Valor Quilt Bee is an online, ongoing, EASY-GOING quilting bee to coordinate far-flung individual contributions of blocks for Quilts of Valor tops. These quilts are presented to U.S. servicemembers who have been injured/afflicted on deployment. It is open to everyone who wants to participate. Join the FUN! (To be added to the group, just leave a comment on any posting if your email is turned on in blog land, otherwise send email to: )

February 27, 2011

Utoh!! Vital Contact Info

I've just discovered that I can't respond to folks who post comments anonymously. (Connie, I'd love to add you, but I can't contact you - hopefully you'll see this and we'll get the block resolved.)

So. . . I just made a coordinator's email addy to post publicly here on the blog page. That'll keep my own email from getting slammed with spam and viciousness, but provide you guys with an easy communication point!

To contact the Valor Quilt Bee coordinator, send email to this addy:

February 24, 2011

Fourth Week, February 2011

So, here it is, the first "Fourth Week" of this Valor Quilt Bee's existence. Hasn't been organized long enough to get a lot of word out, let alone gather in any blocks, so there's nothing for Devon and I to coordinate yet.

So, I whipped up eight 6" red-and-white bow-tie blocks, just waiting for some friends to sidle up with and form a cool quilt top!

(The blue and white rectangles are actually for our local guild's project, but they looked so cute with these, I let them hang out.)

February 23, 2011

Origami BowTie Blocks Tutorial

I want to share a short-cut technique that was demonstrated at the last meeting of my local quilt guild. I'm giving you dimensions to make a 9" finished-size block since that works wonderfully for our Valor quilts. And, of course, you can use any color combination, but I'm writing for the block pictured.

Rating: Moderately experienced quilters will find this easy and fast when you learn the trick. It makes a fun challenge for beginners who are adventurous.

How do you get this without having to sew ANY biases, and with EASY PEASY SUPERFAST cutting?

Step 1: Cut several blocks out Speed Racer style

Stack your print red in double layers, then add your solid red in double layers, then add one layer of the white.

(I staggered them so you could see what's going on, then put them back in line with each other after the pic was snapped.)

Square up your end and cut however many 5" rows you want.  If you're working with 42" fabric, you'll get about 4 blocks out of each row.

Now take one row, square up the selvage end, and cut every 5 inches. Each resulting stack of squares makes 1 block.

(Yes - mine are cut at 3 1/2" to make a 6" block, but for your first time through, it will probably be easier to handle a larger size.)

That's it! You're finished with all the cutting for this project.

Step 2: Sew the Funky Unit

Take the white square and fold it in half WRONG SIDES TOGETHER.

Lay one PRINT RED face up.

Layer the folded white piece with the raw edges lined up at the top of the print square.

Lay one SOLID RED square on top, face down.

Pin the LEFT SIDE.
This is where you will stitch, NOT THE TOP.


Sew the line and open the unit out.

Now lay the remaining SOLID RED square face up.

Layer the folded white piece on it much like the first time, with the sewn-on pieces hanging off on the left.

Lay the remainig PRINT RED square on top, face down.


Sew that seam so that you will have this unit when you open the right side out as well:

(Notice that each side has opposite red types.) 

Step 3: Sew the cross seam to form the finished block

This is where you get to be all manipulative. There's a trick, though, to avoiding unwanted pleats in the corners of your centerpiece: Go With the F.   :)

Pick up the unit so all the raw edges are at the top. Open each red end out so you get an I shape.  Now you can match opposite partners to each other. Pin one top red corner together as shown below.

Open out the white edges:

Then match and pin the center seams. (I make the seams lay down in opposite directions so they'll lock with each other, while making sure the bottom seam will point away from the feed dogs while sewing.)

Make a good pocket in the white portion, at least 1/3" deep:

Then pinch the folded edge. (Watch that the diagonal pull below doesn't ride into the 1/4" seam allowance area.)   Carefully line up the raw edges of the red with the white edges, and pin so that the 1/4" seam allowance is protected.
Now you get to flip it around and repeat this process for the other side. And here's where the key comes in: GO WITH THE FLOW - LET IT BEND!  :D

Because the white is straining against the diagonal, you cannot get the red cross seam to line up straight across while it's all folded right sides together. Don't sweat it: go with the flow and it'll work out just fine. I promise!

After you get a good pinch pocket established and ready to pin, BRING THE RED RAW EDGES DOWN AROUND THE BEND TO THE WHITE EDGES. Don't try bringing the white up to the red. (It really helps to have the end pinned first.) Now pin that point so that its 1/4" seam allowance is protected also.

This is how pronounced that bend wants to be:

But it's no prob for us quilters!  We're quite good at pivoting, you know! Simply sew to the midpoint, make sure your needle is down, lift the foot. . .  

. . . spin the unit straight for the second half, put the foot back down,
 and finish the seam.  

You'll end up with this funny-looking thing, which will make you think,
"Oh man, how could this possibly come out right?"

But it does!  That funny-looking unit opens up to this pretty origami bowtie block and presses up very nicely so that it looks just like it does at the top of this tutorial! 

Voila! You just made a Bowtie block in only 3 stitched seams instead of 7. And I love the pockets around the center diamond. Think of the possibilities - you could tuck the funnest little things in there, peeping out so cute. . . Or you could just leave them. . . Or if you're particular about such things, you could stitch them down before or during quilting.

Cutting for different sizes  What is your desired finished block size?

Take that number and divide it in half. Add 1/2 inch to this number. That's the size to cut out the 5 squares!

February 14, 2011

Let's Get Online for Valor!

It occurred to me that there may be many quilters out there who would like to be a part of the Quilts for Valor program in a social way, but don't have a local guild that participates in the program. And so, I thought I'd organize an online bee that is focused on making Quilts of Valor tops.

Thus: We have the Online for Valor group!So. . . If you would like to contribute to one of these wonderful quilts that bring great comfort and emotional support to U.S. servicememers who have been injured or afflicted in the line of duty, we can make that happen in a fun and easy way.

Simply make a 6", 9", or 12" block and send it by mail to the central location. (That's the "finished" size, so you'd send blocks that are 6 1/2", 9 1/2", or 12 1/2".) Make as many blocks as you want and send them as often as you feel like doing them! May we suggest you give yourself time-frame goals, such as at least one block sent by the end of each month? Or every other month? Or even just once?

These can be any block design you like - modern or traditional, beginner or advanced, hand or machine stitched. Just stick to the ol' Red, Whitish, and Blue color theme, and it'll work. (Gold looks nice in the mix as well) :D

During the fourth week of each month, I and anyone in the local area will coordinate and assemble these blocks - if enough have accumulated - or work on more blocks.

We'll post pictures of blocks as they come in, tops as they emerge, and anything related that tickles our fancy, such as pics of people receiving a Quilt of Valor, pattern ideas, and techniques we may have tried out while making a block. And please, please post pics of your block(s) when you make them and let the group know what's going in the mail!

This will be fun!Whenever a top is completed, it will be turned in to the Quilt of Valor Foundation to be quilted by one of their longarm contacts, and we will keep track of where our quilts go!!

So. . .

How 'bout it, Kitty Cat?

Are you online for valor?

Are you ready to do something easy and fun for your fellow Planet Earth riders?

If so, post a comment saying you'd like to join the group and we'll get you set up as a member so you can post pics of your blocks and add to the storyline as life rolls along.

P.S. Here is a link so you can see what all this hooplah is about! ;D