Posts Tagged ‘hand piecing’

Midwest Star Block – What if?

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

I was cleaning up my studio last week when I unearthed these two extra Piece B – Triangle Units that I made when working on the Fric ‘n Frac pattern using the Midwest Star Block.

I somehow miscounted and landed up with two extra units when all the piecing was done. And they just got pinned to my design wall in a corner… and then something got pinned over them…and they sat for a few months in hiding.

Then I found them. And as soon as I unpinned them and set them on my cutting table this happened.

Oh hello future row quilt.

I went to bed…but my brain was on fire and I did the math and yes the triangles from the 12″ and 8″ blocks would sync up. More on that later.

In the morning I raced back to the studio to see if this would work for squaring up the end. My brain said yes…but my eyes wanted to see it.


Now here is the math part. I did a same to scale drawing and found the syncing of the two different sized triangle units ( 8″ & 12″ templates) match up at 32.5″ inches in length. So you can double or triple this depending on the total you would like for your quilt.

NINETEEN – 8″ triangle units = TWELVE – 12″ triangle units

I am not thrilled by the non matching edges. To be honest if using the two different size triangles I may just cut the edge triangles in half at both ends for the finish.

But then I got to thinking what if I just used one size of triangle. (the graphics were make using the size 8″ units but obviously you can use the 12″ units if you wish).

This would make the edges be a reflection of themselves and I would use the hinged C piece to square them up.

Now what if I reflected the triangles in coloring to make diamonds.

Oh boy….I see a lot of design opportunity with these templates! I hope you agree.

If you were still on the fence but now truly want to give this great block a whirl – well here is the link to the templates in my store.

Have a great day!

Midwest Star Block – Quilt Ideas

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

I must confess the coloring/quilt ideas blogs are my favorite. I find myself playing and coloring for hours. And so many ideas percolate during the making of graphics for these posts that I wish I had more time with each block to play.

If you have purchased a Midwest Stat Quilt Block template set you already know that you received a free “pattern recipe” for the quilt I made using both sizes (12″ and 8″) of this block.

Free PDF color Pattern/Recipe included in purchase

Now let’s see what other quilt ideas I have designed.

A simple 3 block x 3 block setting. But by coloring 4 of the inner Piece C you can create a spotlight on the center block. Then more coloring magic of additional Piece C and all of the sudden there is a “halo effect” around that center block and a secondary star pattern.

Repeat the Nine Block pattern shown in the first graphic four times and you have a full size quilt (72″ x 72″ using the 12″ Midwest Star Block).

A more traditional two coloring block setting.

This unique coloring gives the block almost an abstract log cabin feel. I really like this setting…there may be another Midwest Star quilt in my future.

If you would like to join in the fun and play with the Midwest Star block you can place an order for the hand piecing templates by clicking below. And yes the block is also available in English Paper Piecing! You can find everything by searching Midwest Star in my store.

Don’t forget I will be on Facebook LIVE under the MDQuilts page at 11am ct today!

…and wait til you see what I have cooked up in tomorrow’s blog!

’til then,

Midwest Star Block – How to Blog #2

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

Let’s finish up our Midwest Star Block.

Here is where you should be at the end of the first How-To blog that posted on Tuesday.

It’s time to add sew Piece C (background) to each side of the B – Triangle Units.

Each of the lengths will have a Roundabout in the center of your seam line.

Let’s tackle the roundabout in still pictures.

Using a pin – line up the start and end of this seam. Then pin on the drawn seam line on both pieces.
Your sewing should float just above the drawn line. Think of it as hand sewing a scant quarter seam.
Here is the intersection of three pieces, time for a roundabout to pull all the points together for a crisp intersection with no pin holes.
You will be passing the needle thru each set of two fabrics, traveling around the intersection in a clockwise movement.
TWO pieces at a time is the key. Try to do then that and chances are you will end up with a pin hole.
OK – Needle thru Piece C to Piece B
Next move your threaded needle thru Piece B (burgandy) to Piece B (peach). Each move around the intersection will be using a new point (hole) at the apex. You can’t travel around thru the same hole as that will not draw the pieces together. So just move over a thread or two but keep as close to the apex of all the pieces as possible.
Now Piece B (peach) to Piece B (second burgandy)
Last move in this Roundabout. Piece B (second burgandy) to Piece C (background) and now you can continue with your running stitch (backstitch every 3-4 stitches) to the end.

