Hopeful Homemaker

nurturing hope in family life

April 16, 2014
by jennifer
3 Comments

Scrappy Hunter’s Star Tutorial (a layer cake friendly pattern)

scrappyhuntersstarquilt

Early this week I shared photos of my scrappy version of a Hunter’s Star quilt.  I realized when I was finished with it that I had stumbled on a great pattern for a layer cake, so I thought I’d share a quick tutorial.

hunterstarwithdots

Fabric requirements:

Each 8 pointed star in a hunter’s star quilt is made up of four smaller blocks.  For the quilt I made, which is 64 inches square, I used:

32 – 10 inch squares of various fabric prints (which is most of  a layer cake, although I cut my own squares from Bonnie Christine’s Reminisce collection for Art Gallery Fabrics)
32 – 10 inch squares of background fabric (2.5 yards of fabric.  I used a black on white swiss dot print for my background)

Note:  If you’re using a layer cake, you should have 40 prints to choose from.  I recommend eliminating those prints that most closely match your background fabric so they don’t get lost in the quilt and make it more difficult to see the pattern.  For example, if you’re using a solid white background and the layer cake has a solid white print in it, or a white print with a very light pattern on it, you may want to skip it.  That said, you can see in the photo above that I did use some low volume prints from the collection in my quilt top.  I liked using a few of them, but there were other prints that were even softer which I set aside and didn’t use in this project.   Also, because I used a swiss dot print for my background, the softer prints I included still looked different from the background fabric.

If you want to increase or decrease the size of the quilt, know that one print and one background square will make two blocks.  Four blocks will give you a full star in the center of the blocks.

teninchsquares

To make the blocks, we’ll be cutting triangles, diamonds and trapezoids from each 10″ square.  To begin, cut your square in half diagonally:

step1

Place the two triangles on top of one another for faster cutting.  With a ruler, measure 2.5 inches from the edge of the diagonal cut, as seen below with the small ruler.  Notice that on the bottom left and top right edges of the triangle my cutting ruler is more than 2.5 inches from the point of the triangle.  The measurement that matters is the one from the diagonal edge we just cut.

step2

Cut along that line, creating two smaller triangles and two trapezoids.

step3

Set aside the triangles and line the trapezoid strip up carefully on your cutting mat.  I prefer to use my 45 degree angle lines and I line the far right edge up on an inch line.  From that far right side, measure into your trapezoid 2.5 inches once more.

step4

Cut your fabric, creating two diamonds.  Repeat once more, measuring another 2.5 inches from the cut you just made and cutting two more diamonds.

step5

From one ten inch square you should now have two triangles, four diamonds and two trapezoids.

threeshapes

Repeat this process with the remaining prints.

cutallpieces

Now do the same thing with all the ten inch background squares.  Every piece in this quilt is cut the same way.

repeatwithbackgroundsquares

Once all the shapes are cut you can put together a block.  Think of each block as having two triangles.  One uses background fabric for the diamonds and prints for the triangle and trapezoid, and the other triangle uses background fabric for the trapezoid and triangle and the diamonds are prints.  Below is the layout for a hunter’s star block:

huntersstarblocklayout

Sew the diamonds first.  Carefully turn a printed diamond piece right side down and carefully line it up with the right side of a short end of the background trapezoid.  Because we are sewing angles, do not line the pieces up from corner to corner.  Instead you will need to have a tiny (1/4 inch) triangle sticking out on each end.  This will allow your fabrics to line up straight after you sew them together.

sewdiamondtotrapezoid

Here’s a closer look at how to line them up.  Sew the pieces together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

lineupseam

Do the same thing with the diamond at the other end of the trapezoid.

addseconddiamond

Press the seams open.  *In this quilt I pressed every seam toward my printed fabrics so the seams would nest when pieced together.

pressopen

Now repeat the process, sewing the background diamond pieces to the printed trapezoid piece, again ironing the seams toward the print.

repeatwithotherside

Next, sew the triangles to the trapezoids.  Once more, you will have the corners of the triangles hanging over the edges of the trapezoid piece.   On this seam the overhang will likely be more than 1/4 inch, which is fine.  Just try to center the triangle as best you can with equal overhang on each side.  sew together.

addtriangles

Repeat with the other half of the block.  Note:  At this point, I ironed the seams toward all the printed fabric triangles, and on the other triangle I ironed my seams toward the printed fabric diamonds.  If you do this, your seams will nest when piecing together your quilt top.

