Patchwork Pumpkin quilt block and table runner tutorial

A couple of years ago I made this simple patchwork pumpkin throw pillow. It’s an easy project perfect for using up scraps. Here’s a tutorial for this quilt block as well as some other patchwork pumpkin projects to make some quick scrappy Halloween decorations.
Quilt Block tutorial (13 1/2″ x 13 1/2″ finished)
Fabric requirements:
16 orange squares 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
17 black squares 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
1 black square 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″
1 green square 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
1 black strip 1 1/2″ x 14″
1 black strip 1 3/4″ x 14″
To create the 16-patch pumpkin block begin by matching 4 black 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ squares with 4 orange 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ squares. Draw a diagonal line on the back of the orange squares and sew pairs together directly on the line. Trim 1/4″ away from the seam to create a 1/4″ seam allowance and press blocks open, pressing seams toward the black.
Layout remaining orange 2 3/4″ squares with new half-square-triangle orange and black blocks into four rows of four.
Sew together into four rows, pressing seams in alternating directions, every other row.
Sew four rows together.
To create green stem blocks, match-up a green 2 3/4″ block with a black 2 3/4″ block. Draw a diagonal line on the back of the green and sew directly on the line. Trim 1/4″ away and press block open. Match up a 1 1/2″ square in the corner of the green triangle. Draw a diagonal line and sew directly on the line. Trim 1/4″ away and press corner open. Repeat four times to make 5 stem blocks.
To create stem row, use 3 other black 2 3/4″ squares and sew together into a row of four. Press seams all one direction.
Attach stem rows to the ‘top’ of each of the 5 pumpkin blocks.
Sew two rows of five 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ black squares. Sew to both sides of the pumpkin block. Add black 1 1/2″ x 14″ strip to the top of the block and black 1 3/4″ strip to the bottom of the block.
To use as a pillow, use your favorite pillow finishing method and stuff with a 14″ x 14″ pillow form.
This patchwork block works as part of a larger 15 1/4″ x 60″ table runner.
This look includes a variety of styles of pumpkin blocks to make it an even scrappier and unpredictable patch of pumpkins, good for showing off larger pumpkin prints as well. This row version could be easily replicated to make an entire quilt.
Fabric Requirements for the table runner:
  • 4-5 assorted orange and black fat quarters or assorted scraps
  • Sashing 1/2 yard black print (I used the black spiders from Too Cute to Spook)
  • Green solid: 1/8 yard
  • Gingham Binding: 3/8 yard
  • Backing: 1 1/8 yard
From assorted oranges cut:
2 squares 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″
8 squares 5″ x 5″
16 squares 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
From black sashing yardage cut:
5 strips 2 1/2″ x 42″. Sub cut 2 strips into 6 pieces 2 1/2″ x 11 3/4″. Use remaining strips to create two 2 1/2″ x 60″ border strips.
From black scraps (including sashing print) cut:
40 squares 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
5 squares 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″
From green cut:
5 squares 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
From binding cut 4 strips 2 1/2″ x 42″
Take four of the 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ black squares and draw one diagonal line across them. Place them in the four corners of the 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ orange blocks. Sew directly on all four diagonal lines.
Trim 1/4″ away and press new corners open, pressing seams toward the black.
Sew 2 four-patch blocks with the eight 5″ x 5″ squares and add corners to those blocks as well.
To create the 16-patch pumpkin block begin by matching 4 black 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ squares with 4 orange 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ squares. Draw a diagonal line on the back of the orange squares and sew pairs together directly on the line. Trim 1/4″ away from the seam to create a 1/4″ seam allowance and press blocks open, pressing seams toward the black.
Layout remaining orange 2 3/4″ squares with new half-square-triangle orange and black blocks into four rows of four.
Sew together into four rows, pressing seams in alternating directions, every other row.
Sew four rows together.
To create green stem blocks, match-up a green 2 3/4″ block with a black 2 3/4″ block. Draw a diagonal line on the back of the green and sew directly on the line. Trim 1/4″ away and press block open. Match up a 1 1/2″ square in the corner of the green triangle. Draw a diagonal line and sew directly on the line. Trim 1/4″ away and press corner open. Repeat four times to make 5 stem blocks.
To create stem row, use 3 other black 2 3/4″ squares and sew together into a row of four. Press seams all one direction.
Attach stem rows to the ‘top’ of each of the 5 pumpkin blocks.
Layout five pumpkins in a row, rotating the second and the fourth the opposite direction. Sew the six 2 1/2″ x 11 3/4″ strips alternating between the five pumpkins and at both ends. Press seams towards the sashing strips.
Add two 2 1/2″ x 60″ strips to top and bottom of row of pumpkins. Press toward the sashing strips.
From backing fabric cut two 20″ x 42″ pieces and sew them together end to end. Trim backing to 20″ x 66″. Now you are ready to quilt. Baste top and bottom pieces with batting in between.
Quilt as desired. I used simple straight cross-hatching lines. (For more details about basting and quilting see this post.)
Sew four 2 1/2″ x 42″ gingham strips together end to end to create binding. Binding a quilt tutorial here.

