31 Dec 2015

Happy New Year 2016!

It's time to sit back, enjoy a coffee and snack and contemplate your 2016.  I wish everyone a happy, healthy and wonderful year!

image courtesy http://www.qlkitchen.com/

And here's what some of the famous have to say

  • "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year."
    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • "And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been."
    ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

  • "Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."
    ~ Oprah Winfrey

  • "Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness."
    ~ William Shakespeare

  • "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart."
    ~ Helen Keller

image courtesy qlkitchen.com

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29 Dec 2015

I really was going crazy ...

Jenny's stocking image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Jenny's stocking 2015
This blog post will be a little different than those in the past. Today I am sharing what I was working on prior to Christmas -- a little crazy quilting. I plan to design some CQ blocks for you to download in the new year, but right now I thought I would give you some "eye candy". I had to wait to post these photos, as the projects were gifts for family and I couldn't take the chance that either of these ladies might catch a glimpse of their presents before the big day.

Project One

This stocking was my first project and it is for my daughter-in-law, Jenny. (I forgot to take a "before" picture, so you just get to see the finished product.)

It had to be mailed so I had to finish it first. (I must admit that I was nervous about the mailing part because it would be difficult to recreate this should it go astray in the mail). However, she got the package, just in time and was thrilled.

Maple leaf on crazy quilt stocking image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Gotta have a maple leaf!
(I believe if you click on the image you will see a much larger version.)

Now, if you were not already aware, I'm a Canadian (as is Jenny) so of course I had to add the maple leaf. This embroidery technique (long and short stitches) was a first for me and was made of single strands of thread and took me about 4 hours to produce, so I thought you should see a close up. <pats self on back>

Project Two

My next project (and I really didn't know what I was in for) was a purse for my daughter Rachel. (The embroidery and embellishing was a cinch compared to putting the thing together...)

This looks pretty unassuming and that is the interesting part of crazy quilting. You get to take small scraps of lovely bits and pieces, embroider as you wish and then, the really fun part, is adding the silk ribbon and the bead embellishments.
Crazy quilt purse image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
In the beginning ...

 Starting the embroidery. It's beginning to look a little more interesting.

Crazy quilt purse image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Starting the embroidery ...

And here is the final product (after much soul searching as to why I attempted this, sprinkled with quite a bit of cursing ... ), but in the end, it was worth it.
Crazy quilt purse image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

The finished purse

24 Dec 2015

Happy Holidays!

Image courtesy of emptyglass at FreeDigitalPhotos.netJust a quick note to wish each and every one of you a safe and happy holiday season.

May you enjoy good times with family and friends and the wonderful spirit of the season.

Snowflake image courtesy of emptyglass at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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18 Dec 2015

'Tis the Season ...

I am one who celebrates Christmas, and for me, it is a time for spending time with family and friends.
Christmas Basket quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Christmas Basket quilt block
But really, this is a season of the spirit of good will and, with all of the tragic things happening in the world, it is a perfect time to think about peace.

This quilt block called Christmas Basket, is one of many basket quilt blocks, and due to the name, I chose colours to represent a poinsettia in a basket. (I decided to avoid the obvious red and like those pink poinsettias sometimes.) However, any colour combination can be used.

Many basket quilt blocks are designed on point as is this block, and that leaves it open to your imagination to create all sorts of designs because many secondary patterns can emerge as you rotate or flip these blocks when placing them in your quilt.

The spirit of the season

  • "Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values."
    ~ Thomas S. Monson

May your time with family and friends, and even strangers, give you a feeling of joy, hope, love and laughter during this holiday season.

'Christmas Basket' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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10 Dec 2015

The highest point ...

Zenith quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Zenith quilt block
According to Merriam-Webster a zenith is defined as "the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body".

Today's featured quilt block is called Zenith, as you may have guessed, and my thought is that it was so named because it has a highest point (on each of the four sides).

I thought it was time to move away from the most recent colour schemes I have been using ... all seeming to be related to sand and beaches. (Hmmm ... maybe there is a subliminal message there ...)  So today's block is vibrant with some of my favourite colours.

This block is an easy one to construct and contains another favourite of mine ... the flying geese patch. And ... as a surprise, the rectangle patches create a secondary pattern of pinwheels when laid out next to each other.

