Block #9 – Georgia Bonesteel

Birthday Block of the Month #9: Georgia Bonesteel
It’s here! It’s here! The final block of the Quilt Alliance Birthday Block of the Month! After nine fun months, we are nearing the end of our quilt. After making the ninth block, all you’ll need to do is assemble the quilt top and you’re done! Quilting icon Georgia Bonesteel designed this month’s block, which we saved for last because it will utilize some new techniques like piecing with templates, floating seams, piecing triangles, and working from the outside in. While it looks complex, Georgia’s designs have a way of being simple and enjoyable. The block is as charming as she is! 
Meet Georgia Since 1978 when her television program, Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel, debuted on North Carolina Public Television, Georgia has been one of the most watched and notable teachers in quilting.  Her methods and designs respect traditions and push quilters to explore creativity. Georgia’s most recent book, Scrap Happy Quilts is both a memoir of her life in quilts and new projects and patterns for quilters of all skills. Today, Georgia lives a busy semi-retired life volunteering her master gardening skills to the community and her own garden, while continuing to create quilt projects on a daily basis. You can visit her wonderful website or follow her on Facebook.  Georgia recorded a fabulous video talking about her connection to this particular quilt block and even showing a way that you can self-draft the templates for the block yourself. Watch the video below — you’ll love it! Quilters today (like myself) may not be accustomed to quilting this way. It’s wonderful and fascinating to watch!
Georgia’s Top BOM Tips Georgia is a quilting trailblazer and full of piecing wisdom, including techniques that were completely new to me! Here are her best tips for making this block.
Georgia’s Tip 1: Use Freezer Paper  To get accurate templates for the central octagon and star unit triangles, freezer paper is the way to go. Cut the freezer paper templates out with a generous amount of space around them as shown above. Press them to the fabric. Using a ruler and rotary cutter, cut along the solid outer lines of the templates. The dashed inner lines show the seam allowance. An added tip is to use a rotary cutter with a dull blade that you plan to replace, or a rotary cutter dedicated to paper so you don’t dull the blade quickly.
Georgia’s Tip 2: Learn to Draft a Block You can use the templates and measurements in this month’s PDF to complete the block, but as Georgia says, you’re not a real quilter until you can make a block from scratch. Learn her block drafting method in her video included in this blog post!
Georgia’s Tip 3: Create 90 degree angles  When creating the star units, always match up the 45°angles to create 90° angles. This allows you to sew the triangle units to the corner squares. Pretty clever!
Quilt Alliance BOM Tips Each month, we share our best tips for making the Birthday Block of the Month as well. These tips come to you from our Birthday Block of the Month host, Quilt Alliance co-president Laura Hopper!
Play With Color Did you notice that I used a different color for my center octagon than appears in the PDF pattern? Instead of Color 3, the neutral color, I used Color 2. That’s because during a previous month of the BOM, I made a cutting error and ran out of Color 3 fabric. Oops! It happens to the best of us.  Luckily with this block, you have the opportunity to play with color. Use Color 3, or pull in your favorite color from the quilt. Or you could use the fabric you’ll use for the backing or binding! How about using a special fabric that you fussy cut, just like Georgia did in her version of the block shown below? There are so many options! Don’t let the color guide limit you — it’s your quilt so have fun!
Align Star Units Correctly! Speaking of oops, notice something wrong with the star unit above? Yep, I made a mistake. Did I mention that it happens to the best of us?  As Georgia said in her tips, the 45° angles of these triangles should be aligned. However, when I picked up my green fabric, I didn’t do that. I accidentally sewed the 45° angle to the center of the pink fabric, instead of to the 45° angle of the pink fabric. That doesn’t look like a 90° angle!   Thank goodness for seam rippers because if you make the same mistake I did, all you need to do is rip that seam out and sew the triangle on the other way. Easy breezy!
Manipulate Fabric for the Octagon Have you ever made a block from the outside in? I haven’t! This was a completely new technique for me. And I learned a few things while doing it.  One useful tip is that to avoid puckers, make sure that the fabric is completely flat. This is a bit hard to do at first! I found that I needed to manipulate the fabric to get the octagon to lay flat on the outer star ring. Here are some pictures that might help! It’s very hard to explain but trust me when I say it’s something that you will get once you get to this step.
Accept Mistakes… or Redo Them It’s possible that with all the fabric manipulation in the world, you may still get puckers in your block. It happened to me!  When I saw my pucker, I had a choice to make. I could either rip out the seam and redo it to try and avoid the pucker. Or I could accept that I was learning a new technique and the results were imperfect. If you’ve been following this BOM for all nine months, you’ve probably noticed that I consider myself a precision quilter. I love when points line up perfectly. Making a perfect block is a wonderful feeling…but so is learning a new technique. If there’s one lesson I can leave you with at the end of this BOM, it’s that the only thing you should compare your latest quilt to is the last quilt you made. I help beginner quilters learn new techniques every day, and it’s very easy for a new quilter to compare themselves to someone who has been quilting for decades. You know what happens next? The new quilter gets discouraged. They think their quilts will never look that good. And they give up. For me, quilting is about seeing my personal growth. The points on my early quilts don’t match well, but now I know so many of the tricks that I’ve shared with you along this journey! And that’s how I approached this block. I learned new techniques from Georgia, who has been quilting since before I was born, and this is the first time I ever did them. I left my puckers in as a reminder that I’m always growing. And so that in ten more years, once I’ve practiced her techniques even more, I can see how much I’ve grown. I hope you all share the same outlook on quilting, growth, and learning!
Quilt Documentation Tip Follow Georgia’s lead as one of the most important figures in recent quilting history and document what you do! As a television personality, lots of Georgia’s quilting has been documented on film. Making a video about your blocks or finished quilts is a great way to preserve your story! Learn more about how in the next blog post, focused on documenting your completed quilt.
Thank You For Sewing Along! In the next blog post, you’ll learn how to document your quilt, get links to simple Quilt Alliance documentation steps, and get a preview of the exciting programming we have planned for 2024. It’s been a delight to create these blocks with you all — now let’s finish this quilt!  Be sure to tag @quiltalliance on Instagram with your block photos this month, and use the hashtag #QuiltAllianceBOM. And leave any questions about this month’s block in the comments…

