How to make a Birds in the Air block – Quilting Tips & Techniques 146


This is my next block for my 19th century sampler quilt. I have been watching her you tube video since she first started them. We have the same quilting style. I had no idea she was here on WordPress. So please check out her blog and follow her.

Originally posted on Gourmet Quilter Blog:

This video shows how to make a Birds in the Air block using 10″ squares. The block measure 6 1/2″ so will be a 6″ finished block. One 10″ square plus background fabric will yield 2 blocks, so economical!

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Feathered Star Quilt Block Part 2-Paper Piecing



After I made the decision to use the paper pieced pattern from McCall’s Quilting web page, I printed out the PDF file.   I gave the link to the free pattern in part one of the feathered star.   I looked to see if I had any paper piecing paper left.  I could not find any in my stash.  I don’t like to use printer paper.  I like vellum paper for this but settled on artist tracing paper.  You can see through it and it is holds together when you sew on it.   It also works in my printer.  When you can see through the paper you don’t have to flip it over as much as you add pieces.

Quilty has a 2 part video on how to paper piece you can watch on you tube.

It is better to watch how it is done.  Paper pieced patterns always have the sections numbered so you start with the first section.  They usually tell you what color of the fabric so you know.  The thing is to remember that you put together the wrong side of the fabric with the wrong side of the paper. Then add the second piece of fabric right side to the first piece. That is why I like to be able to see through the paper to line it up.  You use a little pine that is flat to hold it in place and sew on the line that is marked on the right side of the paper.  You then open the two fabrics up to make sure you have covered the second section with fabric. But before you make the next section bend the paper on the seam you just made and trim to make a 1/4 inch seam.  There is always extra fabric in the way to trim away at the seam.  You need a generous piece of fabric to make it easy to work with. Now you repeat the process until you have the whole section completed.

I chose the same color scheme as was in the pattern because it was a traditional colors that was chosen in the 19th century.


For the background I chose unbleached muslin to stick with the fabric choice that was often used then.

It was confusing at first because the pattern gave the cutting instructions for the whole quilt.  I was only doing one feathered star.  I finely figured out that I would only need page 5 of the PDF for the star.  The rest of the pattern was for other parts of the quilt.

You will need to cut for one feathered star:

One 5 1/2 inches square for the center piece.  (Red medium print fabric)

Sixteen 2 1/4 inches squares  small print fabric cut in half square triangles to make 32 pieces. (Red small pint fabric)

Eight 1 3/4 inches by 3 1/4 inches rectangle for the feather points. (Red small print)

Four 3 1/4 inches square in contrasting fabric cut in half square triangles to make 8 pieces. (Green small print)

Four 1 3/4 inches squares of accent color.  (Yellow small print)

Twenty-five 2 1/4 inches square of background fabric cut in half squares triangles to make 50 pieces.

One 8 3/4 inches square cut into four triangles in background fabric. (see picture below)

Four 4 inches square of background fabric.


In this pattern you have four sections that you will be paper piecing.  I started with section 1 and followed the order that was marked on the pattern.   I only needed 4 of these sections.   Line up the rectangle for the feather point like in the picture below.  Then when you are finished making the section. Trim off the excess fabric on the dotted line to shape the point.


The next step was to do section 2 all four pieces and add to the four corners of background fabric that is 4 inches square.

DSCN1005Now that the four corners of the block is finished you take section 3 and 4 of the pattern and complete the piecing.  The colors are marked on the pattern so it is easy to follow.   All the fabric pieces are very generous so they are easy to place on the back side of the pattern.


Now sew sections 3 and 4 together like the picture.  You can see how I trimmed the the excess fabric on the dotted line.  I lined up the intersection with pins and then sewed just on the line locking in the stitch at both end of the seam.   When you have all for of these sections completed you add one on each side of the center block.



Now you add the corner blocks to the other 2 sections.


This is the hard part, adding the the background fabric triangle into the block.


After I did one, I realized that I was to sew the first seam on the side that had the seam folded under and then make the second seam to the section that the seam was not folded.


The next step is to sew both of these section on the center block.


The final step is to add the last two background pieces to finish the block.  When you are finished with that you will be an expert on paper piecing and setting in right angle blocks.


