Thursday, January 11, 2018

#plusblockQAL {assembling the blocks}

Better late than never...here are instructions on assembling your plus quilt blocks for the #plusblockQAL.

No matter which size block you are making, the pieces are assembled the same way. Lay out your fabric pieces like in the picture below. If you have directional fabrics, now is the time to make sure all the fabrics are laid out properly.

The first step is to sew a small background square to each small plus square and sew a small background square to each end of your plus rectangle fabric. Press seams. (At this step, I press my seams open. See my notes on pressing on the last picture.)

Now sew a large background square to each side of your top and bottom pieces. You will end up with three strips.

The last step is to sew your three strips together. At this point, it's more important to match up your centers of each strip so your plus is lined up properly.

This shows how I press my seams for this block.

When pressing seams, I don't always press open/press to the dark fabric/press to the light fabric. My goal is to reduce bulk at the seams as much as possible so I usually let the fabric dictate how it wants to be pressed.  I start by pressing open. (I piece with a shorter stitch length and have never had a problem when pressing my seams open.) After sewing the larger squares to the first pieced unit, I press those seams to the large background square. After all three strips are sewn together, I press the finals seams toward the middle of the block.

Clear as mud? I need to work on my tutorial writing skills! If you have any questions, please ask away.

Friday, January 5, 2018

#plusblockQAL...cutting your jelly roll

For those of you that have decided to use a jelly roll for the #plusblockQAL, here are some instructions for quickly cutting up your fabric. Each jelly roll strip will make 3 pluses. Fabrics in a jelly roll are often duplicated. If you have two matching strips, you can use your leftover pieces from the strips and cut an additional plus...so 7 pluses from 2 jelly roll strips.

I leave my jelly roll folded. (Yes...that probably breaks all the quilting rules!) From your folded strip:

  • remove the selvedges
  • cut three 2.5-inch squares (since the strip is folded you have 6 squares)
  • cut one 6.5-inch by 2.5-inch rectangle (since the strip is folded you have 2 rectangles)
  • take your leftover piece and proceed to step 2




  • unfold your leftover piece and press the fabric to remove the crease where it was folded
  • cut one additional 2.5-inch by 6.5-inch rectangle
  • the remaining fabric can go in your scrap bin or you can pair it with a matching leftover piece to cut one additional plus


That's it! You'll have your jelly roll cut up in no time!

I also had a question on how much background fabric is needed. I'm terrible at calculating fabric requirements since I'm not good at quilty math and I almost always make scrappy projects. (I cut what I have. If I run out, I buy more fat quarters!) I did find this AWESOME fabric calculator online. You can enter your fabric width, the size of pieces you need to cut and how many pieces you need and the calculator will figure your yardage for you!!!

There are already so many great posts on Instagram with everybody's progress. Check out the hashtag #plusblockQAL to see what everybody is making and for more info on the quilt-a-long!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

#plusblockQAL {schedule}

I am thrilled with all the excitement and interest in the #plusblockQAL. Some of you have already starting making blocks...a LOT of blocks! I love what I'm seeing so far and can't wait to get started on my own quilt.

This quilt-a-long is going to be pretty laid back and stress free. You decide how many blocks you want to make and how big you want your quilt to be. You pick your own fabrics. I have made a tentative schedule, but you can work at your own pace and not worry about falling behind. Since we're not swapping blocks, there's no hard and fast deadlines. The goal of this QAl is to take some time for yourselves and make something you want to make.

2018 #plusblockQAL Schedule
  • week 1: January 1 - January 7
    • blog and Instagram posts on planning, cutting, block assembly, etc
  • week 2: January 8 - January 14
  • week 3: January 15 - January 21
  • week 4: January 22 - January 28
  • week 5: January 29 - February 4
  • week 6: February 5 - February 11
  • week 7: February 12 - February 18
  • week 8: February 19 - February 25
    • blog and Instagram posts on quilt layout, quilt top assembly, quilting, and binding
  • week 9 & beyond: February 26 - ?
    • complete your quilts and show them off!
Weeks 2 through 8 (January 8 - February 25) will be all about making your blocks...that's 7 full weeks (56 days) to make as many blocks as you can/want. Try to post your block tally for each week on Sundays. Let us know how many blocks you completed that week and share a pic. Use #plusblockQAL on your posts so I and other QAL participants can find them.

Some thoughts on time management...

My son is in 5th grade, and I talk to him a LOT about time management. (That's kind of amusing since I'm quite the procrastinator.) When he's assigned a school project, it often seems like he has a lot of time before the project needs to be completed so he don't start right away. Inevitably, he ends up trying to do the whole thing at the last minute. One way to plan how to complete a project is to break the project down into parts and spread it over the time frame allotted. This works for quilting projects, too!

Let's say you want to make a queen-ish sized plus block quilt. If you're using the 11.5" block measurements, you would need 8 rows of 8 blocks (64 blocks total) for a finished quilt measuring approximately 88" x 88". If you break that down over the 7 week block-making time frame, you should be making 9.14 blocks per week. (Of course you can't make 0.14 block so make 10 per week, and you'll be ahead of the game!) You could further break it down by day...make 2 blocks on 3 days of the week and just 1 block on the remaining 4 days. Totally doable. If you're in a groove and feel like making more, even better.

