Five Spot

One more block to post here.  The Chuck Nohara Quilt Along started posting two blocks for a two week period, so that you can choose from one or the other to do.  I am going to try my darnedest to do both each time.  For one, it will help me to complete more blocks in a shorter time span, because we all know how fast life flies.  Another reason, is so that you are able to see how I tackled them both, instead of one or the other.  The next two blocks have already been posted, so I really need to tell you about this one, so that I can take on the next two. Let’s get started, ya?


Here it is.  It is block number 1029. I call it “Five Spot”.  It wasn’t too tough to do.  Even if you are new to applique, there are so many methods that you could use to make this; even raw-edge applique.  I did needle-turn applique, because that is my favorite thing, but there are so many different ways to make these blocks.  I started by finding some similar greens from my scrap bin, and background print for my circle squares.  The pink fabric was also a few little fussy cut scraps from a friend, that I was happy to use here.


Here, you can see that I simply cut my squares to make my 5” block.  If you are making 6 inch blocks, this measurement is much easier. I cut my squares 2 1/8 inches.


Using a scant quarter inch on my sewing machine, I sewed together the nine-patch background piece.  On the back side of the piece, I traced my applique lines, using a template that I traced and cut from freezer paper.


I used the same back-basting method that i have used on prior blocks. I used a contrasting thread to stitch my pink scraps of fabric to the front of the block, but I stitched it from the back side, following the circle lines that I had already drawn.  I trimmed the circles seam allowance on the front to approximately 1/8th inch around each circle. In this picture, you can see where I started the applique process on the center circle, by stitching a little at a time, clipping out basting stitches as I went along.

So, you see, this block is pretty easy.  You can do this one, I promise.  I really am excited to get started on the next few blocks, because I think I am going to paper piece them.  Instagram hashtag being used is #ChuckNoharaQAL.  Come join us!  There will be cake.


This House is For the Birds


Wouldn’t you like to see the next block for the Chuck Nohara Quilt Along (#chucknoharaQAL on Instagram)?  Sure you would, and you might even want to make one yourself if you haven’t already.  I would love to see your version of this if you would like to show it off in our group.  Please come join us!  This one is Block number 969. I am calling it ‘House For the Birds’.


I started, the same way that I start all blocks. By selecting my fabrics. These blocks are excellent for using up little bits of scraps that you might have in you scrap bin, or maybe already in your trash bin (shame on you if they are in file 13…I will take your scraps!)  While making this block I had a fail in one of my fabric choices, so I replaced it with another piece.  It happens to the best of us…and me too.


After making my copy of the square to reflect my size (I am making 5 inch blocks, finished) I traced all of the applique pieces onto freezer paper.  Note that I made marks on the pieces, showing where other pieces match up, and the center lines of the block.  I do this so that I don’t accidentally sew my pieces down to the wrong spot…well, that is the idea anyway.  I manage to muck up things on a regular basis, all with good intentions, of course.


I chose my background fabric and made it an inch bigger than it needed to be in both width and length, so that when the block is done I can trim it down.


I folded the background in half both ways to find the center.  I lightly pressed the crease so that I could center the applique design appropriately. Then I got a cup of coffee, extra strong…with cream and sugar.  Don’t judge.


I cut out the main bird house piece from the freezer paper, and used it as sort of a template to cut out the fabric piece, leaving about 1/4 inch seam allowance all around.  Then, making sure that the fabric was wrong side facing up, I placed the freezer paper piece shiny side up, centered on the fabric piece.  I pressed the side edges of the fabric to the edges of the back of the paper.  If you decide to do this, make sure that you only iron the 1/4 inch parts of the fabric, not the paper.


I appliqued the main bird house piece to the background, being sure to center the design using the crease lines that I made as indicators.  I only appliqued the sides of the house, and basted the bottom.  I pulled the freezer paper out of the top, then basted the top down as well.  I trimmed the seam allowance on the top and bottom to about 1/8th of an inch.


Then I cut out the freezer paper template and pressed it to the front of the fabric that I wanted to use for the pole that the house sits on.  I traced around the template to make my stitch lines for applique.  I cut my fabric piece, making sure to add about 1/8th of an inch seam allowance around the perimeter of the freezer paper template.  I pulled the paper off before centering the pole on the background,in the correct spot. I stitched it down on both sides, again basting only along the top and bottom of the pole piece.


