Wednesday, July 20, 2011


32 miniature half square triangles!?!?  Oh, dear.

So far I'm very much enjoying the Summer Sampler Series quilt-along.   It's quite fun to discover the challenge for the day, and lose myself in the simple task of completing one block.  On Monday, the block for the Summer Sampler Series was Flower Path, which is made up of 32 half square triangles, each measuring just 2.5" before finishing.  Here is Kate's layout of the pieces, to give you a visual of this 12" finished block:

Once pieced, the block looks like this:

As you can see, Kate's lovely block has a large white center, narrow blue "path" and corners filled with small square and triangle "flowers".  Quite the accomplishment, for sure!

On my way home from work to tackle this block (and dinner and putting children to bed, you know the drill), my reluctance to sew with tiny pieces rose up anew.  Certainly, there's skill to be gained in the process, but what if it's skill I never mean to use?  I actually laughed out loud at the thought of my choosing to work with 2.5" half square triangles in some future pet project.  And that's when I knew that doing the block correctly would be too much like more work for my day. 

So, I gave myself permission to have fun.  To cut corners.  To be happier.


This block came to be in the spirit of happiness with a nod to the real block. The inner square is nap sack by Joel Dewberry, flanked by a path of herringbone also by Joel Dewberry.  Add a border of measuring tape and outer corners in various yellow scraps, and... Tada!

(Note:  I did consider an alternate method of creating flower path, but in the end decided that simple triangle corners were just my style).  

If you should like to make this block, dubbed "happier" here are my cutting notes: inner square 6", diamond path (2) 2" x 10" and (2) 2" x 6". After adding diamond path to inner square, trim work-in-progress to 9" square. Cut (4) 2" x 9.5" borders and add to all sides. Cut (2) 5" squares in corner prints. Divide squares into half square triangles and sew to the center of each corner (remember to orient inner square on point). Square up finished block to 12.5".

Now, I don't intend to cut corners on all of the more difficult blocks, but it's likely to happen at least one more time.  Lots of brave souls have made the assigned block, so you can see actual flower path creations at the Summer Sampler flickr pool.  Well done, people!

Paper Piecing!  thanks, Faith.

In the meantime, today's block is paper-piecing! I have never properly paper-pieced before. Faith's tutorial was so excellent that I found the process neither confusing nor tedious. Here's my first completed quarter-block! I'm so glad to have learned the basics because I'd like to experiment with my own designs someday!

P.S.  Along the lines of choosing "happier", I also decided yesterday to set aside my darty dress project for now (don't worry, I have dutifully saved and bookmarked all your resources!).  I'm just not in the frame of mind to enjoy that challenge right now, and I'll admit that the project may not be the most sane route to sewing my first adult dress.  More reasonable options include:

* sewing a dress from a pattern.  Yeah, as soon as I find one I like.
* sewing a dress with stretchy fabric and just copying a favorite in my closet.  See Noodlehead's Sewing With Knits Mondays to get over the fear. 
* learning how to drape darts from a real person.  I'll be taking some apparel sewing classes at The Sewing Summit this October.  I may bring my bodice mockup and see if anyone wants to help me there! 

If you're also stumped, but interested in apparel sewing, consider Deborah's online Fall Wardrobe class, which is really a "sewing with patterns" class dressed up in fall clothes.  Deborah says it starts with the basics of how to choose a clothing pattern and select your size, then works through cutting it out, putting it together, and finishing--with notes in between about when to follow the instructions (and how) and when you can go off-road and do it your own way. If you've seen Deborah's book, you know she's an awesome teacher.  You can read more about how the course will work right here

Be happy!


  1. Love your blocks! I am starting my star block at nap time and am new to paper piecing as well! Your words have put me at ease! :) Hoping it goes well!

  2. Oh, there are "only" 28 HST in the flower garden block, not 32 and it was still fun to make, but time consuming so I know what you mean ;-) and I like your alternate block as well. I intented to make two of each summer sampler blocks to have 4x6 blocks instead of 3x4 blocks in the end but maybe I´ll leave out the second garden path block and make something else instead.

  3. I admire you so much for doing what you need to make you happy!! You block looks wonderful!!

  4. Amen to choosing happiness! Sometimes it's hard to do so, but always the right choice. Love the way yours turned out! And especially the fabrics you chose.

    Cheers to happiness!

  5. love that you are able to find 'new' solutions and create something wonderful. The beginning of today's block looks great!

  6. so I walked into Joann's today and flipped through Stitch and I saw your quilt! It was very nice! Congratulations on being published and I hope you enjoyed the experience overall!

  7. I love how your block ended up. My sister thinks I'm nuts for making that block. I am all about things that make me happier :)

  8. I go with what ever makes you happy. Me, I find it hard to think outside the box so I follow patterns exactly. Maybe next year when I have more experience I can wing it. Your paper piece looks great. Hope you had fun.

  9. Something funny, I didn't end up having any trouble with that one (I did the big square in the middle) but I had a horrendous time with Friday's! I'm holding out, but we'll see if I remake it or chuck it!

  10. Since so many of the HST in Kate's layout are the same, the Square in a Square method would have been so quick and easy! But yours turned out beautifully. I am such a sucker for those Joel Dewberry patterns. I just bought a bunch mre because I love them so much.

  11. Holy half triangles. That block could be made much more simply with the same look if you only make half triangles for the triangles in the corners and make the center square and path out of a square and strips. I like yours too! I wish I had time to work on this one too. I'm hopelessly behind on the kaleidoscope quilt along. The joys of summer. :)

  12. I totally don't blame you for the shortcut. That block looks intense! Your improvisation looks fantastic, and really, the bigger pieces allow your fabric choices to shine! Also, your paper piecing looks awesome!

    I'm excited about Sewing Summit, too, and I'm hoping to take the same garment class. I've only made a couple of clothing items, and I'd like to feel more confident with the techniques.

  13. Way to build your own skills with this block! I like your take on it and think that's definitely a big part of skill building :)
    I really want to learn garment sewing as well; all of my sewing fails have been clothing related!

  14. You could have named the square 'wisdom' for it takes a lot of wisdom to do what works for you. Did you know how wise you were with this decision?!

  15. Yay for you Rachel! I'm just learning to allow myself to make the kinds of decisions that are more me and less of the rules. Thanks for sharing!

  16. I like it, Rachel. I am behind since we were on vacation, but I'm looking forward to making up the 3 blocks I missed last week. I think challenging yourself is part of growing, but I also think knowing yourself is part of growing, too. And sometimes we have to decide if a challenge is really worth it. I'm going to give it a shot...we'll see how it turns out!

  17. Well said, Kelli! I had not thought about it as a balance of challenging myself and knowing myself. Thanks for the clarity!


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