Download the free quilt block pattern.

Zenith Quotes

  • "Each man is always in the middle of the surface of the earth and under the zenith of his own hemisphere, and over the centre of the earth."
    ~ Leonardo da Vinci

  • "The zenith of elegance in any woman's wardrobe is the little black dress, the power of which suggests dash and refinement."
    ~ Andre Leon Talley

  • "Being on top of the world doesn't mean anything unless you know what it's like to be at the bottom."
    ~ Author Unknown

    and finally, some words to ponder ...

  • "If you are sitting on top of the world, remember it turns over every 24 hours."
    ~ Author Unknown

'Zenith' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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4 Dec 2015

Mermaid's Hair

Mermaid's hair quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Mermaid's Hair quilt block
The colours I chose for this quilt block were derived from the character of Ariel in the Disney movie The Little Mermaid. I also seem to remember while reading Superman comics when I was a kid, that one of his many girlfriends was "Lori Lemaris", a mermaid with red hair. So, how could I tamper with that?

This is an easy five patch block to construct and uses only the two most basic quilt patches -- the square and half square triangle. I choose to construct the block as an uneven nine patch as I find that an easier method than sewing five rows of five patches.

Download the free quilt block pattern for Mermaid's Hair.

Mermaid Quotes just for fun

  • "I'm always happy when I'm surrounded by water, I think I'm a mermaid or I was a mermaid."
    ~ Beyonce Knowles

  • "The seaweed is always greener in somebody else's lake."
    - from the movie "The Little Mermaid" (1989)

  • "But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more."
    ~ Hans Christian Andersen [The Little Mermaid]

  • "I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living."
    ~ Anaïs Nin

'Mermaid's Hair' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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28 Nov 2015

Fact or Fiction? The Salt Water Taffy Story

Salt Water Taffy quilt block
The tale goes, that back in 1883 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a candy shop owned by David Bradley, was near the ocean. A big storm hit one summer day and the boardwalk and the shops closest to the ocean were flooded. Mr. Bradley's entire stock of taffy (a favourite of the locals) was soaked with the salt water and he figured it was ruined.

Once the storm had cleared, a young girl entered the shop to make a purchase and Mr. Bradley joked that all he had available was some "salt water taffy". The girl bought some anyway and upon sharing it around, others began requesting the new treat called salt water taffy. True or not, the story continues.

The Salt Water Taffy quilt block is an easy five patch to construct. Although salt water taffy actually comes in a rainbow of colours, I chose to use the colours of the beachfront at Atlantic City. What colours would you choose?

I couldn't find any specific quotes about salt water taffy so instead, here are ...

Some thoughts about the seashore.

  • I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought.
    ~ Helen Keller

  • The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.
    ~ Isak Dinesen

  • I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
    ~ Isaac Newton

'Salt Water Taffy' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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19 Nov 2015

It's all in the family

Auntie's Puzzle quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Auntie's Puzzle quilt block
Today's featured quilt block is called Auntie's Puzzle. This five patch block is an easy one to construct. I choose to make this block (and many other blocks as well) as an uneven nine patch, rather than sewing as five rows of five patches, as I prefer to work with "chunks" rather than several rows. This is just a personal preference so feel free to construct with your own method.

By using 90 degree rotations when placing the block in your quilt you can achieve all sorts of interesting variations.

Download the free quilt block pattern.

And speaking of family ...

  • "You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."
    ~ Desmond Tutu

  • "The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege."
    ~ Charles Kuralt

  • "Family is not an important thing. It's everything."
    ~ Michael J. Fox

  • "The family is one of nature's masterpieces."
    ~ George Santayana

'Auntie's Puzzle' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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11 Nov 2015

Lest We Forget

image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Frederick Johnson
1939 - age 17
Each year, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we take a few moments to remember countless fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who gave up their lives for their country in one of the many, terrible wars the world has suffered. Around the globe, this day is known as Remembrance Day, Veterans' Day and Armistice Day, but what's in a name?