Then I did the same steps regarding the freezer paper, for the green base of the bird house, as I did for the pole. I centered the applique piece to cover the raw edges of both the bottom of the house piece and the top of the pole piece.  I appliqued it on all four sides.  Took another few sips of coffee.


For the next step, I cut the freezer paper template for the roof top piece.  With this piece being narrow to work with, I pressed it to the back of the block, shiny side down, and traced a line around the perimeter.  Using a contrasting colored thread, I baste stitched the roof top fabric to the front of the block, but following the lines on the back. I stitched the rooftop down on the front, covering the raw edge on the top of the block.  Last, I centered the bird house door and appliqued that last, using the same back basting method that I used for the roof top.


This is Gayle’s version, which I find absolutely adorable because of the fussy-cut bird that she used for the door.  That plaid is one of my favorites as well.


Wow! look at Margaret’s block.  The background is fabulous.  I love polka dot fabric, like, crazy. Her color scheme is so pretty.

Screenshot_2015-03-29-22-05-58_1 1

This one was made by Kate.  She also used a spectacular background print and again with the fussy cut door!  This is just too cute. I like how her background print has a dark area that makes it appear that her bird house has a chimney. Love it!

Again, come follow us on Instagram. I am ‘Buttoncounter’ there as well.  The hashtag for the quilt along is #chucknoharaQAL. We would love to have you join in the fun.

This Crazy Journey Begins…Chuck Nohara Quilt

Block 1778 Floating Inner Tube

Block 1778, Floating Inner Tube

Guess what? It only took a few hours to complete my first Chuck Nohara block for this #ChuckNoharaQAL group that I am following on Instagram. We decided to bust the trail with block #1778 from the book, 2001 New Patchwork Blocks.  Now, Chuck doesn’t name the blocks, so I am going to give them my own names, just to keep them straight.  This one, in the book has an off-center circle that ‘floats’ to one corner, so I aptly named it ”Floating Inner Tube”.  After a little bit of therapy, and zen-like meditation, this severely Libra minded gal, decided to free herself into to crazy world of ‘off-center’.  I was really going to do it.  Then, my plaid yellow and orange fabric, bitch slapped me back into reality, and said ‘Are you tilted? I don’t play well with that silly red and white background that you just had to have!” So, I caved to my safe place, and went center.

Do you want to know how I made the block? Good. First I had to enlarge to block pictured in the book, from 2.25 inches to 5 inches (finished).  If you are not math savvy, that would be a 123% increase, or you would make it 223% the size of itself.  (put 223 in the copy machine and see what happens).  Everybody has a different machine, but the math doesn’t lie, so adjust your settings if you need to.  I am not going to provide pictures of the patterns in my blog, because that would be a copyright infringement, and I don’t look good in orange.

Obviously, to make this block, I had to begin with a four-patch background.  Super easy.

Using the circle as a template.Next, I cut the ‘Inner Tube’ circle out of the pattern to use as a template.  Following the outer circle, I traced and made marks on the yellow plaid fabric, so that I would know where to place the yellow tone-on-tone fabric for applique.


Then, I cut one of the swirl pieces from the pattern paper to use as a template for the yellow tone-on-tone.  I traced around the piece four times, on the yellow fabric. If any of these pictures are difficult to see, try clicking on them for enlargement.

IMAG4937 (2)Leaving about an 1/8th inch seam allowance around the outside of my drawn line, I cut each yellow swirl piece from the yellow fabric scrap. I aligned the yellow pieces on top of the orange plaid circle, being sure to match up the notches and lines. I pinned them down, to begin applique.

IMAG4939I appliqued the two side edges of each yellow piece to the orange plaid circle.  I did not applique the outer or inner edge of the pieces of the circle…yet.  I left the outer edge, and the center of the circle raw edge for this step.

