Wonky Stars and a little about me

final_starsI was informed by the store that since I’m not as well known as Oprah, I should, perhaps, introduce myself and explain why I am telling you about my bright, save-me-from-winter-grey quilt, from Michigan. My name is Karen (maybe you got that from the first post) Hanson. AKA Mrs. Hanson when I am being particularly ornery. I am the owner of Quilt Expressions (in Boise, Idaho) but I have been living in Michigan since the end of August. My high-school age son is playing on a hockey team here and I got tired of having someone else knowing my kid better than me. So here I am, learning new skills, like how to run a snow-blower!

So, all that said, let’s get back to the important things–quilting! Today I made a few more houses, sewed more black and white squares together, and started on some wonky stars. Right now I’m just in the “parts and pieces” stage, so if you’re sewing along with me just keep making lots of parts. The more parts you have, the more fun you’ll have putting it all together.

If you’ve never made a wonky star before, here’s how to make a 6″ finished star:

The star background consists of eight, 2 ½” squares of the same fabric (four corner blocks and four star backgrounds).

Star points and one center 2 ½” square should contrast with the background (i.e., if the background is dark, the star center and points will be light, if the background is light, the star center and points will be dark).

Lay out background fabric in a nine-patch formation with eight,
2 ½” squares, and the contrasting center square. Four of the background squares will become the star points. On each of the four background squares, place a (approximately) 2″ x 3″ piece of contrasting fabric across the background square at an angle with right sides together.

star_step1Sew ¼” seam along edge of star point fabric. I drew a line for you to see where to sew.

Fold star point fabric over background and press.

From the back, use the original 2 ½” square as a guide, and trim up the unit to a 2 ½” square. Then from the front, trim off the underneath fabric (the original square) to reduce the bulk. A rotating mat is really helpful about now!





Place another 2″ x 3″ piece across the 2 ½” square – the star point fabric should overlap the star point that you previously finished. Sew ¼” seam along the edge.


Fold, press and trim as before. Repeat the process to make four star-point squares. Pictures below show the pressed, but untrimmed star points; trimming from the back; and the trimmed star points from the front.


Don’t worry if you cut off a point–or two–and make the stars points different colors and angles. Layout the star in a 9-patch as shown below, and sew rows together. Press the top and bottom row seams toward the outer squares; press the center row seams to the middle.Sew rows together to make a wonky star. Blocks should measure 6 ½” square. Make lots of stars–try different backgrounds–think stripes for example! You can make them larger or smaller–just vary the size of the background and center squares.

star_layoutTomorrow I’m going to put up my design wall, and make some more “parts”. I’ll be able to put my pieces up on the wall and start thinking about how I will arrange them. What are you going to do? What ever it is, have a great day.



I Need Color!

Hey it’s me–Karen–signing in from Michigan where we have LOTS of snow and ffffreeezing cold weather. I decided I can’t take any more grey!! So I gathered up as many bright colors as I could find, and all of my black and white. Since my stash here is limited, I know I’ll need the shop to send me MORE (hint, hint)!

color_fabricI’ll try not to make this too tedious, but in case you want to join me making a liberated quilt, I’ll do a little step by step to help get you started.

You’ll need lots and lots of bright fabrics–even small scraps can be used–and some black and whites. Try to choose fabrics that are pure color. In other words, they don’t have any grey in them!

I like lots of pieces and lots of colors. Freddie Moran once said, “Ten colors don’t go together, but 100 do,” and I take that quote seriously. Since I know that I’m going to improvise as I go, and I won’t have a definite plan, it helps to cut lots of 1-1/2″ squares to use as starts and stops. I’ll use them later for checkerboard spacers.

squaresI like house blocks, so I decided to make my first block a little house.

First I chose a fabric for the house and the door. I purposely cut two “wonky” rectangles for the sides, and made a strip with the yellow door. Then I auditioned some fabrics for the roof and sky. I liked the bright orange so I decided to add that for a chimney. house_step1

Warning: I “waste” a lot of fabric in this process. It’s easier to cut big, and trim back to square things up. So I cut a large triangle for the roof, and generously cut a larger shape for the left sky. Then I cut the left sky apart so I could insert a strip of orange for the roof. Next, I needed a piece for the right sky.

roof_stepI used the same print for the sides of the house, and I sewed a strip to each side. If you don’t have enough of a white print, just use another fabric that has a white background. Next I had to trim the bottom of the house and the roof piece to give them both a straight edge. I adjusted where I wanted the roof to sit on the house, then sewed the pieces together. Lastly (at least for today), I trimmed the block sides–but not too tight. I may trim off more later, and I think I’ll add a “hill” later, so I didn’t trim the bottom. I’ll make more house blocks later.

house_blockWant to join me? Go gather your fabrics and come back soon! I’ll post my progress as I go.


