Birds, Bees and Butterfly Strands ~ A Quilt Block Tutorial

Butterfly Strands Header

I received some beautiful fabric in the mail this week – The Birds and the Bees by designer Tula Pink. This fabric was sent to me generously by one of my sponsors, Westwood Acres (you can see all their The Birds and the Bees bundles here). Amanda asked if I wanted to play around with some of this new line and I didn’t really have to think very long before saying yes!

Birds and the Bees

From the first time I saw this fabric online, I thought it would be perfect for a string quilt. I decided for a bit of a less traditional string quilt however. Yesterday I started making blocks that had random amounts of strings on them and I thought I would share a little tutorial for how I made these blocks. They look like butterfly wings to me so….here is my Butterfly Strands Quilt Block tutorial!

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Butterfly Strands Quilt Block

Cutting Directions
Background – Cut squares from your background fabric. These can be any size, as long as you are consistent for all your blocks. We will be trimming the blocks down a bit to square them up, so cut a bit larger than you’d like your final block. I cut mine to 8.5″ x 8.5″ and squared to 8.25″ x 8.25″.

Strings/Strips – Cut random size strips from your fabric, measuring from 1.5″ to 2.25″.

Block Assembly

1. Take your background square and cut a 45 degree angle (diagonal) from the square, using either the 45 degree line on your cutting mat or your quilting ruler. Each block should have the diagonal cut in a slightly different location, cutting more off some blocks and less off other blocks.

This is what your block should now look like:

2. Layout your stripes for your block. Don’t trim these yet, just get an idea of what colors you want to use for your block.

3. Right sides together, sew your first strip to the 45 degree diagonal of your background fabric.

Press your seams.

4. Using your quilting ruler, trim the ends of your strip.

5. Repeat with your remaining strips.

6. Square your block. As I said in the cutting directions, I squared my blocks to 8.25″ x 8.25″.

You’re done! Layout your blocks as below by alternating the direction of the string sections.

Butterfly Strands

Boys at Play

Boys at Play - Front

When pulling fabrics for a child’s quilt, I seem to have a much easier time selecting prints, patterns and colors for a girl’s quilt. Part of my problem is that I tend to have a hard time finding “boy” fabrics that I like. But last summer Sarah Jane really hit it out of the ballpark with her Children at Play line. I just love her artwork, something about the innocence of the designs – paper airplanes and sailboats, hopscotch and dress up dolls, pinwheels and wagons.

Boys at Play - 1

I decided to take some of the little boy line and pair it with some of my favorite blenders in green, blue, yellow, orange and red.

It’s really fun to play with prints like stripes, sometimes aligning them horizontally based on the center of the block…

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And sometimes vertically.

Boys at Play - 3

I quilted this quilt in a diagonal grid. It was the first time I used the metal guide that came with my walking foot. It was actually quite helpful! The lines are about 1.5″ apart. I marked the starting line and then just used my guide to work off from there.

Boys at Play - Quilting

The back is a lime green and the binding is a turquoise. The blocks are 12″ squares and the final quilt measures 36″ x 36″. I decided to list this little quilt in my shop – it is so lacking in boy items!

Summer Sewing Contest

Crabtastic Picnic

Summer is here! Ok, not really, but today is Memorial Day in the United States, which is the day we set aside to remember those who died serving our country in the United States Armed Forces. It is also known as the unofficial start to summer around here. There are tons of cookouts and the pools open. Which was nice here yesterday when it hit 101 degrees at my house! It’s also when I start to get the itch to begin sewing for summer – you know, sun dresses and new bags and picnic quilts. And I hope you are motivated to sew for summer too, because Jennifer over at Ellison Lane Quilts has organized a Summer Sewing Contest that I hope you will take part it.

First for a bit of inspiration… I was hoping to have this quilt finished in time for today’s post, but things got crazy around here and it just didn’t happen. But I am working on a new, giant (for me) picnic/beach quilt for the family. My daughter wants pretty much everyone we’ve ever met to fit on it. So, it’s going to measure 80″ x 80″ and I think we are guaranteed to at least fit her and 10 of her closest friends on it at the park.

Crabtastic Picnic

Each block uses a print from my stash and a print from Maude Asbury’s Crabtastic line.

Crabtastic Picnic Block

I also threw in a couple prints from Sweetwater’s new Lucy’s Crab Shack line. Confession: I don’t eat crab. But I can’t resist the designs and soft colors of this fabric.

Crabtastic Picnic Block

I created a 16-patch for each block using 4.5″ x 4.5″ squares, resulting in 16.5″ x 16.5″ unfinished blocks. I plan on making 25 in total. (So far 15 are finished.)

Crabtastic Picnic Block

So here is how the contest will run:
1. Sew something fun for summer in one of these 4 categories:
You may enter one item in each category.
· Quilts
· Home Decor
· Clothing
· Bags & Accessories
2. Link up your entry at Ellison Lane Quilts:  June 10-17.
3. Finalists are chosen in each category: June 18
4. Voting Begins: June 18- June 23
5. Winners announced: June 26

The Prizes:
The winner of each category will receive a $100 gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop.

A randomly chosen winner in each category will win a Fat Quarter Bundle of fabric from Westminster Fibers / Free Spirit Fabric.

A wild card winner will be chosen by Jennifer’s husband and will receive a $25 gift certificate to The Intrepid Thread.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog hop to help you start thinking of ideas for your entry.

Grab a button and spread the word! Then get sewing!

Summer Sewing Contest at ELQ



Pick Up Sticks

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This is one of those posts that for the last 5 months I couldn’t wait to share…but then that changed to dread over the last 2 weeks. Last December I made this quilt and pattern for Issue 2 of Modern Quilting Magazine. For those of you that haven’t heard, this UK based magazine, owned by All Craft Media, went into bankruptcy about 2 week ago. There were a lot of people with subscriptions that will probably lose out on the magazine and their money. Some did receive Issue 2…not me though so I haven’t actually seen my quilt in it. Lots of artists have projects still with the magazine and may never see their quilts and projects again. I actually thought I would never see this particular quilt again, but I did receive it back about a week and a half ago and for that I am very grateful. I don’t really want to make this post about ACM though, so let’s just focus on the quilt. :)

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These quilt blocks were made by placing fabric strips improvisationally through square blocks. I used all solids – a combination of Kaffe Fassett Shot Cottons, Moda Cross Weaves, Art Gallery Pure Elements, FreeSpirit Designer Solids, and Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Solids. The blocks measure 9″ x 9″ unfinished. My blocks alternate warm/cool/warm/cool… colors.

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I decided on a scrappy binding and quilted this in a free motion meandering design. I am really happy with the finished product and it will probably now live in my daughter’s room.

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So, I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but just because I like to keep my blog a positive place, please let’s focus on the quilt in the comments and not negative or disparaging comments surrounding the now defunct magazine. I know for those involved, emotions are high. Thanks everyone!

Updated:
Wow, I am really overwhelmed by all the emails and comments from you guys offering to send me a copy of the magazine! I am actually practically speechless over it, this is just the best community.

Since people are just now getting their magazines late, I’m going to wait a couple weeks and see if mine makes it over here. Looks like there is hope! Thank you so much everyone. xox

Another Update (early July):
Thanks so much to one of my readers who let me know she found the magazine at Barnes & Noble. I just found and bought a copy there! So if you are interested in making this pattern, check your bookstore for the magazine.