72″ wide. We had to cut the insulation smaller so we could wrap the felt to the back side and duct tape it in place. The rectangular cutout is for an electrical outlet. My daughter suggested stapling the design wall to the room’s wall, but our staples were not long enough. We used thin nails instead. The felt will hold small blocks or swatches of fabric in place just fine, but I use pins for larger, heavier blocks.

“Ribbon Star and Chain” is my current WIP (work in progress), and the design wall is helping me achieve color balance between pink, blue, and green throughout the quilt.

I am really happy with my new design wall, but I am curious what you use for a design surface. Leave a comment below, please. Your comment may spark an idea for another quilter.

“Economy Block” Inspiration and a Magazine Winner

Would you like to see a picture of some of Linda’s “Economy Blocks?” Linda is quilting along on the 2023 Block of the Month, “Rows Parade.” You can find links to free instructions on the “Rows Parade BOM 2023” page of this blog.

I love the fussy-cut roses in the center of each block, and I love the floral fabric of the large triangles. Because Linda used the same light floral fabric for all the blocks, the more intense colors of the small triangles really stand out. Tip: Notice that the measurement given in the instructions for the center square is 4 1/4,” not 4 1/2″ (which is actually the correct mathematical measurement for this 8″ block). Remember that I modified the traditional measurements to make sewing and trimming easier and more accurate.

Perhaps you will have some time this weekend to work on your Economy Blocks! This versatile design has become one of my favorites. It works well for an “I Spy” quilt, the patches are simple to cut, there are only eight seams, and it trims up nicely without losing triangle points.

Magazine Winner: Rebecca Bunke is the winner of a quilting magazine . . . she finished making “Plus Sign” blocks in April for her “Rows Parade” quilt. Congrats, Rebecca!

“Rows Parade” BOM #5 Economy Blocks

I am happy so many of you are keeping up with the Block of the Month for 2023, “Rows Parade.” If you are a new blog reader and wonder what all the hubbub is about, click on Rows Parade BOM 2023 in the blog menu. You’ll link to a page with free downloadable instructions for all the blocks, to date.

“Economy Block” is the design for May. Refer to the instructions and note how many blocks you need to make for your chosen quilt size. I simplified the measurements of the traditional design to make the block easier to sew and trim accurately. In other words, for an 8″ finished block, the center square is traditionally cut at 4 1/2,” but I ask you to cut a 4 1/4″ square and add over-size triangles. You will trim the “square in a square” to 6″ x 6.” Pay attention to the square up instructions – If you have a 6″ square ruler, you can center the ruler on top of the block and trim all four sides. However, many of you have a 6 1/2″ square acrylic ruler . . . you will need to focus on the 3″ marks of the ruler, aligning them with the corners of the inner square. You will trim two sides, then rotate the block 180 degrees, line up the 3″ marks with the remaining two square corners, and trim the remaining sides of the block. Sew and trim the second round of triangles similarly. If you don’t have an 8 1/2″ square ruler, use a larger square ruler and align the 4 1/4″ marks of the ruler on the corner squares, again leaving more than 1/4″ seam allowance. If you look at the photo closely, you will see that the squares “float,” meaning the cutting measurements allow for more than 1/4″ seam allowance. I hope this method reduces your block-making stress this month.

I used a text print as the center square of all my blocks. You may wish to fussy-cut an interesting motif. Alternately, you could plan a color-rich center square surrounded by light triangles, surrounded by dark triangles. I can’t wait to see your “Economy Blocks.” Email me a picture, aby.quilts@gmail.com.

BOM #4 Plus Sign Blocks Wrap-Up

Here we are at the end of April, and I hope you have risen to the challenge of making Plus Sign Blocks for your “Rows Parade” quilt! If you have completed your blocks, comment “Done” in the comment section, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free quilting magazine.

Rochelle sent a picture of her blocks. As in previous rows, she alternated nearly solids with colorful prints.

Ann also sent a picture. I love the colors and textures of her patchwork!

Beth sent pictures of two Plus Sign rows made by ladies in her sewing group. The first is made with fabrics designed by Lori Holt; aren’t those diagonal ginghams cute?! And the second is made with scraps; “Rows Parade” is a perfect scrappy project!

Jeanie is ambitiously making two “Rows Parade” quilts, one queen size and the other twin size. Aren’t these fun fabrics? I spy fussy-cut flowers in the longer row!

Take a look at Linda’s blocks. She creatively used two prints for each plus sign.

Thanks, ladies for sending me pictures of your patchwork blocks. Your creativity and workmanship is inspiring!

Are you excited to learn what block design you’ll sew in May? Come back tomorrow, May 1st, when the instructions are posted on the Rows Parade BOM 2023 page of this blog. Remember to comment “Done” if you completed the blocks for April.