Monday, June 21, 2021

FREE State Quilt Blocks (43-47)

Come tour with me around the United States, virtually of course, and collect another five FREE state blocks!

quilt blocks in green around a US map

We left off with block 42 in South Carolina, and with a short hop, we'll go to Tennessee with block 43, compliments of Dragonfly's Quilting Design Studio.

From there, we'll swing back toward Alabama, with block 44, a camellia themed block from Katie Mae Quilts.

pink quilt block

Continuing a tour of the southern states, next we'll visit Mississippi, with block 45 from Traditional Primitives

Then a short jump puts us in Louisiana, with block 46 from Wendt Quilting.

And going north, we finish in Arkansas, with block 46 from Blue Bear Quilts.


If you've missed any of the previous blocks, I can help catch you up. Just visit these previous posts, complete with pictures and links, to fill in the map.

Keeping Up with the Free USA blocks (1-9)

More Free USA Quilt Blocks (10-14)

More Free US State Quilt Blocks (15-20)

More Free US State Quilt Blocks (21-30)

Maine Pine Tree State (31-35)

More Free US State Quilt Blocks (36-42)

It's been an amazing year of touring, with just 5 more US state blocks to go. And the block collecting fun will continue with a new series, Sew Much Fun, starting August 1. See you then!

Happy Quilting!

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Friday, June 18, 2021

Die Cutting Hints and Tricks

Today I'm sharing a few hints and tricks that I've learned in die cutting, using the Crossover II machine from Crafters Edge

die cut white star

I had the machine and several dies for a few months now, enjoying the system for cutting accurate shapes. That star seen above was certainly quick and easy!

As a newbie, here's a few things I've learned about die cutting which I hope will help you when you get your machine.

1. Apply fusible to the fabric first

I've made three projects that require fusing, and on each and every one, I forgot to apply the fusible before cutting. You'd think I'd have learned after the first or even second time!

My excuse for the first omission is the excitement over cutting with a new quilting gadget. How fun to make a fabric/die sandwich, wind it through the rollers, and pop out a perfectly cut shape on the other side! 

Sounds silly I know, but I'm one of those who finds joy in the simplest of things. Which makes it totally understandable as to why I forgot the fusible.

To rectify my problem, it seems easy enough to just cut the fusible with the die. 

die cutting two nested stars

It's great that the star sizes nested, leaving just enough fusible for a wide star outline. That way I don't have one big fused and stiff star. And it looks like it cut great, right?

die cut star from fusible web

Well, sort of. I wouldn't say that it was cut all the way through as I had to use the scissor to get it free. Either it's the nature of fusible web, or I just needed more pressure from the rollers - at this point it was close enough.

Ultimately though, I had a nice star outline which fit perfectly onto my fabric star. Problem solved - this time.

die cut star outline

2. Do not stack fusible sheets then cut them with the die machine 

This was snafu #2. Once again, I'd forgotten to put the fusible on several circles I was cutting. Being the queen of efficiency, stacking and cutting fusible web, seemed like a great idea. Just look at all those layers the arrow is pointing to - one cut and done!

layers of fusible web for die cutting

Turns out that the pressure the rollers pressed all of the fusible layers together, making it a painstakingly slow process to get the layers apart. I was lucky if I got them apart in a complete piece.

So much for that idea, which goes back to the first point - apply fusible first.

3. Do not die cut batting

Unless you want felt, the pressure from the rollers will crush any poof in that batting. 'Nuff said.

4. Use tape for fussy cutting

Notice in the picture above I'm using two circles, which will cut out a ring and an inner circle. When the ring has to be perfect all around, use a piece of tape to hold the two dies in place. The tape is hard to see, but it's in that black circle.

fussy cut circles

I used this technique when cutting out a window frame,

tape holding circle dies in place

to fuse to my beach house.

pink beach house with circle window

5. Adjust the roller pressure or remove a fabric layer

One piece of fabric needs different pressure (usually less) than several layers. Too much, and you'll find the sheet metal piece getting deep groves in it, not to mention how much harder it is to crank the sandwich through the rollers.

And there's also the fabric thickness too consider. The pressure that had been working well for a stack of five fabrics may need adjustment with a new stack due to either thinner or heavier fabric.

