Making HSTs

Some time ago, I wrote a tutorial on making HSTs called The Triangle Technique. After working on my Flying Geese quilt, I decided it was time to update the tutorial.

This tutorial started out after I watched an episode of Love of Quilting where Jo Morton was a guest. Based on what I saw Marianne and Jo do on the show, I tried the technique and was pleased with the results.

For the Flying Geese quilt, I needed 2.5″ finished HSTs, so according to the chart I made after DH did a bunch of math for me, I started with 6.25″ squares. All of the sizes on the chart make 8 HSTs.
Cut 2 pieces of fabric[/caption]

Cut 2 pieces of fabric
Cut 2 pieces of fabric

First, I cut two pieces of fabric,foreground and background, the correct size. Again, you need to download the chart and look at it. I cut my squares a bit larger, because I like to trim my HSTs just to make sure they are exactly the right size. The chart does not take trimming into account. You need to make the starting squares larger if you want to be able to trim.

Next, I drew an X, corner to corner, on the lighter square. Then I put the 2 squares right sides together and pressed them.  I securely pinned the two squares together.

Next, I sewed on both sides of each of the lines of the X, 1/4 inch away from each line.

After sewing, I measured to the center of the X from the side of the square. This measurement is the PLUS cut.

Cut the square in a PLUS configuration.

Cut diagonal lines
Cut diagonal lines

After you cut the PLUS, you will have four squares, each with a line drawn diagonally across the middle. Cut the squares in half diagonally. You can use the line as a guide. It is more important to line your ruler up corner to corner.

The result is 8 2″ half square triangles. You still need to press them carefully open.

Move the unpressed HSTs to the ironing board and press carefully. Use a stiletto to keep your fingers from getting burned.

Lay out HSTs to trim
Lay out HSTs to trim

Next, I trim. Layout your pressed and untrimmed HSTs.

Line up diagonal lines
Line up diagonal lines

Line up the center diagonal line with the 45 degree line on your ruler.

Edges trimmed
Edges trimmed

Trim the edges.

Line up just cut edges
Line up just cut edges

Once you trim the first two sides, line up the 2.5 inch line on your ruler with the just cut edges. Trim the second two sides.

8 beautiful HSTs
8 beautiful HSTs

Now you have 8 beautiful HSTs.

N.B. : The bias edges shouldn’t be scary for you on the regular method, but this method makes HSTs much easier. I think this would be a fabulous method to make a lot of HSTs in a short amount of time. It is similar to a tutorial that p.s. i quilt posted, but times 4. I am planning to try out different sized beginning squares to see what sized HSTs I come up with.

I talked over the math with my DH and came up with a chart showing the different sizes you can make with this technique. This is the updated version and you need this chart to use this method.

This is a great technique to use as leaders & enders.


  1. Jo Morton website
  2. Jo Morton blog
  3. Jo Morton on Andover
  4. Wet Canvas tutorial
  5. Carole’s Quilting Adventures tutorial
  6. B’s Modern Quilting Fish Tutorial
  7. p.s. i quilt HST tutorial
  8. Previous AQ HST Size Chart

Zipper Tab Techniques

Zipper Tabs in process
Zipper Tabs in process

Does anyone have any good tips on keeping the zipper tabs in place before sewing them? I pull the zipper pull down to get it out of the way of the sewing machine foot, which makes the zipper fabric at the top flop around. As you can see, I have used WonderClips to keep the zipper fabric and new zipper tabs in place so I can sew them. I have tried pins, but the clips are better. It is not ideal but I can’t think of anything better.

I posted to the Crafty Gemini Facebook page and some people had some good ideas: tape, staples and sewing the ends together until they won’t come apart. I am thrilled to have some new ideas. I am not sure why I didn’t think of these things.

What do you do?

To Nest or Not to Nest

I got a question about nesting seams from a guild member the other day. She wanted to know whether she should nest seams or not. Nesting seams has a purpose. You don’t just press seams open because the Modern Quilt Guild or someone else says you should.

Press seams open when you want to reduce bulk. This is often used in garment sewing.

Nesting seams is used to line up your seams. You will get better and easier precision if you use this technique. Caroline of SewCanShe writes on her blog post “Nesting your seams will help you get your perpendicular joints matched up and with practice the intersections will be perfect looking…. most of the time. :)” People say they don’t care if their seams are aligned. I care and so I nest seams unless there is so much bulk that it is impossible.

If you press seams open you are also in danger of developing holes in the quilting process. I press my seams open when I make pieced backs to reduce bulk. When I press my seams open I backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam line to prevent holes.

Sometimes, like in a Four Patch block, there can be quite a bit of bulk in the areas where the four patches meet. You can ‘pop’ the seam to also reduce bulk. Check out the tutorial on how to do this with images illustrating the technique.

I find it easier to get good precision when I put my quilts together using ‘Chunking’. Check out the tutorial.


  • American Quilting “Pop the Seams”tutorial
  • Patchwork Posse Nesting Seams and Other Tricks – good information and some pictures that illustrate the topic.
  • Quick Tips for Quilters – nesting seams tutorial
  • SewCanShe Nesting Seams Basic tip tutorial

And many others


The creativity posts I have been posting on Fridays will return soon.