If you wish to see the Roundabout Technique demoed LIVE join me on Saturday at 11am cst on my MDQuilts Facebook page.

Now repeat – joining another Piece C to the opposite side. Repeat both seams on another Triangle Unit.

Join the two Piece B – triangle units that do not have C pieces attached to opposite sides of the center 9 patch.

The final seams are two long lengths attaching the C-triangle B- C units to each side of the previously created unit. There are many roundabouts in these seams. Take the time to do them. You will be happy you did.

Ta- Da! Your Midwest Star Block is done!

A blog full of coloring and quilt ideas will be posting Saturday morning.

And another blog will post on Sunday with a unique variation of a quilt you can make using the templates from this block.

And don’t forget the Let’s Sew Together – Facebook LIVE event on Saturday that will cover this block.

See you then,

Midwest Star Block – How To Blog #1

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

Well let’s just put it out there that September simply was lost in my life. So much travel and poof the month was gone. But it is now time to tackle the Midwest Star block.

A BIG thank you to all who have ordered the Midwest Star templates. I am excited that so many of you also are loving the dual size option of a 12″ and 8″ block being available.

A BIG thank you to all who have ordered the Midwest Star templates. I am excited that so many of you also are loving the dual size option of a 12″ and 8″ block being available.

Let’s get started on the how- to instructions for this dynamic block.

As you can see it is a 3 template set with piece C being a “hinged” template. You can find information about hinged templates covered in this blog.

How to use template C for Midwest Star block

Let’s get right to working on the block. I am skipping past the trace & cut instructions that can be found in past block How-To blogs and videos found on my Facebook page.

Fabrics cut and ready to sew!

The nine patch center is constructed in the traditional manner of joining squares into columns and then columns into block form.

Make note of the “roundabout technique” that is used (red circles in above graphics) when sewing your columns/rows together. This technique is covered in the written instructions included with each template set and will be demonstrated LIVE in the Facebook Live event announced at the end of this blog. You can also find it demoed in several other LIVE videos that are currently available under the VIDEO tab on the MDQuilts Facebook page.

Nine Patch center done!

Next up are the four triangle star points – composed of 4 triangles! These units sew up very quickly as they can be completed without a thread break. Just follow the arrows in the instructional graphic below.

First Side – two triangles joined
Second Side – three triangles joined
Third Side – unit done!

Center done.

Four Triangle/Star Point units done.

Next blog – we complete the block.

How – to Blog #2 will post on Thursday. Then watch for a special – “what if I did this” playing with the templates blog to post on Sunday.

A Facebook LIVE event covering the Midwest Star block is scheduled for 11am cst on Saturday, October 12th

You can find the templates for hand piecing (or machine piecing!) the Midwest Star block by clicking the link below. And as always all blocks in the Mic’s Attic Picks series are also available in English Paper Piecing format.


Thank you for stopping by and please feel free to send an email if you have any questions on any of the items you find in my store.

Each and every item is something I personally use in my studio and I am happy to share them with you.

~ Mickey

Please note that several categories will be disabled due to moving. If you are able to order a product then I am able to get it to you during this period. So please feel free to do so.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Featured Products

Have a great day,

Introducing – Midwest Star

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Hello September! Hello to cooler days and nights, sweatshirts and evening fires. Hello to life slowing down a bit and snuggling under quilts with a good book.

Hello to the Midwest Star Quilt Block. Simple and Spectacular all at the same time. I just love that this block has a Nine Patch center.

The inspiration was another less then $20 ebay quilt top find. I just loved the block and thought surely I can do something with this top when it was purchased years ago. The ad did say it didn’t lay flat but that didn’t scare me. I have eased plenty of vintage of tops into flat quilts over the years. Then this top arrived.

Ginger thinks any quilt on the floor is photo time. I won’t lie I stuck Bruce in there so he wouldn’t be left out. He was like “really?”

