Monday, October 26, 2020

Economy Block tutorial

Recently I shared my Vintage Halloween Economy Blocks on the blog, and I promised you there would be a tutorial. So today I’ll be sharing some information on how I made my blocks, including tools, tips, measurements and basic assembly instructions. This post is not a pattern for a full quilt, so there will not be fabric requirements. But the great thing about the Economy Block is that it fun, easy and a great way to use up your scraps and stash. Let’s get started!

Vintage Halloween Economy Block
4 1/2” (unfinished);  4” (finished / when sewn with other blocks)

You don’t need any special rulers to make Economy Blocks, but these were handy for me:

A square 2 1/2” Creative Grids ruler (for fussy cutting the centers).

A ruler with clear 1/4” markings. (I used my 4 1/2” x 8 1/2” Creative Grids ruler that has the best 1/4” markings.  I used gingham Lori Holt washi tape to mark off a 3 1/4” square on the ruler, which will be used for one of the trimming steps. You could use painter’s tape also.)

The Cute Cuts 4 1/2” Trim It Ruler by Lori Holt. (Again, I could have used another ruler and some washi tape. But this Trim It Ruler has fantastic markings for finding the right trimming spot to complete the 4 1/2” block.)

For each Economy Block, you will need to begin with three squares:

2 1/2” center square
3 1/2” square
4 1/2” square

Begin by fussy cutting the 2 1/2” center square. (Note, you do not have to fussy cut. You could use a mini charm pack or cut 2 1/2” squares from any pretty fabric. The end result will still be lovely.)

Then cut a 3 1/2” square and a 4 1/2” square from coordinating fabrics. 

I cut several squares and laid them together in groupings to see which combinations I liked. 

Next, cut both the 3 1/2” square and the 4 1/2” square on the diagonal twice, so that you have (4) triangles each.


Begin with the triangles yielded from the 3 1/2” square. Sew triangles to the left and right of a fussy cut square. I used my Bernina’s quarter inch foot for exact piecing.

Press toward the triangles and trim off the dog ears.

Next, sew triangles to the top and bottom. Press toward the triangles.

Using your tape-marked ruler, trim the block to 3 1/4” square.  Do not skip this trimming step. Look closely at the photo below. The key is to have 1/4” of seam allowance on all four sides. Position the ruler so that the corners of the fussy cut square do not extend into the 1/4" seam allowance. Trim two sides. Rotate the block and trim the remaining two sides.

Now repeat those same steps using the triangles yielded from the 4 1/2” square. 

Here’s a creative tip.  Flip your units over and sew from the other side.  This will allow you to see the seam intersection that you want to meet precisely.

Again, press toward the triangles.

Using a 4 1/2” trimming tool or ruler, square up your block to 4 1/2”. 

Look closely at this photo. There is shading around the perimeter that indicates the seam allowance area. Make sure none of the points are in that shaded area. The ruler also has guidelines for the center square, helping you position the ruler correctly.  

Place your finished blocks under a ruler and weight. This will keep them nice and flat while you sew. I do this often with small blocks. Sometimes I even weight press them overnight.

I hope this tutorial will inspire you to begin making Economy Blocks from your favorite fabrics. My goal is to make as many blocks as I can with the focal fabric at center. When I run out of little characters to fussy cut, I will continue to make Economy Blocks from just the coordinating fabrics until I have enough blocks to make a baby or lap sized quilt.

I plan to take my time with these blocks, sewing them when the mood strikes . . . sewing for fun.  I hope you’ll do the same!


 P.S. I have other free tutorials on my blog. Check them out when you have a chance.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Vintage Halloween Economy Blocks

I have a weakness for vintage inspired children’s fabrics. They remind me of my favorite children’s books . . . tender stories of sweet boys and girls finding adventures in their everyday lives, learning lessons of kindness, honesty, resilience and even bravery. Every illustration was a small work of art, inviting me to another place and time. It’s no wonder that I couldn’t resist this darling Halloween themed fabric with a vintage vibe.

The focal fabric you see at the center of my blocks is from a Halloween collection by Belle and Boo, which is a company based in England. Besides designing art and fabric, they publish books and create toys, games, stickers, cards, coloring books, paper dolls and even free downloadable coloring sheets. I became familiar with Belle and Boo’s fabric collections on Instagram, through an online fabric shop based in the United Kingdom, Rose Garden Patchwork. I ordered a half yard of the Halloween fabric and it flew “across the pond” quite quickly. Thank you, Rose Garden Patchwork!

This past Saturday I spent several hours rifling through my stash, finding just the right fabrics to create some Economy Blocks that would feature the Belle and Boo characters. Fabric was flying. I was making a happy mess. In the end, I found just enough butterscotch orange and cool browns to begin cutting and sewing.

