It appears that none of Hazel’s Valentine’s Days during high school were very exciting or eventful. You can read about them all at these links:

Valentine’s Day 1951

Valentine’s Day 1952

Valentine’s Day 1953

Valentine’s Day 1954

And the tutorial for the heart apron she’s wearing can be found HERE.


Is anyone actually finished with all their block sections?

I’m not expecting anyone to say yes to that, unless that’s the only thing you did all week, day and night. That’s a lot of sewing!

NOTE: I went back and added a bit of information to the last post, in the event you are making a two-color version of the quilt. Of the 142 blocks sections you’ll make, 80 of them should be one color (red in the diagram), and 62 should be the other color (yellow in the diagram). I should have clarified that earlier, but I think I’ve probably caught you in time!

I’m back this week to go over how to assemble a block once you have all your sections made. Even though most of you probably aren’t near ready for this stage, I wanted to put it out here so that you’re not waiting on me when the time comes that you are ready.

If you remember from the beginning, I said that I altered the assembly from the way the block appears in the book, so if you’re following along from the book, this is NOT the way it’s presented there. I did it this way so that we could mix up the sections better for an easier way to get a scrappy look. You don’t have to plan each block as carefully, and you can move the sections around if you need to.

Each block takes four sections, and we’ll be making 32 blocks. This should mean that once you have all your blocks made, you will have 14 block sections left over. We’ll use these in the setting.

So you’ll only be using 128 of your sections to make the blocks.

If you want to have all your sections finished, and then arrange them on a design wall for the best layout, that’s fine. That’s pretty much what I did. I wanted my colors to be scattered evenly around on my finished quilt. For really scrappy blocks, this is not as important. They’ll look good no matter where they are in the quilt.

If you’re itching to see what a complete block will look like, then you can go ahead and put a couple together just to see. Here’s how you do it . . .

Choose four of your finished sections that you want to go into your block, and lay them out as shown:



Make sure you have them turned as shown, or the desired effect in the finished quilt will not happen! (The small squares go in the outer corners, and the triangles all point toward the outside.)

NOTE: If you are making a two-color version of this quilt, choose four block sections that are all the same color.

Sew them together into pairs:


Then sew the two pairs together to complete the block:


That’s all there is to it!

Don’t forget, be sure and save 14 of your sections for the setting later on. You only need 32 blocks like this for the quilt.

NOTE: If you are making a two-color version of the quilt, the 14 sections you save should be all one color (yellow in the diagram) — see the first note above. In other words, make all 80 of the first color into 20 blocks, then make 12 blocks from the second color, and save the remaining 14 sections of the second color for the setting.

If you’re just finding us, you can click the links in the sidebar under Canning Season Quilt-Along to get started and join in. You’re not too far behind yet!

I won’t post the next step until February 27th, so that gives you a couple weeks to keep working on half-square triangles, block sections, and blocks. I think that’ll keep you busy!

I might entertain you with some other stuff in between, so check in if you take a notion!

For the Canning Season quilt, we’re gonna need a lot of half-square triangles. And I do mean a LOT!

But don’t let that deter you. If you stick with it, you’ll have a great quilt, and all that work will be worth it in the end!

I’m not going to have you cut all your pieces for the entire quilt at once, because that would probably be all you’d get done this week. Plus, I want you to be able to make a sample block section, and see if you like your color choices, etc., before you go any further.

Before we get started with any of that, however, Linda and Norma helped me get some better pictures of my quilt top, so you can see the quilt lots better. Here’s the full top:


And a close-up:


Do these help you a bit more? There’s no tree shadow to mess with your eyes!

I also thought I’d include a shot of all the fabrics I used in my quilt. This is the Vintage Kitchen line by Andrea Muller for Riley Blake Designs. My background is also a Riley Blake print, an off-white with a barely discernible polka dot in it.