Block #8 – Carole Lyles Shaw

Birthday Block of the Month #8: Carole Lyles Shaw
Only one month to go! For Month 8 of the Quilt Alliance’s Birthday Block of the Month, we have a delightfully simple block that creates an illusion of complexity. That’s just one of the many things that I admire about Carole Lyles Shaw’s designs. As a modern quilter, Carole Lyles Shaw beautifully explores movement in quilts. For her Quilt Alliance design, she created a block that uses only squares and rectangles but gives the illusion of complex shapes. And best of all, it only takes about a half hour to make!
Meet Carole Carole Lyles Shaw is an award-winning modern quilter, fiber artist, and workshop teacher. Her passion is to inspire quilters to explore the fun and creative freedom in making modern quilts. Carole taught herself to quilt so that she could make quilts for her wonderful nieces and nephews. She is drawn to modern quilting because it focuses on bringing individualism and free expression to the quilts made today. Carole teaches workshops to help quilters confidently and joyfully dive into modern quilting. Her students say that her workshops inspire them to let their creative voices shine. You can follow her on Instagram or on her website.
Carole’s Top BOM Tips Each month, our Birthday Block of the Month Designers share their top tips for making the block they designed. Here are three great tips for making this block straight from Carole herself. 
Carole’s Tip 1: Sew With an Accurate Quarter Inch Seam Accuracy is important in this month’s quilt block to maintain the illusion of complex shapes. Also, because the block is made of four distinct units (described in the PDF pattern), if your seam allowance is too wide or thin, the units may not line up. If you’re concerned about the accuracy of your seam allowance, use scrap fabric to test and measure a few seams before beginning.
Carole’s Tip 2: Press With a Dry Iron By now, you know that I (Laura) recommend a tailor’s clapper basically every month. I love tailor’s clappers! They work so wonderfully to keep seams flat. However, using a tailor’s clapper requires using steam and there’s a possibility that steam can distort fabric. If that happens, the illusion of this block may also be distorted. Instead of using steam and a tailor’s clapper this month, use a dry iron.
Quilt Alliance BOM Tips Each month, we share our best tips for making the Birthday Block of the Month as well. These tips come to you from our Birthday Block of the Month host, Quilt Alliance co-president Laura Hopper!  Here are some reasons I love this block: it only takes about a half an hour to make, the only cutting you’ll do is when you follow the initial cutting instructions, and it looks much harder than it is. That’s the beauty of Carole’s design — a beginner can make it, but it looks advanced.
Stay Organized The hardest part of this block is keeping all of the differently-sized pieces organized. The PDF pattern will be a big help, but it’s not the only thing you should do, I recommend using sticky notes or scraps of paper to label each cut piece of fabric to keep track of them. Also important — keep those sticky notes on the cut fabric pieces until they are sewn together, not just while they are in a pile waiting to be put together. 
Check the PDF diagrams often! I’m sure you check the PDFs often each month, but for this one, it’s extra important. It can be easy to accidentally piece fabric together in the wrong order. Or when you complete the four units, you may sew a unit upside down. Oops! Avoid having to use that trusty seam ripper and make sure you’re checking the PDF diagrams at every step.
Let Loose and Have Fun You don’t have to overthink with this block. You don’t have any complicated techniques to worry about. This is truly an excuse to sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself. Have a blast!
See You in December for Month Nine! Thank you so much to everyone who has participated in the Quilt Alliance’s Birthday Block of the Month so far! Our designer for next month, the last block we’re making together, is the iconic Georgia Bonesteel! Next month, we will also share a blog post and PDF about how to finish the full Block of the Month lap quilt.  Be sure to tag @quiltalliance and @carole_lylesshaw on Instagram with your block photos this month, and use the hashtag #QuiltAllianceBOM. And leave any questions about this month’s block in the comments…