Oh boy. It was quite….hilly. No block would ever lay down nicely. Big sigh. So I packed it up and with the thought that someday it may be used in “pieces” for upholstery, as someday I will have one of those quilt upholstered couch/chair in my studio.

When I was scouting thru my tops late last summer for inspiration quilts I came across this top and thought…now I know why I purchased you. Your going to be the September 2019 block release.

I have been anticipating sharing this block and a few special things that are going to go with it since November of last year! I know I held this secret for a long time!

When I started to work on the samples, directions etc. for the block. It was decided to offer the block in TWO sizes! This block is available in all formats, Hand Piecing and English Paper Piecing, in 8″ AND 12″ finished sizes. I am excited because I think it is the perfect block to play with in both sizes.

The pieces don’t get to small in the 8″ size and it is perfect for scraps.

These were my thoughts in early November so I quickly grabbed some fabric and a bunch of scraps and pieced 36 of the nine patch centers while in the Smoky Mountains last November. My thought at the time was a wall hanging. But sitting in the cabin one day I pulled out my laptop and began to play in my design software. And the idea to make a quilt combining both sizes of the block was born.

I worked hard and finished the thirty-six 8″ blocks by the end of January (remember dear son was occupying my studio with his belongings before his move to Sweden so hand piecing was about all I could do) and tackled the larger blocks from February to May. I had hoped to have it quilted by my own hand by the time of this reveal but life thru me some curveballs this summer and well….I hope you like the flimsy top!

It is named Fric ‘N Frac, my nickname for my twins, Paul Jr & Emily when they were kids.

But I can say that a copy of the “recipe” (not a true pattern as there is no piecing instructions – those are included in template purchase- but a breakdown of fabric requirements and a simple yet unique border) is a FREE PDF download with every purchase.

And because so many of you are enjoying these patterns in the English Paper Piecing format also I decided to have the pre-order special be FREE SHIPPING – domestic orders only so everyone can enjoy some savings!

Pre-Orders are open now. You will find all products under the NEW Category in my store. You can go there by clicking here now. Note that there are two EPP entries, one of each size, but both sizes are under one product entry for Hand Piecing. Upon purchase you will receive an email with a link to download your free Fric ‘n Frac Pattern/Recipe within 72 hours.

The pre-order special will apply to orders received by midnight ct on Sept 10th. Shipping directly from my manufacturer, Paper Pieces will begin September 13th.

The How-To blogs will start on Friday, September 20th and I will determine the dates for the Facebook Live events covering LIVE piecing demos and sewing instruction the closer we get to the final week in September. I will post that info here and on the MDQuilts Facebook and Instagram pages.

Ok I think that wraps it up for the reveal. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the Midwest Star block.

Have a great day,

p.s. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of this block and the two sizes being available!

Introducing – Windmill Block

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Hello July! And hello to a new quilt block design release in the Mic’s Attic Picks series.


This vintage quilt, note vintage vs antique because that orange fabric you see right under Ginger is late 1970s/early 1980s I believe. This quilt is relatively new to my collection. I only acquired it within the last year or so.

But as soon as I saw it I knew it would be a great addition to the Mic’s Attic Picks series for it’s simplicity. Just two shapes make up this block that can be quite impressive with it’s various design capabilities.

Two templates also means this is the LOWEST priced template set in the collection. Just $15.00 regular priced, but on preorder special right now for $12.50 if you place your order by midnight July 8th. Orders will ship out beginning July 12th directly from my manufacturer to buyers in the order they are received so if you wish to have the templates in hand ASAP then place your order early to guarantee quick shipping. You can go directly to the Hand Piecing Templates to order by clicking below on the image or head to my store via the tab at the top of this page. You will find them under the NEW category.

The Windmill design is also available in English Paper Piecing and you can easily find these products in my store under the NEW category.

So while the quilt itself is not, let’s just say, museum quality, it will be used someday to reupholster a chair or couch that will reside in my home. Some of the blocks are composed of heavy drapery grade fabric and thus this became very attractive for what I would like to use it for eventually. Please also note that the blocks in the inspiration quilt are approximately 20″ in size. I have taken the liberty to reduce the size to the more common 12″ and have eased the rounding of the circle edges to also make it even more beginner friendly.

