TYSS: Indiana Puzzle

Here it is, the penultimate block in the Test Your Skills Sampler: the Indiana Puzzle.

Indiana Puzzle

If you’re following the White & Bright layout, this block is orange, green, purple and yellow. The block finishes at 12″ (12 1/2″ unfinished).

The Indiana Puzzle block is made from sixteen Drunkard’s Path units. That’s a lot of curves, but I know you can do it! Since the block finishes at 12″, that means each Drunkard’s Path unit finishes at 3″, or 3 1/2″ unfinished. If you have an AccuQuilt you can use the 3 1/2″ finished die and trim it down. If you have plastic templates for blocks that finish at 3″ or larger, you can use them and trim down. If you don’t have either, I’ve created a couple of PDFs of the templates for you to use. One is for the exact size block and one is for a 3 1/2″ finished block that you can trim down to size after sewing. As always, when printing a PDF make sure it is printing actual size and not “fit to page” or some other scaled setting. Make sure it printed correctly by measuring the square side of the concave piece. Corner to corner on the INSIDE line it should measure 3″ or 3 1/2″, depending on which one you printed (it’s the finished size).

Click here to download the 3″ finished template
Click here to download the 3 1/2″ finished template

When using a template to cut out your fabric pieces, be careful not to cut the template. A few cuts, shaving off a little each time, and pretty soon they aren’t so accurate. You can try tracing them onto cardboard (an empty cereal box, for example) or template plastic to give it a little more substance. You could also trace the template onto the fabric then cut just the fabric. Though you verified the size by measuring the inside line, you need to cut the templates on the outside line.

Follow the instructions in the Skill Builder Series post about curved piecing. With sixteen units, you can experiment with the different methods to see what works best for you. It is important that you trim the units to 3 1/2″. In order to do that, the “points” of the seams should be on the 1 1/2″ mark. If I’d been thinking when I posted the Skill Builder I would have trimmed to that size instead of trimming to 3 3/4″. Ah, well – part of this project is about building skills, and being able to adapt instructions to fit your needs is a good skill to have.

After you’ve sewn all sixteen Drunkard’s Path units, lay them out to form the four circle units and sew them together. The circle units should measure 6 1/2″ unfinished. Sew the four circles together – the final block should measure 12 1/2″ unfinished. Don’t worry too much about this being exactly the right size. When we put the top together we’ll be adding background pieces that we can fudge a little where necessary.

Just one more block to go – the “dreaded” Feathered Star – and then it’s on to quilt top assembly. I missed my birthday deadline – let’s see if we can get this done by oh, say, Memorial Day? As always, let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.


TYSS: LeMoyne Star

The LeMoyne Star block requires eight Y seams, so before you get into it you should review the Y Seam Skill Builder post. Unlike most of the TYSS posts, I duplicated a lot of the Skill Builder instructions in this post.

LeMoyne Star

If you’re following the White & Bright layout, this block is pink and yellow. The block finishes at 12″ (12 1/2″ unfinished).

The first small hurdle in the LeMoyne Star is cutting the diamond shapes. It isn’t difficult once you know how, but it does require the use of TWO rulers, one of which has a 45 degree line. Begin by cutting a 4″ wide strip that is at least 18 inches long from both the pink and yellow fabrics. Place the 45 degree line on your ruler along the bottom edge of the strip and cut to create your first 45 degree angle.

LeMoyne 1

Measure 4 1/4″ from the bottom point with the ruler with the 45 degree line (you don’t use the 45 degree line here, you just need to measure with it so that ruler is available for the next step). Place the second ruler next to it, holding that 4 1/4″ point. Line up the 45 degree line along the bottom edge of the strip with the point of the ruler at the 4 1/4″ point marked by the other ruler. Cut your first diamond. Repeat until you have four diamond of both fabrics.

LeMoyne 2

From your background fabric, cut (1) 6 1/4″ square and (4) 4″ squares. This photo shows the larger square cut diagonally, but before cutting…

LeMoyne 3

…draw a diagonal line 1/4″ from center both sides of center, in both directions.