Getting ready for the Birthday Block of the Month!

QA Birthday Block of the Month: Introduction
Happy birthday to us! Here at the Quilt Alliance, we love birthdays. And what better way to celebrate our own 30th anniversary than with a huge quilt party? The best part is — you’re invited! And so are nine of your very favorite quilt designers who each designed a block for our first-ever block of the month quilt as a birthday gift to the Quilt Alliance.    What is the Quilt Alliance Block of the Month?  For the rest of our anniversary year, all Quilt Alliance members at any level or donors who have contributed $30 or more will receive a new block pattern each month. You’ll get a reminder of when each block is released in our member newsletter so you’ll never have to worry about missing one.  At the end of our Block of the Month celebration, you’ll have nine fun blocks. Put them together with sashing and you’ll have a cozy 52” square lap quilt!  Each of the blocks, designed specifically for the Quilt Alliance’s Block of the Month, is inspired by some aspect of the designer’s quilt story, and we’ll provide guidance and tips as you work through the blocks for documenting and reflecting on YOUR quilt story!   Who Are the Block of the Month Designers?  Here is the schedule for our 30th anniversary Block of the Month!  April: Ricky Tims May: Zak Foster June: Pat Sloan July: Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill August: Suzy Williams September: Andrea Tsang Jackson October: Bonnie Hunter November: Carol Lyles Shaw December: Georgia Bonesteel No doubt that if you’re a quilter, you recognize some of those names! We are so fortunate to have so many influential and talented designers participating in our Birthday Block of the Month. We can’t wait to share their stories with you through Go Tell It Videos as we quilt together!   Getting Started with Your Own Birthday Block of the Month Like any fun block of the month, your first step for ours is picking your fabrics! You can either choose your own fabrics or use the same fabrics we are using for the cover version of the quilt. If you’re an adventurous quilter, you can even consider using scraps!  The fabrics used for the cover version of our Birthday Block of the Month are Art Gallery Fabrics PURE Solids in the following colors:  Evergreen Swimming Pool Creme de la Creme Sweet Fig Cabernet For our backing fabric, we added a beautiful Ruby Star Society print for a pop of excitement on the back! The print is from the Darlings 2 fabric line and is called Wildflowers in black. It complements the neutral Creme de la Creme so nicely!  The Quilt Alliance Birthday Block of the Month uses 5 colors. Feel free to choose your own fabrics, but if you’d like tips, we have examples of 7 color palettes that can help inspire you!  Here is the color palette we are using to make our quilt: Here is the easy three-step formula we used to come up with this color palette, which you can use to create your own!  Choose two colors or color families. Ours are deep green/blue and red/purple. Pick one dark and one light color from each.  Choose a neutral color that will be used in both the blocks and the sashing.  It’s that easy! This simple light and dark formula will help ensure that your quilt has enough color contrast while keeping the look cohesive and fresh. Let’s break that formula down using our cover quilt colors before diving into other color palette examples.  Evergreen — dark green/blue Swimming Pool — light green/blue Creme de la Creme — neutral Sweet Fig — light red/purple Cabernet — dark red/purple Here’s an example that uses the same formula. We have a dark yellow, light yellow, neutral, light blue, and dark blue.  This rose garden-inspired palette uses the same light and dark formula, but instead of a traditional neutral like white or cream, we’ve used a soft pink to connect the greens and reds.  This palette uses the same formula, but like the rose garden palette, these tropical sunset colors are connected with a soft color from the same family. We have a dark and light orange, dark and light pink, and a peach that connects all the colors.  You can build on the light and dark formula to make a monochromatic palette! On the left, you can see that we have a dark and light blue. On the right, we also have a dark and light blue. The connecting neutral that will appear in both the blocks and sashing is the lightest color blue, creating a cool-themed monochromatic palette!  Here’s a warm monochromatic color palette that was made the same way as the cool palette above. We have a dark and light yellow, a dark and light pink, and a peach neutral that connects them all! If you like vibrant colors, you can even consider using black as your neutral color! It helps bright colors jump off a quilt and glow almost like neon. Just like the palettes above, this one is made using the same formula — dark and light green, dark and light purple, and black as the neutral. There are so many ways to choose your own fabrics, but using our dark and light formula will help make sure that you have enough contrast in your colors as you make blocks each month!
Quilt Documentation Tip! Once you’ve selected your own color palette, write down the fabrics you used and the company that manufactured them. If you journal or record your thoughts about your quilting, you could also write down the inspiration behind your color palette. Share that inspiration with us on social media using #QuiltAllianceBOM! We can’t wait to see what colors you’re going to use in your Quilt Alliance Birthday Block of the Month quilt! If you use Instagram, be sure to post your fabric pull using the hashtag #QuiltAllianceBOM and tag @quiltalliance so we can see your beautiful creations!…