And there you go – a simple patchwork pumpkin Halloween quilt table runner. You could easily multiply this project by six, creating six rows to make a darling Halloween quilt.

Happy sewing and spooking!

Half-square-triangle short-cuts and easy square-up

I have been making a LOT of half-square-triangle quilt blocks recently. Half-square-triangles (or HST’s) are one of the greatest basic building blocks of traditional quilting. I’m not a super-duper-precise piecer, but I am a firm believer in squaring-up blocks – especially half-square-triangle blocks. 
It just makes the piecing come together easier and look so much nicer in the end. 
But as we all know, the square-ing up process can get kind of tedious. Right? So I thought I’d share a trick I finally just discovered that has made the work SO much easier and faster. Oh my goodness, I don’t know why this took me so long to figure out. Many of you are probably already doing this, but just in case you’re like me, here’s the scoop:
First of all, this is my favorite basic method for making HST’s: Match two squares right-sides-together and draw a diagonal line down the back of one side. Sew a 1/4″ seam on both sides of the drawn line. Cut on the drawn line. This will create two HST blocks. I generally like to make my blocks slightly larger than the final size so that I can have room to square them up. If you are making a bunch at once – especially if you are chain-piecing them – it’s really easy for seams or matched-up squares to get slightly distorted. Here is the traditional way to square-up a half-square-triangle block.
This Quilt in a Day Square up Ruler makes the process SO MUCH faster. I’ve seen this ruler multiple times in shops, in my mom’s sewing room, etc. and always wondered what it did, but never bothered to find out. Well I finally did and it’s genius. The ruler is marked from one corner with traditional inchmarks divided into eigths. From the opposite corner it’s marked in half-inch lines.
Before you even open the HST block, lay the corner of the ruler on top of the pieced block and match up the marking for the desired finished size of the block, right on the seam. (So for example, I want a 3″ finished block, so I am laying the 3″ line on my seam, NOT the 3″ line on the bottom edge of the triangle.)
Trim two edges using a rotary cutter. By laying the mark on the seam you get a square block with the diagonal seam centered when you open up the block.
I then use my rotary cutter to trim off the ends so that I won’t have the little triangle tags when I open up the block. 
And voila – a perfectly squared-up 3″ HST block with no tags sticking out at the ends. Before you open up the block, press along the seam to “set the seam.” Then press the block from the front, careful not to pull or distort the diagonal seam, using the tip of the iron right on the seam to make sure it is fully opened and flat. Makes the blocks so nice and crisp and the best part is that I can get through a stack of them so much more quickly. I suggest doing the whole stack one step at a time. (For example: sew all blocks, trim all blocks, and then press all blocks, to streamline the process.)
I traditionally press my seams to the side – usually the dark. Sometime though I’ll press my seams open, especially if the blocks are small.
Here’s a repeat of the process again, this time making my block a 2 3/4″ block. Notice the arrow in the top left picture where I have lined up the 2 3/4″ markings with the seam. Trim two sides, open and press. (Ruler in bottom right photo only to show finished dimensions.)
I know there are a lot of quilty-gadgets out there, and you don’t need every one, but if you make a lot of HST’s and dislike the squaring-up part, Quilt in a Day Square up Ruler is worth it. (I know they are available also at JoAnn’s and from the Quilt in a Day site.) I now use it ALL the time.