It is a impressive block to make and it looks harder then it is.  This is something you can make to get your quilt guild to sit up and notice your quilting skills.  Just don’t tell them you followed an easy paper piecing pattern.

Feathered Star Quilt Block Part 1


My 19th Century Sampler Quilt would not be complete without a Feathered Star.   This block is 14 1/2 inches unfinished and since I am using sashing on my 12 1/2 inches blocks to bring them up to 15 1/2 inches.  I am going to sash with unbleached muslin.  I used this as the background fabric for this star.  This will be in the center of my quilt.   I chose the unbleached muslin for a couple of reasons.  It was the choice of many antique quilts that were samplers and because Kona Cream is too heavy to work with in a pattern like the feathered star that has one inch half squares.  The feathered part of this block was papered pieced.  Kona Cotton was just too bulky.  I have used this brand of muslin for years and have been happy with it.

I still have some work to do on this block.  I need to go back and fix some intersections.  I was rushed for time to get this done for another blog and just left it as it was.  I haven’t pulled the paper off of it yet so I can reline things up a little better.

The feathered star was one of the few named quilt blocks in the 19th century.  It was a very early pattern and was copied by many quilters for good quilts.  The pattern took some skill to draft this block and to sew all the tiny pieces.  It was also a good way to use up tiny scraps of expensive printed fabric.  Good dressmakers could show off their skills on their beds when company came.   When guests would come to visit they would spend the night because travel took awhile.  The best quilts and bed lines would be used for the company.  We see some excellent examples of this quilt in museums to day and this pattern is highly prized by quilt collectors.

Many of the complicated patterns were paper pieced using newspaper or wrapping paper in the 19th century.  Patterns was usually copied on newspaper to share and drawings and templates.   Many times a quilter would see a quilt at a fair or raffle and take time to draw the pattern or would reproduce it from memory.   Not many patterns were published until the last 2 decades of the 19th century.  Collectors today know there are regions in this country that are known for certain patterns.   That was because that pattern was shared among neighbors.

I found this feathered star on line at McCall’s Quilting.  It is a free PDF file that you can down load.  The pattern is called Tribute to York County.   York County Pennsylvania is were many of the very early patterns and quilts have been found.   They used to publish a Vintage Quilt Magazine and this pattern came from their Spring Issue in 2005.  I have some of them and kept them for reference.  Here is the link to the pattern:

In my next blog I will give you the cutting instruction and how I paper pieced it.  It isn’t that difficult of the block when it is papered pieced.

A Somewhat Blurry Friday Afternoon at the Haikulodeon


Enjoy. Sorry I was late with this.

Originally posted on The haikulodeon:

Here’s this week’s heap of haikus: 

Another Agnes …
my grandma, born this day in
Eighteen Ninety-one.

(Agnes Marion Mulry Tracy Tharp -1891-1951)

Wendell always wished
his yard was more like his next
door neighbor’s garden.

(Thanks to Kristina Rebelo for the use of her photograph.)

Nine haikus:

My first landlord in
New York was named Guisseppi.
He loved Bustelo.

He was a tailor
in a Long Island City
men’s suit factory.

He would tune in to
Op’ra on radio and
soccer on TV.

He drank espresso;
Bustelo espresso and
Artichoke liqueur.

He was my landlord
for over 20 years.  We
would communicate

through hand gestures for
he spoke little English and
I, no Italian.

On late Summer nights
he’d bring me tomatoes from
his backyard garden.

Sometimes we would sit
jn lawn chairs in the garden
And drink espresso.

It wsa too bitter
for my taste, but…

View original 326 more words

Pineapple Jam Made From Fresh Pineapple and Liquid Pectin


Pineapples are in the stores for Easter cooking.  Every year I make pineapple jam from wonderful fresh pineapple that I have let ripen on my kitchen counter until it is golden yellow.



The fruit is sweeter and juicer if you let it ripen.  I twist the tops off to replant in my garden.  I live in South Florida and pineapple grows here very well as a landscape plant.  Just peel off the little leaves at the bottom of the stem to expose about a inch of it.  That is where the stem will send out roots.


Then place the stem in a jar of water covering only the stem bottom that has been exposed.