My dad was a veteran of the second world war. He lied about his age to join the army, but when it was discovered that he was only 17, he was sent packing. Not to be discouraged, he joined the air force as soon as he turned 18 and, as a rear gunner, flew on 21 different missions. His plane was shot down on two occasions, and in one of those crashes he was the lone survivor. These events were the seeds of what was then known as "shell shock", which for him, lasted for the remainder of his life. Today we know this as post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD -- one of the "invisible" illnesses.

image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Mom and Dad
A love story during the war years
My dad spent over a year in hospital in recovery. During that time he met my mother who was one of the nurses tending to all of the "boys" in the ward of 32 soldiers. After the war, they married and it lasted for over 63 years, until we lost him.

Dad never once spoke to us about his time serving for his country. Any information my family knows is from the few things he would tell my mother over time -- sometimes while babbling and shouting during a nightmare, from which he would wake up shaking in a cold sweat. We, as children, witnessed this many times.

While Dad was in hospital those many years before, one day Mom had offered to stay after her shift to write a letter to his family for him, since he was unable. He told her -- not until over 60 years later -- that he had fallen in love with her that very day, because she was the only one of all the staff in the hospital who treated him as a person, rather than just another patient.

image courtesy http://www.utnrotcalum.org/alumni/FlandersFieldsStory.htm
Tyne Cot Cemetery in Flanders Fields, Belgium
Your family likely has a story of love, loss, courage or compassion too, whether it is from long ago or a recent event. I hope you will join me in thanking all of those men and women who fought in any war, or worked tirelessly to care for the wounded. Let us never forget their sacrifices for our freedom.

Johnson family images © W. Russell
Tyne Cot Cemetery image courtesy http://www.utnrotcalum.org/alumni/FlandersFieldsStory.htm

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6 Nov 2015

Quatrefois -- or Four Times

Quatrefois quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Quatrefois quilt block
Since my French language ability dates back to high school (let's just say it was a few years ago ... um ... quite a few..) but I was able to guess that quatrefois means four times. (Actually it should really be two words ... quatre fois ... but this is the world of quiltmaking and we take liberties with words.) So, I can only guess that this quilt block was named Quatrefois as some of the patches are repeated four times. (As a side note, this is quite common in quilt blocks, but who am I to judge about what name is given to a block?)

Anyway, one of the patches in this nine patch block could have been constructed differently, using rectangles and flying geese units, but I thought, just for a change, I would introduce you to the "flip and sew" method for the triangular pieces in those patches. The added bonus of this method is that there are fewer seams, thus reducing bulk.

Common phrases we stole from the French

  • Crème de la crème: "the best of the best"

  • Au gratin: "with cheese"

  • Au jus: "with juice (or gravy)"

  • Art nouveau: Style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries

  • C'est la vie: "That's life"

  • Faux pas: Literally, this means 'false step' but we generally use this phrase to mean that we have made an error.

  • Joie de vivre: "joy of life"

  • Fait accompli: a "done deal"

  • On ne change pas une équipe qui gagne: (I'm guessing that this translation is a "Yogi-ism") "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

  • Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup means: "Eat well, laugh often, love abundantly."

'Quatrefois' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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28 Oct 2015

Did you know the source of these quotes?

Cain and Abel quilt block
The Cain and Abel quilt block is a five patch block, so named because it is built on a 5 x 5 grid. However, I find it much easier to construct the block as an uneven nine patch, but that is simply my preference. Many people sew five patch blocks in five rows, so this is really a choice. The block is simple because it uses only the two most common patches in quiltmaking -- the square and the half square triangle. Colour choices are what will make your quilt a different work of art.

Not Shakespeare and not clichés,

  • "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
    [Ecclesiastes 3:1]

  • "The truth shall make you free.
    [John 8:32]"

  • "Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
    [1 John 3:18]"

  • "The ear tests words as the tongue tastes food.
    [Job 34:3]"

'Cain and Abel' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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24 Oct 2015

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea ....

This song was in my head recently, so I had to create a pattern.

By the Sea quilt block © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
By the Sea quilt block
The last gasp of beautiful weather is upon many of us, as autumn tries to hold off from the first flakes of snow. So, I thought this would be a good time to have you reflect on those hot summer days ... By the Sea. I chose colours for this quilt block with blue skies, sand, surf and sunset in mind. This block is a perfect choice for a beginner quilter as it uses only the simplest of shapes in quiltmaking - the square and half square triangle.

Download the free quilt block pattern.

