Block Party's April Block

April Block Party is the Centennial Star.  Here are a few tips in making this month's block.

Number 1 -- (#1) Mark or crease the center of the square and the center of the triangle.  Match these markings up when sewing the seam.  Directions tell you to press to the background square on one triangle and to the triangle side on the other, but make sure you do this on all four of them the same way so they are all identical.

(#2) Mark the center of the rectangle and match to the corner point of Unit #1. Sew rectangle to Unit 1; sometimes the Unit #1 will be wider than the rectangle; trim #1 to the size of the rectangle.

When I place my side background triangle on Unit 1, the small triangles may extend past the corner of the square on 1 side! Sew the large triangle on with raw edges even.  Make sure your seam is 1/4" and raw edges together.

You don't want your star points to look like this, so you may need to rip and trim before sewing back together again.

When sewing a seam sometimes the fabric drifts away making your seam allowance narrow at the end. This can also be a reason why it look like the pictures above.  Sew again to be sure it is 1/4"!  Using a stiletto helps with this -- those times when you want to use your finger but it is too big to get into the small places. 

This is what you want your star points to look like at the edge.

Continue with the pattern instructions and your block will look like this. Now, wasn't that worth it?

90-Degree Double Strip Ruler from Creative Grids

The 90 Degree Double-Strip Ruler from Creative Grids is one of our most popular rulers at Prairie Point.  It makes a quick decision for using your 2-1/2" Jelly Roll strips.

Cut all your strips 2-1/2" x width of fabric.  Sew two 2-1/2" strips together.  Now, let's back up; there are lots of options here for you.  a) You can use one Jelly Roll and select any two strips. b) You can use a Jelly Roll strip and a background color. Here there is the option of a white or solid Jelly Roll, or c) get a three-yard cut of fabric to cut into strips. (This is where your Stripology Ruler will come in very handy.) d) You can get yardage for your print strips and cut them 2-1/2" yourself.  This may be your choice if the fabric you want is not available as a Jelly Roll.  But you really do need to have 40-inch or more wide strips to get the most efficient use of your fabric.

The instructions that follow are specifically for making the quilt I am showing you here. Now, sew two strips together, a print and a solid.  Press the seam on the wrong side to set the seam, then open double strip and press seam to the print side.  This is important because it will help to lock the seams later on where they meet; and it helps assure that you don't get tucks pressed into the sewn seams.  An accurate or scant 1/4" seam is important.

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When pressing, be sure that the double-strip does not get stretched out of shape or bow on the ironing board. 

Place the Ruler on the strip as you see here.  The very base edge of the triangle should be directly on one edge, and the top of the triangle on the other. 

Cut on all four edges of the two triangle shapes to get three half-square triangles.  The hole between the triangles allows the rotary cutter to get to the very base so there is a clean cut. 

Then, move ruler along strip set and continue cutting triangles. You will get eight triangles from this strip set. 

Sew two of these together so the colors are opposites to make a square.  This will give you four squares which is what you need for one block.  Carefully press toward the print, being careful that you don't have tucks on the right side. 

Now, don't square up the blocks just yet; you will square up later. 

Your block units have bias edges on all four sides.  Try to keep them from stretching out.  

Sew four block units of the same print together into a four-patch block. 

The stretch (that you normally don't desire in a block on the outside edges) actually helps to force them to match up. 

This is where you will lock your seams.  Where necessary at the center of the block turn your seam allowance so the seams lock as you sew across them. The stiletto actually helps with this instead of your finger.

Then press the entire block taking care that you don't stretch out sides.  Now you will square up the entire block so that it is 11-1/2 inches.  Square up all your blocks this same measurement with the center of the block exactly centered.  

Cut two sides, then flip block and square up the other two sides. You want the seams in the corners of the blocks, or as close to it as possible.

Lay out all the blocks on a table or floor in a pleasing arrangement.  I made this quilt with five blocks in a row, six rows.

Sew blocks together into rows.  Again, stretch and ease in seams so the seam lines match up when each seam is finished.  Then join rows. Notice how seams lock nicely. It doesn't necessarily happen by accident -- you have to make them meet. 

All that being said, put your block units together any way you like. The Strip-Smart Quilts and Strip-Smart Quilts II books will give you lots of creative ideas.  This layout is the one I wanted for this fabric line with its soft vintage color scheme. 

It is very important to add a border around this quilt with all its bias edges.  If you prefer a border-less quilt, just add a 2-1/2" strip all the way around to stabilize the quilt.  It will be much appreciated at quilting time!  Measure for the side edges carefully by placing the pieced strip down the center of the quilt; cut at that measurement. Sew to both sides, pinning first.  Press seams toward border and repeat the process for the top and bottom. 

See what else you can do with the blocks we just made?

And what about these quilts?