bothsidesdone

And finally, sew the two triangles together.  The most important thing is getting the seams between the diamonds and trapezoids to nest together (see where my pins are).

sewsidestogether

Once again, press the final seam toward the printed fabric diamonds.  Your block is finished!  Once you have the hang of the block, chain piecing them together is very fast and efficient.  I chain pieced a diamond to one end of every trapezoid, then did the same thing with the other end.  Finally I chain pieced all the triangles on and then sewed the blocks together.  It really is a very fast finish.

scrappyhuntersstarquiltblock

Trim each block carefully to 8.5 inches square and you’re done with the block!

trimblock

When you’ve pieced your first four blocks together you will see the 8 pointed star that emerges in the corners of the blocks.  This really is such a beautiful block.

huntersstarquiltblocks

Lay out your blocks in 8 rows that are 8 blocks long (each block making 1/4 of an 8 pointed star) and sew them together, paying careful attention to matching the seams on the diagonal points and in the corners.  Sew the rows together and you have a finished quilt top!  I really love the scrappy look of this quilt, as it freshens and updates the traditional hunter’s star block in a beautiful way.  If you want to see what a quilt would look like in just two colors, you can see my traditional red and white Hunter’s Star quilt here.  You can also find pictures of a Hunter’s star made with solid linen and a single print in my Hunter’s Star pillow here.  There are so many different ways to interpret this quilt block.  I hope you have fun!

scrappyhuntersstar1

Jennifer

April 14, 2014
by jennifer
6 Comments

Reminisce: Scrappy Hunter’s Star Quilt Top

scrappyhunterstarblocks

Phew!  It seems like I haven’t finished much this year in the quilting category but I have a finished quilt top!  This one makes me happy and I hope you’ll indulge a bit of rambling as I share the reasons why.  Back in 2011 I finished a traditional Hunter’s Star quilt, red and white, which has been snuggled in, spilled on, stained and loved and then used some more.

huter's star quilt close

I love this quilt, largely for it’s bold design but also because we’ve loved it so much.  Interestingly, I also get new comments on that blog post all the time, and as I was pondering that a few months ago I suddenly saw the design with new eyes.  I pictured a scrappy, colorful version, larger than my original quilt and with a small print instead of a solid for the contrasting background.

reminiscefabric

Bonnie Christine’s first fabric collection, Reminisce, was the perfect fit.  I love the fabrics in this line.  I sketched, calculated and began to cut, but other pressures with the holiday season came along and I set it aside.  I was pulling it out to start sewing in February when I had the opportunity to participate in the Sweet as Honey Blog Tour for Bonnie’s new Sweet as Honey collection.   My first idea for the blog tour was a Hunter’s Star pillow,  which I made by adjusting my measurements yet again and using a natural linen with the fabric she sent me.  I especially loved how the hand quilting turned out:

huntersstarpillow

As you can read in my post, looking at those little beehives generated another idea with Bonnie’s fabric which came to life in my Hexagon Beehive Mini Quilt:

hexibeehiveminiquilt2

When the blog tour was over, I returned to my idea of a scrappy Hunter’s star quilt and got to work.  Here is my finished quilt top:

**edited to add:  Because this quilt top uses 10 inch sqaures and is perfect for a layer cake, I decided to post a tutorial.  You can find it here.

scrappyhuntersstar1

The eight pointed star pattern doesn’t emerge as readily in this version, but still I love it.  I love the tiny black polka dots, love the colors and patterns, loved hanging it from my cherry tree that’s suddenly covered in blossoms.

scrappyhunterstar

This quilt top also reminds me of a beautiful principle taught by Twyla Tharp in her book, The Creative Habit. I read it a few years ago and one of the parts I loved most was the chapter about scratching for ideas.  What stuck with me was her discussion of big and small ideas.  She writes about big ideas as things that often come to us when we’re wanting to catch people’s attention, make lots of money, or make a name for ourselves.  They are often difficult to execute and can become all-consuming.  On the other hand, small ideas may be less significant but are often things that keep generating more ideas.  They feed creativity.  Sometimes the small ideas end up being best.   I guess the biggest reason this quilt top makes me happy is because for me, it’s a celebration of small ideas.  I get ideas all the time and some are better than others.  Some of them take shape and others seem to fight me.  Some of  them I don’t have time for while others send me down an unexpected path.  This little idea of re-thinking my picture of a hunter’s star quilt block has been a small idea that generated more ideas, more opportunities, and especially more joy in creating.  I’m sure someone, somewhere, has already done this with this block, but I’ve never seen it.  I certainly didn’t create the hunter’s star quilt block, but I’ve loved following the trail of my own vision, bringing to life something I have only seen in my mind’s eye.  This is something we quilters do all the time, interpreting patterns with our own colors, variations and twists.  It’s one of the things I love most about the quilting community – watching how we all inspire each other and are in turn inspired, with more creative outcomes than we can count.  Little ideas generate beautiful things, and the more we do it the easier the process becomes.