EPP Technique

Recently I talked about using the flat back stitch for EPP. I have been using it and finding that it works well. I wasn’t always 100% happy with the WonderClips, however. It is probably the one time I don’t find the WonderClips gripping hard enough.

Taping and the Flat Back Stitch
Taping and the Flat Back Stitch

I have heard that some artists use tape to hold the pieces in place while stitching with the flat back stitch.

I started out with Scotch Tape. It was ok, but I could only use the tape once. Mailing tape – the clear kind – was a little better.

I didn’t have any masking tape, which I think would be the best, so I tried blue tape and it works pretty well. I can re-position it about 3 times before it gives out.

Taping and the Flat Back Stitch - back
Taping and the Flat Back Stitch – back

Still, I am pretty happy with the results. It is easier to keep the stars, or half hexies, in place while I sew.

More Progress on QAYG Donation Quilt

QAYG Donation Quilt - front
QAYG Donation Quilt – front

I had high hopes for this technique as you could probably tell from my earlier post. I am not quite as enamoured of it after struggling to get the top pieced and quilted.

As you can see from the main photo, the top is done. It has batting on the back as I, per the book, quilted the blocks and then sewed the blocks together already quilted.

QAYG Donation Quilt - back of front
QAYG Donation Quilt – back of front

The problem could have been that I didn’t make the batting large enough and then square up the blocks after quilting them. Not that there was anything fatal about that. Quilting the blocks using this method seemed to distort the blocks and that made them more difficult to put together.

I still have to quilt a back on to it, which seems to me to defeat the whole purpose, but who knows? At least it will be easier for the Charity Girls.

This is a donation quilt and, as Frances says, The Muggles Don’t Know. It will still be a nice quilt, if not show quality.

So I am not giving up yet, but I was reminded that anything that looks too good to be true probably is.


Mom wanted to go on a mini-shop hop. She mentioned it a couple of times as soon as she heard about the Jingle Bells (??) shop hop. So, we planned it. Since the shops were kind of limited, I suggested that we visit Friend Julie and add Back Porch Fabrics and Hart’s to our shop hop. We spent the night with Julie and went to Back Porch in the morning.

I have spoken/written about that shop many times. It isn’t a large shop, but I love the aesthetic, the light, the colors. Generally I want to buy everything. Some would argue, in this instance, I did. 😉

That is a topic for another day. On this particular day, Gail Abeloe, the owner was in the shop and she spent a lot of time being friendly and showing us different things. I know she was in top notch sales mode, but I don’t care. It was great.

Quilt As You Go Made Modern - C&T Publishing
Quilt As You Go Made Modern – C&T Publishing

One of the things she showed was a new (ish??) book called Quilt As-You-Go Made Modern: Fresh Techniques for Busy Quilters. This really caught my attention as I saw, from her brief demo, how I could churn out more fully completed donation quilts. Gail included an additional handout/tips sheet with the books she sold at her store.

Almost as soon as I got home, I took some of the red and white donation blocks I had been stockpiling along with some leftover batting from recent longarm projects and tried it out.

First joined/quilted QAYG blocks
First joined/quilted QAYG blocks

While I can’t say, I am 100% successful, I only need some practice and refining of the process. I have several blocks quilted and I am in the process of joining them together.

One of the keys is to join the blocks in such a way that you don’t have to applique a join on a block, which I think was how the original technique was explained.

One thing I need to do next time is to make the batting pieces larger and trim them after quilting and before joining the pieces.

It is possible to use this technique along with regular piecing, so I have been making progress on these blocks as leaders and enders while I piece The Peacock. It isn’t a quick process and sometimes I feel frustrated, but I remember I am also quilting the quilt at the same time.

I’d also like to try foundation piecing straight on to the batting – kind of string piecing, but with large-ish strips.

I never heard of this book and will do a review later, but I do hope to have a quilt top done and “quilted” soon.

Machine Applique’ for Directional Motifs

In my previous machine applique’ tutorials, I used designs where the direction of the motif didn’t matter. When I went back to review the tutorial (yes, I do use my own tutorials!) in preparation for doing some machine applique’. I was preparing to applique’ letters, which have a definite right and wrong way. I realized I had omitted directions for using directional motifs (where the direction of the motif matters, such a numbers or letters) for applique’, so I had to figure out how to do them again.

In order to understand this tutorial, you will need to look at How to Applique’-TJW and the 3 Fusible Applique tutorials (pt.1, pt.2 and pt.3). All of these are part of a whole.

Supply List:

Draw out design on a piece of drawing paper
Draw out design on a piece of drawing paper
  1. Draw out your design. I used a pattern for the letters I wanted to applique’. You can draw or print your design. There are a lot of free clipart you can use. Since I had a pattern, I laid out the pattern, placed a piece of drawing paper over the letters I needed and drew out the design using a pencil.
  2. Trace over the pencil lines you used to trace the design with a Sharpie. The lines should be dark. Make sure the Sharpie does not bleed through to your table.
  3. Flip your drawing paper over and put it on your light box. You can also tape it to a window or sliding glass door. The wrong side of the letters or directional motif will show through.
  4. Directional motifs backwards on drawing paper
    Directional motifs backwards on drawing paper

    Using your Sharpie, trace the letters again on the wrong side of the paper. You will be tracing the backwards image of the letters.

