Birds of the Air 12″ block – Tutorial

It’s my turn to be queen bee again, and the block I’ve chosen for my bee-mates to make is a Birds in the Air block that finishes at 12″.  Like many quilters, I’ve recently been inspired by the colours used by Sochi in 2014 Winter Olympics.  So this month, I would like my bee-mates to make blocks using those colours.  You can focus on one of the colours used, or use all of them; it is up to you.  I would like the background to be either low volume or solids, whatever you prefer, but please, please, make it very scrappy, and do not use just one fabric for the background.

Sochi map - quilted
Sochi colours

I’ve put some of the information in text right on the pictures. If you have any questions or need any clarifications, just comment and I will get back to you as soon as I’m able.

Birds in the Air - 12" block

Birds in the Air - 12" block

Mark the back of the light 3″ squares, and layer them with the colour 3″ squares, right sides together (RST). Stitch 1/4″ away from the marked line, on both sides. Trim to 2.5″ I’ve found a great tutorial for trimming HSTs that only requires 2 cuts instead of 4. It has saved me so much time lately, and I used it here too. You can find it here.

Birds in the Air - 12" block

Stitch one of each of the 2.5″ HSTs to one of the coloured rectangles (2.5″x3.5″). Iron the seam open.

Take 2 of these new sub-units, and rotate one of them 180 degrees. Stitch them together and iron the seam open. These units should measure 4.5″x5.5″.

Birds in the Air - 12" block

Take the background rectangles, 4.5″x5.5″, and mark them. Do this after you have sewn the other sub-unit so that you mark the correct diagonal. The faint line you see on some of these pieces of fabric is the line I marked first, which was incorrect, so I had to re-mark them.

Birds in the Air - 12" block

Layer the marked rectangles with the other sub-unit. You can faintly see in this picture that you have to orient the background fabric so that the line does not bisect the HSTs that you made earlier. The correct marking line is the one going from the top left corner to the bottom right corner.

Birds in the Air - 12" block

Stitch just off the line, toward the centre of the rectangle. If you stitch exactly on the line, you will cut off your triangle points. You want the stitching to be just beside the point of the little background triangle.

Cut apart your unit, 1/4″ away from your stitching line. You will have an extra little piece in the middle.

Birds in the Air - 12" block

Your unit should measure 4.5″ square. Press the seam open and trim the dog ears.

Birds in the Air - 12" block

Lay out your block like this and sew it together with a 1/4″ seam. Press all the seams open.

Birds in the Air - 12" block

Your block should now measure 12.5″.  And you’re done!

Birds in the air - sample layout

There are loads of ways to lay this block out. This is a 4×4 grid with some of the blocks rotated so that stars appear.

Birds in the air - sample layout

In this one, 4 blocks are sewn together to make a star, and the those larger blocks are set on point.

Birds in the air - sample layout

Here the blocks are set on point with alternating backgrounds. I could go on and on with this block, but this post is already very photo heavy, so I’ll just stop here. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you need any clarification, just let me know.


Baby Ships

My brother and his wife had a baby recently, their first son, and of course I’m making a quilt for him.  It’s going to be larger than crib size, though I’m not quite sure if it will hit twin bed size since I ran out of the ship fabric I fussy cut for the block centres.  I used lime green and turquoise, since those are the colours of his nursery.

I had sketched a pattern for the quilt I was planning to make using the Winged Square block.  I thought that it would go well with the ships, with the triangles emulating the sails.

baby ships 1-1

I set about making this quilt, and I figured I’d start with all the little HSTs and get those out of the way first. I did the math and cut all my fabric. After a few evenings, I was done and trimmed the last one. Then I set out to lay out the blocks and realized, to my horror, I only had half as many HSTs as I actually needed. I really, really didn’t want to make any more, so I went back to sketching to see if I could turn my math error into something positive.

baby ships 2-2

I somehow had to change half of the HSTs in each block into something else. Since the block is grouped like a 9-patch, I chose two sets of 4 HSTs each and fiddled around with those. I tried turning them into squares but I didn’t like that. Then I turned them into larger HSTs, since I felt like I could handle making 40 more instead of 160 more. This is what I ended up with. I was amazed how the overall effect of the quilt is completely different.

Baby Ships - 2/3 done!

I’m 2/3 done the blocks now. I had to take a break for a little family holiday, and then my vertigo flared up so I haven’t worked on it yet. Hopefully soon I can get it finished and deliver it to my nephew!

Pattern Testing – Chugging Along

People who know my husband well will know that he is a complete and total train buff.  He has been since he was a small child, and if anything, the fascination has increased as he’s gotten older.  He loves model trains, real trains, accurate books about trains, train history…you get the idea.  In fact, nearly a third of our basement has been designated as a space for his future, in-home, model train layout.  (I get one of the other thirds for quilting stuff, so it’s all good.)

So when I saw this pattern from Esther at I Patch and Quilt, and saw that she was asking for testers, I volunteered right away.  She sent me the locomotive, passenger car, and coal car, but I haven’t gotten around to the coal car yet.  The wheels were challenging, 17 pieces in each one, but I took it slow and it all came together nicely.

Chugging Along - Locomotive

I did the locomotive first. I fussy cut centres for the wheels and the driver. I used this particular shade of red because it is my husband’s favourite colour.

Chugging Along - Passenger car

I did the passenger car next and couldn’t resist fussy cutting some more people to put inside. And this one only had two wheels, so on the whole, this block went faster.

Chugging Along


I intend to make the last block yet, and then I will turn these into a pillow or something.  I’m not sure yet.  They can rest on my design wall in the meantime.

So many pretty things, what do I pick first?

Lately I’ve been a very inconsistent quilter.  What I mean by that is that I have been hopping and skipping from one project to the next faster than you can blink.  This means that I make no meaningful progress on anything and am left with (more) unfinished projects that linger way too long.

Baby quilt, block 1

This is block one of a baby quilt for my brand new nephew, who is excessively cute and has wonderfully squooshy cheeks. He is the first brother to two older sisters. I had this ship fabric from one of Sarah Jane’s fabric lines, and it works so beautifully for fussy cutting. The nursery is in lime green and aqua, so those are the other colours I’m working with.

Pattern testing for ipatch and quilt

I also recently volunteered to test a pattern for Esther at I Patch and Quilt. This is the locomotive, and I have a passenger car and possibly a coal car coming yet as well. I fussy cut a little engineer. I love how he seems to be waving out the window.

And that’s all I’ve got to show even though I’ve been sewing fairly consistently for the last 2 weeks. I need to stick with just one project and get it done. This resolve will last only until the next shiny, pretty thing distracts me. Like those uniforms that the volunteers at the Sochi Olympics are wearing. Do you know how much I want to make a quilt like that now?