LeMoyne 4

LeMoyne 5

Lay out the pieces, making sure the star points and angles line up perfectly. If the angle of the diamonds are off even slightly, your star may be a bit domed in the middle. Ask me how I know. Honestly, I just went with it instead of ripping it all apart and correcting it. My next attempt will be better.

LeMoyne 6

As mentioned in the Skill Builder post, you may prefer to mark a 1/4″ sewing line along each edge that require a Y seam. That’s what the drawn line are on the background piece above. In my diamonds, I only marked a short 1/4″ line at the tips of the diamonds where the background fabric will be sewn.

LeMoyne 8

LeMoyne 12

Sew the diamonds together in pairs, but only sew as far as the drawn line at the end that will be sewn to a background.

LeMoyne 11

Press to one side, always pressing to the same fabric (either yellow or pink).

LeMoyne 7

Place a background triangle right sides together with one of the pairs. The point should line up with the diamond, and the intersection of the drawn lines should fall at the seam between the diamonds.

LeMoyne 10

Sew on the drawn line, stopping at the point where the lines intersect. You may want to take a backstitch here.

LeMoyne 15

This photo doesn’t show it very well, but there is a seam along the top of the background triangle. In order to create the Y seam, you need to sew the other edge of the triangle (with the drawn line) to the yellow diamond. This takes a little effort.

LeMoyne 16

First, lift the  background triangle up out of the way and fold the two diamonds right ides together.

LeMoyne 17a

Pull the blue point down and to the right so it lines up with the yellow point. Pinch the blue/green seam and pull it to the left as the blue point comes down.

LeMoyne 17b

You can see that the green fabric is folded between the layers.

LeMoyne 17c

Sew from point (seam intersection) to point (seam intersection). Drop the needle through the dot or seam intersection, then put the presser foot down. It is important here that you are only going through two layers of fabric, NOT the fabric that is folded out of the way. If you can manually roll the needle down, you can feel more resistance if there is extra fabric. This is one time when an automatic needle up/down button works against you. Sew to the next intersection. I did not mark the outside seam, so just stop 1/4″ from the end.

LeMoyne 18

Y seams can be bulky, so one way to reduce that bulk is to spiral press, “splitting” the seams where they intersect. As long as you did not sew to the edge of the fabric, this is easy. Just press each seam from the intersecting point to the edge. Each one should go in the same direction, as if you pressed in a circle. Once the main seams are pressed, you can press the center, which has a tiny bit of the right sides of each fabric exposed.

LeMoyne 19

Repeat with the other three sets of diamonds, then sew two sets together and repeat with the other two sets.

LeMoyne 21

Measure 1/4″ from both edges on a 4″ background square and mark the point with a dot. Place the square right sides together with the star, lining up the top edge with the star fabric edge and the dot with the seam intersection of the diamonds.

LeMoyne 23

Sew from the outside edge to the dot, taking a backstitch at the dot.

LeMoyne 24

Once again, you’ll have to lift the background fabric out of the way and fold the two sides together so you can line up the other edge.

LeMoyne 25

LeMoyne 26

Again, sew from the dot to the edge of the fabric.

LeMoyne 27

Press in a spiral, as you did with the triangle.

LeMoyne 28

Sew the two halves together, crossing just at the tip of the seams where the diamonds come together.

LeMoyne 29

Sew the last two corner squares in the same way you did the last two corners.

LeMoyne 30

Press and square up to 12 1/2″.

LeMoyne 31

There’s your LeMoyne Star… and only two more blocks to go!

TYSS: Variable Star fillers

The Variable Star, though a block in its own right, is also a great base for other, more complex blocks simply by filling the larger center square with another pieced block. You can also piece the corners for further interest. Here’s a sample of several different variations, with different blocks in each center. The bottom left and bottom right corners show what you can do with pieced corner and color placement.

Variable Star Samples

For the Test Your Skills Sampler, we’re using the basic Variable Star block in three different sizes as fillers. You’re going to make two 8″ finished (8 1/2″ unfinished) blocks, three 4″ finished (4 1/2″ unfinished) blocks, and three 4″ finished blocks with the center filled. If you’re following the white and bright version, the 8″ blocks are blue, the 4″ empty center blocks are orange, and the 4″ filled center blocks are each their own combination of colors – the star points (flying geese) are the same within one block, and the center square is a different fabric. All three filled center blocks are different combinations.

