Sunday, May 29, 2022

Positivity 2022 QAL - Block Tutorial

This Block Tutorial post marks the beginning of the Positivity 2022 Quilt Along.  Although I shared the Sponsors & Prizes, the QAL Schedule and the Fabric Requirements earlier, this is the post where you can actually get started!!!

I am so very excited. But first - a disclaimer. 

Please note that the block itself is not new. But this method of making this block is my very own. 
Think of it this way - I did not discover New York, but I am the driver of this new superfast overnight train to New York (or Chicago, in case you live in New York).

If this irks you for whatever reason, and you wish to chastise me, please leave now. Thank you. 

If you are still here, I love you so much. Let's proceed to the block construction. Using this method, we will make the blocks in pairs (two at a time).

Fabrics for two blocks
Background Fabric (Gray) - One 5" square, Two rectangles 2.5" by 5", Two rectangles 2.5" by 9"
Focus Fabric (Turquoise) - One 5" square, Two rectangles 2.5" by 5", Two rectangles 2.5" by 9"

Directions for two blocks
A. Frame each 5" square with the contrasting fabric.
  • Sew the two background rectangles (2.5" by 5") on opposite sides of the 5" square of focus fabric. Press and trim. 
  • Sew the two longer background rectangles (2.5" by 9") on the remaining two sides of the focus fabric square unit we created in the step above.  Press and set aside.
  • Sew the two focus fabric rectangles (2.5" by 5") on opposite sides of the 5" square of background fabric. Press and trim.
  • Sew the two longer focus fabric rectangles (2.5" by 9") on the remaining two sides of the background fabric square unit we created in the step above. Press.
Square each unit to 9" by 9".

B. Now we will cut these two units into quarters.

C. In the next step we will take two quarters from the left + two quarters from the right to construct our final block. 

Repeat with the remaining four quarter units to construct the second block. The blocks should measure 8.5" square.
Please make sure that the focus fabrics are on the inside.  It is easy to make an inside-out block (where the focus fabric and background fabrics are reversed). 

We want to keep all blocks with focus fabrics on the inside (background fabric outside) to create the tessellation effect in the completed top.  

In the pictures below, you can see my audition blocks. Always a good idea to make a couple of trial blocks before we dive head first into making 80 :-D

Focus Fabric Center

Background Square in the Center

Two sides stitched

Two sides stitched

Ready to press and trim

Both units squared to 9"

These look pretty good. If you wish to stop here and make your entire quilt using just these framed blocks, it is completely acceptable. But I digress. Getting back on track.

Cut into quarters

Cut into quarters

Two stacks 

Taking two units from each stack, we construct our final blocks. Sew them like a 4-patch, but watch the direction of the fabrics - focus fabrics meeting in the middle, background on the corners.

First block comes together :-)

Two blocks, squared to 8.5"

Do a happy dance!!! Or shall I say do the twist? 
We have a month to make our 80 blocks. The finished flimsy linky party is not until July 17, 2022.

Plenty of time? What do you think?
I will be sharing with all my favorite linky parties. See full list on the sidebar. 

I have combined the block instructions, layout options and fabric requirements from the 2021 QAL into a downloadable PDF, available on my Etsy Store.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Positivity 2022 QAL - Fabric Requirements

Fabric Requirements
The cut block is 8.5" square. The finished block is 8" square. 
Our completed quilt will be about 64" by 80". We need 80 blocks, arranged 8 across by 10 down.

To make 80 blocks, we will need the following.
Background Fabric - 3 yards. If you wish to make binding from the same fabric, get 3.25 yards. 
Focus Fabric - One Layer Cake/Stack (Set of 40 squares of 10" side) OR 14 fat quarters OR 10 fabrics, 10" by width of fabric.

The following table is our ultimate destination. 

But let's take a scenic route :-) 

Choosing Fabrics
It is very important that the background fabric has a good contrast with our focus fabric. I believe that most of us understand contrast (light vs. dark). However, if you are new to quilting or just need a refresher, you may read this post from the QAL in 2021.

Usually a Layer Cake has 42 squares. Remove the ones that will have a poor/subtle contrast with the background fabric. If you end up removing more than two squares, you may substitute similar/matching fabrics from your stash to get to 40. I have done this many times. No one will ever know :-)

Let's look at a few examples. Since I am an Island Batik ambassador, I will be using some of the Island Batik's 10" Squares as examples. 