In a few week there will be roots and you can plant it in a pot of good potting soil.  You can raise it in containers or if you live in a warm climate that doesn’t see frost you can plant it out side.   In two years it will give you a pineapple.  It will be smaller then the original  fruit that the top came from.   I currently have one growing that I planted last year that is giving me fruit.  It spent most of the year root bond in a pot with another plant.   That might of been why it set fruit early.


To prepare the fruit for jam, just cut the pineapple in to fourths.  Then remove the hard core from the center and cut like the picture below leaving the skin in tack.


You can easily remove the chunks from the skin with a small knife.   I used a food processor with the blade to crush the pineapple but you can  also crush it with a potato masher in a large pan.  I just pulsed the food processor until I had it looking like canned crushed pineapple.



1 large ripe pineapple

3 1/4 cups cane sugar

3 tablespoons  lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter

1 package of liquid pectin

5 or 6 half pint jars and lids.

Read the instructions that comes with the pectin on how to use it. The jars need to be washed and sterilized in a boiling water bath. You will find instruction in this USDA publication on line on the proper method of handling and sterilizing your jars.

Add all the ingredients except the liquid pectin in a large pan.  The butter will prevent the jam from foaming and you won’t have to skim any foam off the jam when you pour it into the jars.


Bring to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down.


Normally your pectin instructions will tell you to remove from heat and add the liquid pectin stir in and return to heat.  Cook for one minute at a full rolling boil. Now remove from heat and jar up.


Ladle into hot sterilized jars up to a 1/4 inch from the lid.  Wipe the rim off with a wet paper towel and run your finger around the top to make sure the edge is clean.  You can hear your finger squeak.  Place a hot lid on the jar.  Add ring and tighten.


Put the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  You will find that information on how to do that in the USDA pamphlet on line.  It is in PDF so you can down load it to your computer as a reference.  Jelly and Jam making is on page 29.


Remove jars to cool on a towel or rack.  The lids will seal as they cool and you can here them pop when they do.   My pineapple almost gave me 5 cups of jam.  A larger one will give you more.  It varies from batch to batch depending on the fruit.

My family loves this jam and I make it every year.  It makes great gifts too.  There is really a difference in the taste from the commercial jam.  If you have the basic canning equipment,  pineapple jam is cheaper to make then buy it.  There are recipes and now low sugar pectin that can be made for special diet needs.  The recipes are easily found on the internet.




An Extremely Late Friday Afternoon at the Haikulodeon


Thank you again for these wonderful haiku

Originally posted on The haikulodeon:


Here’s this week’s heap of haikus:

Still feels like Winter
All I do is stare at the
flower wallpaper.

Wearing a sweatshirt,
I nurse a cup of Joe and
read the New York Times.

There is a large crowd,
lined up ’round Tompkins Square Park.
Bread line?  Movie Shoot.

 Clumps of tourists gawk,
in the middle of Times Square
The neon dazzles.

His tortured soul found
small measures of contentment
just beyond its reach.

When she walked away,
I brought my hands to my face,
to hold in my dreams.

A New Yorker in
an Oklahoma dorm room,
soon downs his first Coors.

Traffic-clogged streets made
worse by double parked trucks, and
dumb damned dog walkers.

She sneezed her dress off
Which caused quite a kerfuffle
in the Library.

Alone at Midnight
walking through old neighborhoods

View original 433 more words

A Warmly Spring-like Friday Afternoon at the Haikulodeon


It is Friday night and it is time for some Haiku from Mr. Smith. Enjoy.

Originally posted on The haikulodeon:





Here’s this week’s heap of haikus:


When you have learned to
accept what you can not change;
You will suffer less.

Though Life continues,
and struggles will never end,
my peach tree still blooms.

They say Spring has sprung
but it still feels like Winter.
Maybe sprung sprang back.


 Her mood would shift from
indigo to violet;
her passion sublime.

Her face pressed to mine,
I hold her close to me and
know our love’s survived.

Sometimes I’m awake,
when I should be fast asleep,
dreaming I’m awake.




But in the end, you
will give up ev’rything to
do what you love most.






A moment frozen
60 years before my birth,
makes me nostalgic.

For St. Patrick’s Day:  A  photo of my maternal great-grandmother, Agnes Kelly, who came…

View original 509 more words

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