  5. Leaving the paper taped to the window (or laying on the light box), tape a piece of paper backed fusible, paper side UP, over your design which is on the window or light box.
  6. Trace the backwards design on to your paper backed fusible using a Sharpie. **Nota bene: my Sharpie tended to smear on the paper of the fusible. I couldn’t find a pen that worked well, so be really careful to keep your hand out of the way to avoid smearage.
  7. Once finished, remove everything from the window or light box.
  8. Place the fabric you will use for your directional motifs right side down on the ironing surface. The fabric should be sized slightly larger than the fusible.
  9. Place the fusible on top of the fabric with the paper side up. Make sure no edges are over your ironing surface.
  10. Place your applique’ pressing sheet over everything.
  11. Press according to the directions on the fusible package.
  12. Fusible pressed to fabric
    Fusible pressed to fabric

    Once you are finished pressing, you will have a piece of fabric with fusible on the wrong side. The motifs (letters) should appear backwards and you will see the wrong side of the fabric.

  13. Decide on which scissors you will use. I always have a fight with myself about this. I don’t want to ruin my Ginghers, which are super sharp and great for cutting out detailed types of designs by using them to cut through paper. I also don’t want to ruin the edges of my motif with a pair of papers scissors that will not be sharp enough to cut through the fabric. I have a pair of Fiskars that I end up using for this task. Not ideal, but the best I am willing to do.
  14. Cut out directional motifs
    Cut out directional motifs

    Once you have decided on scissors, cut out your designs (letters, in this case). First I do a rough cut, then I cut with more detail.

    Cut out directional motifs - detail
    Cut out directional motifs – detail
  15. Layout your background fabric on a flat surface, right side up. I use my ironing board, so I don’t have to move the motifs in order to press. If I have to sew two pieces of fabric together to make a large enough background, I press the seam open.
  16. Take each motif, one by one, and peel off the paper. Carefully place each prepared applique’ motifs in their desired location before moving on to the next one. With motifs such a letters, I use a ruler to make sure they are straight.
  17. You should be able to see your design correctly. If you are using letters they should not be backwards and you should be able to read the word.
  18. Place your applique’ pressing sheet over everything.
  19. Press your applques so that they are stuck to the background fabric.
  20. Set up your sewing machine with the correct colored thread and a foot suitable for zigzag or satin stich.
  21. I set the zigzag to 3.5 (width), 0.7 (density). I like my satin stitch to be a little open, but you can adjust it to your favorite length and density.
  22. Cut a piece of tearaway the width of your motif and twice as long
  23. Fold the tearaway in half.
  24. Pin the double layer of tearaway to the back of the background fabric. Pins should be out of the way of the machine foot.
  25. Satin stitch all the way around each motif, carefully negotiating curves so the satin stitch looks smooth.
  26. Trim and/or tie off all threads.
  27. Tear away/cut away the excess tearaway stabilizer.

HOORAY! You did it!

Applique’ Task

The Food Quilt #2 still needs a back. I have been putting it off, because I wanted to applique’ the recipient’s name on to a piece of fabric as part of the back. The idea is to discourage theft. We’ll see if it works.

I had a good chunk of time over the weekend. Thus, I spent most of the afternoon on Sunday preparing and appliqueing the name to a piece of fabric.

Applique' Back
Applique’ Back

I accomplished the job, but it was a really big pain and not very pleasant. I fought with the fusible the whole time. It wouldn’t stick and then it stuck too much. I felt the whole process took much more time than it should have.

The picture (left) is part of the work I did. I am not showing the whole name, because of privacy, but you can see the work.

The alphabet is from a pattern called Critters Alphabet. I like it because it is cheerful and different. I used it on another quilt I made for a nephew. I bought the pattern at PIQF about a zillion years ago and I am pretty sure I saw it there last year. I did a search and found it under a new name, Alphabet Critters.

Next time, though, I might try paper piecing for the letters. We’ll see.

Going for Broke with Peacocks

Enchanted Plume panel by Timeless Treasures
Enchanted Plume panel by Timeless Treasures

I decided to make the peacock One Block Wonder project. I was really on the fence, as you may have gathered from my previous posts, about making it. I talked about some of my concerns in the last post and had decided not to make it. Things change.

There were a couple of things that made me decide to do it. 1) I was able to find the Timeless Treasure panel on a website. 2) I saw Maureen’s blocks and 3) I really like the colors in this panel.

I was easily able to buy the panel from Miller’s Dry Goods, which I found unexpectedly after doing a simple Google search. The line is fairly new so I wasn’t expecting that it would be available yet. I am still interested in the group of solids shown with the panel, but they are not as important. I think they might make a good addition to the quilt, but I don’t know what the final quilt will look like, which means I don’t know how they would fit in so we’ll have to see.

