Miniature Block Exchange

14 09 2017

Earlier this summer my friend Lori organized a 4″ block exchange among five quilting friends. We used the Simple Friendships book by Kim Diehl and Jo Morton as our guide. (Click here to view the book on We are making blocks for the row by row sampler quilt on page 100. While the book gives instructions for using only brown Civil War prints and tan shirtings, we are using various colors with the shirtings. The only stipulation was that we must use fabrics from our stashes (i.e. not purchase any new fabric). This rule was hard to abide by because I found some gorgeous medium blue with small white paisleys and a lovely tiny floral with mustard yellow background at Loving Stitches quilt shop. (I bought fat quarters anyway to use in a future Civil War repro quilt.)

There are six different blocks in the sampler, so Lori settled on a six month exchange scheme. We are to mail three of the blocks to the other participants in September. Enthused about the project, I made five each of four of the blocks right away. Then summer activities and other quilts distracted me. September rolled around, and I realized that the two blocks I procrastinated in making are supposed to be mailed this month. Arrrgh!

A couple of hours of concentrated cutting and sewing, and they are done! It will be so much fun to see the fabrics my friends have used in their sampler blocks. Although the blocks and the wall quilt are small, the exchange project stretches over several more months, so you probably won’t see the finished quilt until the new year.

Are you currently participating in a block exchange?


Quiltmaker’s Bitty Blocks – November

2 12 2015

Each month of this year, Quiltmaker magazine editors have posted a tutorial for a miniature quilt block. November’s block, written by Carolyn Beam, is “Friendship Star.” The block finishes at 3″ square. Click here to link to the Quilty Pleasures blog to see Carolyn’s very cute star blocks.

I’m thinking I could use all the triangles cut from joining quilt binding that I’ve piled up behind my sewing machine to make Bitty “Friendship Stars.”


IMG_3715Since I usually cut binding strips 2 1/2″ wide and join them diagonally, the colorful “waste” triangles, once sewn to light background triangles, can be trimmed to 1 1/2″ with room to spare. It was fun to rummage in my box of scrappy 1 1/2″ squares to find contrasting prints for the centers and 4 matching white squares for the corners of each block.

IMG_3716As per Carolyn’s instructions on the Quilty Pleasures blog, my “Friendship Star” blocks measured 3 1/2″ unfinished. Then inspiration struck . . . these patchwork blocks would make darling Christmas tree ornaments or package name tags! To that end, I cut 3 1/2″ squares of batting for each block and 5″ squares of backing fabric. Looking closely at the photo, you can see that I ironed under 1/4″ all around the 5″ red backing square. After placing the batting and star block on top of the wrong side of the backing, I folded over the pressed edges to the right sides of the block and machine top-stitched with coordinating thread. This method makes a narrow back-to-front binding. To make hangers, I cut 8″ lengths of ribbon, folded them and hand stitched them to the backs of the ornaments.


Are you inspired to make Bitty “Friendship Star” ornaments? (Let me know if you need some tiny triangles; I am sure I can find 4 that match in the pile behind my sewing machine!)


September’s Bitty Block

28 09 2015

Throughout this year Quiltmaker editor, Diane Harris, is designing and blogging about miniature quilt blocks, one per month. The ultimate goal is to make a row by row quilt of the mini blocks. I admit, I have not kept up with the challenge nor have I blogged about each block as I planned to. However, you can keep up to date or research past months’ blocks at the website.


September’s Bitty Block is one of my favorites–“Saw Tooth Star.” Diane has a fantastic tutorial on miniaturizing the Star to 4″ square. Click here for the instructions, and have fun making a batch of bitty “Saw Tooth Stars.”

Can you guess what I plan to do with my four “Saw Tooth Stars?” Here’s a hint:



Quiltmaker Bitty Blocks – March

9 03 2015

On the first Monday of each month this year, Quiltmaker publishes a mini block on-line. This month it’s “Home Sweet Home,” a darling little house.

QM bitty houses

You can read editor Diane Harris’ tutorial here. Her bitty house blocks are pictured above. Quiltmaker suggests making a Row by Row quilt at the end of the year. You can see several suggested layouts for various sized quilts here.

DSCN7124Inspired by a quilt I saw exhibited at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, I made nine blocks with my collection of ethnic prints acquired several years ago on a mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya. I added a few scraps from Kaye England’s “African Inspirations” line. I used black as the background just as the “inspiration quilt” did. Black really allows the bold colors to “pop.” Notice the letters on the selvage at the bottom of the center house, “GHAN.” This fabric was printed in Ghana!


Have you perused the quilting book “Best of Circle of Nine” by Janet Houts and Jean Ann Wright? I used a setting idea from the book to arrange my nine bitty house blocks in a circle. Arranging them in a circle rather than sashed traditionally seems more village-like.


After adding a narrow black border all around, my mini quilt measured 13 1/2″ square. For quilting, I chose a thin black thread and stitched minimally in the seams. Binding with a zebra print jazzes up the quilt, don’t you think? Now I have a visual, quilt-y reminder to pray for people suffering religious and ethnic persection in Africa.


What fabrics would you use for your itty bitty houses?