Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sew-Simple Blocks: Sugar Bowl!

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There is no time like the present to get these little gems up here on the blog – the response in two days has been overwhelming, and I am listening!

This is a BLOCK TUTORIAL.  Instructions for a full quilt may come later, but it will take me a long time to build the number of blocks I need, and I’m trying to get this out here before I fly off to Oregon on Monday.

If you read yesterday’s post you will recall that the Sugar Bowl block is related to the Jacob’s Ladder block, with a few slight differences.

Jacob’s ladder has 5 4-patches,  with the  dark chain of the 4 patches going UP through the ladder formed by the 4 half-square triangle units. 

In the Sugar Bowl block, 2 of those corner 4-patches are replaced with solid squares, the light half of the triangle units point toward the center (opposite of Jacob’s Ladder) and the darks in the 4-patches go side ways across the block, not up the ladder. 

It’s a subtle difference obtained with fabric value, and rotation of units, and it makes for an interesting change.

Antique quilt top circa 1910 from my collection.

Why is this block called Sugar Bowl?  I have no idea.  Sometimes it is even called “Broken Sugar Bowl” but I think it all depends on which way you look at it.  If the block were on point, perhaps the shape of the two light areas resemble cut glass.

All I know is that I am intrigued by the shapes that appear when only 2 fabrics are used per block, and the light triangles join light squares and make this wonderful shape.

In this antique example, all of the blocks are turned the same direction creating interesting secondary designs.

I thought this block would be a fun foray into my treasured recycled shirt fabrics.  Let’s get to it!

Block size: 6’’ finished.


I used my Stripology Ruler to quickly cut strips in 2 widths:
You will need some 1 1/2’’ cuts and some 2 1/2’’ cuts.


From 2 fabrics – a dark and a light!


From both dark and light fabrics cut:
1 1/2’’ x 10’’ rectangles: 1 from each fabric.
2 1/2’’ x 7’’ rectangles: 1 from each fabric
2 1/2’’ squares: 2 from LIGHT fabric

These are the MINIMUM length of rectangles that you can use to get the pieces you need for each block.  As I started cutting, I cut these sets and set them aside, preparing to kit up my blocks further as time allowed.  Cutting things to this size first kept my cutting table more clean and organized and I could put the fabrics that I’d already used away.


Cutting 4 triangle pairs.

Place the two 2 1/2’’ x 7’’ rectangles with right sides together.  Using the 2’’ (finished) line on the Essential Triangle Tool, cut 4 pairs of matched triangles ready to sew. Refer to the videos tab at the top of the blog to see the demonstration on how to use this ruler if you are unfamiliar with it.

If you are not using this method, you can use any method you desire that gives you 4 half square triangles measuring 2 1/2’’ unfinished and finishing at 2’’ in the block.

If you use another method, the fabric cutting I gave previously will need to be altered to fit your method.


Chain sewing triangles!

I tend to sew these with the blunt end going under the needle first, but each machine has its own personality and some machines with wider feed dogs may work better if you send the pointy end first.


Press, remove dog ears and measure!

Sometimes I may have a slight bit of trimming to do especially with softer fabrics like recycled shirts, but trimming should be MINIMAL at best.  Most often it’s just the removal of the dog ear.


Sewing 4-patch strip set!

Stitch the two 1 1/2’’ x 10’’ strips with right sides together.  Press to the dark and measure across the strip set to ensure you have reached the needed 2 1/2’’ measurement across the strip set.


Matched pairs, ready to sew!

Cut the strip set into two 5’’ lengths, and place them right sides together with seams opposing and nested on the cutting board.  Light fabric on dark, dark on light.  Cut three 1 1/2’’ sub-cuts from the set.  There is an extra 1’’ added to the measurement of the strip set for trimming and squaring.


Chain sew the pairs.


Spin those 4-patch seams!

For more info on spinning the seams, refer to my article “Spin the 4-patch Seams!” found under the Tips & Techniques tab at the top of the blog.


Block laid out, ready to web!

The question I am asked most often is “What do you mean by webbing?”  I’ve talked about it and even shared it by live Quilt-Cam many times but as some are having a hard time grasping, I thought this simple block could be another explanation of how this works.

More info on Webbing, please view the August 2017 Quilt-Cam episodes where I show webbing a whole quilt top.

The whole premise is to build the block (or quilt top) in rows across, leaving each row connected to the others by the chaining threads that hold the rows together.

This is especially helpful with asymmetrical blocks where triangles can easily go awry if we pick up things in the WRONG order, forcing us to turn things around before sewing, and then having to cut things apart, lay them back out again, and continue on. 


“Turn the page, don’t close the book!”

If you have heard me say this before, this is exactly what it means.  we tend to read from left to right.  So many out of habit will take the farthest upper left piece and put it right sides together with the second unit in the top row.  But think about it.  If you do it that way, how do you have to move it to your machine to put the seam on the far left of that pair?  You’d have to turn it all the way around to sew.  And from this point on you are building your block upside down and backwards.  You’d be forced to cut your chain apart to lay things back out again because you can’t continue chaining on with pieces in that order.