Maureen read one of my previous posts and brought her One Block Wonder blocks, as well as a piece of the original fabric to show me at the retreat. I didn’t even know she had worked on a One Block Wonder and was very pleased to see what she had done. Pam’s class using a panel seems very different from using fabric, but there are quite a few similarities as well. I was pleased to see how different Maureen’s blocks looked from each other and she confirmed that it is fairly easy to avoid ending up with the same blocks, which adds to the variety of the quilt. We encouraged her to work on her OBW quilt, but she worked on other projects. I would love to see what she does with those blocks.

I do like the colors of the panel. There is no cream, as there was in the other yardage I considered, which is a bonus. I am annoyed at cream backgrounds lately. They look dirty to me.

Maureen assured me, as did looking at her blocks, that the black would not overwhelm the piece. There is plenty of blue, especially turquoise (!!!), in the panel as well.

This is a limited collection for Timeless Treasures and I only bought the panel. If it doesn’t work out, the effort will make a great donation quilt.

More Peacocks

Enchanted Plume Panel by Timeless Treasures
Enchanted Plume Panel by Timeless Treasures

 I had pretty much decided to skip the One Block Wonder this time. I really like how Pam’s piece came out, but wasn’t sure I could replicate her success with work as interesting or cheerful. I have seen others that are not as nice.

When I saw the fabric on sale I looked at it and really made a conscious decision not to make a One Block Wonder project. I thought really hard about the logistics, time and money required to make the project and decided no, not now. I didn’t like the fabric enough to commit. I took the book back to the library and that was that.

Yay! Done deal. Moving on.

Then, yesterday morning, I went on Instagram and saw a new Peacock range by Timeless Treasures (damn you, social media!).

 The colors in the panel are much richer and bolder. The design of the panel is more complex and way more interesting. The motifs are much more stylized and lush. Oh, and, Timeless Treasures, thanks for including those awesome solids that match the panel. Just what I needed. More temptation!

This is another good reason NOT to keep your tablet by your bed.

So, now this idea is back in the thinking pile. Here are some questions for you to answer:

  1. What do you think of the panel?
  2. If you saw it in the store, would you think of me? (since, of course, I am always first on your mind. 😉   )
  3. Do you think a finished pieced piece would be too dark?

Tsukineko Inks Class

Work area
Work area

I have a lot of Tsukineko Inks. I love the idea of them. They don’t change the hand of the fabric. They purport to be permanent (have not Googled that nor do I have personal experience). They are not too messy and have fabulous colors.

Sadly, I have never had a lot of time to learn to use them or practice with them. Awhile ago, Nancy and I got together one time to try them out. I had fun and was inspired, but I haven’t really had a chance to work with them since. I love them so they have been on my mind.

It turns out that my class was with Judy Coates Perez. She is awesome and then I read my blog and found out that the first time I wrote about Tsukineko Inks had to do with Judy Coates Perez!

So, this was an EBHQ workshop and I signed up a few months ago knowing I would be on the East Coast around the same time. I signed up and made plans to be sure and be home by the time the class started.

Then I found out I was on the waiting list.

I was #8.

I had no chance of getting in. I was disappointed. Supremely disappointed.

What else could I do? I moved on. The inks stayed on the shelf.

Then I went on my trip. Practically as soon as I settled into the East Coast I got an email from the workshop coordinator saying I had gotten into the class and needed to confirm ASAP. I couldn’t believe that I, #8, had gotten into the class. That is practically a 50% dropout rate. I found out later that the dropout number was the most people who had ever dropped out of a workshop in recent memory and the most people on the waitlist who had ever gotten into a class.

I was really happy! I RSVPed ASAP and then panicked. Did I have the right colors? How could I know? I wasn’t at home to check. I panicked about it on and off until I got home. Finally, when I checked, I was completely astounded to find that I had all but one of the colors. I must have bought a ‘basics’ kit at some point. It didn’t even matter than I didn’t have that color once I was in the class.

Judy Coates Perez is an awesome teacher and I would take a class from her again in an instant. She is caring, giving and very easy going. She has a lot of extra colors (yes, I bought a few more) and supplies. Since I didn’t really have a chance to buy anything on the supply list, I scrounged a water cup from Peet’s when I got an extra cup of morning tea and bought the rest from her: brushes, etc. Fortunately, the supply list was short and sweet.


The first thing we did was work on getting used to the ink and blending. I wrote the colors down next to my practice pieces so I would know what I had done in the future.

It takes practice.

The technique requires a light touch. Having a light touch, I found is not my strength. I also found that, since I was determined to succeed, that I made an effort to calm down, slow down, be patient and realize that this technique was a commitment and not a sprint.

I really like the slow and careful way one has to apply the inks. It is soothing in a lot of ways.

Leaf and Flower
Leaf and Flower

Once we started in on leaves and flowers, my rhythm was in full force and, though, my first leaf was a little heavy handed, but the practice helped and I got better. I needed to slow down and apply the ink more lightly. I tried to do that with the second leaf. It isn’t perfect, but it is much better.

The squiggly lines are me trying to get a smaller amount of ink of the applicator.

Tsukineko ink Flower, January 2015
Tsukineko ink Flower, January 2015

I made a really nice flower. It isn’t as good as Judy’s, of course. For having only worked with Tsukineko inks for  a few hours, I was pretty happy with my work. I can see shading and some shadows. I can also see how the blending changed the original tangerine I used for the first coat.

