Rock Valley Quilters and the Pieced Borders Workshop

It’s my Pieced Borders workshop for the Rock Valley Quilters in Janesville, Wisconsin.  This group has just completed the warm-up units, Half Square Triangles and Four Patches, and are ready to move on to more great units that can all be made from 5″ squares of fabrics!

Workshop participants

Before they get started on the next unit I bring everyone up to the demo table and walk them through the construction process.  In this staged photo (I’m normally caught with a really unattractive expression on my face while I am talking) I’m pointing out many fun borders they can turn their Hourglass units into!

Demo Table

How I love pot luck lunches!  A shortage of counter space and an abundance of food required transforming this ironing board into a dessert table.

Overflow of goodies

I am looking forward to seeing some fun Pieced Nickel Borders from this group in the future!


Pieced Border Options

This is the quilt I’m sleeping under on this trip.  I can’t help but smile when I walk into the hotel room and see one of my quilts on the bed. It’s the traditional Kansas Troubles block and I put a great pieced Nickel Border on it. I don’t have this quilt in any of my books or published patterns; I don’t really consider it a Nickel Quilt.  Having said that, this then is a good example for the fact that you can put a pieced Nickel Border on any quilt!

Kansas Troubles

Below is a close-up of the piece border on this quilt.  It’s made up of Picket Fence units; they have so many great design possibilities. This border option and many more are in my Nickel Quilts & Borders book.

Border Kansas Troubles

I’m teaching my Pieced Borders workshop a couple of times on this trip and one thing I always like to point out in the class is that any time you make a pieced border that is directional, be sure to flip the border and see what it looks like pointing in the opposite direction. Below is my Four Patch Plaid quilt from my first Nickel Quilt book.  I am using the same picket fence pieced border, but now the border is pointing in towards the quilt.

Four Patch Plaid

Close-up of the pieced border on Four Patch Plaid.

Border Four Patch Plaid

Now a closer look at how I turned the corners on the pieced borders.  With Kansas Troubles I felt that a Three Patch unit with a dark square in the corner was the perfect way to turn the corners.

Corner Kansas Troubles

For Four Patch Plaid, even though I used the very same border, it’s just pointed in towards the quilt, I felt that turning the corner with a four patch was the perfect option.

Corner Four Patch Plaid

So try out different pieced border options and audition different units to turn those corners.  And most of all, have fun!


Putting Binding on the Turnabout Quilt

I’m home for two weeks this time between teaching trips so I had time to get the Turnabout quilt ready for binding.  Here is the quilt off of the longarm machine, the extra backing and batting has been trimmed away.

ready for binding

I already had the binding sewn together and pressed.


I’ve sewn the binding on by machine and now I’ve started on the handwork.  It’s a perfect project for me to work in the evening especially since the temperatures in Saint Paul have been getting down into the 50’s at night!

binding in progress

Here is a look at the fun backing I picked out to go on this quilt.


This quilt has been so fun to make and guess what? I’ve already started on my next one!


Flying Geese

Starting on some test blocks for the perpetual calendar of 366 quilt blocks which use 5″ squares that I’m writing, I’ve realized it would be fun to share these blocks with you! By the time I’m done with some of this testing I will have enough blocks for a sampler quilt – so join in this with me and make your own Nickel Quilt sampler!

I also thought that having one blog post devoted to a basic unit would be a good idea, that way when a unit is repeated in another block I won’t have to enter all that basic information again, I’ll just refer you back to that day.

So today’s basic unit is Flying Geese

1. Select 5″ squares for the large triangles in the flying-geese units and trim 1/2″ from one edge.  In the opposite direction, cut the trimmed piece in half so that the two resulting pieces each measure 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″.  You could also cut these rectangles from 2 1/2″ strips.

2. Cut a light 5″ square into four 2 1/2″ squares. Yes – these squares could also be cut from 2 1/2″ strips.  Draw diagonal lines on the wrong sides of the 2 1/2″ squares.

3. With right sides together, place the marked square on top of a 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangle at the right-hand edge. Stitch one thread width to the outside of the diagonal line (towards the corner you are going to cut away).

If you would like to make use of the waste triangles this is a good time to sew another seam about 1/2″ away from the first seam (toward the corner you are going to cut away).

4. Fold back the seam toward the small triangle and check the alignment of the triangle with the edge of the rectangle.

5. After the alignment has been checked, trim away the waste triangle and press the seam open.

6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 to add a square to the left-hand edge of each rectangle.  Each flying-geese unit should measure 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ unfinished.

What we are looking for on this unit are nice points in the lower corners and a 1/4″ seam allowance at the top edge which will give us another nice point when this unit is sewn to something else.  For years I made these units and pressed the seam towards the smaller triangles, but when I started on the Nickel Quilts & Borders book I made the switch to pressing those seams open and those are the instructions I have given you here.

We will be using these in a block soon!