Giving Quilts

This month, we have a little gift for you: seven hand-picked quilt stories from our projects, each one about the different ways we give quilts — and what quilts give us! As Tomme Fent says in her 2002 QSOS interview, I do think quilters are very generous. And quilters are so friendly. It’s like having a family connection the world over. You can go anywhere and find quilters, and just immediately strike up a conversation and have something to talk about. One thing I think is so great about quilting is what it’s done for me, and it’s also done for other quilters… Quilting is the most incredible creative expression. It’s a way of expressing grief, or joy, or love. You can just be as wild as you want or as conservative as you want. You can try something that’s totally outside your personality, outside the box. Or you can do something that’s just calming and relaxing. Tomme’s thoughts resonate with me as I think about what it means to give someone a quilt you’ve made. It’s not only the gift of a beautiful handmade object, but also the gift of time, attention, and memory. But Tomme’s quote also got me thinking about also what a gift it is to be among quilters. A diverse, resourceful, clever and–most definitely: generous!–group. Thank you for being so generous with your support and your stories this year. We can’t wait to keep celebrating quilts with you all again in 2022! Meg Cox Our first Giving Quilt story comes from Meg Cox, who tells us about the memory quilt she made for her granddaughter, Lucy. Jeanette Farmer In this Go Tell It! interview, Jeanette Farmer talks about a quilt she’s made for a local child experiencing homelessness. Making charity quilts to give to those in need is a perfect example of the generosity of quilters. Judy Whitson, QSOS interview Betty Jean Weaver, interviewer: Another question is how have you given quilts as gifts? Judy Whitson: Oh yes, I love to give. It is a sign that you really care for somebody when you give them a handmade item like a little baby quilt or a quilt for their bed or something, and it is more or less a memory quilt. I always put a signature block on there saying who it is for, the date, and who designed it and who made it, quilted. Starla Phelps Starla Phelps made this quilt for her husband — and it was the very first quilt she EVER made! Eliza Hardy Jones In season 3, episode 3, of our Running Stitch podcast, Janneken Smucker talks to musician and artist Eliza Hardy Jones about her quilts that interpret songs. They begin by talking about how Eliza began quilting: in the hopes of making gifts for friends and family. Steve Nabity Steve Nabity, then-CEO of Accuquilt, shared the moving story of this graduation quilt, made for his daughter. As he says in the interview, “every quilt has a story. Every quilt. And don’t take it for granted, because every quilt means something”. Kim Van Etten And our final Giving Quilt story: Kim Van Etten shares a quilt made by her grandmother, who gifted a quilt to more than 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As Kim says in the video, “she’s the reason I quilt”. Kim still uses her grandmother’s sewing machine to make her own quilts. Want more quilt stories? Visit our giving page now for three great examples of the work…