Thoughts of summer and seas

  • For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.
    ~ Aristotle

  • Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.
    ~ John Lubbock

  • The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
    ~ Jacques Cousteau

  • All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full.
    ~ King Solomon

  • I once sang "Summer Nights" from Grease at a bar in Melbourne with John Travolta, who's a good friend of mine. He looked cool singing the part of Danny - sitting in an armchair, smoking a cigar - while I got stuck playing Sandy.
    ~ Hugh Jackman

'By the Sea' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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13 Oct 2015

Geometry and Algebra and Quilts ... oh my!

Chevron Stripes quilt block c© W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Chevron Stripes quilt block
I have always been one of those nerdy types who love math. So, drawing, scaling and making quilt blocks has never been a problem for me. Go figure  ... (okay that is my little stab at humour).

I am always more intrigued by patchwork blocks rather than applique blocks simply because I like all those shapes working together. (I must add though, that I really admire those quilters who have mastered applique, since it is such an art form in itself, and one I just don't have the patience to master.)

Chevron Stripes quilt
The Chevron Stripes quilt block is one of those interesting blocks that utilizes only one geometric shape -- the half square triangle. At first glance it looks rather boring -- but that is where the fun begins. By making a bunch of these blocks and then playing with rotations of the block, you can come up with all sorts of interesting quilts. I have shown you one here and a second in the quilt block pattern to get your imagination working.

And speaking of imagination ...

  • "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."
    ~ Thomas Edison

  • "Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative."
    ~ Oscar Wilde

  • "When forced to work within a strict framework, the imagination is taxed to its utmost and will produce its richest ideas."
    T. S. Eliot

Images © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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3 Oct 2015

"Get your kicks on Route 66 ..."

My brother and his wife are currently on a once in a lifetime adventure trip in and about Arizona checking out all sorts of desert areas. Driving along a desert highway (Route 66 perhaps?) to travel around the state takes you to many fantastic sights. The most famous site in Arizona is the Grand Canyon.

Desert Highway quilt block © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Desert Highway quilt block
I was at the Grand Canyon many years ago, and remember how glorious the colours of the stone were. Depending on what time of the day you were witnessing this splendour, there are all sorts of variations of oranges and purples that just took your breath away. I think you can guess why I chose these colours for my version of the Desert Highway quilt block.

The circular focus in the centre of this block reminded me of a blazing sun looking down on the colourful rock formations. However, don't let my choice of colour scheme hinder your creativity. Whatever colours you choose will be stunning in your own version of this quilt block.

Download the free quilt block pattern.

Thoughts on Deserts and Adventures

  • One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.
    ~ William Feather

  • A desert is a place without expectation.
    ~ Nadine Gordimer

  • Anytime I feel lost, I pull out a map and stare. I stare until I have reminded myself that life is a giant adventure, so much to do, to see.
    ~ Angelina Jolie

  • Sadly, it's much easier to create a desert than a forest.
    ~ James Lovelock

  • The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.
    ~ Oprah Winfrey

  • Life is either a great adventure or nothing.
    ~ Helen Keller

  • Someone asked me, if I were stranded on a desert island what book would I bring... How to Build a Boat.
    ~ Steven Wright

'Desert Highway' image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

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23 Sep 2015

The Final Out ... It's Over

Yogi Berra image courtesy public domain
Yogi Berra
1925 - 2015
Baseball legend Yogi Berra was one of the funniest men who ever lived. And ... most of the time it was unintentional .. or was it?

A little history of Yogi:
Yogi was commonly thought to be one of the greatest baseball catchers of all time and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. The New York Yankees had him for most of the 19 seasons of his career. He was one of only four players to to be named the MVP three times in his career. As either a player, coach or manager, Yogi was part of 21 World Series games, winning in 13 of those.

Lawrence Peter Berra gained his nickname "Yogi" from his fellow baseball pal Bobby Hofman when Hofman commented on his frequent pose of sitting with arms and legs crossed while waiting to bat. Hofman thought he looked like a Hindu yogi, and the name stuck.