This is the Calm Lagoon collection from Summer 2021 by Kathy Engle for Sherry Shish of Powered by Quilting.  If I were to use this collection, I would choose a white background and I would remove the fabric in the top left square. Everything else should work beautifully with a white background.

This is the Celestials collection from Summer 2021 by Kathy Engle.  Gosh, I love this collection for its range as it includes fabrics from very light to very dark. I would use a white background and get rid of the fabric in the top left square. How would a green background look? Hmmm...

This is a beautiful collection named Constellations, also from Summer 2021, designed by Kathy Engle for Kari Nichols.  As much as I love this collection, it is a bit problematic. All the fabric in the top row will have a poor contrast with a white background and all the fabrics in the bottom row will not look good against a black background. If I were to use this collection, I would choose a medium gray background.

This is the Flutter Fly collection from Spring 2021, designed by Kathy Engle.  Every fabric would work
beautifully with a white background.

This is Free to Fly collection from Spring 2021, designed by Kathy Engle. If I were to use this collection, I would use a black/dark charcoal background and all fabrics would sing :-)

This is Midnight Dazzle from Spring 2021, designed by Kathy Engle. And dazzle it does. A white background would work perfectly.

This is Sail Away collection from Summer 2021, designed by Kathy Engle.  This would be perfect for a Quilt of Valor, with a few changes. I would use a white background but not use the fabrics in the top row.  Either add another set of 10" squares, or use red fabrics from the Island Batik Basics.

This is the Sea Glass collection from Summer 2021, designed by Kathy Engle for Karen Overton.  I would replace the fabrics in the top row with aqua/green (or even blue) fabrics from the Island Batik Basics and use a white background. It would be gorgeous! Or I could use a black background and remove the fabric in the bottom right square. That would work too. 

This is Stick and Stones collection from Spring 2021, designed by Kathy Engle for Jean Wells.  So masculine, so different. I would use a medium turquoise or a green background.  Orange if my passions were ignited!

This is Twilight Glow collection from Summer 2021 by Kathy Engle. I love this collection and it would look beautiful against a white background.

I hope that was helpful and you have picked out your fabrics and background. Let's get to the next stop in our scenic journey.

Cutting Directions
Background Fabric
  • Cut five strips 5" by width of fabric (at least 40"). Subcut each strip into 5" squares. You should get eight squares per strip. We need 40 squares of 5" side.
  • Cut five strips 9" by width of fabric (at least 40"). Subcut each strip into 2.5" sections. You should get 16 rectangles (2.5" by 9") from each strip.  We need 80.
  • Cut five strips 5" by width of fabric (at least 40"). Subcut each strip into 2.5" sections. You should get 16 rectangles (2.5" by 5") from each strip.  We need 80.
Check you have the following:
40 squares - 5" side
80 rectangles - 2.5" by 9"
80 rectangles - 2.5" by 5"

Focus Fabric
If you are using a pack of 10" squares, cut each square as shown in the graphic below.
Cutting Diagram for a 10" Square

  • First Cut - Cut a 2.5" by 10" strip and set aside.
  • Second Cut - Cut a second 2.5" by 10" strip and keep it with the strip from first cut.
  • Third Cut - From the remaining, cut a 5" by 2.5" strip and add it to the cut strips.
  • Fourth Cut - Cut a second 5" by 2.5" strip and add to the above cut strips.
You will be left with a 5" square of fabric. Set this in a separate pile.
Similarly cut up each of the 40 squares - 5" squares in one pile and the 2.5" strips in a second pile.

If you have a fat quarter bundle (you will need at least 14 fat quarters), here is how to cut it up. 
Iron the fat quarter to remove all creases and set it on the cutting mat, aligning with the lines on the mat, such that the short edges (18") are on the top and bottom. 

Cutting Diagram for a Fat Quarter (18" by 21")

  • Make the first cut 10" from the top. Set it aside for a bit.  
  • Make the second cut 7.5" from the just cut edge. Save the leftover strip on the bottom (18" by 3.5") in your scrap basket. Subcut the 7.5" by 18" (yellow) unit into six sections (9" by 2.5") as shown in the cutting diagram.
  • Now subcut the top 10" by 18"(green) unit into three squares of 5" side, and six rectangles 5" by 2.5", as shown in the cutting diagram.  Save the 3.5" by 10" strip in your scrap basket.
As you can see, cutting up the fat quarter is not very efficient but if you have a FQ bundle and do not wish to purchase more fabric, this is the best way to cut it up. The leftover scraps are large enough for use in another project. Similarly cut up all of the remaining fat quarters. You will have some extras. Like I said, not very efficient, but no purchase required.