If you bring the far left units over on top of the middle units you are indeed “CLOSING THE BOOK.”  Don’t close the book!


Instead, following the arrows above, take the middle units and put them right sides together with the units in the first column.  Now it is easy to pick those pairs up in order and sew them into a chain.


Units still chained on the left…ready to add column 3.

RESIST cutting your chains apart at this point!  The chaining threads do two important jobs.  They keep you in order so you don’t go flipping things around and get lost, and they also keep seams from popping open before the block is completely sewn together.  If you must clip chaining threads, do it AFTER the block is assembled.


“Turning the Page” to add the next column!


All the way down!

You can pin these in place, or just pick up one unit at a time to add it to your chained block as it goes through the machine.


Adding the last units to all 3 rows.

Pressing Matters:

Sometimes we can say “press everything to the dark.”
Sometimes we say “Press it like a 9 patch”

Sometimes it all depends on how you intend to use the block in the quilt, what it will be positioned next to, and how you will rotate it.

Sometimes – it’s a crap shoot!

And in this case if I want to set them pointing all the same direction like the antique quilt that inspired my foray into this project, I need to do this:


Press units in each row in the direction of the red arrows.

Join rows to complete each block.  There is no need to trim the chaining threads.

Press the last two seams that complete the block in the direction of the blue arrows.

This is not your normal 9 patch way of pressing but I need this to happen:


Back side of two blocks, side by side.
See the opposing seams?


Side block moved to the top – still nesting! YES!

And pardon my messy backsides – shirting fabrics can be thready, and these are just a bit.

Blocks should measure 6 1/2’’ unfinished and finish at 6’’ in your quilt.


You can arrange blocks this way!


Or how about this way?


But I really like what this is doing!


Sugar Bowl Quilt Finish!

This quilt was given to my cousin Bethany in September of 2021. I loved everything about making this quilt, and she loved that it included our grandpa's shirts - so she can also feel him close.

The best part about the quilts, is in the giving of them!

Back to original post:

Last night way past midnight we ended up at the Ashe County Memorial Hospital because the Hubster’s toothache would not subside and the meds the dentist subscribed wouldn’t touch it.  It was getting worse.


This is me near 2am, stitching in the waiting room.

Never leave home without your busy bag!

Some new meds were given, and some lidocaine to numb his mouth and we were back at the cabin past 2:30am and crawling into bed, completely wiped out.  There is no pain as bad as mouth pain, and I felt so bad for him.  Today things are more under control and he has an appointment with the dentist again on Thursday, so he is staying up here while I go home today to tackle some business.  I’ll be back up on Friday.


Quiltville Quote of the Day!

Vintage star quilt found in Pennsylvania.

Don't waste your energy trying to reopen that one door, find another door!

There is always another door.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone –

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  1. Thank you, thank you.

    Glad to hear your hubster is doing better.

  2. Thank you for sharing the wonderful tutorial. I love all of the different layouts for this block - they're amazing!

  3. Glad to hear your husband has had some relief. Life is never dull, is it. I also have an EPP project going which I take with me. Soon we will be leaving for a lunch meeting with International students at the University of Alabama. Then I will have an hour before I teach an English conversation class to International students, so my EPP project is going with me:) Nancy A: rangerer@sbcglobal.net

  4. Thank you, Bonnie, for the instructions. I have two questions.

    1. I don't think the backs of your blocks look too bad. But at what point do you decide they need cleaning up? I don't do my own quilting, and struggle with how tidy tops truly need to be. Dame for twisted seams, how crazy do I make myself trying to avoid them to make the quilter's job easier?

    2. This is purely curiosity! When you are making purely random scrappy blocks, do you have ones that are "favorites" and ones that you think, "well that one is homely?" I ask because those thoughts run through my head!

    Sorry DH and you had to go to the ER to get some pain relief. Hope the dentist can set it straight on Thursday!

  5. Thank you Bonnie! After your night you still made time for us, thank you! I especially appreciate the webbing tutorial, if I get this method down with the blocks doing a quilt will be no problem. Glad the Hubster is doing a nit better.

  6. A BIT better! Darn autospell.

  7. Thanks for the great tutorial!! This block works so well in recycled shirts. I've been wanting to use some of my shirt stash to make a utility quilt for picnics, football games, etc. This block might be a great candidate - though for a utility quilt I might make things easier on myself by biggie-sizing the block. ;) It sure is cute in that 6-inch size, though!

    Here's hoping your dentists get both you and Hubster fixed up and back to normal soon!

  8. Really appreciate the tutorial. You are one gifted lady. Thank you

  9. The quote today was for me. A new "friend" took something I said wrong and even after apology after apology cut me off. I've kept trying to fix it and open the door to no avail. God has tried to help me see this same truth.....find another door. There is someone else that could use my friendship I do believe. Thanks.

  10. Thank you...thank you...thank you!! Love this block. I have over 300 4-patches done and in my bin waiting for the right pattern. I cut them all from 2 1/2" strips (a light and a dark) to make the 4-patches so I have 8 of the same colors for each strip set. I may do the Jacob's Ladder. I had forgotten about that one :)

    Glad hubster is doing better. Hopefully new meds will ease the pain.