IMAG4941Then, leaving a 1/8th inch seam allowance on the outside of the outer circle, I trimmed it. I also trimmed the yellow plaid fabric away from behind the yellow print, so that I could eliminate bulk. I appliqued the circle to the background four-patch square. I centered it, because of the bossy plaid, but the pattern shows it off to one corner.  I forgot to take a picture of that step, but you can see the finished picture for a visual reference. Here, you can see where the center circle goes.  These are the lines that I followed to applique the center (red polka dot fabric).

IMAG4940In this picture, you can see how I again used the pattern piece to cut out the center circle to use as a template. I cut out the piece leaving a 1/8th inch seam allowance, and appliqued it to the center of the ‘Inner Tube’ unit shown in the above picture.

Here are some of the other versions of this block, made by members of the quilt along.  They are each fabulous, and serve as great inspiration.  I have permission from these amazingly talented gals to share their pictures:

Screenshot (26)Kate, (modernbasics on Instagram) made this one.  She chose to off-center hers (beautifully, I might add), using vintage looking fabrics. You know how much I love vintage fabrics!

Screenshot (25)This one is made by Margaret (mj_inparadise on Instagram).  For real! look at that fussy-cut center!  and the bright colors. Wow!

Screenshot (24)Last, but not least, is Gayle’s block.  (gaylebrindley on Instagram). Red and yellow are my favorite colors, so this one is pretty dang sweet.

There you have the first block.  It was a lot of fun.  It did take time to pick out fabric (the hardest part, we swear), but was pretty easy after that.  I cannot wait to find out what the next one will be.  Come check out the Instagram quilt along.  We would love to have you join in!

How to Start a New Project…Again.

Well, I know for a fact that you don’t need instruction on making a decision to start a new project.  You may have started three just today, for example.  I have an extremely easy time coming up with new project ideas.  In fact, I think that I should start another one right now.  What do you think?  Oh, look!  Here’s one…and I already have the book.  It is by an amazing Japanese quilter by the name of Chuck Nohara.  She (yes, she!) is one of Japan’s first quilt instructors.  She has a few other publications as well; but this one, called 2001 Nouveaux Blocs de Patchwork, is chock full of beautiful quilt blocks that will truly keep you stitching for years.  It is printed in French, but has an English translation; regardless, words are not needed, as all of the blocks are there for your drafting pleasure. It is not unlike the Dear Jane book by Brenda Papadakis.  To order your very own, you can go to Quilt Mania.

Now that I have decided to take the plunge and do this, let me begin by telling you how I came to find this project.  Lorena Uriarte is a beautiful, smart, talented, and sassy quilter that I have been following on Flickr, Instagram, blog, and real life. She has made more than one of Chuck’s quilts, and has ribbons to prove it.  She also teaches a class on making these blocks, at Material Obsession in Australia. A few months back, Lorena was posting pictures to her Instagram feed, of blocks that she was making.  I got uber jealous, and being a little antsy as well, began to draft what she was making, without having had the book (at the time).  They were so addicting to make…and fun!  I made three of them in a matter of days before my schedule consumed me.

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting Lorena in person, so I gave her the few blocks that I was able to finish.  Isn’t she lovely?  I am the weirdo on the right holding a fabulous basket that she made for me. (I am still freaking about it!)


Alright, so I ordered the book. A few months go by, then a few friends (that I will soon introduce) started posting that they were going to start a Chuck Nohara Quilt Along via Instagram, so naturally, I was in. I didn’t even have to think about it. The plan is, that every two weeks or so, there will be a new block assigned.  We have the full two weeks to get it done, and we can do more if we like, or we can do alternates, but the point is that we will have a small (?) group of people working on these at one time, together.  If we need help, or inspiration, or cheer-leading, it can be found at the hash-tag #ChuckNoharaQAL on Instagram (and possibly Flickr soon!).  So, if you want to learn a little more about it come find us there, we would love to have you and your friends join us.

Tomorrow, I will do a blog post here, showing the first block, along with a few versions already made up.  I will also include step by step visuals and explanations of how I tackled it.  Don’t forget to come check it out.

Finally, I would like to share what my color theme will be for the blocks.  I started by throwing a few of my favorite fabrics and colors together.  Then I pulled colors from what was pictured in my inspiration group.  It is going to be a little bit of a challenge to work within these color parameters, but obviously, I love a good challenge.