Variable Star2  Variable Star   Variable Star3

The basic Variable Star is just an uneven nine patch block where four of the patches are flying geese. As before, the Skill Builder posts provide detailed instructions to create flying geese units, so choose your favorite flying geese method from the posts linked below. There are two block sizes, 8″ finished and 4″ finished, and the measurements for flying geese units for both are below. The cutting and assembly instructions for completing the block are at the end of the post.

Skill Builder Series: Part 8A – Flying Geese

Skill Builder Series: Part 8B – Flying Geese

Method 1: Large and Small Squares

Skill Builder Series: Part 8B – Flying Geese
This is my favorite method for creating flying geese. It doesn’t waste fabric and you sew before cutting so bias edges aren’t an issue.

8″ finished blocks (make 2)
This block requires four 2″ x 4″ finished flying geese units. For each block, cut:

(4) 3″ squares for star points
(1) 5 1/2″ square of background fabric

4″ finished blocks (make 3 identical, and 3 in assorted colors)
This block requires four 1″ x 2″ finished flying geese units. For each block, cut:

(4) 2″ squares for star points
(1) 3 1/2″ square of background fabric

Method 2: Traditional

Skill Builder Series: Part 8A – Flying Geese
Although this is the traditional method for assembling flying geese, it can be tricky, especially since you’ll be working with bias edges. If you’d like to try it, I still recommend cutting your pieces slightly larger and trimming the finished units to size. For this method, you need:

8″ finished blocks (make 2)
This block requires four 2″ x 4″ finished flying geese units. For each block, cut:

(4) 3″ squares for star points, cut diagonally once
(1) 5 1/2″ square of background fabric, cut diagonally both ways

4″ finished blocks (make 3 identical, and 3 in assorted colors)
This block requires four 1″ x 2″ finished flying geese units. For each block, cut:

(4) 2″ squares for star points, cut diagonally once
(1) 3 1/2″ square of background fabric, cut diagonally both ways

Method 3: Rectangle and Squares

Skill Builder Series: Part 8A – Flying Geese
This method is best if you’d like to create some extra HSTs or don’t mind wasting a little fabric. It is the easiest method, but the most wasteful.

8″ finished blocks (make 2)
This block requires four 2″ x 4″ finished flying geese units. For each block, cut:

(4) 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles of background fabric
(8) 2 1/2″ squares of star point fabric

4″ finished blocks (make 3 identical, and 3 in assorted colors)
This block requires four 1″ x 2″ finished flying geese units. For each block, cut:

(4) 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ rectangles of background fabric
(8) 1 1/2″ squares of star point fabric

Method 4: Dimensional (One Seam)

Skill Builder Series: Part 8A – Flying Geese
This is a fun method for creating flying geese, but it adds a lot of bulk at the center and you will have flaps of fabric that you need to either sew down or be careful not to catch in the presser foot when you quilt it. I especially do NOT recommend it for very small flying geese units, and it is not a good choice for the 4″ finished blocks, though I have provided measurements below anyway.

8″ finished blocks (make 2)
This block requires four 2″ x 4″ finished flying geese units. For each block, cut:

(4) 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles of background fabric
(8) 2 1/2″ squares of star point fabric

4″ finished blocks (make 3 identical, and 3 in assorted colors)
This block requires four 1″ x 2″ finished flying geese units. For each block, cut:

(4) 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ rectangles of background fabric
(8) 1 1/2″ squares of star point fabric

Assembling the Block

Once you’ve created your flying geese units, you need to put them together into the blocks. You’ll need to cut additional squares for the corner and center piece of the blocks:

For each 8″ finished block (make two)
(1) 4 1/2″ background square for the center
(4) 2 1/2″ background squares for the corners

For each 4″ finished empty centered block (make 3)
(1) 2 1/2″ background square for the center
(4) 1 1/2″ background squares for the corners

For each 4″ finished filled centered block (make 3)
(1) 2 1/2″ “other” fabric square for the center
(4) 1 1/2″ background squares for the corners

To assemble the blocks, lay out the pieces in order, matching the illustration above. Assemble the block just like any other nine patch, making sure you turn your flying geese units so they create the star points. See this Nine Patch Skill Builder post for details. You may also want to review this Quarter Inch Seams Skill Builder post. If, like me, you prefer to press your seams to one side, press toward the plain squares. Press the top and bottom seams toward the center.

