Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Checkerboard Express Block

This is my block for Moda Bakeshop's Countdown to Christmas which started on December 1st.  Everyday in December, up to Christmas Day, a new block created by Moda Chefs for the Countdown will be presented. Today is my day and I am happy to be sharing it with you.  Here is the link to the tutorial

Back in August, Moda put out the request for 6" blocks. Having participated in a few Block of the Months QALs and also completing a version of the Gypsy Wife quilt (in which I still have not recovered), I remember looking forward to making the blocks which were quick and easy. It provided a nice respite after making some of blocks which could be challenging or just made my head spin.  I was not going to create a block with 64 pieces and full of angles for the Countdown.  I was going to "make it easy", so I came up with a block which is a combination rail fence/four patch block and sews together very quickly.  It lives up to the "Express" in the block's name which by the way was given this part of the name by Oda May.
When I first submitted my block, I used four different fabrics.  After it was approved in November and I had the opportunity to see my block next to the other blocks, I thought maybe I shouldn't have made it easy.  After thinking about it for awhile and looking at the three fabrics Moda sent, I realized the block would look better if it was made with only two fabrics.  I had the option of using the fat quarters Moda sent or using my own stash provided it was Moda so I decided to do two color ways of this block, one in a red and green print and one in red and white.  I used different lines of Basic Grey Christmas fabrics.

I'm glad I came to peace/piece with this block.  I think the Checkerboard Express is a great block to accent or use as an alternating block with focus blocks.  Also, it's great for using up some of the scraps. I really enjoyed making the following projects to show how versatile the Checkerboard Express Block can be.

Table Topper (18" square)


This topper was so easy to make.  You need:

(1) 6-1/2" square for center
(4) Checkerboard Express blocks (be sure the center of the blocks goes toward the center square)
(4) 6-1/2" HST, use your favorite method; mine were die-cut

Assemble and sew as you would for a nine-patch.  Quilt as desired.  I've never sewn a binding for an odd angle quilt before and found this tutorial by Anka Treasures (you can see it here) to be a godsend. Thank you Pinterest! I didn't do too bad for the first time.  And silly me for thinking that the binding would be the same as square quilts.

Skinny Table Runner (6" x 24")
This runner was quick and easy to assemble once four Checkerboard Express Blocks are made.  It really looks sweet with my Dept. 56 Snow Village Christmas train which had to be brought out from storage.  We don't plan on decorating the house much this year; just the Christmas/Winter quilts, some table decorations and the small tree will be brought out.
Sewing Tip:  If more than one Checkerboard Express Board is made and will be used together, it is very important to decide which color of the top left rectangle will be so that all of the blocks will look the same. (see arrows). If the blocks are not consistent, the strips will not alternate correctly to create the checkerboard effect.  Leave it to me to discover what could be made wrong.  Also be sure the four patches in the center are orientated the same direction before sewing the blocks together.  (Yep, almost did that too).  And thinking way outside the box, these blocks would also make a nice pieced border or sashing.

Mug Rugs
I haven't made any mug rugs for quite awhile and I have to say that I really enjoyed making these four mug rugs with the Checkerboard Express blocks. The block pattern is simple and not too fancy to be used.  I know some mug rugs can be too pretty to use and when I am gifted with one I end up hanging it up rather than using it. Each block only uses (2) 4-1/2 x 10" pieces of fabrics and great for using up the scraps. Plus, I really liked being able to use up some of the endless mound of batting scraps.  I backed each mug rug with a 8" square of scrap fabric left over from my Hometown Christmas Jelly Roll Charm Chase Quilt and it was sweet to be able to use this fabric for another project.  These mug rugs measure 6-1/2" square and is a nice size for the mug and cookie.  I decided to sew a binding for each mug rug and found it didn't take too much time although I did hand stitch the bind down which I did while watching TV.  I am now binge watching past seasons of Fixer Upper.  I'm thinking these mug rugs with a fabric tray to hold them would make a sweet holiday or hostess gift so I plan on making more of these mug rugs.
In case you didn't know this, it's not easy taking a photo if a cookie is one of the props and there is a certain dog, Sophie, the World's Worst Dog is in the room with you.
Here's the header photo I did for Moda Bakeshop.  I thought I would add some interest to the Checkerboard Express Block by hanging it on the tree in front of my house along with one of my wooden Christmas train ornaments.  I realized that these ornaments are now residing at my son's house which is four hours away so I thought I could easily find one at Target. Much to my surprise, it seems that retro campers have now replaced trains and I was lucky to find this one at Michael's. (it's kind of ironic that the train ornaments I used to have are now living with Michael, my son.) I really liked the glass Narwhal ornament I saw and wished I could have worked it in, it was just that cute.