Notion Review: Quilt in a Day 6-1/2″ Triangle Square Up Ruler

Being a fairly new quilter, it’s hard to know what tools I need and which ones I can leave on the shelf.  For example, I’ve noticed that there is a ruler for just about everything.  Many of them are marketed as “must haves” and promise to make piecing simple, fast and perfect.  Do they work?  Are they worth the expense?  Are they easy to use?

After recently completing a quilt top, I was left with a pile of large scraps.  Scrappy pillows are a favorite quick project, so I decided to use the scraps to make half square triangles for the front of a pillow.  I’ve made half square triangles once before using a method I found online that promised to be easy.  Cutting them was simple.  However, as I sewed the blocks together, I discovered that every edge of the block was on the bias.  I had to be very careful to avoid stretching the fabric as I sewed.

While working at Quilt Expressions, I’ve heard many of our customers and staff rave about the Quilt in a Day 6-1/2″ Triangle Square Up Ruler.   I decided to give it a try for my scrappy pillow.


For this project, I wanted my half square triangles (HST) to measure 3″ when they were sewn together.  Looking at the chart included with the ruler, I was able to determine that I needed to cut my squares 8″.


Click on the photo for a larger view.

Step One:  Prepare the 8″ squares.

Step Two:  Place two squares, right sides together, on your cutting surface.  Using your preferred marking tool, draw diagonal lines on the wrong side of the fabric.  Pin the two squares together.

Step Three:  Sew 1/4″ on either sides of the diagonal lines with matching thread.


Step Four:  Press to set seams.

Step Five:  Lay on cutting mat.  The Olfa 12″ x 12″ rotating cutting mat is perfect for this project.

Step Six:  Cut squares horizontally and vertically and then cut on each diagonal line.  You will end up with eight triangles.


Step Seven:  One thing I really like about this ruler is that the triangles are just slightly larger than they need to be.  The directions stated that I needed to trim my triangles to 3-1/2.”  Find the 3-1/2″ line on the ruler and lay it on top of the stitching line.  Trim off excess.

Step Eight:  Trim off the dog ears at a 60 degree angle; avoid cutting the seam.

Step Nine:  Press open.  My HST measures 3-1/2″.  Once they are sewn together, they will measure 3″.


Now it’s time for the fun part!  If you are under the assumption that half square triangles belong only in a pinwheel block, do a quick search for “HST” on Pinterest.  You’ll be amazed by the number of ways they can be arranged.

I was very pleased with the simplicity of the Quilt in a Day ruler and would recommend it.  It’s easy to use, creates 8 HST units for each pair of squares, and, for those of us who might not piece perfectly, I like that the units must be trimmed to size.  The ruler is also versatile.  With just one ruler, I can make HST from 1/2″ to 6-1/2.”

Quilt in a Day also offers a 9-1/2″ Triangle Square Up Ruler.

Karen and Della created a video on the ruler a couple of years ago.  If you’d like to see more about the ruler, including how Karen used it to create an entire quilt using the ruler and scraps from another quilt, click here.

Champagne Brunch


The Boise area has been void of sunshine for awhile, thanks to an inversion that settled in and decided to take up residence.  Earlier this week, the inversion cleared and we were treated to our normal gorgeous Idaho blue skies.  As I sat and soaked up the sun pouring in my living room windows, I thought to myself, “I can do this!  We’re halfway through January.  I can survive the rest of winter.”  Then my mind wondered to spring and all that comes with it:   blue skies, warm sunshine, flowers popping out of the ground, the sound of kids playing outside, picnics in the park.  I started to wonder how I was ever going to make it until spring.


Then I saw this quilt at Quilt Expressions.  “Champagne Brunch” is a gorgeous blend of all of the colors of spring, complete with the sky blue and sunshine yellow we’re all craving.   It’s so bright and cheery that it’s impossible to think dark winter thoughts.   Wouldn’t this be a perfect project to start now and have ready for when the warm weather arrives?


“Champagne Brunch” is made with the Mimosa collection from Another Point of View and Bethany Fuller’s Champagne Brunch pattern.  The finished quilt is 56″ x 56.”  The kit includes the pattern, plus material for the quilt top and binding.

To purchase the kit, click here.

To view the Mimosa collection, click here.

How Do I Make a Hexie?


 I often find that I am working on several projects at once…usually projects that require the sewing machine.  However, there are times when I need a portable project.  At this time of the year, we spend a lot of time waiting…at the airport, in the car, while the holiday ham bakes, for holiday programs to start.  Why not put all of that time spent waiting to good use?

Hexies are the perfect portable project.  They take very few supplies to complete.  Everything needed can be easily stored in a small container, ready to grab and go.  Once you’ve learned the technique, each hexie can be completed in less than a minute.  If you have a five-minute wait in the car, you can complete five hexies…more than half of the hexies needed for one of the projects I’ll show you later!