Lazarus, anyone?

I am here! I feel good! I want to BLOG!

It’s been a challenging few months for me, for no reason that has any real weight. I mean, my life is pretty good. I have a good home, people who love me, a decent job, good health, a fabric stash to die for, and cats. Despite all of that, I still have bouts of four-year-old-itis, as in “I don’t want to and you can’t make me.” I’ve felt it lifting in the past couple of weeks, and I’ve pottered around in the background of the blog, working myself back into it. I went through the Resources page and cleaned up all of the links, removing those that were broken and unfixable, and adding a few more resources, especially in the fabric designers free patterns section. Parts of it were rather outdated, since I started that page over five years ago and a lot has changed. Still, there’s a lot of good info there, so check it out if you haven’t already.

Another change I made was cleaning up the many pages I have. I removed the main My Quilts heading and moved that and the sub pages under About Me. Those pages will need further editing, but I’ll leave them along for now because I have more interesting things to do.

Interesting thing #1: I’m adding an EQ Projects sub page under the Patterns page for EQ project files. One of the awesome things about Electric Quilt is the ability – even encouragement – to share your files with other EQ7 users. It allows us to play with the coloring of a quilt quickly and easily, or add or remove blocks for a larger or smaller quilt, or change the layout, or change the size of blocks and have the program calculate yardage and rotary cutting instructions in the new sizes. If you’re an EQ user, be sure to check out the page! All of the EQ project files are free for your use, and a few of the projects also have links to instructions that I’ve written. Not all of the project files are linked yet, but they’ll be there in the next day or so.

Interesting thing #2: Kelli just sent me an email through the blog (when I say “just” I mean I was literally in the middle of writing this post!) asking if we had more Test Your Skills Sampler instructions available. I promised her I’d finish it by my birthday on April 23. Are you laughing? Stop it! I really want to finish this, and there’s only a little bit left to do. It’s kind of embarrassing. No, it’s a LOT embarrassing.

Interesting thing #3: I’ve mentioned before that I wrote Block of the Month projects for the Stitch & Bitch group that gets together at our house every month. We were working on a Botanical BOM that, like many other quilty-related things, stopped progressing for a year. Yes, I wrote a YEAR. It’s been a long, dry spell, folks. Anyway, after a few gentle prods from my cousin Sharon I finally sat down this weekend and finished all of the block instructions, as well as notes for finishing the quilt in four different settings. I haven’t written the setting instructions yet, but the rest is all good to go, completely written, PDF’d, finished. All of the blocks are traditional blocks with a plant theme (hence “Botanicals”), and all are in the public domain, so I am going to share the BOM on the blog. It will be a true block of the Month, with instructions posted on the first of every month starting today. Yes, the SECOND of February. What? I’ll include instructions for all four, possibly five, settings chosen by the members of our Stitch & Bitch group, and I’ll post illustrations of those settings on the first post with fabric requirements.

Wow, no photos so far. Kind of sad. So here are some pictures of my cats:

Grumpy Buttercup

Rugen's Tongue

TYSS: Crossed Canoes

This block is also called Crossed Kayaks. If you’re following the white & bright layout, it is pink and white. It is another foundation pieced block, this time one that requires four separate pieces that are joined together. Jeanne of Grey Cat Quilts used this block in her Skill Builder Foundation Piecing post, so you could follow along on this post if you’d like. Her post demonstrates the more common method of foundation piecing that sews through the paper. She also shows how to join multiple paper pieced sections. If you prefer to use the freezer paper method, check out my Skill Builder post.

In order to keep all of the Test Your Skills Sampler blocks in one place, I’m also providing the foundation PDF here. Just click here to download the PDF. The block finishes at 9″ but each quadrant is done separately, which means it can be printed on regular Letter size paper (8 1/2″ x 11″).