  11. Thank you thank you for posting the tut so quickly. I probably would have forgotten about it within 2 days. So sorry to hear about DH toothache. At least he was in good hands with you and ACH. I know as I have been a "visitor" of ACH recently as well. I was in very caring hands.

  12. Thanks you so much. What an outstanding tutorial for the block. Beth

  13. Thank you Bonnie for the tutorial with everything else going on in your life and you think of us. That's just like you and that's why you have such a great audience for everything you do. Such a caring and compassionate person.

  14. I say 100% DITTO to Phyllis's comment. THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU.

  15. Oh my goodness! I really didn't expect a tut so fast, thank you. I think I might have to go to some thrift stores for some more shirts - thought I had enough but nope. Glad they gave him some stronger meds, tooth aches are like ear aches - you can't get away from the pain. Hexies are looking good.

  16. Thanks for the great tute! HopeDH continues to feel better.

  17. Great tutorial! Thank you, thank you. I've printed it and hope to make it with the thrift shirts I've kept for some unknown reason. I should have plenty and will probably still have left overs.
    So sorry about DH's tooth, it's a constant miserable pain and I would have hoped the dentist would have worked him in sooner. If I was a neighbor I'd fix him some comfort food.

  18. Hexie question, Bonnie. What size needle do you use? Also, do you stitch all your hexies with the same color Thread or match Thread to each hexie? Thanks in advance, Bonnie...

  19. Thank you Bonnie!! So kind of you to share. I love your blocks!
    Hope your hubster fells better soon.

  20. Thanks for sharing! This blog was interesting and informative. I have made several Jacob's Ladder quilts but have never seen the Sugar Bowl. Hope your husband soon feels better.

  21. You are beyond generous and talented. Thanks for sharing all you do for us.

    Glad your hubby has gotten some relief.

  22. Are you sure you are not Wonder Woman!!! You are a genius multi-tasker. There is not a wasted moment in your day!
    Glad your husband is feeling better and hope he gets full relief on Thursday. Thank you for your generosity, not only with time, but sharing of your talent.

  23. Thank you. You are so generous <3

  24. Thank you so much for sharing the tutorial. You are so generous with your talent & time!

  25. Thanks so much for taking the time this appease all your followers!!! We truly do appreciate all you do for us out of the love in your heart! Hope your hubs gets his tooth fixed. That's no fun!

  26. So sorry to hear your hubby's tooth is giving him so much trouble. Hope it gets to feeling better soon. But, on the bright side, he gets to stay up at the cabin. I'd never want to leave that place.

  27. Thank you so much for the great tutorial! Oh man, I feel for your husband. Nothing is worse than toothache pain...nothing!

  28. Bonnie, There are some forest fires in the area in Oregon. Please check it out. Stay safe.


  29. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! When I saw your first two possible layouts I thought this would make a cute child's quilt with X's and O's!

  30. I love this block. It reminds me of the x-wing fighter in Star Wars 😊

  31. Great tutorial. I love the shirting fabric.

    I hear you about 'always have a portable project'. There was a bad wreck that had traffic at a complete standstill on the highway the other day. After I let my boss know I would be late, I finished about a third of a knitted hat while the drivers all around me stewed and fumed and played on their phones. MUCH more productive and I was so much calmer LOL.

  32. Thanks for the great tutorial on the Sugar Bowl block! hope hubster is well soon!

  33. I love your quotes of the day and the beautiful quilt backgrounds.

  34. Love the tutorial! Thank you! I also love your "Addicted to Scraps" page in Quilt maker magazine. Your webbing a quilt quilt cam was also great! Still pretty new to quilting, I saw people with the blocks hooked together but hadn't figured it out yet. Now I see it! Thank you, P.S. Your thimble is really beautiful! It will have to be put on the dream list for a while, that's o.k. , I'm very short with short fingers. I'm just doing lap quilts and smaller at this time. Retirement is around the corner and more quilting time ahead!yay!

  35. Bonnie, thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your talent. I really like this block. My Dad passed in June and I have a bunch of his shirts...I think this might be the pattern I use, although I may "upsize" it a bit. Have to make a test block to be sure.

    Thanks again for all you do, and hope hubby feels better soon!

  36. Thank you seems so little to give back for all that you do. But 'THANK YOU' !! Hope today goes quickly for the hubster so you both can get the rest you need and have a wonderful holiday weekend together before you start running again. Be safe & most of all be happy.

  37. Thanks sew very much for "SugarBowl" it is screaming charity quilt.
    Luv your energies and kindness you give us with every blog adventure.

  38. GAH!!! Toothaches are HORRENDOUS! I hope that your hubby's will be gone very, very soon! Also, thank you very much for the tutorial! I love it!!!

  39. The more I thought about the name of this quilt, I wondered if it isn't a reference to actual "sugar cubes" that used to be served elegantly with a special sugar cube server. I have a server and used to keep "cubes" on hand because my friends would try to be the first one to do the serving!


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