scrappyhuntersstar2

When I look at this quilt top, I see a physical reminder of the journey of creativity that comes through small ideas.  That journey brings me joy and is an experience I hope will always be part of my life in some way or another.

I hope it’s part of yours, too.
Thanks for visiting!
Jennifer

Linking to Freshly Pieced!

March 26, 2014
by jennifer
7 Comments

Tone it Down Quilt Blocks

toneitdownblock1

Like many others, I fell in love with Lissa Alexander’s Tone it Down quilt which was featured in the January/February issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.  I loved the instructions for strip piecing, but loved the scrappy low volume look more and wondered if I’d be up for so many hundreds of little pieces (approximately 2250!).  Early in the year I decided to make a test block, choosing navy blue and green as my two colors, and I loved it.  Still, it sat, in spite of the quilt along.

toneitdownblock2

Last week I made a huge mess in my sewing room, pulling out most of my low volume prints and cutting into them until all the background pieces were cut.   I’ve made one block every day or two since, and with every block I make I like this quilt more.  It makes me happy to be using so many different fabrics that I love, and doing a bit of fussy cutting in a few spots has been a lot of fun.

toneitdownblock3

The block above is the brightest so far, and I really love that little boy in the center, and also the pink typewriter.  I pieced it on my youngest son’s birthday, and it reminds me of his happy smile.

toneitdownblock4

I’ve been starching all the pieces before I sew, which takes time, but I’ve been able to piece the blocks together without any pins.  While not perfect in every spot, I’m happy with the accuracy of my seams.

toneitdownfirst4blocks

I love the way they look together, although there will be sashing and lots of little nine patches between them when the quilt top comes together.

toneitdownblockwaiting

After finishing a block I’ve been laying out the next one so it’s ready for me whenever I have a few minutes to sew.  So far I’ve been lucky and no little hands have scattered the pieces.  After the first four blocks I feel like I have a system for chain piecing and I’m getting faster.  What sounded overwhelming at first has become enjoyable in these bite sized pieces and I’m sure I’ll have all twenty blocks done soon.

sewingspace

Maybe it’s just because I haven’t had much time to sew this year, but the sight of my sewing space is really making me happy this week!  It feels so good to do even a little bit of sewing.

Jennifer

Linking to Freshly PiecedAlso, I almost forgot!  My sister is giving away a free Craftsy class over at Sisterview.  You should enter!

March 20, 2014
by jennifer
0 comments

Making Space

simplespace

Today is March 20th, the first day of spring.  I discovered my first daffodil in the yard a few minutes ago and thought that I’ve got to hurry up and get outside to deal with my yard!  There is work to do and miracles to watch as everything comes back to life.

I was scanning one of my Pinterest boards a few months ago, noticing that many of the home decor pictures I’m drawn to in the last year or so are more sparsely decorated than my own home is.  It made me wonder if my style is changing, or if the craziness of my family made these really simple spaces seem calming to me.  The question has been floating around in my mind for a while and I concluded that it’s time to act.

I set aside the month of March to go through everything we have in storage in our house and get rid of as much as possible.  Keeping my commitment to myself has meant zero sewing (yet still my brain is scheming) and lots of 15 minute time segments going through another box or pile.  I want our family to learn a simpler way of living, one that leaves margin in every area.  I want more space for people, for things that matter, for spontaneity, for reading and writing and dreaming and talking.  I know I’ve said this before, and I realize that it’s probably an ideal I’ll always chase with varying degrees of success, but this month my goal has been creating margin in our living space.  Less, less, less.    While I know that getting rid of “stuff” won’t solve the larger challenges we’re facing, it’s my first step in trying to tell the Lord that I’m willing to do whatever He wants.  In having less “stuff” to take care of/clean/store I’m hoping I’ll also make space in my mind for more important things and room in my schedule for more service.