Woohoo! There are just four more block posts and all of the blocks will be finished so we can move on to assembling them into the crazy layout we came up with!

Unproductively productive

Did you ever have one of those days where you work and work and work, and when you’re finished you have nothing to show for it?

That was sewing yesterday. Jeanne of Grey Cat Quilts came over and we worked on a couple of samplers. When we stopped for lunch Jeanne discovered that her block – the third or fourth attempt of the same block – was once again too big. She eventually figured out the problem – a 5 grid block that needed to finish at 12″ caused for some wonky rounding in the EQ measurements – but it was too late. That block is forever destroyed for her, and now she’s looking for a replacement block. Since it’s for her Botanical BOM quilt, that means she had to find another block with a plant name, which is more challenging than you’d think.

Did I tell you about the Botanicals BOM? The group that gets together at my house, alternately called Friends and Family Sewing Day or Stitch & Bitch, has done a couple of block of the month quilts. We’ve been getting together every month for more than four years and this is our third BOM. (We skipped last year, when I was going to write up a mystery quilt but kept messing up the instructions.) The BOMs are themed (stars the first year, then baskets, and this year plants), and I choose blocks from EQ or design a couple of my own, then write up instructions for everyone each month. The Basket BOM is available for free download on my Patterns page, if you’re interested. I didn’t put the Stars BOM out here because a couple of the blocks are designs I saw elsewhere, that may have copyright issues. The Botanicals BOM is safe as far as copyright – if you’re interested, I could start posting them here, too. I’ve written through block 8 so if I started posting them every two weeks you’d catch up about the time we got to the end. It’s twelve blocks plus a couple of extra/alternate for those who chose layouts that required more blocks, or who wanted to skip a particularly challenging block. Let me know if you’re interested in the Botanicals BOM – if I get a decent response, I’ll put them up. Here are a couple of EQ illustrations of the quilts:

Botanicals BOM Sandi

My colors and layout

Botanicals BOM Sharon

My aunt Karen and cousin Sharon’s layout, in Sharon’s colors

Botanicals BOM Sue

Sue’s layout – great for a newer quilter because it has background fabric sewn around the blocks, then trimmed to make them tilt.

Botanicals BOM Mom

Mom’s layout in one colorway. She’s making two quilts, because she’s an overachiever and she couldn’t decide which colorway she liked best.

Botanicals BOM Jean

My aunt Jean’s layout and colorway. We were surprised how much we liked the black background in the blocks.

Whoa – got a bit off track there! While Jeanne was fighting with her block, I was wasting time. I do that. I was checking things online, talking about really cool upcoming stuff that you’ll see here in the next couple of weeks (ooh, foreshadowing!), and ranting about politics. This blog is a politics free zone, so no details. I also packed away a few WIPs to make room so I could – finally – work on the Test Your Skills Sampler. I’m a bit behind on the blocks, so I made the Capital T. I finally settled in to sewing, and it was a little too quiet there for a while. Except for Buttercup’s snoring. I had just sewn the flying geese units into pairs when I realized I’d done it wrong – they were supposed to have different color “sky” fabrics on each side, and I’d made them the same. Rather than take them apart and switch the pieces around, I made eight new flying geese. When Jeanne had to leave I’d just finished sewing the last pair of geese together.

And then I took a break.

I know! All I had to do was sew the nine sections together – basically a nine patch – and it would have been finished! That’s my problem – I lose steam and go off to find something else shiny to play with.

I did finish it last night before going to bed, but really – a sewing DAY, and I finished a single block?!

TYSS Capital T Block

Ah, well. At least it’s progress.

TYSS: Spiral

The Spiral block is essentially a log cabin variation, but because of the points, it’s best to foundation piece this. This block is pieced on a single foundation. Even though there are 20 pieces in it, they all build around a center point, so you don’t have to join separate foundation pieced sections. All of the foundation PDFs below have the piecing order numbered for you.

There are as many ways to foundation piece as there are quilters, I think! I prefer to use freezer paper, fold on the lines, and sew along the edge rather than sew through the paper. You can see my method in my Skill Builder Foundation Piecing post, here. Jeanne at Grey Cat Quilts prefers to sew through the foundation, and she’s working on a post that will be up by Sunday. I’ll post the link on the Skill Builder page as soon as it’s ready. By the way, she moved to WordPress since my last TYSS post in *gasp* February, but all of the links on the Skill Builder page are updated.