In the afternoon we switched to using paintbrushes. It is completely different and you make the inks more transparent and lighter in color using aloe vera gel (no additives).

I had to get used to a whole new technique, but I tried to take my patience with me into this new technique. The key with the paintbrushes is to have synthetic brushes (boar bristle for oils are too stiff and sable used for watercolors absorb too much liquid) and work in small spaces at a time.

Tsukineko inks, Peony in progress
Tsukineko inks, Peony in progress

Judy had copies of botanical line drawings and I picked a peony. I didn’t want to get the snail! My neighbor did, however, and she did a really great job with it. Snails, though, YUCK!

While trying to make the ink looks smooth and even, I was also practicing managing the amount of ink I was using. I got better as I went along.

I could tell other people were getting frustrated with the technique and the inks as the noise level grew as people stood up and started to chat. I just sat and worked away at my little spaces on my Peony.

Tsukineko inks, Peony in progress 2
Tsukineko inks, Peony in progress 2

I used Orchid Odyssey for the petals, Thistle for the shadows on the petals and Tropical Lagoon for the leaves. I wanted to something a little different in terms of color and to try out some of my other inks.

Way too early they chivvied us along and got us to pay our bills and clean up our areas. I didn’t finish, but I am pleased with my progress.

The inks get heat set and are permanent when they dry. I learned in this particular exercise to heat set areas once I am happy with them.

I am trying to think of a way to use these inks in my work. I can’t think of anything at the moment, but will keep thinking as I want to use them.

Thanks for reading!


JCP Samples
JCP Samples

Serendipity Lady Help and Process

We had a discussion at the CQFA social on Saturday about Workshop projects and how they are not always the kind of projects one wants to finish. There are a lot of variables going into the workshop -the right fabric and supplies, working in an unfamiliar environment, etc. – that conspire to make you learn something, but not always like the end result.

Serendipity Lady - Beginning Work
Serendipity Lady – Beginning Work

That is not the case with Serendipity Lady. I have wanted to do this design ever since I made stained and leaded glass panels back in the dark ages. Caroline’s workshop at CQFA last spring (?) gave me the means in fabric and the inspiration to make this dream a reality.

The problem was that my piece had so many small pieces that cutting out the pieces straight from the fabric became an issue. I went back and tried a few times and failed – or didn’t succeed as thoroughly as I would have liked. I didn’t want to simplify the pattern and I didn’t want to blow it up larger either.  Struggling with the mechanics of making a piece does not make it fun. Finally, I put it aside to mull over.

This was disappointing, because I came home so jazzed about this project after the workshop. Creating is a struggle, but for this one, I just wanted it to work. Sadly, that is not the way ‘making’ works.

In the mulling process, I came up with the idea of making templates for each piece. I was about to embark on that line of thought  using the kind of cardstock (tagboard??) I used to use for cutting the templates for stained and leaded glass panels when I had lunch with Maureen and Dolores.

I mentioned my problem to them and how I wanted to use templates and asked their advice. They both immediately went to freezer paper and patiently explained how to use freezer paper to make the templates. I couldn’t really envision the process in my head. It became clearer when they kind of walked me through the process, reminding me to trace the design backwards.

What Process Looks Like
What Process Looks Like

Again, I was really excited so I came home, taped the design to my sliding glass door and retraced the pattern backwards. Then I traced the backwards pattern on to freezer paper and sat in front of the TV and cut it out.

Again, those tiny little pieces were not my friend. At the moment I have them all paperclipped together, but that is only because I keep forgetting to get an envelope each time I go downstairs.

Serendipity Lady - Weekend Work
Serendipity Lady – Weekend Work

Next I started applying freezer paper to fabric. Then the real fun began. I threw out some fabrics after putting them near other fabrics and the picture really started to take shape. I am not done and I haven’t glued down the pieces yet, but I really had a lot of fun making some serious progress.

My mind is whirling with the possibilities of adding a few beads, embroidering the eyelash, etc. Fun!

When Leaders & Enders Go Wrong

I was thinking about my WIPs last Sunday as I tried to adjust to the horror that is Daylight Savings Time. There is a lot of chaos in my head about projects lately. I couldn’t figure out why until I realized that I had too many leaders and enders projects and not enough front burner projects.

At the moment my leaders and enders projects are:

  • The Disappearing Pinwheel
  • Black/grey donation quilt
  • Brown mosaic piecing

I really was quite happy with the progress I was making on each of those projects when they were the only leaders and enders project on which I was working. Then I finished Scrapitude and all I had with a quarter inch seam allowance were leaders and enders projects. Now none of them are looking very appealing.

To make matters worse, the Scrap Lab Backpack, as I mentioned, uses a 1/2″ seam allowance which requires a different foot, so there is no progress being made on the leaders and enders projects.

I tried to work on the DPW as a front burner project and I just wasn’t as happy. I like that project, but it isn’t exciting enough to be  front burner project. This is the moment when projects get derailed. I don’t want to replenish my UFO list so I need to power through these projects and get them done.