Here are some samples of the block made with the Hand Piecing Templates.

This picture was taken at the Peace & Applique Quilt shop in Bloomington Illinois.

As I said – an easy block for beginners – but packed full of design potential for any level of quilter.

The timetable on this design is as follows: How-to Blogs will post on July 19 & July 21 Facebook LIVE sewing will happen on July 24th

This is my favorite block from the vintage quilt.

I hope you will join in some fun in July with the Windmill block!

Enjoy your day,

Michigan Beauty Block – How To Blog #1

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Let’s jump right in to the hand piecing this amazingly simple yet stunning block. If you are new to hand piecing and need some guidance regarding tools and marking your fabric please check out this blog for that basic info. Or tune in on Sunday (or check later for the saved video under the video tab on the page) to the MDQuilts Facebook page for a LIVE segment regarding the tools of hand piecing.

My pieces are cut and I am ready to sew.

Let’s look closely at this block. As I stated before it is basically a Fancy Four Patch as I call these styles of blocks. So in today’s blog we will be just addressing the sewing sequence of one quarter of the block. You will need to repeat these instructions 3 times to make all four quarters.

The first two lengths to sew is joining the diamonds into units of 2 diamonds. I strongly urge you to lay out the quarter block design in front of you to help in orientation of the diamond edges to sew.

Here I have placed anchor pins in the corners of the sewing line and a small Karen Kay Buckley pin right on the drawn guide line.

Notice how off my seam allowance is on the lighter diamond vs the darker diamond below it. This is why we always line up our seams for sewing by anchor pins (just push thru vertically lining up points) in the corners and placing a pin on the drawn line. DO NOT line up by matching your edges. As you can see if you are off on your cutting of a piece this will interfere with correct positioning. Here I squeezed in a diamond on a piece of fabric knowing the seam allowance would be a bit scant but would still be enough.

Time to begin so sew. You will be sewing a thread or two ABOVE the drawn line. This line is a guide line and not a sewing line. Think of this as hand piecing a scant quarter of an inch. This method reclaims the width of what ever marking tool you used to make the guideline and thus keeps your block on pace for a correct finished size.

Use a rocking motion to make a running stitch. After every 3rd-4th stitch make take a backstitch to lock your stitches. As you can see the KKBuckley pins are so fine you can sew right above them – thus they make a great reminder to hover above the line and not sew on it.

Finish with a knot that is just outside the insecting line forming the corner. Remember scant quarter of a inch sewing!

With this next line of sewing the 4 diamonds will become one unit.

NOTE: for those who have done some hand piecing with me prior you may question why a “roundabout technique” is not called for at the end of the seam where all 4 diamonds meet. I will explain in the next step. Just sew the straight line forming the unit for now .

We are on to the final seam we will tackle in the blog today. This seam contains the Roundabout Technique that is going to make your hand piecing blocks just sing!

Roundabouts are indicated by the RED CIRCLE in the directions packaged with your templates. There are also written and visual directions specifically covering this technique included.
This is the Roundabout area on the actual unit.

Sew the seam line as you have done prior to just before you reach the intersection of all four diamonds and the half square triangle.

Now you want to work your way around this intersection by drawing the needle/thread thru two pieces of fabric at a time. You will work in a general area right at the point where all pieces intersect but not in the same “hole” as that would just pull the thread out without grabbing anything. So with each push of the need thru just move either to the left or right on thread. You will be working around this “intersection” much like you drive around a roundabout until you reach the jumping off point. In this case we need to get back to where we started so you can continue and finish the seam attaching the triangle to the bottom edge of the 4 diamonds.

pulling needle and thread thru one set of diamonds

Last two pieces to push thru and you are back to the triangle, take a back stitch and finish the seam

Look at the nice crisp set of points where the diamonds meet the triangle! This is the magic of the roundabout technique!

The finishing how to blog will post on Sunday morning. And at 1pm on Sunday central time I will be LIVE on facebook with a review and question/answer session of hand sewing tools that will I feel are worth their weight in gold. Then the Facebook LIVE sessions of actually sewing a block together will begin on Tuesday, May 21st. Watch for a time announcement on Facebook. I am hoping to do an evening session.