I'm ready to start quilting with everyone. If you're selected fabrics, share a pic on Instagram!

do. Good Stitches Peace Circle November quilt top

Friday, December 8, 2017

Another {plus block}!

We're well into December, and I'm getting pretty excited for the #plusblockQAL I'll be hosting in January! I really love Moda Grunge and polka dots and decided to splurge on a Grunge Hits the Spots jelly roll for my quilt. Since a jelly roll consists of 2.5" strips, I modified the measurements of the original block to make it jelly roll friendly! Each jelly roll strip will make 3 pluses with a little fabric left over for your scrap bin. You can also use charm packs, mini charm packs and/or a layer cake for the background and make your entire quilt with precuts. This block is 10.5" (10" finished when sewn into a quilt top).

For each block, you will need two different fabric colors/values...one for the plus and one for the background. (My blocks will use various colors of Grunge polka dot fabrics for the pluses and scrappy low volume fabrics for the background.)

Cutting instructions for each block:
  • 2 squares 2.5" x 2.5" of plus fabric
  • 1 rectangle 6.5" x 2.5" of plus fabric
  • 4 squares 2.5" x 2.5" of background fabric
  • 4 squares 4.5" x 4.5" of background fabric





Please see my previous post for more details on the quilt-a-long. If you have an AccuQuilt die cutting system, stay tuned for a post on which dies to use to cut your pieces.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

#plusblockQAL...coming soon!

I am so excited for our #plusblockQAL we'll be starting in January, 2018! There's only about 6 weeks until we start. I wanted to give you a few things to think about so we're all ready to go after we survive the holidays.


The Pattern
I have chosen these dimensions for Rachel's low volume charm plus block she shared on Flickr way back in March 2013. (Just to make this 100% clear, I did NOT come up with the dimension for the block we are using....Rachel of Wooden Spoon Quilts did. I am forever grateful for quilters that are so willing to share their ideas with non-quilt-math people like me. Please check out Rachel's blog, Flickr, and Instagram feeds to see her beautiful work.)

Each block finishes around 11.75" and I recommend trimming them to 11.5" for a finished (once assembled into a quilt) size of 11". Do you know what's great about 11" blocks? I can multiply by 11 in my head! Making a quilt 4 blocks wide by 5 blocks long? It will measure 44" x 55"! (I totally did that without a calculator.)

You can make whatever size quilt your want for this QAL. If you decide you're done after making one block, no worries! You just made yourself a cute little wall hanging or pillow cover. Want a queen-sized quilt? You only need 64 blocks. Totally doable.

Getting Ready...
Since we aren't starting until January, why am I posting this in November? (I know...it's not even Thanksgiving yet!) Well, there's a few you can start thinking about/doing...

  • Color Scheme: I'm planning on doing a scrappy, low-volume background with Moda Grunge pluses in a variety of colors. This quilt would also be great in a low-volume background with the crosses in a single color....or you can do a two-color scheme...or how about a warm/cool combination. The possibilities are endless.
  • Quilt Size: You can make any size quilt you want...from a wall-hanging to a king-size quilt. Start thinking about what size you want so you can figure how many blocks and how much fabric you'll need.
  • Start Cutting: Now is a great time to start cutting pieces. Since I'm going scrappy, I've been picking out low-volume scraps in my stash to cut the 2.75" and 5" squares for my background.
  • Ask Santa for Fabric: The holidays are right around the corner. Maybe you should put that fabric bundle you've been eyeing on your wish list for Santa or ask your spouse/significant other/parent(s)/child(ren) for gift cards so you can make sure you get exactly what you want. :)
I realize there may be quilters of many different skill levels joining in the fun. If you have questions, please ask me here or send me a direct message on Instagram. (I'm @stephkucera on IG.) If there are things you need me to cover, I'm more than happy to explain them the best I can or refer you to a tutorial or instructions. I'd love some feedback on a preferred timeline. (I'm thinking 2 to 3 months for making blocks and a month to complete the quilt?) I'm really excited about this and can't wait to see what everyone creates.

A beautiful red & white version made for a Red Cross fundraiser.

Friday, September 29, 2017

It's time...the Red Cross Fundraiser Quilt!

One month ago, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and I had this crazy idea of making a quilt to help raise funds for the American Red Cross. I shared my idea and asked for help on Instagram. I expected responses of "you can't do that," "that's too much work," and "it's not possible". Instead I received responses of "I love it!" "I'm in!" and "How can I help?" My goal was to receive 42 red cross quilt blocks. In a time span of two weeks, I received 65. In just under a month this beautiful top was complete.

Don't you love how quilt tops kinda look like stained glass?

Now we need your help! For each $10 donation you make online to the American Red Cross, you will receive one entry into a drawing to win this quilt. For reals. 

The quilt is just a top at the moment, but it will be completed by the conclusion of the donation period (Friday, October 14, 2017). It will measure approximately 88" x 88" when complete. It will be longarm quilted by me using Warm & White cotton batting, an awesome pieced backing, and hand-stitched binding.