There’s just one little thing about this Spiral block… it finishes at 9″ in the illustration, which means the foundation cannot be printed on a standard sheet of paper that measures 8 1/2″ x 11″. You have a couple of options:

  • Print the full size PDF on ledger paper that measure 11″ x 17″
  • Print the full size PDF on two sheets of letter paper that measure 8 1/2″ x 11″ and tape them together to make the full size block
  • Print the full size PDF on letter paper that measures 8 1/2″ x 11″, then trace it onto larger paper (or freezer paper) to make the full size block
  • Print a smaller, 8″ finished block on letter paper that measure 8 1/2″ x 11″
  • Draft your own version of the block

All of those options are available – just download the appropriate PDF file below.

I mentioned this in the Skill Builder post, but it’s so important that I need to mention it here, too. When printing a PDF for foundation piecing, you MUST make sure it prints the full size. Make sure the print dialog box doesn’t have “Shrink to Size”, “Shrink to Fit”, “Fit to Page”, “Shrink Oversize Pages” or anything else checked. It should say “None” or “Actual” if anything. As a precaution, once the foundation pattern is printed, measure it to be sure it is exactly 9″ (9 1/2″ if you measure the outside dotted lines that indicate the seam allowance), or 8″ for the smaller block. Even after all of those precautions it still might not print right. For some reason when I print this on my Mom’s printer, it just doesn’t print out the right size. The 8″ block does NOT have the dotted lines to indicate seam allowance (they wouldn’t fit on a letter size page), so be sure to leave that extra 1/4″ all the way around when you’re piecing, and trim 1/4″ past the edge of the paper when you square up your block.

So, here are your download options. Click to download whichever PDF you want to use. If you choose the smaller, 8″ block, I’ll include special instructions when we assemble the quilt top to accommodate the smaller size.

Download the 9″ finished block for Ledger size paper (11″ x 17″)
Download the 9″ finished block for two pieces of Letter size paper (8 1/2″ x 11″)
Download the 8″ finished block for Letter size paper (8 1/2″ x 11″)

Draft on Paper

If you choose to draft your own block, it’s a bit more challenging. You’ll need a sheet of paper that is at least 9″ square. If you’re using the freezer paper method, just tear a large piece off of the roll and lightly iron it to another piece of paper to keep it flat – it doesn’t have to cover the entire sheet. If you’re sewing through the paper, try a piece of newspaper, but expect to get a little messy as the newsprint will rub off. You’ll also need a piece of paper at least 7 1/2″ square, and it’s best if this paper is a little heavier as you’ll be tracing around it.

Start by drawing a 9″ square. Draw a 1/4″ seam allowance on all four sides, and mark the center point (4 1/2″ from both sides of the inner square). (Ignore the smaller square drawn inside – I got ahead of myself before taking the picture. Also ignore the shadowy lines showing through the paper. I used the back of my test print outs.)

On the heavier paper, draw a 7 1/2″ square and mark the center point (3 3/4″). Inside that square, draw a 6 1/4″ square and mark the center point (3 1/8″).
Inside that square, draw a 5 1/4″ square and mark the center point (2 5/8″).
Inside that square, draw a 4 1/2″ square and mark the center point (2 1/4″).
Inside that square, draw a 4″ square and mark the center point (2″).

Cut out the 7 1/2″ square, put a pin through the center point, and stick the pin at the center point of the 9″ square. Rotate the 7 1/2″ square until the corners just barely touch the edges of the 9″ square. Trace around the edges. You may want to lightly tape it in place first.

Now cut the square down to the 6 1/4″ mark, put the pin through the new center point and stick it in the center of the 9″ square, rotate until the corners just touch the edges of the 7 1/2″ square you just drew, and trace.

Repeat for the 5 1/4″, 4 1/2″ and 4″ squares.

And there’s your foundation! When you piece it, start in the center and add to all four sides, then the next color all four sides, and so on in a spiral.

Please let me know if you have any questions.