Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gray Matters: a Tutorial with a Giveaway

The thing is, I'm an old soul.  The more smart phones and texting and all sorts of social and digital media become "the way things are," the more I try to fight for a slower way of life.  So while I know there are computerized and online quilt design programs, how fun is it to work out ideas in real time?


Oh yes.  We're turning the beloved half-square triangle - a.k.a. the "HST" and one of the most basic quilt blocks - into a wooden toy.  And I think you're going to want to play.


painter's tape (the pictured tape is 1 3/8 inches width)
acrylic paint
paint brushes and palettes


1. Ever so sweetly, ask your husband to watch the kids for the evening.  Have your best quilty friends do the same, then take over the kitchen table for painting fun and giggles.

2. Gather your supplies.

I got my blocks from Shauneil Supplies on Etsy. (Tobey is great to work with, and the wood is such nice quality!)  My pictures are showing about 25, two-inch squares ($10).  But trust me, I think you're going to want more.  Especially if you have more than one set of little hands who like to claim and hoard.

3. Grab your painter's tape and set up the blocks so that half of block is covered with tape.

Then, make like Anne and get super-ambitious by nestling some extra blocks onto the opposite side so that you're now using the full width of tape.  "Waste not, want not," they say.  :)

Fill it up really well, okay?

4. Now flip the blocks over, and...

5 Paint!



Let these dry for, I don't know, maybe an hour while you and the girls chat, then peel off the tape.  Allow the blocks to continue to dry overnight.

6. Clean up the mess. (I know... boo.)

You're going to eventually have to call it a night with the girlfriends.  But you really might want to make plans to meet up again in the morning, because when those blocks are fully dry, it's really going to be time to...

6. Play! It's time to see what types of blocks and designs you can come up with.

Anyone for a bold diamond statement?  I hear they're a girl's best friend...

What do you see here?  Maybe flying geese?

Ahh... a values diamond pattern.  I've really been wanting to make this kind of a quilt.

Everyone loves a good chevron.  What about when the colors break it up like this?

A lovely star pattern using negative space in the middle.

And now, flip those middle tiles over for a bright, yellow diamond.  I'm loving the high-contrast!

Well, those are all the fun patterns I had time to come up with before my two oldest sets of little hands plucked the Quilt Blocks from my possession, labeled the back of the blocks with their initials (fare thee well, pretty wood grain), and stashed them in the never-ending abyss that is also known as their "treasure chests."

However, I was able to put aside a set of these lovely Quilt Blocks in order to give them away to one of you, lucky folks!  How wonderful!  Really, when I was playing with these, there was something so very soothing about pushing around those smooth, painted tiles and trying to work new designs with them.

You might also want to win them for a child in your life.  They've clearly been a hit with my kiddos.

Another swell idea: Remember how we're doing this whole "Gray Matters" series because September is "Childhood Cancer Awareness" month?  Well, I was also thinking that Quilt Blocks would be a really great toy to send with a child as they spend a few hours at the hospital getting chemo.  I know: iPads are great.  But wooden toys?  They've been around for as long as kids themselves!  All I'm sayin' is: tried and true.

The Giveaway

I've set aside thirty, pretty little blocks plus this pretty little drawstring bag in which to hold them.  The rules are the same as the last giveway... get connected, okay?  You have four chances to win (leave a separate comment for each):

1. Follow Charlotte's gRACE for a Cure on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you do.

2. Follow my blog via Bloglovin', email, or RSS feed and leave a comment telling me so. (Just click on the social media buttons at the top of the page.)

3. Follow me on Pinterest and leave a comment telling me you do. (Don't want to follow all my boards? Check out "Gray Matters," "Quilt Love," and "Quilting Tutorials.")

4. Spread the love! Re-post this giveaway via your favorite social media network and tell me how you did.

That's it, folks! Giveaway is open to U.S. and international residents and ends on Monday, September 23, at 8 p.m. EST. Winner will be chosen by Random and announced at the end of this post.

(Also, Ida, if you are reading this, you are the winner of the fat quarter bundle from the previous giveaway. Send me an email at charlottesgraceforacure[at]gmail[dot]com so that I can mail out your fabric, okay?)

*Edit: Comments are closed.  Comment #16 wins - Logan Marriott!  Logan did the quilting on my mother-in-law's quilt, in case you missed it.  She does a gorgeous job!  Congrats, Logan - I'll send these blocks out later this week!


  1. This is such a great idea! Geometry and I are not the best of friends, so sometimes if I can just lay out the pattern to see how everything is going to work that is really helpful.

  2. This is a great idea, I would never have thought to do something like this. I follow you on Bloglovin' already.

  3. And I already follow your grey matters Pinterest board - lovely pins on it too.

  4. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing. (Already follow on Bloglovin)

  5. Perfect gift for those little ones in need! Thanks for sharing. I am a follower!

  6. Such a gorgeous idea. I follow you on Bloglovin!

  7. Great idea, Lauren! I like the Girl's Paint Night!
    So, I am following your blog, signed up for Pinterest (I was reluctant; however, I couldn't resist your quilting tutorials, I want to learn how to quilt.)
    And I shared this site on Facebook, my quilting friend is going to love it!
    Take care! And continue to promote the great advantages of wooden toys!

  8. I believe I followed all the steps to enter. The blocks will help to visualize the designs.

  9. The idea of these blocks has left me breathless with the possibilities! I am following you on bloglovin and am very happy to meet you :)

  10. Thrilled to find & follow you on pinterest. :)

  11. I quilted some of these up a couple years ago as a kind of Faux Tangram set but these are so much fun as well! Yes please! I follow your blog.

  12. I also follow at least some of your boards on Pinterest.

  13. I also pinned it on my Just Because board.

  14. Oh my gosh! These are genius!! I like you on FB!

  15. I also follow you via bloglovin! If I don't win I might be paying mr tobey a visit!

  16. What a fun idea!! Love this new fun toy, I think I will have to make me one or ten!

  17. genius!! I think I would play with these more than my son, ha!

    Thanks for linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  18. I follow you on Facebook. I love your quilt "blocks"!

  19. Oops, I should have said "I follow your boards on pinteres

  20. What a great idea! I'm following you on Pinterest.

  21. Love the quilt blocks idea. Even though I would love to have them myself, if you choose me I will donate them to the Pediatric Infusion Therapy Unit at Mayo/St. Mary's Hospital (kids' chemo) when I go up for my own follow-up visit. I take quilts to the unit each time I go. I'm sure those special kids would enjoy the blocks.

  22. I love this idea - thanks so much for the tutorial! I follow you on Facebook.

  23. I follow your blog via Feedly. Thanks again!

  24. Just started following you on Pinterest, too. :-)


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