And then my husband went snowboarding and crashed on his head.  We were grateful – very grateful – that no serious injury was sustained.  His ribs were bruised but not cracked and his neck and spine seemed fine.  Until 4 days later when suddenly his legs had no strength.  Today, 10 days later, everything seems to be ok.  He’s banged up but fine, but it took a toll on me emotionally.   A new (and dreaded) assignment at Church came his way and all of a sudden I felt like I’d been pushed off the emotional cliff I’d been so carefully backing away from.  The irony of it all is that lately I’ve been studying the life of Abraham and particularly his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac.  I’d taught a lesson on the subject and had prayed for the ability to be like him.  And then there I was, facing something I had no inkling belonged on the table and I did not want it.  At all.  Now that I’ve had several days to process it (and feel certain that his health is fine), I’m sure things will work out, likely for our good, but I’d be lying if I said this chapter began with a willing heart.   Oh well.  I’m obviously no Abraham.  Thank goodness for repentance!

Today I feel trapped because the next steps in my mission to make more space for life require another set of strong arms, and they are all at school.  I keep walking into my sewing room, wanting to start something but not knowing what to work on.  So here I am, blogging!

I’m not sure I’ll accomplish all the tasks on my list for the month, but it’s been a great experience.  I sort of informally started the 40 bags in 40 days thing, and have already said goodbye to more than 40 full bags.  That’s a good thing, because I have no intention of taking a 40 day break from sewing!   I chose to start in all the areas where I have primary stewardship (plus the basement) and make sure I’m setting the right example for my children, who will be asked to do the same thing in their spaces when I’m done with all the other rooms in the house.   I’ve had a clarity of thought that makes my heart sing.   I find myself lingering in the areas where I’ve accomplished my goal because I love how they feel.  I think it’s working.  I’m making more space for the life I want.

Jennifer

 

March 9, 2014
by jennifer
0 comments

The Beginning of Something

perlecotton

I’m really loving these colors lately – yellow, gold, peach, coral, pink.  They remind me of a sunrise as glowing colors chase away darkness, full of promise and clarity for the coming day.

There was a pause in my afternoon that could only be properly filled with a prayer of gratitude.   I began the year with a burning desire to conquer myself, to seek self mastery and discipline in the deepest parts of myself where my particular bundle of characteristics, gifts and gaps leave me lacking and especially in those areas that affect my family.   For the first time in years I haven’t spelled out specific goals, seeking instead a destination that I don’t see yet but sense is there waiting – beckoning – to me and my family.   Like those first golden rays of day, I feel like I’m at the beginning of something wonderful.   It seems like there should be a destination, but what really beckons me isn’t a what or a place but a WHO.  My calling at church right now has me flying back and forth through my scriptures – Genesis to Galatians, then to Helaman and on to Revelation, then back to Abraham and in the end I sit in the center of it all, my mind spinning and reaching and reeling.  And yet still.  Perfectly still and centered on the reality of Jesus Christ and his Atonement.  His atonement for me.  For my family.  For the lady sitting in the pew behind me who I’ve never met but when I introduce myself tells me her story and has me in tears before the meeting starts.  For all of us.  And like Hannah, I think to myself, “There is no other rock like our God!”

He is where the sunrise comes from.  I’ve been on my knees more, seeking help with challenges much bigger than I am, trying to place EVERYTHING on the table and hold nothing back, almost desperate for the recipe – both ingredients and ratios – he has for my family.  I feel willing to change anything he tells me to change if it means my children will be drawn closer to Him.  It’s so interesting to pray, try, fail, pray, try, fail and then suddenly to have more clarity than I can act on in one day.  It happened this weekend and it felt like a sunrise.  It would be easier if there was an overall need to pull in, or the prompting to push out in all directions – a simple shrinking or expansion of a circle.  Instead it’s a pull in here, a stay steady there, a bump out in one spot and a major push in another.  I think I understand my instructions but get going and make a mess anyway, then go back for more instructions.  The thought occurred to me this week that maybe the Lord is drawing a circle after all; I just never knew how misshapen mine was to begin with.  I look around at other parents who have seen teenagers through the tunnel of adolescence and into the light of adulthood and wonder if this intensely personal experience is really a rite of passage for all parents, the quiet that lives behind the gritted teeth and quiet determination I’ve sometimes sensed.