Yogi is well known for his observations of life and baseball. You have likely heard (or used) many of these quotes during your own lifetime. Here is just a sampling of those "Yogi-isms".
  • "Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets."
  • "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
  • "If you come to a fork in the road, take it."
  • "It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much."
  • "It's like déjà vu, all over again."
  • "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."
  • "I made a wrong mistake."
  • "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else."
  • "I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four."
  • "You can observe a lot by watching."
  • "The future ain’t what it used to be."
  • "It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility."
  • "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."
  • "He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."
  • "Pair up in threes."
and probably his most famous quote ...
  • "It ain't over 'til it's over."
Sadly, on September 22, 2015, the world lost Yogi Berra at the age of 90. It's over.

One final note .. I can imagine that there will be hundreds and hundreds of people attending Yogi's funeral. He likely followed his own advice.
  • "You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours."

Yogi Berra image courtesy public domain

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22 Sep 2015

[Music Maestro please] ... If I Were a Carpenter ...

Carpenter's Wheel is one of my all-time favourite quilt blocks. I just like the shape and I find it intriguing. What I don't find any fun is in the usual construction method of this block. Most of the time you will see this block made with only squares and diamonds, which then result in those dreaded set in seams. So, I believe making the block should be non-stressful and as a result, I have changed it up to use only squares and half square triangles instead. (I would like to take credit for this method, but it is not an original idea.) There are more pieces to sew, but the method is easier, in my opinion, and why not take the easy road?

Since it is one of my favourite blocks, I could not help but play around with it, switching up the colours. So, the pattern has more pages than usual, because I just kept playing and had to "show and tell". I'm sure you will not really mind.

Carpenter's Wheel quilt blocks

Precision is the thing

  • "It is the accuracy and detail inherent in crafted goods that endows them with lasting value. It is the time and attention paid by the carpenter, the seamstress and the tailor that makes this detail possible."
    ~ Tim Jackson

An Oldie but definitely a Goodie

If I Were a Carpenter by Bobby Darin

'Carpenter's Wheel' quilt block images © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

14 Sep 2015

Sandy Dunes and other hot things ...

Sandy Dunes quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Sandy Dunes quilt block
Another five patch which supposedly means easy math. Yay!

The Sandy Dunes quilt block is a great starter for beginners, as it contains only two different patches -- one of them being the square. The other is a flying geese unit, which is used in many, many quilt blocks. I played around with colour and the layout to produce two very different quilts. What can you come  up with?

Download the free quilt block pattern.

Where there is sand, there is heat ...

image courtesy thefridacinema.orgAnd speaking of heat ... "Sugar" gave us a few laughs in the movie Some Like it Hot

  • Sugar: "Real diamonds! They must be worth their weight in gold!"

  • Sugar: "Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

'Sandy Dunes' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
'Some Like it Hot' image courtesy thefridacinema.org

10 Sep 2015

Back to Vegas ...

Roulette Wheel quilt block © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Roulette Wheel quilt block
Last week I was directing you along the Road to Vegas. This week I'm introducing you to Roulette Wheel.  Hmmm ... is there a trend here?

This four patch quilt block is made entirely of half square triangles, in two different sizes. The construction is a little different than the norm, as not all of the triangles are made into squares. With careful handling of the individual pieces (to avoid distortion of the bias edge), this block will go together in no time.

Reflections on Gambling

'Roulette Wheel' image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • There is no gambling like politics.
    ~ Benjamin Disraeli

  • Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something.
    ~ Wilson Mizner

  • Part of it went on gambling, and part of it went on women. The rest I spent foolishly.
    ~ George Raft

'Roulette Wheel' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
'Roulette Wheel' image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 Sep 2015

Bluebonnet is today's featured block

Bluebonnet quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Bluebonnet quilt block
I couldn't think of a catchy title for this blog post except for the old commercial for Bluebonnet margarine. Cast your mind back to that era and see if you can remember the tune. (I would have used it but was not sure of the copyright issue.)

This five patch block is an easy one and your quilts can become quite creative by using 90 degree rotations of the multiple blocks to produce secondary patterns. The two sample quilts illustrated in the free download will give you an idea (but the changes are subtle).

I did take a bit of a liberty with this Bluebonnet quilt block, as there were originally no rectangles -- just two squares sewn together instead. My thought on that is why create extra seams? So I replaced those two squares with a rectangle instead (times four).

Fun thoughts for today

  • "I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific."
    ~ Lily Tomlin

  • "By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher."
    ~ Socrates

30 Aug 2015

Wasn't this an old John Wayne movie?