If you are using fabrics from your stash, I suggest at least ten different fabrics, 10" by width of fabric (at least 40"). From each fabric, cut four squares of 10" side. You should have a set of 40 squares of 10" side.  Cut each square as shown in the Cutting Diagram for a 10" Square. 

However you sourced your focus fabric (stash, pre-cuts or scraps), you should have the following:

We will combine the focus fabric squares with background strips and background squares with focus fabric strips in the next blogpost - Block Tutorial.  Coming very soon!!!

Is anything unclear. Do you have a question? 
Ask away and I will answer in the comments so that all can see.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Positivity 2022 - Schedule

Dear Quiltmakers,

Thank you for joining the Positivity QAL.  Here is a suggested schedule for the QAL so that you can pace yourself and stay on track.  There will be three linky parties, shown in red below. 

1. May 29, 2022 - QAL Launch - Block Tutorial and Fabric Requirements

2. June 5, 2022 - Finalize your fabric picks, block and layout etc.

3. June 12, 2022 -  Complete cutting fabrics

4. June 19, 2022 - Complete Blocks 1-20

5. June 26, 2022 - Complete Blocks 21 - 40. Linky Party to share your progress

6. July 3, 2022  -   Complete Blocks 41 - 60

7. July 10, 2022  - Complete Blocks 61 - 80

8. July 17, 2022  - Share Finished Flimsy. Linky Party Participation Required for Prizes

9. July 24, 2022  -  Level 1 Prizes Announced. Make the Binding

10. July 31, 2022 - Piece the Backing. Complete basting your quilt tops.

11. August 7, 2022  - Quilting in progress

12. August 14, 2022 - Complete Quilting and Attach Binding

13. August 21, 2022  - Share Finished Quilts. Mail Finished Quilts to Patty (Our Contact at the Mercy Hospital). Linky Party Participation Required for Prizes

14. August 28, 2022 - We rest and wait for quilts to reach their destination.

15. September 4, 2022 - Level 2 Prizes Announced. 

It is a relaxed schedule. If you have to vote in the school board elections, attend a protest march or care for a loved one, adjust accordingly.

It seems like a lot to remember. Two dates are important. 
July 17 - Finished Flimsy deadline & Linky Party and 
August 21 - Completed Quilt deadline & Linky Party.

      Questions? Sure. Ask away. I will answer in comments :-)

The Positivity QAL 2022 - Sponsors and Prizes

I am thrilled to announce the generous sponsors for the Positivity 2022 Quilt Along to make Mercyful Quilts. There is a lot of information here, so you may want to bookmark this page.

If you are new to the Positivity QAL or have not heard of Mercyful Quilts, you may have some questions. Well, I have answers :-)

What is a Mercyful Quilt?
The Palliative Care Unit in the Mercy Hospital gives quilts to their terminally ill patients to bring some measure of comfort to the person and their family as they go through the difficult process of dying. The family then keeps the quilt in the memory of the deceased. The need for such quilts is never ending. With a raging pandemic and limited family visits, these quilts have become even more meaningful for a sense of home and peace.
  • Suggested size - 60" by 80"
  • Suggested Colors - Gender Neutral colors (avoid/limit pink)
  • Quilting - Avoid dense quilting
  • Fabrics - 100% Cotton (avoid/limit juvenile fabrics) 

What is the purpose of the QAL?
To make Mercyful Quilts because the need is ongoing. If you have wanted to make a Mercyful Quilt but life got in the way, here is an opportunity to participate and stitch some love, along with others. 

The Beginning of Mercyful Quilts Initiative

Thank you from Mercy Hospital

Mercyful Quilts Update

Wrapped with Kindness (may need tissues)

A Note from Mercy Hospital

What does it cost?
There is no cost to participate. The block pattern, the layout options and the fabric requirements are provided free of charge. 

How much fabric do I need? 
I am using a precut (a pack of 40 squares of 10" side) plus 3 yards for background.  If you wish to use your stash, I suggest 10 different fabrics, 10" by width of fabric each, plus 3 yards of background. If you wish to use fat quarters, you will need 14 fat quarters, plus 3 yards of background fabric.
The backing and binding will be extra. 

What is the QAL schedule?
The QAL will begin on Sunday, May 29, 2022 (Memorial Day Weekend) and will end on Sunday, September 4, 2022 (Labor Day Weekend). 