Here I go again making everything solemn and serious and important (one of those fundamental parts of me that I’m trying to master).  There’s so much more to it than that!  As I type this, my 16 year old son laughs and chases his 11 year old sister across the room to pick her up and swing her in a circle.   My oldest daughter sits at the piano working on her piece for an upcoming recital and I remember that not once have I asked her to practice and yet her music elevates everything, adding a layer of beauty to us all.  My 13 year old curls up with a book while the younger three girls sit quietly drawing.  The almost eight year old boy who never eats dinner asks if he can make another sandwich.  The dishes are done, the floor is swept, rooms are tidy.  If you walked in our door right now you might feel like you’ve entered a storybook of sorts because in this moment we have a beautiful family culture.  But it wouldn’t tell the story of this afternoon’s fight between two brothers, of the food that flew across the kitchen during dinner from the wildly waving fork of that youngest boy.  You would have missed the ill-timed nap of the four year old who awoke an emotional wreck or the accusations of teenagers about how unreasonable their parents are.  You never saw the girl whose cell phone isn’t working right nearly hurl it across the room.  The mess I made preparing dinner is gone and the stress of getting everyone up an hour earlier for school in the morning (daylight savings time)  has been delayed a day thanks to some random day off of school.  Which is precisely why I’m relaxed enough to sit here and type instead of being militant about bedtime.  I’m reminded of something Howard W. Hunter said many years ago about the story of Jarius who sought Jesus as his little daughter lay near death:  “I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”  President Hunter said, “These are not only the words of faith of a father torn with grief but are also a reminder to us that whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives.  If Jesus lays his hands upon a marriage, it lives.  If he is allowed to lay his hands on the family, it lives.”

I want my family to live.

The bubble has burst and the moment is gone like the last traces of sunset in a now dark sky.  Someone is screaming and someone else is poking their neighbor in the back.   I think back over my week and see pieces of many things:  A conversation with a friend who carries an invisible but crushing burden with such grace and faith that she looks glorious to me, a school teacher reaching out to a struggling child, a boy weeping over his struggles, a little girl curled up on my lap fighting a fever.  I wish I’d kept count of the number of women I watched as they went about doing good, each of them teaching me something.  I did some things right and a lot of things wrong.  I talked too much (another fundamental flaw).  Yesterday I needed to repent and felt so good when I’d done it.  I remember teen-aged boys showing up at my house for lunch, another boy being humble enough to do what was asked of him, a little girl who worked hard to earn a privilege that was important to her.  I ran into a friend and my heart broke to hear firsthand her journey in recent months.   My heart felt broken for my little sister.  A far away friend shared a touching summary of recent months for her family.  Again and again I was struck by how hard life is for all of us, by how tremendous our burdens are, but also how perfectly tailored they are for our development and increased happiness.  I heard determination, faith, optimism and hope fighting their way to the front of their lives (those glowing colors again!) as they, too, reach for the promise and clarity that Christ has to offer.

He is where the sunrise comes from.  The beginning of everything good.  A journey worth taking.

 

 

March 3, 2014
by jennifer
18 Comments

Sweet as Honey – Hunter’s Star Pillow & Hexagon Beehive Mini Quilt

blog-tour-image

Welcome to Day One of the Sweet as Honey Blog Tour!  I’m honored to start things off by sharing my projects made with Bonnie’s lovely new fabric collection, Sweet as Honey.    I loved her first fabric collection, Reminisce, and was waiting eagerly for Sweet as Honey to arrive.  It does not disappoint!

sweetashoneystack

This collection has captured my heart with its beehives, hexagons, and nestled deer.  I’ve been drawn to the warm yellow, coral and orange tones in this line.  They remind me of a sunrise – my favorite part of the day.  When the light hits these fabrics just right, they seem to glow.  The warmth and color make me smile.

sweetashoneypackage

Bonnie generously sent me this beautiful little package to play with, which I immediately paired with a natural linen to create a Hunter’s Star pillow.

huntersstarpillow

I hand quilted the pillow front with perle cotton to emphasize and frame the eight pointed star.

handquilting

I used a coral solid for the pillow back and chose to bind it with a low volume print for added contrast.

pillowbinding&back

The textures, colors and design harmonize well together and the pillow has quickly become a favorite.  It’s a cheerful sight on all the rainy, overcast days we’re having lately.

huntersstarpillow2

While I was planning this pillow, another idea came to mind and I couldn’t resist trying it.   I enjoy growing lavender on our property and every summer I marvel at the wonder of dozens of honey bees surrounding me as I harvest.  The Sweet as Honey fabrics reminded me of that feeling and fueled the endeavor.