Please read through all of the information below before beginning, because I’m presenting lots of options, and you’ll want to consider all those options before you start. And please, if you have any questions at all, simply leave me a comment, or email me, and I’ll be more than happy to answer them. I don’t want any confusion or frustration, or missing parts or pieces, so definitely ask for clarification if and when you need it!

I realize that you all probably have lots of various sizes of scraps that you want to work with, so for making your triangle squares, you have lots of options, and you can choose the method you like the best, or the method that works the best for the size of scraps you have.

So check out the links below for all the various tutorials on making your half-square triangles. For purposes of today’s Section Tutorial, you’ll need 7 triangle-square units, each measuring 2 1/2″ to finish at 2″ in your quilt. You can make them all alike, or you can make each one different if you want a really scrappy look to your quilt.

Each tutorial gives instructions for various sizes, with a formula for making them the size you need. When cutting for your particular method, pay close attention to the size you need to cut to achieve the 2″ finished units you need for the Canning Season quilt.

Tutorial #1: Using two squares to make two units alike. (My personal favorite for getting a great variety.)

Tutorial #2: Make 8 at a time using larger squares.

Tutorial #3: Use Star Singles papers.

Tutorial #4: Use Thangles papers. This method will work great for the Canning Season quilt if you are using a jelly roll or want to use up other 2 1/2″ strips.

Tutorial #5: Use Triangles on a Roll paper.

You may find that you want to use several of these methods, depending on the size of scraps you want to use up. For my quilt, I used Tutorial #1, and cut my squares larger so that they could be trimmed down.

I cut 3″ squares, then trimmed the triangle-square units to 2 1/2″ unfinished. Since we’re sewing a lot of these units together, accuracy helps a lot with getting so many small units to line up correctly in our finished section.

I’ve had a couple of other questions from participants, too, and the answers I gave them might help you out, so here are a couple more options.

• If you have leftover half-square triangle units from another quilt, feel free to use them for this quilt. I mean, why not? They’re already made! If they’re not the correct size, simply trim them down to 2 1/2″ unfinished. Then all you’ll have to do is cut the background pieces and follow the Section Tutorial to put them together. A head start!

• If you have leftover half-square triangle units from another project that are too small, and you want to use them anyway, that’s perfectly fine, too. You can certainly use them, you’ll just have to make adjustments to the section as necessary to get everything to fit, and keep in mind that your blocks will be smaller, so therefore, your quilt will be smaller, or you will have to make extra blocks to make the quilt bigger. The choice is yours. I’ll provide an example below for further clarification on how to do this, so read on.

• If you do not want to purchase 6 1/2 yards of background fabric, and want your background to be scrappy, too, that is a fabulous idea! I’m all about using up the stash and the scraps. Try to choose fabrics that read at about the same level of color — a grouping of creams and light tans, for example, or a bunch of great low-volume prints. See the color examples I was playing around with below.

OK . . . once you have some half-square triangle units made, we’re ready to go on with the section!

Choose the 7 half-square triangle units you want to use for your section. You can mix them all up:


Or you can make them all alike (which is what I ended up doing):


Here are a couple of other color suggestions for using up scraps. A more traditional look, using creams and light tans for background:


A modern scrappy look using low-volume prints for the background with bright colors:


Or a dark background with pops of bright color! (I’d love to see one done this way.)


Also, don’t forget that if you want to go really planned, you can refer to the mockup in the Introductory post to see what it would look like done in only two colors with your chosen background.

In addition to your chosen 7 half-square triangle units, you will need 2 squares of background fabric that measure 2 1/2″ square, the same size as your unfinished HST units.

Lay these 9 pieces out as shown, making sure you get your HST units all turned correctly:


We’ll assemble these like a simple 9-patch block. Sew the units together into rows, being careful not to turn them the wrong direction while you’re sewing:


You can press the seams however you prefer. I pressed mine to the right in the top and bottom rows, and to the left in the middle row, so I could nest my seams. If you find that this is too much bulk, you can press seams open to alleviate that somewhat. As we get further along, they end up not nesting well, anyway, because of the orientation of the sections, so open seams might work better, if you feel that you have trouble lining things up.