Where do I send the completed quilt? 
Once you have completed the quilt, please send me an email at with a picture of the completed quilt, requesting the mailing address. I will email the address to you. Since there is no sign-up or registration, this is the only way we can keep track of the quilts, while protecting Patty's (the Mercyful Quilts collector) privacy.

Ask away and I will respond in the comments.

Here are the gifts/prizes we have gleefully secured for the Positivity 2022 QAL. Kudos to the sponsors!!!

LEVEL 1 (Flimsy)
All QAL participants (anywhere in the world) who link up their finished flimsies will be entered to win one of the following Level 1 prizes
1. One Gift card worth $12 from Yvonne of Quilting JetGirl so you may pick a pattern of your choice from her store.
2. One PDF pattern of your choice from Jayne of Twiggy and Opal
3. One PDF pattern of your choice from Vasudha of Storied Quilts
4. One PDF pattern of your choice from Vicki of Patterns by Vicki
5. One PDF pattern of your choice from Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation
6. One PDF pattern from Sally Manke, the fibre artist. Check out her shop.

One grand prize is "Quilting by Joy".  This is a special prize open to those US residents who are comfortable with piecing and wish to participate in the QAL but do not (or cannot) quilt.  The winner will send the finished flimsy (plus backing and binding) to Joy for quilting. 

Joy will provide the batting and has generously agreed to bind it too, in order to save on time and shipping costs. 

If you are a piecer but not a quilter, and do not win the grand prize, Alycia is offering a discount on quilting services, for the Positivity 2022 QAL.  Please contact her directly for pricing and turnaround times. You will still be responsible for binding and shipping.

LEVEL 2 (Quilt)
All QAL participants (in the US) who send their completed quilts to Patty will be entered to win one of the Level 2 prizes
1. One fabric bundle from from Art Gallery Fabrics
2. One fabric bundle from Island Batik
3. One fabric pre-cut from Benartex
4. One fabric bundle from Benartex
5. One fabric bundle from Benartex

If you wish to participate in the QAL, but live outside the US, you are welcome. We are thrilled that you are joining us.  We urge that you find a worthy cause locally. Please do not ship internationally. It is expensive and there is no guarantee when or whether it will reach its intended destination.  Although you will not be eligible for the  Level 2 Prizes, you can still win one of the Level 1 Prizes.

If you have questions, please ask and I will respond in the comments.

What did I miss?

Hello quiltmakers,

I am back from my trip to India. Mom's surgery went well and she is on the road to recovery. I appreciate your kind thoughts and warm wishes. 

Although my visit wasn't a vacation and I stayed home (near the A/C) due to the heat, my friends (Ruby and Savita) visited me. I felt spoiled with spicy food and sweet mangoes. 

Happy to see you :-)

Veggie Delight (Don't ask me the English name)

Vanilla icecream with fresh mangoes

The Indian street food that I loved would most certainly kill me now. So Meetu recreated it for me at home. Pizzas in India are tiny but loaded with tandoori flavors. 

Street Food, made at home :-)

Regular Phone, Tiny Pizza

My drive home

As much I enjoyed spending time with mom and being there for her, I am thrilled to return home. When I left on May 1, I was still smarting from the all the anti-LGBTQ legislations attacking already marginalized groups.  As soon as I landed in India, I heard the terrible news about the Supreme Court's stance on reproductive rights. While most of the world progresses, America slides into the dark ages. 

According to the current (conservative leaning) Supreme Court, reproductive rights are not included in the Constitution and therefore should be left up to the individual states.  Although this argument may seem simple and straightforward, it sets a chilling precedent. Do you know what else is NOT included in the Constitution? The right to privacy and therefore by extension the right to contraception, the right to same sex marriage and the right to interracial marriage.  Imagine a scenario where my marriage to Paul is deemed illegal.

"Undoing Roe v. Wade and eliminating the right to abortion access opens up the door to dismantling other rights that have previously been protected under that implied right to privacy. That can include the right to same-sex marriage and interracial marriage..." Jean Bae, visiting associate professor of public health policy and management at NYU School of Global Public Health.

Of course, these Supreme Court justices would assure us that this (overturning) is limited to Roe v. Wade but then these are the same people who said (in their confirmation hearings) that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and that they respect the laws of the land. Their partisan slips are showing. I do not trust them.

If a Positivity QAL was a good idea in 2021, it is an absolute must in 2022. 