Now that my commitment to the Countdown has been completed, I am ready to resume working on the projects I've set aside.  But first I have to clean up the studio; mounds of batting scraps laying on the cutting table made one huge mess. 

I hope you visit Moda Bake Shop everyday to see the block for the day. They really are sweet and clever.  If you have any questions about any of my projects, please let me know.  I would love to hear from you.

Enjoy the Holiday Season!  Hope you find time to Sew, Sew, Sew.


22 comments :

  1. Congratulations! It must be so exciting to be Moda Bake Shop chef. Your block looks amazingly festive in red and white, I love that picture of the train on top of it!

    My husband has been asking me to make him some coasters, but I've been reluctant to do it because I didn't want to bind something so small, I thought joining the ends would be really challenging. But yours looks like you just tucked it in? Brilliant!

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    1. Thanks Liz! I was reluctant to sew binding on the coasters but it does make them look nice for the photos. I still used 2-1/2" strips and I did fold the ends instead of joining them like I do for my quilts and it was not bad at all. It only takes 5 minutes to sew the binding down but way more time to hand sew. I probably will bind by machine when I make more.

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  2. I think the simplicity of the block shows just how versatile it is! It certainly makes a very striking table runner!

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    1. Thanks Suz. It was such an easy block to make and share. I definitely will make more of them.

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  3. This is such a fun block, Rose! I love the table runner, and glad you gave the tips, because I can see myself forgetting those steps. Congrats on being a Moda chef!

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    1. Thanks Wendy! It is a fun block and simple is always right up my alley. I'm making a patchwork blankie for Micah and will be sending it to her so I'm thinking I need to fill up the box again and may throw in some mug rugs and place mats using the block. They're just that fast to make. Here goes another mess!

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  4. Big sewing room messes just mean you've been busy! The table runner looks so cute with the train on it. And that dog! He obviously likes cookies. Too tempting just sitting there looking at him!

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    1. Thanks Shannon! I finally cleaned my studio yesterday and it was pretty close to being at the point of what's the use. Of course, another it's clean it's going to get messy again because I have projects to finish. Happy Sewing!

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  5. I love a fun easy block and this one definitely fits that bill. It's so versatile and can be used in many different ways. And feeling your pain on cleaning up before starting more projects, hope it's going smoother for you than it is me.

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    1. Thanks Tish! The simple block made a big mess but now that I know what I'm doing it should be so bad--it's just digging through all of the fabrics. But I will say it was fun making them--I almost can't stop now.

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  6. Great little block! So versatile and easy to put together. Thanks for the tip about getting the colors right in the upper left corner.

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    1. Thanks Louise. For such a simple block it's very easy to go wrong when you want to connect them but then that's what I seem to do best--finding a way to go wrong. ha ha!

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  7. A great block, very festive with the red&white! And congrats on being a Moda chef!

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    1. Thanks Linda! I do like the red and white version of the block and it was hard having to decide which one to showcase.

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  8. It so nice to catch up to everyone's sewing a see a block from you. I love it in the two colors.

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    1. Thanks Jan! I'm sure you appreciated the tip, it's something this Problem Sister had to stumble upon.

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  9. Such a clever block Rose. And looks great in the two colours. Love the mug rugs and the table topper and yay, as I said on MBS, for you!

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    1. Thank you my fellow MBS Chef. I just realized the red and white blocks could be my Canadian blocks--wink!

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  10. Great! I love the simplicity of your block!!! We're too busy right now for complicated. I especially love the runner. Congrats!!!

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    1. Thanks Nancy! I'm glad you like the simplicity of the block, I thought it would be perfect for this time of year.

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  11. I really love this block. Yes, it might look easy but it has a definite visual appeal that I don't always find in simple blocks. Can't wait to make this one!

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    1. Thank you very much for your kind comments. It is very much appreciated. I hope you enjoy making this block. Merry Christmas!

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