I found that out when cutting the leopard prints for Sheba. One or two fabrics were thick, making the first cut unsuccessful. Removing a fabric layer helped more than changing the pressure. And the die was easy to replace in the same spot as usually there were heavy indents in the fabric that the die fell back into. Not all was lost!

fabric on a tray for die cutting

5. Place the die at a slight angle with the rollers

The whole die sandwich has an easier time going through if the die is at a bit of an angle to the rollers. It gives those rollers a chance to gradually move along the die edge versus butting right up against it, like hitting a speed bump.

fabric ready for die cutting

6. Support long strips

There are times when it makes for better fabric usage to cut from a long strip. I did this when cutting triangles, turning the die for each cut to conserve fabric. Just be sure that the bulk of the strip is supported off the cutting surface. Otherwise, it wants to slide off. The strip in the photo is on the short side, but you'll understand the point when there's a 15-20 inch tail.

fabric strip ready for die cutting


Phew! I've reached the end of my list of what I've learned so far about using a die cutting machine, and I hope you find this useful. I'll admit I'm having a lot of fun creating projects from the various Crafters Edge dies, so be prepared to see more in the next few months.

Happy Quilting!


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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Midweek Makers 284

Welcome to this week's Midweek Makers - let's do some sharing!


My share is from Deb, who was busy last week making her version of my Fireworks wall hanging. She sent me a picture of the top, with the fireworks absolutely popping! Doesn't this put you in the mood for the Fourth of July?

three red white and blue fireworks bursts

And that's it for patriotic quilts this week. Let's see these beautiful finishes:

from Melva Loves Scraps, her Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail,

and from Viridian's Blog, this Nearly Insane finish.

What's your share this week? Come link up!

  • please link directly to your post not your home page
  • please link a quilt related project
  • visit with the others and leave some quilt love

Happy Quilting!


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Monday, June 14, 2021

FREE Flag Patterns

Happy Flag Day! My love of red, white and blue is spilling over, 


and to celebrate the day, here's a collection of ten FREE flag patterns!

Let Freedom Ring from Riley Blake Designs

Tonga Patriot from Timeless Treasures

Grand Old Flag from Windham Fabrics

Made in the USA from Benartex

Zigzag Flag from Wilmington Prints

Show Your Colors from Pieces be with You

Made in the USA from Paintbrush Studio

Heartland from Michael Miller Fabrics

Patriotic Parade from Studio E Fabrics

Patriotic Mini from Marcus Fabrics

Looking for table runner and wall hanging patterns too? Check out last year's Patriotic Quilting Ideas post


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Friday, June 11, 2021

Joseph's Coat, Block Base Plus Block #6

The Block Base Plus sew-along continues on with block 6 in the series, a Maltese Cross block that is spider-web themed, called Joseph's Coat or number 2734. 

black orange and white four star block

Above is the color version from Block Base Plus, and here's my fabric version, which contains the same green as all of my other blocks, for consistency.

purple pink and green quilt block

I was so hoping the Joseph's Coat block was going to be another that could be cut from squares or rectangles and easily pieced. Unfortunately, the identical A and C templates (see the arrow below) are not symmetrical triangles which would make that method really difficult. 

template printout

Choosing the easy route, I decided to use foundation piecing, printing out the paper piecing units on freezer paper. Why freezer paper? Because I'm not a fan of tearing out foundation paper after stitching. And I can make at least four units from each freezer paper template which saves on printing.

Here's the two units for the Joseph's Coat block,

which will make piecing this Maltese Cross style block a lot easier. Unfortunately, I can't provide these for you as they are available only in EQ8 or Block Base Plus.

So, how to use the freezer paper? Easy. Cut out the fabric pieces larger than needed and press the wrong side of the first piece to its location on the freezer paper. Use a piece of cardstock to help make a crisp fold on the stitching line. Place the next piece, right sides together, and keeping the paper folded back, stitch next to the fold.

Then press that new fabric piece in place on the freezer paper. Keep adding fabric, if there's more, or trim the unit with seam allowances to finish. Here's the backside, untrimmed,

and the trimmed unit, from the front.

How easy is that? After stitching and trimming the other unit,

it's time to stitch these two together. If I can, I like to remove the paper for matching. Sometimes though, it's better to leave the paper in place for that.

Here's a great trick I'll share for matching: take a few stitches at the matching point and check the match on the frontside before stitching the entire seam. 

This technique saves a ton of aggravation! Take a look at how well these seams matched up.

Yeah! I can now stitch the entire seam, stitching the corner units to the center units,

making four units total.

Then its a matter of matching seams again to make two units,

and for the last seam, matching at three points along the seam to finish the block.

purple pink and green quilt block

I'm very happy with how well this turned out using the freezer paper piecing method, which I should use more often. It sure made this Joseph's Coat block a whole lot easier to piece.

Happy Quilting!

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