Sew the rows together to complete the section, again pressing seams however you prefer:


That completes a section! The section should measure 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ unfinished.

So your job this week is to make 1000 half-square triangle units! Yes, you’re reading that correctly.

You will actually only need 994, but seriously, just go ahead and make the extra 6, so you’ll have a few to play around with. You’re not gonna notice that little bit extra, I promise!

You will need a total of 284 of the 2 1/2″ background squares as well. So once you’re comfortable with your fabric choices, and you’ve made a sample section to see if everything goes together right, feel free to go ahead and cut those when you’re ready.

You will need a total of 142 of the block sections made from this tutorial to complete the Canning Season quilt as shown. I don’t expect you to get this done in just one week, so don’t panic! That’s why I’ve left a 2-week gap in the schedule after next week’s tutorial. I don’t want you to feel too rushed, and the instructions will remain here indefinitely, so please work at your own pace. Also, if this is simply too daunting a task for you to imagine, you can certainly make your quilt smaller. But honestly, I think you will be glad you did the work once you get this quilt finished.

NOTE: If you decide to make a two-color version of the quilt as shown in the diagram in this post, you will need 80 of your block sections to be from one color (red in the diagram), and 62 of your block sections to be in the other color (yellow in the diagram).

sizesAs promised above, here’s an example of the section being made with smaller units. I’m showing the smaller one here compared to the bigger one. The units in this sample (the bottom block) each measure 2″ unfinished. Therefore, you’d need to also cut your background squares to 2″ square to make them fit. The section is assembled in the same manner as above, it just comes out smaller. This one measures 5″ x 5″ unfinished, and will finish in the quilt at 4 1/2″ square. If you love working with smaller pieces, give it a try!

To state that another way: Whatever size your unfinished half-square triangles are, that’s the size you need to cut your two background squares as well.



OK, you have your work cut out for you for the next few weeks. I’ll be back with the next tutorial on Monday, February 13th, but don’t think that you have to have everything all done by then. I’m simply providing it so that those who are ready can move on. Then I’m giving you a 2-week break to sew your little hearts out before we go any further. So get to sewing, and I’ll see you next Monday!

And don’t forget, if you have ANY questions at all, please do not hesitate to ask. I’ll be here.

Here we go! Are you ready?

It’s the Canning Season Quilt-Along!

The Canning Season quilt is based on the “Corn and Beans and Other Things” block (Block 5) from my book, “A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s“:


For this quilt, I altered the construction method to make it easier to make the quilt scrappy, and it allows for playing around with the layout a bit more, since the blocks are made in sections. And I’ve left off the appliqué.

Here’s the quilt:



I had trouble with my pictures (when do I not?), but I hope to have much better pictures to share with you next week. Here’s a close-up that might help when you’re deciding on fabrics:


I made my quilt using all the pieces from the Vintage Kitchen line by Andrea Muller for Riley Blake Designs. It fits in with my retro ’50s theme perfectly! But it will also look great in lots of various scraps, no matter what your tastes. I’m anxious to see what you all come up with for color combinations for this quilt!

The finished quilt measures 74″ x 91″.

Here are the materials requirements:

Background: 6 1/2 yards

I used all one fabric for my background, but you could make your background scrappy, if you wish. An assortment of low-volume prints, or a mix of creams and light tans, would also work great, and help you use up stash if you’re needing to do that.

Prints: 3 1/2 yards total, in as great a variety as you want (the more, the better).

I used 21 different fat quarters, which was more than I needed total, but it gave me a greater variety to sprinkle around my quilt top.