If you would like to purchase the templates to the Michigan Beauty block please click below to go right to the item in my webstore.

You may also wish to check out the other blocks already released and available in the Hand Piecing category.

Enjoy the day,

Michigan Beauty – Quilt Ideas

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Today let’s explore some quilt idea for the Michigan Beauty Quilt Block.  

Looking closely you will see that this block is basically a 4 patch.  Which means it is a repetition of squares, each composed of units.  These “squares” are rotated around the center much like a clock and thus create a lot of movement in a quilt by coloring the blocks and setting them in a ways to take advantage of that design element.

This quilt is composed of Michigan Beauty Blocks set directly next to each other with no sashing or border.  Sometimes a quilt doesn’t need anything but blocks.  They are stunning enough alone and on their own.   I would stay stitch the edges before quilting to hold all seams together and reduce bias edge stretch but other then that I would make this quilt.   And I may!   Notice I colored the Square Piece C’s (see reference to these units in Monday’s blog here) to elevate and celebrate the secondary pattern of the 4 patch that is formed with the blocks are set in this manner.   The actual center of the blocks (quarter triangle square) and the Square Piece C are colored in softer shades that make they naturally move to the background of the quilt.

Very same block layout, no sashing, no borders.  But the coloring is dramatically different.   There are several block coloring variations in this layout.  And it makes for quite a unique and movement filled quilt design.

On Point!   I can’t help myself I love a block on point!  And this block works well with being on it’s tippy toes as I say due to the strong Arrow C pieces in the design.

  This quilt has Little Boy Britches (March 2019 block release) in the center .  I played with the coloring of the block in a very untraditional way.   I accented the rings I saw develop with this setting. 

Then I placed Michigan Beauty blocks around the entire edge as a border.  I colored those blocks in a unique way also.   My graphic shows a small border on this quilt.  I think it needs one of maybe just an 1 wide in a strong color to hold it all in. 

Same two blocks as in the previous quilt, Michigan Beauty and Little Boy Britches, but this time sent in a vertical row layout.  These two blocks play very nicely together I feel.

I hope you enjoyed some of these ideas for quilts.  As the Mic’s Attic Picks series grow with blocks I will revisit some blocks combinations and create new ones in future posts.   

Friday will be the first of two “how-to” blog posts on this block.  It really is that simple to piece that two blogs will do it. 

My thoughts are to do a revisit to the tools used for hand piecing on Sunday and then the first “Sew Along” LIVE will happen on Tuesday night. 

Yes a night time LIVE segment!  Going to try a new time frame on the LIVE segments for this block.    Again keep an eye on the MDQuilts facebook page for announcements of exact times for each to be posted.

And if you wish to purchase the hand piecing templates for the Michigan Beauty block you can do so by clicking above   Please note that the block is also available in English Paper Piecing papers and templates for those who wish to make their blocks using that technique.  You can also find them in my store.  All the products are currently in the NEW category there.

Enjoy your day,

Michigan Beauty – Coloring Options

Monday, May 13th, 2019

It’s time to begin the Mic’s Attic Picks/Michigan Beauty Block blog series.  This blog is going to explore some of the coloring options for the block.  And Wednesday’s blog will go over some ideas for quilts using just the Michigan Beauty block and then combining it with a couple of other blocks from the series.

As you can see by the picture above the antique set of blocks was colored the same way as this purple version of the block.  With the same fabric being used in the C pieces that ring the center and form a square.   And then the same fabrics used in the C pieces that form arrows in the corner.   This is a very simple and elegant rendition of this block.   And can be quite stunning done in a monochromatic colorway as shown.  Just make sure to mix up the scale of print/texture so there is contrast.  This makes the block exciting to view.

In this version I did some shading of the Arrow C pieces and have opposite sides composed of same fabrics, same color, two values – light & dark. AND I made sure the scale of the print was also of different.   Then I applied this same concept to the Arrow C Pieces.   I really like this version of the block.  There is a lot of depth and movement.

Went TOTALLY scrappy here! 

I had to!  With so many pieces to the block it was a great design to play with.  Plus the pieces are just the right size for small prints like those in the 30s reproductions.