hexagonbeehiveminiquilt1

In my first effort at English paper piecing, I made 125 half inch hexagons, pieced together in a scrappy style to create a Sweet as Honey beehive!

hexibeehivemini3

Once again, I preferred linen as a background and added the hexagon print from Bonnie’s line for a binding.  This mini quilt measures 15″ by 16″ and also features a single honey bee, embroidered in white, in the corner.

miniquiltback

It seemed only appropriate to use the peach honey house print on the back!  :)

perlecotton

I wanted to add dimension to the beehive, so a variety of coordinating perle cottons were used to hand quilt around each hexagon.  This step took time, but was completely worth it.  I love the shine of the threads mingling with the colors and prints of the hexagons!

handquiltedbeehive

I’ve been watching the growing mini quilt craze with interest, and this is my first mini.  It already hangs in my sewing room, a bright reminder that Spring is on it’s way.

hexibeehiveminiquilt2

Thanks so much for visiting, and many thanks to Bonnie for creating such lovely fabrics and for allowing me to participate in the Sweet as Honey Blog Tour!  Be sure to keep up with the tour, as there are many talented people creating beautiful things with Sweet as Honey.  Tomorrow’s feature will be Jessica at Haile & Co.  Make sure you visit and see what she’s made!

Best Wishes,
Jennifer

February 12, 2014
by jennifer
2 Comments

Scrappy Heart Quilt Tutorial

While the measurements and process I used in my Scrappy Heart Quilt top are still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d write up a quick tutorial.  I know there are probably a lot of pixelated heart tutorials out there but since I haven’t researched that at any point in the creation of my own quilt, I hope I’ll be forgiven for any repeat of content that surely exists somewhere.

That said, this quilt was enjoyable, simple, fast and fun to make.  Should you choose to make one, I hope you’ll enjoy the process as much as I did.

finishedblock

The quilt is made up of these scrappy heart blocks, so begin by raiding your fabric and pulling everything you can find in your color scheme.  I chose variety in pattern and color, as it added to the pixelated look of my blocks and gave them dimension, so matching fabrics wasn’t a concern for me.  I did choose to avoid most of my fabrics with a lot of white in them so the blocks would have good contrast with my white background.  Let’s talk fabric and cutting requirements:

cutsquares

Fabric requirements for the hearts (red, pink, purple, orange):

Each pixelated heart block requires 42 – 2.5″ squares.  If you want to make a quilt the same size I did, you will need enough squares to make twelve blocks, or 504 squares PLUS another 7 squares to complete the layout with a staggered row of hearts down the center of the quilt, making a total of 511.   Most 2.5 inch x width of fabric strips will allow you to cut 16 – 2.5 inch squares.   This means you will need at least 32 strips of fabric cut into 2.5 inch squares.  I cut more than this, knowing I would have leftover squares for another project, because I wanted more variety in my fabrics.

backgroundfabriccutting

Background fabric:

If you want to make a quilt like mine, the photo above indicates how many of each piece to cut.   You will need 2 yards of background fabric.  For an entire quilt, cut:
14 – 18.5″ strips
24 – 8.5″ strips
36 – 6.5″ strips
48 – 4.5″ strips
62 – 2.5″ squares

To make just one block, you will need 2-3 strips of 2.5 inch wide x width of fabric strips.

For one block, cut:
2 – 18.5″ strips2 – 8.5″ strips
3 – 6.5″ strips
4 – 4.5″ strips
5 – 2.5″ squares

squaresinheart

To make each block, begin by laying out your squares.  I found it easiest to lay out the 3rd & 4th rows first (9 squares across) and used those rows as a reference point for placing the squares on the rows above and below.  After arranging the squares as you like them, lay out the background pieces.  See the photo below if you’re not sure where to place each piece.

addbackground

Sew each row together, making eight rows total.  At this point I ironed my rows with each row’s seams facing alternating directions.  Doing this allowed me to nest all the seams in each row with precision.

sewintostrips

Sew the rows together, and as the last step in a completed block, add an 18.5″ strip across the bottom of the block beneath the point of the heart.  Adding that strip to the bottom of the heart brings the block to an 18.5″ square and also eliminates the need for any sashing between the blocks.  To make an entire quilt, make eleven of these blocks.  *Note:  typically I like to iron my quilt blocks at this point, but I chose not to iron the seams of the blocks at this point.  Waiting will make sense when putting the quilt together.

finishedblock

The final piecing for the quilt top will prepare the center column you see below, with the 12th heart cut in half.