Hhmm.  I guess I had better finish that backpack.

Tutorial: LeMoyne Star

Finished LeMoyne Star
Finished LeMoyne Star

This is a tutorial on making a LeMoyne Star. This block is also called an Eight Pointed Star. This is one of the ways that I make it. There are many methods and I encourage you to try different techniques.

Alex Anderson has a great tutorial on one of the Quilt Show episodes on making a Split LeMoyne Star.

Before you do anything else, print the rotary cutting instructions below (first item under supplies). All the sizes, etc are there.


  • 8 Pointed Star Rotary Cutting Directions
  • 4.5″x 12.5″ Creative Grids ruler
  • 4.5 x8.5″ Creative Grids ruler
  • Optional: Jinny Beyer Perfect Piecer ruler
  • Optional: Mary Ellen’s Best Press or similar
  • Optional: stiletto
  • fabric marking implement (pencil, Sewline, Pilot SCUF, Pigma Micron, mechanical pencil, etc)
  • rotary cutter
  • mat
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • iron
  • ironing board
  • 3 fabrics (I will name them A, B, C)
    • 3″x23″ strip of fabric A for 4 diamonds
    • 3″x23″ strip of fabric B for 4 diamonds
    • 1 fat quarter for the background (fabric C)

Important information:

  • Block is 12.5″ unfinished, 12″ finished
  • These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance.
  • You will be creating Y seams.
  • Chain piecing is not part of this tutorial.
  • Respect the bias.
  • Do not sew into the seam allowance.


Line Up Ruler to Cut 1 Side of Diamond
Line Up Ruler to Cut 1 Side of Diamond

Cut a 3″x23″ strips. That should be long enough for 4 diamonds (parallelograms). Cutting a 3″ strip across the width of a half yard of fabric will generate a strip that is long enough. You will need two and using 2 different fabrics looks good.

As shown (left), line your ruler up so the 45 degree angle on your ruler is along the bottom of the strip.The side of the ruler should be lined up right in the corner of your strip.

The idea is to cut off the end of the strip, so you have the correct angle of one pointy end of the diamond. I did try my diamond ruler, but none of the lines were quite the right size, so I couldn’t use it for this particular block.

Line Up Rulers to Cut the Second End
Line Up Rulers to Cut the Second End

I used the two rulers to  make sure that the diamond were accurate. The first ruler, on the left, should be even with the far left [soon to be] diamond point so that it would measure 4.25″ along the bottom edge. I used that measurement to line up the 45 degree angle of the second ruler so I could cut the angle in the right place. I butted the second ruler up against the first ruler (carefully) so everything was in alignment. The second ruler (on the right) must have a 45 degree angle that intersects with a corner or this trick won’t work.

I removed the left ruler before I started cutting, as it was easier to cut with just one ruler on the mat. I was careful not to jostle the ruler in the 45 degree angle position. Line your ruler up exactly as shown in the photo. You don’t have to have exactly the rulers I have. You can use any rulers with the correct lines.

Cut 2d End of Diamond
Cut 2d End of Diamond

I found that the method really does work. You will need to repeat the step above 8 times to get 8 diamonds. After the first diamond, it will be easier, since you can use the 2d cut for each diamond as the first cut for the next diamond.

Aside from having to watch out for ruler jostling, I was really pleased with how easy this was and well these diamonds came out. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have wanted to cut the 300+ diamonds for FOTY 2010 using this method, but for a LeMoyne Star, it works very well.

I cut all the diamonds at once from two strips of two different fabrics. My fabrics are:

  • background: Lil Plain Jane
  • red diamonds: Moda Bliss #55021
  • aqua dot diamonds: Moda Bliss #55023
Side Triangles
Side Triangles

Cut the squares and triangles according to the cutting directions on the PDF in the supply list. The triangles are quarter square triangles, which means that you cut the triangles so the straight of the grain will be along the hypotenuse (the long side of the traingle).

If you have some reason for not being able to cut the side triangles as shown, be careful sewing the block together and then stay stitch the outside of the block once you are finished.

Pieces cut
Pieces cut

Once your pieces are cut, lay them out or adhere them to your design wall, so you know what you have.

Cut Diamond, Face down
Cut Diamond, Face down

I like to keep them where I can see them because it helps me know where I am. As I sew, I put the sewn elements of the block back up on the design wall.

Once you have cut all the diamonds, you will need to mark them. You need to mark 1/4″ away from the seam line, because if you want this block to come out right, you cannot sew into the seam allowance. The biggest rule I have for making the LeMoyne/8 pointed star block is NOT to sew into the seam allowance. There are exceptions, but I am not going into those now.

Put your diamonds face down on a writing surface and prepare to mark. As you can see from the photo, I used my cutting mat as the hard surface. You can use a table or whatever else works for your work area. I used the Sewline pencil to make the marks. Pilot SCUF pens, a mechanical pencil, etc also work.

Get ready to mark the seam allowance on all of your pieces (squares, triangles, diamonds).

Mark with Perfect Piecer
Mark with Perfect Piecer

I like using the Perfect Piecer ruler by Jinny Beyer for marking weird angles, because I only have to move the ruler once to mark the ‘corner.’