Today's block is called Rio Grande Crossing. (Where do they come up with these names anyway?) But I digress. It is a simple nine patch block, but with lots of half square triangle patches, your only concern in making the block is to be precise in sewing the quarter inch seam allowance. A little too big seam here, or a too small seam there, doesn't seem like a big deal. However, all of these little errors compound as you make more and more seams, and before you know it, your seams do not match within any "fudging" distance. So, if you are sewing with a machine,  the small investment in a special quarter inch seam foot is the best investment you could make.

Rio Grande Crossing quilts © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Rio Grande Crossing quilts

I chose to show you quilt samples this time, rather than the quilt block, because quite frankly, I thought the block was rather boring. These images might show you that, with some simple rotations and some additional colour, you can make a really special quilt.

(And yes, John Wayne and the Rio Grande made a movie together.)

John Wayne image courtesy public domain
The Wisdom (and the humour) of "the Duke"

  • "Life is hard. It's harder if you're stupid."
  • "Get off your horse and drink your milk."
  • "I've loved reading all my life."

  • and for all of those people who love Mondays ...

  • "Don't say it's a fine morning or I'll shoot ya."

'Rio Grande Crossing' quilt images © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
John Wayne image courtesy public domain

27 Aug 2015

Anyone for "T" ?

Ts in a Ring quilt block © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Ts in a Ring quilt block
There are many versions of "T" blocks and today we are looking at Ts in a Ring. This quilt block is made entirely of half square triangles, in two different sizes. So, nothing difficult there, but due to the large number of patches, you must pay close attention to achieving an accurate quarter inch seam allowance in order for it to go together smoothly.

I chose to make this block as a "scrappy" version for the dark fabrics, but maintained the same colour. Your block might be made of simply two fabrics or a multitude of fabrics to make a true scrappy version. Just be sure to include definite dark and light values of the fabrics to achieve the correct look.

Download the free quilt block pattern.

And speaking of "tea" ...

Abraham Lincoln had a sense of humour ... or did he?

  • "If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."
    ~ Abraham Lincoln

'Ts in a Ring' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

24 Aug 2015

Las Vegas: Did You Know ... ?

Road to Vegas quilt block © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Road to Vegas quilt block
Today's featured quilt block is called Road to Vegas and it's a simple block using only squares and half square triangles. On the surface it looks kind of plain, but with interesting colour placement and rotation of the blocks, you can come up with all sorts of creative variations when making your quilt. Some of these ideas are illustrated on the free quilt block pattern.

More "Road" blocks to check out:
~ Road to California
~ Road to Mississippi

Some Fun facts about Las Vegas

  • When Paul Anka first played Vegas he was too young to be allowed in the casino.
  • Bugsy Siegel named his casino the Flamingo, which was his nickname for his showgirl girlfriend who had very long legs.
  • In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital had to suspend workers who were betting on when patients would die. One nurse was even accused of murdering a patient so she would win.
  • Howard Hughes stayed at the Desert Inn for so long that he was asked to leave. So, rather than leave, he bought the hotel for a reported $13 million.
  • The Las Vegas strip is the brightest place on Earth when looked at from outer space.
  • The largest sum won on any Las Vegas slot machine was at the Excalibur. After putting in $100, a 25 year-old software engineer won $39 million, beating the 1 in 16.7 million odds at the time.
  • Las Vegas casinos never use dice with rounded corners.
  • Las Vegas has the highest number of unlisted phone numbers in the United States.
  • Although gambling is the number one industry in Nevada, weddings come in second. The average number of daily weddings in Las Vegas is 315.

'Road to Vegas' quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

19 Aug 2015

ZigZag Quilt Block

Zigzag quilt blocks © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
ZigZag quilt blocks
It has been so hot lately where I live, that while looking at the ZigZag quilt block, the style of the block gave somewhat of an Aztec feel to me, so I decided to play around with those colours. Before long I was making all sorts of combinations of these colours. I'm sure you will have your own colour rendition of this quilt block, but here is a picture of a quilt I made, using only two different colours per block, but spreading the colour combinations around.