pixelatedheartquilttop

After making 11 heart blocks, the final heart is made in two halves.  In actuality, it is made with an extra row, which is why we added 7 additional 2.5″ squares to the beginning number, as well as 2 additional 2.5″ background squares.  For the top half of the heart, piece the top 5 rows of a block together.

halfblock1

The 5th row also makes an appearance in the bottom half of the heart.  Piece the bottom 5 rows of a block together to make this half of a heart.

halfblock2

Now it’s time to lay the blocks out!  Arrange them in three columns, with four hearts on the outside columns and three hearts in the middle.  At the top of the middle row, place the bottom half of a heart.  At the bottom of the middle column, place the top half of a heart.

You will notice when you do this, that the middle column is one strip longer than the outside columns.  Take the top left and top right blocks of these outer columns and sew your last two 18.5″ strips to the top of them, as you see below.

topcorners

Having done this, sew the columns into strips.  *At this point, I ironed the blocks, ironing each strip in the outer columns down, then ironing each strip in the middle column facing up.  Doing this allowed me to nest every row together as I sewed the columns together, making the seams precise.

threerows

Carefully sew the three columns together.  With those final two seams, you have a finished quilt top, measuring approximately 53″ x 74″.

pixelatedheartquilttop

There you have it!  A simple scrappy heart quilt top.  Approximately 3.5 yards of fabric will make a quilt back, cut in half and sewn together along the selvages.  I’m working on quilting mine now and hope to share it soon.  If you have questions please leave a comment and I’ll do what I can to answer them.  Thanks for visiting!

Jennifer

February 12, 2014
by jennifer
10 Comments

Scrappy Heart Quilt Top

scrappyheart

Like everyone else, I have projects to finish and a long list of quilts I want to make, but when my little girls requested a heart quilt I cheerfully began sketching.   I typically don’t do much around the house for Valentine’s Day, but after having Christmas quilts to snuggle under during the holiday season I understand their request for a Valentine quilt.   I enjoyed making my mini heart quilt last year, and wanted to take a scrappy approach once again but decided to go for the pixelated look instead of taking the time to make half square triangles.

pixelatedheartquilttop

I sketched out a block that would finish at 18 inches square and decided on a layout that requires no sashing between blocks.  Honestly, I think that’s my favorite thing about this quilt – the offset center strip of hearts that gives movement to it and prevents the white background from being overwhelming.

pixelatedhearts

I cut strips of red, pink, purple and a bit of coral/orange fabrics for this quilt as I wanted each block to have lots to look at.  The range in colors also enhances the pixelated look of the quilt.   My littles are already enjoying picking out small details as they wait anxiously for me to finish this project!

scrappyhearts

The quilt top measures 53″ wide by 72″ long, a great size for two little sisters to snuggle under together.  A backing has been selected and I’m hoping for time to baste it later today.   Piecing this quilt top was relaxing and fun and I’m so glad I did it.  We’ll see if I can finish it by Friday!

*edited to add: I was asked to share a tutorial for this quilt top.  Find it here.

Jennifer

P.S. I’m linking up for the first time in many months!  Feels good…

February 9, 2014
by jennifer
4 Comments

Hello again!

orangetulips

It’s been so long since I posted that I hardly know what to write.  I never intended to allow my blogging to taper off so much in 2013, and then halt altogether for nearly three months.  Life just floods the hours, then the days and suddenly the months are gone and I’m left wondering at it all.  My mind and heart have traveled so many directions it’s difficult to choose just one to capture, and then capturing so many escapes me altogether and I’m left, empty handed but strangely full at the same time.

I never really reported on my goals for 2013, which has nagged at me, but now we’re so far into 2014 that I wonder how much value there would be in going back to dissect.  The start of this new year has been such a whirlwind that I’m not really sure I’ve even got a handle on it yet, let alone a capstone for the year that’s gone.  Tonight none of it matters.  My heart is shouting, “WRITE!!!”

I wasn’t a great mother today.  Every time I got a child on task and turned my attention to another one, everyone else scattered.   There are days it feels like the only thing they work at is escaping my notice while they quietly do whatever they feel like doing INSTEAD of the chore/assignment they’re avoiding.  Today was certainly one of those days and I didn’t rise to the occasion like I should have.  By mid-afternoon I felt up to my eyeballs in everything that isn’t what I wish it was within our home and family, leaving me frustrated and discouraged.