If you’re looking for more half-square-triangle inspiration, here are a few other projects I’ve used them in: Half-Square-Triangle spectrum quilt,

this post contains affiliate links

Quick and Easy Baby Quilt tutorial

 Tutorial originally shared on the Riley Blake Design blog, but I am reposting here in case you missed it.
I suddenly have had a lot of friends and family have babies in the past months, and I feel very behind on my baby-quilt-giving. But I do seem to have an (over)abundance of adorable fabric on hand that needs a loving home and someone to spit-up on it. So rather than get further behind, I’ve been creating very simply-pieced panel type quilts using strips of fabric to create a simple embellishment.
With so many great large scale fabrics available, you can create a simple baby quilt, letting the design motifs do all the work for you.  Or by adding a simple monogram embellishment you can both personalize the quilt and give the quilt added design detail.
This tutorial will show you two variations on this design to create a 41″ x 54″ crib-sized quilt.
  Supplies for Quilt 1:
  • 1 1/2 yard of fabric for front (I used Riley Blake’s large Gray Chevron)
  • 1 5/8 yard for backing (I used Aqua Marine)
  • fat quarter for circle (I used Aqua )
  • fat quarter for letter (I used Charcoal)
  • batting (I used Pellon Legacy White cotton batting)
  • 1/2 yard for binding (I used Charcoal)
Supplies Quilt 2 (with stripe):
  • 1 3/8 yard fabric for front (I used Mystique Black Petal)
  • 1/6 yard fabric for stripe (I used Mystique Gray Stripe)
  • 1 5/8 yard cotton fabric for back (I used 60″ wide minkie and needed 1 3/8 yards)
  • fat quarter for circle (I used Peony)
  • fat quarter for letter (I used Charcoal)
  • batting
  • 1/2 yard for binding (I used Charcoal)
Cut a 15″ circle out of thin cardboard. (Cereal boxes work perfectly.) From your circle fabric, use the 15″ template as a guide and cut a circle at least 3/4″ bigger than template all the way around. (Hint: If you are working with a light colored circle fabric that will go on top of a dark, patterned  background fabric, you may want to use interfacing so that the patterned fabric will not show through when you applique the circle to the front.)
Using a needle and sturdy thread, sew a large running stitch all the way around the circle, about 1/4″ away from the edge. Carefully pull thread to gather edges around the cardboard edge.
Bring circle to your ironing board and spray edges with starch. (You may want to put a dish cloth on your ironing board so your cover doesn’t get gucked up with starch.) Press the edges so that you have a nice, clean edge all around your circle. Don’t remove cardboard yet.
To create your monogram, choose a font on your computer and increase the font size so that it’s about 10″. Print the letter. (Hint: using a bold, chunky font is easier to work with. Ask me how I know this.) Using Wonder Under (the thinnest, lightest kind), trace the letter onto the paper side in the reverse. (You might want to tape your letter backwards to a window or light box and then trace letter backward.) Fuse Wonder Under to the back side of your monogram fabric.
Cut out monogram and peal off paper side of the Wonder Under. Carefully center letter on top of your circle and iron into place. Remove card board and take monogram to your sewing machine to either top stitch or satin stitch around the raw edges.
Take your pressed monogram circle and place it where ever you desire on your top fabric. (I chose about 3/4 of the way down and 1/4 of the way from the right side.) Carefully pin in place.
Carefully top stitch around the outside edge of the circle.
To create the quilt top with the “stripe” you will cut your main print into two pieces: One measuring 36″ and the other measuring 13″.  From your “stripe” fabric, cut a piece 6.5″ (6″ if you only bought 1/6 yard – either is fine). Sew the stripe fabric between the 36″ and the 13″ piece using 1/4″ seams.
Use the same method as above to create the circle monogram. On this one I satin-stitched around the letter because it was thinner and needed more reinforcement.
Once your monogram is in place, square off the selvage edges plus about 1/2″ of the front side of your quilt. This will help when you go to create your quilt sandwich with the front, back and batting, the backing fabric will be visible from the front on all four sides.
Then quilt the top as desired. These two quilts were quilted for me by Melissa Kelley.  We decided to use the chevron as a guide for the quilting on this one, but changed the look in the circle to reemphasize the monogram. I love the pebble quilting she chose.
When the quilting is done, square off the batting and binding fabric to prepare the quilt for binding. Cut 5 strips 2 1/2″ wide from your binding fabric and sew them together end to end. Binding tutorial here.
Easy DIY Monogram Baby Quilt Tutorial
And there you go! A quick project for your new favorite baby. And as pictured above, you could just use pretty fabrics from your stash and create a simple, quilted baby quilt without the monogram. Easy peasy. Put that fabric to work!