And finally some more modern fabrics.  The square C pieces follow the example of the 2 block discussed here in the blog but the sides are composed of two fabrics.  Because I was working in a line of fabrics I was able to use the same print, just different colors, which seemed to help the look of this coloring.  I applied the same concept to the Arrow C pieces and used two different colors but the same in all 4 sets.    Note that I took the time to make sure my directional prints used in the center triangles all orientated in the same direction.  Little things like this can make it much more pleasant for the eye to view the block.

Wednesday’s blog will cover some ideas for quilt patterns using the Michigan Beauty Block and the “How-to” blogs will post on Friday & Saturday.    And it looks like the first Facebook Live segment for this block will be Sunday.   Keep an eye on the MDQuilts page later in the week for the exact time.  I will begin posting that at least a day early.

If you haven’t joined in yet with a purchase of the hand piecing templates for the Michigan Beauty block you can do so by clicking below.   Please note that the block is also available in English Paper Piecing papers and templates for those who wish to make their blocks using that technique.  You can also find them in my store.  All the products are currently in the NEW category there.

That’s all for now. Check back on Wednesday for some quilt ideas using the Michigan Beauty Quilt Block.

Enjoy your day,

Introducing – Michigan Beauty Block

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

YAY! It’s May! And it is time for the next block in the Mic’s Attic Picks series. I have been so patiently waiting to share this block with you. It is a personal favorite ….. (don’t tell the others).

I remember buying the inspiration set of blocks at a flea market in Wisconsin about 10 years ago. The kids were in college and Paul and I set off for a day of adventure. Isn’t that how we mark time on most things in life against what age our kids were at the time? Or is that just me?

Anyway, there sat the stack of blocks on a table tucked back into a seller’s booth. And it was quite a stack. Approximately 25 blocks. I was like a homing pigeon as soon as they were spotted. I think I may of pushed Paul out of the way. But upon approach I noted how threadbare the blocks were, with a few actually falling to pieces. My face must of expressed my feelings as the seller called over to me…I’ll sell you the whole stack for $5.00 if you want them young lady. I think you will cherish them. This made this sale memorable. I have bought my fair share of items over the years, but this sale I remember.

I wanted them. I knew they would never become their own quilt. There is not enough stabilizer in the world to save them. But I knew they would become “something” at some time. I just loved the design of the block. Simple yet complex all rolled into one.

My research shows it is a variation of a block called many names in the Brackman Encyclopedia, and one name stuck out. Michigan Beauty. And with so many names (7 in that source alone) I decided not to invent a “new name” for this variation but to just call it Michigan Beauty.

Perfect name for one of my favorite states. I love Michigan. So much so that I would move there in a heartbeat. It has everything to make me happy. Water, Forests, Great People, Small town, Big Cities, Northern Temperatures, Fishing, and Snow. Yay Michigan!

This 12″ block is available for pre-order in both Hand Piecing Templates and English Paper Piecing format with shipping beginning on May 10th. Orders will be processed/shipped in the order received.

FROM NOW UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON MAY 8, 2019 – there is introductory pricing of $20.00 for the Acrylic Hand Piecing Template Set. You can place your order by clicking here! Then search for Michigan Beauty in my store or head directly to the NEW category!

This is a very easy block to piece and it is full of so many coloring options as you can see by the pictures in this blog.

I will post some quilt layout ideas in a blog next week and the “How-To” piecing blocks and Facebook LIVE segments will begin May 15th. The exact times for the Facebook LIVE segments will be posted at a later date. Watch for them here and on the MDQuilts Facebook Page.

I hope you love Michigan Beauty as much as I do, and will join me in hand piecing this great block . (Or EPP if you desire). At the pre-order price of just $20 for the hand piecing set it is a great block to start that journey.

The hand piecing template set includes instructions that are both written and full of graphics that are easy to follow. The HOW-TO blogs and Facebook Live segments will also take you thru the process step by step. No one gets left behind. Everyone can enjoy the ZEN of hand piecing and this block is a perfect block to jump in and give it a try.

Easy piecing – dynamic design ~ that is Michigan Beauty!

Enjoy your day,