Then I walked past a mirror in our home and was reminded of something I read recently about how a baby, when placed before a mirror, reaches for its reflection in joy and fascination at the life it reveals.  When was the last time I looked at myself with joy and amazement at the life that is in me?  I made myself pause and look into my own eyes until I could really see myself in them, until I saw enough good that I smiled back at my reflection.  In spite of the ups and downs of motherhood and life, I have found myself lately in an ongoing experience of revelation, understanding and learning.  I’ll be sitting in a chair, or driving, and suddenly I’m filled with warmth as new (to me) ideas and understanding literally fill my mind.  I’m hungry, so very hungry, for the word of God, wanting to devour it all right now and yet feasting abundantly on a single sentence is equally enjoyable.  With it has come enhanced and distinct understanding of who I am, not just here, but before I came here – one experience bringing so much clarity and understanding that I still can’t get over it.  I am finally learning that although I am flawed in countless ways, God did not make a mistake when he made me.   He knows me, understands what makes me tick,  and loves me.  It’s a miracle and I’m amazed by it.

Alongside and woven with this golden thread of learning is the laboratory of life – life with a lot of children, in a busy household with clutter, fingerprints on every wall, dirty socks hidden in stranger places than I can predict and more meals to prepare than I have interest in cooking.   I often feel irritated with myself at the gap between my conceptual understanding of principles and my inability to actually put them into action in our family.  Too often I “get it” but struggle to really “live it.”  It’s occurred to me lately that perhaps never before has so much been expected of a generation of parents in so short a time as there is now.  Technology and media have completely changed the game in raising teenagers and in all our bumbling around trying to find the right balance we also make a lot of mistakes.   Tonight I’m grateful that my bumbling efforts also allow me to bump up against the reality and power of Christ’s Atonement.  I need it more every day, not less, and the need generates a lovely, prayerful dialogue in my days.

So I guess I’m back.  Back because I want my attention span to be longer than the fraction of a second it takes me to scroll past an instagram picture (fun as it is!), because I miss this layer in my life, because if I don’t do this I’m afraid I’ll turn around a few years from now unable to remember anything specific because it’s been such a blur .  Back because life is good and because it is hard and because I’m so blessed and because I struggle.    Because motherhood matters.  So does hope.  And family.   (And because I can’t get enough of quilting.)

Hello again!
Jennifer

December 16, 2013
by jennifer
1 Comment

Coffee Cake Cookies

I wish I’d kept count of how many years my friend Marilynn has been hosting her annual cookie exchange.  Over the years it’s become a holiday tradition for everyone who attends, and we all look forward to it.  After at least 8 years of exchanging cookies, lots of recipes have been used and this year I really wanted to find something new, something none of us has made before.

I found this recipe for Coffee Cake Cookies on Pinterest and decided to give it a try.  The idea of making a cookie that is like eating just the top layer of a coffee cake sounded delicious!  Because I don’t prefer store-bought cookie dough I decided to combine recipes and make my own version.  9 dozen cookies later, I can promise you’ll love them!

coffeecakecookies3

These cookies require three steps:  the cookie itself, the crumb topping, and the brown sugar glaze, so they take a bit of time to make, but are totally worth it.

Ingredients:

Cookie dough:
1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
2 – 1/2 cups flour
1 Tb baking powder

Crumb Topping:4 Tb. butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour

Brown Sugar glaze:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 – 1/2 Tb. water

To make the dough:In a mixer, beat butter with sugar.  Add vanilla and egg and mix well.  Add flour and baking powder and mix until combined.  Dough should be soft but shouldn’t stick to your fingers.
Roll cookie dough into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet 3 inches apart.  Flatten cookie dough with the heel of your hand.

To make crumb topping:
With a hand mixer, combine butter, brown sugar and flour until crumbly.

For glaze:
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, water and vanilla and stir until smooth.  Glaze should be easy to drizzle but not runny.  If it’s too thick, add a few drops of water until consistency is right.  If it’s too runny, add another spoonful of brown sugar.

To prepare cookies:
Bake at 375 for 5 minutes.  Remove cookies from oven and gently press the back of a spoon into the center of each cookie to make a subtle indentation.  Sprinkle approximately 1 Tb. crumb topping into indentation of cookie.  Return to oven for 5-7 minutes, or until edges of cookies are just beginning to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.  Drizzle with brown sugar glaze and allow to completely cool.  Enjoy!

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Recipe adapted from Oh, Bite It.

coffeecakecookies4

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