Here I am…

karen_donesketch_karenHere I am…decked out for snow. The bright orange pants are truly a bit of “artistic license.” In my block portrayal of Della, I went free-form. In other words, I just cut and sewed without much of a plan. Since my selfie was a bit more complicated, I made a small sketch of my idea–about 2″ tall, and then blew it up on my copier 400%. That sure made things a lot easier when I was trying to judge how to cut the pieces and put it together.

You can see the small sketch in the lower right–and the blown-up version. You can also see I’m going to include Decker the dog–he’s next.

At the risk of boring you to tears–here’s a few tips on how I made the “me” block.  First, I divided my sketch into sections.

sketch_dividedFrom there, I could see how to make the sections, and the approximate size of the pieces I wanted. That was the nice thing about having a full-scale drawing! If you try this, don’t forget to add 1/4″ seam allowances to the pieces. As you can see below, I just laid sections on top of the sketch to get the angle I wanted, then trimmed with the added seam  allowances.


Note how much longer the scarf/body is than the final block shows. It’s sooo much easier to make something longer–I like to fold it to where the seam needs to be and press it. That way I can lay it on top of the next piece and know exactly where to sew to get the look I want.

Next are the beginnings of the face and hat. You can also see that I have a habit of making the pieces lots bigger than I need–it’s easier and they can always trim down. The tassels on the hat were Della’s idea–it worked out great! I started with a small (~1-1/2″ tall x 3/4″ ) rectangle of bright red fabric. Then I folded down the top edge, and folded it in half lengthwise. I inserted it between an angled seam and viola! I did that a few more times until I liked the angles.


That’s it for now. I’ve been making stars and checkerboard strips in-between all the stopping and starting. I’ve got thirteen 6″ stars done…guess I’d better get busy.

🙂  Karen


Meet Della

dellaSome of you know Della from the store. Always smiling and laughing, she is my best friend. So it only seems right that I would have to put her in my wonky quilt. The picture on the left is my first attempt. We’re miles apart but as usual, she added her two cents and requested the lime green dress and curly hair.

I really didn’t like the light background, and I kept trying to make it work. Finally, I took it apart and auditioned some different backgrounds…I liked the red the best. I purposely made her a little shorter and *ahem* slightly wider, and gave her a couple of x-blocks to stand on. And yes, her socks are two different colors–just like she wears everyday. Next I’ll be making me…taller and thinner (and by the way, I got Della’s good-natured permission for that!). Now where can I find pretty and smart fabrics? 😉

Let me know if you need help making a “people” block. I can certainly step you through it.


“X” marks the spot

I’ve been busy making more house blocks–and of course more stars. What started out as a wonky log cabin morphed into a house. And you can’t make just one…

Wonky Log Cabin Houses

Wonky Log Cabin Houses

Along with my houses and stars, I made a few ‘X” blocks, just for filler. They’re really simple. I made a few then trimmed them up to 4″ unfinished. I found it worked best if I started with a 5″ square, and then inserted strips that were approximately 7″ long and about 1″ to 1-1/2″ wide, and cut with a bit of an angle.


Look how cute they look when they’re all in a row:

crisscrossI really love my design wall. It’s so easy to put my parts and pieces up on it, and they stick! Not a one has fallen off and I’ve had them up there all week. I’ve started to play with a few arrangements, but I’m not ready to sew anything together yet. See those big blocks of green under the houses? I’m auditioning some colors for a curvy grass hill.


In my last post I mentioned that there were several things I’d change in my new and improved version–so here’s a few:

1. I think some of the blocks are too big. It’s more piecing (more work!), but I like the look of smaller pieces. Specifically, I think a few of the log cabin type blocks have strips that are simply too wide, and the blocks got too big too fast. Hence the wonky log cabins that turned into houses!

2. I missed with the contrast in the orange/turquoise shoo fly blocks. In other words, there isn’t any! If you’re up close and personal with the quilt you can see the the blocks, but otherwise they get lost.

3. Too many of my fabric choices are muddy or have grey in them.  Overall, the quilt is a little darker than I’d like. So this time I’m trying harder to use “pure” color.

I arranged my blocks in columns in my first quilt. I think that’s an easy way to make everything fit if its the first time you’ve ever done something like this. This time I’m working with rows–not much different–but somehow seems a better fit for my house obsession.

🙂 It’s getting warmer here in Michigan. Thankfully, the snow is almost gone.



Sew Wonky

whole_quiltThere! It’s done! Not really–this is a picture of my first wonky quilt. I shared this last week at our in-store seminar, and thought some of you might want an “end-game” picture.

Even though I love this quilt, I see a lot of things that I could change. I won’t go into detail on that for now; let me know if you’d like me to share my critique! But like every great artist who often painted a series of paintings, (lot’s of tongue in cheek with that comment) I think I just need to make more wonky quilts. I hung this one on the wall here in Michigan–it’s amazing what it does to cheer the place up!

I managed to hang up my design wall–I just love it! It’s a great size: 60″ x 72″ with grommets across the top. It is recommended to hang it on your wall with adhesive hooks, but I went the distance and put a few nails in the wall. If you want a design wall of your own, we have them in the store. I think a design wall is a must for this type of quilt. Right now I’ve just plopped my pieces up on the wall–I’m sure I’ll play with arranging them multiple times.


I don’t have as many parts and pieces done as I’d like (you can blame the IRS for the delay), so I think I’ll treat myself to a marathon sew session this weekend. Join me! I’ll post some new blocks soon. — Karen

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.