Easy Fat Quarter Bag Tutorial

Today I am going to share a tutorial for a couple of versions of a quick and easy bag made from Fat Quarters as part of Elizabeth’s Christmas in July series – to help all of us get started on those handmade gifts early so we’re not sewing zombies on December 24th.
This tutorial is inspired by some purses I made for my daughter’s friends for Christmas a couple of years ago.  They were so quick and so cute and I’ve been meaning to write a tutorial for them ever since. I’m grateful to Elizabeth for this opportunity to finally get my rear in gear and share how I did it.  They were inspired during a Christmas when funds were a little tight and I needed to use resources already on hand (i.e. a giant fabric stash) to create Christmas gifts.  
Each bag uses the equivalent of one Fat Quarter + 1/8th of a yard (or scraps) for the handle. (You could also use sturdy ribbon as handles.)  
Step 1: Cut your Fat Quarter (hereafter FQ) in half to create two 11″ (roughly-might be slightly narrower depending on the width of the FQ) x 18″ pieces. You can use the second piece as the lining of your bag or cut a coordinating piece the same size for a contrasting lining and save the second piece for a second bag.
For this bag we are going to make two short handles.  Cut two 4″ x 18″ pieces of fabric. These can come from a 1/8th yard piece of fabric, you could cut them from one of your FQ’s or you could find them in your scrap bin like I did.

Step 2 – Create the handles. Fold both handles in half lengthwise and press. Open up the handle and press both sides in, meeting at the half-way crease.  Press and fold in half. You should have a handle, 4-fabrics-thick about 1″ wide. Top stitch down both sides of the handle piece right at the edge to make it sturdy and to give it a nice finished edge.

Step 3- Pin both handles to the short sides of the lining piece of fabric. Measure in about 2.5″ from each corner and pin the handles to the the fabric.

Step 4- Place the outside fabric right sides together on top of the lining piece and handles. Pin short sides and sew 1/4″ seam allowance down both sides, over the edges of the handle straps, careful not to catch any other part of the handles in your seams.

 Step 5- Press seams open and bring seams together, matching them up at the center. The bag’s outside fabric and lining fabric should be folded on top of itself, right sides together. Now pin the long, open sides together.  Sew a 1/4″ seam along both sides, leaving a 3″ opening in the lining to turn the bag right-sides out.

 Step 6 – Pull the bag right sides out through the 3″ opening and top-stitch the opening closed. (This doesn’t have to look pretty because it will be inside the bag.)

Step 7- Tuck the lining inside the bag and press the bag carefully, paying extra attention to the seam around the top of the bag. Make it look nice and crisp. 
Step 8- Top-stitch around the top edge of the bag.  This will help secure the handles’ attachment and give the bag a finished look.  I did it twice. 

Step 9- Now to give the bag a nice boxy bottom, we are going to add something called a gusset.  Don’t stress, it’s much easier than it looks. Turn the bag inside-out and line up the side seams perpendicular to the bottom edge, creating two triangles at either end of the bag.

 Step 10- Measure down 1″ from the point and draw a line perpendicular to the side seam.

Step 11- Sew directly on the line, back stitching at both ends.  Repeat the same process with the bottom corner on the other side of the bag.  You could hand-tack down the gusset flaps if you’re picky, but don’t have to worry if you’re not as they will be hidden in the bag.

And there you have a quick finished bag!  Once you have made one, it’s very quick and easy to mass-produce a lot of them.

 Now here is a slight variation to create a bag with a longer strap and a little more of a ‘purse’ shape.

Repeat Steps 4-8 above to create the body of the bag, leaving out the handles.

To add a decorative ribbon or trim I measured down 2.5″ from the top and drew a line with an erasable fabric pen.

Line up the trim along the drawn line and pin in place.
Topstitch trim to the bag.
Repeat Steps 9-11 to add the gussets to the bottom of the of the bag.
For the handle of this purse, use a 4″ x 42″ piece of fabric.  Use the same method as above to create one long purse strap. (Fold in half and press, open up and fold edges toward center, press, fold in half again and topstitch both sides.)
Trim the strap to the desired finished length. I think I trimmed mine down to 38″ for a tween-y girls purse. Tuck bottom raw edges inside the purse strap. 

Pin the end of the strap about an inch down and directly next to one of the side seams on the outside of the bag.

Fold the side of the bag on the opposite side of the seam on top of the purse strap.  Seam should be on the inside edge of the strap with equal parts of the bag holding the strap end in place. 
Sew a square holding two sides of the bag with strap end in between in place. Repeat the same steps on the other side of the bag, with the other end of the strap.