It tickles me that this quilt will include leftover fabrics I’ve saved from other completed projects, and it will represent several designers, including Fig Tree & Company, Lori Holt, Lauren Nash, and Patrick Lose. There’s even one I can’t identify. Never throw out scraps that you love. You’ll be sure to use them again someday.

Friends, I felt so inspired and cheered by this project, that I started taking notes and photos of my progress. I plan to publish a free tutorial that will include tools, tips, measurements and more so that you can dive into your stash and make a joyful mess creating your own Economy Blocks.

Someday I hope to be a cuddly, fun and much loved grandma. I picture an autumn day spent with little ones on my lap, reading treasured books while snuggled beneath a quilt that I made years earlier, just waiting for that special moment.

As always, thanks for letting me share my quilting journey with you. Now head over to your sewing room and get carried away quilting!


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Winner of the Snowy Truck panel from Quilt Girls

Well, this couldn't be more timely.  Today is the day I announce the winner of the Snowy Truck quilt panel from the sweet folks at Quilt Girls, and just take a look at the winter wonderland outside my sewing room window.  As we say in Minnesota, "Uff da!"

Sure, freshly fallen snow clinging to the boughs of an evergreen tree is a sight to behold. However, I don't think the pumpkin sitting on my front step is very impressed. He has been completely smothered by a blanket of white fluff!

Let's move on to happier thoughts.  The winner of the Snowy Truck quilt panel courtesy of Quilt Girls is Mama-D.  Congratulations! I will contact you via email, Mama-D.

Thank you all for entering. I took your comments, copied and pasted them into a spreadsheet, sorted and shuffled them around, and then texted my mom to choose a number.  This is my scientific method, and it works for me.

Thanks so much for your continued support of my small business. The team at Quilt Girls and I truly appreciate you!

Now, I need to find my snow shovel.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Giveaway: Snowy truck quilt panel from Quilt Girls

Christmas is right around the corner. Before too long, my yard will be blanketed with snow and you’ll find me in a flurry of activity, trying to properly prepare for the holiday season. To embrace the inevitable, I thought it might be fun to hold a giveaway! Thanks to the generous folks at Quilt Girls, I have this beautiful, winter themed quilt panel to give away:


This lovely panel measures 35” x 44”, and it would provide a terrific starting point for a wonderful custom quilt for someone you love! If you’re not sure what to do with a quilt panel, please visit my July blog post, where I give you lots of ideas and tips for working with panels. 


To enter our giveaway, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post. You MUST include your email address. The giveaway is open to US mailing addresses only due to the high rate of international shipping. Comments are open through 5:00 pm (CST) on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. At that time, I will do a random drawing and announce the winner. *Only one comment per person/per email address.  Email me if you are having trouble leaving a comment and I will leave a comment on your behalf. ( Many thanks to Quilt Girls for their generous giveaway offering!


As you are pondering the homemade gifts you’d like to make for Christmas, be sure to visit the Quilt Girls website and take a look at their great selection. They have a fabulous supply of Christmas fabrics, as well as cloth book panels (a great gift idea!), character prints, juvenile prints and so much more!

Have a great day and good luck!


Monday, October 12, 2020

Star Watch: a Christmas version

Hello quilting friends! I hope you all are well and finding time to sew to your heart’s content. Yesterday I spent some happy hours in my sewing room and I want to share my progress with you. I’m sewing a Christmas version of my Start Watch jelly roll pattern.

Since last winter, I’ve been hoarding a jelly roll and some coordinating yardage from Deb Strain’s Hearthside Holiday fabric. I love the deep Christmas red, striking black and cool gray that Deb utilizes in her winter collections. These awesome color choices are fabulous when combined with the traditional plaids, buffalo checks, deer head motif and other winter classic elements.

Hearthside Holiday may be hard to find in stores, since it was released over a year ago.  However, Deb Strain has a current winter collection called Homegrown Holidays that has a very similar look and feel. She typically comes out with a new winter collection annually. People often ask me, through email or social media, where they can purchase a kit or how they can find the fabrics to make a quilt exactly like the one I’m showing. That isn’t always possible, but I’ll point you in the right direction whenever I’m able.

If you can’t find Deb Strain's fabric at your local quilt shop, a few of my sponsors carry her  collections.  (Please take note that some of her collections also come in flannel/brushed cotton. So just be sure to look at the descriptions to determine what you’re ordering!)  You could also do a search on Etsy to find a small independent seller who may have just the fabric you need!

Deb Strain’s beautiful fabric is available at:

My Star Watch pattern finishes at 64” x 74” and calls for one jelly roll and coordinating yardage. The jelly roll is used for block construction and also for a scrappy binding, which adds a charming finishing touch to the quilt. The pattern is available on my Etsy shop in PDF format. It’s a versatile pattern and is easy enough for an advanced beginner.

Thanks for stopping by and for supporting my small business! Make sure you take some time to get carried away quilting real soon.