Monday, February 07, 2011

Little Monkey!

I received several emails and facebook friend page requests to put my instructions for the Monkey Wrench blocks from Little Monkey here! So I thought, why not? It is a fun traditional block and works so well with the sizes of scrap strips I already keep on hand, and that is what made it so enjoyable to dig and play with these, coming up with the craziest fabric and color combos that I could find!

My quilt has 36 blocks and finishes at approximately 51” X 51”.

The Monkey Wrench blocks finish at 5” and are SO cute. If you cut your scraps down into useable sizes like I do, you’ve already got all the makings for these blocks close at hand!

Click HERE for printer-friendly .pdf file!

You will need:

  • 2 - 2.5” strips (By about a 7.5” length) for the half square triangle corners, one background and one color.
  • 2 - 1.5” X 6.5” strips for the connectors – one light, one dark ((or shake it up and use two contrasting colors!))
  • 1 - 1.5” square from your box of 1.5” pre-cut squares for the block center. SEW SIMPLE!

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Place the two 2.5” strips right sides together ((You can use longer strips, but you need them at least 7.5” long to get the 4 triangles cut from the same set)) and using the 2.5” markings on the Easy Angle Ruler, cut 4 triangles as shown.

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These are the pieces needed for the block for the first pass of chain piecing through the machine! Have fun picking fabrics that DO NOT MATCH! I have the Little Monkey Fabric and the lime green with pink dots for my 1/2 square triangles, a funky white with black dots and a recycled blue plaid for the connector units! My center square is an 1870s chrome yellow repro from the 1.5” squares drawer! Quit looking at the PRINT of the fabric, and just look at the color--- HAVE FUN shaking it up! UNPREDICTABILITY is our key word here!

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Here are my 4 pairs of triangles AND my connector unit strip set being sewn. I run them through in one chain ((followed by a leader/ender or another unit from the quilt)) And take the whole chain to the ironing board. From there, I press everything open to the dark, THEN cut the units apart and remove the dog ears from the triangles. At this point measure to double check. Your 1/2 square triangles should measure 2.5” square. Your strip set should be 2.5” tall. If they are too short ((Say 2 3/8”!?)) You have got to skinny-down on your seam allowance. This is the time to check that before you go any farther. ((Ask me how I know!?))

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Cut 4 1.5” sections from the strip set. There is 1/2” extra built into the length of the strip set for squaring/trimming before you cut.

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And this is where I throw in MORE chain piecing. Assembling these units this way keeps me from getting things turned around, it saves thread, and keeps everything together so even if I just get the block partially sewn before I have to pick up my stuff at retreat and leave---I don’t lose my CHAIN of THOUGHT!

To chain piece your block, look at the first picture, then the second. You will notice the center column of units is flipped right sides together on top of the first column of units. This is the first line of stitching we are going to be doing.

Pick up the upper left corner with the connector unit and feed it through the machine. When you get to the end of that unit, stop, but don’t lift the presser foot. Grab the connector unit that has the center square on top of it and feed that through after the corner unit you just sewed. Finally, pick up the bottom corner unit that has the connector unit on it. Feed that through as well. Your 3 pairs of units will be connected by two thread “links” between them!

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See how the first two columns are chained together? The second pic shows the first two columns sewn, with the threads connecting them still intact, and the 3rd column ready to be added!

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Here I am adding the 3rd units to the rows with right sides together! I finished my seam with a pair of leader/ender squares, and can clip the partially sewn block off behind the presser foot.

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Here are the three rows of my block! ((Isn’t that Little Monkey fabric SO cute?!)) The three rows are webbed together by the chaining stitches between the rows. You can clip them apart now if you want, but I don’t. It doesn’t hurt to leave them there. At this point I finger press, and then flip the rows right sides together to complete the block stitching:

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Block assembly! Easy, Right!?

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One “Little Monkey” block done! All from scrap strips without having to cut into FQ’s or yardage…just digging into parts I keep easily on hand!

If you want to make your quilt the size I did, you will need 36 Little Monkey blocks.

You will also need the following:

Sashings: 84 rectangles 2” X 5.5”

Cornerstones: 49 2” scrap squares in bright colors ((These all came from my 2” square box! Instant variety!))

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Lay out the blocks with the sashings and the cornerstones in between-- the way you want them to appear in the quilt. I lay out the whole quilt this way, and then chain assemble it in rows as described in the chained block assembly above. It is no different, just more units and bigger size!

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Assembly goes very fast this way, and there is NO WAY my pieces can get rotated and turned around on me. I pick up one column at a time and add those pieces to the previous rows, then go pick up another column and add it on until the whole top is webbed by the chaining stitches in between the rows like this:

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When the top is sewn into rows, I just flip the rows right sides together and stitch, usually finger pressing seams in opposing directions as I go.