Now, on the surface, this block might look a little daunting. However, the patches are simple and it is made as a 20" block (and I also gave you instructions if you want a little smaller version as a 15" block). On the plus side,  bigger blocks = less blocks to make for your quilt.

And speaking of the heat ...

Probably the most famous quote about heat is from a former American president.
  • "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
    ~ Harry S. Truman

    and then there are these bits of wisdom and/or humour

  • "Nothing generates more heat in the government than the question of who is chosen to participate in important meetings."
    ~ Richard Holbrooke

  • "Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself."
    ~ William Shakespeare

  • "If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?"
    ~ Steven Wright

Image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

12 Aug 2015

Mr. Shakespeare knows a thing or two about geese

Starlight Geese quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Starlight Geese quilt block
The Starlight Geese quilt block uses my favourite patch - the flying geese unit. These "geese" are flying in the night sky around the star in the centre. The star makes a pinwheel shape, a favourite of many quilters. This quilt block is an easy one, once you get the hang of making flying geese patches -- which is quite a simple task.

Even though I have stayed with the "idea" of the geese flying in starlit sky with my colour choices, you can come up with many variations, just by switching up the colours.

Thoughts about geese

William Shakespeare
  • "What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."
    ~ William Shakespeare

  • "The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to get the most feathers with the least hissing."
    ~ Jean Baptist Colbert

  • "If you feel the urge, don't be afraid to go on a wild goose chase. What do you think wild geese are for anyway?"
    ~ Will Rogers

'Starlight Geese' quilt image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Shakespeare image courtesy of public domain 

7 Aug 2015

A Bear by any other name ...

Bear's Paw quilt image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Bear's Paw - a Variation
I have been working on some seven patch quilt blocks lately (I guess I just like the number seven perhaps?) and this week created two new patterns. What is common among quilt blocks is that many go by different names, but are basically the same block. This brings me to today's featured blocks

Tea Rose quilt image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Tea Rose quilt block
See if you can spot the subtle differences between the two blocks. (Okay, I said they were the same, but they are slightly different.)

And this list would not be complete without a link to the original Bear's Paw block -- an easier version. (You're welcome.)

Some Thoughts on Bears and Roses

  • "It would be fitting, I think, if among the last man-made tracks on earth would be found the huge footprints of the great brown bear."
    ~ Earl Fleming

  • "One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today."
    ~ Dale Carnegie

  • "Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses; they last while they last."
    ~ Charles de Gaulle

Quilt block images © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com

31 Jul 2015

'Greek Cross' or 'Greek Cross' or just the Wisdom of the Greeks

Today's feature is about ... yes, you guessed it ... the Greek Cross quilt block, but depending on whether you want a simple task to complete for today or a more challenging one, I have created patterns for two different Greek Cross quilt blocks.

Greek Cross quilt block image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Greek Cross quilt block
The first version is a simple Greek Cross block -- a great choice if you are new to making quilts and perhaps this is a first introduction to a nine patch design. However, don't be fooled into thinking that "simple" equates to "boring". By changing up the arrangement of the blocks and of course the various colours, your quilt will be striking.

Seven Patch Greek Cross image © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
Seven Patch Greek Cross quilt block
The second version is for those quilters who want more of a challenge. The Seven Patch Greek Cross has many more pieces and therefore more care must be taken to produce accurate patches. None of the patches are difficult to make though, as the block contains only squares, rectangles and half square triangles.

An interesting side note: - Nine patch quilt blocks are so named because they have nine patches to make up the block. Seven patch quilt blocks have 49 patches, so why are they not called "forty-nine" patch quilt blocks? I guess that would just scare off quilters, so instead the seven patch is so named because it is created on a 7 x 7 grid.

Those Greeks were some smart guys

"School of Athens' by Rafael, image of Plato
  • "We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less."
    ~ Diogenes

  • "Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
    ~ Plato

  • "The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be."
    ~ Socrates

  • "You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity."
    ~ Epicurus

  • "The foundation of every state is the education of its youth."
    ~ Diogenes

  • "Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies."
    ~ Aristotle

  • "My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher."
    ~ Socrates

  • "Wisdom outweighs any wealth."
    ~ Sophocles

Greek Cross quilt block images © W. Russell, patchworksquare.com
'School of Athens' image of Plato by Rafael, courtesy of public domain