Christmas Cardinal Block

Yesterday I showed you a peak of my Christmas Cardinal Block I was working on.  It was such a cheery block to work with, I just could not “stop” and wait until the Queen Bees gathering on Tuesday.  My husband is still laughing because I was “working ahead” of the bee project!

Cardinals are said to mate for life, and I don’t want an odd number! I finished up the first block and cut enough fabric to make at least 2 or 3 more.  Those pieces will hold until Tuesday for our bee gathering.  

The FREE PATTERN source for the Cardinal block — Mom and Pop Quilt shop

The block was  designed for a Christmas 2017 quilt.  All the specifics are on the link above. Laura-Lynn of Mom & Pop Quilt Shop even wrote a nice comment on yesterday’s blog post and included a you-tube video link   She does videos all the time and has a 48 minute video talking about the construction of the block. Laura-Lynn’s videos make me feel like I am sitting in her sewing room with her, as she chats and laughs while she sews!

Anyway, I thought I would share a little bit more about my first cardinal block.  I decided the block would be incorporated into a pillow.  I sized everything for an 18″ pillow, and used the “envelope style” for ease of stuffing and unstuffing of the pillow form or one of my every day pillows.

Envelope style back

Since it will be a Christmas decoration, I want the ability to pack it away flat after the holiday.  I will probably slip my existing sofa pillows into the cushion cover.

The block finished at 12″ and I added a borders before quilting.  I really wanted the bird to “pop”, so after I cut my muslin and cotton batting I slipped 2 more layers of wool batting under the area of the bird.  Once I did some outline quilting of the bird, I folded back the square and trimmed along the edges.  Then I smoothed out the square and did my quilting around the bird.  Once that was all done, I changed to a variegated red  Superior thread and did some quilting on the bird body.  For the beak I switched thread  again, and used some of my embroidery machine thread in gold and black.  Last but not least was  how to make the eye of the cardinal.  I don’t do hand embroidery, so  I dumped out the button box and dug for “just the right” button.  (Note….I am making more pillows, so I held out a “bunch” of those “just the right buttons”.  No, they won’t be the same.  Each will be unique!)   I looked online at a lot of photos of Cardinals to decide just where to place the eye, and to get a look at the way their feathers lay before I quilted!  Those photos led me to pick a button with gold around the edge.

quilted and ready to trim

Once the quilting was finished,  and the button sewn on for the eye, I trimmed off the excess batting and muslin.  (Note, I used the muslin so the inside of the pillow would be smooth)

Here is a close-up of the bird – You can see how I quilted his body.  The addition of the extra 2 layers of batting give the cardinal a plump look.

Cardinal Close-up

The pillow form was inserted and I think I got the look I was after.

Cardinal Pillow finished

I now have a pair of 18″ Christmas pillows from this line of Moda Christmas TOLE fabric.  I bought several yards of the coordinating fabric a few years ago to make 6 Star Christmas pillow slip covers for my daughter.  You might remember I had trouble with one pillow and the markings from a pencil, and had to “remake” her 6th pillow.  So, I ended up with 1 star pillow.   I can STILL see those faint lines from the silver quilt marking pencil, but from a galloping horse it blurs into the background.  The following Christmas I made her a table runner with the same star pattern.  (I linked to it yesterday).   Because I still have several yards left, I chose this fabric for the project.  The body of the cardinal is from red scraps of varying origins and vintages. The selvage was on the red holly leave and was from 1992! While looking at the Moda Tole fabric,  I looked at the sale ticket from the original Moda fabric purchase – 2016. 

Cardinal and Star

In one of the comments yesterday, Quilting Nurse asked if it was a hard pattern to make.  I must say I found it fun and easy!  I mentioned to her a couple of things.  I think the cutting instructions I had could be improved.  The pattern had us cut squares at 2 7/8 for the half square triangles (HST), and 3 1/4″ for the beak quarter square triangles (QST).  I don’t know about you but I like even 1/2 ” increments.    My suggestion is to cut for your favorite method of making a 2.5″ HST.  Some people like to make the 8 at a time method.  I like to cut my HST base pieces at 3″ and construct, and trim to 2.5″ with the June Tailor Perfect Half Square/Quarter Square Triangle ruler.  Others might be using Bonnie Hunter’s methods with strips and the easy angle or Deb Tucker’s method.  Which every way you do it, cut so you have a 2.5″ HST when it is done.   All the squares in the basic block are 2.5″ before being sewn into rows!  Bottom line, I would rather trim than come up short of HST & QST.   So, before you start cutting, decide your “best method” and adjust accordingly.

I will be taking my first bird for show and tell, and doing some more construction during the Queen Bee’s gathering on Tuesday.    If you make one of these Cardinal blocks, tell me what you will do with it.  Wall hanging, table runner, quilt???   Share your photo’s.  Have fun stitching!




Busy times in May


Binding wrapped around a cardboard tube, and on my thread spool holder. Great way to keep it off the floor!

Last week was crazy busy!  It was a week of learning!