When the bag is done, you can always add a cute embellishment of some kind to ‘bling-it-up’ if you want.

And that’s it!  Again, once you’ve made one, you can whip out a bunch more in no time.  They’re great gifts to have on hand for all those little-girl Christmas or birthday gifts. (Or you could make a ‘satchel‘ version for boys too!)

Be sure to visit the other guest-bloggers for Christmas in July to see the awesome ideas and tutorials they have for you!
Monday 7/16 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Tuesday 7/17 – Sew Crafty Jess
Wednesday 7/18 – Pink Penguin
Thursday 7/19 – Freshly Pieced
Friday 7/20 – Sew Sweetness
Monday 7/23 – Happy Quilting
Tuesday 7/24 – Comfort Stitching
Wednesday 7/25 – Diary of a Quilter (here!)
Thursday 7/26 – Felicity Quilts

And finally, as part of this series, Elizabeth has arranged a fabulous giveaway for you of a $20 Gift Certificate from the online fabric retailer, Pink Chalk Studio! Lucky you! Pink Chalk has so many pretty choices.

To enter, leave a comment on this post. One entry per person.  If you want to, tell me something handmade you’d like to make this Christmas, but it’s not required.  Giveaway open until Saturday, July 28 at midnight MST.  Please be sure that I have a way to contact you if you win!


WINNER: Heidi StaplesJuly 25, 2012 11:54 AM

I’ve got a lot of things in mind to make for Christmas, but nothing definite yet. Darling tutorial! Thanks for the giveaway!

A handy quilting tip

(This probably isn’t going to be an Oprah-worthy ‘Ah-ha’ moment, and some of you are going to feel totally unimpressed, but for the simple-minded folks out there like me, here is a little tip that has simplified my quilting process recently.)  
You know when you lay out your quilt blocks, then stack them by rows so that you can take them to your machine to start sewing? After carefully placing all those blocks, you definitely want to keep those blocks and rows in the right order. Previously I’ve marked my rows with pins or stick on labels. Sometimes chalk pencil, but that always seems to fade.  Well, I just stared using my water-eraseable marker and it works like a charm.  Easy to read, no falling-off labels, etc. and it comes off easily when my top is pieced. Thanks to Mary for the reminder not to iron over it. And I would suggest removing it as soon as you’re done piecing those rows. So there you go.
Here’s another little stack I’m hoping to sew together today.
Also working on those i-spy kits.

Here is what should be doing, but keep putting off: school play costumes. This one is for a wizard hat (cone shaped) that we need to embellish first. I don’t have much silver lame in my fabric stash, so I’m going to have to procure some.  We’re also responsible for a renaissance princess costume, but finally caved and bought one online.  (It’s purple and my daughter is thrilled.) I figured by the time I tallied the pattern and fabric costs + time it would just be cheaper to by one. (I feel so lazy.)  For as much as I love to sew, I just do not love using synthetic fabrics to make costumes. I sound like such a snob. lol.

Finally the winner has been announced for the Modern Basics book. Thanks so much to all who entered.  Amy is sharing a little more about her quilts today.  If you want one Amy still has some available signed copies in her Shop. It’s also available at Amazon.

Red and White Pennant Banner & Etsy De-stash

 So here’s one of the projects I’ve been up to with my red & white stack.
 A few valentines-ish fabrics thrown in, but not so many that it can’t be used at other times as well.
Aren’t those birds awesome? Too bad they were the worst bleeder fabric I’ve ever had in a quilt. I originally used them for this Valentines quilt and the red bled all over the place. Grr. I don’t use that line of fabric -Chanteclaire – now. Or at least not the reds.) I threw the last piece I had in this banner – I figured I’ll probably never machine wash, so I can still show them off.
Just what the sad, empty fireplace needed following the removal of all the Christmas decorations.
I die-cut a bunch of extra triangles and they are for sale in the etsy shop
While I was in the shop, I decided to do a little de-stash. I have two one pre-cut, pre-stacked quilt kits for a sweet little pink and blue quilt. These are left over from a boutique a couple of years ago and I’m ready to give them a good home.

This kits have everything pre-cut and include the borders and binding fabrics exactly like the quilt pictured here. The quilt is even already laid-out with the squares pre-stacked in labeled rows and ready to pick-up and sew together quickly.

To see everything currently for sale, go to my Etsy Shop here.
Thanks so much!