Positivity QAL begins May 29, 2022

Our reproductive rights are on the chopping block. America refuses to acknowledge her racist past and the growing threat of white supremacy threatens our communities, or peace and our sanity, while the Supreme Court has washed its hands of most responsibility. 

So we will do what we have always done - sew and quilt, support and vote, protest and march. With renewed fervor!!!

There is much to do after a long trip - unpacking, laundry, groceries etc.  But I am ignoring all those pesky tasks and working frantically to set up the Positivity 2022 Quilt Along. Bernie is spearheading the effort to get sponsors and prizes, while I write the tutorial and calculate fabric requirements.

To avoid confusion, I will take down the posts from last year's QAL, with one exception.  I will compile the 2021 block tutorials, layout options and fabric requirements into a PDF and make it available separately. 

Coming soon - Positivity QAL 2022 - Sponsors and Prizes and Positivity QAL 2022 - Complete Schedule.

In the mean time, please read this article

Also gathering my green scraps for the RSC color for May is Bright Green. 

May is Green!

I will be sharing with all my favorite linky parties, including Angela's RSC Linky.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Mari's Star - Tutorial for Hands to Help

Mari was feeling overwhelmed. 
I was only too happy to lend a helping hand. After all, this tutorial is for Hands to Help :-)

If you have a layer cake in your stash, that hasn't found a perfect quilt, this is for you. Usually Layer Cakes have 20 fabrics, two squares of each fabric for a total of 40 squares. Of course you don't need a layer cake to make this block. 

This tutorial is in two parts. In Part 1, we will make the four identical units. In Part 2, we will look at ways to make blocks from those units.

PART 1 - Making the units

Focus fabric 
One square 9.5"
One rectangle 5" by 10"
(Or you could use two identical squares from a layer cake, as shown in the pictures below.)

One rectangle 5" by 10"

10" square of focus fabric (if using a layer cake square)

1. Cut the 10" square of focus fabric (if using a layer cake) into half for two rectangles 5" by 10". Set one aside.

Cut into half, two rectangles 5" by 10"

2. Pair the other rectangle with a 5" by 10" rectangle of background fabric and sew along the length. Press seams open.

Focus Fabric Rectangle paired with Background Rectangle

Stitched and Pressed

3. Cut this unit into half as shown below. Turn around one half and stitch together to make a 4-patch block. Press seams open and square to 9.5".

Cut in half

Turned around

4-patch block, 9.5" square

4. Take the 9.5" square of focus fabric and place right sides together with the 4-patch block. Stitch along all four sides. Cut on both diagonals to get four units.

Trim to 9.5" square (if using a layer cake square)

Place right sides together with the 4-patch block

Stitched on all four sides

Cut on the diagonal, twice

5. The next step shows how to trim these units. 
  • Align the diagonal seams of the block with the 45 degree lines on the cutting mat. See picture below. Your block should lie fully within a 7" square on the mat.

    Align the seams with the diagonal lines on the mat

  • Trim the two sides first, making sure that you trim exactly half inch inside from the edge of the 7" square. 
Trim sides first
  • Then trim exactly 6" from the background edge of the unit. See picture below.
Trim 6" away from the background edge
  • Do not trim the edge with the background fabric. This is very important, if you wish to maintain your points. 
Similarly trim all four units. 

PART 2 - Assembling the units
There are two basic ways to assemble these four units. We could arrange them in a 4-patch or in a 9-patch. See options below.

4-patch options (11" finished block)


In my opinion, this Swirl Block looks dense in the center. If you agree, you can snowball the inside corners, as shown in the following two pictures.  

Swirl with Snowballed Inside Corners

Swirl with Bowtie Center

Other options with four units continue.


Peaks and Valleys

Arrange them as shown and sew like a 4-patch. Square to 11.5". 

9-patch option (16.5" finished block)

Using the four units and four background squares (6") plus one square of contrasting fabric (6"), arrange as shown.

Star Block

Pin at the seams and sew like a 9-patch block.


Square at 17"

Points safely away from the edge

If you followed the cutting instructions, you will notice that the star points are more than a 1/4" away from the edge, ensuring that they will not be cut off even when you sew a full 1/4" seam.

This is my favorite block to make from this method. Do you have a favorite? 

Please note that since the blocks are on a bias, there will be some wonkiness. It is okay to be imperfect. 

  • Nine blocks (arranged 3 by 3) will make a baby quilt. 
  • 20 blocks (4 by 5) will make a Lap/Throw/Mercyful Quilt.

Questions? Ask away and I will answer here so that all can see.