Monday was our monthly Quilt Guild meeting and luncheon. Tuesday a class with the guild – “Sewing with Silk”; Wednesday – 2 quilts to bind for church; Thursday a guild board meeting and a leadership training event at church and Friday….binding to rip out and re-do (refer to Wednesday!). Saturday, rebind 1 quilt (refer to Friday)…and Sunday was Mother’s day and a 3rd quilt to bind. Whew…..Somewhere along the line we visited some friends, and had a quilt buddy over to work through her project.  And then Monday, a trip to church to help another friend pin baste a king size quilt.

Want to hear about the 1 quilt I had to rip out the binding on?  Going to tell you my story of woe…..It is the story of Quilt # 2…..

I love doing that binding with a flange (piping) from the tutorial called Susies Magic Binding –52 Quilts in 52 Weeks: Tuesday Tutorial: Susie’s Magic Binding  .  It has become my “go to” binding because it looks so cool.  I recently did the table runner (5 minute block) and the t-shirt memory quilt using this method.

Well…let me tell you  the story.  Quilt # 1; PERFECT.  Quilt # 2; NOT….why I wondered what was different.  It turns out, it was all in the way the quilt had been trimmed by the long-armer. Quilt # 1 was trimmed to the edge of the top.  Quilt # 2 was not.  She didn’t do anything wrong…she trimmed it for hand sewn on the back binding; leaving about 1/2″ of backing and batting past the edge of the quilt front.

My lesson was TRIM to the edge of the quilt if you are doing Susie’s Magic binding. I didn’t trim QUILT # 2,   I had shifted my needle over to the left to make sure I was catching the top when I was stitching the binding on the back of the quilt.

So, when I rolled my binding to the front…..and stitched it down…I thought I was fine, but I was barely catching the very edge of the blocks.  As I looked the quilt over when I finished the binding on Wednesday evening, I was horrified to see the binding pulling away.

So; lots of “froggin”….rip it ….rip it…. Originally, I thought I could fix it, and after 2 or 3 tries, I decided the best bet was remove, trim and redo the binding!!  Rippin out 2 lines of stitching….(and of course, my setting for my 1/4” is a shorter stitch….)

So, by Friday evening, I had the binding totally off, and thrown in the trash.  New binding made, quilt trimmed properly for this type of binding!  Saturday evening, the binding was on and looked great.

GREAT lesson.   I delivered both quilts to church on Sunday and brought Quilt # 3 home to bind, and delivered it back on Monday morning.   Now, all 3 of our senior quilts have a binding that is the same.  Hubby was worried that one would be different, which is what prompted me to volunteer to do #3.


Susie’s Magic Binding. Love that little pink edge peaking through

Now, if you know me at all, you know I can’t REALLY throw fabric away, so I dug the 300″ of binding out of the trash, pressed it open, and cut that binding into 2.5″ sections…..for Hexies of course!

How to recycle binding!

How to recycle binding!

In between the fun of sewing; there has been time spent out in the yard.  The azaleas that are starting to bloom, the blue wild flowers coming up in the back yard, and the little patch along the front porch that I laid out some bricks, split the lirope from the other garden, planted some bulbs and used a lazy gardener wild flower mat  (hoping the seeds grow).  The next few day will be spent in the big garden getting it cleaned out, since the sedum is up, the lirope is up, and the tulips are nearly finished.  Love seeing the purple iris blooming.  Have to remember to water that one next to the porch!

I mentioned I helped my friend, Barbara pin baste her quilt yesterday.  She and I are both making this pattern; Summer in the Park; in a king – size.  pattern here:

We started this quilt at our retreat in February. Mine is the black and white and yellow I posted about here:    (Note: mine is NOT finished…still sitting; waiting for the last row to go on, and the borders!)

Barbara had some border trouble the last time we tried to baste it. She is also well schooled in the “froggin”, ripping off the border and redoing it.  It was PERFECT yesterday, and took us an hour and 15 minutes start to finish to lay it out and get it basted. I LOVE LOVE LOVE her fabric – Bobbins and Bits by Pat Sloan!!

Bobbins and Bits - fabric designer Pat Sloan for Moda. Quilt pattern Summer in the park

Barbara’s Quilt — Bobbins and Bits – fabric designer Pat Sloan for Moda. Quilt pattern Summer in the park

Today is a garden day; and a day to get the window air conditioners all cleaned and into the appropriate window.  Hubby was not happy with 82 degrees in the bedroom last night. The humidity was high (80%); and I will relent today. So, we had about 2 weeks of spring; time to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. I guess the house will get closed up and the electric meter will start spinning again. 😦

I mentioned “sewing with silk”….I made 96 half-square triangles; 3 1/2”.  Think my youngest daughter may get a table runner for Christmas….shhh…don’t tell (she doesn’t read the blog anyway).  Surfing the web for great layouts of half square triangles and think I found a modern looking one that will suit her. The colors are really cool, and should work in her decorating scheme.  Pictures later.

Happy stitching!!! Time to get busy for me.