Monthly Archives: February 2012

“Missing Rail” Tutorial


I made this quilt for my friends and their little girl (who should be here any second!), using those brilliant prints – Mendocino by Heather Ross. I’d been holding onto the fabrics for a while and I finally figured out what was stopping me from really getting down to working with them – variety. Somehow I’d managed to only get the fabrics with light or white colored backgrounds – mermaid on white, octopuses on pale pink, etc. The moment I added some more color to them, BAM! I had a quilt.

Quilt for Jenna, Brad & Baby bean

The block is a really simple one, but with near endless possibilities. It’s no secret that I love a rail fence quilt and this is my variation on the simple rail fence block. I played with calling it a “split rail fence” but I like “Missing Rail” – it makes me imagine little kids peering through a gap in a fence that their ball just went over.

This tutorial makes 24 blocks – 4 more than you need to make the quilt I made.  You can use the blocks on the back of the quilt, make a pillow from them or just make the quilt larger.

To start, you need a quarter yard (either fat or skinny) of 8 different coordinating fabrics.  In addition, you’ll need a quarter yard (not fat) of white for the vertical sashing, & some fabric for binding and backing.

Start by cutting out 3 pieces of each fabric that measure 8 ½” x 9 ½”

fabric size

You can do this next bit using the stack and whack method – stack up all your like-colored pieces and cut them so that you have 3 new slices: one that is 8 ½” x 4 ½” and two that are 8 ½” x 2 ½”

fabric slices

Mix up that middle 2 ½” slice so that they are randomly paired with a matching 4 ½” and 2 ½” piece and sew them back together to form 8 ½” squares.

finished block

My sashing is made from 2 ½” strips of white cotton and the blocks are only sashed in one direction (vertical)

You can mix up your blocks however you like, mine are turned both horizontally and vertically, but the variations are endless:

My suggestion:

No sashing, all blocks turned vertically:

Only two colors, blocks turned 180 degrees each iteration:

On my sewing table right now:

I’m trying out a new (to me) free motion quilting design on this baby quilt. It’s called “Trailing Spirals“. What do you think?

Trailing Spirals

Are you envious?

I finished my Envy blocks for the February 2012 Nubees Swap! I really didn’t think I would get them done so quickly, but I started sewing last night and just couldn’t bring myself to stop until I was done.  I’m really loving the look of the Envy block.


I had a little bit of trouble with the block initially – turns out the needle wasn’t centered in my sewing machine’s throat plate so I was sewing more than a quarter inch seam allowance without even realizing.  I ended up over-compensating and so the blocks all had to be trimmed down, but this is both good an bad — bad is that I had an extra step to do to clean up the edges, but good is that my swapping partners will be receiving perfectly shaped 12 1/2″ blocks with perfect edges. :-)

Swappin’ it up in 2012

I’ve decided that I really need to connect with more quilters, like-minded or otherwise.  I follow several blogs of friends, casual aquaintences, and people I don’t actually know  – you can find that list over here on the right —>

But, I don’t really chat much with those folks.  And I’ve been missing having a sewing buddy.  To that end, I’ve opted to join some swaps!  Years ago I used to participate in swaps through several lists on yahoogroups.  I’m still on those lists but over the years they have become less and less and less active.  I’ve done a few other swaps, in the mean and in between time, via the Quilt Art mailing list and some ladies on there.  But I think I was missing the connection part, where you get to talk about what you are working on and show them pictures and, well, make friends.

Imagine my shock to discover a booming community of swappers on flickr?  I mean, what a strange place to encounter this kind of activity.  And yet, it’s strangely fitting.  I feel a little like the last one to arrive at a party and they started the games without me.  Inserting myself feels complicated and uncomfortable, but I think I’ve found a few groups where I feel less complicated and uncomfortable.  But anyway…

The first swap I’m taking part is a group that swaps blocks monthly: Nubees.  There’s a website and such coming soon.  I’ve already chosen my fabrics and the block I’ll be making for each of my swap partners:

Nubees swap block sample & fabric pics

The block in the center is using my colors (purple, orange, teal & yellow) and the fabrics around the edges are the fabrics I’ve chosen for my partners in their selected color pallets. The block is “Envy” from Modern Blocks, which I received as a Christmas gift this year.

Next up, I’ll be participating in the Doll Quilt Swap cycle 12!.  It’s a blind swap – you make and send a small “doll” quilt to someone  who doesn’t know who you are and you receive the same in return.  I received my name this morning, so now I have to start stalking my partner and find out what they like!    I’m very excited about this one.  My quilt wall could use some serious refreshing.  That one is due to be sent on April 2ndish.  Expect to see some blog posts about it.  I have nothing to show for that one yet, but I’ll get there soon!