Teaching Kids to Quilt: Three Tips for Getting Started

The Quilt Alliance has always been dedicated to documenting the ‘now’ of quiltmaking. We record interviews with quiltmakers who are making quilts today, and who have shaped the long history of the quilting world. But we’re also excited about the future of quilting–which we hope is long and robust! That’s why last year we launched our KidsQuilt Quilting Kit–everything a kid (or anyone new to quilting!) needs to make their first quilt. The kit includes pre-printed wholecloth panels, a needle, thread, binding tape, instructions, and of course, a label and permanent archival pen. If you’ve got a kid in your life who might love to make their own quilt, we encourage you to get started teaching this future quiltmaker! There are a lot of ways to introduce kids to quilting, but it can be tricky to know how to get started. We looked back in our archives for interviews with kids, grandparents, teachers, and family members who shared their stories of quilting with kids. Here are just a few pieces of advice that we’ve learned from our oral history projects. As we say in our KidsQuilt instruction book, “there’s no wrong way to make a quilt when you’re just getting started!”, so we’d love to hear your stories and tips about quilting with kids. 1. Start small! Often, the biggest satisfaction comes from seeing a project all the way through from start to finish. One of the best ways to begin a kids quilting project is by starting small! Picking an easy, manageable project as a first foray into quilting has a lot of positives: it’s scaled for kids, portable, and can be easier to finish before little attention spans start to wander. This is why we picked a 10 x 10 inch block for our rainbow star KidsQuilt Kit. And just because it’s small doesn’t mean it’s not useful! Small quilts can be great as placemats, wall-hangings, potholders, doll quilts, a mat for Lego-creations, and other accessories for imaginative play. Quilter Kelly Anderson was in 5th grade when she made this 8.5 x 11 inch ladybug quilt that she talks about in her 2009 Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories interview. Here’s Kelly talking about her quilt, and the feeling she gets when her work is finished: Kelly Anderson: It was a quilt that I had made in about October. I used the iron on stuff and so then I ironed the patterns onto my quilt and then I just stitched around it to make it look nice. I dedicated the quilt to my Papa Lyn who had Alzheimer’s. It was in an auction just recently and it was sold for $100.00 and so I’m really proud of it… Karen Musgrave: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking. Kelly Anderson: I think it’s fun, I think it’s a way you can make express how you’re feeling and you can like show it off to friends and family. I like putting beads on my quilts. I also like looking at other people’s quilts because I think they are just so beautiful sometimes […] I like making them for family members and just having the feeling that they’re done and looking at them and seeing my mistakes and also the great things about them. Karen Musgrave: Is there any aspects of quiltmaking you don’t like? Kelly Anderson: Well, sometimes I don’t like how long it takes because sometimes you’ll get this great picture and sometimes it will just take quite a while, but then when its done its always really great. Read Kelly’s full interview here.  2. Let them pick what they love (even if it’s not what you love!) Even if the kids in your life aren’t interested yet in the actual construction of a quilt (and hey–I get it! Doing the actual quilting is my least favorite part, too!), they might love to work together to design a quilt. Bring them along to the quilt shop and let them exercise their creativity by picking their own fabrics or selecting a design. In her QSOS interview, quilter Toni Baumgard talks about making a quilt with her granddaughter, who selected a pattern that maybe wouldn’t have been Toni’s first choice. As Toni tells it, playing a role in designing the quilt made it even more special to her granddaughter. Toni Baumgard: All of the quilts that I have made have been given away. I always have made them for someone. Renee Jackson: And do you make a particular type of quilt? Toni Baumgard: Whatever the person wants. I’ll give you an example. My granddaughter was 9 and we went down and picked the material that she wanted, and she picked out that pattern which was the hardest, most complicated appliqué that you could ever imagine. We color keyed it in, and she still has that hanging in her room and she still loves that quilt. It meant a great deal to her to help me pick it out. Listen to Toni’s full interview here. 3. Pair your quiltmaking with philanthropy There aren’t many warmer, fuzzier feelings than giving away a quilt that you’ve made and watching the recipient’s face light up. Quilts can be amazing sources of comfort, memory, joy, and honor. Consider sharing that feeling with a kid in your life, and work together to make a quilt just for gifting. It’s a gift that keeps giving: a chance to be creative, to learn a new skill, and a great chance to teach about the power of community, sharing, charitable giving, and thoughtfulness. This might mean collaborating on a quilt for Quilts of Valor or a local hospital. Or making a doll quilt for a sibling’s favorite teddy bear. Making a quilt to give is a fantastic way to talk with kids about that warm, fuzzy feeling of giving something to someone else. Here’s an interview with Lindsey Kroening, who made a quilt with her grandmother for a neighbor and veteran: Go for it! Start quilting with a kid today! Quilt Alliance KidsQuilt Kits are available from our webshop here. They contain fabric, batting, binding, pins, needles, thread, a fabric marking pen, and full-color instructions–everything you need for a color mini-quilt all tucked into a sturdy canvas backpack. Another way you can help: Sponsor a KidsQuilt Quilting Kit! Make a $25 donation on our donation page here. In the order notes write “KidsQuilt Sponsorship.” We will ship a KidsQuilt kit to one of our nonprofit Museum and Community educational partners. A needy kid will be gifted the kit (with a Welcome to Quilting card) and matched with a volunteer as…