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For borders, I added a 1.5” cut inner border in a light aqua blue, and then cut my outer wild print border at 4.5”. Experiment with different border treatments/widths to finish your quilt your own way.

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I think we as Quilters ALWAYS enjoy a Little Monkeying Around! Rolling on the floor laughing

This quilt came together over Super Bowl Sunday Weekend! For close ups of the blocks and quilting detail check out THIS POST!

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Last night I got as far as getting the binding ON, but the handwork is still left to do! Maybe tonight? Because today I’ve got more of THIS going on:

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Getting those book orders out to you ASAP!


  1. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Appreciate the directions so very much!

  2. I LOVE this quilt! Thank you so much for the instructions! But seriously, you've got to stop this. Every time I set my mind on which of your patterns will be my next leader/ender project, I see another one that I HAVE to do. :0) Thanks, Bonnie!

  3. I like that you deliberately don't match fabrics and STILL the block looks great!

  4. Thanks for the directions. I think this may be the next baby quilt I make. I'm working through my scrap pile and so far trimming 2 1/1" strips, but this encourages me to cut some down to 2" and 1 1/2" too.

  5. Received my new book yesterday. Think I read it o three times or so. Love it!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Now you've posted the directions for that little cutie. One more I'll have to add to all the others I want to do, after of course the RRCB and Playing with Jacks. I'm enjoying them so much. Oh, by the way, started my scrap users system, that's going to take some time. Soooo many scraps! Thanks again!

  6. Very cute! I love the sashing and cornerstones!

  7. Anyone who worked on Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll will recognise these little blocks. Great quilt Bonnie!

  8. Great tutorial! Looks like you're selling the heck out of your books! Kudos!

  9. Anonymous11:30 AM EST

    Too cute!

  10. How nice of you Bonnie...its printing out right now :0)
    I've still got my two RRCB to finish but I'm always up for the next project right?
    Thanks you.
    Happy Sewing

  11. You make it look so easy and quick. Thanks for sharing

  12. Anonymous3:22 PM EST

    Really nice directions. Love the quilt. I'll be busy into infinity and beyond if I keep looking at your site and blog. Thanks.

  13. Bonnie, thank you very, very much. I already have the scraps cut into all those sizes, just waiting for another project!

  14. What a simpel block en so beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. This is such a cute quilt - I love it!

  16. Anonymous5:03 PM EST

    Gorgeous quilt! Thanks for sharing with us!

  17. This is such a gorgeous quilt - I can't stop looking at it! :) The border fabric is perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Thanks for sharing this pattern. I'll soon have some cute baby quilts made.

  19. You are my inspiration! Really love this quilt and your directions are so good! I am planning on ordering your new book next week. I have the first two and ready to add to the family.

  20. Thanks Bonnie! That's so nice of you to take the time. :-)

  21. Bonnie, that's so nice of you to put a tutorial up for the Little Monkey quilt. I'd love to make one of those--I think the size is more me than the humungus RRCB quilt, ha, ha. (hint..I'm still looking for a large enough space to lay it down so i can pin on the borders, LOL).

    Speaking of RRCB, would it be possible to see your backing fabrics for it and "Little Monkey". I don't think you posted the back of your RRCB quilt.
    Thanks again, Bonnie.
    Gail :)

  22. Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to put these instructions up for us. Love your scrap-users system and this will be a fun one to do. Glad to see your book is selling like 'hot cakes' :)

  23. Hmmm...this looks like a good block to make with all the rescued bonus triangles I have been sewing together from past projects. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Love EVERYTHING you do...just got the new book...AWESOME!!! I have a general question...do you have any problem when using phone book pages as foundation with ink transfer to the fabrics, especially when doing neutrals like in RRCB?? I usually don't use steam in my iron, but I do spritz from time to time with a bottle...will that cause a problem??

    In stitches,
    Teresa :o)

  25. So cute! Thanks for the instructions.

  26. Just browsing and dreaming about the quilt I will make next. Love this idea and visually it looks so complicated but after seeing how it is done it seems so simple. Thanks.

  27. Thanks for another great pattern. I just used your directions to make the most adorable baby quilt. It turned out just great thanks to you!

  28. Your post linking this block was timely for me as I have a baby quilt that needs to be finished and delivered quickly (baby due mid-Jan). My niece wants sock monkey, and I did find some sock monkey fabric, but I have been stumped for a pattern. Adding some of these blocks with the sock monkeys should work nicely. Thanks


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