Another Fun Guild Program

This is part of my occasional series on guild programs, with the hope that it will help others who need to come up with program ideas.

Our modern guild has no money to hire speakers, so we are taking turns sharing our talents. One of our members recently volunteered to teach us block printing on fabric, and she furnished all the materials herself!

block printing quilt fabric

Suzanne brought a beautiful print she had made as an example

A few of us had done block printing in the past, but these blocks were much easier to carve. Apparently the block medium is now made of soft rubber rather than linoleum–a big improvement for the hands and wrists.

block printing

Some people carved abstract designs, using the whole block

Everyone got a square of rubber to carve. Some people carved a design on the square using the entire thing. Some carved an object and then cut out around the object so that it could be glued to a board backing for easier handling.

It was fun to see what everyone did.


Then we were given ink and encouraged to mix the colors, either to produce a variegated print or to produce a secondary color.

The prints were amazing and fun.

I didn’t get a picture of the block used for these fish, but they were very successful.

block printing fabricOur challenge for next month is to use the printed fabric in a project.  Can’t wait to see what everyone does!


Building A Better Pincushion

My modern guild loves dirty Santa games and loves pincushions, so a recent challenge involved making a pincushion to swap.  I found a nice cup and saucer at a thrift store and decided to make that into a pincushion.pincushion tutorial

I previously researched tutorials for making pincushions and learned that ground English walnut shells are one of the best types of stuffing for them.  The shells are heavy (dense) enough to keep the pincushion from coming up with the pin you are trying to remove from it, and they are ground fine enough to allow pins to be stuck in easily.  Ground walnut shells are available in pet stores, where folks apparently think I want them for my pet lizard to use as desert sand.  (They’re mistaken about that, but I bought the ground walnut shells anyway.)what to fill a pincushion with, pincushion filling

The problem was how to get the walnut shells firmly packed into a nice round ball that would fit smoothly into the cup.  I solved that problem by rescuing a discarded athletic sock from the trash, which is why there’s a sock in the picture of the cup above!

I cut off the toe of the sock, stuffed it with ground walnut shells, and closed it tightly with a rubber to make a pincushion

I patted the filled sock into shape so that it fit nicely in the cup.easy pincushion instructions

Then I cut a circle of fabric and gathered the edge with a long machine stitch.better pincushion tutorial

After drawing up the edge of the circle as much as I could around the base of the sock, I finished drawing it tight by adding another rubber band.make a pincushion in a teacup

And before you ask, the size of the circle was a guess–I just used the largest circle on my circle cutting template.

Finally, I stuffed the whole thing into the cup, rubber band side down.  It was heavy enough and fit tightly enough that it did not need to be glued in.  I did glue the cup to the saucer, however.teacup pincushion tutorial

And that was it!  So easy and so fun!



Jayne published instructions on how to make fabric pinwheels on her blog.  This was just in time for me, since I needed decorations for my Christmas packages.  Check out her tutorial here.fabric pinwheels

Naturally, I made a few changes to her instructions 🙂  Jayne’s pinwheels were small, but I needed to decorate a big package.  So I used some of my 5″ squares. (Remember the Nickel Quilt craze? That’s how old these squares are; I was in a swap group.)  If you want to use your own 5 inch squares to make bigger pinwheels, follow Jayne’s instructions but trim them to about 4-3/4 inches after fusing the two fabrics together.  Then make your corner cuts (see her instructions) 1-1/4 inches.  I just marked the center while marking for the corner cuts, so I didn’t need her measurement for the center dot.

Also, Jayne used Steam-A-Seam, which is a good product, but I had Heat-n-Bond, and that worked just fine. I did try gluing the center together rather than sewing it, but I wasn’t patient enough to hold it until it dried.

Finally, Jayne noted that “there will be fraying” since the edges are unfinished.  I think that is unlikely with Heat-n-Bond; I’ve never had trouble with it.  But just in case, I trimmed my edges with pinking shears rather than my rotary cutter.  Remember pinking shears?  Those were what we used to “clean finish” the inside seams on our garments back before everybody had a fancy machine with overlock stitch.  They still work just fine if you saved yours!

Happy holidays!