Same layout, totally different looks. There are other ways these blocks can be laid out.  See the Strip Smart books for more ideas. 

Giggles and the Sidekick Ruler

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I found this adorable pattern from Jaybird Quilts three years ago and have been looking for the perfect fabric for it. When The Big Chill from DearStella arrived I knew I finally found it.  Of course there are many fabric collections that will work wonderfully for this design.  I have just a few tips here to show how the Sidekick Ruler is used to cut out the shapes and to put the blocks and rows together. 

Cut your background fabric into strips as instructed in the pattern sheet. In this case it is the same width as the ruler. Cut the diamonds, then cut the half-diamonds that top the rows.

Cut ten-inch squares into rectangles the same width as the background strips.  (This can even be done without beginning with squares.  Use your favorite fabric from your own collection and cut into rectangles as directed in pattern.)

Cut diamonds from these print squares. Be sure the directional prints run the direction you want them to, and the other side is a mirror image running in the correct direction.

Lay out on the table or floor all the diamonds with the alternate background pieces.  Then you will sew them together in lengthwise rows. Sew two lengthwise rows together to complete the design. The pattern instructions are excellent and will give all the information you need.

It looks great. Quilt it any way you want. It is a small quilt at 40" x 44".

Now all it needs is a baby.

Field Trip to Cockrell Mercantile Co.

John and I took a day off last week to do some antiquing, and made an impulsive detour before we reached Greenwood, Missouri.  We stopped at Cockrell, just off 50 Highway east of Lee's Summit.  I had heard about Cockrell years ago and that it is a great place to get Fiesta dinnerware, but I had no idea there is a whole group of shops.  Let me tell you about our visit.

We first entered the Cockrell Annex which has a few antiques and some garden accessories. All this time I have been looking all over for a large crock and here it is!

The Morton House is a cook's paradise.  They have just about any bakeware you can think of.  I will go back for some metal bakeware I found that is made in USA. Yay! This is a great place to get gifts for others or something for yourself.

Fiesta Cottage has the largest selection of Fiesta Dinnerware in the Midwest.  I think they must carry every piece they make and it is open stock, not just in sets.  I grew up with Fiesta which my mother began using in the 1940's.  It is still made in America.  I have never had a piece chip, and I know it is safe to eat off of.  Occasionally I use Fiesta dishes in some of our displays in the shop.

Then we headed to Cockrell Cottage that has home decor items, candles, some clothing, unique gifts, soaps, and so forth.  John walked in then walked right back out -- that smelly stuff gives him headaches.  The cobblestone walks around the shops give the place an old-time feel.

Cockrell Mercantile Company is where we did most of our shopping.  Gourmet foods, jellies, pickles, table linens, towels, aprons, cookware -- you will have to go there yourself. It must be one of Kansas City's best kept secrets.

On to Greenwood . . .

It has been a long time since I have done antiques shopping, and we enjoyed our time in Greenwood at the malls and shops.  I snapped some pictures of the quilts we saw, but there is also a lot of furniture and other items for the home.  I bought two tablecloths for my collection -- one of them has a Christmas pattern.  We just missed lunch at the tea room. 

The entire day was fun and refreshing -- we had a really good time with a late lunch out, and stopped to purchased a Christmas tree.  I wanted to share with you what a gem of a town Cockrell is--John and I will certainly go back.

Here are the directions to Cockrell, Missouri:  Travel East on Hwy. 50 through Lee's Summit. Go 3/4 mile past the 7 Hwy. exit. Turn right at the Cockrell sign and follow the road for 1/2 mile.

Spicy Pepparkakor

This recipe is one of my favorites to make around Christmas time, and I'm always asked for the recipe whenever I serve them at the shop.  If you're one of the people who I've forgotten to give the recipe to, here it is!

Ingredients

1 cup butter

1-1/2 cups sugar

1 Tbsp. light molasses

1 egg

3 cups flour, lightly spooned into measuring cup

2 tsp. baking soda

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cloves

2 tsp. ginger

Directions

1.  Cream butter and sugar together, then blend in molasses and egg.

2.  Add 2 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.  Stir together and gradually add last cup of flour.  Mix thoroughly. (NB: add a teaspoon of milk to the dough after the last cup of flour is added, if needed.)

3.  Roll out thin, about 1/8 in., and cut into desired shapes.  Bake at 400˚ for 5-8 minutes. 

Use about half the dough at a time and shape into a round before rolling out.  Flour keeps the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.  (I still use my mother's rolling pin she got when she was first married in 1938.)

A heart shaped cutter is traditional for this Swedish cookie, but any shape will do, of course.  Bake until just browning around the edge; cookies are best if a bit crispy.

Ooh, those scraps get a bit dry to roll out again.  Mix with a wee bit of milk in the mixer to moisten enough so that it does not crumble.

Enjoy!

Find a printable copy of this recipe here.