Binding: 3/4 yard

The quilt is machine pieced, so you’ll need your sewing machine in good working order, and you’ll need a rotary cutting system (ruler, cutter, mat). Thread in a neutral color to match your fabrics, and basic sewing supplies, and you’ll be all set to get this quilt done.

Here’s a mockup of the quilt done in the original colors of the Corn and Beans and Other Things block, so you can see how it might look in a specific color way, or in a more planned scrappy version. (Plus, this gives you a little better idea of the quilt’s layout than the photo does.)


Here’s the Quilt-Along schedule:

January 30: Intro and yardage requirements
February 6: Section Tutorial
February 13: Assembling blocks
February 27: Layout and setting instructions
March 8: Adding borders
March 15: Wrap up

I’ll try to remember to come back and make these links live as each step is posted. They will also be available in the sidebar on the main page for easy access to each step as we progress.

If you have any questions, be sure and let me know. I’ve had a few computer problems today, so in my frazzledness, it’s entirely possible that I forgot to mention something!

Have fun picking your fabrics! I hope you’ll join us for Canning Season!

Well, not really — not the real canning season — but the Canning Season Quilt-Along is!

On Monday, January 30th, I’ll post the quilt, the quilt-along schedule, and the fabric requirements, so be sure to check back if you want to join in on this newest free quilt-along here on The Life of Hazel Ilene.

This quilt-along will only run for a few weeks, so get ready to sew! I’ll be hosting a give-away or two during the quilt-along, and I hope we have a lot of fun sewing Canning Season quilts together.

See you Monday!

January 13, 1954

Sixty-three years ago today, a tragic event happened in the quiet little town of Callao.

Mrs. Erven Whitfield, a 71-year-old lady who lived across the street from the schoolhouse, set herself on fire in an attempt to commit suicide. She ran into the schoolyard while school was still in session, and some of the school kids saw her, including my mother, Hazel.

While doctors did not expect her to live past 6:00 pm that day, the poor woman actually hung on for nearly two full days. Such an awful thing. You can read the full story HERE and HERE.

The City of Callao has recently created a park and playground on the site where the Whitfields lived. Whitfield Memorial Park is at the corner of 5th and Pine.


I’m not sure what the sign says, but I’ll be stopping by to find out the next time I’m in town.

Lowell Lee Andrews

A few years ago, I was sitting in my cousin, Deno’s kitchen, and we were having completely random conversations, and during the course of this, he said: “Yeah, like Lowell Lee when he went nuts and killed his family. He’s my cousin, you know.”

First of all, I had never heard of Lowell Lee Andrews, and had never heard of this crime anywhere, either. And at that moment my brain sorta froze in time, and Deno carried on with an entirely new subject.

When my tongue managed to start working again, I said: “Wait! Wait! Back up. Back. UP! WHAT did you say?”

He repeated the part about Lowell Lee, and my mouth just hung open. Deno’s mother happened to be standing there as well, and asked: “Who are you talking about?” Deno said: “Oh, you know, Lowell Lee Andrews.”

Aunt Betty said: “Oh, yes. Such a horrible thing. I never could figure that out. He was just the sweetest, quietest little boy. Always so nice and polite.” Deno pipes up, “Oh, Ma, you think everyone’s the sweetest thing you ever met.” I couldn’t even laugh — I was still processing.

So I made them tell me the story.

William and Opal Andrews lived on a farm outside the town of Wolcott, Kansas, in the 1950s. They had two children, Lowell Lee, and Jennie Marie. On Thanksgiving weekend, 1958, Lowell Lee was home with his family, on break from Kansas University, where he was a student.

While his family was in the living room watching TV, Lowell was upstairs in his bedroom reading, ironically, “The Brothers Karamazov”.

When he finished the book, he shaved and got dressed nicely, loaded up two guns, walked downstairs, and shot his 20-year-old sister, Jennie, right between the eyes. As his mother started toward him, he shot her as well. Six times. Then he shot his father twice.