With the Perfect Piecer (they aren’t giving me free stuff, BTW!), you put the ruler in the ‘corner’ as shown in the photo. Where I have placed the circle is a hole. Note it is a small hole, so a regular No.2 pencil usually won’t work. Stick your Sewline (or other fabric marking implement with a very thin point) in there and make a dot. Voilà!

You will need to use two different parts of

Ruler Angle Does Not Fit Side
Ruler Angle Does Not Fit Side

the Perfect Piecer ruler to make the marks on all four ‘corners’. There is no angle for the sides of the diamonds, so just use the straight edge (as I describe below). You don’t need to know the angles, if angles make you crazy. Just match up the shape of the ruler with your cut piece.

Use Straight Edge for Marking
Use Straight Edge for Marking

You can certainly use any kind of ruler. Take your regular ruler and line up the 1/4″ line with the cut edge. Make a line around where you think the quarter inch would be. Make it longer, so you don’t have to go back and do it over. Move the ruler to the opposite cut edge of the diamond and cross your first line with a new line. It makes an X. I have done this numerous time and there is no problem using an X instead of the Perfect Piecer dot.

Beautiful marks!
Beautiful marks!

In case you were wondering what the marks look like, the photo (red diamond with blue circles, left) shows  examples.

The upper left hand mark inside the blue circle is the mark made with a Perfect Piecer and the Sewline pencil.

The lower right hand mark is made using a regular rotary cutting ruler and the Sewline pencil. Either mark works, as I said. You will use these marks to stop and start your seam lines. NO sewing into the seam allowance!

You will need to mark the squares and the triangles, too. You can use the Perfect Piecer to mark those pieces as well.

At this point, you might want to use some Mary Ellen’s Best Press to stiffen your pieces since you will be sewing along a lot of bias edges. You can either spray it on all of your pieces all at once, or as you are getting ready to sew. If you don’t want to use Mary Ellen’s Best Press or spray starch, no problem. Just keep in mind that you are working with bias edges, so work with them carefully. You don’t need to be afraid of bias edges. Just work slowly and carefully. Respect the Bias! 😉

Position Triangle over Diamond
Position Triangle over Diamond

Sew Segments Together

Now you are ready to sew!

First, position one of your side triangles over the diamond as shown, right sides together. You are lining up the diamond with the left non-hypotenuse side of the side triangle.

Line up the marks you have made on the diamond with the marks you made on the triangles.

I used pins, but only stuck them through vertically one time to keep them in place until I got to the sewing machine.

You can give the pieces a little press to stick them together, too, if you want.

Sew from Mark to Mark
Sew from Mark to Mark

Next you sew from mark to mark. Stay out of the seam allowance! You can back stitch, if you want, but stay out of the seam allowance. Start sewing at one mark and stop at the second mark. Easy!

An Aside: You are probably wondering about the lemon fabric. I press fabric on my ironing board and if I am pressing a lot of pieces, then I will put a larger piece of fabric so that I can get more bang for my buck. As I press the smaller pieces the larger piece gets pressed as well.

Press Carefully
Press Carefully

You can press now. If you do, press carefully (remember the bias, respect the bias) towards the diamond. If you don’t want to press until later, that is ok, too. I usually create the entire segment (2 diamonds, one triangle) before I press.

Now you have your first piece. YAY!

Not hard or scary, right?

Repeat this step for all of the diamonds that will be in the same position as my aqua with white dot diamonds.


2d Diamond with Pieced Segment
2d Diamond with Pieced

The next step is to sew the second diamond on to the segment (above: aqua with white dot & Lil Plain Jane fabrics) you have just made. You will be doing an inset seam. An inset seam is also called a Y seam. A lot of people hear this and panic. It isn’t difficult, but you can’t chain piece them and you have to pay attention. This method is similar to sewing hexagons together. Y seams really expand your quilt block piecing repertoire.

As you can see I have lined the red diamond up with the segment I sewed and am ready to line up the pieces, pin and sew.

Line Up 2d Diamond & Pin
Line Up 2d Diamond & Pin

First, line up the marks on the triangle and the diamond.

I just used vertical pins to make sure that everything was lined up before I sewed. I put a pin in the middle of seam line right before I sewed just to hold everything together.

You will be sewing in two stages. I like to sew the triangle to the second diamond before I sew the two diamonds together.


Sew 2d Diamond
Sew 2d Diamond

Next, place the group of 3 patches (2 diamonds and a triangle) under the needle, lining up the marks so that the needle misses the seam allowance and goes straight into the first mark.

Sew from mark to mark. The triangle and the second diamond will now be sewed together.

Sew from Top to Middle
Sew from Top to Middle

Second, line up the new diamond with the diamond you have already sewed to the triangle.

Line Up 2d Diamond & Pin
Line Up 2d Diamond & Pin

Match up the marks on the top and sides of the diamond. Right sides should be together.

Put the top of the 2 diamonds into the machine. You will start sewing at the mark, which is 1/4″ in from the top of the diamond. Sew between the two marks, avoiding the seam allowance.