They are also the perfect starter project for someone who’s never sewn before.  If you’re looking for a fun holiday gift for either a new or experienced quilter, create a hexie project box.  My sister-in-law, who has no sewing experience, has found herself forced to take it easy for a while.  She’s going a bit stir-crazy and contacted me, asking for a craft project that is easy and doesn’t require expensive tools.  I immediately thought of hexies; the items shown above are for her new hexie project box.

Now, how exactly do you make a hexie?  Gather the following items and you’re ready to start!

Hexie Tutorial

Fabric pieces, either scraps or small yardage cuts

A package of hexagon paper shapes (I use 1″ hexies)

One Wonderclip

Small scissors

Needle and Thread


A few notes about hexies:

Photo 1:  Hexies come in many sizes.  The paper pieces used in this tutorial are 1″.   Hexies are measured along the side, not across the width of the entire piece.

Photos 2-3:

Most precut hexie pieces come as shown in the second photo.  I have found it very helpful to punch a hole in the center of each one with a paper punch.  This will make them must easier to remove when you’ve completed the hexie.


The first step is to prepare your fabric.  If you’re planning on using the hexies as a grab and go project, it’s important to have your fabric precut and ready to be used.  If you’re using 1″ precut paper pieces, 2.75″ squares of fabric work best.  As mentioned before, you can either use scraps left over from other projects or use yardage.  If using yardage, cut a strip that is 2.75″ x width of fabric (WOF).  Cut the strip into 2.75″ squares.  If you have one of Quilt Expressions’ 2.5″ x 6.5″ rulers, this is a very simple process.  Lay your fabric strip straight on your cutting mat.  Place the ruler along the short end, as shown in photo 1.  Because the ruler is 2.5″ wide, simply move the ruler over an additional 1/4,” creating a 2.75″ square.


For my sister-in-law’s hexie box, I chose five prints from one of our new collections, Walkabout by Beth Studley for Makower, UK.  To get her started, I cut one 2.75″ x WOF strip from each of the five prints.  I was able to cut 15 squares from each strip, resulting in 75 squares.


Click on photo to enlarge

Step 1:  Gather one fabric square, one hexie paper piece, and a threaded needle.  Place the paper piece in the center of the wrong side of the fabric.

Step 2:  Holding the paper in place, fold one side of the fabric over onto the paper piece.

Step 3:  Fold over the adjoining side, creating your first corner.

Step 4:  Secure the two folds with a Wonderclip.

Step 5:  Tack the fold together with two slip stitches.


Click on photo to enlarge

Step 6:  Fold over the third side of the hexie, secure with the Wonderclip.  Stitch.  Repeat along sides four and five.

Step 6:  When you get to the last side of the hexie (photo three above), carefully fold fabric toward the center as before.  Be sure that both resulting corners are still tight against the edge of the paper piece. Hold in place with the Wonderclip.

Step 7:  Stitch the last two folds in place.

Step 8:  To secure the thread once all of the folds are complete, I find it easiest to wrap the thread around the end of my needle twice (photo 5) and pull the thread tight, resulting in a small knot.


Click on photo to enlarge

Step 9: When the hexie is complete, it will look like the first photo above. To remove the paper piece, insert a pencil (or any pointy object) into the hole in the center of the paper piece.  Very gently, pull the paper piece out of the fabric hexie.  I find it easiest to pinch a corner of the fabric hexie and pull the paper piece out corner by corner.

Step 10:  Once the paper is out, reshape the hexie if needed and then press.  (The paper hexie can be reused over and over.  When pressing the fabric hexie, I also press the folds out of the paper hexie and add it back to my bag of hexies paper pieces.)

Step 11:  Repeat…repeat…repeat…


Once you’ve completed the hexies, what do you do with them?  What I love about hexies is you can make 1000’s and make them into a quilt, or you can make 10-30 and add them to a small project as embellishment.

Della added just nine hexies to a pouch made using the “Perfect Pouches” pattern by Lazy Girl.  They sure add a bit of personality to an otherwise plain pouch.  The pattern is available at Quilt Expressions and also happens to be the perfect size to hold all of your hexie supplies!

I had a scrap of grey Dottie fabric left over from a project and added 24 hexies to create a small table topper.  The tutorial for the topper can be found here.

If you’re looking for additional projects using hexies, simply search for “hexies” on Pinterest.  There are many, many ideas using either a few hexies or 1000’s.


If you’re creating a hexie project box to be given as a gift, gather all of the supplies needed and put them in a container.  If the recipient doesn’t have a rotary cutter or cutting mat, precut the fabric squares for them.  Add the link to this blog post, and the recipient will have all they need to get started.  Be sure that the container is large enough to hold the completed hexies.  Snack size disposable bags are perfect for storing the completed hexies inside the container.