So how do you get in on this super-sweet fundraising adventure?
  1. Make an online donation to the American Red Cross between Friday, September 29, 2017 and midnight CST on Friday, October 14, 2017. This initial purpose of this fundraiser was to raise money for Hurricane Harvey. There are now many areas of need so you choose where your donation goes. (Doing this through the Red Cross website ensures ALL of your tax-deductible donations are going DIRECTLY to the Red Cross.)
  2. After making your donation, either forward a copy of your receipt from the Red Cross or take a screen shot and email it to hhredcrossquilt@gmail.com. You will receive one entry for every $10 donation made. Emailing me this info is your "ticket" for the drawing...I have no way of knowing you donated unless you do this! Include your name and email address. If you'd like to include where you're from, that is great but not required unless you are the lucky winner of the drawing. (Please, please, please...don't "fake" a donation. A lot of generous people donated a lot of time, effort and resources in making this quilt happen.) All emails will be deleted and the email account closed after the fundraising period. Your name and email address will not be shared with anyone. Ever. Promise.
  3. One winner will be drawn on Saturday, October 15, 2017. The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to reply with his/her mailing address. If the winner does not reply within 48 hours, another winner will be drawn.
  4. While donations from anywhere in the world are welcome, I am only able to select a winner from and ship the quilt within the US. (I apologize, but quilts are expensive to ship, and I cannot afford international shipping. Plus I don't know all the "rules" about fundraisers/drawings/raffles in other countries, and I definitely don't wanna get in trouble!)
  5. After you donate (and even if you can't donate at this time), please consider sharing this on social media! Use the hashtag #hhredcrossquilt to help spread the word! 
It's not a scam. One donor will win this awesome quilt. I love quilting, and I love helping others...I'm one happy gal when quilting helps others.

This is me. I really like quilting.

Thank you!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

#inspiredquiltproject...more info!

For those of you interested in helping with the #inspiredquiltproject, here is some more info. I really, really believe that small things matter and we all have talents and gifts to share. Thank you so much for sharing yours with others.



WHAT BLOCK DO WE MAKE?

We will be making one type of block...a rainbow/diamond block made with half-square triangles.


For instructions on making this block, please see this blog post. This is the same block as Missouri Star Quilt Company's Four Seasons Block, and there is a video tutorial that explains how to make the block. My apologies! While the block layout in the MSQC's video I linked to is the same, it shows a different way to make HSTs, and those HSTs end up smaller than what is needed for this particular block! 

WHY THIS BLOCK?

I have been involved in making 4 versions of this quilt, and I think every version of the quilt is beautiful. It is perfect for scraps. No matter how many different people make these blocks, they always look so cohesive and pretty.


The blocks finish at a nice size (16.5"). It takes only 4 blocks with some sashing to make a 36" quilt. Just 12 blocks makes a nice lap-size/throw quilt (48" x  64"). With 20 blocks you get a nice, big quilt (64" x 80").

WHAT FABRIC SHOULD I USE?

Use bright, colored fabrics combined with light/low-volume fabrics. Juvenile/novelty fabrics are fine as I will separate blocks based on if they would fit better in a "kids" quilt or a more "grown-up" quilt. You may use either solid or print fabrics.

Please use new, good-quality, 100%  "quilt-weight" cotton fabric. (I personally love quilts made from repurposed fabric, but many organizations that accept quilt donations require the quilts be made of new materials.) That being said, please do not feel obligated to purchase fabric for this project. Each block doesn't take too much fabric, so work from your stash!

WHERE DO I SEND BLOCKS?

Please mail your blocks to:

Stephanie Jacobson
PO Box 280
Boystown, NE  68010  USA

Don't spend more money to send your blocks than you have to! Here's a link to the inside scoop on lower postage rates. If you send blocks and are on Instagram, please include your Instagram name so I can give you credit.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE QUILT BLOCK?

I am going to do my best to sew every single block into a quilt top then longarm and bind every single quilt. Fortunately, I know some very lovely gals in the Omaha Modern Quilt Guild that will probably help me out!

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE QUILTS?

Well...that's a good question. I am currently involved with the Lincoln, Nebraska chapter of Quilts for Kids and Project Linus in Omaha, so I'm sure some of the quilts will go to those organizations. (At least initially, most of the quilts will stay local to me (Omaha, Nebraska, USA) due to the expense of shipping.) Unfortunately, there seem to be tragedies every year that results in a call for quilt donations. I would love to be able to have quilts ready to go in these times of need. 

Bottom line...all of these quilts will be used for charitable causes. Not one of your quilt blocks or the resulting quilts will be for my own personal use. 

HOW CAN I HELP?
  1. You can make blocks! It doesn't matter if it's one block or more than one. I have the post office box for the rest of 2017 so make a block if/when you feel like it and mail them in whenever!
  2. All of the quilts will have a scrappy binding, so I will happily accept 2.5" strips of bright-colored fabric to use for bindings. They don't have to be the full width of fabric. If they're at least 20 inches long, that works!
  3. You can like/follow/share the Facebook page
  4. Use the hashtag #inspiredquiltproject on Instagram and other social media to help spread the word.

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to ask!