Top View of Sewing Mark to Mark
Top View of Sewing Mark to Mark

Sew down to the mark at the bottom of the diamond. If the pressed seam allowance looks like it will go under the needle, move it out of the way with your finger, the tip of some sharp scissors or a stiletto.

Stop at the second mark.

Remove the piece from the machine.


Segment 1 Complete
Segment 1 Complete

Once you have sewed the the three patches together, you will have one full segment completed.

Next, press the 3 seam allowances into a swirl. This is similar to what you do with hexagons. As a guide, use the first seam that you pressed after sewing the first diamond to your triangle.

The reason I suggest the ‘Swirl’ is that it reduces bulk later. This particular pressing point isn’t as important in terms of bulk as the center, which has a crazy number of layers, once finished. Consistency is good, though.

Repeat to make four of the above segments.




Sew Quarters into Halves

Segment and Square
Segment and Square
Sew Square to Segment
Sew Square to Segment

Line up the square to the [red] diamond, matching the marks.

Arrange your pieces like I have done.

Line up the marks in the square with the marks on the outside side of the bottom (in the picture it is red) diamond.

Press, if you like.  Pin, if you like. Go back to the sewing machine and sew from mark to mark.

Repeat this step for all four segments.

Sew Square to Segment 1
Sew Square to Segment 1

If you just look at the next photo, you might have a heart attack. Please don’t. Add the square is not hard. The key is to NOT sew into the seam allowance.


Two Quarters of the Block
Two Quarters of the Block

Once you have two segments sewn to two squares, prepare to sew the two quarters together.

An Aside: You can actually sew into the seam allowance on any seam that will end up on the outside of the block. If this thought is going to make your head explode, then just remember my mantra: don’t sew into the seam allowance and you will be fine.



Line up 2 Halves along the Center Diamond
Line up 2 Halves along the Center Diamond


Sew Diamond Only
Sew Diamond Only

Sew the [red] diamond to the aqua diamond on the bottom. Stay out of the seam allowance and sew mark to mark.

Seam Line After Sewing Diamonds
Seam Line After Sewing Diamonds


After Diamonds are Sewn
After Diamonds are Sewn

It looks weird once you have sewn the diamonds together, but it will work out.

Line up Square
Line up Square

Line up the square with the [aqua] diamond and sew from mark to mark.


You Finished Half of Your LeMoyne Star
You Finished Half of Your LeMoyne Star

Two Halves of Block

Center detail
Center detail

Finally, we are ready to sew the two halves together. You should have pressed in such a way that you can nestle the diamonds together using your pressed opposing seams.

Match up the marks with pins. I used really thin ones this time. I normally use the kind shown in the center detail photo, but switched to thinner ones as I worked on this step, because my normal pins weren’t giving me the results I needed for this tricky piecing. Note that I don’t pin right in the center. I pin well where I am not going to sew and may put another vertical pin in the center temporarily. There are so many layers in the center that it doesn’t always make sense to pin there. Do what works for you.

Sew Halves Together
Sew Halves Together

Line up your piece carefully.

Hold on to your pinned halves tightly.

Sew over the center only. Start about an inch from one side of the center and stop about an inch after the center.

Sewing only a couple of inches makes it much easier to rip out, which I had to do. You might think that this will be a piece of cake, which it might be for you. It can be tricky also, because of the many layers of fabric that you are sewing through. My sewing machine did not want to go straight over that center section, which is why I had to rip out the first time.

Take the piece out of your machine, open it and see if you were able to match the center.

Once you have the center matched to your satisfaction, sew from the edge of one diamond across the entire center to the edge of the opposite diamond. Remember the mantra? Refrain from sewing into the seam allowance.


Finished and Pressed (full)
Finished and Pressed (full)

Once you have sewn the squares to the last sides of the last diamonds, pressing becomes very important. I have indicated with the circles how your pressing should look. If you need to re-press, spray the piece with water and that will make it easier.

By creating a swirl during the pressing of the center, you will reduce bulk for your quilting step. You will thank yourself if you quilt your own quilts. Your quilter will thank you, if you have someone quilt your quilts.

Finished and Pressed (detail)
Finished and Pressed (detail)

Once you have sewn the squares to the last sides of the last diamonds and pressed the piece, you should have a gorgeous block and feel very proud of yourself.

Finished LeMoyne Star
Finished LeMoyne Star

Tsukineko Ink Test

Flower Test
Flower Test

I bought some Tsukineko inks some time ago and never had the chance to use them. As time passed, I lost my inspiration and the inks languished.

Mark Lipinski did me a real favor when I was at his house and I don’t even think he knows. He asked me about my art quiltmaking in the process of the podcast. He was trying to get to know me and, instead, he changed my focus. I had gotten away from surface design and was focusing on piecing. I don’t know why, but it was my reality. By asking me Mark made me think about art quiltmaking again.

As a result of that innocent question, I have started to go back to some older art quilt projects. I finished the beading on Kissy Fish, but before I finished, I was looking for some green beads. In searching for them, I found the inks. Soon after I was talking with Nancy and another friend and suggested that we work with these inks together. I am much better at new supplies when I have another person to work with. So we got together and tried the inks.

It was really fun. I didn’t make great art, but it was really fun.

First Test
First Test