{One Hundred}


When you work at a quilt store, your customers become like family.  They share with you the projects they are working on, tell the stories behind the quilts, and you learn when and why they started quilting.  The employees at Quilt Expressions are often asked for their opinion on which quilt pattern to use, help finding fabrics that work best together and help determine which quilting design will work best with the quilt top.  We have the honor of admiring their finished projects before they are wrapped up for gift giving.

This morning, we had the privilege of recognizing a milestone with one of our friends, Phyllis.  Phyllis is a familiar face at Quilt Expressions, spending the majority of her time on the long arm side of the store.  New customers often take a peek at what our long arm customers are working on, and Phyllis always greets them with a smile and is willing to answer any questions they might have.

Like many of us, Phyllis started sewing when she was in the seventh grade in her school’s Home Economics class.  As an adult, she sewed most of her three daughters’ clothes and created handcrafted gifts from the scraps.  In 2008, after retiring, she was able to dedicate more of her time to making quilt tops.  She sent a couple of tops in to Quilt Expressions for us to quilt.  In 2012, her daughter gave her a gift certificate and told her that it was to be used for our long arm class.  Phyllis took the class in August 2012 and came in to quilt her first quilt top one month later.

Today, 26 months after taking the class, she quilted her 100th quilt.  That in itself is an accomplishment.  However, what makes her story so inspiring is what she does with her quilts.  Most of her quilts are either donated or given away as gifts.  Last year, Phyllis donated 45 quilts, and she already has 25 completed quilts in her donate pile for 2015.

Donating quilts to those in need is an endeavor that is dear to Phyllis’ heart.  When her daughter was just twenty five years old, she was diagnosed with cancer.  She was treated by and later passed away at St. Luke’s Children’s hospital.  A good majority of the quilts that Phyllis donates are to the hospital.  She makes lap-sized quilts for the older boys and girls, from 9 – 23 years of age.  As she makes each one, she thinks of her daughter.  Sewn into each quilt is the generosity and care of a mother’s love, with the hope that the recipient will find comfort beneath it’s folds.

Thank you, Phyllis, for your inspiring spirit of giving.

“Whatcha Doing?”

It’s November 30th….can you believe it?! 

For those of us who enjoy making handcrafted items for holiday gifts, it’s crunch time!  November 30th is our signal that we might need to sleep a little less, let the housework go just a bit, and put someone else in charge of meals because there are just 25 more days until Christmas!

Just in case you’re still looking for some ideas that are fast and easy but will be well appreciated, I thought I’d catch you up on what I’ve been working on.


Do you remember way back here in August, I last posted on the progress of my Super Six?   I started this quilt just after I was hired at Quilt Expressions, in the summer of 2013.  It quickly became a project that I’d work on here and there, in between other projects. I am happy to report that it is finally finished and in use!Doesn’t seem like a fast project, right?  If you’re able to commit a day or two to just this project, you’ll have it finished in plenty of time for the holidays.    The finished size is 76″ x 88,” with a maker it bigger option that will result in a finished size of 90″ x 102.”


The center is made up of three different blocks, followed by two borders.  My {very} bright Super Six is for my daughter’s daybed.  Because the bed has just one mattress, I left off the second pieced border.   That left me with a nice-sized pile of squares to play with…they will likely become pillow covers for her bed.


Table runners made a fantastic gift.  They can either be holiday-themed or made to match the recipients color scheme.  This table runner goes together quickly and is perfect for highlighting a favorite focus fabric.  You might recognize the pattern from this post.  The table runner looks great in so many styles of fabric.  The pattern is “Waffletime” by Atkinson Designs.  We have both the pattern and the Batik kit at Quilt Expressions.


I’m a firm believer that one can never have too many aprons…especially aprons with plenty of pockets!  Our Utility apron goes together quickly and is handy for anyone on your list who enjoys crafts.  There are three pockets, along with a pen slot.  To view the tutorial, click here.


If there’s a little one on your gift-giving list, consider our Quick Baby Stripe pattern.  This pattern goes together quickly and is small enough to quilt on your home machine, if needed.  Add soft cuddle to the back, and it’s the perfect baby gift.  The pattern is available at Quilt Expressions, along with the dinosaur kit and the pastel floral kit.


On my design wall right now is quite possibly the fastest quilt you’ll ever make.  This one is for a gift, so I can’t show all of It.  The photo on the left shows my finished blocks.  With just two more seams, this quilt top is complete!  It’s the perfect size for children.  However, I’ve discovered that it’s also the perfect lap-size for an adult.  This pattern is called Building Blocks.

So that’s a little of what I’ve been working on over the past several months.  Please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite finished project or work in progress.

If you’re looking for a few more fast ideas, please click here to view last year’s blog series “30 Days of Gift Giving Ideas.”  Click on the photo to go to the post for that item.

Happy crafting!  -Katie