William did not die immediately, so as he was crawling toward the kitchen, Lowell Lee reloaded, and shot his father 15 more times.

Then he opened a window, ransacked the house to make it look like a burglary, and got in his car and drove back to KU to his boarding room, one hour away in Lawrence, KS. Now mind you, the weather was snowy and icy and cold, so this was a pretty treacherous drive to make. On the way there, he disassembled the guns, and stopped to throw them into the Kansas River.

At his boarding house, he chatted with his landlady, telling her that he had come back to retrieve his typewriter so he could work on homework. Then he WENT TO A MOVIE!!! He went. To a. Movie. That’s some craziness right there, huh?

After the movie, he drove back home, fed the dog, and called the police to report a robbery. When the police arrived, they found Lowell sitting on the porch, petting the dog, and asked him what was up. He just pointed toward the house, and said: “In there.”

In there, they found the gruesome scene, and questioned Lowell, who maintained it was a burglary. His absence of distress was highly suspicious, but it was not until they called in the family’s pastor that Lowell confessed to the crimes and was arrested. He showed absolutely no emotion or remorse.

When asked about funeral arrangements, he told authorities, “I don’t care what you do with them.”

“I don’t care what you do with them.” How cold is that?

Given that most of the Andrews family relatives lived up in this area where I live now, they brought the bodies back “home” and buried them in the Mt. Salem Cemetery in Excello, Missouri, just down the road from where Aunt Betty (Andrews) grew up.


Lowell lived on death row at the Lansing Prison for the next four years. He was fellow inmates with Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, the killers of the Clutter family, another famous mass murder in Kansas. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book “In Cold Blood”, it’s about the murder of the Clutter family, and towards the end, Lowell Lee is mentioned in the book and the movie. They called him “Andy”.

On November 30, 1962, Lowell Lee ate his last meal — fried chicken. He declined to deliver any last words, and was hung until dead. It is said that due to his size, he hung for quite a while before dying. As Deno put it, “They had trouble hangin’ him cos he was a big boy.”

And here’s the part I cannot bring myself to understand:


They brought him here and buried him next to the family members he so brutally murdered!


And they engraved his tombstone with “Son”.


I cannot understand this part. Deno said: “Yeah, I remember Grandma saying that same thing — whatever family member was in charge of that sure screwed up. I wouldna wanted him buried next to me!”

Down the road about a mile west of the cemetery, stands the house where Betty Andrews grew up.


Her father raised cattle on a 1000-acre farm, but sold out and moved into town to work for the highway department when Deno was just a little boy.


And I’m still flabbergasted about the entire story. I took all these pictures yesterday. I made Deno go with me, and we drove there to visit the cemetery and look at the old farmplace.

The house where the murders took place in Kansas is no longer there. A lot of the family who were living at the time, are now dead and gone. Aunt Betty will be 86 years old next March. I asked my dad if he remembered this happening, and he said: “Yeh. There was somethin’ bad wrong with that boy for him to do somethin’ like that.”

So there you have it — one of the most interesting skeletons I’ll ever find in my closet, I’ll wager!

And while My Cowboy is easily the funniest person I know, the men in my family are pretty funny, and Deno runs a very, very close second to My Cowboy in the humor department, so to lighten things up after that horrific tale, I’ll leave you with a few Deno quotes from our trip yesterday:

“Their hair-dos are very unbecoming.”

“A lesser man woulda been crushed.”

“I didn’t realize . . . you are ate up.”

“I think I look extinguished.”

“I almost told her to put on some clothes, but I was too busy watchin’ her.”

“He had a silver spoon stuck up his ass before he was ever born.”

“You’re gettin’ the hang o’ this drivin’ thing!”

“Someone came here with more dollars than sense.”

“I was real religious for about an hour and a half.”

“Man! Life’s complicated if ya get ta thinkin’ about it.”

“I’m one of the elder cousins in the family now.”

“See, even you don’t give me the respect I deserve.”